Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recommendations

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Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recommendations

 

Yesterday afternoon/night we in the Tidewater Virginia area held our first food storage meeting.  There were 14 of us present, many more interested that could not make this meeting but plan to participate in the future.  It looks like we will have one or two more meetings before a food preparation day.

Most, but not all participants attended the Lowesville seminar or were with someone who had attended.  We used Chris and Becca’s discussion about how they planned and executed their food storage day as the framework for our meeting.

First the recommendations, mistakes or challenges:  

- Have an agenda.  We started out talking about water storage, filtration and purification.  Lots of great discussion.

- Make sure someone takes notes to summarize decisions and record info about websites, products, etc.

- If you generate questions, assign them to different people in the group to go research and get back to the group.

- Understand that there are a lot of sites out there that have slightly differing material as to how much wheat, grain, beans, legumes, etc. you need to have on hand.  Don’t get stuck trying to read all of the info on all of the sites.  Pick one or two and go with it.

- The biggest challenge was that our group had people who are in different stages of preparation.  Some people already had rice and other food in long term storage, others were starting from scratch.  You MUST make the time to let everyone talk and get comfortable with where they are and where they think they want to go with this.  That is going to add a lot of time to your meeting, but since you are among friends, it all works out.

- Figure out what your base unit of issue is going to be.  Chris and Becca had a great arrangement – their unit of issue was 1 bucket of wheat (36 pounds), 1 bucket of beans (36 pounds), 1 bucket of rice (38 pounds), and one bucket of oats (22 pounds).  This is enough for a 3 month supply for an adult.  Depending on how many people are in your family and how long you want to store for, start with this base unit and scale up.  This is the best and easiest way to do it….the only decision you have to make is what kind of wheat and what kind of bean you are going to order. 

Each participating family would come in and determine how many of the 4 bucket “kits” they needed.  Keeping it simple not only makes it easy to figure out how many pounds of each “thing” (rice, wheat, beans, oats) you need to order, but also the number of buckets, O2 absorbers and mylar bags you need to order.  It was all very simple.  Or so I thought....

So we decided to take the simple wheel and reinvent it.  Silly me... I thought we would just figure out how many bucket kits we each wanted and would be on our way.  Oh no, that isn't the way it went... So from something simple, this is where we stand.  We have added a fifth food (quinoa) and an additional bean.  Everyone is responsible for their own buckets and lids.  We now have to figure out how much of each the items each family wants.  Stick to keeping it simple….go with the four bucket kit.  As Chris said, you are talking about surviving on this food, not eating at some 4 star restaurant.  Now we have a bit of an accounting issue to keep track of the 3 or 4 or 6 or 2 bucket kit each family may order and sort out how many mylar bags and O2 absorbers we need.  I will let Dogs take care of that since he was the one who wanted to add all the moving parts……don’t let nuclear engineers come to your first meeting……

Next meeting is to determine where we are going to order the food from.  Everyone has homework.  After the first food storage day for the five foods, we will have an additional day later in the year to add to the basic with sugar, spices etc.

This first meeting took five hours.  We had fun, we had pizza, veggies and brownies.  Someone had purchased a sample pack of dried food.  Another member took those ingredients and other dried ingredients and made four dishes to sample.  The chili was excellent.  We decided if it got down to eating rice for months on end, it would all taste excellent.

We also shared different books and other ideas.

I know in the end it will all work out, I just wanted to pass along our experience. 

The biggest recommendation is to set some basic guidelines before having a first meeting.

I have no doubt that later Dogs will be adding his two cents, well maybe ten cents worth knowing him.

Cat

 

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

 "don’t let nuclear engineers come to your first meeting……"  Classic.  

Awesome post, Cat.  Between this and CM's latest report re food, I guess this'll be on our short list of things to ramp up on w/our core group....

