How To Store Baking Essentials For Longer Shelf Life
The basic baking essentials used to make bread from your stored grains (e.g. wheat berries) include baking powder, baking soda, salt, and yeast. Some people (e.g. Mrs.J) also keep a supply of vital wheat gluten (or bread enhancer) for their bread making.
The question (and answer) for today is, How do I store these baking essentials for longevity?
The NUMBER ONE concern for these particular ingredients is MOISTURE.
For optimum shelf life the storage conditions must be DRY.
Baking soda typically comes in a cardboard box (the little yellow box). Baking powder typically comes in a ‘can’ (pressed cardboard with a moisture-resistant liner). Yeast typically comes in foil-lined sachets or a jar. Salt typically comes in a pressed cardboard container.
If these containers have not been opened (as in, ever), they will do a pretty good job keeping moisture out and the contents dry. For awhile…
I said, “for awhile”, because eventually these containers may ‘breathe’ in humidity and moisture. Obviously this will occur sooner in a humid environment.
For example, for a time we rented a small house while transitioning from our previous home-ownership to our current home – and the rental had a basement. We kept some of our food storage down there. I knew that this particular basement was a bit excessively humid due to the apparent lack of proper moisture prevention around the foundation. I ran a dehumidifier most all the time – which helped. With that said, and when we began packing to move to our present home, I discovered that quite a number of those ‘pressed cardboard’ type containers – such as the salt containers and those which hold baking soda, etc.. had absorbed moisture from the air and the contents inside had become hard as a brick…
I could have easily prevented this if I had stored those particular type containers inside another water-resistant and somewhat air-tight container – such as a plastic storage bin with a well fitting cover. Whooops… Lesson learned.
For example, for many of our current storage needs we use 30-Quart Sterilite Storage Bins.
We also use plenty of their 70-Quart Storage Bins for other storage (e.g. our dry beans).
It’s about storage conditions. Moisture can rapidly deteriorate all of these cooking essentials.
Salt will turn to a brick (although it won’t ‘go bad’).
Baking powder and baking soda will react with moisture and will chemically change.
Note: You can make your own baking powder which will eliminate this problem.
Yeast will lose its viability if exposed to moisture.
Temperature extremes will not have much negative effect compared to the effects of moisture. In fact you can freeze without harm. Excessive heat though may lead to deterioration.
Once you open any of these ingredients, keep them away from moisture. For example, maybe it’s not such a good idea to keep them in a cabinet near the stove (where cooking will produce steam and moisture). Same thing goes with the kitchen sink location – not such a good idea.
To test baking powder for viability, mix 1 tsp. in 1/3 cup warm water. If bubbles form, there is activity left in the baking powder.
To test dried yeast activity, add 1 teaspoon sugar to 1/4 cup warm water (~100°F). Stir in 1 envelope yeast (2 ¼ tsp.) and let stand 10 minutes. If the yeast foams to the 1/2 cup mark, it is active.
The conclusion here is that many store-bought packaging / containers WILL eventually ‘breathe’ and absorb moisture from the environment. If you want to store these ingredients for a longer shelf life (especially if you live in a humid environment), take simple precautions and store them in an additional protective environment (container, bin, Mylar, vacuum seal, even a Ziploc, etc..).
I have dry goods in 5 or 2 gallon buckets. Also lots of vacuum sealed in quart jars. No problem yet.
I do still have soda and baking powder in boxes that need to be vac sealed in jars–thanks for the reminder!! :-)
Good suggestions Ken. I might even toss spices in this catagory, I personally buy Spices from a local Health Foods Store by the pound in Mylar bags, Once opened I always reseal them in Glass and Vac them. They seem to last a LOT longer that way.
I have been storing all my dry goods such as spices, sugar, flour, rice, beans, etc. In 1 or 5 gallon mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. I have been told this is one of the best ways for long term storage since mylar does not allow seepage of moisture or air like some plastics. Any input from those more experienced then me would be appreciated.
Well, Tex, we out here in Cali. store our sugar and salt in re-used plastic soda bottles. If you use oxygen absorbers, it will turn into a block. When I first started, I vacuum sealed some, but found out no need. Won’t ever go bad. I buy the 25 and 50 lb. bags at Costco. Saves lots of money. Mylar is best, but I have many things vacuum sealed in plastic for years. Just depends on how long you are going to store it. I never store flour, I buy the wheat berries and store and grind my own flour. Amazing how much better and saves $’s also.
