How Long Can Dehydrated Food And Meat Last? Tips On How To Store Dehydrated Food For Long Term.

Dried fruits

As a food enthusiast, I’m pretty sure that you would love your dried food and meat to stay put and edible for extended periods. Right?

Your possible reasons could be the preservation of your favorite foodstuffs, which would have gone to waste due to over purchase and the foods surpassing their expiry date, or when you wanted to avoid the hassles and expenses of dehydrating new foodstuffs every now and then.

Dehydration comes out as a premium food preservation method compared to other alternatives.
To begin with, it eliminates most of the moisture content which acts as a medium for microbial and bacterial growth. It also retains most of the food nutrients.

Albeit offering your foodstuffs and meat a more extended shelf period, the quality and amount of time your food can last, depends on a number of factors. Therefore, you can't correctly estimate the longevity of a dehydrated piece of foodstuff or meat.

To have an estimate of how long a product can last, it is paramount to look into some of the factors that come into play, which include the pre-dehydration activities all the way to how we handle our processed foods.

Let’s jump in!

Before Dehydration/Preparation

For longer lasting food products, it is essential for you to clean them thoroughly before dehydration. This gets rid of bacteria and harmful elements which can cause the food to go rancid quickly.

In some instances, you can use products such as vinegar in combination with water to clean some products such as fruits.

Beef meat


If you are preparing jerky or other meat products, make sure that your hands and surfaces are clean. This is to prevent transferring of bacteria, since meats are very susceptible and can lead to serious health implications and conditions such as botulism.

It is imperative that you throw away your meat if you spot any bacterial or fungal growth since these might lead to fatal cases. Also, make sure that you get fresh products from reliable places.

It is imperative that you throw away your meat if you spot any bacterial or fungal growth since these might lead to fatal cases. Also, make sure that you get fresh products from reliable places.

The Dehydration Process

For those having food dehydrators with a maximum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit ought to roast their meat before dehydrating them (to kill all the bacteria) alternatively putting it inside an oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Besides, you can purchase dehydrators that do have a maximum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and use them to cook your meat at 160 degrees, which is the recommended temperature for dehydrating meat by the USDA. A good recommendation here is the Presto 06301 Dehydro in our guide of the best Presto food dehydrators.

Meats such as pork ought to be cooked at a temperature of between 145 to 160 degrees F and given a rest period of three minutes to ensure quality and safety of the meat. Others such as poultry should be prepared at 165 F. Ground meat is best prepared at 160 degrees F.

Dried tomatoes


In case you are dehydrating vegetables or herbs, you ought to keep your temperatures 130 degrees F. This enables the preservation of nutrients and vitamins, and also to uniformly dry your food and remove all the moisture content.

If you are worried about getting the temperatures right, there are food dehydrators including the Excalibur 3926, which do have a cooking guide by their side to help you select the correct temperature for your food item.

Of most importance during this stage is to maintain the proper processing temperature for each piece. High temperatures cause food items to get burnt on the outside while retaining moisture in the core. It might also destroy vital nutrients.

On the other hand, a low temperature doesn’t get rid of certain bacteria in some food. This not only makes your food to go bad easily but it also endangers your health.

Storage

How you store your dehydrated foodstuff also speaks volumes on the longevity. There are a few factors that come into play here including the storage container, storage temperatures, and the moisture content in the food.

Let’s look deeper into each of these factors.

The Storage Container And Atmosphere

Correct packaging is paramount for you to have long lasting food items and meat. A vacuumed container is ideal for both products. You can purchase a vacuum sealer for this purpose.

To eliminate oxygen that might cause oxidation, you may utilize oxygen absorbers. These are made out of iron filings and activated charcoal and are safe to use alongside foodstuffs. Moreover, you may utilize expert recommended storage packages, which sometimes do have oxygen absorbing materials ingrained in their design.

Glass container

Alternatively, you can store your food in airtight containers such as cans. Select either the sealable metallic or plastic drums that are of food grade quality, just to make sure that your food isn't contaminated by the container material.

In comparison, metallic cans offer a better option since the plastics tend to allow small amounts of air to pass through because of their relatively thin and easily permeable nature. Also, the food can develop some plastic smell overtime.

Dehydrated meat is best kept inside glass jars or airtight containers. These 2 help keep off any water content since moisture creates a favorable environment for bacterial growth.

It’s also important to place these jars in dark and cold places away from any source of heat. It is recommended that you place this glass jars containing the meat in refrigerated units after two weeks.

Storage Temperature

The temperature at which the dried food is stored, also dictates how long the food will stay. For instance, a study conducted by the USDA found out that a drop of temperature by 5.6 centigrade correlated with the doubling of the life span of stored seeds.

The theory is also true for the inverse which also applies for the non-garden seeds. It is important to note that storing food in a warm climate will not only reduce its lasting span to a fraction but also causes the product to loss is flavor and taste such that you may end up throwing it away.

