PETE plastic bottles are good containers that can be used for storage of shelf-stable, bulk dry foods that you normally keep in canisters in your pantry. Normal kitchen canisters do not have air tight seals. As a result, with changes in atmospheric pressure, air and moisture are pumped in and out of the products causing them to become stale more quickly.
Because of their oxygen/moisture barrier qualities, PETE bottles can be used as canisters to better maintain the freshness of stored dry foods. If you want to store these items for a longer time period, the use of oxygen absorbers in the PETE bottles will protect against insect infestation and help preserve quality longer.
In order to kill insects in adult, larva, and egg stages of growth, it is necessary to pull the oxygen content down to below 1% and hold it there for at least two weeks. Most types of plastic bottles are too porous, and leak too much oxygen in, but PETE bottles work well. Soda bottles and most shelf-stable juice bottles are made of PETE. Look at the recycle emblem on the bottom. It should have a #1 in the emblem and the letters PETE or PET below.
Step 1: Choose which types of bulk dry products you want to store
Decide on the types of products that you are going to store in PETE bottles using oxygen absorbers. These bulk items need to be dry, about 10% moisture or less and low in oil content.
Examples of suitable products are:
Grains : Oats, White Rice, Wheat, and Corn
Milled Grain Products : White Flour, Degermed Corn Meal, and Rice Flour.
Legumes : Beans, Split Peas, and Lentils
Nonfat Dry Milk: Regular and Instant
Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables : Apples, Carrots, Onions, and Potatoes (Must be dry enough, both inside and out to snap when bent)
(Note: Bulk dry food suppliers should be able to tell you the moisture content of their products)
Examples of products that are not suitable in this type of storage are items that have high or exposed oil content, high moisture or contain leavening. Most of these foods are kept in their original containers and rotated frequently Storage time can be increased by storing them in freezer bags, in the freezer:
Oily or Moist Grains and Milled Grain Products : Brown Rice, Whole Grain Flours and Cereals, Granola etc.
Products containing leavening : Cake/pancake mixes, Biscuit mixes, etc. In the grocery stores these products are package in breathable packages that allow the gas produced by the leavenings to escape.
Home Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables This is "reduced oxygen packaging". If moist foods, such as inadequately dried vegetables are stored this way, it could result in a botulism poisoning risk. If you have any question about the storability of a given product, contact your local County Agriculture Extension Service office.