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How to Store Food in Mylar Bags: A Guide for Beginners
Maybe you like to buy dry foods like sugar, rice, or spices in bulk to save money, or maybe you want to store enough food in the basement for an SHTF scenario.
No matter what the case, mylar bags should have your back when it comes to long-term storage, and by long-term, we mean years. Yet, not everyone knows how to store food in mylar bags, which is what this article will approach in detail.
Ready to dive in?
How to Store Food in Mylar Bags?
Using mylar bags isn’t rocket science, that’s for sure, but the process isn’t as simple as dropping your food in a plastic bag and wrapping it with duct tape.
Below, you’ll find all the instructions you’ll need to follow for a seamless long-term food storage method, literally.
Step 1: Shop for a Handful of Supplies
First off, you’ll need to order a few items and grab some things that you already have at home. Here are all the supplies you’ll use in your packaging process:
- The food you’ll be storing
- Mylar bags
- Something to seal the bags with (a hair straightening iron, a typical iron, or an impulse sealer)
- Oxygen absorbers
- A funnel or scoop
- Large containers or buckets (to keep the mylar bags in for storage)
- A permanent marker
Now that everything is ready and lined up on your kitchen island, it’s time to start filling up those mylar bags!
Step 2: Put Your Dry Foods Into the Mylar Bags
The first thing you should keep in mind is that you can take your time loading your food into the bags, but not after you open the oxygen absorbers. Those will need to get into the bags; then, you’ll have to seal the bags as soon as possible.
This is why you should try your best to be organized so as not to waste any oxygen absorbers.
Prior to packing, make sure to wear your work gloves so that the sharp edges of the mylar bags don’t give you any cuts.
Also, if you’ll be using large mylar bags, open them and prop them up in their individual containers for easy loading and sealing. If the bags are smaller, you can position them in Tupperware containers for the same purpose.
In addition to that, it’s always a good idea to line up all your mylar bags next to each other before they get heavy once fully stocked. This, again, will make sealing a piece of cake.
Now, with your funnel or scoop, fill your bags with your dry foods until there are only five to six inches left empty before the opening. Shake your bags a little as you load food into them to ensure the grains sit nicely inside.
Step 3: Label Your Mylar Bags and Containers
Once you have all the food inside the bags, it’s time to grab the permanent marker to write the food type on both the bags and the containers.
It’s important to write the packaging date as well to make sure you don’t keep them sitting in the darkness of your basement for too long!
After that, it’s a good idea to stick pieces of clear tape over the labels to prevent the marker from coming off as the days roll by.
Step 4: Seal the Bags, But Only Partially
Start by preheating the iron or the hair straightening iron; you’ll need those to be on high heat to effectively seal the bags. Then, carefully seal each bag, being as close to the top as possible and leaving only two inches so that you can drop the oxygen absorbers later.
Of course, some bags may be too heavy to move to an ironing board so that you can partially seal them with a typical iron.
In this case, you might want to use a wood board covered by a piece of cloth, placing it near the opening of each bag so that you can rest the iron upon it while sealing. If you are following this scenario, consider asking a friend for help so that the entire job goes smoothly.
Step 5: Drop the Oxygen Absorbers Into the Bags
Most dry foods require the help of oxygen absorbers for long-term storage, while some don’t. Take sugar and brown sugar, for example; those will turn rock solid if you store them with oxygen absorbers.
Foods that need OA to last for more than three months in a mylar bag include:
- Herbs and spices
- White Flour
- Whole grains
- Powdered milk
- Dried beans
With this in mind, drop the OA into the bags that require them and try to seal them as fast as possible. If you leave them exposed for more than ten to 15 minutes, they’ll begin to absorb the oxygen in the room’s air instead of the oxygen inside the bags.
Before sealing, lightly press the bags to get out any excess air, then seal them shut with your choice of sealer.
Related Article: Oxygen Absorbers vs. Silica Gel Packets
Step 6: Wait for a Day, Then Close the Containers and Store Them
When you’re done sealing your bags, don’t close the containers right away. Instead, leave things as they are and then check on them the next day to test the seals that you’ve created.
Gently squeeze each bag to make sure no air gets out of it. Afterward, seal the containers and move them to where you plan to keep them in your house. Preferably, you should store them in a dry place that you can access quickly in case of an emergency.
Related Article: How to Store food in 5-Gallon Buckets
Why Mylar Bags are great for Long-Term Food Storage
Mylar bags can be the perfect solution for long-term food storage for many reasons.
For starters, they’re non-porous, so it’s impossible for moisture to reach your food in the months that they’re being stored, which prevents spoilage (source). Plus, they don’t allow any gasses in or out; your foods won’t catch any unwanted odors.
Even better, mylar bags are pretty affordable, which sounds awesome for someone who’s saving money. Buying in bulk and getting budget-friendly storage bags? That’s the deal!
What’s also to admire about these bags is that they’re flexible, a breeze to use, and durable.
How Long can Food be Stored in Mylar Bags?
This depends on the type of food you’ll be storing.
Some things can only be stored for two to five years, and these include:
- Brown rice
- Brown sugar
- Dried eggs
- Whole-wheat flour
- Dried meat
- Milled Grains
- Chips (any junk food with even minimal grease)
- Any type of dried fruit or vegetable that has even the tiniest bit of moisture in it
On the other hand, some stuff can be kept in a mylar bag for up to 30 years! These promising candidates are:
- White flour
- Powdered milk
- White rice
- Freeze-dried foods
- Rolled oats
- Wheat Berries
What should not be stored in Mylar bags?
