Vacuum Sealing Food
Vacuum sealing food will extend its storage-life and provide light-weight portability for trips outside the home. For storing dried foods in the home for a year or less, glass jars with tight-fitting lids are all you need. You can use zip-lock bags, but jars are a better defense against insects and mice. Most people who dry food for home consumption rotate their supply once a year before the quality of the food diminishes. Jars are more convenient than vacuum sealed bags because you simply take out what you need from the jar and put the lid back on.
Some vacuum sealers come with a tube that attaches to optional canisters. With canisters, you can open them, take out the food you need, and vacuum seal the canister again. The canisters are pricey, and I have found that storing dried food in jars is sufficient.
The enemies of dried food are moisture and air. Dried food may absorb humidity from the air allowing mold to grow. You would not want to store dried food in a damp basement. The humidity in most homes is not a serious threat to your stash. Oxygen may slowly oxidize dehydrated food and diminish its quality. Fruits may turn darker in color and loose some of their vitamin content. Oxidation of fat may turn meat rancid. I store dried meats, seafood, and anything that has oil in it in the freezer.
All set for a month of eating on the trail.
Whether you are vacuum sealing food or using jars, the key is to make sure you dry your foods properly in the first place. Follow the drying guidelines that come with your dehydrator, but here are a few examples: Corn and peas will dry hard, broccoli and green beans will dry brittle. Onions, peppers, and tomatoes will dry pliable. Apples, peaches, mangos, and bananas will dry pliable. The surface of fruit should feel smooth, not sticky. Some tackiness will remain in dried pineapple because of the high sugar content. Dried fruits may still contain up to 15% water. If I am using dried fruit in a backpacking recipe, I pack the fruit in its own plastic bag to keep any moisture from migrating to the other dryer ingredients.
Dry all meats until brittle, except for beef jerky. Although it is dried raw, beef jerky is preserved with a salt rub or brine solution, so drying it until leathery is fine. Most people say their family gobbles up their beef jerky as fast as they make it. For deli meats like ham, blot-off any beads of fat on the surface of the meat with a paper towel a couple of times while drying. When dry, deli meats will snap into pieces rather than bend. Allow meat to cool before placing in storage containers.
Vacuum sealing food protects your food on long hikes.
Glass jars are sufficient for home storage up to a year.
Dry your food sufficiently before storing.
Store dried meats and foods containing oil in the freezer until ready to use.