Papa J . I have had wonderful success in dry canning my flour. I wash jars, I use the 1/2 gal.jars. fill with flour, tamping jar so that it is pretty full. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place filled jars in oven @ 200 degrees for an hour. Sterilize lids. After 1 hr. secure lids on jars and return to oven for 30 min. I did this in 2012, and recently “tried” that flour and it was perfect! It was 3 years old!I have dry canned a lot of dry foods, like cereal, oatmeal, beans, coffee, dried milk, and crackers, with great success! Store jars in a cool, dark cupboard. Google dry canning, women in the south have been doing this forever!
Thank you. Great info. Had no idea you could do this.
just realised, you put in that you dry canned crackers.
after three yrs (or whatever) did the crackers stay crisp?
I have found with store packaged soda crackers, if they get much past their “best by” date, the darn things do start to taste stale, and not so fresh. Seems odd to me, but have had it happen a number of times. (and these re individual factory sealed sleeves inside the cracker box.)
Interesting. I will check it out, thanks. At present, for my storing much of my dry goods, I use the vacuum sealing option for removing the air. Quick and easy and if I want some, but not all of the crackers, etc. I just take and re-seal and good to go.
This reminds me that I need to open a jar of zucchini bread we canned this last summer. I read that someone did it and opened the jar 4 years after and it was great.
I also must admit, seeing some of the Alias’s people come up with really can describe what they are all about away from this site.
This website is always full of good ideas ! Enjoy everyone’s input so much. I found the old fashioned mason jar type canisters with the attached hinged glass lids that have a rubber ring for very tight seal. I use them for special items, and plan to put my yeast, baking soda, and cream of tartar in these jars. I also have stored my chocolate based candy in these type of jars, as well as regular mason jars with tight lids and oxygen absorbers.
Also found an interesting tip yesterday – I had researched bread recipes, and discovered that bread flour and regular flour are not, not, not interchangeable. My LT flour is regular flour so I need to find a modified bread recipe for regular flour.
Expanding on my LT grid down cooking options, and have been doing research this weekend. I will be investing in an inverter that works from a car battery. This will provide enough voltage to power a crock pot and bread maker, and is renewable energy in almost all LT grid-down situations.
Thanks again for the variety of input – !
Adapt and Overcome : )
You may want to eventually consider solar panals to keep that battery charged. In a long term grid down you may not be able to get fuel to run your car to keep the battery charged.
A good alternative to an electric crockpot is a thermal cooker, whick is like a non-electric crockpot. It cooks without electricity, fuel or sun. You just heat up whatever you want to cook for a short time on the stove or campfire and then transfer the pan to the thermal cooker and let it continue cooking for hours. There are several brands on Amazon or you can make your own. A large thermos jug may do the same with smaller amounts of food. I love my thermal cooker and I make yogurt in a thermos bottle.
@Gypsy, I agree entirely. We use a thermal cooker fairly often…
Thermal Slow Cooker by Thermos
How To Cook Rice With 80 Percent Less Fuel!
I used to make my own bread frequently, both with and without a bread machine and have never bought bread flour. I still make my own pizza dough and don’t use bread flour. It may be that I’m just lucky but I always made sure I sifted the flour (except with the pizza dough).
Bread flour is just made with a higher gluten wheat (and thus more likely to be GMO). Some has added gluten, some dough enhancers, but most is just flour. Selling it as “bread flour” is a marketing gimmick. If you use dough enhancers or extra gluten when you make bread (which I think is cheating :) ) there’s no difference. Even if you don’t the differences aren’t that obvious. I don’t notice any difference at all.
Forgot to mention —
The “Mason” type jars with hinged glass lids are available in several sizes, at Rural King, for only $5 — more or less, depending on size. Quite the bargain. I also use them in our pantry to store smaller quantities of long term preps so I don’t have those big 20 pound bags taking up floor space.
Thanks for that tip! Hadn’t considered using those at all!(face palming self)
Will score some at the next shopping trip.
hi, wondered what you meant, jars with hinged lids, so I looked on Rural King, but couldn’t find them
what are they called?
Try Madam Jars.
I have long term experience with hinged jars. Don’t depend on them. None (as in not one) worked more than a few months. Bugs got in as well as moisture. When you consider the high cost, go with canning jars. They are much cheaper and work great as long as there aren’t any chips on the rims. I use all sizes from 4 oz to 1/2 g.
waxing helps on cardboard.
Wild yeast is everywhere. Its already mixed in the flour.
