More and more families are stockpiling essential food resources in the event of an emergency. What are ten ways to prolong the shelf life of your oatmeal?
With the price of food rising daily and the world becoming more chaotic by the moment, many families are seeking ways of storing supplies for survival should a national emergency happen. One of the best staples to stockpile is oatmeal. This essential grain can be used in various ways, such as oatmeal for breakfast, in cooking muffins, loaves of bread, or even cookies. But what is the best way to increase the shelf life of oatmeal? The last thing you want is to have another pandemic occur, and you turn to your pantry just in time to find a bunch of spoiled oats lining the shelves.
The best way to store oats for the long term, whether rolled, whole, or old-fashioned, is to store them in air-tight containers. The containers should be stored in a dark, dry, temperature-controlled space free of infestation. Oat flour is best stored in an air-tight container in the freezer.
Oats are a grain filled with many of the basic nutritional needs and carbohydrates that members of your family need daily. While there are many different kinds of oats, most need an air-tight container to be adequately stored, but are there some things you can do to help prolong the shelf life of oats? Most preppers try to find ways to stockpile various items but forget to pay attention to the simple things they can do to ensure the longevity of the foodstuffs they spend their hard-earned money purchasing.
This article will answer basic questions about the proper way to store oats. We will answer the questions regarding how to make your long-term food pantry the best it can be and ensure that you are prepared for your family’s survival.
Why Are Oats A Food Pantry Staple?
Oats are rich in nutrients and vitamins and, if stored correctly, can last a long time. This grain is versatile and can be used in various applications, from oatmeal to bran muffins to cookies or casseroles.
Oats are a cereal grain similar to wheat in that they are grown as grass, and then hulls are harvested for transport and processing. The European Union, Canada, Russia, and Australia each produced over 1 million metric tons in 2020. For a listing of significant oat producers around the globe, see worldatlas.com.
How many Different Kinds of Oats are There?
A quick review of the different kinds of oats you could store in your pantry should you begin to get them to put away.
this is oat grain in its natural form minus the hull. It is as natural as you can get and takes the longest time to cook. Mainly, the groats are used for flavor and are similar to rice or barley. Suitable for hearty dishes.
Irish Oats - This kind of oats is produced by taking a steel blade to the oak groat and chopping it into smaller pieces. The oat is chewy when cooked, which might create a difference in taste, but they are the most nutritionally sound and have the highest fiber content of any processed form of oats.
Rolled - Old Fashioned Oats
The oat groat is steamed and processed through rollers to various degrees. Rolled oats are generally cooked on the stovetop and are good for oatmeal, but beware that partial steaming/cooking means that they have less nutritional value than less processed forms.
Most people purchase quick oats from the grocery store because they have been steamed, rolled, and chopped into much smaller pieces. As you might imagine, this form cooks quickly on the stove or microwave.
This type of oats is what the packets of instant oatmeal are used to buy. They are entirely cooked through steaming, chopped into the smallest portions, and then packaged accordingly. They are the least nutritionally viable, with less fiber.
When the inedible shell of the oat groat is removed, a layer of oat bran covers the oat groat. This outer shell is removed and ground and sold as its product. Oat bran is very high in antioxidants and nutrients, not to mention the benefits of bran on the digestive system.
This form of oats is whole-grained oats made of ground oats. It is ground finely and is an excellent source of nutrients and other vitamins. Oat flour can be made from rolled oats placed into a food processor.
What Kind of Plan Do I Need to Have for Food Storage?
To have a practical pantry, you should determine what your long-term plan for food storage is going to be. A good rule of thumb includes following four “P”s:
Select a Place (where)
the place you choose is essential because it will need to be free of moisture, have adequate ventilation, and be out of direct sunlight. (See the helpful hints below)
Select Products (what you will stock)
You must have the staples necessary for survival. Water is a must, but so are other basic foodstuffs that can be easily converted into meals your family will eat. (It does no good to store items that your family hates). Many preppers purchase emergency meal kits and supplement with other powders, grains, and dried fruits, so they have a wide variety of items.
Select Your Packaging (how you want to store items)
as the steps below indicate, you will need to utilize a container that is worthy of keeping foodstuffs safe and free from contamination.
Select the Period of Time (How Long)
you will need to decide how long you want your products to last. Will you store a three months supply or longer? Most guidelines suggest a two-week to a thirty-day supply.
What are Ten Ways You Can Prolong the Shelf Life of Oats?
While there are a variety of different types of oats, most medical websites will urge food preppers to use their supply of oats within two years of packaging. For a discussion of this idea, see healthline.com. However, some survival sites have stored rolled, quick and steel-cut oats for up to 30 years in an airtight container with the addition of an oxygen absorber to help preserve the product.
1. Store Rolled Oats In a Place with Proper Ventilation.
Any foodstuff that will be stored long-term should be free of moisture and dry. A damp basement or garage with signs of mold or musty smells is not the place to store food products. Moisture can infiltrate food products and contribute to the deterioration of grains, powders, and other products. In addition, many forms of grain and powders tend to absorb the moisture and the smells in the air around them. This fact is another reason to ensure oats are properly sealed and stored in an arid area.
