Prudent Food Storage

The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. - Proverbs 21:20

Section 2 Common Storage Foods
E. Fats and Oils



E.2 EXTENDING SHELF LIFE BY ADDING ANTI-OXIDANTS

I take no position on doing this, but if obtaining the maximum possible shelf life in your cooking fats is important to you, it is possible to add anti-oxidant preservatives to the fat you have purchased. Used in conjunction with a gas impermeable container, either opaque in color or stored in a dark place, and cool storage temperatures (70° F 21°C or less) then shelf life can be extended to about five years, possibly longer.


The anti-oxidant in question is Butylated HydroxyToluene (BHT). It is often used in the food industry to slow the development of off-flavors, odors and color changes caused by oxidation, mostly in foods with significant fat contents. BHT is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list as a common preservative. The FDA limits the use of BHT to 0.02% or 200 parts per million (ppm) of the oil or fat content of a food product. The directions that I give below will be for the FDA limit.


BHT is available over the counter in the retail trade, typically found in health or natural foods stores or vitamin and nutritional supplement suppliers. It may also be found from various suppliers on the Internet.


To get the best results you will need the freshest oil you can find. Purchasing from a large, busy supermarket will usually suffice. You'll also need containers that are gas impermeable such as glass jars, or metal cans. There may be plastic containers with high gas barrier properties that will also serve, but I cannot knowledgeably say about this. It is important that your containers be food grade, clean, dry and dust-free.


In keeping with the FDA's GRAS guidelines you want to add 5.3mg of BHT crystals per fluid ounce of oil or fat. If you're using a scale calibrated in grains, such as a reloading powder scale, you may use the following table.


HT in grainsOILBHT in milligrams
0.1 grain1 fl oz5.3 mg
0.7 grain 8 fl oz (1 cup)42.4 mg
1.3 grain16 fl oz (1 pint) 84.8 mg
2.6 grain32 fl oz (1 quart)169.6 mg
5.2 grain64 fl oz (1/2 gal)339.2 mg
10.3 grain128 fl oz (1 gallon) 678.4 mg
NOTE: The grain weight measurements have been rounded up to the nearest tenth grain since most powder scales will not accurately measure less than one-tenth of a grain.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are using a reloading powder scale, be sure the balance pan is clean and the balance has been calibrated recently with a reliable set of check weights.

Remove the BHT crystals from their gelatin capsules and weigh them, if you're going to. Once you have the appropriate amount, add the crystals to a pint or so of the oil, shaking vigorously. It may take several hours for the preservative to dissolve completely. Bringing the oil up to a warm, NOT HOT, temperature will speed the process. Once completely dissolved, pour the anti-oxidant laden oil into the rest of the oil and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, the oil can then be poured into its storage containers leaving approximately 1/2 inch of headspace. If you have a vacuum sealer the jars or cans may be vacuum sealed to remove most of the oxygen laden air from the container, otherwise just seal the lid. Store in a cool place and if using transparent jars, be certain to put them in a larger container such as a box to keep the contents in the dark. Don't forget to label and date the jars.


Before I close out this section on fats and oils, please allow me to reemphasize that no amount of preservatives that can be added to your stored fats will substitute for proper storage and rotation. Don't sit on your oil supply for years without rotating it. A little bit rancid is a little bit poisonous. `Nuff said.




Updated: 9/18/96; 4/16/97; 7/21/97; 10/20/97; 9/15/98; 11/02/99; 12/01/03


Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003. Alan T. Hagan. All rights reserved.


Excluding contributions attributed to specific individuals or organizations all material in this work is copyrighted to Alan T. Hagan with all rights reserved. This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the entire text, mine and the contributor's names and this copyright notice remain intact, unless my prior express permission has been obtained. This FAQ may not be distributed for financial gain, included in commercial collections or compilations, or included as a part of the content of any web site without prior, express permission from the author.


