Long term food storage problem - corn spoilage?

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jspaul's picture
jspaul
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Long term food storage problem - corn spoilage?

I've been active in long-term food storage for several years now and have been fairly comfortable with how my family is positioned - the whole gold (and silver), guns, grub and God thing. Additionally we have moved out of the city and are active in gardening, involving our neighbors, establishing new relationships, etc.  But I wanted to share an experience with the CM community to (1) make others aware and (2) seek advice.

Here's the deal - 2 or 3 years ago my family began a long-term food storage program using the information gleaned on CM.com and other sites.  We have stored 9 months worth of beans, rice, oats and wheat using 5 gallon buckets, mylar bags, moisture absorption packs, O2 packs, etc.  The process I used was to place the mylar bag in the bucket, 1500cc of moisture packs in the bag, pour in the food product, place 1500 cc of O2 absorbers on top and heat seal the mylar bag after manually pressing out as much air as possible.  Then I'd let it set for a couple of days to make sure it showed a good vacuum, after which I put the top on the bucket.  So far so good.

Sometime in the fall of '09 we decided to try grinding our own corn meal using locally grown corn and man, was it delicious.  It made the best corn bread I think I've ever had.  So naturally I though to myself, we need 9 months worth of corn in storage!  And off I went and ordered more buckets, mylar bags, absorber packs and 200# of locally grown corn.  Following the same packing process as above, we quickly found ourselves with seven 5 gallon buckets of whole kernel corn in storage.

I might add that these food products have been stored in our home in climate controlled conditions.

Today while moving some of the buckets around my wife noticed that the top on one of the buckets of corn was protruding like an upside-down bowl.  I checked the other 6 buckets of corn and four of the seven are showing the same symptom, although not as pronounced. I removed the top and found the mylar bag expanded like a balloon.  I cut open the mylar bag and the most awful stench came out, like a dirty, soured dish rag!  The corn looks fine - no mold, bugs, rot or anything like that. But it smells terrible and obviously, with the bag and top expanded as they were, some kind of gas was being produced.  Apparently everything was still sealed or other wise the bag wouldn't have expanded as it did, nor would the top of the bucket.

I'm sure this wasn't the wisest thing to do, but I washed a couple of kernels and chewed them, and they tasted just like they smelled!  At this point I opened one of the buckets that wasn't "expanding" and found the bag still with a vacuum. I cut the bag open and unfortunately found the same smell, although not nearly as bad. 

So it appears that the entire investment in corn, although relatively small $-wise, has spoiled somehow.  Does anyone have an idea as to what may have transpired here?

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Jspaul I’m a beginner with

Jspaul

I’m a beginner with food storage but I’ll offer an idea.  I suspect your corn was not completely dry.  It tends to hold more moisture than other grains. Farmers used to store it on the cob in well ventilated cribs made of slats.  When they switched to storing it shelled (off the cob) they used short metal silos with powerful gas dryers attached.  The moisture content was carefully measured to assure it didn’t rot.  Now that you mention this problem, I notice that the Mormon food storage centers offer several gains, but not corn.  I doubt that is a coincidence.  I think that “soured dish rag” smell is from mold.  Dry dormant spores will always be on grain.  With enough moisture the spores will grow and spoil your food.  I don’t think they need much oxygen.

As I said, I am new to food storage, so I am speculating.  But this is the direction I would investigate first.

Travlin 

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VeganDB12
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JSPaul I am no farmer but I

JSPaul

I am no farmer but I know something about food poisoning-I agree we should never ever taste spoiled food Smileok?

Never ever a good idea. Botulism in particular very bad at itty bitty doses. And it can take a few days before you know you were exposed (sorry to get morbid)

On the other hand, I love corn bread made from fresh cornmeal. If you are in the US, dent corn is so incredibly cheap here maybe it is worth letting someone else pack it for you. I got great dent corn 2 years ago and have been through 2 or 3 number ten cans with no problem. However, shipping is expensive since it is so dense and heavy.

Walton Feed seems to have stopped carrying it, pleasant hill grain has a good reputation though I have never ordered from there I read good reviews about them. Perhaps the food storage thread has other sources.

http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/buy_corn_purchase_bulk_yellow_dent_corn...

Just for what it's worth. Enjoy!

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homestead
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Posts: 54
corn storage

Travlin's explanation sounds like it might be a good one.  Even popcorn, which to the eye and hand seems like it's quite dry, holds moisture inside the kernels.  That's what makes it pop when heated.  By the way, I've kept grocery store purchased popcorn successfully for 2 years and still had it pop nicely for us, but I've found that keeping it 3-4 years produces smaller and fewer popped pieces.  I just leave it in the plastic bags that it's sold in and then put them in a larger plastic bin (no special sealing techniques); there's never been an unusual odor.  I keep it rotated and now donate unused bags to the food bank after we've had them for a year; I know they'll still be fine for at least another year.  I like to keep several pounds on hand.  It's inexpensive and versatile if you ever need some variety in an emergency diet.

