"Location is Key" to Your Food Storage

Imagine an emergency occurs and you have to open your food storage only to discover that it’s not good anymore. That would be horrible.

How and where you store your food can have a huge impact on the life of your food storage.

Cool temperatures
Make sure that your food is in a consistently cool place. Many times your garage is cool during the winter but without air conditioning in the summer it can get pretty hot in there.

Make sure that the location of your food storage is consistently cooler. Canned goods will store for longer periods of time when they're stored below 70 degrees compared to those that store at 90 degrees. Remember that being in the shade doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cool.

Where to store food storageAlso be sure to not place your food next to a heat source. Pipes and walls can be cool during certain times of the year and hot at others. Be sure to think about the effects of changing seasons. Make sure that other utilities like freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters are not in the same room.

Dark places
Speaking of shade - it’s important to make sure that your food isn’t stored in clear or see-through containers. Now, if you buy food at The Ready Store, you don’t need to worry about that because all of our stuff comes in #10 cans, boxes, pouches or barrels. However, if you can your own foods and have them in glass jars, make sure that you store them in a dark place. Consistent light can fade colors, zap your food of vitamins and make fat go rancid.

Make sure it’s dry
One of the reasons that freeze-dried and dehydrated foods last so long is because water is taken out of them. Water and moisture leads to deterioration and corruption. Freeze-dried foods typically have a shelf life of 20-30 years. Dehydrated foods typically can stay on the shelf for 10-20 years.

You'll want to make sure that moisture is not an equation in your storage room. No puddles, drips or high moisture content in the air (as much as possible).

Airtight canning
While you can’t have an airtight room, you can have airtight cans of food. This will prevent odors and smells getting out of the container. In fact, many people use Mylar bags inside of their plastic barrels and containers. This keeps rats and other vermin away because they can’t smell the food. They also place oxygen absorbers inside the Mylar bags to ensure that insects don’t grow a colony inside the bag.

Oxygen will strip food of its nutritional value. The majority of foods contain enzymes that, when exposed to oxygen, start to break down the food by a process known as oxidation. Nutritional value is lost little by little as food breaks down. That is why it is important to remove the oxygen from the containers before you seal them.

Signs of oxidation include discoloration, mold growth, and swelling in the package. That's why it's important that the food has a quality oxygen absorber and canning quality that doesn't allow oxygen in to corrupt the food.

What have you found?
Comment below to tell us what features you've looked for in your food storage pantry. What worked best for you in your house? Comment below to help others prepare.

25 thoughts on “"Location is Key" to Your Food Storage”

  • S Albin

    So is there a "mean effect" to food storage? In other words, if my storage area ranges from 55 in the winter and up to 85 in the summer does that equate to a 70 degree year round temp? And should food be ordered during the summer, when it may be delivered and exposed to 100 temps while sitting on the porch waiting several hours for me to get home?

  • Mike Grandy

    What about storage in the luggage compartment of a class A RV? It's dark, but otherwise not climate controlled; that is, it will get below freezing in winter, and heat up in summer. Like the writer above, what effect will these temperature changes have on duration of of storage? I want my RV to be outfitted as our "bug-out" rig, stocked with extra food and water.

    • admin

      Hey Mike and S Albin,
      The overall thing that you want to avoid is high temperatures and large changes in temperature. Try to keep the temperature as constant as you can. The more the temperature changes, the shelf life will decrease. Also a rule of thumb that we’ve seen is to make sure that your food is stored below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We posted this video a while back that talks about open cans:

  • Kelly

    What if I have 2 out of the three factors? I have somewhere cool (54 degrees all the time) and dark, but it's humid (50% humidity). Is that ok?

    • admin

      Having all of those attributes in a storage location is the most ideal but we understand that many times it's hard to find that in your home.
      We can't speak for other companies but if you use The Ready Store food storage, we make sure that our cans are sealed tightly to ensure that humidity doesn't get in the can. (Check out our previous post on our seals - http://www.thereadystore.com/food-storage/2322/part-ii-why-some-food-storage-wont-last-can-seams/)
      If you've already opened the can, we've found that using the can lid will keep out the majority of the moisture. We've also had many people tell us that they'll pour all of the can into a plastic bag, squeeze all the air out and put it back in the can. This tends to help keep the air and moisture out of the food.

