One of the easiest ways to store dehydrated food is in Mason jars.
But I actually have a special “hack” that makes my food last twice as long as just throwing it in a jar and putting in on the shelf.
Today, I’ll share that tip and others so you can use Mason jars to preserve food even more effectively!
How Long Can You Store Food in Mason Jars?
After you’ve gone through the process of drying foods, the last thing you want is for them to still go bad!
So proper care is needed.
First, it’s a good idea to label and date all containers. However, the storage of the foods will depend on what you’re storing.
If you seal them properly and keep them away from light and heat, you can enjoy dried foods for months or even years.
I’ve noticed the shelves looking pretty bare lately in the mason jar aisle, but you can still get them online:
Ok, let’s look at a few specific foods and their shelf-life…
How Long Can Vegetables Last in Mason Jars?
Dried vegetables are some of the longest lasting foods to keep in storage.
Although your vegetables may vary slightly in how long they can be saved, dried vegetables can last up to 10 years in Mason jars.
Make sure to keep the jars in a cool, dry place for the best results.
How Long Does Rice Last in Mason jars?
Rice is another food that stores well in Mason jars. Most types will last up to 10 years if kept in a well sealed jar and away from moisture sources.
Keep in mind that as rice ages, it takes longer to cook. So you may need to use more water or adjust cooking times the older it is.
How Long Does Meat Last in a Mason Jar?
Meat certainly can be stored in Mason jars, but it doesn’t last as long as vegetables or rice.
Because of the fat content in meat, it will turn rancid. If stored in mason jars, you can expect it to last 6 months to a year.
Make sure to rotate your dried meat and always check for quality before using in recipes or eating.
How to Prepare the Jars (to Ensure They’re Sanitized)
You need to prepare the jars before packing them. Mason jars tend to come with screw top lids and clear glass.
But even if you’re using new jars, you’ll need to clean and dry them completely before storing food.
Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water, and even better, wipe down the inside with food-grade alcohol.
It’ll dry quickly and destroy any lingering bacteria.
How to Make Mason Jar Foods Last Even Longer
Although you can simply put your food in the Mason jars and store away, vacuum sealing them extends its freshness and shelf-life.
Some FoodSaver vacuum sealers have an attachment feature that can be used to seal jars. I personally use this model:
If you’ve never used a vacuum sealer before, it’s super easy.
You just need to get the wide mouth sealer attachment and connect it to the FoodSaver’s port. It looks like this:
Then you just click the “attachment” button, which starts the vacuum and seal process. When the noise stops, it’s done!
Keep in mind it’s not designed for canning and specifically works with dried foods that are going to be stored at room temperature.
However, I also use it for things like fresh romaine lettuce in the fridge. I can make my lettuce stretch about a month sealing it like this!
Tips for Storing Food in Mason Jars
1. Use Clear Jars
Although you can find jars in other colors, clear is best. This not only allows you to see what’s in the jar clearly, you’ll also be able to see if there’s any mold or other signs of breakdown.
The good news is that the clear jars are the easiest to find so you should have no trouble with this.
2. Use Oxygen Absorbers
Oxygen absorbers are a lifesaver for dried food. They do exactly what their name suggests.
By absorbing any oxygen in the jar, they increase the amount of time that you can store foods – both dried or otherwise.
Simply place the oxygen absorber on the top of each jar and then seal it and store.
3. Use Different Size Jars (You Can Stack & Save Space in Your Pantry)
It’s a good idea to get a few different sized jars.
First of all, dehydrating makes food shrink like crazy. So you might start with what seems like a very large amount, but in the end, it may be enough to fit in a pint jar.
For instance, an entire head of dehydrated cabbage can usually fit in a pint jar!
And second, varying jar sizes makes it easier to stack and save space in your pantry. I usually work with 3 different sizes – 4 oz, pint, and quart.
How to Determine What Size Oxygen Absorber You Need
This is not an area where one size fits all. As the jar gets bigger, you’ll need a larger oxygen absorber.
Oxygen absorbers typically come in 50, 100, or 300 cc levels.
- The largest size is designed for quart containers
- The 100 is designed for pints
- The smallest one is designed for a half pint jar
If you do multiple size Mason jars like I just mentioned, they make oxygen absorbers that come in combo packs.
This is an easy way to get a variety and make sure you have what you need on hand.
They come stored and need to be used when exposed to the air.
However, you can keep them sealed (and therefore preserved) until ready for use.
This is not required for canning foods, but it’s a great way to keep dried food fresh for longer periods of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do mason jars keep bugs out?
Yes, mason jars are glass and cannot be accessed by bugs. If the jars are sealed tightly, you shouldn’t have any pest problems.
How long will food last in a vacuum sealed jar?
Although vacuum sealing extends their storage life, the exact time varies for each type of food. Read my notes in the article about times for meat, veggies, and rice.
Regardless of food type, once the seal is broken, it needs to be used based on its original storage date.
I’m a foodie that’s slightly obsessed with drying fruits, veggies, beans, and more – especially from my own garden! It started as a hobby but became a “must” when my family fell on hard times, and my dried food stash sustained us. Now I’m always experimenting with different techniques and recipes and sharing them here!