During the Great Depression when money was tight, my mother's family ate popcorn like people now eat breakfast cereal, with milk and sugar on it.  That sounds odd and sort of yucky to me, but my mother insisted that it tasted good.  I've never looked, but I wonder if there are any depression era cookbooks that have recipes using popcorn.

Best wishes.

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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We pick and crib OP flint

We pick and crib OP flint and dent corn. It store well in the crib. Mice are our only competitors.(rodenticide storage anyone) PM me if your in or near south central VA.

 

robie

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robie robinson
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OBTW i'm sure it was too

OBTW i'm sure it was too much moisture. pigs would love it as is and more water and yeast(if sealed with an airlock) would yield a wonderful product suitable for distillatiion.

robie, we use a reflux still for water purification(insert smile )

 

jspaul's picture
jspaul
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Too much moisture seems to be the likely culprit

Thanks for the responses everyone.  After posting I did a bit of research and Travlin probably hit the nail on the head -  too much moisture seems to be the likely suspect. I didn't realize that moisture content was so highly controlled for corn storage, but that seems to be a big deal. Guess this is why. Oh well...lesson learned.  Total investment was about $50.

So now the question is what do I do with 200# of spoiled corn?  I promise Denise 2257114, I won't eat it.  A neighbor raises chickens, wonder if they'd eat it?

Maybe I could feed the local deer population.

Being in Alabama "distilled corn" would go over well with some folks.

So many choices, so little time...

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Sour Mash?
jspaul wrote:

....

Today while moving some of the buckets around my wife noticed that the top on one of the buckets of corn was protruding like an upside-down bowl.  I checked the other 6 buckets of corn and four of the seven are showing the same symptom, although not as pronounced. I removed the top and found the mylar bag expanded like a balloon.  I cut open the mylar bag and the most awful stench came out, like a dirty, soured dish rag!  The corn looks fine - no mold, bugs, rot or anything like that. But it smells terrible and obviously, with the bag and top expanded as they were, some kind of gas was being produced.  Apparently everything was still sealed or other wise the bag wouldn't have expanded as it did, nor would the top of the bucket.

I'm sure this wasn't the wisest thing to do, but I washed a couple of kernels and chewed them, and they tasted just like they smelled!  At this point I opened one of the buckets that wasn't "expanding" and found the bag still with a vacuum. I cut the bag open and unfortunately found the same smell, although not nearly as bad. 

So it appears that the entire investment in corn, although relatively small $-wise, has spoiled somehow.  Does anyone have an idea as to what may have transpired here?

jspaul -

You made sour mash.  "Dirty sour dish rag" is an excellent description of the smell. 

Now, I have heard that if you add a little sugar and let it sit for a bit and then add it to water and let it churn around for a couple of days and then add it, I mean store it in, oh, let's say a 40 gallon copper pot still..........

You could then try to dry it out by placing the copper still over a charcoal fire and boil off the water.  There might be this incidental "stuff" that comes out of the condenser spout on the pot still.  I would suggest collecting this "stuff" in Mason jars.  I have heard, (only heard mind you) that this "stuff" can burn (going down)......I mean in a combustion engine or camp stove.

I have also heard that it is very appealing to the eye if you add a couple of big chunks of strawberry to the Mason jars.  Bing cherries taste, I mean look, outstanding.  So does pineapple or kiwi fruit.

All of the above is just what I have heard......as I have never, ever tried this on my own in my backyard with local strawberries.

Innocent

jspaul's picture
jspaul
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Interesting ideas Dogs. 

Interesting ideas Dogs.  Being a pastor, do you suppose one could add grapes and use this "stuff" for communion purposes? I am in Alabama after all.Laughing

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Posts: 2606
The "Other" Miracle at Cana....
jspaul wrote:

Interesting ideas Dogs.  Being a pastor, do you suppose one could add grapes and use this "stuff" for communion purposes? I am in Alabama after all.Laughing

It would certainly make for an interesting Eucharist, and once the word got out I'll bet your attendance goes up.

I would however have to check with my priest to see if it is possible to consecrate corn whiskey....

Water into wine

Corn into "stuff"

Barley into uisge beatha.....the other water of life I suppose.

Poet's picture
Poet
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Posts: 1891
Popcorn "Cereal"
homestead wrote:

During the Great Depression when money was tight, my mother's family ate popcorn like people now eat breakfast cereal, with milk and sugar on it.  That sounds odd and sort of yucky to me, but my mother insisted that it tasted good.  I've never looked, but I wonder if there are any depression era cookbooks that have recipes using popcorn.

I remember growing up, my mother once for several weeks served us popcorn sprinkled with sugar (instead of salt) as our breakfast. Popped fast, didn't have to grind it, etc.

Poet

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Ayala
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Posts: 23
Just a quick note to say

Just a quick note to say "GREAT THREAD". Not only did I learn something, but I had a great laugh to boot. Great senses of humor, my friends.

Cheers!

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