Equally significant, you ought to store the food in a constant temperature. Doing the opposite leads to a shorter lifespan, it now makes sense to plan for the rotation of your food storage if you don't have a cool storage place.

Freezing extends the lifespan of other varieties of food as well. All you need to do is ensure that you empty your freezer and allow new ice to form before beginning the storage process.

As a side note, avoid heaping different kinds of food together to avert the possibility of exchange in flavors and tastes.

Needless if you wanted your jerky to maintain its taste and have a longer shelf life, then you can place it inside a freezer if it has lasted more than a month.

The Moisture Content Of Your Food

As it is hard to get rid of all the moisture in your foodstuffs, make sure it has the least amount possible for a more extended stay. 10 percent or less is a safe bet as food with more water content would start going bad right from the container.

How Long Can Adequately Dehydrate Meat And Foods Last?

Properly dehydrated meat can take you up to six months or even a more extended period if appropriately dried and stored using the appropriate method.

But it is ideal that you consume it between the first and the third month lest it starts losing its taste and flavor unless stored in a freezer or refrigerated.

Homemade jerky lasts the same period but would start losing its taste in the third month even after refrigeration.

Therefore, it would be proper if you dehydrate your meat in smaller batches to last you a month or enough for your hiking needs. This offers you a lot of convenience compared to larger batches that might take a lot of time to get finished, hence compromising their taste. Large batches also need more processes such as refrigeration, which might cost you in terms of space and power.

Common Types Of Foods And Their Shelf Lives

Here is a list of some other common type of foods and how long they can stay on your shelf if well dehydrated.

Dried vegetables

When sealed well in a vacuum or in the absence of oxygen, these products can last between eight and ten years at a stable temperature of seventy degrees F. They can take longer if stored in a lower temperature. Such products include kales, cabbages, carrots, potatoes and others.

Dairy products

These dried items take up to fifteen years of shelf life if well sealed and stored at seventy degrees F. They can also take longer if placed in relatively lower temperatures. Examples include powder milk, whey powder, butter/ margarine powder, cheese powder and Morning Moo.

On the contrary, Morning Moo is a relatively new product in the market hence has not been tested enough. Therefore, you should try rotating the product every five years.

Beans

Dried beans

At a stable temperature of seventy degrees F and stored in a hermetically sealed container, beans can stay up to between eight and ten years. You might also decide to store them in nitrogen and lower temperatures to increase their lifespan. Examples include kidney beans, lentils, soybeans and many more.

Soft grains

Due to their softer outer shells that cannot protect their cores well compared to the hard grains, soft grains don't last as much. Maintaining a temperature of seventy degrees F will last them up to eight years. Like the other foods, their longevity increases significantly with the drop in temperatures. Examples include Groats, Rolled Oats, Barley, Rye, etc.

Hard grains

Because of their tough outer skin, they tend to last a little bit longer than the soft grains. They take between ten to twelve years given the same conditions. Always make sure to store them in oxygen-free containers that are properly sealed. Examples include Wheat, Millet, Hard red wheat, Flux, Special bake wheat among others.

Cracked seed/ Flours

Seeds become susceptible once their outer shells are broken. Therefore, we shouldn't expect them to last the same time with their unprocessed ones. When placed in a hermetically sealed container without the presence of oxygen, it can make them stay up to five years at the same seventy degrees F. They will proportionally stay with lower temperatures.

Seeds with more oil content will stay the least amount of time because their tastes would quickly get bad. Such foods can last between six to nine months with the same storage conditions as the others. Examples include Granola, Gluten, cornmeal, Germade, wheat flakes among others.

Pasta

Compared to the flours, this product stays for a more extended period. If well kept without the absence of oxygen and other adversaries, it can stay between eight and ten years under the same conditions. Lifetime also increases with a decrease in temperature.

Dried fruit

Dried figs

Due to their high moisture content, fruits don't take that long compared to other products. For instance, they take up to five years at a stable temperature of seventy degrees F in a well-sealed container and oxygen-free container. Cooler temperatures translate to a more lifespan.

Sugar, salt, and honey

Sugar and salt can be stored indefinitely if kept away from moisture. In the case of honey, it should be a hundred percent pure to achieve the same fate. There haven't been any clear records indicating how adultered honey can last if dried. Just make sure that all the conditions are maintained as before. Learn more about dehydrating honey here.

Peanut butter powder

Stays between four to five years if stored at a constant temperature of seventy degrees F, once stored in a well-sealed container free from oxygen. More years are achieved by placing them in even lower temperatures.

Rices

We have the brown and white kinds of rice which are essentially stored differently. This is because brown rice contains fatty acids which can start tasting bad if saved for more than six months which is their lifespan.

