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).
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.
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.