At What Temperature Should I Store Freeze-Dried Food?

Written by The Ready Store

Temperature and Humidity guagesAs you are looking at different food storage options, you are probably wondering how to get the longest shelf-life.  You are probably wondering where you should put all of the food you have to store.

There are some people that think the garage is a good place to store their food, but in most cases it’s not recommended because of the extreme temperature shifts that can occur inside a garage or attic (depending on your location of course).

Freeze-dried food should be kept in storage that stays under 75 degrees.  The cold does not affect the product adversely but the heat will and if the heat is higher than 75 degrees you start to lose out on the guarantee of  up to a 30 year shelf life.  So basically avoid hot temperatures as much as possible.

Many people choose to store their food in the basement where it stays on the colder side most of the year.  If you have a cold storage room, this would be ideal, but if you don’t have a basement or storage area, don’t worry too much.  Just try to keep the temperature under 75 degrees in you storage area (whether that in a closet, under a bed, or in the pantry).

Saratoga Farms and Mountain House products are produced and stored in temperature controlled facilities so make sure you do all you can to keep it in similar conditions to ensure it will be great tasting, nutritious, and safe when you need it.

Updated April 8, 2011

31 Comments

  1. Jan Smith wrote:

    Because developing a healthy, stable pantry is so important, perhaps to our survival, it is a very serious endeavor!!! It certainly is a learning experience and interesting…not quite so much fun as if it were not so important.

    Thank you.

    April 10th, 2011 at 11:05 pm
  2. Carol Keating wrote:

    I would really like some company to develop food storage that will retain its shelf life even under high temperatures. We live in California and we don’t have a basement for food storage. The only extra space we have is in our garage, which as noted in your article, can get very hot in the summer. Is there any thought to developing food storage for high temps? Thanks.

    April 10th, 2011 at 11:56 pm
  3. Keith MacKenzie wrote:

    What is the % decrease in lifetime for 85 degrees?
    95 degrees?
    105 degrees?
    This information would be useful to help plan a consume and re-order schedule.

    Perhaps a lifetime/temperature graph could be created.
    Thank you.

    April 11th, 2011 at 1:20 am
  4. Anne Ebert wrote:

    Thank you for the information. I support the individual in California as Florida is also hot most of the year. If the AC goes out ,most likely, in an emergency, then our storage is at a risk. Keeping a house under 75 degrees is also expensive.

    April 11th, 2011 at 3:58 am
  5. Jim W. wrote:

    There is a chart on this page for the older MRE style stuff:

    http://www.longlifefood.com/about-mre.asp

    I’ve never seen a chart for freeze-dried products.
    A general “rule of thumb” is that a rise in temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) doubles the rate of chemical reactions. I would think this would likely apply to food spoilage.

    April 11th, 2011 at 4:19 am
  6. Janie wrote:

    Look around your home for innovative ways to store. Closets,and under the beds are two places. I will bet you can think of others. This is important. Also keep in mind where you put your stuff. You need to rotate. Also canned goods, etc actually look good on open shelves in your kitchen.

    April 11th, 2011 at 4:55 am
  7. Duncan wrote:

    For those in California, Florida, and other Hot spots, would a small room or corner of the garage that is very well insulated work to lower the temp ? One would have to insulate above as well and maybe below?

    April 11th, 2011 at 5:31 am
  8. John wrote:

    I second the idea of having a chart that would show the length of anticipated storage usefulness at various temps. Furthermore, how would temps affect freeze dried vs. dehydrated?

    April 11th, 2011 at 5:36 am
  9. RER wrote:

    The instructions for creating a proper storage and temperature controlled facility is more important than knowing the correct storage temperature. Thank You

    April 11th, 2011 at 5:39 am
  10. Chuck wrote:

    If you do not need your garage for you vehicles, why not make a room to use for a pantry? Use 2×6″ lumber and insulate the walls, including the exterior walls. Run a 220 circuit and install a PTAC (packaged thermal air-conditioning) unit in the exterior wall. Then you can keep your food at 60 degrees. Alternately, add a pantry to your home, using 2×6’s and a PTAC unit. I added the pantry to my house (I should have made it larger) and it stays at 60 degrees even when the outside temperature is over 100 degrees.

