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

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Cold and Flu BucketMy workplace is giving free flu shots in a couple of weeks.  I usually don’t sign up for the flu shot but this reminded me that the cold and flu season is upon us.

There are lots of people coming to work while sick, and the most common comment when asked about their condition is, “I’m so miserable, I don’t even know what I have.”   How can you tell whether you have a cold or the flu?   (I am not a doctor; so this is not medical advice.  See your healthcare professional to be sure.)  This way you can prepare yourself and your family.

How colds and flu are similar:

  • Viruses cause both colds and flu.
  • Both may cause sniffles, coughing, tiredness and fever
  • Both are respiratory – affecting the nose and throat, possibly the lungs.

How they are different:

  • Degree of misery:  the flu is definitely more miserable than a cold
  • Speed of onset:  a cold may feel more gradual coming on, but a flu feels like you got hit by a ton of bricks all at once.
  • Symptoms:  although both may have sniffles and cough, the flu will have additional symptoms such as chills, more extreme body aches (bones usually feel heavy or achy), higher fever and more extreme fatigue.

Treatment

  • Both require lots of rest and drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Over the counter medicines also help.
  • Which one requires you to go to the doctor:  If you suspect the flu, it’s best to visit the doctor as soon as possible so he or she can give you Tamiflu, which can sometimes lessen the symptoms of influenza if you catch it early enough.  Another reason to see a doctor is if you are at a higher risk of complications such as adults over age 65, pregnant women, young children or if you have other chronic ailments or weakened immune system.  For a cold sufferer who is normally in good health, it is a good idea to see a doctor if a cold lasts more that 10 days.

For additional tips, see

This Home Remedy Helped Me Prevent a Cold

Prepare for the Flu Season

I was sick the day after I started this blog and having emergency supplies sure was a big help.  It’s a big inconvenience to have to drag yourself to the store when you already don’t feel well to have to buy pain relievers, tissues, and other supplies.

Why not start a “cold and flu” bucket 

A few ideas on what to include:

– Box of tissues

– Tylenol, NyQuil or any other favorite cold/flu reliever

– oral thermometer

– bottle of apply cider vinegar

– tea, honey and bottled lemon juice (When mixed with warm water makes a good sore throat reliever)

– cough drops

– antibacterial wipes

– canned chicken soup OR freeze dried ingredients for chicken soup so you just need to add water to cook

– Eucalyptus oil (relieves congestion)

– Vitamin C

You may have some other ideas on what you want to include – what are your favorite cold and flu remedies?  Please share in the comments below.

Stay healthy everyone!

 

 Visit ReadyMade Resources:

 

 

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

Assemble a Personal Care Bucket

5-gallon bucket

Recycled mayonnaise bucket

Five gallon buckets that are commonly used for food storage can be used to organize and store other non food items.  They are very convenient and portable, and they stack well if you get the same types.  I have already made a health supplies bucket but this time I wanted to cover how to make the Personal Care bucket.

Pre-assembly Steps:

1. Obtain a five gallon bucket with a lid. See this article on how to get five gallon buckets for free.

2.  Wash the bucket well with soap and water, and dry thoroughly.

3.  You do not need oxygen absorbers for most personal care items.

4.  Buy your items with a coupon or on sale, for the biggest savings.

What goes into a Personal Care Bucket?

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner (not essential but nice to have)
  • Soaps
  • Toothpaste and/or Baking Soda
  • Razors
  • Nail/toenail clippers, tweezers
  • Deodorant
  • Lotions
  • Tampons/Sanitary Napkins
  • Alcohol
  • Mouthwash
  • Cotton balls and Q-tips

If you are so inclined, stash your backup makeup bag in there as well.  Toilet paper rolls with the middle cardboard removed would make good space fillers.  You can take soap out of packaging if you live in a dry climate.  I left the soaps in boxes, as the humidity tends to make soap get soft and slimy, and I don’t want it to get into the other items.

personal care items in a bucketYou can tailor the contents of the bucket according to who would be using the contents-if you have a baby in the family, then pack baby supplies such as tear free baby shampoo, baby oil, lotion, cloth diapers (disposables may just be too bulky, but you can throw in a few as space fillers if you use them).  Pay attention to the weight and do not overstuff the bucket, as the handle may not hold up or the lid may not shut if you overfill it.

Type up a list of contents and tape it to the inside of the lid.  Label the bucket and date.  I usually note the date I packed the bucket, so I have an idea how long it’s been in storage.  As with other goods, rotate your items to avoid waste.

