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How to Store Dehydrated Foods

Have you wanted to learn how to store dehydrated foods? Here’s a basic guide on all you need (which is very little, actually!)

Dehydrated foods in mason jars, moisture and oxygen absorbers

Storing dehydrated foods is always a question people worry about. It’s a lot of work, and there are some websites out there that say dehydrated foods are only good for two weeks, or must be stored in the freezer.

Thankfully, that is misinformation that applies specifically to jerky that has been expanded to many foods.

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With proper drying, conditioning, and using the correct storage containers, your food is going to be good for at least a year or two (and perhaps much longer).

Do I need to vacuum seal or use O2 absorbers?

No. You don’t NEED anything if you have properly dried, conditioned and stored your product.

Can they be helpful? Yes. But don’t let your lack of that equipment stop you from dehydrating and storing as much food as you wish!

How do you know if fruits and vegetables are dry?

What Containers to Use?

Airtight containers are what is needed for storing dehydrated foods. Here are a few you can choose from:

Airtight Containers

Any airtight container will work – but test to make sure it’s truly airtight. If you can squeeze the sides and hear air escaping, it’s not airtight. Commercial glass jars with good lids, Tupperware, other plastic ware with good seals, and lids with silicone inserts.

Airtight does not equal vacuum sealed.

Airtight containers don’t allow the transfer of air into and out of the jar. Think of a canning jar. This is all that is needed for food storage.

Vacuum sealed means the air has been drawn out of the jar, leaving just the food.

Canning / Mason Jars

These are the easiest and most flexible containers to use. They can be used as-is, as long as you are storing them in a jar that is equivalent in volume to the food you are storing.

In other words, don’t use a giant jar for a small amount of dehydrated food.

Jars should be clean (hot soapy water is enough, but you can run through a sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher or boil them if you desire the extra clean), dry, and free of knicks and cracks.

A benefit of canning jars is that you can use them over and over again without waste.

They can also be vacuum sealed to help extend the life of your food on the shelf. Here’s the handheld vacuum sealer that I use. You’ll also need these jar attachments that go over the jar and lid and work with the vacuum sealer or brake bleeder to draw out the air.

How to Use a Brake Bleeder to Vacuum Seal Jars

Another option is using a brake bleeder to vacuum seal your jars. I’ve included it in my 4 ways to vacuum seal a canning jar video below.

What about reusable canning lids? Unfortunately, no! Watch the video here on using Harvest Guard reusable canning lids. There’s no tested length of time on them since the company has not provided information on that.

You may successfully use a brake bleeder to seal your reusable canning lids, but because there is no safe, tested method with reliable results, use them for canning and regular dry storage.

Vacuum sealing bags

Vacuum bags are best for storage of items for the freezer, but can handle dehydrated goods that are not sharp or pointed.

Sharp and pointed edges can eventually puncture the plastic and ruin all of your hard work by allowing air to get in even the smallest of puncture holes. (These generic brand vacuum-seal bags work just as well as the name brand!)

You can see how to use a vacuum sealing bag with a vacuum sealer here.

To use with dehydrated foods, it’s best to wrap the dried food in parchment paper, then insert into the vacuum seal bag for sealing. This helps protect the bags from punctures.

Also, be mindful that many dehydrated foods are easy to crumble, and vacuum sealing and storing can crush and break them down to small pieces.

A tip: Use a much bigger bag than you need the first time. Open, wash, and cut down to reuse so extend their life.

Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are perfect for long-term storage of dehydrated goods. They are easy to vacuum seal with an O² absorber (see more info on that below), or if they are the rough inside version, they can be vacuum-sealed. They are not easily punctured by dehydrated foods but are not rodent-proof, so store them in larger rodent-proof canisters if needed.

Expert Tip: Do not use mylar bags with clear windows or zipper tops for long-term storage. Both of these options are air permeable and will fail for your storage after a time. They are fine for gift-giving or for short-term storage.

Zipper-top Bags

While these are not good for short to long-term storage, they are good for storing smaller quantities that will then store in a larger airtight container. Just be sure to use the thicker freezer versions.

EXPERT TIP: I often store things in container sizes in a zip-top bag, then store them in one larger container to make segmenting easier for me. They are also fine for items like fruit leathers that are going into the fridge for a few days, or for jerky going into the freezer for a month or two.

Where to store dried foods?

Dehydrated foods do best in a cool, dark space. As with all food, light, heat, oxygen, and moisture can degrade food’s potential for storage.

“Cool” place is ideally between 50°F-70°C (10°C-21°). The warmer the space, the less storage time you have. Too warm, and you may encourage mold growth in fruits that are not completely dry.