Just work the culture by a mix of 3 oz water 3 oz flour ..adding 3 oz each a day for a week. Then you have your yeast batch forever …
My tip for the day, the glass jars of olives at wally world with a screw on metal lid sell for a buck and a half, since I love olives always have a good supply of empties to utilize. Use the clean dry empty jar for anything, store powders, liquids even cotton swabs, and left over paint from the gallon containers as they are very tight and jars last indefinitely. Use them for freezer storage of left overs fill to almost the top and have never had one break. Stock up on spices and put them in glass jars. Made a neat looking storage rack that will hang underneath a shelf or ? by attaching the lid with a drywall screw through the top of the lid and screw into the bottom of a shelf, etc, the jar unscrews for use and the lid acts as a retainer for holding the jar in place. This also can be a organizer for screws, nails, etc and it is a freebie, which is a help for those of us on a budget.
Happy Prepper, I have to concur with the Texan, Have you done the math on the inverter? I think the car would have to be running to keep the battery charged enough to use a crockpot or any other 110 volt cooking appliance. The drain on the system would be very high. Solar panels could keep it running if you have an adequate number of them. Perhaps someone with more of an electrical background would do the calculations?
Although this is getting off topic for this article, Regarding ‘Happy Prepper’ and her crock pot, I recently measured ours (normal ‘full’ size) to consume 350 watts (measured most everything in the house due to a recent PV solar installation and calculations that were required as part of my design plan).
A typical 12-volt car battery might be rated for 100AH (amp hours), of which apprx. half may be used to minimize battery discharge damage (50AH). Long story short, that means the crock pot (via 12VDC to 120VAC inverter) could only be operated for a bit less than 2 hours before requiring a recharge (meaning the engine would have to run for a time afterwards).
50AH x 12volts = 600 watt hours available
…and none of this factors inefficiencies of the inverter, etc..
There may be more efficient alternative methods to ‘cook’ one’s food (or to acquire some emergency foods that do not require cooking at all ;) )
I’d most certainly like to disagree on the necessary container for storage – the container needs a gasket with a locking cover that depresses that gasket when it locks down ….
ONLY way you can begin to keep out moisture – the average 5 gallon bucket is highly engineered and manufactured to universally accomplish this simple act ….
Thank you for the info on the inverter. I always try to “Think outside the box” although this definitely is not in my area of expertise. LOL
SO glad I had not purchased one yet!
That’s why I enjoy this blog so much – to share ideas and get feedback – so helpful !!
Thanks again !!
Happy Prepping to All : )
Off the storage topic, but in reference to cooking in grid down – I do over 1/2 my cooking in a solar Sun Oven. You can easily cook similar to crock pot cooking, although you can do a lot of other cooking/baking too. I just had to buy a second one as I like to cook in bulk and can do more stuff with 2. We live in CA, so you’ll have to assess how much you can use it where you live. A rocket stove could do on overcast days. I would save any power usage for things you can’t do otherwise (charge devices, running communication….)
Sgt M –
What brand of Sun Oven do you recommend ?
Thank you : )
@Sgt Mom, We also use a solar oven when the season cooperates…
Solar Cooker, Global Sun Oven
Cooking Without Electricity – Solar Sun Oven
How to make Simple Bread in a Solar Oven
Solar Oven Bread
How To Cook Dry Beans With A Solar Oven
On the storage topic… You can add moisture absorbers to your storage containers. These are different then oxygen absorbers. You can add either or both depending on what you need to protect your items from. Both need to be a completely sealed container to be effective. Both can be bought for reasonable prices on Amazon.
I use the Italian Bormioli and Fido hinged glass jars with rubber gaskets to keep things like baking products and remains of opened pasta, rice, etc.. I look for them at Ross and Marshalls (probably TJ Maxx if you have one nearby.) They come in sizes up to 3 liters and rarely cost more than $7 for the large ones, less for the smaller. Fill using a canning funnel. Even my brown sugar stays moist yet my pasta stays dry!
Store food preps within a metal/rodent-proof container and check on viability once in a while so you do not lose valuable resources like I did long ago.
Bamboo pantry. I learned that my bamboo flooring which is 500 times harder than oak is rodent proof. The bamboo flooring (you can buy at lumber liquidators) literally breaks their teeth. So I lined my pantry 100% with bamboo flooring. The door as well, we made the door swing in and the pantry floor 1″ lower than the main house floor. That lip gives us a 3/4″ drop of bamboo on the backside of pantry door without interfering in door operation.
I store my dry ingredients in the large popcorn tins I get at Christmas. I clean & dry them and line them, with a heavy plastic bag, fill the container, twist & seal the plastic bag, put the metal lid on the tin, duct tape the edge, label it with contents & the date & put them on storage shelves in my basement. The plastic keeps it dry & the metal tin keeps the critters out!