11 Supplies You Need For DIY Long-Term Food Storage
DIY long-term food storage is simple, but to do it well, we need to follow the right steps and use the right tools to ensure food items can reach their maximum shelf life. We have listed the required items you will need to ensure your food can reach its maximum shelf life, plus some items that can make your life easier in a SHTF scenario.
The 2022 food price increases and food shortages have shown us the importance of prepping (source). Prepping can provide us with secure food source for the next decade, as well as protect us from inflation since we will not be spending more on food in the future. To help you properly preserve your food, we compiled this list of supplies.
These are the supplies we use and recommend. When we pick the products we use, we aim to use products that make our lives easier and work the best when storing food. Typically, this means saving time and ensuring we maximize the nutrients and safety of our products.
Essential Items for DIY Long-Term Food Storage
1) BPA Free, Food-Grade 5-Gallon Buckets
Food grade 5-gallon buckets protect your food from exposure to moisture, air flow, heat, direct sunlight, and pests. It is the best way to protect your food for the long-term. The shelf life of the food depends on the food itself. Some foods contain more oils, which may cause them to spoil faster than others. However, foods such as lentils and oats can be stored for over 25 years in a 5-gallon bucket.
There are downsides of using 5-gallon buckets. Primarily that they take up a lot of space, so you may want to use shelves to help organize them.
Additionally, when manually packing food, it does take time to properly store your food in the buckets. Also, to ensure protection of your food items, we recommend gamma lids and mylar bags for ultimate food protection. Even if your food bucket gets damaged over time, the additional layers of protection will ensure the food is preserved.
We use Hudson Exchange buckets because they are food-grade BPA-free and arrive with gamma seal lids. Purchasing the food storage supplies from a single provider, lowers the chance of error or forgetting to order a fundamental part.
Considerations: Make sure you pick a food-grade, BPA-free bucket; otherwise, dangerous chemicals can leak into your food.
Related Article: How to Store Food in 5 Gallon Buckets
2) Gamma Seal Lids
Gamma seal lids are reusable seals that can protect a 5-gallon bucket from moisture, oxygen, heat, sunlight, as well as pests. Basically, turns a regular bucket into something that cannot be penetrated. However, it is still easy to use and can be used multiple times over the years. Additionally, where some lids are difficult to remove without a bucket opener, gamma seal lids are easy to remove, saving time and energy in a crisis. Gamma seal lids also come in different colors, which can help you organize your food storage.
The main drawback of gamma lids is their price point. They are more expensive than the typical lids that come from them. You can rely on the regular lids that arrive with food-grade buckets, but we suggest having a metal bucket opener for this.
We personally use Gamma2 Seal lids, but you can order other brands as well. They do not change much from brand to brand. Just be mindful that your gamma lid can seal your food-grade bucket.
3) Mylar Bags
To ensure the full protection of your food items, its best to use mylar bags within your food grade buckets. Mylar bags, like food-grade buckets, protect against environmental aggressors, but due to their metallic material, does not fully protect against pests. Still, within a plastic bucket, it will ensure your food is protected for long-term storage, and pests will not penetrate the bucket. You can use small or large mylar bags that fit within a 5-gallon bucket. We like to have smaller mylar bags and store them. This way, opening the bucket will not expose, all the food items to oxygen.
Simply using mylar bags will extend the shelf life of grains to well over 20 years. Mylar bags protect food from exposure from most pests and other factors that cause the food to spoil.
The main drawback of using a mylar bag is that it requires extra effort to package food. It may seem easier to simply pour food into a bucket and be done, but by using a mylar bag, the food item’s shelf life will be extended significantly.
When it comes to mylar bags, the brand doesn’t matter. What matters is the material being used. Just make sure to use the mylar bag size that works best for your current needs.
Note: To seal a mylar bag; you will need a hair straightener or a clothing iron.
Related Article: How to Store Food in Mylar Bags: A Guide for Beginners
4) Oxygen Absorber
Oxygen absorbers are an essential tool for long-term storage. As long as air exists inside your storage container, the food will not reach its maximum shelf life. Whether you are storing for 1 year or 25 years, using oxygen absorbers will ensure your food stays fresh and protected from spoilage.
However, do keep in mind that once you open a bag of oxygen absorbers, remember to reseal the bag or place the oxygen absorbers in a small airtight location, like a mason jar, so that the oxygen absorbers do not lose their usefulness. Forgetting to reseal the oxygen absorber will make the oxygen absorbers ineffective.
You should only use oxygen absorbers to dry foods that are naturally dry, such as pasta, lentils, rice, dried beans, etc. You should not use oxygen absorbers for foods with more than 10 percent moisture. If so, it could lead to food borne botulism, which is lethal and can lead to serious illness.
Oxygen absorbers are largely the same across brands. The only requirement is that it is FDA approved. You should not trust oxygen absorbers from a non-certified source for safety purposes.
Related Article: Oxygen Absorbers vs. Silica Gel Packets
5) Mason Jar
A Mason Jar, also known as a canning jar, gets its name from the design of the glass and lid. The lid, when screwed tightly, prevents environmental aggressors from being able to access the dried food items.
If you are looking to store smaller batches of dried food items for the medium term, mason jars are the ideal option for you. Mason jars can preserve dried fruits up to 1 year, and grains as long as 3 years. Mason jars come in all different shapes in sizes, but we would recommend a 16oz, 32oz, or 64oz jar for food storage.