On the other hand, white rice lasts between eight to ten years under the same conditions of seventy degrees F and no oxygen. This is because the outer shell with the fats has been removed thus the extended stay but not as healthy as the brown counterpart. This product would stay longer proportional to the temperature it is stored in.

But if you needed your brown rice to last you up to one to two years, you could consider stepping down your temperatures at least ten degrees down and store it as fresh as possible.

Textured vegetable protein

Soy beans

You can also make your vegetable protein and have them dried for a longer lifespan. For instance, texture made from soybeans can stay between fifteen to twenty years if kept at seventy degrees F without the presence of oxygen and even more at lower temperatures.

Yeast

Due to its living status, this product has a shorter lifespan. It can last up to two years if stored at a temperature of seventy degrees F in a metal foil storage container and maintaining the seal intact.

It’s also essential to keep it refrigerated for a longer lifespan. It can take you up to five years or longer.

How To Give Your Food Stuff A Longer Shelf Life

After giving you a list of foods and the approximate time they can last. Let us give you some vitals on how you can better dehydrate and store your food and meat.

1. Grab the correct food dehydrator for your needs

Each food item comes with required conditions for proper dehydration to take place. The most important is the temperature factor. Most vegetables are properly dehydrated at a temperature of between 130-140 degrees F.

This makes a food dehydrator with a maximum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit capable of fulfilling the work.

It is a different story for meat lovers though. For convenience and ease of use, you may have to consider a food dehydrator with a maximum of 165 degrees to eliminate all the bacteria. If your dehydrator can’t meet these high temperature requirements, might be forced to cook your meat using other means before dehydrating it for the safety of your health.

As an emphasis, choose the correct temperature for your needs to avoid overcooking or undercooking your food which can lead to moisture or bacterial retinal.

2. Collect your food items at their proper time of harvest

Fruits and other food items pose the highest amount of nutrients and vitamins while at their peak of ripeness. Before that, they will not be fully formed or not succulent. After that, some of the elements would have been destroyed or become sour.

For maximum benefits always arrange to collect your food items at the right time before dehydration.

3. Leverage on food products that are in no season

It is a no-brainer that if you want to save a ton of money, then you need to purchase items that are in plenty (law of supply and demand). Therefore, to save on cost in future, dehydrate the foods that are in season since they would be readily available and at a fair price.

4. Ensure that the moisture content of your food is well taken care of

For your food to last the longest time, its moisture levels ought to be the least. To achieve this, you must condition your food before storing them. This is accomplished by placing the freshly dehydrated food into plastic bags overnight so that the moisture is evenly distributed.

More so, you can find out that your food is dried correctly when it develops a leathery feel.

5. Package and storage

As explained earlier, proper packaging and storage go a long way in ensuring that your food lasts for an extended period. Ensure that your food is not contaminated before storing it. Also, make sure that it is stored in a vacuumed environment devoid of oxygen which can cause decomposition of food.

Packaging it in a non-transparent container and storing it well ventilated and dark place helps preserve nutrients and vitamins. You could also add things such as oxygen deprivers into your packages for more extended stays. Even better you can freeze your food items after some considerable amount of time.

6. Eliminating oxidation

Foods such as apples and other fruits tend to darken in color when slicing them. This is because of the oxidation process. Therefore, for you to retain the color, you ought to sprinkle some lemon juice on the slices to eliminate this phenomenon.

7. Bugs and parasites

You might find that in some instances your stored food starts developing some bugs. Remove the infected food immediately and put it in an oven and subject the food to a temperature of at least three hundred degrees for twenty minutes. You can then repackage your products after having a taste of them and convinced that they are alright.

To get rid of harmful parasites such as trichinella mostly found in pork, you need to freeze your pieces of pork for at least thirty days at a temperature of 0 degrees F.

Conclusion

Dehydrated foods can get you running for a considerable period be it going out for your various outdoor activities such as hiking or that long and harsh winter period. It’s also a great way to save on cost and avoid wastage on your surplus amounts of food.

Just ensure that hygiene is a topmost priority, when preparing these meals as a slight transfer of bacteria would mean its growth, especially to foods such as meats that would result in their spoilage.

For foods such as vegetable and fruits, always endeavor to collect them when they are at their peak of ripeness or maturity for maximum vitamins and minerals.

It should also be noted that storing food at high temperatures causes it to go rancid quickly. Therefore, for a longer lifespan, try and save it in low temperatures as much as possible. Use a refrigerator or freezer if possible.

Foods that contain yeast may not last for long since yeast acts as a catalyst for fermentation. A good idea is to put it inside the correct container and not to allow it to get into contact with oxygen in any way.

If you keenly follow the above dehydrating guidelines, I’m sure you can make some long lasting treats for yourself and family. Preppers could also add these guidelines to their precautionary measures as a way of ensuring food security in case of an emergency.