“Dark” A closet, a cabinet, a bookcase with a cover over it, a food-grade bucket, etc. are the best places to store your dehydrated foods. Direct sunlight is not recommended at all, and indirect sunlight will not spoil your food quickly, but may reduce storage time.

Storage Tips

  • Condition first – nothing is worse than pulling dried fruit out of your machine, putting it into storage, and finding it molded two months later. Follow proper drying and conditioning, and you’ll be fine.
  • Package in smaller quantities – instead of storing in a large container exposed to air each time you open it, try a daily use container and one you store the excess in.
  • Powder only as needed – dried foods last longer in their whole form than powder form, so powder only as much as you need for the next month or two.
  • Label jars – Trust me – dried herbs all look the same; some may lose their initial smell (crumbling brings it back). Powders all begin to look alike when you have a lot of them. Label your jars with the food item and date dried.

How Long do Dehydrated Foods Last?

By the safety standards of the NCHFP if foods are properly prepared, dried, conditioned, and stored:

  • Dehydrated foods for up to two years years
  • Powders for 6-9 months

However, we know that practically, dehydrated foods can last up to five years or more. But some foods, such as tomatoes, will begin to lose taste, texture, and color faster than others, so keep an eye out. This is also another reason why blanching is important for dehydrating some foods!

Powders, on the other hand, like herbs and spices, have a shortened shelf-life because so much more of the surface area has been processed and exposed to light, heat, air, and moisture. So it’s best to store whole, and powder on demand.

O² Absorbers VS Desiccant Packs – When, Why, and How to Use Them

Desiccant packs and moisture absorbers on wooden surface.

As a note, neither are mandatory to use in everyday dehydrating. A moisture absorber is helpful and can give you peace of mind, but you don’t have to use them. O2 absorbers are only necessary if you have no means of vacuum sealing and want to store them long-term.

However, either can help give you some peace of mind if used correctly. And please NEVER use them together.

Moisture Absorbers or Desiccant packs

Moisture absorbers are also known as desiccant packs or silica gel sachets. They are all silica bead packets that absorb moisture.

They are the small pack of beads found in shoe boxes, vitamin bottles, and other sundry items. But please don’t use those in your food. They generally aren’t food-safe or have residue of things you don’t want in your food.

What size to use?

A 2-gram moisture absorber is generally all you need for up to a quart-sized jar. Dry and Dry Brand is the brand I use.

Benefits

  • Help control moisture levels in dried fruits from excess space in jar.
  • Help control moisture in containers that you are in and out of all the time.
  • Can be recharged by putting it into your oven at 250°F to dry for 2-3 hours, or just putting into your dehydrator at 160F for a few hours.

Can Moisture Absorbers Be Reused?

Yes – that’s what makes them worth investing in. They aren’t expensive and can be reused!

  • Place on a cookie sheet in a 250°F/120°C oven for a few hours
  • Put into the dehydrator at 150°F/65°C for 4 or 5 hours to be completely dry
  • Store in an airtight container.

DIY option: There is a DIY moisture absorber option to making your own desiccant packs if you’d like to try it.

TIP: DO NOT MIX moisture absorbers and oxygen absorbers in the same container. The O2 absorbers need moisture to work properly, so having a desiccant pack is counterproductive.

Oxygen Absorbers

O² absorbers are used to remove oxygen from a container. This does nothing to help control moisture, but it simply removes the oxygen.

Because an O² absorber is not reusable and is useless if left open to the environment, they are not meant for containers you get into constantly. They are for long-term storage.

Benefits:

  • Help control oxygen in containers that you cannot vacuum seal such as food-grade buckets, mylar bags, or large jars that can’t be vacuum sealed.
  • Help control oxygen in jars that have a lot of space and you want to ensure all oxygen has been removed.

Drawbacks:

  • Ruined if exposed to air (so be prepared to use them quickly and store the rest when using them)
  • Are not reusable or rechargeable
  • No DIY option to make your own
  • Not good for jars or containers that are not airtight.
  • Not good with foods that are high in fat (nuts, granola) or partially dried foods (dried fruit or other foods you did not completely dry).

Expert Tips

  • When purchasing oxygen absorbers, spend a little more and purchase in smaller quantities to help reduce the risk of exposure. Several small bags of 5 each are a little more expensive than one bag of 100, but you run much less risk of exposing them all when trying to deal with them.
  • Fruits are generally dried to between 15-20% humidity and are not good for use with oxygen absorbers. There are conflicting studies on this (one by the Utah Extension service that says it’s okay to use without any mention of percentage of moisture. But if you’re drying your fruit properly for storage and not for snacking, you should be under 15%. However, BeReadyUtah.gov recommends “Only store dry foods that have 10% moisture content or less, otherwise there is a risk of botulism.” This would be the case in an oxygen-free environment of vacuum sealing or using an oxygen absorber.