Thanks -- and VIVA!  -- Sager

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Hey Cat - you have my sympathies with the accounting and figuring parts. We recently custom-configured (food allergies - no fun) our 2-adult 1-year supply, and I spent 2-3 days factoring and figuring cost per unit, how many lbs of something went into a bucket, and how many buckets/absorbers/mylar I'd eventually need for the final order in bulk.  I think I pulled out all my hair, my eyelashes and eyebrows :)  All I can say is thank God for the formula functions in Excel spreadsheets.

If you want to go simpler, many places like Walton Feed do offer pre-packaged 6gal poly buckets with mylar inserts at reasonable costs vs. buying in bulk and packaging yourself. You definitely will save money doing it yourself, but if you have a large enough order, you might be able to arrange a discount on the SuperPails that evens it out. Just a thought.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Hi Plickety Cat,

Thank you for all the suggestions. Somehow we will get through this order as a COMMUNITY.  This meeting was a learning experience in how to agree as a group, most of us are friends that have known each other for years.  If we can't get through a bulk food order together, I wouldn't want to think what would happen when we really need each other.

It was helpful to listen to those who have knowledge and experience with different foods.  Tonight I am making stuffed peppers with quinoa.  I had never heard of quinoa until two days ago. 

Cat

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

hey guys,

I know the buckets your referring to, what kind of shelf life do they have? I ask because I am currently accumulating 20lbs bags of rice (it is a staple food in my house....wife is filipina). I was reading that the buckets can be stored for 5+ years compared to the bags.

We currently cycle through the storage we have, but I am thinking the buckets may be easier to store as well. These buckets work for any dried food too right? Can you 'mess up' when sealing them....more frankly put, is there a simply mistake one can make when sealing?

Any inputs??

THANKS!!!

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bucket source

Hi that1guy,

This is the site Chris recommended for buckets. Untied States Plastic Corp.  www.usplastic.com/catalog/product.asp

These pails are tough enough to store nails and secure enough to protect contents. Strong reinforcing ribs guarantee that they keep their shape. Made with a tapered design, pails nest to save space, and they separate easily. Pails and lids are made of high-density polyethylene and meet NMFC, FDA and UFC requirements Container and cover can be hot filled up to 190° F, and frozen. All pails have a sturdy wire bail with a plastic handgrip. Lids are available, see bottom of page. Ok for use with motor oil. Bucket measurements are as follows, 11.91" dia. x 14.50" high x 10.33" dia. at the bottom. Not UN or DOT approved for shipping -- for storage only. The wall thickness is .090" +/- .005". Cartons and pallets come one color per carton or pallet and cannot be broken for discounted price.

 

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Thanks Cat...

I thought you needed a liner too, is this not true? I don't want to be buying extra items that don't do anything, lol

Mike

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

hi that1guy,

Yes, you use a liner as well as these other items:

Mylar bag,  4.0 mil mylar bag 20"x30"  Sorvent Systems www.sorbentsystems.com/mylar.html

Gamma lids for buckets,  Recommended over the snap lids.  US Plastics www.usplastic.com/catalog/product.asp

Oxygen absorbers, Latter-Day Saints catalog.  Item 81382000 www.ldscatalog.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay

Cat

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Cat - quinoa is yummy! It's also a complete protein... one of the only grains that has more protein than carbs, and it's gluten-free, gotta love that. Hope you enjoyed your stuffed peppers last night :)

That1Guy - A poly bucket alone (without liner) will keep frequently used items reasonably protected for several months to a year as long as it has a gasketed lid or GammaSeal lid. Adding a dessicant to this bucket will help with mold/mildew caused by humidity, but unless you have an airtight seal and an O2 absorber you may still have problems with minor oxidation.

A mylar bag alone (not in a bucket) will normally keep stored items edible for 5+ years if you also add an oxygen absorber. These aren't as convenient to lug around, but you can get the large ones and stack them flat in a storage area like you would feed sacks or bags of dog food if you have a safe location. The only real concern is critters chewing on or indavertant nicks and cuts of the bag.

The bucket plus mylar liner with oxygen absorber (and dessicant if needed) is the best way to protect any dry foods for 5+ years. I know people who have opened rice that is 15 years old and you can hardly tell the difference from the fresh stuff.

