Best Long-term Dehydrated Canned Foods (#10 Cans)
When it comes to long-term food storage, dehydrated canned foods are an ideal option for those who want to prepare for emergencies or simply enjoy the convenience of having a variety of shelf-stable ingredients on hand. #10 cans offer a perfect size for storing these foods, with enough volume to hold large quantities while still being easy to handle and store. In this article, we’ll discuss the best long-term dehydrated canned foods in #10 cans that you should consider adding to your pantry or emergency supplies.
- Mountain House Freeze-Dried Meals
- Augason Farms Dehydrated Vegetables and Fruits
- Honeyville Dehydrated Dairy Products
- Harmony House Dehydrated Soup Mixes
- Nutristore Freeze-Dried Meats
- Our Picks
- What Kinds of Food Come This Way and Which Ones to Avoid
- #10 Can packaging
- How Do They Make This Stuff?
- Are Dehydrated Foods Safe?
- Shelf Life
- How Do I Open The Cans?
- Preparation Tips
- Taste Tests
If you’re looking to enhance your advanced food stores or prefer having individual ingredients rather than pre-mixed meals, these dehydrated staples are ideal for your needs, as they can last for decades on your shelf. In this taste-test review, we will cover the basics and guide you towards the right brands.
Preparedness-focused suppliers offer a wide range of canned foods that are not commonly found in traditional cans, such as bananas, broccoli, celery, and eggs. These foods undergo a special drying process and are packaged with oxygen absorbers to prevent spoilage. Unlike regular canned wet foods found in supermarkets, which have a shelf life of only a few years, these dried foods can remain unopened on the shelf for decades. Once opened, they can still maintain their quality for months.
Certain foods are freeze-dried, a preservation method that retains their flavor, texture, and nutritional value while also reducing their weight. Meats, vegetables, and even complete meals can be preserved using this technique.
In contrast to the familiar cans you might be accustomed to, these dehydrated foods are packaged in large #10 cans, resembling coffee cans. These durable containers are specifically designed for long-term food storage.
It’s important to note that these foods can be relatively expensive and may not taste as good as their fresh or wet-canned counterparts. Therefore, they should not be relied upon as the primary source of your food storage. However, they do offer the benefit of adding variety to your food preparations and enable you to create dishes that would otherwise be challenging during difficult times.
The most important bits:
- Dehydrated foods are typically packaged in large #10 cans, which is an industry classification for can size.
- Dehydrated foods are ideal for storing products that are typically difficult to store for the long term, such as butter, eggs, and milk.
- They are also a good option for foods that don’t work well with traditional canning methods, including grapes, cauliflower, and celery.
- Unopened dehydrated food can last for decades on the shelf, and even after opening, it can remain usable for up to a year.
- While many foods are available in #10 cans, it may not be necessary to purchase items like salt and sugar this way, as their shelf life is already sufficient in their supermarket versions.
- Dehydrated foods often have different characteristics compared to their fresh counterparts, including variations in smell, taste, and texture. However, they can still be used effectively in baking, as the cooking process can help mask any off flavors.
1. Mountain House Freeze-Dried Meals
Mountain House is a well-known brand for producing high-quality freeze-dried meals that can last up to 30 years when stored properly. Their #10 cans offer a wide range of delicious and nutritious meals, from breakfast options like scrambled eggs with bacon to entrees like beef stroganoff and chili mac with beef. These meals are easy to prepare; simply add hot water and wait a few minutes for your meal to rehydrate.
2. Augason Farms Dehydrated Vegetables and Fruits
Augason Farms offers an extensive selection of dehydrated vegetables and fruits in #10 cans, providing essential vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet. Some popular options include dehydrated apple slices, potato flakes, and freeze-dried strawberries. These products can be used in a variety of recipes or eaten as-is for a healthy snack.
3. Legacy Food Storage Dehydrated Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are excellent sources of plant-based protein and essential nutrients. Legacy Food Storage offers a variety of dehydrated beans and legumes in #10 cans, such as pinto beans, lentils, and black beans. These products have a shelf life of up to 25 years and can be easily incorporated into a wide range of dishes.
4. Honeyville Dehydrated Dairy Products
Honeyville specializes in dehydrated dairy products, such as whole milk powder, butter powder, and cheese powder, in #10 cans. These products have a long shelf life and can be easily rehydrated to use in recipes that call for dairy ingredients. They’re a convenient option for those who need dairy products on hand but don’t have access to fresh dairy.
