I can still hear the words of my 5th grade math teacher ringing in my ears. He would always say: “The more you learn in life, the more questions you really have.” Twenty-one years later, I’m coming to the realization of what exactly he meant. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying or learning in life, the truth is that the more knowledge you gain about something, the more questions you have about it.

Just as with 5th grade math, the more information we gain about Food Storage, the questions we gain about it as well. You might say that the Food Storage Math equation is Information + Information = more questions! That’s why I thought that we’d take some time today and answer some of the common questions associated with Food Storage. As we do, I’m sure we’ll have more questions that come up, so I encourage you to respond to this post with any additional questions you may have, so that we can continue to learn together.

What’s the Shelf Life of my Product After I Open the Can?

This is a pretty common question that hits all of our Food Storage Pantry’s pretty hard. The simple answer: A lot less! Once a can is open, the air-tight seal has been broken. That means that your product is now exposed to Food Storage’s biggest enemy: Air. No longer sealed in an air-tight container, your product has now transformed from shelf stable food to, well, just food.

Here is a run-down of shelf life after opening:

  • Fruits & Veggies: 6-9 Months
  • Dairy: 3-6 Months
  • Grains, Beans, Rice: 6 Months – 1 Year
  • Meats: 1 Month refrigerated, 1 week un-refrigerated.

Don’t worry, there are ways to keep the shelf life your product had before the can was open. The best option is to transfer your unused product from the can to a Mason Jar, then seal it shut with an oxygen absorber. This allows you to keep the shelf life the product originally had. Check out our post Ideal Conditions for my Food Storage for more information on sealing your product in a Mason Jar.

If you choose not to re-seal your product, keep in mind that now that it is exposed to air, it is just like any other food. That means Meat and Dairy need to be kept in the refrigerator while grains, beans, and rice need to be kept in a dry, cool place.

Why Do Some Products Have Shorter Shelf Life’s than Others?

A big problem that many of us make when we first begin building up our Food Storage supply is misunderstanding the shelf life of our food. Sometimes we think that some foods have a longer shelf life than they actually do, or we just assume that all shelf stable products have the same shelf life.

The best way to understand the different shelf life’s is by understanding the different foods. Just as a loaf of bread has a different freshness life as an apple, so do sealed products have different shelf life’s. While a can of Hard White Wheat can store for 15 years, a can of Powdered Whole Eggs has a shelf life of 3 years. The biggest thing to remember is to always check the shelf life of a product and remember to rotate your food storage items, especially those items with a shorter life. For more on rotating, check out our post What is Food Storage Rotation.

What’s the Most Important Item in My Food Storage Pantry?

While this question really depends on the wants and needs of yourself and your family, there are some basic items that all of us should keep in mind when building up our food storage pantry. Water is the one product that everyone needs for not only drinking but cooking and sanitation, yet many of us don’t have enough fresh water stored for ourselves and our families. We have some great water purification products here at Honeyville, including our AquaPail Water Filters, which have a 50+ year shelf life. Water storage is still a key product for Food Storage success.

Grains, Meats, Dairy, Fruit’s and Vegetables are also important products to include in your Food Storage Pantry’s. We’ve got a great Food Storage 101 post that discusses 6 basic Honeyville items that you can purchase now to start your Food Storage Pantry.

We’ve talked about just a few questions that come up in our Food Storage preparations. What are some questions you might have?