    April 11th, 2011 at 5:59 am
  11. Rick wrote:

    I second the issue of storage in less than optimal conditions. While I store my supplies indoor, we live in the Southwest Desert and one power outage of say an hour and there goes the 75 degree room!

    Without a basement…how better to store my supplies?

    April 11th, 2011 at 6:16 am
  12. admin wrote:

    From The Ready Store:

    The US Government commissioned a study on the temperature affects on MREs and the details are summarized in this graph we created:

    http://www.thereadystore.com/media/mktg/mre_storage_life.gif

    As for freeze-dried food no one has done a similar study. We know from our own personal experience that the food does not appear to degrade quickly in high temps but then again that is with only about 9 years worth of eating product.

    Our company breakroom that is constantly between 75 to 80 degrees has about 100 dented cans (thanks to FedEx) that have since been opened and the food has been good to eat for at least 12 months and again that is an opened product where air and moisture is getting to the food.

    April 11th, 2011 at 7:40 am
  13. Alyce wrote:

    So..if we were to experience an EMP (electro magnectic pulse)
    attack…and we lose all our electricity (which is likely)…how long will the product last under those circumstances without air conditioning?
    Thank You.

    April 11th, 2011 at 7:42 am
  14. Bobby wrote:

    I can’t resist weighing in on this . . . you all raise the obvious issue but don’t state the solution. Hire a contractor to excavate a hole in your yard and put in a ‘vault’ aka root cellar. Bury it with five feet of dirt and one day you will seem like the smartest person in town! Depending on the part of the country you are in, this vault will stay well below the 75 degrees stated in the article w/o requiring any electricity. Cost . . . maybe $10K? Truth is, all homes should be built with a basement.

    April 11th, 2011 at 7:45 am
  15. dan wrote:

    Why is it none of these type of site address the need for power in a 911 type event ?
    Also some way to keep warm if the winter is apon us at this troubled times.

    April 11th, 2011 at 7:54 am
  16. tom wrote:

    Dan, they do sell power items and so do a lot of their competitors. You need to look outside of the Food Storage tab on their site :-)

    April 11th, 2011 at 7:58 am
  17. Susan wrote:

    Here in western WA, the garage IS the coolest place. With no A/C in the house, my garage stays much cooler than the rest of the house because it’s the lowest point in the house, with a cool concrete floor and air flow, but very little in the way of windows.

    We are getting ready to move to upstate NY and I’m hoping to have a basement for my storage needs!! What a luxury!

    April 11th, 2011 at 8:01 am
  18. jack wrote:

    Why all the talk about building a cool area in the garage… just move the crap in your closet that temp doesn’t matter out to garage and use the house closet/pantry/whbatever for the food – far cheaper

    April 11th, 2011 at 8:23 am
  19. Diana Elliott wrote:

    About temperatures. For many years we had our storage in a small outside metal building. It was insulated to the max and the outside walls were stocked with paper supplies as were the upper shelves. it had a concrete floor. This is in New Mexico and it is very hot most of the summer. I never lost a thing due to spoilage or freezing. Insulate properly. We did put a 60 watt light bulb inside for those rare times when the temperature was way below freezing.

    April 11th, 2011 at 9:48 am
  20. Susan G. wrote:

    I live in southern California, so my main “enemy” is earthquakes. Where is the best place for accessibility to my supplies should there be building damage to my home? I currently keep my emergency supplies divided between a closet near my front door, and in my garage, in large wheeled trash cans for quick evacuation. It does get very hot in the garage during the summer, but I don’t want to have all my food inside the house if my house should collapse. Any suggestion?

    April 11th, 2011 at 10:06 am
  21. lynne wrote:

    We also live in florida. Basements are impractical because the water table is only 7 feet down. We keep half our stock inside the home and we rent an A/C storage unit for the rest. I know it sounds silly but we consider the rent as part of our mortgage. It is cheaper than building a new house or moving. And, it also keeps us from having all our stock in one place. We installed a portable A/C in our garage and ran the exhaust through the ceiling and out the eave overhang. We have no garage windows. No one knows it’s there. Our garage stayes cooler than our house and keeps our worm “farms” cool. They don’t do well over 80 degrees so outside storage for the worms is not possible. It also helps us save energy on our freezers which are in the garage. They don’t run so hot.