Alternatives to O² absorbers

The best alternative to purchasing and messing with oxygen absorbers is to use a vacuum sealer. While it doesn’t remove 100% of the oxygen in your jar, it removes most, and for the year or two most dehydrated foods are good for, it’s enough.

Plus, there are some foods that are high in fat that you don’t want in a completely oxygen-free (anaerobic) environment (this is the reason storing tomatoes in oil isn’t a great idea – moisture + bacteria – oxygen = botulism).

Use with vacuum seal bags or with the jar sealer attachments on mason jars.

How much to use?

General formula

  • 2 gram desiccant pack for quarts
  • 100cc O² absorbers per quart.

I provide a printable chart for all of the sizes and uses for both packs.

Get a free printable chart by joining The Purposeful Pantry Newsletter.

Learn more: Repackaging Freeze-dried foods for long-term storage.

What Do I Personally Use?

I use simple airtight containers and/or vacuum seal. Moisture absorbers are saved for things like onion powder which can easily absorb a lot of moisture in daily use (as many powders, but it is a big culprit in clumping and desiccant packs are one of the better ways of keeping it dry and clump-free. If you want to see some other ways to keep dehydrated powders clump-free, check out these tips.

What should you use?

Ultimately, an airtight container is enough.

But vacuum sealing in whatever form you use, or moisture absorbers both act as insurance policies to help protect your food from going bad in storage.

Using either with the knowledge of how they work will help you create a food storage system to increase your food security and stock your pantry for years!

Do you need to refrigerate dehydrated food?

Generally, no. Dehydrated food is shelf-stable, and doesn’t need refrigeration.
However, if you like to keep dehydrated fruits softer, they will need to be refrigerated because they still contain moisture which can mold over time.
Foods like jerky that have not been cured need to be stored in the freezer for optimal storage.

How to store dehydrated foods for long-term storage

While dehydrated foods are optimally good for up to two years, you may get longer by including oxygen absorbers in airtight containers (either canning jars or mylar bags), to help ensure a longer shelf-life. Some items may last for many years.

Let Me Know if You Have Questions

Questions or want to share your favorite way of storing dehydrated foods? Let me know in the comments below!

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67 Comments

  1. I am starting the dehydrating of veggies for the first time. I have a quick question before I get started. In the section “Where to store dried foods” it says a “cool” place is ideally 50 degrees F – 70 degrees C. Is that correct or did you mean to type 50 degrees F – 70 degrees F? I keep my house at 70 degrees F and for sure couldn’t stand being in my home if at 70 C.

  2. Avatar for Richard Smith Richard Smith says:

    Thank You for the quick response!!
    Richard ;0]

  3. Avatar for Richard Smith Richard Smith says:

    Hi There, New Fan of your YouTube Channel here. My. question is if I wash and sanitize more mason jars than I need, can I put a lid and seal it, or vacuum seal the extra jars for use later on? or do I need to sanitize the jars each time. inquiring minds want to know!
    Thank You,
    Richard

    1. They never need to be sanitized in the first place – hot water and soap is enough. And a jar with a lid is enough to store it (no need to waste the energy to vacuum seal it.

  4. I have dehydrated vegetables in mason jars with oxygen absorbers. If I want to take out some later, do I need to put in a new absorber every time I open the jar?

    1. Yes, every single time – which is why I don’t recommend them for something you plan on being in often. If you feel the need for that kind of protection, get a vacuum sealer.

  5. Is it safe to use moisture absorbers when vacuum sealing dehydrated fruits, veggies, etc in Mason jars for long term storage?

    1. There’s no need to do both. Vacuum sealing removes air/moisture, so putting a moisture absorber in when you aren’t opening the jar (which is what it’s intended for), is redundant.

  6. How soon after dehydrating and conditioning should I seal the jars. How much time between conditioning and sealing is to long? I dried and conditioned before obtaining an attachment for my jars. It’s been over a month now. Are they safe to seal now?

    1. You never NEED to seal them. But after conditioning, it’s safe. It’s safe to do it 2 months later. If your food is still in an airtight container, seal it whenever you want.

  7. Hi, I found you on youtube and love your content. I am complete dehydration newbie. I just happened upon a youtuber who says in video that you have to be very very careful in dehydrating fruits, veggies with oxygen absorber because you can grow BOTULISM! Now I am mildly freaked out! Can you please shed some light on this?

