What to Store in Airtight Container: The Ultimate Guide


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Some foods would go bad faster when exposed to air or moisture. Fortunately, airtight containers, which you can find in the pantries of many chefs and celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, and Gwyneth Paltrow, are invented to keep these types of foods fresher for longer. But not all foods should be kept stored in airtight food containers.

So, what to store in an airtight container? Foods that need to be stored in an airtight food storage container are those that will go bad or spoil quickly in the presence of air and moisture. These foods include dried staple foods and ingredients like baked cookies, flour, rice, sugar, and powdered milk.

From produce to dry foods, this post gives you the list of everything you need to keep in airtight food storage containers, according to food authorities.

What to store in airtight containers?

Storing foods in their original containers or in glass, plastic, or metal containers with tight-fitting covers can generally protect them from bugs.

Certain foods, though, should be kept in an airtight food container to prevent them from going bad fast and maintain their freshness much longer.

Here’s the list of all the foods you should store in an airtight food container, according to food authorities. (01Opens in a new tab.,02Opens in a new tab.,03Opens in a new tab.)

Fruits and Vegetables

Food Types

Storage Tip

Remarks

Artichokes

Store in sealed, airtight containers or bags

Place them in the refrigerator

Cherries

Store in airtight containers or bags

Place them in the refrigerator shelf

Basil

Store in an airtight container

Pack it loosely with a small piece of damp paper; place it on a cool counter

Meat

Store in airtight or original packaging

Place them in the refrigerator shelf

Beet greens

Store in airtight containers

Put inside containers with a bit of moisture

Fava beans

Store in airtight containers

Can also store dried fava beans package in resealable plastic freezer bags
Green garlic

Store in airtight containers

Store in the refrigerator or leave them out for one or two days

Most greens (Bok choy, chard, collard, kale, etc.)

Store in airtight containers

Place a piece of damp cloth or towel inside the container for moisture to keep greens from drying out

Lettuces

Store in airtight containers

Keep the container moist by placing a piece of damp towel in the container. Store inside refrigerators

Okra

Store in airtight containers

Put a piece of dry towel inside containers to keep the moisture low. Best to eat right away upon purchase

Dry beans and peas

Store in airtight containers

Wet beans will produce black spots and become spoiled quickly

Berries

Store in airtight containers

Organize the berries in a single layer in the container. Never wash them until you're ready to eat

Carrots

Store in airtight containers

Cut off the tops to prolong their freshness. Place them in the crisper drawer

Cauliflower

Store in airtight containers

Eat them as soon as possible

Fennel

Store in airtight containers

Put a little bit of water in the container

Grapes

Store in airtight containers or bags when freezing only

Never wash them until you're ready to eat

Root vegetables (Radishes, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, and celery root)

Store in airtight containers

Place a damp towel inside the container for moisture

Dried fruits

Store in airtight containers

Keep them cool. Store in the fridge if possible

Dried vegetables

Store in airtight containers

Keep them cool

I give much more in-depth coverage of what fruits you should and shouldn’t keep in airtight containers in my article here.

Dry foods

If you’re not storing your dry foods properly, they may absorb moisture, causing powdered food items to become clumpy and crisp foods to become soggy. Here are some dry foods you should keep in an airtight food storage container. (04Opens in a new tab.)

Food Types

Storage Tip

Remarks

Flour (White; whole wheat; specialty)

Store in airtight containers

Whole wheat flour can also be stored in the fridge or freezer

Grits

Store in airtight containers or bags

Can last for up to 12 months at room temperature

Marshmallows

Store in an airtight container

Can last for about 2 to 4 months at room temperature

Milk (dry, nonfat, unopened)

Store in airtight containers

Can last for up to 6 months at room temperature

Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, egg noodles, etc.)

Store in airtight containers once opened

At room temp, spaghetti and macaroni can last for up to 2 years, while egg noodles can last for 6 months

Sugar (granulated, brown, confectioners)

Store in airtight containers

Cover tightly in an airtight container
Tea (bags, instant, loose)

Store in airtight containers

At room temp, tea bags can last up to 18 months, instant tea up to 3 years, and loose tea up to 2 years

Homemade cookies

Store in airtight containers

Can last about 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature

Packaged cookies

Store in airtight containers

Can last up to 2 months at room temperature

Hot roll mix

Store in airtight containers if opened

Can last up to 18 months at room temperature

Pancake mix

Store in airtight containers

Can last up to 15 months at room temperature

Potatoes (instant mix)

Store in airtight containers

Can last about 6 to 12 months at room temp

Toaster pastries

Store in airtight containers

Can last up to 6 months at room temp

Herbs and spices (whole spices, ground spices, spice blends)

Store in airtight containers

Place in dry places away from heat and sunlight. To extend shelf-life, store in the freezer

Popcorn

Store in airtight containers

Can last up to 2 years at room temp

Apart from these foods, the food authority also advised you to put away your cooked food or food that has been opened inside food storage containers which come with proper airtight seals.