    April 11th, 2011 at 10:53 am
  22. Paintswithwords wrote:

    There are 2 ways to keep stored cool. 1 is to create an underground storage capability. If you can get below 3 feet, you will maintain a temperature constant in the 60 degree range – This can easily be done by making a walk down storm cellar that is at least 6 feet deep. Another way is to go to Costco or any similar place and purchase a portable air conditioning unit for around $300. IF you are keeping $3,000 – $4,000 worth of food, it’s worth it. If you are storing food (in general) that is not dehydrated or freeze dried, make sure the salt content exceeds 30% per portion and then you can basicly ignore the expiration date. Examples of tis type of food are Armor Chili (no MSG) and most canned stews and soups – If you are storing soup also store either corn starch or tapioca so you can turn the soup into stew and pt it over rice or pasta. I would strongly suggest storing Pinto Beans (that’s how the counry was crossed in the 1840 – 1870’s), but store them in mason jars so any mice can’t get to them, also the same for rice, lima beans, etc. Pasta should be kept in its original box, it’s safe. Ignore the expiration dates on all rice, dried beans and pasta – The dates are a marketing gimmick so you’ll toss the product and replace it. I can tell you that I have opened a can of tomatoes that was 5 years beyond its expiration and they were fine. When buying food for storage look to protien and fiber. Canned ham (not refridgerated) is another good one and it has a shelf life of at least 5 years and will come in handy with the dried beans. Salt is also an important item to store because if you begin to use hunted meats, you will need salt iin your diet. Study history because that may be where we are headed under this administration.

    April 11th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
  23. Colleen wrote:

    I’m with Jack. Clean out your closet, underneath your bed, or your laundry room. If you absolutely feel you must store your food in a climate controlled environment, instead of going to the expense of digging holes, building air conditioned pantries, etc. why not just buy a very large chest freezer and put it in your garage. You can buy an external control thermostat (check cheese making supply companies, about $30.00) and put the freezer at whatever temperature you like. $10.00 a month should cover the additional electric use…much cheaper than trying to air condition a room. If the power goes off, so what. It’s insulated and everything inside will stay cold for several hours. Turn it off in winter. I, too, live in California…northern, where it can reach and exceed 110* in the summer. Good luck.

    April 11th, 2011 at 7:34 pm
  24. Storing Food in High Temps wrote:

    I live in South Louisiana and it gets hot and humid. What we have done is built a 14×30 ft shed. Sprayed insulated foam on all walls, ceilings, and underneath with do it yourself foam spray. I’ve installed a 8000 btu window unit, with energy saver. Its set for 68 degrees and the bill is really low. For water storage we’ve placed extra support underneath for the weight of drums. I feel so behind the 8 ball on being prepared. All I can say is do the best that you can do with what you have.

    April 14th, 2011 at 4:08 am
  25. Jan wrote:

    I live in Southern California, too. I put all my freeze dried food on the floor in a closet, and put a magnetic cover over the heater vent in that bedroom, and keep the door closed. I chose the bedroom that gets the least sunlight. But if temperatures reach into the 90’s or even 100’s this summer, I don’t know if the closet will go above 75 or not. I’ll have to put a thermometer in there to see.

    April 14th, 2011 at 9:23 am
  26. Jill wrote:

    I’m in Phoenix. We have like, ZERO humidity. So…I’m wondering if keeping our food storage at ~ 75-78 at no humidity would be “equivalent” to keeping it at 65-70 at regular humidity? Thoughts? Thanks

    April 22nd, 2011 at 7:56 pm
  27. Ctwalter wrote:

