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Getting Started with Long Term Food Storage


by Original Author JoAnn Vann | Adapted for Blog by Katie Frizzell

With the events of 2020, there is a renewed interest in long-term food storage.  Most foods we purchase, or home preserve have shelf-lives of one year or less.  So what do you do if you want to store foods long-term?  To get started, follow these steps: 

  • Set your goals for storage.  They can range anywhere from weathering a short-term emergency to long-term sufficiency in the event food cannot be purchased.  Take into consideration how much space you can dedicate to your food storage when setting your goal. 
  • Identify what foods do and do not store well 
  • Identify what your household prefers to eat compared to what can be stored. Many online food storage calculators are available, but not all foods included are practical if your family will not eat them.   
  • Determine where you will acquire the needed foods and supplies to store. 
  • Start assembling your storage as time and food budget allows. 

No doubt that if you have begun looking into long-term food storage you have run across the terms: gamma lid, mylar bags, and oxygen reducers.  What are they and what do they do? 

  • Gamma lids create an air and moisture tight seal using a two-piece lid system on buckets ranging from 3.5-7 gallons.  The outside piece snaps onto the top of the bucket while the inner piece screws into the outer piece sealing with a gasket.  These lids make accessing your stored food easier compared to a standard snap on lid that requires a bucket wrench to remove 
  • Mylar-type bags are food safe foil pouches sealed with a heat impulse sealer to protect food from moisture, oxygen, and light. They range in size from snack pack – 5 gallon and are often used in conjunction with oxygen absorbers. 
  • Oxygen absorbers are packages of iron powder or filings.  When places in a sealed container, the iron powder/filings absorb the remaining oxygen preventing food from oxidizing and any insect infestation.  Oxygen absorbers are generally sized 100cc, 300cc, or 500cc.  The correct number of absorbers must be used for the package size to be effective. 

Watch the video for tips on using these tools and a demonstration of sealing a foil bag using a Heat Impulse Sealer. :

For more detailed information on long-term food storage, download a free PDF from Utah State University Extension: https://extension.usu.edu/preserve-the-harvest/files/Food-Storage-Booklet.pdf 

For information on how to stretch your food dollars with dry beans and peas, read this article: https://www.uaex.edu/counties/howard/news/fcs/february-2016/use-dry-beans-and-peas-to-stretch-your-food-dollars.aspx 

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