Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Thanks for the thread Cat…keep us posted on how future meetings go!
As for short term food storage, I’ll ad my own .02. This applies if your moving, as I have been doing over the past week. If you have hoarded short term food stuff from say Costco, such as tuna fish, olives, pasta, by all means, keep them in the packaging! It was a nightmare for me to have to pick up each can of tuna fish, rather than a package of 10 cans at a time, and put them in a box, and then later unpack them, one by one. As the thread title says, Lessons Learned!
Another lesson I learned about digestibility of hard beans besides sprouting. I incubate my own yogurt and then drain the excess whey out with cheese clothe… if you soak beans in this liquid for a few days they will lightly ferment, which breaks down the cellulose and starches. The active cultures (bacteria) in the yogurt whey are probiotics, so they help considerably with digestion. I wasn’t able to eat many beans before finding this technique, but now I can enjoy them again. It even helps with some of the high sulphur foods like cauliflower and broccoli. Pickling does pretty much the same thing, but I don’t want to have to pickle everything since variety is nice!
Plickety . The fermenting is such a good tip . I have been buying probiotics to add to our storage and make yogurt but did not know to soak the beans .
Does pickling the beets count for the probiotic ? Does making Kim-chi and sauerkraut work also ?
We haven’t done any sproutings up to now but that’s a good idea for a fresh vegetable especially in the winter. I think we’ll start exploring that. Does anyone know if you can eat the sprouts from chia seeds? We have a large bag of them leftover from a couple of years ago when we were drinking chia tea; they got moved to our long term storage when we got tired of the tea.
Juli – I’ll try to describe the system we developed. For one thing, I do our food inventory on a computer spreadsheet, which I print out from time to time so there’s a safe hard copy.
Down the side there are groupings for vegetables, fruit, fats, meats/proteins, sugar/sweets, starches (flour, rice, pastas) and animal food. Within those groups I note the specific kind, inserting new lines whenever a new purchase is added.
Across the top there are headings for item, size (weight, or if home canned, pint or quart), amount of cans/jars/boxes, calories per container, total calories for all containers, expiration date (or for home canned items the date of canning).
Without using the spreadsheet grid here in this note, an example would be like this:
green beans 16 oz.(size) 24(amount) 70(calories each can) 1,680(total calories 24 cans) 12/10(best by date)
green beans 16 oz. 12 70 840 10/11
total calories x,xxx,xxx,xxx (our goal for total inventory
is 2000 calories/day for 365 days, per person)
Oh my gosh, the computer just wiped out the whole rest of this post that I spent half an hour writing; it only left the part above. Well that must be a sign that I wrote way too much!
Here’s the gist of what was there. We store all the veggies together, all the fruits together, etc. so it’s easy to see what’s where. Cans are kept on cardboard box bottoms for easy moving. Best By dates are noted on the front of the cardboard boxes or right on the can front with a dry erase writer (wipes off easily) because it’s hard to quickly see them when you’re quickly eyeballing the shelves to find something. Almost all starches are kept in storage bins under beds because we’re short on storage space.
Anything within 3 months of its BB date is removed from inventory and either given to a food bank or, more likely, moved to a special section of shelving where everything is kept that has to be used up sooner rather than later. We go there first for menu planning. Having a whole section for this has been a huge help. You can see at a glance what has top priority for needing to be used up.
Oh another thing, we don’t even try to keep track of what’s in the refrigerator, small freezer or kitchen cupboards. Those are constantly changing and anyway would give us more food on top of our 1 year supply if we had extra ‘campers’ who needed help.
The hardest part of all this is making the spreadsheet for the first time. After that, it’s just a matter of keeping it up the records and the stock up to date. I’m guessing I spend about 30 minutes a week taking care of it all. Sounds good, right? But to tell you the truth, some days I’d just like to throw it all out the window. It’s not normal to live like this! Cranky me today.
Best wishes, homestead grandma
Hi Grandma; I found this link for sprouting chia (I love Sproutpeople, I’ve used heaps of their info) http://www.sproutpeople.com/seed/chia.html
Good luck with it!