Be sure to inspect these containers regularly for any damages, scratches, or cracks. If you happen to notice a crack on the airtight container, no matter how small it is, you should throw it out since even a tiny crack can become the breeding ground for harmful germs. (05Opens in a new tab., 06Opens in a new tab.)

Foods you should store in a non-airtight container

While airtight containers may help extend the life of many foods, not all foods should be kept away from air. Here are some foods you should keep in a non-airtight container. (07Opens in a new tab.,08Opens in a new tab.)

  • Citrus: You should never store citruses in an airtight container. Instead, keep them in a cool place that has good airflow.
  • Some fruits or veggies: Other than the fruits and vegetables mentioned above, you should not store fruits and vegetables in an airtight container since this might cause them to decay much faster.
  • Hard cheeses: Hard cheeses like aged cheddar require special storage, which is not an airtight food container. Store your hard cheese with its store wrapping until you use it.

Best airtight containers in 2020

When choosing an airtight food container, essential factors you need to consider include the container’s lid and sealing system, material, capacity, durability, ease-of-cleaning, and functionality.

Here are my top 3 picks of the best airtight containers available on the market today.

Best Plastic Airtight Food Storage Container: Rubbermaid Brilliance Airtight Food Storage ContainersOpens in a new tab.

When it comes to food storage containers, Rubbermaid has become a trusted brand name that many customers are familiar with. So it’s not surprising if Rubbermaid’s airtight food storage container becomes my number one pick. Here’s why.

Apart from airtight, these durable rectangular containers are leakproof. They are made of thick BPA-free plastic, so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals leaching out to your food. Also, each container is made of Tritan plastic which can resist both odors and stains.

Their lids feature two clips: one on the right side and the other on the left. These clips give the seal a tighter grip on the container. One unique feature that I love about these containers is the tiny built-in vent that is revealed when you pop up the clips. 

This vent lets you reheat your leftover foods inside the microwave with the lid on without worrying about splatters. The containers also have firm latches that can withstand repeated use. 

Since they have a shallow profile, your food will heat or chill faster and uniformly compared to containers with a deeper profile. Their transparent bodies allow you to see what’s inside quickly and easily in a single glance.

Their narrow design makes it easy for you to stack them on top of one another and can fit efficiently into your pantries for compact storage.

Another cool feature of these containers is their cool-touch extended rims which remain cool even after heating. So you can hold the containers while the food is still hot.

In addition, they are freezer and dishwasher-safe, and you don’t need to remove their

attached silicone gaskets when cleaning, which makes cleaning a lot easier and faster.

They come in various capacities, from 6.6-cup up to 19.9-cup. Compared to some far more fragile airtight container brands, Rubbermaid Brilliance containers are less expensive. You can buy them either individually or in a set on Amazon through this linkOpens in a new tab.

Best Glass Airtight Food Storage Container: OXO Good Grips Smart Seal ContainerOpens in a new tab.

Similar to Rubbermaid, OXO is a reputable brand that is well-known to produce plenty of top-rated kitchen products, including airtight containers.

The OXO Good Grips smart seal airtight containers come with a silicone seal for airtight and leak-proof storage. They also feature a four-locking tab to further secure and strengthen the grip of the cover to the container.

The containers are made of durable and BPA-free borosilicate glass. So you don’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals seeping from the container into your food. They can also resist stain, so your container remains clean and clear as new after every wash.

Moreover, these containers can withstand temperature in the oven and freezer, allowing you to quickly transfer your food from the freezer directly to the oven. You can also safely reheat your leftovers in the microwave.

You can easily remove the silicone seal attached to the cover for cleaning. Both the container’s body and seal are dishwasher-safe.

These airtight food containers come in a wide range of capacities to fit all your kitchen needs. You can find containers that can hold as little as 1-cup up to 8-cup.

Nonetheless, since these containers are made of glass, they can be fragile and quite heavy compared to their plastic container counterpart.

Also, bear in mind that while borosilicate glass is indeed sturdier than soda-lime glass, it is not completely safe from thermal shock, which involves quick and extreme temperature changes causing the glass to shatter into pieces. Therefore, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely and be sure to preheat your oven before putting the container in.

You can check their latest price on Amazon through this link hereOpens in a new tab..

Best Airtight Food Container for Pantry Organization: Chef’s Path 7-pieces Food Storage Container SetOpens in a new tab.

When organizing your pantries, there’s probably one feature that you pay close attention to — uniformity. You would want the containers in your pantry or cupboard to fit and stack nicely to one another in a neat, stylish, and uniform manner. This Chef’s Path airtight food container set gives you just that, and more.

The container set comes with a wide range of space-efficient sizes to suit all your storage needs, which include:

  • 1 large and tall container with 1.9 L capacity, which is perfect for storing pasta
  • 2 medium-sized containers with 1.2 L capacity, which are perfect for storing brown sugar and red beans
  • 2 small-sized containers with 0.8 L capacity, which are perfect for storing cookies and peas
  • 2 mini-sized containers with 0.5 L capacity, which are perfect for storing candies and snacks

Each container features a silicone seal and a lid-lock mechanism for airtight and spill-proof storage. Its new and enhanced classy black lid which is made of rigid ABS plastic can also resist high impact. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the lids getting damaged or broken easily like most food containers.

