View Full Version : Food Storage

Lyra Jean
05-15-2008, 10:41 AM
What's the average shelf life of dry goods? Beans, rice, sugar, flour, cornmeal and such if kept in an airtight container.

I have a book on how to make gift jars of bean soup where you layer everything in the jar and then all the person has to do is pour it into a pot and water or whatnot so that it is very simple for them to do. It's a nice gift a free meal.

I was thinking about making these for myself as a stock up item in case of an emergency or I don't feel like do any real work for my cooking.

Or am I just not paying attention and it says right on the packaging?


L M Ashton
05-15-2008, 04:01 PM
It depends a lot on a. where in the world you are (ie, heat, humidity, bugs) and b. how they're stored. If you were in, say, Canada (where bugs in food aren't a problem), and you were talking an airtight container, years. If you were in, say, Sri Lanka (where bugs in food are a horrid horrid problem), even talking about an airtight container, we're talking weeks to a couple of months, tops, longer if it's the original packaging that hasn't been breached and no bugs were sealed inside. Unfortunately, bugs sealed inside the packaging is quite common here. :(

05-15-2008, 04:31 PM
Alas, bugs or eggs sealed in packaging happens everywhere. I live where it's cool, but it's still a problem.

Since our kids no longer live here, I bake much less often, so I'd taken to sealing certain baking and cooking ingredients (nuts, chocolate chips, lentils, rice) in airtight tins when I purchase them. Every single time I've opened a tin, with every package in it still manufacturer-sealed, there's been movement. I didn't care to investigate the probably source. Enough said.

(And yes, anybody who's waiting for the caramel corn they won at auction--I'm buying new ingredients!)

That ickyness aside, if you've got a package of dried beans or peas with no sign of critters, they'll last for years and years and years.

Maryn, suspecting the nuts

05-15-2008, 04:36 PM
I seldom bake, so I buy the smallest possible size and keep the goods in the freezer. Even then, I throw them out after a year. Beans can keep a long time, but older beans take forever to cook.

L M Ashton
05-15-2008, 04:46 PM
Which reminds me... You can freeze dry goods when you bring them home from the store for three days or so, and I'm told that kills off the bugs and the eggs so, if the packaging is secure, at least nothing will grow inside. I've taken to doing that with certain high-risk items, like lentils, beans, cocoa (yeah, cocoa is high risk - go figure), and so on. But since our freezer is small, I can't do this with everything, and I certainly can't story anything in there long-term, but it is a good solution for killing bugs before they eat everything.

And, Maryn, when I lived in Canada, I never experienced bugs in my dry goods. Never. And I frequently stocked up a year or two or so in advance. Not a single bug. So, no, some places really are safe.

05-15-2008, 07:28 PM
Yeah if you have the room, freeze it for 3 days, THEN seal it. If your oats, beans, or wheat gets infested and it's not icky, you can toast them in the oven and get rid of the pests and make them safe to eat, but I would only do this in an extreme food crisis, because seeing things crawl in my food just gives me the creeps.

Freezing right off the bat is your best bet, then sealing it up in tins with oxygen packets that suck out the oxygen and help keep them from going rancid.