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Keeping food fresh and dry aboard in containers



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What is the issue?
Dry foods have a very short shelf life on a seagoing vessel due to the damp environment.

Why address this?
The short shelf life will result in food becoming quickly unpleasant and a lot of wastage.

How to address this?
Buy a selection of food storage containers with airtight sealing lids. Unpack all dry foods and store them in snap-lock air-sealed plastic containers. This keeps the products fresh and extends their life.

This is particularly important if you are sailing in a tropical environment habituated by cockroaches.
Cockroaches, or cockroach eggs, Experience within cardboard wrappers, is a prime way to introduce roaches to a vessel. Removing all cardboard ashore will dramatically reduce the possibility of introduction. Sealing all foodstuffs in solid airtight containers will also cut off the food supply for any that might come aboard by other means. Likewise, any bugs introduced in the food and which have bred, are contained and easily disposed of.


Snap lock storage containers
Photo: Michael Harpur


Airtight containers come in three types:

  • Plastic Containers: These are the best choice when you want something that won’t shatter, is light, and low cost - as above.

  • Glass Containers: These are ideal if you store foods that tend to stain, taint or smell, and they can also be used for pressure canning food.
  • Combination: This is where the containers are glass and the sealing tops are made of plastic as below. These are ideal if you want to store food that you want to heat in the oven or, for the very rare boat, freeze and reheat or microwave.

Set of oven-safe glass containers with plastic sealing lids
Photo: Courtesy of Glasslock


Handwashing works fine for most food-storage containers. If the lid has a removable gasket, remove the gasket from time to time and clean it separately from the lid to make sure no mould can grow. Dry the lids completely before storage, and leave the lids resting on top of the containers, but not snapped shut, which helps to protect the longevity of the seal.

If fitting out new shelving aboard it makes sense to have a good selection of containers already purchased so that the storage layout may be arranged to suit them.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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