Why Dehydrating Food For Long-Term Does Not Work

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Why dehydrating food for long-term does not work has been on my writing list for some time. Before you get all excited about this statement, let me explain what I know. Yes, I love my dehydrator to dehydrate excess food from my garden and food I can’t eat that sits in the refrigerator before it needs to be trashed. I call this dehydrating for short term storage only. I don’t recommend dehydrating your own food for long-term storage because, in reality, it will only be good for about one year if you are lucky. Yes, you can use oxygenators and all that stuff. I tried that and I ended up throwing out all the food.

It was rancid. I processed $1,200.00 of food at a local church facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. I threw it out one year later. It was a volunteer church group that did not know how many oxygenators to put in each #10 can. Plus the oxygenators were not properly supervised, meaning they were left open and no longer worked. I don’t have the money to waste and you probably don’t either. I can’t waste one penny on my food storage, I need long-term food storage, period.

Dehydrating Food For Long-Term Does Not Work

Dried Foods by National Center For Home Food Preservation:

“Dried foods should be stored in cool, dry, dark areas. Recommended storage times for dried foods range from 4 months to 1 year. Because food quality is affected by heat, the storage temperature helps determine the length of storage; the higher the temperature, the shorter the storage time. Most dried fruits can be stored for 1 year at 60ºF, 6 months at 80ºF. Vegetables have about half the shelf-life of fruits.”

Me: I can’t commercially preserve my food like the experts. Commercially preserved are the keywords here. Please don’t get sucked into paying for YouTube classes and online training to learn how to dehydrate food for long term storage life. It will not work. Period. Even our beautiful jars of canned peaches are really only good for one year at best. I know, you are thinking I ate my jars of peaches when they were ten years old. Yep, we all did. We have also learned a lot in the last ten years. Here is one of my favorite websites for safely “canning” food:

Home Canned Food by National Center For Home Food Preservation:

“Properly canned food stored in a cool, dry place will retain optimum eating quality for at least 1 year. Canned food stored in a warm place near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, or in indirect sunlight may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Dampness may corrode cans or metal lids and cause leakage so the food will spoil.”

I get really frustrated when I see people charging for online classes or YouTubes on dehydrating food for long-term food storage. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in getting paid for work that I may do. I get it. I lose patience when people are trying to sell the idea that you can dehydrate food with a dehydrator at home when you read the experts are telling us another story. The truth is, you are lucky to get a shelf-life of one year. I realize under certain conditions you may get 2-3 years out of your own dehydrated food if you keep the temperature in your storage area at 60 degrees. That’s not going to happen at my house, or most other homes I’m aware of.

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As far as short term food storage goes you can read all the posts on my blog for FREE or use the book that comes with your dehydrator. There are some definite foods you cannot or would not want to dehydrate, but the books tell you those items. My dehydrator book states “poor” results on those food items.

By now you probably know I mainly buy freeze dried food storage products. They typically last longer, a lot longer. Sometimes four to five times longer. But I also buy some dehydrated vegetables, but very little because their shelf life is so much shorter. Freeze dried food is more expensive but I have never had to throw out any of it out. Ever.

The main reason I buy freeze dried food is that it has one component, the vegetables or the fruits. Nothing else is in the cans. In most cases, I can eat the food straight from the can. I have said from day one, “buy one can at a time.” I can’t go out and buy a pallet of food and have it delivered to my home. I buy a can a month or a case of food depending on my budget.

When you are looking for food storage here are some tips you will want to consider:

  1. Not all #10 cans are equal in ounces, just because it is a #10 can it may weigh a whole lot less and cost more than other #10 cans.
  2. Be sure and consider shipping costs, the shipping might be cheaper but is the food more expensive than their competitor? I add the shipping costs and figure out how much I am paying per ounce on every #10 can.
  3. Look at the ingredients, if you can’t pronounce it put the can down and walk away.
  4. Make sure you know where the food in your #10 cans is coming from, what country is the supplier getting the food from?
  5. Check the expiration dates, most companies put a date that tells us when the food was packaged AND will state the shelf life. Every supplier is different, ask questions.
  6. Remember temperature is everything. Our food will not last 20-25 years if it’s stored in a 105-degree garage. Nope, it won’t! I also can’t guarantee I can keep my house at 60 degrees. That’s not going to happen with the cost of utilities in my neighborhood during the summer.
  7. Decide if you want to make meals with your food storage or buy ready to eat meals by adding just water.
  8. If you can’t eat the pasta, for instance, in the stated shelf-life time period stated on the can, buy less of that product.
  9. Rotate the food you have and learn to use it every day.

