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Food Storage Tips
by Sally Strackbein

Disclaimer: Food storage is very serious business. I am not an expert. This site is intended to be used as a starting point for short term storage only. By short term, I mean 1 year or less.

Storing Cans
Don't place cans directly on metal shelves. The metals can react and corrode the cans. A cool, dark place is best. Don't store them where they will freeze or get very hot.

Storing Dry Food
If you want to store dry food the perfect way, you need to get all the oxygen out and make the containers air tight. Well, I store stuff in my pantry without doing that. I'm not storing for 10 years. If you want to do that, look at the USDA for links to good, basic preparedness.

If you have any problems whatsoever with vermin, bugs, mold or anything else that might cause your food to become inedible, do not use the suggestions in this section, in fact: either buy the nitogen packed containers of grain, beans and rice or only buy canned food.

I am not recommending you do what I do, but I will tell you how I am storing food. I buy flour, rice and sugar on sale. I pack it in the original bags in whtie kitchen trash bags and get as much air out as I can. Then I twist the bag as tight as I can and tie a knot in the bag. Then I put the bags in the large tubs you can get for about $4-5 on sale. You can get a lot of food in these guys.

Do not take food out of the original containers and put directly in white trash bag. Either leave it in the original container or put it in food storage bags before placing in the white trash bags. The trash bags are for outer wrapping only. I called the 800 numbers on several boxes of bags. I got the same story each time. They say the bags are not recommended for food storage because they are not air tight. Several people have mentioned that they thought the manufacturers put insecticide on the bags. I was told by the bag companies that they do not put insecticide on the kitchen bags.

Another solution (from reader) is the new two gallon size Zip Lock bags. You can put 2 five pound bags of flour in one bag!

Do not put all of your dry food in the same location in your home. I had an infestation in a bag of rice and had to throw it away and thoroughly clean and debug a whole area. I caught it early and most of the other food around was canned, so the problem was limited. My neighbor told me to freeze the rice for a week before I store it. Anyway, if you have a bug problem in one place, you can dispose of the food without ruining your whole stash.

With rice especially - do not eat it if there is any mold at all in your rice.

I bag up my potato flakes and dry milk too. This is not the best way, but it's all I can handle.

I also use Zip Lock bags. I buy the big bags of rice and break it down into the gallon size bags. I then take the bags and put them in tubs or jars. I get gallon size jars that a local restaurant gives away. They had hot peppers in them and still smell a bit, even after being washed. I only use them for items in zipped bags.

Finding Room
You can fit a lot of cans under beds and in corners of closets. If you are really serious, as I am, I don't care if my cans are in plain sight. If you care, you can stack a whole bunch of cases of cans and put a little tablecloth over the stack and there you have it - that new end table you wanted!

If you are an organized person, begin to inventory what you have bought, if you haven't already done so. A list with tic marks after each food works well. The alternative is to place all of the cans of beans together, the corn together, the fruit together, etc. When you see the piles of similar items, you can quickly see what you are missing.

The other alternative is to group the cans by recipes, so each group on your shelf becomes a meal.


Copyright ©  Sally Strackbein
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"Sally Strackbein is a speaker and author.
She can be reached at 703-262-0361
or www.EmergencyKitchen.com"

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