Fact: Heat and humidity are the enemies of shelf life. While storing food long-term can always be a little tricky, the heat of the summer ups the ante and presents its own unique challenges. In this post we'll provide you with best practice tips on how to store food in the sultry summer months – from long-lasting food options to storage containers to what to do if you need to shop for or move your survival food stockpile in the summer. With our ultimate summer food storage guide, you'll be sure to beat the heat and protect your preps!
5 Top Tips for Long-Term Food Storage During the Summer
Is your emergency preparedness supply warm-weather ready? While these 5 tips can help guard against spoilage and keep your survival stash fresh any time of year, they become extra important during the hot summer months or if you live in a warm climate.
1. Choose the Right Food: First and foremost, opt for non-perishable items like canned goods, dried foods, and freeze-dried meals. These items are less sensitive to temperature changes – meaning more resistant to spoilage in warmer weather – and have long shelf-lives.
Dried Foods: Foods like beans, lentils, rice, and pasta are excellent choices. They have a long shelf life and are easy to cook.
Canned Foods: Canned fruits, vegetables, and meats are already cooked and "survival ready" so they can be eaten right out of the can if necessary.
Freeze-Dried Products: These lightweight, compact foods retain most of their micronutrients but require water to prepare.
2. Ensure Proper Packaging for Your Preps: Make sure your food is stored in airtight containers. This can protect against moisture, oxygen, and pests. Food-grade plastic containers or Mylar bags are often used for this purpose, but bear in mind different foods require different storage containers.
Dried Foods: Store these in airtight containers to keep out moisture and pests. Glass jars with rubber seals, like mason jars, work well.
Pro tip: Double down – you can store your jars inside a dark-colored plastic bin to protect them from sunlight if you don’t have a closed off pantry area.
Canned Foods: These come in their own container, but make sure cans aren't dented or damaged as this can lead to spoilage.
Freeze-Dried Products: These typically come in vacuum-sealed bags or cans. Once opened, transfer the contents into an airtight container.
3. Cool and Dry Storage are Key: Store your food in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Warm temperatures accelerate food spoilage, so try to keep your storage area as cool as possible. Basements often make good storage areas if available.
The ideal storage temperature is between 50°F and 70°F. Humidity levels should be below 15% to prevent mold growth. Consider investing in a dehumidifier if you're not within range.
For those who want to go the extra mile, consider building your own root cellar or spring house. Both are time-tested storage methods for keeping food fresher longer. Root cellars are dug into the ground and use the earth's natural insulation. Spring houses are built over a spring or stream and use the cool water to lower the temperature.
4. Regular Rotation and Replenishment: Make sure you're rotating your food supply so that nothing goes to waste. Check your supplies at least once per season – especially during the summer.
Live by the “First In, First Out” rule – use the oldest items first and replace them with new items.
Make it easier on yourself by arranging your preps by date. Pro tip: Let’s be real – expiration dates are often teensy tiny. Give yourself a hand by writing the expiration date in larger lettering with a permanent marker.
In addition to inspecting dates, take the opportunity to check your stock to ensure the integrity of the packaging and to look for any signs of spoilage. This is especially important in hot weather when food degradation can happen faster.
5. Shielding Your Supplies with Insulation: If you don't have a naturally cool and dark place to store your food, consider insulating your storage area to help maintain a lower temperature. This could be as simple as hanging blankets to block sunlight or using insulated panels.
Pro Tip: If you’re food shopping in the summertime, consider using insulated cooler bags. They can keep food cool for several hours and are especially handy when the supermarket is far away or if you don’t have a working AC in your car.
Curveball…Relocating in the Summer? Here's 5 Tips for Protecting Your Preps When You Move During the Summer
Moving during the summer months, especially when you have a large stockpile of emergency food, can be tricky but it's not impossible. Here are some strategies to prevent spoilage while you're in transit:
1. Pack Your Food Last: When you're packing up your home, consider packing your food last and unpacking it first. This minimizes the time that your food is exposed to warm temperatures.
2. Use Insulated Containers: For perishable food, consider packing it in insulated containers with ice packs. These containers work like portable refrigerators, keeping your food cool for several hours. An even better idea? Use dry ice.
The duration dry ice lasts can vary greatly depending on (are you sensing a theme?) how it's stored. If stored correctly in a freezer, dry ice is likely to last approximately 10 days. However, if it is kept in the open air, it may only last a few hours to a day. In a standard 25-quart cooler, 10 pounds of dry ice will generally last up to 24 hours. If you're using a sealed-off cooler with ample insulation, a dry ice pack could last for several days.
3. Climate-Controlled Moving Services: If you have a large supply of food and you're moving a long distance, consider using a moving service that offers climate-controlled vans or trucks. These services can ensure your food stays cool during the trip.
4. Proper Packaging and Protection: Make sure your food is sealed in airtight containers. This protects it from heat, humidity, and pests. It's best to use food-grade plastic containers or Mylar bags. If possible, keep your food out of direct sunlight during the move. The sun can rapidly increase the temperature of your food, potentially causing it to spoil.
5. Unpack Food First – and FAST: Once you're at your new location, unpack your food as quickly as possible and store it in a cool, dry place. If you used dry ice, remember to wear insulated gloves to avoid burns.
Remember, the goal is to keep your food at a stable, cool temperature for as long as possible. With careful planning and the right materials, you can successfully move your emergency food supply even in the heat of summer.
Wrapping Up: Best Storage Practices to Maximize Survival Food’s Shelf-Life During the Summer
When the weather turns warmer, long-term food storage can become even more of a struggle. Heat and humidity can accelerate spoilage, turning your carefully accumulated supplies into potential health hazards. But by adhering to the practical principles and best storage practices above, you can keep your food safe so it’s ready to eat when you need it.
These expert-approved suggestions will help you maximize the shelf life of your food items, ensuring that you're well-prepared no matter what the thermometer reads.