The most common mistakes with these methods of storing food long term are:

  1. Not using food-safe containers (i.e. old paint buckets or garbage bags)
  2. Not having a proper seal (i.e. bad bucket lid or not sealing the mylar bag completely)
  3. Using the wrong size oxygen absorber for the container size (i.e. too small to get a good "vacuum" seal)
  4. Storing improperly prepared food (i.e. packing in bugs or rot)

One tip I got from a survivalist is to seal the mylar liner as close to the edge as possible after squishing out all the air, then snip only a small amount off when you need to replenish your short-term stores. This way, you can add another absorber (if necessary) and reseal the opening, which allows you to use the same liner bag several times. Even without adding another absorber, squishing out the air and resealing the bag will help keep out bugs and humidity to prolong the life of the food once opened.  Sorbent Systems does make reusj90imkjable ziplock mylar bags, but I seem to remember they didn't come big enough to use as liners for 6 gal buckets... but would be great for packaging smaller servings or non-food items you wanted to protect but needed easy access to (like documents and ammunition).

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Thanks Cat for the great sharing of experience! I like the group approach you initiated, which we have not been able to muster up yet. We're still pretty much on an island so to speak... as far as the planning and executing is concerned. We are, however, in our 3rd year in a CSA. That may be a place to make some connections with kindred spirits.

And quinoa is wonderful! But I never thought about stuffing peppers with it! I'm going to have a surprise for my wife when she gets home tonight.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

T1G -

One to remember for the long term storage stuff is that you are setting it aside for an emergency to survive on - not to throw the neighborhood picnic with your grandmother's secret baked bean recipe.

The long term storage should be straight forward and simple - we got this breakout from Lowesville Seminar and it's what Chris and Becca used in their Community Food Storage Day in Montague.  The amounts listed are for one adult, for 3 months:

1 bucket of rice - 38 pounds

1 bucket of wheat - 36 pounds

1 bucket of beans - 36 pound

1 bucket of oats - 22 pounds.

Each bucket "kit" consists of the bucket, a lid with a gasket seal, a mylar bag and an O2 absorber. If the bags are sealed properly, they will keep for a long time, but you should have an inventory system that replenishes your stores as you periodically open and use the stores getting to the end of its storage life.  You should have gamma seal lids for when you do open a bucket - it provides a much better seal than a regular lid and is easier to remove.  The only drawback is they typically cost as much or more than a bucket.  One approach would be to figure out the cost per bucket kit (totalling the cost of the food, the bucket, the lid, the O2 absorber and the mylar bag).  Then when you present the plan to your community group they would select how many of each bucket they wanted.  As Cat alluded to in her post, Chris' approach was much simpler than what our group came up with (I address that later in this post) and it provided the caloric needs for an adult to get by on in an extended emergency.

You will need other stores - yeast, salt, sugar, oils, shortening, spices, etc., to prepare the food with.  A hand grinder is a must so you can grind your wheat into flour.  One of the guys in our group researched how much flour you get from so much wheat so you can plan your bread making output.  This is what he got from his mother-in-law and as we all know, mothers-in-law are never wrong, (just ask them).

1 cup wheat berries = 1 1/2 cup flour

1 pound wheat berries = 4 cups wheat berries = 6 cups flour

2.5 pounds wheat berries = 10 cups wheat berries = 15 cups flour = 4 loaves ( based on mother-in-laws recipe ) ~ .625 lbs per loaf

I am putting together a list of links to websites for food ordering and storage supplies.  Here is a link to an earlier thread I put up that had a lot of sites for emergency supplies, water purification and planning resources. 

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/emergency-preparation-and-food-storage-info-lowesville-seminar/18845

I will get a shortened version put together that is food prep specific.   

 

Plickety, Sager - I must speak up in my defense of the completely overblown attack on nuclear engineers.

I was merely adhering to the first law of engineering: "Some is good, more is better, gross excess is the ultimate goal."

