Many people keep a small stock of dry food in their pantry or kitchen cabinets. Although dry food generally keeps well, and can even last on a shelf for years, dry goods can still 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. These foods are great because they keep on the shelf for a long time so you can buy them long before you need to use them. But if you have a stock of dry food in your pantry, kitchen, or storage room, it is a good practice to rotate your items regularly. Place new inventory behind older ones to ensure you use your existing stock. It is also good to write the expiration date of items on the containers and throw out expired items. Rotating your dry food is a great way to avoid getting sick from spoiled dry foods!
Cooler is Better
Dry food that lasts a long time in the right conditions can spoil quickly 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 should be kept somewhere where the temperature is between 50 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing dry goods in temperatures colder or warmer than these may cause them to deteriorate faster than they should.
Drier is Better
Together with cooler temperatures, keeping dry food dry is also very important. If you live in a humid climate, this can be challenging. Humidity can damage 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. 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 impractical for you, or if you live in a dry climate, you will need to use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to protect your dry food stores during the more humid seasons.
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, you would get a different temperature reading around the outside edges of a room, 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 if your dry food storage is inside your house, put it someplace centrally located and off the floor. Do not place anything in areas that get direct sunlight or against an exterior wall. If your storage is in the basement or cellar, don’t place your shelves along any unfinished exterior cement walls. This will help keep your dry food dry, clean, and ready to use when you need it.
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