Thursday, September 9, 2010

Month Four Preps: Long Term Storage

For our food storage this month, I decided to stock up on some of the most important things a prepper can store - staples. No, not the kind you use to attach paper together, but staples of your diet. My part of the country doesn't have places where you can buy bulk wheat or other such items, but I do have Sam's Club available to me. They stock a few items that I can package myself and thereby save some money.

I grabbed a flat-bed cart at the front of the store and awkwardly wheeled it over to the aisle with dry goods. I kid you not when I say that I nearly took out the jewelry counter with that runaway flat-bed. Next time I think I'll stick to a regular shopping cart. I loaded up with 50 lb pinto beans, 100 lb rice and 50 lb all-purpose flour.

You would think that you could avoid scrutiny when you buy items in bulk at Sam's, but I attracted several curious glances as I pushed my load up to the checkout counter. One lady asked me what I was going to make with all of this. Then the checkout girl asked Hubby Dear if all those kids were his. Not ours, his. Some people just don't have any home training! But at least I neatly avoided answering the first lady's question.

Anyway, back to the point. I bought a bunch of real-deal survival food and Hubby Dear and I spent last evening packing it for long-term storage.  

There are two main ways to store basics like these for long-term storage. 

1) #10 cans - Rodent and bug proof! As long as you keep them from rusting, they have awesome longevity. If you have access to an LDS cannery, you can put up beans, rice, wheat, etc. in these cans. The other option is to buy them from a food storage company. It's pretty pricey to get all of your food storage canned like that. 

2) Food-grade plastic buckets and/or mylar bags and oxygen absorbers - Some people feel that a plastic bucket is enough to store hardy items like wheat and rice. Others use only the mylar bags for storage since the bag is actually much less permeable to oxygen than the bucket. Oxygen = spoiled food.

The amounts and types of oxygen absorbers to add are also a matter of debate. James Wesley, Rawles, author of  How to Survive The End of the World As We Know It  and survival guru, even goes so far as to advocate using buckets, bags, oxygen absorbers, a dessicant, AND dry ice. I have no doubt that food packaged that way would last for a long time.
We took an approach somewhere in the middle. We obtained a bunch of 6-gallon food-grade plastic buckets and lined them with mylar bags. Then we filled each bucket  to within 1" of the top. There was still plenty of bag leftover, which was a good thing. 

We thought the flour would be the messiest item to transfer to the buckets, but surprisingly it was the rice. Oops!

Before I began sealing the bags, I made sure to label each bucket. I used these labels from Food Storage Made Easy.

It is essential that you move quickly during the next few steps. Once you open the package, your oxygen absorbers start working immediately. If you do not seal your bags stat, the absorbers can lose their mojo. I don't know much, but I do know that it's not good when O2 absorbers lose their mojo.

So, we quickly threw in the O2 absorbers

and sealed the bag up. It is helpful to have two people for this part.

You can use a fancy (and expensive!) sealer made for this purpose or just heat your iron to full blast. We placed Hubby Dear's metal level across the bucket, expressed as much air as possible from the bag, drew the sides of the bag up, and pulled it taut across the level.

I ironed the bag using the level as a stable surface to create a seal. Be careful! The mylar (and level) heats up quickly and stays surprisingly hot for a while afterwards.

I left one side of the seam open, Hubby Dear expressed more air out, and then we sealed the rest of the bag.

Check the bag to make sure it sealed all the way across, push it down in the bucket, place your lid on and seal tight. Over the next 24 hours, the O2 absorbers will get to work and remove the remaining air from your bag.

I bought three Gamma Seal lids to use on the buckets that I will be using immediately. The rest received standard lids. Gamma Lids snap on like a regular bucket lid, but then you can screw the lid on and off. Much easier than having to fiddle with a regular lid! I figure I should make things as easy as possible if I'm going to use my food storage for more than a dusty insurance policy.

So, now that I've gone to all of this trouble, how long will it last? The rice and beans could very well be good for 30 years if I keep them stored in a cool, dark place. The flour has a much shorter short shelf-life, but by packing it in mylar with oxygen absorbers, it should be good for at least two years.

Now these are some preps I can take pride in - we did it ourselves. And the Fed Ex man is pretty happy, too.

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering about the process of storing staples like rice and beans into the food grade buckets with mylar bags. Nice photos too. Thanks for a great post.