From banana chips to jerky to trying freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, everyone has probably had dried foods at least once in their life. Drying foods makes them last a lot longer, a very useful tool for those who need to make their food last.
Drying food is beneficial to keep food lasting longer, save money on fruits or protein-rich snacks, and prevent food waste from rotting food.
The food group that lasts the longest when dried (and properly packaged) are grains. They can last many years when stored properly. There are some dried vegetables that also last a very long time, such as dried carrots with an over 20-year shelf life.
Dried grains, from oats to pasta, can last a very long time. Already, these foods are packaged in air-tight boxes or bags. While it can be hard for some foods to completely dry out, causing them to still have some moisture content, grains retain almost no moisture. This allows them to be able to be stored for a long time.
Rolled oats can last up to 30 years if properly stored. Pasta can last anywhere from 8-30 years on the shelf. Imagine having a box of spaghetti that your family has had for 15 years and you can still eat it without getting sick.
Dried beans are similar to grains where they can last up to 30 years. It is best to store these beans in a container that has an air-tight seal. Bags are okay but they can easily get holes over time. If you want to keep your dried beans for over 10 years, leaving them in their plastic bag is not a good idea.
Like grains, dried beans don’t always need a lot of preparation since you can easily buy a bag or container of dried beans. Bulk buying options are very convenient here. That sure does take out a lot of the work.
Some dried vegetables have insanely long shelf lives. As said earlier, dried carrots can last 20 years. Corn, while may not technically be a vegetable, also has a super long shelf life when dried at around 15 years.
Vegetables take a bit of work to dry since their moisture content is super high. Also, vegetables that are dried by you tend to last longer than the dried vegetables that you can buy at the store. Some places sell high-quality dried foods, but if you are adamant about your dried food, buying might get expensive.
These cubes of broth can last up to a very long time. Some forms of condensed bouillon can last over 10 years. It does make sense as these condensed forms are absent of any moisture.
If you are planning on making soup in 10 years, you can safely use some very old broth cubes. Sure, the taste won’t be as great, but you won’t get sick as long as the cubes were properly stored.
While normally dried meats last around a year before going bad, freeze-dried meats last a lot longer. Freeze-drying your meats can make them last at least 10 years.
Jerky that you can buy at the store can last around 1 year if unopened. Homemade jerky lasts a few months when stored properly. It’s not too long of a time, but can still be useful if you need to stock up on meat.
If you can buy or make the freeze-dried meat, that would last a lot longer if you are stocking up for whatever reason.
The way that instant ramen is packaged takes all the moisture out of both the noodles and the flavor packaging. The sodium content acts as a preservative in keeping the flavors good for much longer.
It may not be a healthy option, but ramen can last a very long time if stored properly. In the case of a disaster, ramen would work to make a decent meal.
These sugary desserts are not something that many people are looking to stock up on. However, these super-processed treats last an insanely long time. People have found that twinkies up to 30-years old were still completely fine to eat other than tasting a bit stale.
It’s interesting to think about how something like twinkies has enough preservatives in them to make their shelf-life comparable to dried grains or beans.
Properly Storing Dried Foods
The most important thing in having dried foods is that they have as much moisture removed as possible. Moisture is where most bacteria grow, which is what causes foods to rot and mold. Taking away this moisture keeps the food from growing bacteria for a much longer time.
Preventing oxygen from getting into the food is also super important. Oxygen tends to cause chemical reactions in the food that cause ripening and rotting. This is why apple slices turn brown after being left on the counter for an hour.
Proper storage involves making sure your dried foods are completely sealed away and kept from any moisture. Keeping them in a dark and dry area keeps the food free from moisture and any reaction caused by the sun’s heat.
Vacuum sealing containers can make some foods last longer as this method makes sure no oxygen at all is left in the food.
Dried Foods Once Opened
Opening dried food exposes them to the elements. The moisture and oxygen in the air will start reacting with the food and the possible temperature changes will cause other changes in the food.
In most causes, opening dried foods reduces the shelf-life from many years to a few months. For packaged foods that you have bought, always check the packaging to see how long the food lasts once opened. Jerky, for example, only lasts a few days once opened.
Putting opened dried foods in the fridge will slow down the deterioration process, but not by a lot.
There are many foods that last a super long time when dried. Grains and beans last the longest… along with Twinkies.
Not everyone is going for keeping their food good for 30 years, however. There are many foods that can last at least a year when dried, which can be beneficial to many people.
Check how long your dehydrated food will last and enjoy keeping your food fresh for longer.