While some foods can last for up to three years in mylar bags if they’re slightly oily or moist, some are an outright no-no. Generally speaking, foods with a moisture level above 10% should not be stored with oxygen absorbers.
Foods that you shouldn’t store in mylar bags include:
- Any fresh foods (obviously)
- Raisins or any slightly dried fruits or vegetables
Alternatives to Mylar Bags
Of course, mylar bags aren’t the only long-term storage option you can use; they just happen to be convenient and affordable.
Still, there are some alternatives on the market that you may want to consider. For example, you can always go for mason jars. They’re tightly sealed and don’t allow any moisture inside, but they’re not as flexible as mylar bags.
Or, you could use Ziploc bags. They’re not the best option out there, but they can definitely extend the lifespan of your foods.
Last but not least, why not go for vacuum-sealed bags? These don’t require the addition of oxygen absorbers, and they’re widely available everywhere in the world.
Just keep in mind that all these alternatives will need to be stored in a cool, dry place. Because they’re all clear, unlike your trustworthy mylar bag, they’ll let light inside, which can damage your food.
Related Article: Long Term Food Storage in Mason Jars
Disadvantages of Storing Dry Goods in Mylar Bags
Despite all the benefits mylar bags come with, they’re not perfect.
One disadvantage of using them is that they’re still vulnerable to rodents. This is why it’s important to store them in containers or in a 5-gallon bucket with lids; you don’t want those nasty little creatures to gain easy access to your grains.
Also, there’s a risk of botulism with foods that have more than 10% moisture in them, which is enough for the bacteria to grow (source). Since botulism bacteria thrive in settings with low oxygen, a mylar bag with OA can be the ideal environment for them to grow.
Thankfully, you can avoid this scenario by making sure you don’t package food with even the lowest moisture levels.
You can identify a mylar bag that’s been visited, or rather inhabited, by the botulism bacteria. An affected bag will produce a bulge, a surefire indication that you should throw its contents away!
People Also Ask
Some frequently asked questions we come across are:
Can mylar bags be reused?
Yes, a food-grade mylar bag can be reused multiple times, making it an eco-friendly food storage option. However, make sure to wash and let it dry completely before using it again. Additionally, you should know that the mylar bags will become smaller after each use since you will have to rip off the sealed portion of the bag. Fortunately, this is an effective way to save money because, even after multiple uses, mylar bags are an effective oxygen barrier and moisture resistant.
Are mylar bags recyclable?
Yes, as long as it is with other polyester resin material. Mylar bags are made from aluminum and polyester. Individually, these materials can be recycled, but when put together, you must ensure it is recycled along with other polyester resin material (source). Separating the two materials is costly for most recycling facilities, so a material-specific recycling bin is recommended.
Are mylar bags safe for food storage?
Yes, using mylar bags for long-term food storage is one of the most effective ways to protect dry food items from heat, light, moisture, and oxygen. Food-grade mylar bags are made from PET plastic and coated with aluminum, making them a non-toxic and BPA-free storage material. For additional protection, make sure to seal the bag with an oxygen absorber. Afterward, we suggest storing the bag within a food-grade 5-gallon bucket. Properly storing foods in mylar bags can extend the shelf life of dried foods such as rice, beans, quinoa, and more up to three decades.
Are mylar bags biodegradable?
Typically no, mylar bags are a synthetic material made from plastic and aluminum. Therefore, they are not biodegradable and are very resistant to weather and microorganisms. However, there are some brands that offer food-grade mylar bags that are biodegradable (source).
Are mylar bags toxic to people?
No, mylar bags have been deemed safe food storage options by various authorities, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is safe to be in contact with all food items except alcohol (source).
Can mylar bags be vacuum sealed?
Yes, a mylar bag can be vacuum sealed. Although this will remove the majority of the oxygen from the bag, we still suggest including an oxygen absorber to ensure all the air has been removed from the bag. This will ensure you have a food supply for years to come.
Should mylar bags be stored in food-grade plastic buckets?
Although it’s not necessary to place mylar bags in a food-grade plastic bucket, we suggest you do so. Storing in food-grade buckets, whether it’s 1 gallon or 5 gallons, can help provide an extra layer of protection against environmental aggressors and rodents. This will help protect your food long-term. If you choose not to use a plastic bucket, make sure the sealed mylar bags are stored in a safe place, away from rodents, and that has a consistent temperature.
Do mylar bags need oxygen absorbers?
Although you can store dry food products without oxygen absorbers, the potential shelf life of foods is significantly reduced. Oxygen exposure is one of the main causes of food spoilage and enables bacteria to grow. So if you intend to store food for long-term food storage, we suggest using oxygen absorbers to ensure the food reaches its maximum shelf life. Foods with a moisture level above 10% and certain spices such as salt and sugar do not need oxygen absorbers.
Now that you know everything about how to store food in mylar bags, it doesn’t seem like an intimidating task, right? We know it can be overwhelming at first, but once you have all the supplies and know the steps, the process is no longer intimidating. Plus, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Following the steps included in this how-to article can finally help you lock up all your spices, grains, and other dry food in a safe place for up to 30 years!
Related Article: 11 Supplies You Need for DIY Food Storage
Related Article: 6 Best Grains for Long Term Storage
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