If you are like most people, you probably have a stock of dry food in your 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. These dry food storage tips will help keep your stock fresh and nutritious for as long as possible.
Rotate Your Items
Dry storage areas typically store baking supplies, grains, dried beans, cereals, and canned goods. The good thing about these foods is that they have a long shelf life so you can purchase them long before you need to use them. But if you keep a stock of dry food in your pantry, kitchen, or storage room, it is best to rotate them regularly. Whenever you buy new inventory, make sure they are placed behind the older ones so you are constantly using your existing stock. It is also good to write the expiration date of items on the containers and throw out expired items. One of the best ways of preventing sickness from spoiled food is by rotating your dry food.
Cooler is Better
In the right conditions, dry food can last a long time, but it can also spoil quickly if stored under the wrong conditions. This is especially true if you try to store dry foods in an environment that is too hot or not temperature controlled. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dry food is ideally stored 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
Along with cooler temperatures, it is also important to keep dry food dry. Climates with high humidity make this particularly challenging. Humidity damages dry food and the packaging it comes in. Cardboard and even some cans get damaged when there is a lot of moisture in the air. Mold and bacteria tend to grow on wet boxes.
It is preferable to keep dry food in airtight glass containers if your area has a humid climate. If that is not practical, a dehumidifier or air conditioner will help protect your dry food stores.
Keep it Centered
When identifying a place to keep your dry food storage, keep in mind that temperature and humidity levels differ even in the same room. For instance, the temperature at the edges of a room will be different from areas near windows and doors and up high. Condensation is also more likely to form on exterior surfaces and can invite bugs or rodents.
Even if your dry food storage is inside your house, put it someplace centrally located and off the floor. Other areas to avoid are those that get direct sunlight or 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 ensure that your dry food is dry and clean, ready to use when you need them.
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