5. Harmony House Dehydrated Soup Mixes
Harmony House offers a variety of dehydrated soup mixes in #10 cans, making it easy to prepare a warm, comforting meal in no time. Options include vegetable chili, minestrone, and chicken noodle. These soup mixes can also be customized with additional ingredients, such as meat or extra vegetables, to suit your tastes.
6. Nutristore Freeze-Dried Meats
For long-term storage of meats, Nutristore offers a selection of freeze-dried meats in #10 cans, including chicken, beef, and pork. These meats can be easily rehydrated and added to your favorite recipes for a protein-rich meal. With a shelf life of up to 25 years, these products are perfect for emergency food storage.
Ready Hour Powdered Eggs
Here is a curated list of some highly regarded brands that offer top-quality dehydrated food products:
- Augason Farms
- Emergency Essentials
- Mountain House
- Rainy Day Foods
- Ready Hour
What Kinds of Food Come This Way and Which Ones to Avoid
You’ll be surprised at the variety of dehydrated foods available for purchase. While dried milk powder and powdered eggs are commonly known, here are some unexpected examples:
- Green beans
- Ground beef
- Peanut Butter
It’s important to note that buying dehydrated foods often comes at a higher price compared to supermarket purchases. Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid purchasing foods that can be stored well without much effort. Here are a few examples:
- Dry beans (properly packaged, they can last for years)
- Honey (it lasts indefinitely, and crystallized honey can be revitalized by soaking in warm water)
- White rice (if properly packaged, it can last for years)
- Salt (it lasts forever with minimal effort)
- Sugar (it also lasts indefinitely with minimal effort)
When considering what foods to buy in dehydrated form, focus on those that are typically not shelf-stable, not readily available in regular cans, and regularly consumed by you and your family. Here are some excellent examples:
- Powdered milk
- Powdered eggs (usually not found in supermarkets)
- Powdered butter (regular butter requires refrigeration)
- Cheese (you can purchase both powdered cheese and freeze-dried shredded cheese)
- Grapes (rarely available in wet-canned form)
- Broccoli and cauliflower (usually not found in wet-canned form)
- Celery (not sold in wet-canned form)
- Berries and other fruit (available in wet-canned form, but often packed in sugary syrup)
- Banana chips (not typically canned)
- Tomato powder (canned tomatoes have a limited shelf life due to their high acid content)
- Ground meat
There are other foods that fall into a borderline category. For example, flour can be purchased inexpensively at the supermarket and stored in mylar bags for a few years, but some may prefer the convenience of storing it in #10 cans.
In our testing, one of the most beneficial uses for these dehydrated ingredients has been baking. While staples like flour, salt, and oil are shelf-stable, other key ingredients like butter, eggs, and milk have shorter lives, even when refrigerated.
#10 Can packaging
Some dehydrated ingredients are packaged in bags or buckets, but the most common packaging option is the #10 can. It’s important to note that the term “number ten” refers to the can size and not its weight, measuring approximately 6 3/16 by 7 inches and holding around 12 3/4 cups of content. To provide a visual reference, it’s similar in size to a coffee can. In contrast, the smaller #300 cans are likely more familiar in most pantries.
Standardized can sizes offer the advantage of easier stacking, even if you have ingredients from different suppliers. These steel cans are durable, effectively block light, and provide airtight seals to keep out oxygen. When unopened, many of these ingredients can last for decades, and even after opening, they remain usable for months.
The larger can sizes, such as the #10 cans, are practical because many of the ingredients maintain their quality for an extended period after opening. Unlike perishable canned vegetables that require immediate use, you can gradually utilize the contents of a #10 can over time. Surprisingly, although #10 cans are larger, they are actually more space-efficient compared to the smaller #300 cans.
#10 cans accommodate a wide variety of food items. You may have come across them in your local supermarket or particularly in warehouse stores, as they are commonly used for institutional purposes and large gatherings. However, for the purpose of this review, our focus is on dried ingredients with long shelf lives.
How Do They Make This Stuff?
Freeze-drying is a common method used to preserve certain foods like green beans, coffee, and ice cream. This process involves removing all moisture from the food while maintaining its composition and structure. To achieve this, the food is frozen and placed in a vacuum chamber where the air is removed. A slight amount of heat is applied, causing the ice in the food to undergo sublimation, transforming directly from ice to water vapor and being eliminated from the chamber. The resulting freeze-dried foods are significantly lighter in weight.
