Mason jars are a great way of storing food safely. They are very suitable when it comes to freeze-dried food. It is important to prepare jars properly to maintain the quality of food for a long time. Below, we will outline how to safely store freeze-dried food.
To safely store freeze-dried food in mason jars, make sure to extract as much excess air as possible from the jar. Vacuum sealers and oxygen absorbers are perfect for this and have many other options for storage around the home.
It’s also a good idea to keep mason jars in the right environment, such as a cool and dark place to prevent food from spoiling. Just make sure that the jars are clean and free from bacteria to create the safest container possible for food. Ready to dive into the details?
Can You Store Freeze-Dried Food in Mason Jars?
Mason jars are great for storing freeze-dried food. They are a popular and easily accessible storage option. These can be found at the local supermarket or online. When prepared correctly they provide a safe and reusable place to keep food that can be easily organized and identified.
Mason jars differ from other jars as the lid comes in two separate pieces. There is the band, this is the ring that you use to twist onto the jar. Then there is the lid, which is a metal disk with a seal-rimed underside, and this will perfectly cover the mouth of the jar.
For regular use, the ring keeps the disc in place, and when vacuum sealing, the suction from the seal will keep the lid in place.
This sealable lid makes mason jars perfect for long-term food storage. You can clean and reuse the jars many times over but it’s a good idea to replace the lid after each use as the seal won’t remain secure for multiple uses.
It also ensures that any potential bacteria from the previous food will not make their way into the next batch being stored. It’s possible to purchase bags of mason jar lids if you are frequently refilling jars.
How Long Does Freeze-Dried Food Last in Mason Jars?
Freeze-dried food can last up to 25 years in a mason jar that is properly sealed. The process of freeze-drying extends the life of the food. Elements such as light and temperature can impact this time, but when managed properly the food will be edible for decades.
To guarantee that freeze-dried food lives up to its long-life potential, make sure each mason jar is properly sealed and oxygen-free. This can be achieved using a vacuum sealer and oxygen absorbers.
Vacuum sealers are a great tool that sucks out the oxygen from a mason jar (or other food storage container) and creates a secure seal to preserve the quality of the food. You can purchase attachments created exclusively for this purpose.
Food safe oxygen absorbers are small bags that can be placed in a mason jar to remove excess oxygen through absorption. Placing a packet in a sealed container is a great way to guarantee the food is safely stored.
Note: if you’re going to store freeze-dried food in a mason jar, the shelf-life will be shorter than 25 years if you do any of the following:
- fail to remove the air (via vacuum and/or oxygen absorber)
- store it in an area with a lot of light
- store it in a humid environment
- use foods that won’t freeze-dry well for 25 years
In these kinds of cases, the foods could still last several years (think 5 to 10), but I wouldn’t count on 25.
Want to know How Do Home Freeze Dryers Work? Science and Process Made Easy in this article I wrote, so give that a read.
How to Store Freeze-Dried Food in Mason Jars
It is very easy to store freeze-dried food in mason jars. There are a few key steps to this process that should be followed:
- Size – First, make sure to have the right size jar for the food. When freeze-drying food, it reduces in size. This is because freeze-drying dehydrates the food. Most foods have a high-water content and removing this water will shrink the food. Even so, pack the jars full to minimize space for air.
- Cleaning – Even with brand new jars, make sure to clean them before their first use. This will ensure that no unseen bacteria are hiding on the inside. Use soapy, hot water to wash the jars, and let them completely dry.
In addition, wipe the mason jars with food-safe alcohol to kill any bacteria remaining. Remember moisture will compromise the longevity of dried food.
- Sealing – Once the mason jars are clean and dry, they are ready to be filled. At this stage, the food-safe oxygen absorbers can be placed in the bottom of the jar, and then the food of choice can be poured on top. Next, use a vacuum sealer to remove excess oxygen and create a tight seal.
Important: If you open your jar after it’s been sealed then you will need to consume the food within a week. If the food has not been exposed to moisture it can be sealed again if the same precautions are followed.
