Newbie needs help with food storage........greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
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I have been lurking for a couple months, trying to get all First Things accomplished simultaneously while dealing with creeping dread & anxieties. There has been so much great info here, thanks so much for your time & effort and advice. My heat source and water source preps are in process...the food is next but food prep has me stuck..
I have spent hours reading about food storage and I just can't get a handle on what's best to do. I normally love to research but I am feeling like *time is running out*! I have hesitated to write you guys because I feel like I should figure it out myself, but I need a helping hand.
I have talked to two people in the neighborhood who have been prepping for a year. One is going the mylar bag-O2 absorber-desiccant-bay leaf way for storing grains/beans etc. The other feels that the store packaging is adequate, is buying things in 5-10 lb quantities and throwing them in a 55-gal food grade plastic drum without other modification. He notes that he's had 10 lb bags of rice thrown in the corner of the closet with no ill effects and doesn't anticipate any now. I am uneasy with either option--I can't afford $2-$3 in prep materials for each bag of food, and I worry about the dump n' leave 'em philosophy. Since it is so late I am planning on a lot of canned food (do you really have to take the labels off & spray them?). For grains and beans I am hoping to store rice, kidney beans, black beans, lentils. Also soy grits, oatmeal, flour, sugar, oil, sprouting seeds, TVP (if I can find it), milk powder, dehydrated eggs & cheese?(anyone have sources for these?). I have a full basement, live in the Northeast, and find the basement is damp & mildew-y in the summer but OK winters. I am only planning (hoping) to store the food for about a year--I think that's all I'll be able to manage. I will be mostly getting things in 5-10 lb quantities.
Can you help me with a simple, adequate low cost method of storing these items? I am thinking now about dumping grains in 5 gal buckets with dry ice which seems easier/more economical to me than the O2 route. Can I put the grains in "bare" with dry ice? Does the dry ice need to be wrapped in something? Can I put the grains in the buckets in their store wrapping and be OK? Can I put different items in their store bags (ie some rice, some beans) in the buckets with dry ice? (will the CO2 permeate through the store bags) Should I put desiccant (silica gel) in the buckets with/without dry ice? How much silica gel, and do you wrap it or put it in something? What happens in the bucket when it absorbs moisture & you have a little 'sponge' sitting there? Are regular ziploc type bags (or several together) OK for storage inside a plastic bucket? What about storing 'soft' stuff like flour, oatmeal? Someone mentioned two-liter soda bottles...are they OK with the cap back on? Do you need dry ice/desiccant? Are the paper bags OK if put in plastic containers?
Thanks, this will go a long way in helping me get past this 'block'. Best luck and best wishes to all of you in the coming months.......... Deb
-- Deb (email@example.com), July 16, 1999
-- Deb (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 16, 1999
Buy some mil-spec mylar food bags. They're avail online and are easy to use. When they arrive you simply put them into the bucket and pour your food in along with some Oxy absorbers which you can buy from the same supplier probably. Then once the bag is almost full to the level of the five gal bucket (leave a little room to be able to fold the bags inward) take a 2 foot length of 2 by 4 wood with a towel folded on it and put it accross the bucket. You then take your iron which you have heated up and run it accross seamed top of the mylar bag about two inches down. Don't seal it all the way accross! Leave about an inch left to seal and then you take your handy Hoover vacumm and use the hose attachment to suck the air out of your mostly sealed bag. This technique does work. Then pinch off the bag and finish ironing. Take a mallet and bang the lid shut on your five gal bucket. Voila! You're in business. Now get doing!
-- Gordon (email@example.com), July 16, 1999.
Wow, one is using mylar and 02, the other is just dumping things into a 55 gallon drum? Both ends of the spectrum.
You might want to download the Food Storage FAQ
and go to Walton Feeds Walton can't deliver foods before next year at this time (can you say "back order, but if you go to the "Information Area," and then "Pack Your Own Foods," you'll get good advice.
They'll tell you exactly what Gordon told you :)
Having said that, I have grain that is over a year old, and has been stored in buckets, without even so much as dry ice, and it's still good. [I have packed other grain using mylar bags and O2 absorbers....hedge my bets.] Basically, dry, clean grain that is not bug infected will last a long time without much care. But, be sure it's dry, clean, and doesn't have bugs. Or, use mylar bags and absorbers.
Yeah, I know, it's an extra cost if you have to buy the bagss and absorbers. It's even more cost if you choose to use diatomaceous earth to totally avoid bug infestation. The greatest cost occurs when you need the food, open a bucket, and out march the bugs, leaving you with a black, moldy mess.