On the other hand, many other foods undergo a simpler drying process rather than freeze-drying. For example, banana chips and tomato powder are made by slicing the produce and drying it under low heat. In the case of tomato powder, the dried product is further ground into a powder form. However, the dehydration process is not always straightforward for all foods.
Powdered milk, butter, and eggs require specialized drying methods due to their water content and fat structure. Here’s how they are processed:
- Powdered milk undergoes evaporation to remove some of its moisture. A separator is then used to extract the butterfat, and the milk is mixed to achieve a consistent texture. The milk is then sprayed from a nozzle in a tall drying tower, where the small droplets air-dry and transform into a powder.
- Powdered eggs are dried in a similar manner to powdered milk. The egg yolks and whites are sprayed through a nozzle in a drying tower to create fine droplets that eventually turn into powder.
- Butter powder involves the removal of water content, leaving behind the fat. The butter fat is processed with milk solids to create a shelf-stable powder, resulting in powdered butter with a milky taste.
- Margarine powder is similar to regular margarine but undergoes additional processing on the milk solids to convert them into powder form.
There are also powdered cheese options. True powdered cheese is sprayed similarly to powdered milk, while powdered cheese blends often contain whey powder to reduce costs.
Are Dehydrated Foods Safe?
In general, dehydrated foods can be safe to consume if purchased from reputable suppliers in countries with strong regulations. However, it’s important to be cautious, as with any processed food.
The drying process is designed to eliminate most microbes, but there have been instances of contamination. In the past, recalls have occurred due to salmonella contamination in powdered milk and eggs. It’s worth noting that salmonella contamination is not limited to powdered foods and has affected various other products in the United States.
One specific health concern related to powdered foods is oxidized cholesterol. The exposure to air during the spraying process for turning foods into powders can lead to oxidation. Oxidized cholesterol has been associated with chronic diseases. While powdered milk poses a lower risk of oxidized cholesterol due to the removal of most fat, powdered eggs are a potential concern.
Another aspect to consider is the high sodium content often found in dehydrated foods. Since salt acts as a preservative, many long-shelf-life foods tend to be high in sodium. In a survival scenario where table salt might be scarce, having food with higher sodium content may not necessarily be a negative factor.
Lastly, you might wonder about the nutritional value of dehydrated foods. Freeze-drying is one of the most effective methods for preserving food while maintaining its nutritional value. However, with other drying methods, there can be some loss of certain vitamins, such as vitamins A and C.
Unopened, dried foods have impressive shelf lives, ranging from up to 30 years for freeze-dried foods, 25 years for dehydrated fruits and vegetables, to approximately 20 years for powdered milk. However, it’s important to note that while these foods remain edible and nutritious, the flavor may diminish over time.
The key to preserving the longevity of these dried foods lies in proper storage. Just like supermarket-bought foods, heat, light, moisture, pests, and oxygen are the main adversaries to shelf life. A #10 can provides excellent protection against all these factors, except for heat, so it’s advisable to store the cans in a cool location. It’s also crucial to ensure the cans remain dry to prevent rusting.
Once opened, the shelf life of dried foods decreases significantly but still remains considerable. According to Ready Store, opened cans can last anywhere from 3 to 12 months, while Emergency Essentials suggests they can be stored for up to a year. However, the actual shelf life will depend on the aforementioned factors. To extend the lifespan of opened cans, refrigeration is an option, or you can transfer the food to a mylar bag along with an oxygen absorber.
How Do I Open The Cans?
Can Opener Quick Picks
P-38 can opener
Dedicated preppers often opt for hardcore can opener options such as the P-38 and P-51 can openers, which were originally manufactured by the US Shelby Company for the US military. Among these, the P-51 is particularly suited for opening #10 cans due to its larger size. These can openers are lightweight, simple to use, and can be obtained at a low cost, sometimes as little as a dollar. It’s advisable to acquire enough P-51 can openers to securely attach one to each #10 can for easy access.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that many multitools, like the Leatherman Wave, come equipped with reliable can openers that can serve as a valuable part of your everyday carry gear.
Each of these ingredients usually comes with instructions and recommendations printed on the can, as they often have different cooking characteristics compared to their fresh counterparts. Here are some examples:
- Powdered eggs require significantly less cooking time compared to fresh eggs.
- While it’s common to slightly undercook scrambled eggs for a softer texture, this is not the case with powdered eggs. If you undercook powdered eggs, they will turn out mushy and powdery. It’s important to cook them thoroughly.