I did not think that adding quinoa in addition to rice and great northern beans in addition to pinto beans was that much of a perturbation.  I thought a little variety might be nice.  I will not even consider adding garbanzo beans or lima beans - they look like blood engorged wood ticks and I would eat my shoes or starve before I would eat one of those foul, nasty beastly things.

 

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Storage Life of Dry Foods

Jerry, the quinoa stuffed green pepper recipe was on the box... As to why I personally thought about it.

Dogs, if you feel the need to engineer something I can think of a few things around the house that need fixing.

 

Storage Life of Dry Foods

I found these links on the Walton Feed site.

Four factors that effect food storage:  www.waltonfeed.com/blog/show/article_id/163

Storage life of particular foods:  www.waltonfeed.com/blog/show/article_id/162

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Does anyone have recommendations for hand grain grinders and peanut grinders (is life worth living without fresh peanut butter?).

How about hand grinders for coffee?

If these have been covered elsewhere, please point me on my way.

Also, what are factors to consider when purchasing wheat for storage?

 

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Hey Dogs,

Thanks a lot for the info. I copied and pasted most all of it since it was pretty specific (hope you don't mind . As I had mentioned earlier, I have been getting the basics as you have listed above, but knew there was a better way to store it and for longer. This just makes sense.

Mike

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Choosing a Grain Mill

Jerry, I found this information.  Dogs and I are looking for a grain grinder ourselves. 

Cat

Choosing a Grain Mill  www.internet-grocer.net/grinders.htm

and, kodiakhealth.com/catalog/default.php/cPath/25_36

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

I haven't done this yet, but I plan to. I expect to plant 2 ac. of grains this next spring, and I can't imagine ginding that all by hand!

Bike Grinder:

Country Living
Productions Inc.

 

The Country Living Grain Mill with Mounting Board and Exercycle
(The 914 Mile-Per-Gallon-Machine)

   Can you grind wheat using an exercise bike?

The mounting platform with a slotted 2 x 6 board locks the exercycle into place, while making the tension of the belt easily adjustable.  The wing nuts and bolts in the slots make it quick and easy to make all adjustments. 

Exercise and grind wheat at the same time.1. The feet of the exercycle should fit firmly against the 2x6 adjustable board.

2. The wing nut and bolt (located on either side of the board) should be tightened down once proper belt tension is achieved.

3.  Use a three or four inch pulley hub suitable for use with a v-belt.   

 

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Gamma lids for buckets,  Recommended over the snap lids.  US Plastics www.usplastic.com/catalog/product.asp[/quote]

I've searched their site, and cannot find "gamma lids". The link provided takes me to their main catalog page. I used the search function, and no results came up. Can you help with this?

What am I missing? Thanks.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Oh Dogs, don't narrow your horizons... there's tons of stuff to do with garbanzo and lima beans rather than just eating them plain :)  Hummus, succotash, and don't forget grinding them into flour to thicken stews or add protein to your breads... excellent way to extend your grains!!  You're the engineer... aren't you supposed to dream up cool and random uses for stuff? ROFL

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

tx -

Try this - https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/emergency_supplies/gamma_seal_lid.htm

 

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Cat,

Good job on getting going on the food prep! . Being of the design/engineering tendencies myself I have to swerve toward the DIAP approach of more is betta!   I'm sure I'll regret it later but it just feels right.

We have been hot and heavy into the garden prep. 30 yards of humified compost, tillage in various body slamming approaches and deer fencing pretty well covers it. Sheri looked like something that crawled out of a swamp after about 5 hours on a dusty mower yesterday but she cleaned up good and we enjoyed a brew while admiring "our" work!

After now having about 5000sf of garden planted and nicely popping out of the ground we are ready to consider the long term storage issues. We will be watching the thread to see how it all works out. Thanks for the posts.

Dogs, If I can extrapolate and make AWAG I assume that Brussel Sprouts may not be a hot item for you either. I can relate on the Lima Beans!