  • Laurie

    I have solved this temperature change problem by being sure my storage is contained in a cardboard box and all of it is stored tightly - covered with a mattress pad sheet. I have looked at my storage on a 100 degree day and it was cool to the touch. So the temperature does not vary since it is tightly packed. I also store smaller items between the #10 cans- like plastic ware and paper cups and the small glass bottles of spices. SO even in my vehicle, I have no worries of my dried items. I move my water when needed in the cold months. Summertime there's always a few bottles in the vehicle.

  • Susan

    I have buckets stored in a bedroom and we keep the house at 77 degrees. I live in Texas and we don't have anywhere else to keep things colder in the summer. How will that effect our supplies?

  • Loree

    I live in Florida. As long as we have electricity storage does not appear to be a problem however when there is a "power outage" what should someone do to keep their food supplies cool? Use the worse case senerio because we have been without power for 3 weeks after hurricanes. Once a hurricane passes it sucks up the heat from the equator and we always experience really hot. humid temperatures. Advice please!

    • The Ready Store

      Hey Loree, good question! It depends on the type of food you want to preserve. Historically, people would use salt as a preservative with meats because it sucked the moisture out of the meat. They would also store them in a dark, cool place. The same principles can be followed today. Try to find a cool dark place and limit the moisture as much as possible. Whether that be with salt or oxygen absorbers. However, some foods just aren't going to last once they've been opened. That's why we recommend freeze-dried food. It's light and lasts for 20-30 years without refrigeration.

  • Don Hodge

    Ground temp below the frost line is constant 50-55 F. If you can dig/backhoe a few feet down and add bunker style earth roof, you get a 'root cellar'. WARNING - ground water seepage or flooding will be a problem in some areas. Build bottom shelves 1' off floor. Sump pump is a solution if you have electricity. Frequent checks AND a cat which has free access is recommended.

  • NameDaniel Galindo
    NameDaniel Galindo April 25, 2014 at 4:05 am

    THANK you very much! I guess I will have to go shopping now!


    What effect do these temp variations have on freeze dried goods?

  • NameKeith Beach

    One thing I like to do is date all my supplies as they come in . I do it on the labels so I can see the dates without moving anything .

  • Farmer

    I think that for most people who might store large amounts of food (including canned, DH, and FD) ... finding sufficient space that meets the cool, dry and dark criteria will be difficult. Rotation may help (first in, first out), but for example: I store 500+ pounds of rice in vac bags, O2 absorbers and 5 gallon buckets. The temp range is from 10 to 90 degrees. It's impractical to store this much rice inside under the bed. And, it's impractical to eat this much in rotation - after all, it is for long term storage.

    A root cellar would be ideal - if it could be constructed in a dry and vermin proof manner. For those with the space, I'd recommend that option - below ground, waterproofed - and starve the cat for a while. Roaches also love labels and glue, so mark your cans with indelible marker.

    Next best might be a crawl space under the house - difficult at best to access and prone to bugs and mice.

  • CJ

    I am lucky in that I have a daylight/walk-out basement. It never gets above 70 even in the summer, and is generally kept between 50 and 70 all year round. Since it is in the basement it does see some light from a small window, but no direct sunlight. It is cool, dim and dry.
    Failing a basement, a root cellar is ideal, if it's rodent/vermin proof.

  • Edna

    Hi All,
    I have all my unopened #10 cans sealed in in the house and keep the house at 68 in summer and cooler in the winter but what I worry about is my wheat,sugar and salt in 5gal buckets with sealed mylar bags with 02 absorbers in my shed.(no 02 absorber in sugar) They're on pallets not the ground. I wonder if they are going to be effected by Texas weather. I have a small house and can't keep the buckets inside...suggestions or suggested shelf life please!

    • Donna

      From what I hear and read, sugar and salt are pretty indestructible. I am moving them to a outside shed to save on storage space. I would worry about flour and grains - grocery canned foods and put up foods (home canned) and keep them as cool as possible. I have a room air conditioner in my storage room and keep the temperature in there much lower than the rest of the house. It's usually 57 degrees to 68 in there. In fall and winter I just ope the window an inch or two and it keeps it cold but not frozen.