Now, there's the old fashioned way, which is exactly what you describe. Put a little grain (or beans, or rice)in a bucket, put some dry ice (a small bit) in an envelope, drop it on the grain, fill the bucket, set the lid on the top (lightly) and wait until tomorrow to seal the bucket. Use the envelope to keep the dry ice off the food, use the first layer of food to keep the dry ice off the bucket.
If you're going to put things in in store wrappings you should poke small holes in the bags if you're going to use 02 or dry ice. If you're just going to package a few bags of beans and rice, without driving off the oxygen, don't poke holes in the bags.
Desiccant (silica gel)-- you don't need this for grains, nor for any rice or beans that you buy in the store. Yes, it's a drying agent, but such food is dry to begin with.
Regular ziplock bags are OK -- if your intent is simply to separate foods. They won't keep oxygen out, but if you're using dry ice, that doesn't matter.
Flour, oatmeal, you can use buckets, or buckets with bags. I would use mylar bags for flour --- once wheat berries are ground they lose nutrition and don't bake as well, which is why you store wheat instead of flour (or better, in addition to flour) I have rolled oats stored in buckets with no added aids. Oatmeal? Well, if you're getting a few bags, use them.
Two liter soda bottles are great for short term storage. They won't preserve things as well as buckets, but they're sure better than nothing. Good for rice and beans. Don't bother with dry ice or 02 absorbers if you're using soda bottles -- the plastic is so thin that the bottle won't hold a vacuum for long.
Phew! Lot of questions. Hope this helps. Suggest you read the linked information, which will give you a good idea of the concepts involved.
-- de (delewis@Xinetone.net), July 16, 1999.
I know the feeling, I work full time and try to do preps on the fly, here area couple of especially good online order sites, at least for me, their delivery is FAST and pricing is good!
Lumen foods: www.soybean.com = grains, oats and more Custom Dried Foods: www.housekeeping.com/cdfstore/pricelist.htm = Great prices on dairy products, milk, sour cream, cheese, etc. FAST delivery.
I have other sites I have bought from for various things, if you would like to email me the email is good, just remove the X
-- Sammie Davis (sammie0X@hotmail.com), July 16, 1999.
I'm gonna jump in here with some pretty unorthodox advise. I expect to get stomped on like a flaming duck by all the old hands. but the following it truly my attitude.
If you truly can't afford (not just don't want to pay) to prep in the recommended ways, then forget those ways and just buy food and store water. One pound of beans and rice will keep you family alive for one more day.
There are no absolutely right ways to do all this. There are equally no absolutely wrong ways. All is a degree of how much money to spend and how long you can make you food last into the future. I have told several friends who got caught up in the "right way", stalled, and had not put up any food. I've asked them this question: If sometime next year food is NOT available, your family has not eaten in a week, and I offer to let you shovel up some of the grain up that I had dumped in my drive way last fall and has been setting there under a tarp for six months, what are you going to say?
If you waste time trying to get some certain method down and aren't on board when the ship leaves, you're in deep trouble. There are all classes of tickets for the ship. Don't be mislead by the first class passengers telling you "oh, daaling, there is *only* one way to go, you *must* go first class all the way". Bull Hockey. The steegage passenger may have a relatively rough trip, but they get there.
About next March I'd a *whole* lot rather have some food that was not stored in the "proper" way than have to face my children and try to explain why I diddled around trying to get it just right.
I have (and I'm sure there are a lot of others here who have) eaten food prepare from grains that have been stored in open top grain bin in a barns for months if not years. I've gone down in the cellar at my aunts house and helped her carry vegetables that were stored in the open air six months earlier, cut the worms out and eat the rest. Onions that were just pulled from the garden and tied up in the garage months ago. Food that was home canned years earlier (I admit that this is risky).
A lot of the food on the shelves *today* has shelp life of 1-2-3 years. Hell, I don't think there *is* a shelf life on Spam. I'm not impressed with the arguments about why you really don't like this or that food. Do an experiment. Go without ANY thing to eat for 4 or 5 days. If that Spam is not starting to look good, continure fasting a few more days. It WILL look good.
Yes, ideally you should do the better methods of preserving food. But then even MORE ideally you should HAVE some food in the future. Store food and prepare to take care of you and yours but the best method available to you NOW. If that's just shoving stuff in the closet in old shoe boxes, that's one whale of a lot better than nothing.
-Greybear, who ocassionally gets carried away and starts to rave.
Now y'all can bring on the arguments why I'm full of it here and food storage must be by certain methods.
-- Greybear (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 17, 1999.
Best advice I've seen. The forest, the trees and all that stuff.
-- Carlos (email@example.com), July 17, 1999.
