10 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Storage Problems

10 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Storage ProblemsThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

A lot of people are now considering storing food for emergencies but feel they have obstacles that prevent them from doing so.  Perhaps they feel they don’t have any free space, or become overwhelmed by the task.

Having limited space and living in a hot humid climate for at least 120 days out of the year, I am very familiar with storage problems.

Ideally, food should be stored at around 50-55 degrees, with no more that 15% humidity.   Does that mean you cannot store food if you do not have these ideal conditions?  Of course you can!  The conditions described are “in a perfect world” type scenario, and we all know it’s not perfect, otherwise we would not need to store food.

Summer temperatures in Texas reach over 100 degrees with 80% humidity.  To save electricity, we keep the air conditioning at around 78-80 degrees.  The A/C cuts down on humidity, but moisture still seeps in.  This is something we cannot ignore.  We just factor in that the food stored will not last as long as it would have at cooler, drier temperatures.

Here are some tips:

  • Clear out an area before getting started, or as you supply grows.  Clean out the junk closet and sell or donate items, leaving free space for food storage.  Try using underutilized spaces such as under the beds, inside empty suitcases or TV cabinet.
  • Avoid waste and store only foods that your family eats.  Resist the urge to stock up on sale or discontinued items just because of the low price.
  • Choose canned foods that have the longest expiration dates.  Do not buy cans that are dented or misshapen even if they are heavily discounted.  Although some studies have shown they can last a few years past their expiration dates, I prefer not to risk it, especially after a friend’s unfortunate experience.  Getting ill from eating spoiled food is not worth it.
  • Rotate your food constantly.  I mark the expiration date with a Sharpie marker on top of the canned food and on the sides to make sure I use them before those dates.  At least twice a year, go through your supplies and use anything close to expiration.
  • If you are storing bulk foods in mylar bags, observe the proper technique by using oxygen absorbers and letting all the air out.  Label your buckets with the contents and the date the food was stored.  Plan on using these stored foods within five years, instead of ten, if your storage conditions are not ideal.
  • Find out that pests got into your stored food such as rice or flour would be disastrous, not to mention expensive to replace.  Clean the area surrounding your food storage thoroughly.  Make sure the area is dry and pest free.  For additional protection from pests, keep stored foods in five gallon food grade buckets with tight lids.
  • For maximum shelf life, choose dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.  Mountain House, a provider of food for recreational and emergency purposes, just increased their stated shelf life from 10 years to 12 years on their pouches.
  • If you are storing water in containers for drinking, use and replace the water after a year.  Mark the date of storage on the container using a label or sharpie marker.  Mold or moss may develop after the container been sitting in a warm, humid area for a while.  If you do use water that has been stored for a long while, have a backup water purification system by running it through a filter, boiling etc.
  • Make sure your food and water storage is not close to gasoline or other chemicals that emit fumes that will contaminate your supplies.

This tips will help minimize mistakes,  and ensure your stored food and water will be available when you most need them.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Don’t let those expiration dates get past you.  An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies:

 For beginning preppers

Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett: Review and Giveaway

Food StorageI had an opportunity to review a copy of Food Srorage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett.

I like the way the book is organized, with a separate chapter covering food needs for 72 hours, short term emergencies (two weeks to three months) and long term emergencies (three months or longer).   There are more sections dealing with water storage, preserving, packing dry foods for long term, maintaining balance, sustainable food storage, organizing and using your food storage.  In short, this book covers everything you need to know about storing food.

If you are just starting out with your food storage plan, then you are fortunate to have this guide, but if you already have some food stored, you can still find a lot of good ideas.  With this book you will also learn to make the most out of your food storage, avoid waste and use your storage to save money and time.  For example, there is a section on what to do with oil that has gone past its edible prime.  The book also covers how food storage can actually improve your financial situation as you get through some lean months.

I found a lot of ideas on how I can improve my own food storage plan.  The author gives practical steps that anyone can implement right away.  I highly recommend this book.

Now for the giveaway…

What aspect of food storage do you find the most challenging and why?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  May 16th at 8 pm Central.  *Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Using Four Year Old Rice

FourYearOldRiceThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

We are rotating the first batch of rice we stored away and replacing it with the new batch.  I bought the rice back in April 2010 but did not repackage it for for long term storage until November 2010.  Usually, rice that is left in a pantry with no special packaging will last one to two years.

Since this is the first time I am using my rice storage I was really curious as to how the mylar bag/oxygen absorber packed rice held up.  We don’t keep it especially cold in our apartment – usually 75-78 degrees, and it does get humid indoors sometimes.

First, Mr. Apt Prepper opened up the five gallon bucket.  I didn’t realize they are not the easiest things to open, which is actually a good thing, because you know the contents are safe.  After he released the plastic zip seal, he had to slowly pry open the lid with a butter knife.  It would have been easier to have a bucket opener so I added one to the Amazon wish list.

Rice in mylar bagOnce opened, we examined the mylar bags inside and found them to be the same as when we packed them nearly four years ago.  The bags were still very much air tight as they shrink around the food once the oxygen absorber activates.  When I opened a bag, I found that the oxygen absorber was still soft and fresh, and did not harden as expired ones do.  I poured the contents into a jar, and cooked up a batch.

Pouring rice from mylar bagThe rice tasted good and there was no difference in taste or texture at all.  I am really glad the process works, and feel confident the food storage will hold up for many years.

