How Long Can You Store Dried Field Corn (O2-free storage)


Field corn is used as a grain. It isn’t sweet corn we slather butter on and eat at BBQs. Yellow field corn, also known as Dent corn, is a fantastic addition to your cache of survival food because it has an excellent shelf-life and is can be ground into flour to make MASA flour for tortillas.

Whole Dried field corn stores for 30+ years when repackaged and sealed in an oxygen-free container such as a Mylar bag or #10 can with the proper amount of oxygen absorption. Removal of oxygen will extend shelf-life and kill bugs at all stages of life. 

Note: Field corn and other dry goods stored in an oxygen-free container must be 10% moisture or less before storage to avoid botulism.

If you are intrigued about the possibility of grinding your own cornmeal. Read on.

6 Containers Used to Store Field Corn (Survival Food)

For an extended shelf-life of 30 years, store dried field corn in a container that seals and acts as an oxygen barrier. Following are several container options for storing field corn in long-term storage. I prefer using Mylar and Food-grade buckets together, but all of these methods have their benefits.

#1 Five Reasons Mylar Bags Rule For Storing Field Corn

When you store Dent corn, you want to keep oxygen, light, and moisture out of the container. All these things oxidize corn, cause mold, bacteria or allow bugs to flourish. Here is why Mylar rules.

  1. Mylar is an Excellent Oxygen Barrier
  2. Mylar is light-proof at 5 mils in thickness or more (Light oxidizes corn)
  3. Mylar is airproof
  4. Mylar is waterproof
  5. Mylar creates a partial vacuum, excellent for oxygen absorber used.
  6. Mylar Bags Are the Best DIY option; they are readily available and easy to use

Mylar’s Achilles Heel

Mylar is easily damaged by handling it. Mice, rats, and other critters can easily chew through it.

#2 Food-grade Bucket and Sealable Lid

Buckets are pretty awesome because they are stackable for storage, they’re tough, and they have many uses beyond storing dried field corn and other grains. Food-grade buckets rock, but not everything isn’t sunshine and rainbows.

2 Reasons to Avoid Buckets for Long-term Storage

Oxygen Transfer: Most plastics, including buckets, allow oxygen transfer. This can reduce field corn shelf-life.

Lids Fail: If you go solo and use just buckets, the seal on your lid has to be bullet-proof. Lid seals are a weak point. They often fail.

#3 Perfect DIY Storage System For Field Corn and Dry Grains

If you want to maximize shelf-life, don’t store dry grains with just a bucket and a lid; consider them part of a system that includes Mylar bags and oxygen absorption. The plastic pale provides a tough out shell protecting the Mylar. Mylar provides an excellent barrier, impervious to Air, Water, and Light. Oxygen absorbers remove oxygen in the sealed Mylar bag.

I like using Mylar with a food bucket because I can use cheap snap-on lids without seals. Some of the higher-quality lids, like the Gamma’s, are $10.00 per lid. Too pricey for me.

Do I have to use a food-grade bucket? You don’t have to use food-grade buckets to store field corn as long as you line the bucket with Mylar. There is a caveat, though, if the bucket held chemicals or non-food grade items or if you don’t know what was in the bucket before you got it. Please don’t use it for storage.

You don’t want food’s stored in non-food-grade plastic to touch the plastic because it may transfer chemicals from the manufacturing process. Some recycled buckets held things like pesticides. These chemicals are still in the plastic after recycling.

Tip: I use 20″x 30″ Mylar bags for my grain storage. This size can be used in every sized bucket up to 6-gallons.

Tip: Get Food-grade pales because you may want to use pales for other food-related tasks like pickling or brewing down the road.

Check out ready squirrels article to learn more about food-storage buckets

Watch Ready Squirrel’s YouTube video on how to store dry-goods with Mylar bags and Food-grade Pales.

#4 Number 10 Can

You can’t thumb your nose at #10 cans. They are a premium storage container: they keep a good seal, they are tough, and they store a usable volume of food. They do have their drawbacks.

2 Reasons to Avoid #10 Cans For Storing Field Corn

  • More expensive than DIY packaging in Mylar and buckets, and most of us will have to purchase foods in #10 Cans vs. DIY
  • Availability: If you have access to a cannery, your golden, but most of us don’t.
  • Metallic Flavor: This is subjective and

#5 Ball Jars

Ball jars are an excellent container for storing any dry grain, including field corn. I like to use ball jars for the overflow of dry goods that won’t fit into larger containers. They are handy to keep in the kitchen because they store small portions and are easy to access.

Storing corn in a Ball jar is as easy as filling the jar, placing an oxygen absorber on top, and screwing on the lid.

Chart #1: Oxygen Absorber Size For Ball Jars:

Ball Jar SizeOxygen Absorber Size (cc)
1/2 Pint50cc
Pint100cc
Quart300cc
Gallon500cc*
5 Gallon2500cc*
Pack Fresh USA *Container must be full

Storing Field Corn In Ball Jars: The Downside

Ball Jars let in light that can oxidize food over time, cover them or store them in a dark cupboard. Also, glass breaks easily, so you have to use kid gloves when handling. Overall, ball jars are not a good choice for bulk storage.

