If you are like most people, you probably have a stock of dry food in your pantry or kitchen cabinets. Under the right conditions, dry food is relatively easy to store and can last on a shelf for years even. This doesn’t mean, however, that dry goods can’t expire and go bad. If that happens, you risk poor quality food and foodborne illness. To help you avoid these, here are some food storage tips to ensure you have clean, fresh, and nutritious dry food for as long as possible.
Rotate Your Items
Dry storage areas typically store baking supplies, grains, dried beans, cereals, and canned goods. These types of foods keep for a long while so that makes it possible to purchase them even months before you need them. But if you have a stock of dry food in your pantry, kitchen, or storage room, it is a good practice to rotate your items regularly. When you restock on these items, place the new ones behind the older ones to ensure you will be using your existing stock. It is also helpful to write the expiration date on all containers so you can easily identify and throw out expired items. Rotating your dry food is a great way to avoid getting sick from spoiled dry foods!
Cooler is Better
Dry food that lasts a long time in the right conditions can spoil quickly under the wrong conditions. This can happen if you keep your dry foods someplace where the temperature is not controlled or is too hot, even just part of the year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ideally, you should store dry food between 50 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing dry goods in temperatures colder or warmer than these may cause them to deteriorate faster than they should.
Drier is Better
Keeping dry food in cooler temperatures is not enough, though. Dry food should also be kept dry. If you live in a humid climate, this can be challenging. Humidity can damage dry food and the packaging it comes in. Cardboard and some cans get damaged if the air has too much moisture. In particular, wet boxes can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.
In humid climates, it is advisable to store dry food in airtight glass containers instead of in bags and boxes. But if that is not practical, and unless you live in a dry climate like in the southwestern U.S., a dehumidifier or air conditioner will help protect your dry food stores during the humid parts of the year.
Keep it Centered
Keep in mind that temperature and humidity levels are different in various areas of a room so you can plan where to keep your dry food storage. Areas near windows and doors, or up high, will have a different temperature than the outside edges of a room. Condensation is also more likely to form on exterior surfaces and can invite bugs or rodents.
Dry food keeps best if you put it someplace centrally located and off the floor, even when the storage is indoor. Areas with direct sunlight are also not good for food storage, as well as anything against an exterior wall. If you are using a basement or cellar for storage, make sure you don’t store food along any unfinished exterior cement walls. This will help you keep your dry food stores dry and clean so they are ready whenever the need arises.
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