How to Use Oxygen Absorbers the Right Way
Oxygen absorbers are little packets of iron powder. They are non-poisonous and BPA-free, making them safe to be used for food packaging, and utilized to eliminate oxygen from the air (21% oxygen with the rest being generally nitrogen) when packaging the food items.
Oxygen Absorbers are utilized to eliminate oxygen from inside a sealed environment, creating a nitrogen environment for long-term food stockpiling. In addition, it cuts the oxygen level down to 0.01% or less. So, this signifies the importance of oxygen absorbers usage in packaging food products, but only if it is used properly would they be able to keep your food fresh.
Let's have a look at how to use Oxygen absorbers effectively.
Steps To Start Using Oxygen Absorbers:
Step 1: Prepare your container and food
The containers you will use should be clean and dry before adding the food, and they should be closed immediately.
Step 2: Keep Oxygen Absorbers safe
Oxygen absorbers start absorbing oxygen as soon as it comes in contact with air, so keep them packed inside a mason jar and add them immediately when your container is prepared, and close the lid.
Step 3: Seal the container and label it with the date for your reference
Why Should You Use Oxygen Absorber?
A significant part of realizing how to utilize oxygen absorbers securely is knowing why they are utilized.
Main reasons for using oxygen absorbers while packaging the food items:
- It helps in increasing the shelf life of the food products (as long as 30 years for most foods in dry form)
- To forestall mold and the growth of microorganisms in your food. Nothing will develop without oxygen to benefit from
- To preserve the foods containing vitamins A, C, and E that get degraded when exposed to oxygen
- It prevents browning of freeze-dried fruits
- It helps to preserve the flavor
- To kill bug eggs you might find in your food (normally grains). These eggs can't grow without oxygen.
Most foods in dry form have a pretty long shelf life, between 1-5 years, even without using an oxygen absorber. If your food stock is moving fast and doesn't stay in storage areas for long, it can do well without oxygen absorbers, but it's always good to use them for additional benefits.
What Types Of Containers Are Compatible With Oxygen Absorbers?
Since the oxygen absorbers are effective only when it is least exposed to the air, airtight containers are most preferred.
1) Mylar Bags
Mylar bag of 5mil commercial grade is generally used for packaging food, and it is adequate to protect your food from light, oxygen, and moisture. In addition, this opaque bag material is good for packaging photo-sensitive food products. Still, it must be kept inside a food-grade container and rodent-proof as 5 mil is easy to puncture and stands a high chance of getting destroyed by the rodents.
2) Mason Jars
Mason jars keep your food dry and fresh with the advantage of being 'puncture-resistant' and 'rodent-proof.' These jars need to be stored away from sunlight as they are not light-resistant and can also shatter easily with a slight push. Hence, one must be careful while using them in an earthquake zone or with playful children and pets.
3) Metal container with seamed lids
The most commonly used metal container is #10 cans; these are effective at keeping your food protected from moisture and oxygen. They also have an advantage over mylar bags as rodents can't puncture through them and stand the instability caused by earthquakes and kids or pets playing around.
4) Food-grade plastic containers using Mylar bags
Plastic containers are tough enough to get punctured or destroyed by rodents. They are also shatter-proof against any instability created by earthquakes (to some extent) or kids or pets playing around. However, plastic containers are ineffective at keeping moisture and oxygen, unlike other containers and bags for storage. Hence, using mylar bags with plastic containers is an effective combination to keep your food safe.
Also, it is suggested to use Gamma lids in such plastic containers as they help to seal out the oxygen that gets trapped inside every time the container is opened, and putting oxygen absorbers inside allows you to manage the oxygen level fairly well by reducing it down to 0.01% or less. Always check the oxygen absorber's performance and replace it with a fresh one when it has solidified.
List Of Foods That Can Be Stored With Oxygen Absorbers:
Oxygen absorbers can be used to preserve foods that contain 10% moisture or less. Storing the foods in an oxygen reduced environment can lead to botulism poisoning if the moisture and oil content exceeds the permissible limit.
- Natural cheese and other dairy products
- Prevents fruits and vegetables from browning due to non-enzymatic process
- Inhibits oxidation and buildup of red color in most berries and sauces
- Bread, cookies, cakes, pastries
- Nuts and snacks
- Candies and confectioneries
- Whole fat dry foods
- Dried fruits and vegetable
- Spices and seasonings
- Flour and grain items
- Fresh and precooked pasta and noodles