The secret to keeping stored food fresh

Perishable items keep longer when not exposed to oxygen

Oxygen may be essential to life, but here the kicker – it can totally devastate your food supply. That may sound like a very strange statement, but as a scientist, it was one of the first priorities I dealt with when I started to set up my “prepper storage unit.” There is no big mystery as to how oxygen makes your food spoil and why you should eliminate it. Oxygen, which is abundant in the air around us, can carry particles and deposit them in our food, it can also chemically react with food. The trick is to learn how to store food correctly and cut down on the amount of oxygen in the immediate environment.

 

Oxygen and food

We seldom leave food out because we are concerned that flies and bugs will spoil our food. But, if it isn’t the flies, what is it that spoils the food? Don’t worry about the bugs so much, worry about the oxygen. Let’s take a look at what happens to that apple you left out a few days ago. Certain enzymes in the apple react with the oxygen and make it soft. If you live in a warm climate, the apple with spoil quicker as heat speeds up the reaction. Come to think of it; this is another reason why  is such a threat to our food.

 Oxygen is also needed by mold, yeast, and bacteria. There is always some mold present in most foods that we buy, but we should do our utmost to protect the food. If we give oxygen free access to our food, you will even find that the dry pasta, rice, and flour you are storing, will be infected by mold or yeast. It will spoil the food, and if we were to eat it, we could become ill from food poisoning.

 

Mold and other contaminants require oxygen to spread and grow

Stop the access

So, you have been out to by your first lot of food for your prepper store room. That is great, but before you went out to spend all of that money on food. Did you remember to check out some storage containers? It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation, but it is a good idea to invest in good quality storage containers first. This gives you a chance to layout your storage, and you are then fully prepared when you bring the food home. Now, you can put away the food safely.

But, don’t only invest in good quality storage containers. Do a little bit of research and find out how important oxygen absorbers and desiccants are to good food storage. People that work with food stuffs on an everyday basis always recommend the use of desiccants and products which absorb oxygen as well. They know the most common food stuffs are easily affected by oxygen, and that these products are just as important as the storage units themselves.

Oxygen absorbers are self-explanatory, but what are desiccants? Simply put, they are driers, and you may have come across them in the form of silica gel. This is often what you will find in a small bag or pouch inside a bottle of vitamins. It helps to keep the contents dry and fresh.

dessicants protect food

Oxygen and water

Oxygen can introduce airborne contaminants to water as well. The good news is that if you want to store water safely, you can use things like Mylar bags. I use large 55-gallon bags to store water during the summer. It helps us out a lot as sometimes we get our water cut off due to water shortages. The water stays fresh, and the system seems to work very well. You can also invest in many different types of waters filters which can be a good alternative if you have stored the water for some time.

If you are not concerned about getting access to water, you should try using a water filter anyway. You will find the water will taste better, and during a disaster, a water filter may be really important if you have to fetch water from a stream or river.

These are some of the simplest and best ways to deal with what I call “food pollution.” How oxygen will find ways to spoil food will always amaze me. To eliminate the problem of food spoilage, you really need to be a step ahead of those oxygen particles.