This is where it’s fun to have the vacuum sealer. Let’s say you want to open a jar, try a few things, and then seal it back up. You can totally do it! Just know that opening and re-sealing mason jars will cut into the shelf-life some.
I don’t have an exact number, because so far any tested foods have continued to be good (I stick to fruits and other foods that can last 25 years in mason jars) even after re-sealing and opening them again later.
Even so, I’d guestimate that opening and re-sealing does shorten the overall shelf-life by at least a few months, if not a few years. If you add a tick mark to the label each time it’s opened, though, you can keep better track of which jars have been opened and re-sealed, so that you can use it first.
Where Should You Store Mason Jars Full of Freeze-Dried Foods?
Mason jars containing freeze-dried foods should be stored in a dark, cool area. A pantry or cupboard is an excellent place to keep any freeze-dried foods.
If there is a basement or windowless garage, these are also great places for mason jar storage, if the temperature is consistently cool throughout the summer.
As mason jars are transparent, they need to be kept away from the light. It might be tempting to display freeze-dried foods for everyone to see but keeping the goods in the dark will discourage any microorganisms from developing.
A cool environment is best for freeze-dried foods stored in mason jars. It’s even possible to store them in the fridge, but this isn’t necessary especially if they have been sealed correctly. If mason jars are left at too warm of a temperature the shelf life of the food reduces quickly.
It’s a good idea to store mason jars toward the back of shelves or on a shelf with rails, especially if living in an area that experiences seismic tremors (aka earthquakes, or as my kids call them, “earth shakes”).
Whether it’s a natural event or just a very heavily slammed door, vibrations through walls can cause mason jars to shift. Unfortunately, as they are made from glass if they fall from a shelf they will shatter.
What Is the Best Way to Store Freeze-Dried Foods?
The best way to store freeze-dried foods is in an airtight container, like a Mylar bag or a mason jar. Mylar bags are safer for decades-long storage as they block more light, while mason jars are more convenient to see what’s stored.
Mylar bags are made from polyester resin. They are food safe and have a laminated foil layer, this protects the contents from light. When sealed properly mylars bags do not allow external odors or moisture in.
Mylar bags are particularly suitable for food storage as they are lightweight and with the use of a vacuum sealer can become very compact and space-saving. This also makes them ideal for taking on camping trips and outdoor adventures. After the contents are empty you can wash and reuse them.
Mason jars are a popular choice for safely storing freeze-dried food at home. It’s easy to identify the foods being stored as they are made of transparent glass. They also come in a variety of sizes which makes them easy to stack and fit into your storage space.
Mason jars are a great barrier from insects and pests, once sealed properly no creatures are going to sneak their way in.
Cans are another option for storing freeze-dried food, especially in large batches. Since they are made of metal, these are the most durable option, and they block light from the food.
The downside is once a can has been opened it cannot be resealed, and you will also need to purchase a can sealer.
It’s possible to separate different foods into mylar bags, label them and then seal them into large cans for extra protection. This can also make storage easier if you are not planning on using the food for a long time.
What Are the Best Mason Jars to Use for Freeze-Dried Foods?
Wide-mouth mason jars are the easiest to use. The best mason jars to use for freeze-dried food depends on how much is being stored, and how much space there is.
While freeze-dried foods do reduce in size when dehydrated, nobody wants to waste time fiddling around trying to funnel them into a narrow mason jar opening. A wide-mouth jar means you can easily pour foods into the jar without requiring a funnel, although it’s still a good idea to use.
When choosing the size of jars, it’s a simple process of figuring out how much food to store and what storage space there is. It’s worth measuring the shelves and referring to the jar dimensions before purchasing, especially when ordering online.
Some mason jars also feature measurement lines on the glass. This can be a great way of quickly identifying how much food each jar contains.
It’s possible to buy mason jars with clips, but these are not suitable for long-term food storage. Purchase mason jars with screw top lids since these are compatible with vacuum sealers.