Coop

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

tx,

Here you go:  Gamma seals,  www.usplastic.com/catalog/search.asp

 

snip Coop

After now having about 5000sf of garden planted and nicely popping out of the ground we are ready to consider the long term storage issues. We will be watching the thread to see how it all works out.

Being of the design/engineering tendencies myself I have to swerve toward the DIAP approach of more is betta!   I'm sure I'll regret it later but it just feels right.

Coop,

I am flexible, going with the majority of the community.... I had just thought we would start with the basics. 

Dogs and only have about 250 sq feet of garden, but that is 240 more than last year.   We are using the raised beds, sq foot gardening method.... Certainly has been a learning experience. 

Cat

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations
ckessel wrote:

.......Dogs, If I can extrapolate and make AWAG I assume that Brussel Sprouts may not be a hot item for you either. I can relate on the Lima Beans!

Coop -

Actually, I like brussels sprouts a lot.  I put butter on the little turtle heads and malt vinegar on the larger ones.

I am still trying to figure out a good use for a lima bean or a garbanzo - other than in a slingshot shooting at birds.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Lima beans sauteed with bacon, limas and ham, limas au gratin, mashed lima fritters, lima soup...   Garbanzo and sausage, hummus, minestrone soup, mashed garbanzo couscous, garbanzo flour dumplings...   and both make excellent additions to Pasta Fagioli

You gotta learn to be creative with food when you're eating from long term stores. Yes, you can survive and just get by eating the same old stuff the same old ways, or you can actually add a little variety and enjoy the food you're eating... which has major psychological benefits!

Contrary to what a lot of people would have you believe, man cannot live on wheat, beans and rice alone... well, at least not healthily for very long 

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

I think another awesome community building type event to augment food storage would be a series of "cooking with stored foods" events. So, you've gotten your food, you've learned how to package it for storage, but now what do you do with them?  In our supermarket-freezer-microwave culture, I doubt many people would know how to make new and interesting meals with dried staples and canned goods from the larder anymore.  How many people would know how to use dry powdered milk, butter, or shortening in a recipe? Or what else you can make bread out of if you're low on wheat? You have two fresh tomatoes, some chives and a squash from your garden, what can you make with them?

Since food is such a social thing for most people, I think cooking classes and potlucks would be excellent CB exercises. You could do demonstrations of a single recipe or food group, or you could encourage people to bring in whatever fresh foods and staples they have on hand and then figure out how to make a meal out of it. Creative meal planning has become a dying art these days.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

    Good morning ,  I was just looking up the recipe for Ezekiel Bread and noticed  how many different grains and bean  you would use there.   I have a storage of yeast but have any of you tried and had success with gathering and trapping it from the air ?

Also  cooking wheat berries (like rice ) is good for breakfast  but have your tried oats this way ? Or do you just plan on storing enough oatmeal .   I live in the middle of farm country  trying to figure  how to cut out some of the middle man .   For example, I can go straight to the Amish for milk  but considering a cow myself .    I have gathered old grain bins( the 75 bushel kind ) that farmers have abandoned  and  just had the local farmer coop fill them with oats and corn  to feed my chickens and horses....  but am afraid to ask them the difference between Animal grade  and safe for human consumption .   All comes down to it ,if I was hungry enough I would cook it and eat it anyway .

 I had to start baking bread with 1/2 store bought flour so that the family could get used to the texture and taste  and found hard WHITE winter wheat works the best.   I  can say I am more than a little worried by the amount of people who do not know how to cook from scratch  or  back to the basics .   In our area of 9000 people there are a handful that are trying to prepare  but how many friends and relatives will  be at the door when tshtf  ???

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Here is what you can do with your stored food.

http://beprepared.com/Default.asp?bhcd2=1243521777

Go to Recipes on the Home Page

You will see Welcome to our Food Storage Recipes

You will see recipes for every food you have stored!

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

The only difference between "human" and "animal" grade grains is the amount of dust, chafe and "bits" that might be in it. So the animal stuff might need to winnowed and washed more, but otherwise it's entirely safe for human consumption (and a lot less expensive). You may want to get some mylar bags to seal long term storage foods inside those 75lb bins, since I don't know if they were intended for long term storage... would hate for you to lose any food to rodents, bugs and mold/mildew.