2. Store Oats in a Place free of Insect Infestation
Insect Infestation can be an issue in food storage. If the area you have chosen is prone to creepy crawling critters or an area you are unwilling to keep clean and spotless, you may want to select a different location. Before stocking any item on a shelf, many preppers thoroughly clean the area, they plan to use. You should ensure the environment is free of spiders, gnats, or roaches because the stored foodstuffs can attract all kinds of bugs you do not want. Bugs carry all kinds of bacteria, and the last thing you want to do is fight with insects just to get to your stored oats. (Be aware that insect infestation can also occur in the oats themselves. No matter how clean the production process is, larvae can infiltrate the product. The addition of an oxygen absorber can remove the air that insect eggs need to grow and develop.
3. Do Not Store Oats in Any Kind of Store Bought Packaging.
The packaging you purchase at the store, whether boxed for cereal or paper bags for sugar and other baking items, is not designed for longer-term storage. This includes plastic packaging for pasta, marshmallows, brown sugar, etc. The trouble with a lot of commercial packaging is that it is easy for a rodent to chew its way through. Commercial packaging is worthless in preventing a hungry little mouse from nibbling his way to a sugar rush. (I have a friend who was distressed that mice had gotten into her food stocks because she had failed to transfer the goods from the store-bought packaging. Use store-bought packing if you must, but a much better idea is to use airtight #10 cans or sealed mylar packets with oxygen absorbers.
4. Store Oats in a Dark Place - With Temperature Control.
Direct Sunlight is also a culprit for food storage. Pick a dark place so the rays of sunshine do not harm oats and increase the deterioration.
Adequate temperature control is also an issue. If you live in an extreme climate, either heat or cold, find a place that can be temperature controlled. The unheated barn in northern Minnesota is probably not the best place for a long-term storage facility.
5. Use Airtight Containers with Oxygen Absorbers
As mentioned above, oats need to be stored in airtight containers with the addition of oxygen absorbers. Oxygen Absorbers are small packets of iron that, when placed in with foodstuffs, tend to absorb oxygen so that fermentation does not have an opportunity to flourish. Any survivalist or food prep company can sell the containers (mylar bags work well) and the absorbers.
6. Be Sure to Date Each Packet of Oats You Store
A good pantry is an organized pantry that helps give you the information you need when it is months or years beyond when you started storing goods. Many preppers have FIFO systems that allow them to use a product that needs to be used sooner and leave items still under expiration dates. A permanent marker and some sticky labels can help you stay organized.
7. Plan On Using the Storage Pantry Now Rather than Later
In addition, families interested in maximizing their usage of a viable food pantry are using it all the time, not just stockpiling items and forgetting about them. The food pantry becomes an integral part of their daily lives, and as things are used, other items are purchased, produced, and stored. It is a beautiful idea to have a long-term storage plan, but if it is something you are just going to stock and forget about, then it does little good being a source of food dependency when an emergency happens.
8. Plan on Storing Oat Flour - Oat Bran in the Freezer
Because of its consistency, oat flour and other powders are best stored in colder temperatures like a fridge or freezer. Use an airtight container and an oxygen absorber in the packaging. If using the freezer, don’t plan on storing oat flour longer than about three months.
Oat Bran has a high-fat content and should also be stored in the freezer or the refrigerator in a sealed container.
9. Allow Cooked Oatmeal to Cool Completely Before Storing in the Refrigerator
Cooked oatmeal can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 - 5 days. You want to ensure that any cooked product completely cools before placing it in the fridge. If you place lukewarm oatmeal into a cooler environment, conditions are ripe for spoilage, which in turn means that all kinds of nasty bacteria will have a field day. Eat that stuff, and you ask for intestinal issues to occur much more quickly.
10. Involve Others in the Maintenance of the Food Pantry
If a worldwide pandemic has taught us anything, it is that none of us know who an emergency might make sick or perish. Should something happen to you, someone else in the family will need to step up to ensure that the food pantry is kept organized and stocked. The last thing you want is for your family members to flounder because they have no idea what is in the pantry and what is available for their use and survival. Involving your family in the pantry creation and maintenance can give them an advantage.
How Can I Tell if Oats have Turned Bad?
There are several ways to determine if oats have spoiled o gone stale.
Check for Mold or Discoloration
Mold spores or any kind of discoloration can suggest that the oats are not favorable for human consumption.
Check for Bad Smells
Oats should have an “oat” or grain smell. If you smell a putrid odor from your batch of oats (musty or moldy smells are dead giveaways), do not trust the packet and throw it out!
Check for Infestations
If you notice flies or bugs crawling around in your oats, you can rest assured that the sealing process was not performed correctly. Throw out any infested oat flour or rolled oats. Any sign of maggots, bugs, or fruit flies is a terrible indication. Care should be taken to check other packets or containers to ensure no cross-contamination.
Check your Stocking Date
There is a reason you marked your foodstuffs with a date because it is impossible to remember the exact time or date you put oats on the shelf. The dates also let you purge items out of your pantry that may be past their expiration dates so that the quality of your stored items is always better.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker