By Angie Sullivan Want to serve some of those great food storage recipes we’ve discussed, but worried about how to keep that food fresh longer? It’s time to discuss some great storage options! I know there are many of you out there who are hesitant about using your food storage. You’ve read the previous articles about trying out some new recipes, or learning to make bread, but that’s where you lose the nerve. You can’t seem to get the gumption to open that can of milk, or pry the lid off that bucket. You’re afraid that there will be no going back- that within a short time you will have lost the shelf life of your product, and as we can all agree, shelf life is a big deal in the world of food storage. If this sounds familiar, then this article is for you! Shelf life is dependent on a few variables. Heat, oxygen, light, and moisture are the biggest factors when it comes to shelf life. The less heat, oxygen, light, and moisture your product is exposed to, the longer it will last. Recent studies show that fluctuation in temperature is the biggest culprit when it comes to decreased shelf life. So, if you can keep your food at a stable temperature, in an airtight container, away from moisture and light, you will have the most success in preserving your food. Studies also show that most dehydrated foods can last up to a year after opening if stored well. Here are a few ideas on how to store that opened can or bucket: • Put the product in a zip top plastic bag squeezing all the air out or use a commercial sealer and store the food back in the can with the lid on. • Pour the product into Snapware® containers, which create an airtight environment and are attractive and easy to use on a regular basis. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, easily able to accommodate almost any food storage item you wish! • Metalized plastic bags can be purchased to put food in, and you can even seal them yourself with an iron at home! These bags can be put inside buckets for extra protection. They are a solid barrier to odors, which makes the bucket/bag combination nearly impervious to rodents. , They are also wonderful at keeping out moisture and light. • Gamma Seals are lids made especially for buckets that enable you to open the bucket with a simple twist of the seal. It allows you to get into the bucket, without having to pry off the lid. I use a Gamma Seal on my bucket of wheat, so I can get to it easily, yet keep the lid on therefore protecting it from any pests. As you can see, you have several options when it comes to helping preserve those precious food storage items once you have opened them. Hopefully you can banish your fears and feel more confident that you too can serve and preserve your food storage items!