Oat groats (outer hull & bran removed) can be cooked up just like any other grain to make porridge, or you can cracked/flake them in a mill to make conventional oatmeal. They do store better in groat form than in flake form. All grains store best in their whole or minimally processed forms, so having your own mill is worth the trouble.

I haven't trapped wild yeast, but I did manage to keep a starter alive for a few years using the divide and feed method. Even if you use a regular packet of yeast as a starter, you can keep it alive and fresh for baking this way instead of relying on the dried yeast packets that can expire.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Diana:  The difference between animal grade and human grade, so far as I know, is purely one of taste and performance.  Sometimes, as with corn for grinding, the difference is nil or nearly so.  That is, there ARE corn varieties specifically for grinding and human consumption, but so far I have been utterly unable to find them online and I'm betting that none of my local farmers grow them, either.  (Tips welcome).  I do know that my local historic mill just grinds feed corn for their corn meal.  What you DO have to be careful of is grain intended for planting, which may be treated with fungicides, inoculants, and who knows what that you wouldn't want to eat.

I am so impressed with those of you who are getting groups together and organising bulk orders and things.  Like PlicketyCat, I nearly pulled all my hair out just figuring out storage for my own family, and I know I still have a long way to go.  For example, I just can't keep brown rice around...I haven't even tried long-term storage yet, because I can't even keep it (in a sealed glass jar out of the light) in my dang kitchen for a couple of months without it going rancid.  I wonder how far I could get substituting quinoa for rice...

I have a Country Living mill and I do think that it's a very quality piece of equipment, though I can't really give a full opinion because I've never played with any other mills.  If/when we actually start doing more home baking, we'd already talked about doing the stationary bike setup, too.

I guess the other comment that I have to make is of course to remember that these buckets of staples (and I have them too, so this is by no means a criticism) are only a starting point.  They'll provide the macronutrients to keep you going for a while, but are weaker on the many vitamins, minerals, and assorted other phytochemicals that, taken together, are at least as important.

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Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations
DeeDee wrote:

Here is what you can do with your stored food.

http://beprepared.com/Default.asp?bhcd2=1243521777

Go to Recipes on the Home Page

You will see Welcome to our Food Storage Recipes

You will see recipes for every food you have stored!

These recipes are a great start to cooking with stored food. Unfortunately, many of them still call for store bought ingredients, or at least something you need to create with another recipe first. Just something to keep in mind. I have several recipes that I've been slowly converting to all dried/canned/garden-fresh so I'm not relying on Bisquick and other store-bought stuff.  Reverse engineering recipes can be really time-consuming and fraught with mishaps (hockey puck dumplings, anyone?), but it can be a lot of fun too.

that1guy's picture
that1guy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 11 2009
Posts: 333
Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

hey pickety (and others),

 

Quick mylar bag question...Do you need to seal the mylar bag to gain the long term storage capacity if you are gonna use it in a bucket? I am going that rout (already ordered bags, buckets, O2 absorbers...thanks for the links by the way ). I just didn't know if I needed to seal the bags since I have the buckets that seal, or may be it doesn't matter either way?

Thanks!!

Mike

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Food Storage, Lessons Learned and Recomendations

Great reminder Amy!  You can survive on buckets of dry grains and beans for awhile, but they really do need to be supplemented with fresh foods to maintain good health. Even meats, fruits, and vegetables begin to lose their nutrient potential when processed and stored. Adding a multivitamin/mineral supplement to your stores is also a good idea (especially for winter when you may have limited fresh foods). But it is definitely possible to be malnourished even though you're not starving -- many obese people are malnourished even though they eat plenty of calories. New studies show that if you eat the same thing over and over, no matter how nutritionally balanced, that your body will actually start absorbing less of the nutrients over time... so mixing things up and eating a variety of foods may be more important that we originally thought.

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