Related Article: Food Storage in Mason Jars
6) Rubber Mallet
A rubber mallet is a tool to help seal lids over the 5-gallon bucket. Adding a bit of pressure with the mallet will ensure the seal is shut tight and the food items are secure from environmental aggressors. Failing to seal the lid properly will expose your food items to oxygen and/or heat, causing them to go bad.
Suggested Items for DIY Long-Term Food Storage
Now that we got through the required items for long-term food storage, we picked out some suggested products to make your life easier. These products are intended to help organize your pantry and simplify processes. These are products we have used and recommend.
7) Grain Mill
A grain mill will turn grains into flour that can be used to make different types of foods. With flour, you can make bread, pasta, pizza, and much more.
Prepper Grain Mill: Northern Brewer – Hullwrecker 2-Roller Grain Mill
When it comes to storing food long-term, we want to use an efficient grain mill. For this, we use the Northern Brewer Hullwrecker. It holds 7 pounds of grain at a time and allows you to adjust the roller gap, allowing you to fine-tune the grain size for your needs. Plus, it is built to sit on 5-gallon buckets, making storing much quicker and easier. And our favorite feature, you can switch the manual handle for an electric drill to make it into an automatic grain mill.
The downside of it is that we don’t use it often, only when we are storing food in 5-gallon buckets, once a year. It’s too large for everyday use, so we keep it in storage until we need to use it.
Everyday Grain Mill: NutriMill Harvest Stone Grain Mill
For everyday usage, we use a stone mill grinder. With a stone mill grinder, more nutrients are preserved when the grain is grounded. Also, the NutrilMill Harvest Stone Grain Mill has safety features, so it is safe to use in a kitchen, and grounds the grains automatically.
The biggest downside of this product is that it cannot ground large quantities. For this reason, we don’t think it is great for prepper usage, but it is still great for everyday usage.
8) Food Storage Shelves
Organizing and storing food items is one of the biggest pain points for preppers. If you do not have an efficient way to stack the containers, they will take up a lot of space that can be used for other purposes. This is why we recommend shelves, as they will not only save space but also help keep your pantry more organized.
5-Gallon Bucket Shelves
5-gallon bucket shelves are shelves intended for larger containers. This can help sort through the storage location and stay organized.
However, they are not necessary because 5-gallon buckets can be stacked over each other.
Mason Jar Shelves
Shelves intended for mason jars are useful if you intend to store dozens of mason jars. Unlike food buckets, mason jars cannot be stacked on top of one another. So, shelves are almost always useful if you intend to store a large number of mason jars. Ideally, you will have room to store food in your home. And this room will have a constant room temperature, with limited exposure to direct sunlight.
9) Canned Food Dispenser
A canned food dispenser is an easy way to track canned food items using a First In First Out (FIFO). The older canned items will roll out to the bottom of the line, so it is the first item you grab when you are ready to use the item.
10) Bucket Openers
The right bucket opener will make your life easier. We hear too many stories of people struggling to open their well-secured 5-gallon bucket, but a bucket opener will resolve the issue in seconds. We recommend a metal one since plastic bucket openers can break easily.
11) Food Dehydrator
Fruits, meats, vegetables, and herbs can be added to a food dehydrators to extend the shelf life of the food. This occurs because the moisture of food decreases to between 5-20 percent. In this moisture range, bacteria that cause food to spoil cannot survive. The food can then be stored in a jar for a prolonged period of time, ensuring you have dried foods for up to 1 year in a mason jar, and up to 4 years in a mylar bag.
We personally use the Cosori Food Dehydrator. We like this one because it is BPA-free and has overheat protection, making it safe to use. Plus, it has a timer that ranges from 30 minutes to 48 hours for foods that need more time to dehydrate. It is also easy to clean, as the stainless steel trays make it easy to wash once you are done using it.
The main downside of this product is the size. It is a 17x13x12 inch box, so the amount of food you can fit is limited. For large batches of dehydrated foods, it may take a few days to make the amount of food you want.
VIVOHOME Food Dehydrator Machine
An alternative to the Cosori Food Dehydrator is the VIVOHOME Food Dehydrator Machine. This machine is more affordable, but offers many of the same features. It can dehydrate food for up to 24 hours, and has space for 8 trays of food items.
As for the downside of this product, it is not as powerful, nor are the dried food items as flavorful when compared to the Cosori Food Dehydrator. Sill, if you are looking for an affordable food dehydrator that gets the job done, this is a great choice.
Household Supplies for DIY Food Storage
You will also need common household supplies to store your food long term. You should have:
- Hair Straightener / Iron: You can seal the mylar bag or a the oxygen absorber bags with a hot metal.
- Sharpies: Sharpies will be needed to label the containers, either on the surface on the bucket or the mylar bag.
For DIY food storage, you will need items to ensure you can properly store your food. We always recommend having all your supplies before you start adding food items into your bucket. Forgetting one of the essential items can disrupt your process or spoil your long-term food storage without you even noticing.
Still, by using these tools properly, you can secure your food supply items for the next 30 years. Although food items like brown rice only last 10 years, oats and white rice can be stored for over 25 years.
To protect your family, make sure to start planning for a SHTF scenario today. Once you have your supplies, next step is to learn how to store food items in 5-Gallon Buckets.
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