A lot of people keep a small stock of dry food in their pantry or kitchen cabinets. While dry food keeps fairly well– lasting on a shelf for months or even years– under the right conditions, it is still possible for dry goods to expire and go bad. If that happens, you risk poor quality food and foodborne illness. This is why these dry food storage tips are important if you want to keep your stock fresh for as long as possible.
Rotate Your Items
Dry storage areas typically store baking supplies, grains, dried beans, cereals, and canned goods. The great thing about these food types is that you can purchase them way in advance before you need them because they keep for a while. But if you stock dry food in your pantry, kitchen, or storage room, it is important to rotate your items regularly. As you buy new stocks of the same items, place them behind the older ones to make sure you use the existing ones first. See to it that the expiration date is written on all containers and throw out expired items. One of the best ways to avoid getting sick from spoiled food is by rotating your dry food.
Cooler is Better
Even if dry food lasts a long time in the right conditions, it also spoils quickly in the wrong conditions. This can happen if you keep dry foods in a place that does not have a controlled temperature or is too hot, even just part of the year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dry food is ideally kept in temperatures between 50 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your storage area is colder or warmer than that, your dry goods are likely to go bad faster than they should.
Drier is Better
Now that you know to keep dry food in cooler temperatures, you also have to remember that keeping food dry is just as important. This can be a challenge in humid climates. Humidity wreaks havoc on dry food, as well as the packaging they come in. Too much moisture in the air can also damage cardboard and even some cans. In particular, wet boxes can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.
In humid climates, dry food is usually stored in airtight glass containers instead of in bags and boxes. If that is not practical, you will need to use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep your dry foods safe during the humid parts of the year.
Keep it Centered
When deciding on a place for your dry food storage, you must remember that temperatures and humidity levels can vary, even within one room. Temperatures on the outside edges of a room will not be the same as with areas near windows and doors, and up high. Exterior surfaces also tend to have more condensation problems and this can lead to bug or rodent infestation.
Even indoor dry food storage is best if it is put someplace centrally located and, as much as possible, high off the floor. Do not place anything in areas that get direct sunlight or against an exterior wall. For storage in a basement or cellar, see to it that no food is shelved along unfinished exterior cement walls. This will ensure that your dry food is dry and clean, ready to use when you need them.
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