  • Kate

    How do you store food in your car for those emergencies when you are not near your food storage location? I keep a get home bag in my car in case of an emergency when I am at work. Temperatures range between 60s in winter and 100s in summer.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl June 4, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I have dehydrated and stored a HUGE variety of foods for upwards of 50 years now. I am just finishing up onions dehydrated in the early 1970's and they look, taste and smell like they were processed very recently. I make preparedness a lifestyle, and have so for many many years. We never had Mylar bags or Oxygen absorbers when I learned how, and I still don't use them. They are an added expense. If your foods are stored AIRTIGHT , as they should be, you won't have "smells" for varmints or bugs, or a way for them to get to your food! Large quantity things like rice, sugar, dry beans, etc, I store in 5 or 6 gallon buckets with a Gamma Seal lid. I have never had one with bugs in the foods. I also do not line them with bags. Food grade plastic is food grade for a reason. You can put food directly into it, safely. Plastic bags (and Mylar) are not mouse proof. Glass jars ARE, as are heavy weight buckets. I use mostly canning jars as I am sure of the airtight seal there. I have been storing things, like I said, most of my life and have had great luck. I will at times, buy frozen veg. on sale at a store and throw 'em right into the dehydrator. Works great! I do a lot of traditional canning as well. Most of my canned or dehydrated foods are stored in the basement, like my grandparents did. Not much for temp or humidity control as the house is well over 100 years old. They did it then; I am doing it now. I am living as close to "no electric used" as I possibly can. It's frugal, and if the grid should go down, I'll go on like always.. I try to not need refrigeration. Lose the fridge, lose your food unless you have a generator and unlimited fuel supply, and no one hears it running and comes to take your stuff, and.. Learn the old time food preservation methods like our grandparents learned, and you should be a LOT better off than others who never bothered.

    • vjordan

      to: northwoods cheryl how do you dehydrate the frozen veggies
      sounds very interesting...thanks

      • Mary Kay Huster
        Mary Kay Huster July 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm

        vjordan You just dehydrate frozen foods lust like anything else. Bring the bag of veggies or fruit or whatever it is home, and just put it on the trays of the dehydrator. look up whatever it is ot find the appropriate temp and length of time needed to dehydrate it, and turn on the machine at those settings. No need to blanch or whatever as that has already been done by the manufacturer. Check the items at the appropriate time and make sure they are dry enough and there you have it. This is great especially when you catch a good sale, as you can process a bunch and have a bounty of food for cheaper than the usual.

        • vjordan

          thanks ...will be trying this soon

        • Armyvet Mel

          Thanks for this!!!
          I've always spent a lot of extra time and effort blanching, etc., and cannot wait to try this! I've got 2 10-tray dehydrators which I mostly use for preserving summer fruits and garden veggies. This sounds like a great way to extend my pantry.

  • Jane

    Thanks for your advice. Is there something that can soak up humidity besides a dehumidifier? Is there a substance that can be laid out in your basement which will soak up humidity?

  • Angelcrest

    Great tips. Especially like the idea from Mary on using frozen foods to dehydrate. Will be using that soon!

    For Jane, there are chemical dehumidifiers. We have a few that we keep in our RV & storage building. In the height of Florida summers, we need to rotate them out about every 3 weeks. The ones we bought hold absorbent crystals that turn color when full of moisture. Then they get plugged into an electrical socket for 24 hours to dry out & are returned to use. I believe there are also some types that just get exposed to sunlight to dry out. Google 'camp dehumidifier' or 'chemical dehumidifier'.

    We also do not have a basement or root cellar, due to ground water level being so high. What we do have is a well built steel arch barn rated for hurricane strength winds. We are planning to build a storage cellar inside of that building. We should be able to dig down 2' to tap into the ground temps & then build a cement block room we can put shelves & bins in to store food long term.

    We also have a food vacuum sealer that gets a lot of use. I package bulk items, like rice or beans into smaller sizes. I've done that with sugar & salt, too. I use the vacuum sealer for double bagging long term storage supplies. I've also used the vacuum sealer to store essentials like paper goods. Toilet paper, paper towels & Kleenex all vacuum down quite nicely & take up much less space on the shelves.

    Keep up the great articles. I get new ideas all the time from reading those & the comments! Thanks!

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