Here is how to store beans, pasta, rice, lentils, corn or any other dry food for long term storage.
50# Bag of Dried Great Northern Beans
We found a 50 pound bag of dried Great Northern beans at the local GFS food wholesaler while we were shopping for some other things. It was all alone on the clearance shelf and marked down to $20. That is only 40 cents a pound for dried beans which normally sell for over $1 a pound! So we bought them to add to our long term storage.
Mylar bag in a 5 gallon pail
Mylar liner bags are available from numerous sources. We got ours from Emergency Essentials for $1.49 during one of their monthly sales. They are 20″ wide by 30″ tall which fits the 5 gallon pail with plenty of height to fold over and seal. The pails we get from Walmart bakery department for $1.00 each including the lids. They are food grade pails, although with the mylar bag liner that is not really important. The ones we get have had frosting in them so they are greasy and sticky but a little Dawn detergent and water takes care of that!
30# of beans in the bag
Just pour beans into the bag and pack them down until the level is about1 1/2″ from the top. We found that this was 30 pounds of beans. You need to leave room for the mylar bag to fold several times over the top of the beans and for the lid to sit down below the pail rim.
Oxygen Absorbers (cleverly disguised as hand warmers!)
To keep the dry food protected for many years without going stale, we need to remove all the oxygen from the container. To do this you can buy rather expensive Oxygen Absorbers OR you can be clever and buy Hand Warmers when they go on sale in the fall for hunting season. These contain EXACTLY the same material (Iron filings and certain salts) that are used in oxygen absorbers. Just open a package of 2 hand warmers and toss them both into the bag filled with dried food. I got ours at Sam’s club in a box of 28 pair of warmers for $10. That is about 36 cents per 5 gallon bucket!
Fold bag over a wood rod
Now, press th sides of the bag together and squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag while keeping the upper part of the bag wide and tight. Wrap the top 3-4″ of the bag over a wood rod that is at least 3/4″ diameter and 24″ long. This should lay on top of the bucket rim as shown in the photo to the left.
Iron on HOT setting
With a cloths iron set to high setting but NO STEAM. cover the mylar bag and wood rod with a thin towel and while pressing down lightly run the iron slowly from one end to the other and back.
Check the seal
Lift the towel and make sure that the bag is well sealed by trying to pull it open. Check the entire length of the seal from end to end to make sure it is well sealed. If it is not just cover with the towel and repeat the ironing until it is completely sealed. You can move the mylar an inch or so and create a second seal line if you are at all concerned about the first seal.
Folding the bag over
Fold the bag over from back to fron and then fold in the right and left sides so that it lays flat and the rim of the pail is free and clear.
Freshly Sealed Liner Bag
Your bag should now look like the photo on the left and should feel a little soft as it has some air in the bag along with the beans and hand warmer/oxygen absorbers.
Vacuum Sealed Beans!
After about 24-48 hours you will find that the mylar bag has collapsed like it was vacuum sealed! THis is the effect of the oxygen absorbers trapping all the oxygen (about 20% of the air we breath) in the iron filings of the hand warmers as rust (Iron Oxide). The surface of the bag should now feel hard since the beans or other food is now vacuum sealed with no oxygen.
Tap on the lid
The final step is to add the pail lid. A rubber mallet works great to set the lid or you can just use your hand. Don’t use a steel hammer as it can crack the plastic lid. Label the pail with the contents, weight and date of storage using a sharpie marker and then sit back and enjoy the feeling of having “put up” your own long term food stuffs!
The total cost of a 5 gallon pail of beans was:
30# Great Northern Beans on sale: $12.00
Food Grade pail and lid from Walmart Bakery:$ 1.00
Mylar pail liner purchased on sale: $ 1.49
Hand Warmers for Oxygen Absorbsion: $ .37
Total cost to store 30# pail of beans: $14.86
Cost to purchase and ship same thing from a bulk long term food provider: $59.95
Savings to Do It Youself: $45.09!!!