- It is not advisable to attempt melting reconstituted powdered butter, as it tends to burn easily.
- Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables can be rehydrated by adding water, or they can be consumed in their dehydrated form.
In our previous tests of various powdered foods, such as sour cream and eggs, we discovered that some products can have an unpleasant taste. While extreme hunger and the addition of hot sauce may help overcome the taste, we aimed to identify the brands that offer the best flavor, allowing you to confidently stock up on them.
To conduct our taste testing, we gathered a selection of dried ingredients, with a specific focus on powdered eggs and powdered butter. These two items were chosen because they are typically not naturally shelf-stable and are offered by the four major brands: Augason Farms, Emergency Essentials, Rainy Day Foods, and Ready Hour.
Below is a complete list of the items we included in our testing:
- Augason Farms Dried Whole Egg Powder
- Augason Farms Scrambled Egg Mix
- Augason Farms Butter Powder
- Emergency Essentials Whole Egg Powder
- Emergency Essentials Scrambled Egg Mix
- Emergency Essentials Butter Powder
- Emergency Essentials Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
- Rainy Day Foods Whole Eggs
- Rainy Day Foods Ova Easy Eggs
- Rainy Day Foods Butter Powder
- Ready Hour Whole Egg Powder
- Ready Hour Scrambled Eggs Mix
- Ready Hour Butter Powder
In our household, we conducted a thorough evaluation of these products by assessing their aroma and flavor. We prepared all the powdered egg products by scrambling them in a stainless steel skillet, using an ample quantity of vegetable oil. We tasted the powdered butter in its dry form and also after reconstituting it with water to create a spreadable consistency. As for the powdered milk, we followed the instructions provided and mixed the specified quantity in a large mason jar, sealing it with a lid.
These were the results of our evaluation:
- The variation in quality between different brands of the same product was not significant. While some brands performed slightly better and others worse, most of them were generally unsatisfactory.
- The top-performing egg product was Rainy Day Foods’ Ova Easy Eggs, which are in crystalized form instead of powdered. However, they come at a high price of $71.68 for a #10 can, compared to $21.69 for a #10 can of whole eggs.
- On the other hand, Rainy Day Foods also produced the worst powdered eggs, making it less appealing in terms of value.
- All the “scrambled egg” mixtures yielded unappetizing results, characterized by a mushy texture and unpleasant chemical flavors.
- Powdered butter can serve as a decent spread, although it does not exactly replicate the taste of regular butter.
- The standout product among the tested items was Emergency Essentials’ powdered milk, which performed favorably.
Based on our subjective evaluations, these were our rankings:
- Top Powdered Egg: Rainy Day Ova Crystals (although expensive), Ready Hour (best among the powdered options)
- Best Scrambled Egg: Emergency Essentials
- Best Wet Powdered Butter: Ready Hour
- Best Dry Powdered Butter: Rainy Day
- Worst Powdered Egg: Rainy Day Foods
- Worst Scrambled Egg: Ready Hour, Augason Farms (tie)
- Worst Wet Powdered Butter: Emergency Essentials
- Worst Dry Powdered Butter: Emergency Essentials
After conducting baking experiments, we found that using the powdered ingredients in recipes yielded satisfactory results. Here’s what we discovered:
For the cornbread, we substituted milk with reconstituted Emergency Essentials dry milk and used Ready Hour powdered whole eggs. The cornbread turned out well with no unpleasant flavors. It required slightly less cooking time, about 25 minutes instead of the usual 30.
In the case of the brownies, we followed the recipe but replaced fresh eggs and butter with powdered alternatives mixed with water. The brownies had a good taste overall, although they were slightly dry and had a milky flavor due to the milk solids in the powdered butter. Adding oil or additional liquid could potentially improve their texture. Nevertheless, in terms of flavor, the powdered ingredients proved to be acceptable.
Overall, the powdered ingredients worked reasonably well in baking and produced satisfactory results, although slight adjustments may be needed for optimal texture and consistency.
Dehydrated canned foods in #10 cans offer a practical and reliable solution for long-term food storage. By investing in a variety of high-quality products, you can ensure you have a well-rounded pantry that can provide for your nutritional needs during emergencies or simply make day-to-day meal planning more convenient. Mountain House freeze-dried meals, Augason Farms dehydrated vegetables and fruits, Legacy Food Storage beans and legumes, Honeyville dairy products, Harmony House soup mixes, and Nutristore freeze-dried meats are all excellent options to consider when building your long-term food storage.