DISCLAIMER: Safe and effective food storage requires attention to detail, proper equipment and ingredients. The author makes no warranties and assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this text, or damages resulting from the use or misuse of information contained herein. This FAQ is not intended for, nor should it be used in, any commercial food applications.


Placement of or access to this work on this or any other site does not necessarily mean the author espouses or adopts any political, philosophical or metaphysical concepts that may also be expressed wherever this work appears.



Table of Contents


Acknowledgements & Foreword


Section 1 - Shelf Lives


  1. Time, Temperature, Moisture, Oxygen and Light

Section 2 - Foods


  1. Common Storage Foods

A. Grains & legumes


  1. Grains & Grain Products
  2. Legumes
  3. Availability of Grains and Legumes
  4. Storing Grains and Legumes

B. Dairy Products


  1. Dry Milks
  2. Canned Fluid Milks and Creams
  3. Butter
  4. Cheese

C. Eggs


  1. Dry Eggs

D. Sugar, Honey and Other Sweeteners


  1. Granulated Sugars
  2. Honey
  3. Cane Syrups
  4. Corn Syrup
  5. Maple Syrup

E. Fats and Oils


  1. Buying & Storing Oils and Fats
  2. Extending Shelf Life By Adding Anti-Oxidants

F. Cooking Adjuncts


  1. Baking Powder
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Herbs & Spices
  4. Salt
  5. Vinegar
  6. Yeast

G. Infant Formula


  1. Alternatives to Breastfeeding
  2. Selecting and Feeding An Infant Formula
  3. Storing Infant Formulas and Baby Foods

H. MREs - Meals, Ready to Eat


  1. U.S. Military MREs
  2. U.S. Civilian MREs
  3. British/Canadian MREs
  4. Other Self-Heating Ready To Eat Type Products

I. Ration Bars


  1. Ration Bars

Section 3 - Specific Equipment Questions


A. Storage Containers


  1. What is Food Grade Packaging?
  2. Plastic Packaging
  3. Metal Cans
  4. Glass Jars
  5. Mylar Bags
  6. Reusing or Recycling Packaging

B. CO2 and Nitrogen


  1. Dry Ice
  2. Compressed Nitrogen

C. Vacuum Sealing


  1. Vacuum Sealing Considerations

D. Freeze Treating


  1. Freeze Treating

E. Oxygen Absorbers


  1. What Is an Oxygen Absorber?
  2. How Are Oxygen Absorbers Used?

F. Moisture in Packaging and Food Storage


  1. Why Moisture is Important
  2. What Is A Desiccant?
  3. Types of Desiccants
  4. How Do I Use Desiccants?
  5. Where Do I Find Desiccants?

G. Diatomaceous Earth


  1. What is Diatomaceous Earth?
  2. Where Do I Find DE and What Type Should I Buy?
  3. How Do I Use DE in Food Storage?

Section 4 - Spoilage


A. Insect Infestations


  1. Pests of Stored Grains, Legumes and Dry Foodstuffs
  2. Control of Insect Infestations

B. Molds in Foods


  1. Minimizing Molds
  2. Molds in Canned Goods
  3. Molds in Grains and Legumes

C. Bacterial Spoilage


  1. Botulism

D. Enzymatic Action in Food Spoilage


  1. Enzymatic Action

Section 5 - Shelf Lives


A. Food Product Dates


  1. "Best Used By", "Use By" and Other Food Product Dates

B. Closed Dating


  1. Closed Dating Codes Used by Some Food Manufacturers

C. Shelf Lives


  1. Shelf Lives of Some Common Storage Foods

Section 6 - Resources


A. Books


  1. Books

B. Pamphlets


  1. Pamphlets

C. Electronic-online


  1. Information sources
  2. Software sources

D. Organizations


  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - LDS Family Cannery Guidelines

E. Food and Equipment Suppliers


  1. Mail Ordering Storage Foods What You Should Know
  2. Addresses of Suppliers

Canebrake13