Apr 20 2013

Environmental factors and food storage, heat and cold.


Heat and long term food storage.

Heat is totally great for serving food. Get food up to around 140 F and you kill almost all the nasty micro-bugs that make us sick. Unfortunately it’s the enemy of stored food. Some say every degree increase in temperature takes a year off the life term of your food in storage. Obviously this would be different for different foods stored with different methods. Some say that every 10 °F above 30°F cuts the storage life of dry grains in half. That would product something like the following table.

Temperature Storage life of dry red beans
60°F 20 years
70°F 10 years
80°F 5 years
90°F 2.5 years
100°F 1.25 years

Incredible, no? And with temperature instability, meaning temperatures where food is stored are constantly going up and down, the effect can be as bad or worse. By storing food in the hot garage or attic you could take it’s life down to below one year!

There are a few situations where we use heat to disinfect certain suspected foods (like honey, jellies, nut butters) that come out of storage but that’s more of a salvage thing that a storage technique. Heat also decreases nutritional value in foods at the chemical level but it’s a physical disruption: cells are literally exploding, chemical bonds are becoming more excited and likely to run off with the neighbors to create new chemicals, so on and so on. This is a major trade-off with steam-canning.