Dehydrated Food Commercially Processed:

I’m going to try and explain about dehydrated food. The symbol or the letter (D) means dehydrated when we order or shop for food storage. If it has no symbol like (FD) it’s dehydrated and therefore, we should know it is dehydrated and not (FD-freeze dried). Maybe it’s just me, but when I first starting buying the #10 cans I had to look twice to see if the can was freeze-dried or dehydrated. You will see most cans have freeze-dried prominently shown on the order form as well as the #10 cans or pouches, etc. at any given store if they are freeze dried. If you are new to shopping or ordering online it’s confusing because they assume we KNOW it’s dehydrated if the product says “carrots” without a (D) or (FD)…..well I didn’t know. I hope this helps you as you continue to order and build your long-term food storage.

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Okay….most of us buy dehydrated food every day. We purchase cereal, spices, pasta, beans, baking mixes, etc. Dehydrated is the way the water has been removed from the products. The water is slowly cooked out of the food without actually cooking it. It’s one of the most affordable, light-weight and compact ways to purchase food for our storage or everyday cooking. We need to be aware of the dehydrated term…it generally takes longer to cook. Generally, you can’t “snack” on it right out of the can. It’s too hard. This is fine for soups, stews, etc. We need to remember that typically dehydrated food does not last as long as freeze dried. It usually has a shelf life of 5-8 years.

They usually have an OPEN shelf life of 6 months to 1 year. Please read the information provided by the companies you purchase from. I made the mistake of purchasing a can of freeze dried turkey and ham….and then realized if opened….it had to be used within two weeks. Yep, I am saving those two cans to make omelets for the neighborhood when a disaster strikes….or just for fun with the neighborhood someday! Please learn from me…read the cans or pouches. I buy both freeze-dried and dehydrated. They are both good choices depending on your plans for their use.

Freeze-Dried Food Storage:

I’m going to give you my opinion on freeze dried food. Freeze dried or (FD), you will see this when you order your food storage, is a special process to dehydrate the food. The freeze-dried method is first, flash frozen then a low-level heat is applied to the product inside a vacuum chamber. The finished product is a premium or superior end product. In most cases, you can usually eat the food directly out of the can. They re-hydrate quickly and taste as close to their freshly picked original flavor and texture as possible. The nutrition is higher than the regular dehydrated way of preserving.

You should really try the corn, green beans, and peas right out of the can. Okay, the strawberries, pineapple, and apples are delicious as well. Great snacks! When I teach classes I have served every freeze dried fruit or vegetable available on the market. I have made chicken salad, tacos, lasagna, chicken enchiladas, etc. with freeze dried meats. You can’t tell the difference from fresh. I really love freeze dried cheese. I have cheddar, Colby, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack freeze dried cheese. They typically have a shelf life of 20 years unopened and TWO years opened!!!  I never throw out moldy cheese anymore. Every food storage company has a different shelf life.  If the temperature of the area we store our food is higher than 60-70 degrees the shelf life will be shortened as well.

Yes, you might think freeze dried is more expensive. I like buying freeze dried for two reasons. I can cook every day with it and I save money because I’m not going to the store when I run out of something. I like the idea I can eat the fruit and vegetables as a quick snack directly out of the can. I like the fact that it cooks quicker than dehydrated.

Whether you buy dehydrated or freeze-dried food or can your own food storage, that’s awesome! I hope this post today helps you continue your path to being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless you for your efforts, Linda

Food Storage by Linda

13 thoughts on “Why Dehydrating Food For Long-Term Does Not Work

  • November 17, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I am also a fan of freeze-dried foods. I’ve been so ever since I was a backpacker back in the 70’s. I mean, hello! I went from Pemmican bars and jerky to Chili Mac and Neapolitan Ice Cream on my trips. Of course I usually had fresh caught trout too, but that’s all together different.

