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Food Storage Tips For Your Emergency Kitchen
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Food Storage Tips for Your Emergency Kitchen

In my last article, Extreme Couponing without Being Extreme, I told you how to get the most for your money and recommended building a stockpile. Now that you have decided to build a stockpile you need to learn what foods are best for storage and how to store them.

Storing Canned Goods

Obviously, it’s easiest to store canned goods. It’s a no brainer; stack the cans, you’re good to go. They may be easy to store but you must take precautions.

Never store cans directly on metal shelves. The metals can react and corrode the cans cutting their shelf life in half. It’s best to keep cans away from metal but, if metal shelves are your only choice, put something between the cans and the metal. Also remember to store your cans where they will not freeze or get hot, a cool, dark place is best.

If you do your own canning and preserving, you don’t have the same issues with storage as you do with store-bought canned goods. You can store your glass jars on metal shelves as long as the lids are not touching any other metals. I like to by the large mouth jars as they are much easier to stack. You just need to make sure you do not store your jars with the rings on. I will go into this further when I publish my article on canning and preserving food.

Storing Dry Foods

Most important when storing dry foods, you “must” get all the oxygen out and make the containers airtight. I like to use food storage buckets. Opaque material is better than transparent, because light will degrade your stored food, even if you have it stored in a closed pantry or cabinet.

In places like Oklahoma, where I live, an airtight container isn’t enough to banish insects. Just opening a bucket can still cause contamination so you may need some extra precautions.

My Grandmother taught me the bay leaf method of bug control in dry food storage.

Put 3 or 4 dried bay leaves in the bottom of a clean container. Pour in roughly 3-4 inches of dry food or grain then add 3 or 4 more dried bay leaves and another 3-4 inches of food. Keep using this method until your container is full then top off with 3 or 4 dried bay leaves. Note: use dry bay leaves to avoid moisture in your food item.

My cousin swears by the dry ice method. I have never tried this because I can never remember to stop and get dry ice. All she does is fill her bucket with the food item, leaving roughly 6 inches of head space. She then lays a chunk of dry ice on top and shuts the lid. As the dry ice sublimates, spaces between the food particles fill with carbon dioxide, smothering any bugs that may be in there.

Cautions:

• Handle dry ice with insulated gloves as it can cause severe burns.

• Be sure to wear safety glasses and a face shield if you are cutting or chipping the ice.

• Keep dry ice out of reach of children

• Never eat or swallow dry ice

• Avoid inhaling the gas released by dry ice. Use in a well ventilated area.

Unprocessed natural foods are best for storage. Legumes, wheat kernels, dried fruit will usually keep for years when stored properly.

You can store foods like olive oil, sugar, instant powdered milk, seeds and nuts but they have a shorter shelf life. You will need to do your homework to find out what foods are harder to store. There are hundreds of helpful books about storing food and shelf life. I made a list of several food storage books and items that will help you with your food storage needs.

Finding Storage Containers

The ideal container is easy to open and reseal, air and moisture tight and easy to handle. I have two sets of containers for my dry storage; large containers hold most of my food items, smaller containers for easier daily handling. I do not recommend plastic bags since bugs can chew through the plastic and they are easy to rip holes in. I use glass canning jars but any reusable food container will work.

For your large containers, they must be food grade, not recycled plastic. Getting free containers is the best. Check with local restaurants for food grade containers. Many will give them to you free or at a low price. Never store your food or water in a used container that did not originally contain food. The plastic will absorb molecules of the previous contents. Notice what food the container held. Pickled items will leave an odor that will leach into your food.

Bulk food storage has been a common practice on farms and homesteads for many years. Today, thanks to our volatile economy, more people are turning to food storage and emergency kitchen stockpiles for savings and food security. Set food aside and learn to protect your long-term investment by storing it properly.


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