What’s the Best Vacuum Sealer to Get to Use with a Mason Jar?
The best vacuum sealer to use with mason jars are the Nesco Deluxe Vacuum Sealer or the FoodSaver Sealer with Wide-Mouth Jar Kit. Both are the market’s top vacuum sealers for home use and are the best for mason jars due to its specially designed attachment made to fit over the jar. The sealing process is quick and easy.
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Best Vacuum Sealers
We used to have an off-brand vacuum sealer because it was far easier and cheaper to find bags and parts. However, lately, it’s become easier and cheaper to find knock-off bags for the name-brand Food Saver, so it really is a great go-to model, as it has all the options while .
You can shop for the Food Saver vacuum sealer with jar kit on Amazon here. The Food Saver kit tends to be the better budget option, especially if you don’t already have the kit for mason jars. My neighbor has it and it works great for her.
That being said, we opted for the Nesco brand, because we needed something heavier duty (after already frying one vacuum sealer), we already have the jar kit, and it got a higher recommendation from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s in the mail, so I’ll have to let you know how it does.
If you’d like to shop Nesco products on Amazon, click here. When we ordered, it was out of stock on Amazon, so we found a good sale at Target. So, be sure to shop around.
Mason Jar Kit
If you already have a vacuum sealer and you just need the kit so you can vacuum seal jars, you can get it from Amazon here (click to see best prices).
Important note: make sure your vacuum sealer model has a port and is compatible first!
FoodSaver vacuum sealer has a special attachment that can be directly attached to a mason jar. Simply start the process and it will begin extracting any excess oxygen from the jar and create a secure seal.
It will be sealed properly if there is no movement of the lid. You should even be able to hold the jar upside down and it will stay in place purely from suction (have your hand in place just in case, so that freeze-dried food doesn’t go all over the floor).
Alternatively, if you happen to have a Harvest Right freeze dryer you can use the vacuum function to seal the mason jar. What’s great is this will allow a person to seal multiple mason jars at one time.
Here’s a YouTube video that shows how to use the Harvest Right freeze dryer to vacuum seal the jars. The downside is it does require pulling the shelving unit out of your unit. Personally, I’ll stick to one can at a time via the countertop vacuum sealer. Since I already have it, anyway!
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Mason jars can be used as a simple solution to safely store freeze-dried food for a long time. The process is simple, and products are easily accessible. Mason jars can be used along with other products such as mylar bags and cans.
Freeze-dried food can last for decades in a correctly sealed mason jar if it’s stored in the right conditions. Purchasing equipment such as a vacuum sealer will guarantee the quality of the food and there are special machines available for this purpose.
It’s an excellent way to make food last longer and to keep the storage area organized and tidy. Mason jars have been a staple of food storage for decades and the use of new technology will continue to be used in our homes for years to come.
Now that you know more about using the vacuum sealer with mason jars, make sure you’re ready to store some of your favorite freeze-dried candies – read this next: How to Freeze Dry Candy and Sweets at Home. They are the perfect treat to store in a mason jar!
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- All Things Jar. “Types of Mason Jars | All Things Jar.” All Things Jar | Mason Jar DIY | Crafts, Decor, Organization, 7 Mar. 2022, allthingsjar.com/types-of-jars.
- Howard, Robin. “How to Package Freeze-Dried Food So It Keeps For 25 Years.” Harvest Right | Home Freeze Dryers | Freeze Dried Food Storage, 16 Nov. 2019, harvestright.com/blog/2016/how-to-package-freeze-dried-food-so-it-keeps-for-25-years/.
- Kylene. “Packaging Dry Foods in Glass Jars for Long Term Food Storage.” The Provident Prepper, 18 July 2020, theprovidentprepper.org/packaging-dry-foods-in-glass-jars-for-long-term-food-storage.
- Mitchell, Quinn. “My Simple Hack for Storing Dehydrated Food in Mason Jars.” Dried Foodie, 20 Oct. 2020, driedfoodie.com/how-to-store-dehydrated-food-in-mason-jars.