Warning: Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen. When stored in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers, products must be dried to 10% moisture content or less.

#6 PETE/ PET Bottles

When you think PETE Bottles, imagine the big plastic soda bottles. PETE stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic used to store your Dent corn and other dry grains.

The Upside:

  • PETE Bottles are free
  • Re-purposing something that would be thrown away

The Downside:

  • Bottles must be cleaned and sterilized; this includes the cap.
  • Bottles are clear and allow for light oxidation.
  • Foods should be covered or stored in a dark cupboard.

Tip: Avoid storing dent corn or any other dry grain in plastics that held non-food grade items. Non-food grade plastics may transfer chemicals and impart nasty flavors to stored foods.

Chart #2 How To Package Field Corn In PETE Bottles: 7 Easy Steps

Packaging In Pete Bottles
1Use PETE Bottles with screw-on lids with plastic or rubber lid seals. Ensure the seal is still good by pouring some water into the bottle, placing the cap on, and squeezing it over the sink. If bubbles or water come out when you squeeze the seal is bad.
2Clean Bottles with dish soap or diluted bleach solution.
Warning: Bottles must be completely dry before used to store field corn.
3Fill the bottle with Dried Field Corn (or other dried grains)
4Wipe the top of the bottle with a clean rag
5Store the bottle in a cool, dry location away from light
6Protect bottles from rodent because they can chew right through a PETE Bottle
7Replace the oxygen absorber each time the bottle is re-used
Longer-term Food Storage, Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints.org

To Grind or Not To Grind Dried Corn Before Storage

Dried corn can be stored in long-term storage as cornmeal or in the whole kernel form. When it comes to shelf-life, you’re going to get similar results. Both will last 30+ years in oxygen-free storage containers.

There are some considerations however, field corn is really tough so there is a reason you might want to purchase cornmeal.

Store Cornmeal Instead of Field Corn:

Field corn is difficult to mill or grind. Whole corn kernels won’t mill in just any mill, you need the heavy-duty type to get the job done.

If you don’t have a heavy-duty mill like a Country Living Mill with a large auger, consider storing cornmeal. Properly stored in oxygen-free containers, cornmeal (corn flour) has the same shelf-life as the whole kernels. The whole kernels won’t do you much good if you can’t process it.

According to a study conducted by Brigham Young University, corn-meal stored at ambient temperature in a low oxygen container will last at least 30 years while maintaining most of its color, texture, and flavor.

16 samples of cornmeal stored in #10 cans ranging in age from 1 to 33 years…retained a high rate of consumer acceptance over long periods of time and can be included in long-term food storage efforts. There was no significant decrease over storage time in aroma, texture, flavor, and overall acceptability in cornmeal, cornbread, or cornmeal cereal.

BYU Scholarship, Megan L. Bingham, Heather F. Pahulu, Lynn V. Ogden, Oscar A. Pike, Quality of cornmeal stored long-term in a low oxygen atmosphere. 2006. Faculty Publications. 29. Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science

In a nutshell, cornmeal stored in #10 cans was still good after 33 years of oxygen-free storage.

Using Dried Corn For Food (Dent Corn)

Cornmeal is a staple ingredient, similar to wheat flour in that you can use it in an endless number of recipes like baked goods and batters. The most popular way to use cornmeal is to make cornbread or hush-puppies but it can also be cooked and eaten like a porridge that you can add other ingredients to. It is pretty flexible as emergency food.

9 common dishes made with cornmeal.

  1. Polenta
  2. Cornmeal Pancakes
  3. Corn Muffins
  4. Cornbread
  5. Hush Puppies
  6. Beer Brewing
  7. Spoon Bread: Spoon Bread is prevalent in the Southern United States.
  8. Pizza and bread dusting
  9. English Muffins

Hominy

Hominy is made with a process called Nixtamalization. Field corn is dried and soaked in a lye solution or ashes from a campfire, and then the corn is washed. The nixtamalization process softens corn and makes Niacin bio-available.

Hominy can be dried and milled into fine to coarse powder or eaten whole.

How do you use hominy?

Coarsely ground hominy is used to make grits (cornmeal porridge), or it’s used to mill finely ground flour called Masa. Masa flour is used to make Masa harina; a stiff corn dough used to make tortillas by adding water and salt to the flour, which is then fried on a hot griddle.

Tortillas make an excellent staple food like bread or as an addition to wheat flour bread to break up pallet fatigue.

Sources:

Specialty Corns, George W. Dickerson, Extension Horticulture Specialist, New Mexico State University link

BYU Scholarship, Megan L. Bingham, Heather F. Pahulu, Lynn V. Ogden, Oscar A. Pike, Quality of cornmeal stored long-term in a low oxygen atmosphere. 2006. Faculty Publications. 29. Department: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science link

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