Prudent Food Storage

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

Version 4.0

Download Food Storage FAQ 4.0

Updated December 2003

Supersedes Ver. 3.50


Questions & Answers

Alan T. Hagan

Author of

The Prudent Pantry:
Your Guide to Building a Food Insurance Program

"In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted,
let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed."

Samuel Johnson, 1775,
upon completion of his dictionary.
Courtesy of James T. Stevens


Diana Hagan, my wife, for endless patience in the years since I created this FAQ; Susan Collingwood for sage advice; Lee Knoper; BarbaraKE; Gary Chandler; Skipper Clark, author of Creating the Complete Food Storage Program; Denis DeFigueiredo; Al Durtschi for resources and encouragement; Craig Ellis; Pyotr Filipivich; Sandon A. Flowers; Amy Gale, editor of the FAQ; Geri Guidetti, of the Ark Institute; Woody Harper; Higgins10; Robert Hollingsworth; Jenny S. Johanssen; Kahless; James T. Stevens, author of Making The Best of Basics; Amy Thompson (Saco Foods); Patton Turner; Logan VanLeigh; Mark Westphal; Rick Bowen; On-Liner and The Rifleman in the UK; Myal in Australia; Rosemarie Ventura; Rex Tincher; Halcitron; Noah Simoneaux; a number of folks who for reasons sufficient unto themselves wish to remain anonymous; and last, but certainly not least, Leslie Basel, founding editor of the FAQ, without whom I'd never have attempted this in the first place.


This Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) file is concerned with those methods and techniques that have been found generally useful to extending the shelf lives of foods suitable for use in home food storage programs. It is not intended for, nor should it be used in, any commercial food applications.

While you are developing your food storage program, please don't overlook your water supply. Without safe drinking water a food storage program is useless for within a few days you must find water or perish. An excellent water storage and treatment FAQ may be found at

This file is updated as sufficient material becomes available. Lend a hand -- point out mistakes, contribute data or information, or provide new sources of material. Contributors will be acknowledged by name in the FAQ, unless they indicate otherwise.

Questions, comments, compliments or complaints may be directed to Alan at

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.

Written material can be sent to:
A.T. Hagan
P.O.Box 125008
Gainesville, FL 32614-0008

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