    I had no idea my dehydrated veggies would only last a year though. Seems like I’ve used them without ill effect after they’ve been on the shelf longer than that. And my canned goods–especially the pressure canned ones–definitely last far longer than one year. I’ve eaten self-canned blueberry pie filling that was five years old and it was delicious. I’ve never tasted my peaches like that though.

    Thanks for the information.

  • November 17, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Linda – I love your posts. I always learn so much. Thanks for sharing all your fabulous knowledge.

    • November 17, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      Hi Kathy, thanks so much for your comment! That means so much to me, I work really hard to research the facts and share them. Thanks again, Linda

  • November 18, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Hi Linda:
    I feel the same way through my experiences with dehydrated and freeze dried foods. My question is what is your favorite BRAND of dehydrated and freeze dried foods. There are so many and they do come in different weights. So when it comes to Mountain House (which I’ve been buying the longest), Thrive, Legacy, which is advertising on your site, Emergency Essentials (I’ve used for years) Eden, etc., etc. which ones do you think are best?

    • November 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Lynn, I prefer fruits and vegetables from Thrive and Honeyville. I also get my meat and cheese from those two companies. I have been trying some Valley Food Storage Co. meals and I am very impressed. I always say check the container, #10 cans, the mylar bags for the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it put the container down. Check the ounces to ounces (not all #10 cans are alike). I love North Bay Trading for short term food items. I have ads on my site but the Legacy one must be one from my ad network company. I am so glad to hear you are stocking up on food storage. May God bless you for your efforts. Linda

  • September 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    This reminds me of a conversation my daughter and I had the other day. With all the natural disasters this last few weeks, we have been talking about off the shelf canned goods. I said remember that once you open, say, that can of frank & beans; how are you going to store the remainder with out any power. Consider the size of your canned goods to the ratio of your family.

    • September 24, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Hi, C Gentry, that’s why I buy small cans that Mark and I can consume without having to store it in the refrigerator just in case the power goes out. It’s great you had that conversation with your daughter, I love hearing this. Linda

  • November 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    You’re dead wrong. Dried fat free meats put in mylar bags and oxygen absorbers will last a long, long time. A guy I read about pulled out his dried beef jerky out of a mylar bag WITHOUT oxygen absorber 10 years later and ate it and it was all good.

  • December 6, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    I’m sure you probably know Linda, but I’ll just mention it since it might help someone, but I know the older established companies like Emergency Essentials, Ready Reserve and so on offer samples.

    If not, interested buyers can look for special deals and try out different items.

    Personal observation is that people can still choose to stock up on dried beans, wheat, salt, sugar and salt. And they can make pemmican, jerky and hardtack for long term storage. And to that they can add canned foods, dehydrated and freeze dried foods to increase the quality and variety of their meals. Then we can add to our pantries with home grown food if it becomes necessary.

    • December 7, 2019 at 8:28 am

      Hi Frank, I’m glad to hear they still offer samples. This would help people taste some items before they buy several cans. Great comment as always, thank you! Linda

  • July 20, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Linda,
    My sister in law was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. What should I can/dehydrate for her. I have mostly canned stews, soups, mac & cheese, dried peas, beans, etc. put away for my prepping closet. I’m really new at this!
    I love your website!

    • July 21, 2021 at 6:25 am

      Hi Pixie, first of all, I’m not a Diabetic, but my mother and mother-in-law had Type 2 Diabetes. The one thing I do know is they had to have certain foods and less of other foods. This is such a great question, I’m sure you are not alone questioning what to stock. It would be the portions, the balance of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Okay, I want you to go to this website: https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition. Here’s the deal, it’s not what you need as far as what to stock, but it will give you an idea of the balance of foods required. I am going to do some research and write a post on what Diabetics should stock. It will be up to the Diabetic to portion out the foods. Also, thank you for your kind words, we can do this. I will write very soon. Linda


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