    Reply to those who don’t have a cool place for storage that needs no power, and is safe from earth quakes….. for the most part. A small root cellar, in the back yard is safe from moderate earthquakes. It may not be safe from nosy neighbors, neighborhood associations, and zoning goons. A root cellar can be dug out about 4 feet down, and then built up with the removed dirt. Then insulate it and cover with enough soil to keep the temp in the 50 – 60 degree range. Shade would be a serious consideration. The construction should be poured concrete, rammed earth or similar SAFE construction. Check zoning for size limitations. For example, if you can dig an 8’x 4′ hole 4′ deep with no zoning requirements but it is not enough for your food storage, make two or three of them. Things like sandbags, framed walls and such may hold up for the short term, but will not survive weather or stress over time. The risk of loss of life and food is real. The majority of the dig out work can be done by hand a little at a time or all at once with a small rented bobcat or skidsteer. By hand is better if you have busy-body neighbors or other impediments. An alternate can be a 4 foot dug out, concrete walls, then framed walls and a roof above ground (disguise it like a childs play house) with 2×12 framed walls and the max insulation you can purchase, the temps can be kept low. Also, shade from vegetation will help keep the temp low.

    If your house has a crawl space, dig out a ‘dead-man’ far enough from any foundation or pilaster supports to be safe.
    Lots of good information from Storey’s publishers and on line about root cellaring.

    One last consideration; if your neighbors know your food is there, in very hard times, they may feel ‘entitled’ to help them selves with or with out your permission. Disguise a partially dug out root cellar as a landscaping hill with pretty ground cover like strawberries. Maybe put a dog house over the entrance if it is a fully dug out root cellar. (Any one old enough to remember Hogan’s Heros) The soil can be spread out over land scaping if your neighbors will keep track of a dump truck full of removed soil. Just something to think about.

    December 12th, 2011 at 11:52 am
  28. Tom wrote:

    I am fortunate to live in the midwest and have a basement. Our FD supplies, as well as all our canned goods, etc. are kept downstairs in large metal cabinets. The cabinets are kept off the cement floor by using wooden firing strips, sort of like the strips you see on wooden ammunition cases so air can flow around the cabinets. The basement is always cool (sometimes cold) and the food is not exposed to light. Has worked well so far.
    As to everyone in warm climates,I have seen root cellars in the SW and West while visiting old settlements. Probably the best way to store for those in warmer climates.

    December 13th, 2011 at 6:56 am
  29. Cheryl wrote:

    Like Tom, I live in the midwest also. Fortunately NORTH. I doubt many will bug out to this area because of the cold weather. I keep all food preps in my basement. It rarely ever gets over 60 down there even with the wood furnace on. To those in warmer climates, I strongly suggest you try and figure out something that doesn’t require electric or a noisy generator to attract attention to yourselves. Myself and many others are thinking we are in for a time of extended power outages from hackers or an EMP, not to mention natural disasters. I’m prepping to go totally off grid and live as my grandparents. Spent years setting up for it and am pretty sure it’ll pay off one day.

    December 16th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
  30. Diana wrote:

    A few thoughts on the above: First, although cans may look lovely on open shelves in the kitchen, that is the worst possible place to store food except for possibly a high-use bathroom. Refrigerator, stove, microwave, crockpot, coffee pot, toaster, dishwasher–the kitchen is full of things that put out heat, so will be warmer than the rest of the house much of the time. It’s also a place where you run a lot of water and put a lot of steam in the air, so humidity will be higher there as well, something else that cuts down on shelf life for cans. I’m not sure when the idea of a separate pantry outside the kitchen got lost, but pantries need to come back into style. Food should not be stored in the same room with the stove that cooks it. If you want ingredients within reach of the stove for convenience sake (most of us do), make sure you don’t put more in the kitchen than you will use up within 2 weeks to a month at most. Keep everything else somewhere darker, cooler, and drier.

    Next, very few people have space (or money) to store 30 years worth of food. If you store what you eat, eat what you store, and rotate your stock, you really don’t need more than 5 years of shelf life, which means if you can store it below 80 for most of the time, you should be okay. If you have to pay to run an air conditioner or refrigerator just for your canned food, you’ve lost the whole cost advantage of storing shelf-stable food. If you have a cool basement or can build a cool and dry root cellar, that’s great, but you can store one to two years of food without having either and without it suffering unacceptable deterioration from warmer storage temperatures as long as you don’t have it somewhere it’s at 90 to 100 degrees or more for days or even weeks on end.

