When building your stockpile there are many long term food storage options out there. Many questions arise about the quality of food, and which type of food storage is best to store? You’ve got 6 types of long term food storage options. There are 6 different ways/types of food you can store.
Long term food storage options
Canned food items you buy from a store, any store. The shelf life is typically 2.5-5 years. After the shelf life, you’re still able to eat, but most of the nutrients are gone. You ARE able to continue eating this food, but be sure to check there are no bulges or dents in the can. Those are signs that it’s gone bad.
- Rotation is easy with rotating can racks like this or this.
- One of the cheapest food storage options; and you can always find sales on these items
- Large variety of fruits, veggies, and other items
- Easy to use in recipes
- Large variety of can sizes
- Easily available to buy from all grocery stores
- Lacking in nutrition- up to 70% of the nutrition of the produce can be lost in the commercial canning process.
- Typically there are added preservatives and other additives
- The color can be off
- The texture can be off- typically they are more “mushy” than fresh
- Taste can be more bland or salty
- Not great for smoothies and other types of cooking
Home canned food can is food you buy or pick and then can at home. Most resources say shelf life is only 1 year, but I know many people, including myself, who have eaten and lived to tell the tale past 5 years.
- Easy to use with cooking
- Holds more nutrients than commercially canned since the produce is picked ripe, it has great nutrition
- Can be a very cheap way to go if you already have the supplies and can find produce for cheap
- No additives or preservatives (unless you add them yourself)
- It’s hard to rotate and store lots of glass bottles
- Only cost effective if you are able to get the produce on sale or from your garden
- Takes lots of time to can and more time to learn the process to do it safely
- You will need many other supplies such as jars, lids, and rigs, as well as a pressure canner
- If process is done incorrectly, you can risk the chance of botulism
Frozen food is the easiest “self” way to preserve your food. But the shelf life isn’t near as long. Shelf life is about 6-12 months, IN THE FREEZER. There is no shelf life in your basic pantry or storage shelves.
- Easiest method to do yourself. You can do it with produce from your garden or from the store/farmers market
- The best method to have the most nutrition in your foods
- A cheaper idea when you can use produce from your garden or find a great sale for in season fruit
- No additives or preservatives
- Color, texture and flavor will all be about the same as fresh
- Available at all grocery stores for fair prices
- If you loose power, your food will defrost fast and be wasted (unless you have a generator specifically for your freezer)
- Short shelf life
- Takes time to defrost items if using them for cooking
- Involves “some” prep work prior to freezing
- Takes up a lot of space if you are limited in your freezer storage
Produce is picked at it’s prime, then “flash frozen” to take out most of the water. Freeze dried food can have a shelf life up to 25 years when stored properly.
- Long shelf life
- Able to find all kinds of produce to fit your needs
- Holds about the same nutrients as frozen food, which is a lot!
- No additives and preservatives
- Color, texture and taste are all fairly similar to thawed frozen food.
- Can be pricey, be sure to shop around for the best price per ounce (not per serving). Also, shop around for sales.
- You will need a lot of water to re-hydrate (water storage can be difficult for some)
- Comes in 2 sizes only. #10 can sized, and a smaller “pantry can” size.
- Takes time to re-hydrated
- There is a learning curve with learning how to cook and use freeze dried items.
- Freeze dried food needs to be taken care of. It can break easily and be brittle, so if you want something “full size” like berries, you need to be very careful handling the fruit.
Dehydrated food that comes from a store. When food is dehydrated, the water is taken out from a heat process. Very different from freeze dried food, which use a frozen process. Some examples are raisins, plums, and beef jerky. The shelf life is typically 5-10 years.
- Since the produce shrinks in the heating process, dehydrated food takes less storage space.
- Only looses 10-30% nutrition in the process, which is less than canned, and a bit more than frozen and freeze dried.
- Flavor is more concentrated
- Easy to use in recipes and cooking (I add dehydrated fruit to my muffins all the time!)
- Dehydrated food you typically by from the store in bags only have a shelf life of 1-2 years.
- On the higher price range, but not as high as freeze dried food
- Typically contains additives and preservatives
- Different color (typically darker), flavor and texture than fresh or frozen fruit
- Take more water and more time to re-hydrate, and there is a learning curve to learning how to cook with it
This is a process where you buy or pick fresh produce, then dehydrate it yourself with a dehydrator or oven. Shelf life is less, 6-12 months.
- Cost is cheaper, especially when you are able to find great sales or pick from your garden
- All the nutrients stay in. Some leave during the heat process, but most stay in. This is especially true since the fruit was allowed to ripen on the vine.
- No additives and preservatives
- Difficult to package and get all the oxygen, contributing to the shorter shelf life
- You needed extra materials for packaging and storage
- Learning is needed to safely and properly dehydrated food for long term storage
When deciding which long term food storage option is best, the choice is really yours. The key is figuring out which option you are comfortable cooking with and can afford. My family stores mostly canned food which we rotate frequently, along with freeze dried food we occasionally use (since they have such a long shelf life, and are expensive). I know many people who rely solely on freeze dried food, and others who dehydrated everything. The ideas is to figure out which is BEST type of food storage for your family, and work with that.
Simple Family Preparedness wrote a great article which gives your more in-depth information about these 6 types of food storage. Including: nutrition, costs, time investments and other things related to it.
What type of food storage do you use? Comment below.
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