ReadyMade Resources is a trusted source for your preparedness supplies:

 

 

 

Survival Food Storage

After shopping around for bulk survival food and storage materials, I am finally ready to start storing.

First, I gathered up all my supplies on the dining table:

  • Food items such as rice, pasta, pinto beans, etc.
  • 5 gallon food grade buckets
  • 1 gallon size mylar bags
  • oxygen absorbers (300 cc)
  • measuring cup
  • iron
  • masking tape and sharpie marker for labeling
  • cardboard to place over the table (under the iron)
  • airtight jar to keep extra oxygen absorbers
  • bay leaves to ward against weevils
materials for long term food storage

Materials for long term food storage

The photo shows the mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, masking tape and jar.

  • A few things to note:  Before you start, set the iron to the hottest setting.  Make sure you set the iron on a covered surface to avoid burning.  I used recycled cardboard from a large pizza box, but you should determine what works best for you.
  • While these steps are doable with one person, it is easier to do them with two people, so you have someone holding the bag while the other person is ironing across.  My husband helped me out on this so it went a bit faster.
  • You will need to set aside a solid block of time to do this:  Oxygen absorbers start activating as soon as you open the package.  If you have to stop and leave them for later, you must store them in an airtight container or they will become useless.
  • DO NOT use oxygen absorbers for storing sugar.  This will cause the sugar to harden into a block.

We did the following to steps:

  1. Place one oxygen absorber in the bottom of the mylar bag.
  2. Pour 12 cups of rice (or whatever you are storing) into the bag.  I used a 2 cup measuring cup to as this was quicker than doing it one by one.
  3. Add another oxygen absorber and one bay leaf on top of the rice.  There should be about an inch clearance from the top edge of the bag to where the rice fills up to.
  4. Line up the sides and across the top of the mylar bag flat.
  5. Carefully iron across the top, leaving a 1 inch space open on the left corner.  Don’t worry, the iron will not stick to the mylar, it actually stays smooth.  Do not try to make a fold across the top and iron it:  we tried this and it does not seal as well.
  6. “Burp” the bag to let any remaining air out.
  7. Now you can iron the remaining space and seal it up.  Careful, as the iron can get too hot.  About an hour after we started, we noticed the bags were not sealing as well, then we realized the iron had gotten too hot and the automatic shut off activated.  Make sure your iron does not overheat.
  8. Label the bag with a sharpie pen.
  9. Place the mylar bag in the food grade 5 gallon bucket.
  10. Keep packaging the same food item into mylar bags following the above steps until the bucket is full.
  11. Seal up the bucket.
  12. Label the bucket.  I used a masking tape and wrote the contents of the bucket with a sharpie market.
  13. Store any remaining oxygen absorbers in an airtight jar.
  14. Store the bucket in a cool, dry area.  I cannot store food in the garage as we live in a hot and humid area.  Heat and humidity will shorten the life of stored food.  For now, the buckets are hidden under the dining table with a long table cloth.

Bulk food storageThe next day, you will notice the bags look shrunken.  This is the oxygen absorber doing its job.

That’s it, the process was actually easier than I thought.

Items Needed for Storing Survival Food

I am happy to be back home after being away for a week.  Now I can proceed with my bulk food storage plans.

Last week, I posted about shopping for food staples such as rice, pasta, pinto beans, etc.  in “Survival Food Shopping”  We then bought the materials needed to package these foods for long-term storage.  These were purchased online as I could not find a local store that carries them:

–food grade five gallon buckets with lids

–1 gallon size mylar bags

–oxygen absorbers (300 cc)

The following common household items will also be needed:

–iron

–flat surface such as a leveler tool or a wooden table with a cardboard liner

–permanent markers for labeling

–labels or masking tape so you can label the buckets

–empty jar

–measuring cup

Most sites I read recommended five gallon size mylar bags to fit into the buckets.  We chose one gallon bags instead for the following reasons:

  • One gallon bags of staples are easier to transport than five gallon bags.  Since we live in an apartment, there is always a chance we may have to bug out.  If we had to leave on foot with only the bug out bags, we would be able to carry one gallon bags of food between family members.
  • Since the goal is to keep the food fresh for as long as possible, if we open up the five gallon bag, we would need to use it all up.  Since we are storing in one gallon bags, they can be opened and used as needed, without affecting the rest of the batches.
  • If we choose to, we can share one gallon bags of food with others in need, such as family or neighbors, without compromising the rest of the bin.

Here are a few of  the materials I have collected. 

On my next post, I will go over the steps that I am doing to store the bulk food items.