Diana, the process is officially called lacto-fermentation. Traditional sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled veg & fruit, and relishes & chutneys are all good examples. Basically, you just add some good quality salt and pure water and let the stuff sit in an airtight container for a few days (or longer). The salt will inhibit the growth of bad bacteria until the good bacteria can produce enough lactic acid to preserve the foods… at which point, you can heat process it (i.e. canning) for extra security and shelf-life or just leave it in the original container for shorter shelf-life. Using whey, which contains oodles of lactic acid naturally, just helps speed the process up, especially for really starchy items like dried legumes. Since the good bacteria breaks down a lot of the cellulose and starches during fermentation, our digestive systems can absorb the nutrients much better with much less distress & discomfort.
But notice that I said "traditional"… current industrial versions don’t normally let the foods ferment before heat processing (pasteurizing & canning) them, so they are actually "cooked" rather than fermented, and vinegar largely replaced the salt brine resulting in foods that were too acidic for fermentation or tummy comfort. That’s one of the reasons that artisan sauerkraut tastes sooooo much better than the supermarket stuff, and doesn’t give you nearly as much heartburn or gas.
Plickety , Just a thought but may this be one reason to add to why we are so overweight in this age?? We are not absorbing the little nutrients that are in the food ?? I really did not realize that store bought krauts and pickles were not fermented .
The price to buy Probiotics is so high . I had better check if my crocks do not leak and make plans to get started . I am so glad that we have these forums to gather the wealth of knowledge that has not been passed down …. and shame on me for assuming they could mess up processing pickles and kraut . My pickles always come out soft with no crunch left do you have the secret there also ? What about pickled beets do you ferment them too ? Horseradish ? Maybe you have a good link to send me to .
Thank you for sharing your rotation/organizing framework for your stored foods.
I especially liked your idea of using a dry-erase marker to note BB dates. I get annoyed when I check a can of tomatoes and can’t easily find the lot date for use by….marking down a date of purchase plus 1 year or whatever on a case might also be useful.
Cranky I understand!…keeps getting cold here at night-we had a bit of frost further west last night. Porch thermometer at home here read 38 degrees this morning and we aren’t too far from the coast. But we’ve had several 95+ degree days too. Makes dealing with a cold frame a bit on the "to roll sides or not to roll sides-that is the question"?
Diana – I wouldn’t doubt that some fo the ways that food is prepared today is adding to our obesity problems. There are so many people, even those who are obese, who are actually malnourished even though they are consuming abundant calories. Our bodies and metabolisms are funny little things… get just a little too far out of balance and all sorts of things go wrong.
Limp pickles normally means you’re using the wrong salt. Table salt has all sorts of stuff in it that makes pickles limp and discolored. Try adding some calcium chloride to real pickling salt, or you can use a small amount of pickling lime. Of course, if you’re veggies are just a smidge past ripe, you’ll get limp pickles as well… I normally make pickles with the fresh-picked "almost ripe" veggies.
You can pretty much ferment any grain, veggie, fruit or legume. Grains and legumes might need the help of some whey for a kickstart, but I’ve made lovely pickled root veg (turnip, parsnip & beet, all sorts of garden veg, and yummy relishes (horseradish, ginger, tomatillos) just fermentation pickling them the old-fashioned way. I need to experiment with fermented fruit chutneys next — maybe some watermelon rinds yum.
Here’s a good blog describing the process of fermented pickles, and another one. I haven’t found any definitive recipes for lacto-fermenting… it seems to be a matter of starting with the basics and then tweaking for your foodstuff and conditions. However, there are a lot of recipes online that you can try out on just about any food (dairy to cherries!).
OK – just in case you didn’t really have an idea what a year’s worth of food for two adults (according to LDS) looks like… here it is:
Yes, folks, this is literally a TON of food and it only contains 1/2 the meat and 1/4 the fruit recommended… and doesn’t have any of the liquids (syrup, oil, etc) either. For frame of reference… each of those window panes are 4 feet wide and 7 feet high. The food actually takes up more floor space than our queen-sized bed!
Next step is to process all of the bulk stuff into mylar and buckets… I’ll repost so you can see what that looks like.