Store what you eat and eat what you store!
This is especially important if you are on a tight budget for purchasing with your food storage. Do not waste food. If you have something stored that you cannot use, maybe you can exchange that item with another family for something you do use.
Start making your own bread, use half milk and half powdered milk each day and gradually increase the amount of powdered milk you use.
Work out what your family eats and the amounts used over a 2 week period and then start working out the amount you would need for 12 months or even longer.
Try new recipes using food storage. If your family likes it, then you can include the ingredients in your list. The Internet is an amazing place for recipes.
The next thing I want to discuss is the storage life of foods and how to correctly store them to maximise the length of time they can be stored.
Four factors that affect food storage:
Factor #1: The temperature:
Temperature has more to do with how long well dried foods store than anything else. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) states, "Each 5.6 Degree C drop in temperature doubles the storage life of the food". Obviously there is a limit as to how far this statement can be taken. Basically, it holds true from room temperature down to freezing. The temperature must remain stable. Shifts in temperature can cause deterioration.
Constant storage Temp in Degrees C Storage life in years
5 degrees - 40 yrs
10 degrees - 30 yrs
15 degrees - 20 yrs
20 degrees - 10 yrs
25 degrees - 5 yrs
30 degrees - 2.5 yrs
35 degrees - 1.25 yrs
Note: the above chart is not for a specific food, but is a general guide.
Factor # 2: Product moisture content:
Food with excess moisture can spoil right in their containers. This is an important consideration when packing food with dry ice as moisture condenses and freezes on the outside of the dry ice. For long term storage, grains should have a moisture content of 10% or less. It is difficult to accurately measure this without special equipment.
Factor #3: Atmosphere the product is stored in:
Food packed in air don't store as well as in oxygen free gases. This is because air contains oxygen which oxidises many of the compounds in food. Food storage companies have a couple of different processes for removing the oxygen:
- Displacing the oxygen: This is done by purging out all the air in the product with an inert gas. Nitrogen is almost always used because it is the most inert gas known. People doing all their own packing occasionally use dry ice which gives off carbon dioxide gas, and probably works just about as well.
- Absorb the oxygen: Oxygen absorber packets do just that. Air contains about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, leaving about 1% for the other gases. If the oxygen is absorbed, what remains is 99% pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum.
If oxygen absorber packets are used, care must be taken to use a storage container that can stand some vacuum. Mylar (foil pouches) with oxygen absorbers are not affected by the vacuum.
Factor #4: The container the product is stored in:
To get the best storage life out of your product it must have a hermetic (air tight) seal. Containers that do this well are:
- #10 cans (ones your standard spaghetti or baked beans come in)
- Sealable food storage buckets
- Sealable food quality metal or plastic drums.
Whatever container you use, be sure it is food grade as your product can be tainted with whatever the container is made from. The base of the container should be stamped with the letters HDPE and the triangle of arrows with the number 2 inside. This denotes that it is food grade plastic.