Buying food in bulk and repackaging it yourself is a cost effective way to store for emergency long term storage.  As long as you keep rotating your food, it will not go to waste.  If you’d like to get started repackaging bulk food for long term storage, the easiest method is described here.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Storing Foods in Less than Ideal Conditions

A lot of people are now considering storing food for emergencies but feel they have obstacles that prevent them from doing so.  Perhaps they feel they don’t have any free space, or someone told them there is no way they can store food under the conditions they have in their house.  They then become fixated on the problem and get delayed in their efforts.

Living in a hot humid climate for at least 120 days out of the year, I am very familiar with storage issues.

Ideally, food should be stored at around 50-55 degrees, with no more that 15% humidity.   Does that mean you cannot store food if you do not have these ideal conditions?  Of course you can!  The conditions described are “in a perfect world” type scenario, and we all know it’s not perfect, otherwise we would not need to store food!

Summer temperature in Texas reach over 100 degrees with 80% humidity.  To save electricity, we keep the air conditioning at around 78-80 degrees.  The A/C cuts down on humidity, but moisture still seeps in.  This is something we cannot ignore.  We just factor in that the food stored will not last as long as it would have at cooler, drier temperatures.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose canned foods that have the longest expiration dates.  Although some studies have shown they can last a few years past their expiration dates, I prefer not to risk it, especially after a friend’s unfortunate experience.  Getting ill from eating spoiled food is not worth it.
  • Rotate your food constantly.  I mark the expiration date with a Sharpie marker on top of the canned food and on the sides to make sure I use them before those dates.
  • If you are storing bulk foods in mylar bags, observe the proper technique by using oxygen absorbers and letting all the air out.  Plan on using these stored foods within five years, instead of ten, if your storage conditions are not ideal.
  • Clean the area surrounding your food storage thoroughly.  Make sure the area is dry and pest free  For additional protection from pests, keep stored foods in five gallon food grade buckets with tight lids.
  • Label your buckets with the contents and the date the food was stored.
  • If you are storing water for drinking, use and replace the water after a year.  Make a label for each container on when it was stored.  Water develops mold after it’s been sitting in a warm, humid area for a while.  If you do use water that has been stored for a long while, have a backup water purification system by running it through a filter, boiling etc.

We all have obstacles to prepping, but don’t let them stop you.  The key is to try to minimize mistakes,  but continue preparing anyway.

 

Check out the Legacy Premium line of storage foods carried by one of our sponsors, PrepareWise.

 

Don’t let those expiration dates get past you.  An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies (Iphone or Ipad users):

 For beginning preppers

If You’re Starting a Food Storage Plan, Read this Book: The Prepper’s Pantry

Everyone needs to eat, so one of the first areas beginning preppers focus on is food storage.  Making a long term food storage plan can quickly become confusing and potentially expensive if you jump in without doing some research.  It is enough work planning a “normal” menu for a busy week ahead; planning a emergency storage pantry with all the large quantities can be overwhelming at first.

I read a review copy of The Prepper’s Pantry by Anne Lang and found a book with lots of helpful information especially if you are in the planning stages of your food storage.  This book will help you plan how much to store, what equipment you need, where to find supplies and provide instructions for dehydrating, canning, as well as cooking without electricity. The book provides helpful tips on reputable brands and where to find reasonably priced items, and steps you can take on a regular basis to become accustomed to cooking from food storage ingredients.  I liked the author’s system of packing all the ingredients needed for a loaf of bread in one mylar bag, with the accompanying recipe.  You can’t beat the convenience of just pulling out a bag from storage and being able to have a fresh loaf for dinner.  Lastly, the book includes plenty of main dish recipes that you can make out of stored food.

If you are just starting your food storage program, this book will save you time from having to research all the various choices and sources.  Whether you are preparing for a job loss, economic collapse, hurricane or power outage, the ability to feed your family using a solid food storage program such as one you can learn from this book will give you the peace of mind.

I have added The Prepper’s Pantry to my Amazon Store or you can click on the link below.

 

Find deals on food storage ingredients at Emergency Essentials: Emergency Essentials/BePrepared
Emergency Essentials/BePreparedEmergency Essentials/BePrepared

Keep Track of Your Supplies with the Prep & Pantry App

One of the challenges of preparedness is keeping track of your items and their expiration dates.  Without an efficient tracking system, it is easy to forget how much of a certain item you have, when they expire, and what items need to be replaced.

That’s why I am excited to welcome Prep&Pantry.com as one of our sponsors!  Doug, the creator of the app, a prepper himself, has found a way to keep track of food storage, first aid and preparedness supplies and their expiration dates.  He created an app that works on the iPhone 4 or 3GS, an iPad 2 or the iPod Touch 4th generation.

I actually tried the app myself and it is very easy to use.  By enabling online look-up, you can scan an item’s barcode and it will automatically fill in the item’s name.  All you have to add is the item’s location, a tag (example: vegetables) and the expiration date.  The location can be your storage pantry, bug out bag, car emergency kit, or anywhere you might keep storage items.  You can view lists of your items alphabetically, by location or by expiration date.   Priced very affordably, the app is efficient and user-friendly.  They also have great customer service.

For more information about the app please visit Prep and Pantry by clicking on the link below (or the sidebar) for Prep&Pantry.com.