Apart from storing them in the pantries and cupboards, these containers can be safely stored inside the fridge and freezer.

Plus, the container set comes with a chalkboard marker and 10 free reusable chalkboard labels, so you can easily and neatly label each of your containers. You can check them out on Amazon by clicking this linkOpens in a new tab..

Best Airtight Food Container for Baking: Progressive Prepworks ProKeeper 7-piece Baker’s Storage Containers SetOpens in a new tab.

If you’re an avid baker, then this baker’s storage container set is perfect for you. This ultimate container set is by far the coolest airtight storage container I’ve ever seen on the market to date. They have clever features that you can’t find in any other containers which make them extraordinary.

Each container features a silicone seal for airtight storage to keep your baking essentials fresh for much longer. Their hinged lids open widely so you can easily scoop out one full serving for measuring.

They also have a clear, transparent body, so you know exactly what you are grabbing. Their contoured body makes them easy to grip.

Also, each container comes with graduated measurements and is designed with unique and effective features that make your baking process a lot easier and quicker. 

The set comes with seven stackable canisters, which include 1 container for your flour, 1 container for granulated sugar, 1 container for powdered sugar, 1 container for brown sugar, 2 mini containers for baking items like sprinkles, and 1 extra container for storing your other baking essentials.

The large flour airtight container can hold a standard bag of flour, which is around 5 pounds or 15 cups. It comes with its own leveler, so you don’t have to waste your time searching and taking out a butter knife or spatula from your kitchen drawer each time you need to level your flour. 

You can use the leveler in two ways. You can either hold it and sweep it through the measuring cup to level the flour, or rest it on the container and just scrape your measuring cup right beneath it. Since you can snap the leveler right back on the lid, you’ll never lose it and always know where to find it every single time.

The container for granulated sugar can hold about 4 pounds or 2.5 qt. Similar to the flour airtight container, it comes with its own unique feature, which is the pour spout. So you can just pour out the sugar directly to your measuring spoon or cup without having to open the lid.

The powdered sugar container has a capacity of one pound or 1.4 qt. It comes with a leveler, as well as a sifter spoon tool, with the sifter on the right and a spoon measuring one-teaspoon on the left. This petite tool allows you to dust powdered sugar on top of your cupcakes swiftly and neatly. Both tools also have their holder on the lid, so you can clip them right back on the lid after use.

The brown sugar container, on the other hand, has a capacity of 1.5 qt or 6 cups. It comes with a terra cotta disk that can keep your brown powder moist and fresh longer. All you need to do is to wet and soak the disk in the water for about 10 minutes, take it out and tap it dry with a paper towel, and then put it back on its holder on the lid or put it right on the brown sugar. This disk prevents your brown sugar from clumping or becoming rock-hard.

Last but not the least, the set comes with 2 mini ProKeeper that come with a shaker. Each mini container has around 1.5-cup capacity, which can hold a standard box of baking soda. You have the option to clip the shifters in or out of the container, depending on your needs. These mini containers are perfect for storing your sprinkles. You can also store granola, nuts, or cinnamon sticks in them.

The set also comes with an extra container for coffee. All containers are easy to clean and are dishwasher-safe.

While they are the perfect set for storing your baking essentials, you can also use them to store any foods you like, such as oatmeal, homemade cookies and chips, and much more. You can check their latest price on Amazon via this linkOpens in a new tab..

3 Cheaper Alternatives to Airtight Containers

While airtight food containers are excellent from storing your food, especially dry food items, you can also use other cheaper alternatives that offer the same airtight feature.

Here are some inexpensive airtight containers alternatives you might want to try:

  • Glass jars: If you have commercially-used jars at home, don’t throw them out just yet. Instead, clean and reuse them as a storage jar for your dry foods or foods that need an airtight environment. You can use jars like jam jars, sauce jars, pickle jars, or condiment jars since they are airtight.
  • Mason jars: Also known as Ball or canning jars, Mason jarsOpens in a new tab. are airtight glass containers with a screw-top lid that look pretty similar to commercial glass jars. The key difference between the two is that Mason jars have a wider rim, which gives them a better sealing surface. You can get mason jars in a wide range of sizes, from 4 ounces up to one gallon.
  • Airtight resealable plastic bags: Airtight resealable bags like the infamous Ziploc bagsOpens in a new tab. are usually used to store portions of foods in the freezer. They are also great for storing food on-the-go.

Why does food stay fresh longer when stored in an airtight container?

Airtight food containers have a sealing system that keeps air and moisture from entering the container, allowing certain foods to stay fresh longer. These elements can trigger oxidation and alter some food’s natural state, causing dry foods like flour to become clumpy and making oily foods go rancid.

Eina Aivoges

Eina Aivoges is a certified health and wellness coach and a licensed medical laboratory scientist. She's also a foodie, avid coffee drinker, cat-lover, blogger, and traveler.

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