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Freeze-Dried Food Storage Shelf Life

How Long Can Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Canned Products Last Once Opened?

Most freeze-dried food products have a recommended “once opened, use by…” time-frame.  For example, each can of Mountain House food states:

“Once open, contents should be used immediately.  However, product resealed using plastic recloseable lid has been found to be acceptable up to one week after opening.” 

Since manufacturers want you to be pleased with your product every time you use it, they will often give a much shorter time-frame than the product can actually last.  This means that while the product will have the best flavor and nutrition within the given time-frame, the food can still provide you with a great meal long after the fact.

The question of how much longer a food can last depends on a number of variables.  While there isn't a set period of time that we can recommend for you to use your product, there are some guidelines we can offer to help you get the most out of your investment.

The thing to remember is, if something can harm a product while it’s being stored, it can harm it after it’s been opened.  Our main concerns regarding freeze-dried food storage shelf life are:

  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Moisture
  • Light

Heat:  Heat can quickly breakdown a food’s vitamin and protein content.  To maintain a high level of nutrition, it is still best to store opened food in as cool an environment as possible, preferably 70 º or lower.  If you still have electricity, storing remaining food in the fridge or freezer is a great way of preserving your reserve.   Just be sure to store it in airtight and moisture proof containers.

Oxygen and Moisture:  Oxygen and moisture can usually be avoided at the same time.  Since freeze-dried and dehydrated food has already gone through a process to remove moisture, our main concern is the moisture in the air.  By immediately storing your opened food in airtight containers, you can reduce the affects of oxygen and moisture at the same time.   Each can does come with its own resealing lid, but it is far more effective to store the unused portion in something like a Ziplock bag before placing it back into the can.

Light:  Light is probably one of the least thought of dangers to our stored food; however, light can degrade components in our foods, such as vitamins, proteins and fats.  They can also cause the color and flavor of the food to change.  If you are storing your opened food in clear bags or containers, placing the containers in a cupboard or dark pantry would help the food keep long

Other factors to consider are how your products were stored and what condition your can is in.  If your products were stored under less than ideal circumstances, the food inside may have already degraded to a certain extent.  Also, if there are any significant dents along the seams of the can, there may be cracks that have let in air and moisture.  These will significantly decrease the amount of time an opened product will remain good to use, no matter how well you store your products later.

By continuing to treat your opened freeze-dried food reserves with the same care as you did while storing them, you can continue to enjoy great meals for potentially months to come.  We here at Nitro-Pak have experienced first-hand Mountain House products last five months and longer and still have a great taste.  Just remember to treat any prepared meals like you would normal leftovers.

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