Greybear, I have to agree. I personaly have put away food in O2 and mylar, vac-sealed, and on and on.... but that is not the first thing I did. The first thing I did was buy peanut butter, spam, canned veggies, etc..... easy things.
Aslo, I have to say.... even in 'normal' times, I have a tendancy to stock-up. I dont go to any long lenghts to 'preserve' the pre packaged food that you buy at the local gro store. It usually has SO many preservites in it.... you could pack it in a tomb. Just stick it in the freezer for 48 hours and then set the noodles on the shelf. You should be fine for at least 6-9 months, probably more like a year.
Deb, good luck with your preps.... I wish you all the best.
-- bulldog (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 17, 1999.
Deb, the first thing I did was buy extras of what I usually buy at the store (provided it was storable without refrigeration, of course, and the sell-by date fitted in with my plans). Then, on my yard saling trips, I started buying coolers, all sizes--heavy plastic types. They make great storage containers for rice, beans, sugar, etc., and are, of course, food quality plastic.
We don't have a basement, but summers are hot and moist in NC, and we may lose air conditioning, so I had that in mind when I stored stuff. By the way, now is a good time to mention that bleach does NOT kill mildew, AMMONIA does. Bleach cleans the black spots off, sure, but doesn't kill the spores, so you have to go over the area with ammonia--just DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA for a one-step process!!! Heloise says so, so it must be true.
Then I got free buckets from the supermarket bakery, filled them with things like coffee beans in vacuum packages, sealed the buckets well with duct tape. (Many of these frosting buckets have a vanilla odor which is virtually impossible to eradicate, so store vanilla-compatible foods in these!) If you're lucky and find some feta cheese buckets, the odor won't be a problem.
After that I bought complete meals from Lumen foods (soybean.com). I've been ordering (happily) from Lumen since way before all this started, 8-10 years. They have very high quality TVP (soy protein). Nowadays, Lumen has complete "chicken" noodle dinners, beef stroganoff, goulash, etc., in large pails, about $65-75, which make hundreds of meals, good for 5 years, I believe. Full information (including nutritional breakdowns) is at the site. Last time I checked delivery time was around 3 weeks, but quicker on regular items. BTW, I'm using some of their regular TVP from over a year ago, stored in ziplocks--it's still good.
If a food product is in paper or other flimsy wrapping (like flour), I put it in a freezer ziplock bag before storing it in a bucket or cooler.
You might store your canned goods in large plastic totes or plastic or metal garbage cans--raised off the floor by pallets. (Any toxic fumes given off by the plastic won't leach into cans.)
I also ordered some small quantities of bulk items (you can order as little as 4ozs) of various "luxury" items, like dehydrated cheese, butter, eggs, sour cream, etc, from adventurefoods.com. Your purchases come in vacuum-sealed, resealable bags. The folks at Adfoods are VERY nice--small business, NC backpackers and mountaineers.
I intend to store some supermarket items via the oxy absorber route before the end of summer, for possible longer-term needs. I know mine is not the cheapest way to go but if there are time constraints or other obstacles (medical problems, e.g.), it's convenient.
You haven't forgotten to allow for water storage, have you? Try your local bottling plant for free (or cheap) food-grade containers, 5 gall to 55-gall. If you want to get fancy, gardenerssupply.com has 75-gall rain barrels.
-- Old Git (email@example.com), July 17, 1999.
By the by, I loved Greybears post.
Also, I am picking up Ramen soups by the hundreds. Easy to prep, store and eat. And cost is .12 per meal. That's pretty darn cheap.
And I would submit that boiled leather might taste good after some imposed fasting.
-- Gordon (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 17, 1999.
I must agree with the posts suggesting conventional storage methods.
Grains store well for several years if kept dry and cool (if possible). Pick up what grains and legumes you can from your local sources. Check the feed store and ask for some #1 stuff that is suitable for food. Also, pick up extras of whatever is on sale. We are not talking years of storage at this point.
By buying beans, grains and rice, you simplify your process of storage, but you should consider some other things to make these foods a bit more tasty, and give some variety to meals. So don't forget a variety of spices, sauces and such. And be sure to get dry beef and chicken stock.
-- gene (email@example.com), July 17, 1999.
yep- and i pick up cans at the dented can store that definitely have dents, and store those all of the time in our "pantry"- no problemo- just check that the cans aren't swollen/leaking. All the "advice" for y2k food preps will say not to store dented cans- but if $$is a problem- that's the way to go. Also- have never used dry ice/DE etc and haven't had a problem yet- hope we won't- but don't let fear of doing it wrong hold you back- except for stuff like home canning which could kill you done wrong.......
-- farmer (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 17, 1999.