Saturday, August 15, 2015
Recently I began the first steps of long term food storage. A lot of "peppers" just starting out are daunted by the idea of managing massive amounts of various food and cycling them routinely to always use the oldest food first, canning, growing, packaging, etc. This is understandable, but it must be overcome. The day you realize that your family has all the guns and ammo, silver and gold, camouflage clothes, razor wire, medical supplies you could ever need, but has only stored a week's worth of food and even less water will be bad day. The key to getting yourself started on food storage is to start simple with some "universal" foods that are easy to obtain, package and prepare.
Rice, beans, salt, sugar and black pepper are a great place to start. You'll need to buy some 5 gallon food grade buckets with lids that seal properly. A triangular symbol on the bottom of the bucket that says "HDPE 2" with let you know that you've got the right ones. Now go online and find some gallon sized Mylar bags. The food will go inside these and you'll seal them up with a flat iron or something similar. Just a second of heat from that will seal the bag shut. I recommend also buying some oxygen absorbers and moisture absorbers (similar to what you find inside food packages, you just throw them in the trash when you see them). Moisture absorbers will go in the bags of rice and beans while the oxygen absorbers will go in with the salt and sugar. Don't mix them up or else your salt and sugar will get hard as a rock and to use it you'll have to scrape off what you need.
I first recommend using 5 gallon buckets with sealing lids for your storage. The black pepper is easiest. Buy whole peppercorns and leave them in their original, airtight grocery store containers. Make sure you have a manual pepper grinder or else you'll end up doing it all by hand. My pepper is simply placed in one of the buckets with the salt, specifically the salt bucket that wasn't totally full and had room for a couple of containers of pepper and a pepper mill. Whole peppercorns will last longer than ground black pepper. In fact, most foods will last longer in a less processed state.
Salt is only a little more complicated than pepper. Go to any store that sells iodized salt and get as much as you want to store away. I've got fifty pounds or so stored away right now. Pour the salt into the Mylar and put in a couple of moisture absorber packets. Take your flat iron and seal the top. Don't seal more than an inch from the top so you have space to reseal it with the iron again if you have to get it open.
The sugar is packaged up the exact same way as the sugar. Mark the bags with the content, date and whatever other info you want to know and put the bags into a bucket. Lid it up and there you have it. The Mylar will keep the environment out of your food and the bucket will provide easier moving and protect the bags from punctures.
Beans and rice are stored basically the same way. The only difference here is that you will put oxygen absorbers in them instead of moisture absorbers. Seal them into the Mylar and drop the bags into you buckets. I recommend writing on the bags rather than the buckets, because you can put anything in the buckets later.
-Keep any unused absorbers in a sealed container. Don't keep them exposed to the environment for more than a moment or two. They always need to be in the sealed Mylar or in some other sealed storage.
-Keep the final product in a cool place. Try not to store outside and avoid extremes in temperature.
-A good starting amount for almost anyone is about 50 pounds. My wife and I were able to bag up and store 50 pounds of rice, salt and sugar in just an hour or so. That plus two plastic cans of peppercorns fits into six 5 gallon buckets.
-None of the items in this post are expensive. It doesn't take long for ANYONE of ANY budget to save the money to store food like what's in this post.
-It's obviously not ideal to end up stuck with nothing but rice, beans, salt, sugar and pepper to eat for a long period of time, but it is all easy to cook and very few people will have any aversion to rice or beans. This is why it's a good place to start. You can live on rice and beans for a long time if you have nothing else.
-White rice is highly recommended to store over any other type of rice. Brown rice will stay good for more than about two years no matter how it's stored. Stored brown rice will need to be rotated out. Stored in the above fashion, white rice will keep for at least 20 years, possibly up to 30 years. Pinto beans will have the same lifespan. The sugar and salt may last even longer.
-Don't dip into the buckets except in emergencies. Simply needing a cup of sugar to bake with is not an emergency. Being low on rice for dinner is not an emergency. Food storage is not there as a convenient way to avoid a grocery store trip. There are some foods that need to be used and rotated, but foods that keep for 20+ years are not that.
-Preparing rice or beans in an austere environment requires no more skills than being able to start a fire and boil water on an open flame.
-While I do not recommend giving away your food stores, the items in this post are obviously great trading items in a post SHTF scenario. Consider that our bodies need iodine to survive, and that we get almost all of our dietary iodine from iodized salt products.
Starting out with this food in storage means that you and your family WILL NOT STARVE during a disaster scenario. It is not ideal or recommended to sit on these food preps and be satisfied with them, but having 50 pounds of rice, beans, salt, sugar and a few cans of peppercorns puts you WAY ahead of anyone that has just the average pantry. Most people have little more than a few days of sustainment in their pantries.