    1. None to shed. It’s a lot of fear-mongering in my opinion. Not only are O2 absorbers not necessary as I mentioned in the post, just as with canning, if you dry properly, condition (to check you’ve dried properly) and store it properly – you’re fine. Things with very high fat content like nuts and meats are best stored, long-term, in the freezer.

  8. Hi, my question is about using the dehydrated food after. For example onions and celery. Do you rehydrate in water or put them directly in recipes containing liquids? I dehydrated stuff but don’t know what to do with it lol

  9. I’m planning on storing food in mylar bags with O2 absorbers. Dried fruits, veggies, and mushrooms can dry with sharp bits that could potentially poke holes in the mylar bag. Is it OK to put dried food in an open ended paper or parchment bag inside the mylar bag with the O2 absorbers in the paper bag?

    1. Yes – but it isn’t necessary as mylar isn’t going to be punctured the way vacuum seal bags are.

  10. Hi Darcy, how do I know if my oxygen absorbers are still good. I haven’t used them yet though they have been exposed to oxygen (packet of several opened)? Thank you, Julie

    1. If they are hard, they are not usable. If they’ve been exposed for more than a few minutes, they’re likely not usable.

  11. Avatar for MrsTiggywinkle MrsTiggywinkle says:

    Hi Darcy, I watch your You Tube channel! I have a question about why my seals fail when using ball lids on mason jars after using the handheld brake bleeder. I’m storing flour or dried milk or nuts. I’m careful to keep the jar rim clean, free of powder and place a small piece of paper towel over the powdered ingredient in the jar. But after a few weeks or so, I’m finding lots of seals randomly broken. Not sure why. I do use canning lids that have been used, but I check them to ensure they aren’t damaged. Does anyone else have this issue? Thanks for all the info and help with dehydrating!

    1. There’s every chance that the brake bleeder draws enough vacuum (more than a foodsaver or handheld foodsaver) that some of the dried grains are pulling into your lid, even with paper covering. It isn’t foolproof, just helpful. If your ring is on, don’t sweat it. You’re fine. Nuts should ultimately be stored in the freezer for long-term, and flour has a short-enough shelf life that vacuum sealing isn’t required (helpful, but not required). If it fails, it could be from a used lid that doesn’t seal properly, too big of a draw, or other things. Just keep your rings on and you’re fine.

  12. Avatar for hortencia valentin hortencia valentin says:

    hi Darcy,
    i dehydrate mangos and was wondering what moister removing packets you recommend to use when i vacuum seal my mangos in food saver ziplock bags any information would be appreciated sometimes the syrup from the mangoes tends to make them stick together

    1. Moisture absorbers aren’t going to stop the stick. It deals with moisture. In those ziplock bags, they are air permeable, meaning they do eventually allow air and moisture in because the zipper is not airtight. So dry them thoroughly to crisp if your intention is storage. THEN add a moisture absorber.I use the Dry and Dry brand, but any will work. Sometimes, folks will dredge them in powdered sugar to help stop the sticking.

  13. Hi Darcy, as a newbie to all this, if I’m placing dehydrated fruit/veg in a mason jar. Should I use a moisture absorber if I’m looking it vacuum seal as well (looking to do long term storage -6mths to 1yr)?

    1. You don’t have to, but you can – that’s the whole idea of the post. They aren’t necessary, but can be helpful. Vacuum sealing is not the same as using an O2 absorber, so you’re fine to do both.

  14. Question : If I put my dehydrated vegetables and fruits in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers are they still only good for 1 to 2 years?

    1. Optimally, yes. You may get longer, but it can’t be guaranteed – and after a time, dehydrated foods begin to lose nutrients and texture, depending on the food.

  15. I made home made egg noodles. They are air drying, but I want to store them long term. Should I put them in the dehydrator and then store in mason jar with o2? Thanks in advance!

    1. The best way is to cook them first, then dry them. They won’t store forever, and an airtight container is all you need.

  16. I have of jars to store in my small apartment closet. Is it okay to stack vacuum sealed mason jars on top of one another? 3-4 jars? I just want to be careful and not ruin the seal by putting pressure on the jars below if they are stacked. Thank you for all your help! You’ve given me the courage to start dehydrating!

    1. I wouldn’t. Ball doesn’t recommend more than 2 – and you should at least have something between the layers like a box or thin wood to help shift. Vacuum sealing doesn’t matter with the rings anyway – so as long as your ring is on and tight, that’s all that will matter.

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