    This is a rough table for temperature effect on storage life:
    Temp Years
    37.6…..40
    48.4…..30
    59.2…..20
    70.0…..10
    80.8…..5
    91.6…..2.5
    102.4….1.25
    If what you have for food storage has an advertised storage life of 30 years in ideal conditions, but you have to keep it in a house that is mostly at 80 degrees, you will still have a 5-year shelf life. If your house regularly gets up to 90, cut that to a 2- to 3-year shelf life, which would still allow for a year of stored food if you use and replace 1/3 of it every year. If your house is frequently over 100, heaven help you, and you definitely need to figure some way to keep your stored food cooler than you are.

    Keep in mind that not everything has a 30-year shelf life to start with, though. Food with a high fat/oil content does not store well for that long even at a steady 50 degrees.

    Here’s another rough list to use in figuring what shelf life is for things other than grains in oxygen-free cans. It should help you decide exactly what you need to rotate on a shorter schedule or provide a cooler-than-house-temp environment for.

    Product Years
    Apples 20+
    Adzuki Beans 25+
    Alfalfa Seeds 15+
    All Purpose Flour 10 – 15
    Bakers Flour 15 – 20
    Barley 30
    Black Turtle Beans 25
    Blackeye Beans 25
    Broccoli 25
    Brown Rice 3 – 5
    Buckwheat 20+
    Butter/ Margarine Powder 3 – 5
    Cabbage 25
    Carrots 25
    Celery 25
    Cheese Powder 10 – 15
    Cocoa Powder 10 – 15
    Corn 20
    Cornmeal 20 – 25
    Cracked wheat 20
    Flax 10 – 12
    Fruit 20+
    Garbanzo Beans 25
    Garden Seeds 3 – 5
    Germade 30
    Gluten 5 – 10
    Granola 1
    Great Northern Beans 25
    Groats 30
    Hard Red Wheat 30
    Hard White Wheat 30
    Honey, Salt, & Sugar Indefinitely
    Hulled Oats 30
    Kamut 30
    Kidney Beans 25
    Lentils 25
    Lima Beans 25
    Macaroni 20+
    Millet 25+
    Mixes * 3 – 10
    Noodles 10 – 15
    Onions 25
    Peppers 25
    Pink Beans 25
    Pinto Beans 25
    Popcorn 30
    Potatoes (flakes, slices, dices) 20
    Powdered & Whole Eggs 5 – 10
    Powdered Milk 25
    Quinoa 20
    Refried Beans 25
    Rolled Oats 30
    Rye 30
    Small Red Beans 25
    Soft wheat 30
    Soy Beans 10 – 15
    Spaghetti 20+
    Spelt 30
    Sprouting Seeds 15+
    Triticale 30
    TVP 10 – 15
    Unbleached Flour 10 – 15
    White Flour 10
    White Rice 30
    Whole Wheat Flour 10 – 15
    Yeast * 3 – 5

    Divide the above by about 5 for storage that often hits 80 degrees to 85 degrees in the daytime during several months of the year, but is closer to 70 or below the rest of the time, and you will see that you should plan on using your year of brown rice up and replacing every year, and the same for your butter, oil, nuts, whole eggs or yolks, whole milk powder, cheese, granola with nuts/seeds, whole-grain flours, and mixes unless you either refrigerate them or can find some other limited amount of cooler storage space for them. You should keep yeast and cultures for cheese and yogurt in the refrigerator or freezer until you are thrown off the grid, and then you can keep a starter going. (Based on my experience, you can get away with stocking 18 months and replacing the used every 6 months for high-oil-content items, so you always have a year’s supply on hand. With only about 15 days with highs in the mid 90s or above here in the summer and storing in the coolest part of my apartment with windows closed in the heat of the day and open in the cool of the night, I find brown rice and nuts can be rotated every 2 years with no evidence of rancidity or other deterioration, and fruits and veggies are easily good for 5, so I try to run on a 2- to 5-year rotation for a total storage sufficient to supply everything for 12 to 18 months, 24 for some longer-lived things.)

    September 21st, 2013 at 8:12 am
  31. andy wrote:

    can you freeze freeze dried food?

    December 15th, 2013 at 12:31 pm

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