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How Long do Dehydrated Foods Last in Jars?

Discussion in 'Survival (Preps & Homestead)' started by Stop Making Cents, Jul 7, 2010.



  1. Stop Making Cents

    Stop Making Cents Seeker Seeker

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    I'm new to the dehydrating thing, but would like to give it a try. Please forgive me if my quesitons are rudimentary. I just picked up some Ball canning jars and would like to try storing dehydrated food.

    How long can I expect these foods to stay good once i seal them up in the jar? How can I tell if they've gone bad?

    And is there a secret to sealing the jars, or can i just twist them on like a normal jar? Do i have to boil them shut like with normal canning? One of my concerns about normal canning is that there's always the possibility of botulism.

    Thank you so much for any info! :thumbs_up:
     
  2. Nickelless

    Nickelless If coffee is gold, I own Fort Knox Midas Member

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    If you're dry-canning dehydrated items, there's no need to boil them shut. No water means no risk of botulism. You can put oxygen absorbers in your jars to extend the shelf life even more, but even without O2 absorbers, assuming your jars are airtight, everything should stay fresh indefinitely. Just store your jars in a cool, dark place. I put mine in boxes with lids in a dark closet in the coolest part of the house. Here are some articles I wrote that may help:

    http://survivalprep.net/tag/nine-meals-away-from-anarchy/
    http://realcent.forumco.com/topic~TOPIC_ID~17052.asp
    http://realcent.forumco.com/topic~TOPIC_ID~5980.asp

    Just curious, what kind of dehydrator do you have? I have 12 (yes, you read that right--12) Nesco American Harvester dehydrators that I bought on eBay over the period of a couple years, and IMO those are the best inexpensive dehydrators on the market. They have a fan that circulates air to allow for faster, more even drying.

    And of course label everything and rotate it first-in, first-out:

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Stop Making Cents

    Stop Making Cents Seeker Seeker

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    Thanks a million Nickelless!

    Would you happen to know where i can buy the O2 absorbers?
     
  4. Nickelless

    Nickelless If coffee is gold, I own Fort Knox Midas Member

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    I've been ordering mine from Sorbent Systems. I've also ordered quite a few cases of mylar bags from them for my bulk grains and beans. I'm using mason jars for my meats, veggies and spices, and using the mylar bags for my beans and grains so that the things that take up the most volume (like huge bags of rice) get the biggest bags. I think it's a waste of storage space to put rice and beans in mason jars unless you're not going to store much of them--but I figure most preppers are stocking up on hundreds of pounds of each, so using 5-gallon mylar bags inside 5-gallon buckets is the way to go.

    I have more pictures and more details that might help at the links above. :)
     
  5. minimus

    minimus Guest

    Vacuum seal the jars.
     
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  6. CrufflerJJ

    CrufflerJJ Seeker Seeker

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    Better than Sorbent Systems is the LDS Church, online catalog division. You can get canned rice, pinto beans, wheat, rolled oats, mylar pouches, impulse heat sealers, water filters, and oxy absorbers at good prices with FREE shipping.

    Go to www.ldscatalog.com, click on Welfare Services (bottom left of screen), then Home Storage. Their oxy absorbers are 1 gal capacity, so I use 5-7 inside a 5 gal pail. The mylar pouches ("Dry-Pack pouches) are 7 mils thick, which are MUCH thicker than the normal 5 gal pail liners.

    Enjoy!
     
  7. Nickelless

    Nickelless If coffee is gold, I own Fort Knox Midas Member

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    You don't need to vacuum-seal them if you use oxygen absorbers. After all, you're just wanting to "vacuum out" the oxygen, but air is 78 percent nitrogen, and nitrogen is used to pack foods for long-term storage. So once the oxygen absorbers, well, absorb the oxygen, there's no need to do anything else.

    Now, as far as using a vacuum sealer to vacuum seal the jars, I tend to think that the simpler things are kept when it comes to food storage, the better. A vacuum sealer is probably a lot more challenging to use than just dropping oxygen absorbers in your mason jars--what if you have trouble using the vacuum sealer on your jars and don't have a good seal? Vacuum sealers are much easier to use with bags, and IMO oxygen absorbers are the way to go with jars, for the reasons I've just stated.


