Mylar for Long Term Food Preservation

I only considered mylar for food when I noticed some good quality seeds were stored this way. Thus began my long learning process.

For long term food storage, I generally use the heavy plastic bags that can be vacuum sealed, but I'll get back to these because they're still very useful.

The enemy of food in storage is oxygen. To keep food safe to eat and preserved your job is to remove as much oxygen as possible. This requires three things.

  • Oxygen absorbers
  • A container, be it plastic, mylar, or glass jars.
  • A vacuum sealer.

You can use one or all of them, but all three gives you the best chance for prolonged storage. Depending on the food, it could last decades.

Mylar comes in a variety of thicknesses. Thickness is important because thin mylar can be punctured from the sharp edges of spaghetti or rice. 

Mylar is UV resistant, moisture proof and smell proof.

When you buy mylar bags, read the reviews carefully. Many of the thinner bags have been recorded having pinholes. Vendors can be unscrupulous. 

Mylar comes in different sizes, thicknesses, colors, and even with clear windows.

I recommend 9 to 15 mil. But beware. When a vendor throws out a number, they generally mean both sides of the bag. There are many bags that might be 5 mil. That means each side will be 2.5 mil, too thin for most long term food storage.

When should you NOT use mylar?

Mylar is not recommended for moist or wet food. You can use it, but that's a job for the cheaper vacuum sealer bags.

Oh, and one last thing. If you're not concerned about creating a vacuum in the bag, you can iron the mylar closed. You'll still have oxygen left in the bag, but a hot iron will at least close it shut.

Vacuum Seal Bags

I've used these for decades. They are my go to storage containers for frozen food and long term storage. They are stronger than regular plastic bags, but they will eventually deteriorate so don't use them for extreme long term storage.

They are best for moist and wet food. If I vacuum seal something like flour or powdered milk, I use glass jars and use a jar sealer (often found in better vacuum sealer packages or sold separately).

Vacuum Sealers

A word on vacuum sealers. There are a ton of them out there. There were very few brands when I started using them. I've always stuck with FoodSaver. 

The first one I ever bought had a jar sealer attachment. These are special lids you placed over jar lids. I still have that machine. It's over 30 years old. The bag sealer didn't work as well, but the jar sealer still works great so I bought a new machine, but kept the old one to do my jars.

Jar sealing is great for moist food and powdered milk.

Oxygen Absorbers

Always use an oxygen absorber when storing dry goods. Do NOT use oxygen absorbers with raisins. The botulism toxin can grow when there is moisture left in an oxygen-free environment. Raisins are naturally moist so it's not a good combination.

Store raisins in a dark, cool pantry, refrigerator, or freezer.

One last tip about oxygen absorbers. When you get them, make sure they are soft and pliable. You want to buy 400 cc to 500 cc. (The number is how much oxygen the package can absorb).

Store them in the smallest glass jar they can fit in then seal it tight. To be extra vigilant you can also vacuum seal the jar to remove the last bit of oxygen in the jar.

I've always lived by the rule of "one for use, one for backup". Because it's a hassle to drive into town for this or that, I strive to always keep a full pantry. Once the pantry was full, I only shop when I need to replace something or I find a stupendous buy.

That said, my other reason for long term storage is that we're only two people. Unlike a family with children, our food needs are small by comparison. Many foods can go stale by the time we're ready to finish the bag/box. Vacuum sealing in smaller portions solves that problem.

Whatever your reasons, I hope this post helps you to decide what suits your needs best.


Mike Keyton said…
I never ever thought I’d write a comment in oxygen blockers, but here goes😀 would they be good for Muslim and porridge oats stored in Tupperware tubs?
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: Yes and no. Since you can't suck out the air inside the Tupperware the absorbers would lose the fight eventually. Each cc is how much air it can absorb. Every time the tub is opened you let fresh air in.

On the other hand if you want it for long term storage, the absorbers would do a fair job. You could also freeze the tub if you had the room.
nightsmusic said…
I think my FoodSaver must be at least 20 years old. It has the jar sealer attachment and both still work. Don't know what I'll do if it ever gives up the ghost. I do pretty much everything with it. Meat, veggies, soups, breads, two-serving sized rices and pastas.

Today, I have the 'luxury' of redoing my grape jelly that didn't set the first time :( I haven't had that happen before. I'm not happy about it especially since I used all my lids and have to go buy more and all my red grapes will be coming on in a couple days. grrrrr
Maria Zannini said…
nightmusic: I love my Foodsaver, and especially the jar sealer. I use that one a lot.

I'm jealous of your grapes. Most of my plants couldn't keep up with the prolonged bake-arama. I don't know if my grapes will come back next year. They're tough and somehow they always come back but it was pretty brutal this summer.
nightsmusic said…

I have years where they're prolific and years where I don't see hardly any. This year, I have an overabundance but food must really be plentiful all round because I didn't have to net them. The deer don't seem to be going after them this year. Some years when they're really coming on, I have to throw a net over them or the deer will wipe them out. I have to check on the red ones today and see how they're doing. I'd really like to get someone out here who knows how to prune though so they can tell me what I need to do. I can't hardly move the vines out of the way to get to the grapes. And I need to redo the trellis. The vines are so heavy and the trellis so old that it's all collapsing.

I ended up with 7-1/2 pints of jam and it set up yesterday but it was an all morning process that takes longer than making it from scratch. What a pain.