Dry-Packing in PETE bottles

PETE bottles are clear plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate. They can be identified by “PET” or “PETE” with a “1” in a recycle triangle on or at the bottom of the bottle. PETE bottles provide a good oxygen barrier and can be used with oxygen absorbing packets to dry-pack food that is dry (less than 10% moisture) and low fat. Using only PETE bottles that have previously been used for liquids ensures having the correct lid for dry-packing food. Lids will have a soft or rubbery substance on the underside and will be airtight. Use PETE bottles to dry-pack foods that are small enough to comfortably pour through the mouth of the bottle such as rice, small beans, wheat and other grains. Use 48 ounce, 64 ounce (half gallon), 96 ounce, or 128 ounce (1 gallon) bottles.

1. Wash and completely dry bottles. If bottles retain an odor from the previous contents (i.e. strong juices), fill the bottles with water, add about 1/4 cup baking soda, shake, and let soak for 24 hours or more.
2. Fill thoroughly dried bottles with food, shaking periodically to help the food settle and compact.
3. Remove oxygen absorbers from their bag/jar – one for each PETE bottle – and reseal the bag/jar.
4. Put one oxygen absorber in each bottle of food, poking it down into the food. Absorbers can also be put into the bottle during filling, if preferred.
5. Wipe the bottle rim with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to make sure no food or food dust is on the rim.
6. Screw on lid. Tape down the lid if there is a chance that someone could accidentally open the bottle during storage.
7. Label and date bottles.
8. Store in a fairly cool and dark place.
9. Protect the filled bottles from rodents.

PETE bottles are a good container to transfer foods from an open #10 can. Transfer the food from the can to the bottle, transfer the oxygen absorber from the can to the PETE bottle, wipe the rim of the mouth, and screw on the lid. The contents can be easily seen on the shelf and food remains protected from insects, humidity, and air between uses.

Foods that can be dry packed in PETE bottles include white rice, wheat and other whole grains, oatmeal, dry beans, powdered milk, white flour, small pasta without egg, freeze dried foods, dehydrated foods that are crisp enough to snap, TVP, cheese powder, gelatin and low fat ready-to-eat cereals.  Sugar may be stored in PETE bottles but oxygen absorbers are not necessary.

Some foods may keep longer when dry packed but will probably not have the shelf life of unprocessed, low moisture, low fat foods. These include cornmeal, pearl barley, nuts and seeds. These foods should be used regularly to avoid rancidity.