    Shop around before you buy. It might be cheaper to buy your bulk grains and beans locally rather than having to pay pretty high shipping charges because of the weight of what you're buying (although IMO BulkFoods.com has the best shipping charges anywhere--usually just $5 for orders over $75). And vacuum-sealing bulk dry items such as rice, beans, etc., on your own is MUCH cheaper than buying pre-sealed packages. Except in the case of brown rice, there's not much worry about rancidity, spoilage, etc., for dry products that aren't already vacuum-sealed.

    Now, having said that, it's probably going to be cheaper--in some cases a LOT cheaper--to dehydrate and vacuum-seal a lot of items yourself, especially meats and vegetables. I've cooked and dehydrated chicken (although I've switched to buying and storing canned mackerel instead since it's less labor-intensive). Here's chicken I cooked and dehydrated:


    [​IMG]


    And spinach--here's 4 pounds of frozen spinach after dehydration, fits into a one-quart mason jar:


    [​IMG]


    And here's 8 pounds of frozen carrots after dehydration, also in a one-quart jar:


    [​IMG]


    I've also done a test-run on a batch of frozen blueberries...


    [​IMG]


    But remember...make sure you thaw the blueberries out BEFORE you put them in the dehydrator, otherwise the juice will end up EVERYWHERE as they thaw out during the heating process:


    [​IMG]


    And I was really pretty disappointed with the overall yield of the blueberries after dehydration. Eight pounds of frozen blueberries yielded only 1-1/2 pints--not quarts, PINTS--after they were dehydrated. I have two more 4-pound bags of blueberries in the freezer that I bought at the same time as the first two bags, so in a few days I plan to thaw them out, dehydrate them and then, assuming as I am that I'll end up with a total of just 3 pints of dried blueberries, I'm going to save these for homemade tea.

    Are you using mylar-lined buckets? There's no need to use mylar-lined buckets if you already have stuff sealed up in mylar, and if you've already sealed stuff up, the buckets don't have to be food-grade, just make sure they're clean and that they haven't previously contained any chemicals that aren't fit for ingestion. I buy regular 5-gallon buckets for less than $4 each at Home Depot and can fit three or four 5-pound vacuum-sealed bags in each bucket. Just be sure not to force the bags into the bucket, otherwise you could compromise the vacuum seals on the bags:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. minimus

    minimus Guest



    If you vacuum seal the jars you don't need oxygen absorbers. One less thing to buy for reusable dry canning.

    Mylar bags for bulk dry goods yes but, for home canning oxygen absorbers are simply not needed..

    You don't need a fancy sealer or even electricity to vacuum seal, just use a brake bleeder tool.
     
  9. Nickelless

    Nickelless If coffee is gold, I own Fort Knox Midas Member

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    What's a brake bleeder tool? Got a link?
     
  10. minimus

    minimus Guest

  11. SongSungAU

    SongSungAU Gold Member Gold Chaser

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  12. CrufflerJJ

    CrufflerJJ Seeker Seeker

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    I use a Hobo Freight brake bleeder tool to pull the air out of jars. It's important to note, though, that the brake bleeder only pulls 20-23" of vacuum (leaving 7-10" remaining). It's not anywhere near as good as a "real" vacuum pump ($100+), but certainly does the job of removing most of the air. If combined with an oxy absorber, you'd be in good shape.
     
  13. CrufflerJJ

    CrufflerJJ Seeker Seeker

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    I've not bought from Bulkfoods.com, but thanks for the link. Other low shipping cost sources are Honeyville Grain (honeyvillegrain.com) and Emergency Esentials (beprepared.com). Honeyville Grain sells bags of many different goodies, and charges only $4.49 per order to ship. NOTE that the price of their grains is almost certainly higher than your local grain supplier, since they build shipping costs into the "list" price of their grains. Emergency Essentials offers "superpails", which are 5 gal pails with a sealed mylar bag liner plus oxy absorbers. They charge ~$12 per order to ship.

    I'm not at all impressed by the prices at Bulk Foods. 25# of hard red winter wheat is about $38. That's $1.52/lb. Honeyville grain charges $47 per 50# bag ($0.94/lb). Emergency Essentials charges $37 for a 45# superpail of hard red wheat ($0.82/lb). LDScatalog.com charges $28 for a 33# case of the same grain packed in #10 cans ($0.85/lb). I get some of my grains from Walton Feed, at group buy prices, then pack it away myself.

