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Methods of Food Storage

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Ways to Store Food and Rotation Methods

There are many ways to store food and it is always a good idea to have several methods of storing it. This way you will always have food on hand. What if you only vacuum seal bags and mice get into your pantry? What if you have everything in glass jars and there is an earthquake or tornado? You could lose everything you have very quickly if you do not plan ahead. If possible, it is also a good idea to store the food in several locations. Maybe some at a family member’s house? Maybe a shed on your property or maybe just a different room in your apartment-that is entirely up to you. Ask the Lord for guidance on where and how he wants you to store the food.

When you are storing food, be sure to clearly mark on the food the date you packaged it and what it is. Sometimes it can be a guessing game if it is not clearly marked and two years later or even 3 months later you might not remember. Then as you add new food, be sure to put it towards the back, but check the expiration date. I have bought new canned food that expired sooner than what I already had in my pantry.

Also, think about how long the food can be stored. If you are doing your own canning and dry can beans it is thought they can last up to 30 years. There is a lot of disagreement on dry canning, but farmers have been doing it for years. I can say that near where I live a farmer found some Anasazi beans dating back to 130 A.D in a cliff dwelling and planted them and ate some. They were fine and he now grows and sells the beans from the ones he found in a cave. These beans had been stored in a clay jar and as hot as the desert gets, they were probably dry-canned naturally. I know of many farmers that kept dry canned or even just beans in jars for years.

Vacuum sealing

This removes the air and if you add an absorber into the bag will keep things even longer. This is good for dry pet food, cereals, flour, and other dry ingredients. The bags can then be stored in a tub or jar. Downside-only dry ingredients and if anything damages the seal it becomes depressurized and can become stale.


There are different methods of canning. Some are easier than others, but each does require some equipment or jars. The cost of jars can add up and you do have to think about where to store them and keep them cool and dry.

Water Bath

  • This is an easy way to start canning. It is good for jams, pickles, tomatoes, and anything acidotic. Usually, go for 1 year.

Pressure Canning.

  • This is often the best method and depending on the food item can be kept for several years.

Dry Canning

  • This method of canning dry ingredients allows you to sterilize and seal the jars in the oven. It helps take out the moisture and the heat prevents the beans or rice from sprouting. However, flour and other flammable food products should not be done in the oven. It is believed that this method can help beans and white rice last for up to 30 years. There is a lot of controversy about this method, but it has been in use for many generations.

Sun or Air Drying

This method works great for some things, but you do need to have a dry climate when doing this one. Living in a rainforest would be a challenge. This method is cheap and easy to do. You can place the food item on a screen window or door and let the air circulate. You might need to turn the items. For herbs, they can be tied up with a string and hung to dry. When I lived near fishing areas, the fisherman would have large racks or sheds where they hung the fish to dry. Then this made up animal food or was the basis for soup and other dishes


Along with sun drying, you can also use a dehydrator. I personally like to put my extra fruit and vegetables in a dehydrator. Then I have dried fruit for snacks and vegetables for cooking. These work very well in soups to add flavor. Dehydrators are fairly inexpensive, but again they do take time. I tend to put in the vegetables or fruit and leave them overnight. Then in the morning, I can decide if they need to go longer.


I love the smell of smoked meat. This and salting meat for storage were common ways the settlers in America used for food preservation. Smoking can be done in a purchased smoker (the most common way) or as our ancestors did and build your own smoker. The biggest issue is the time it takes to smoke and the wood chips needed for the process. This needs to be done outside and trust me when I say that the entire neighborhood will know you are smoking meat. However, it is a really good method for preservation.

Root Cellars

For those that grew up on a farm, this was a common way to preserve food. It can be attached to the house or off by itself and is what it sounds like- a cellar or room dug into the earth. This is a great place to store your root vegetables such as onions and potatoes. It can also be a cool dry place to store your home canning.


This is a great way to store vegetables and other items such as eggs. However, in most cases it still requires refrigeration.


Freezing foods is always a great stand-by. The issue of course becomes-what if you lose electricity? Also, rotation can be an issue, as to how much freezer space you have. But still a good way to preserve food, just plan on other methods as well.

Other Methods

There are other methods such as using lime to store eggs, or purchasing a system to freeze-dry your foods. There are many other ways people have come up with to store food. Consider the cost, and how long the food remains good, for example making beef jerky that only lasts around 6 months, might not be the best option. However, if you are using it in a bug-out or emergency evacuation bag ( many people have a bag of emergency supplies to grab in an emergency) or for camping/hiking it might be great to have on hand.

Now What?

The key is to find things that you know you and your family will eat. If you have 60 pounds of dried peas, but no one will eat them, it might not be the best choice. However, having a few pounds to barter or eat when you really need it, might be a good idea. In Alaska, it was somewhat common to keep cans of cat food in the car or boat. There was no way you were going to get into them except in an emergency. It could save your life, but not something you want to snack on. Just something to consider as you store up food. What is something that you would eat in an emergency and would help keep you alive, but unless it was an emergency you wouldn’t touch it?

There are many ways to preserve or store food. Think about how you will store it and then develop a rotation process. What good is all of that hard work if you don’t eat the food and it expires? It can be as simple as moving the older food up front as they do in stores or as complex of a tracking system as you wish. Totally up to you, but be sure to find a way to rotate to prevent waste.

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