    There are lots of different approaches to prepping....

    NOTE that the Emergency essentials and the LDS supplied wheat is packaged for long term storage. No need to pay $4-$5 per bucket, $1 for liner, $1 for oxy absorbers, plus the time/care/attention to properly package your grains.

    As to "there's no need to use mylar lined buckets...", YES there is, if you want to try & pack the largest amount of "stuff" in a given space. By using a 5 gal pail liner inside a pail, I can stuff a good amount of grain (~30-40#) into a single bucket. If, on the other hand, I pack the grain into individual pouches, then put them into a pail (I also use Home Depot's orange buckets), there is a LOT of wasted room (estimated at 30-50%, based on your estimate of fitting 15-20# of stuff) inside the pail - look at your picture.

    Of course, there's a trade off with my large unit package of grains. Once you open the 5 gal liner, all 5 gals are exposed to oxygen/vermin/buggies. Gamma seal lids may partly help with this (that's why I've got some stashed away), as would your approach of packing sealed mylar bags into the 5 gal pail. I guess it's all a trade off. It's for this reason that some of my stored foods are in the LDS sealed #10 cans. Small unit containers, decent price, LONG shelf life, free shipping.
     
  14. Nickelless

    Nickelless If coffee is gold, I own Fort Knox Midas Member

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    That's one reason why I'm only buying some items from BulkFoods. ;) The banana chips and tomato powder are the lowest-priced (counting shipping) that I've found so far, but yeah, not all items are as cheap as on other sites. Having said that, though, I'm buying local whenever possible to save on shipping and stimulate the local economy.
     
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  15. minimus

    minimus Guest

    20" to 23" hg vacuum = 75 to 85% perfect vacuum, under such conditions water will not condense, bugs can't survive and contaminants stay out.

    With an average of 80% outgassing the oxygen absorbers do nothing but sit in the jar.

    I know, that's how I store oxy absorbers for my mylar bags, in a vacuumed jar they are inert.

    Some folks think adding the oxy absorbers is great insurance for bad jar seals, they are wrong. When the seals go bad the oxy aborbers go to work and suck up air and moisture but the jar seal is still bad and the contents eventually goes bad.

    Checking the seals just like regular canned goods is the best insurance.
     
  16. italiand79

    italiand79 New Member

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    I have found that Ebay has the best prices to by 02 absobers!
     
  17. Merlin

    Merlin Gold Member Site Supporter Gold Chaser

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    Nickelless, have you ever rehydrated any of your dehydrated mackerel? I've never eaten mackerel in any form -- fresh, smoked, canned, or dehydrated. Can I substitute mackerel for salmon or tuna in recipes? I'm especially interested in your experience with rehydrating dehydrated mackerel.
     
  18. Nickelless

    Nickelless If coffee is gold, I own Fort Knox Midas Member

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    Not yet, Merlin, but my schedule is finally stabilizing next week after the craziness of the past couple months and I plan to start running taste-tests on various items I dehydrated more than a year and a half ago, including the mackerel. My assumption is that since I haven't opened the jars of mackerel, spinach, carrots, etc., since I dehydrated them and have kept them in a cool, dark place, everything should taste just fine. I also plan to try bacon grease that I rendered last September and have kept in a mason jar at cool room temperature. Maybe I'll make a video of the taste-testing.

    Also, I think mackerel would be a fine substitute for salmon or tuna. It's half the price of salmon, in general, and it doesn't carry the same risk of mercury that tuna does.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
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  19. Merlin

    Merlin Gold Member Site Supporter Gold Chaser

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    OK, I'll give the canned mackerel a try. I've been eating salmon and, quite frankly, don't see that the nearly twice the price of pink salmon is justified by the red. If I can cut the cost again by eating mackerel instead, fine. I love canned tuna, but feel that a can or two a week is more than enough mercury risk.

    Based on my own experience, I'm betting your dehydrated veggies are wonderful. But I have absolutely no experience with home dehydrated meat, so I'm holding my breath waiting for your report :)

    Edit: OK, I just ate a mackerel patty fried in olive oil and it was very tasty. There's nothing in those patties that can't come from my food storage pantry. I'm having some more for dinner, served with a tomato sauce and garnished with thick sliced sauteed onions. Thank you, Nickelless, for turning me on to mackerel; were it not for you, it would never have happened.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011

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