Food Storage

From Antivist


Waxing Cheese

This works with hard cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, etc. It is a way to store such cheeses without refrigeration. Dip the cheese into a salt solution (salty enough that an egg floats) and place on a rack to dry overnight. On the 2nd day, rub with salt and leave on the rack. Do this again a 3rd day. By this time a rind should be developing. If it feels dry and smooth, continue to the waxing; if not, rub with salt and let dry another day.

Waxing: Apply 3 or 4 coats of wax (either with a brush, or by dipping into melted wax), letting the wax dry between each coat. Wrap with cheese cloth, and continue the process of dipping and drying until several layers later the cheese is completely covered with a smooth wax exterior. It will continue to age inside, but remain good. If you do find mold on hard cheese, simply scrape or cut it off and use the rest of the cheese.

Salt cured hams

Hams were cured and stored without spoilage for many years before refrigeration was invented. Look for a salt cured smoked ham, sometimes referred to as a "country ham" or a "farmers ham", also occasionally referred to as a "Smithfield Ham" after one of its more famous national marketers, the company of the same name of Virginia. It should be stored hanging and kept in its original wrapper. If you don't need to cook the entire ham, simply cut a few slices and cover it up, and leave it hanging (these hams should be stored hanging from hooks, rather than laying on shelves or put in boxes). If you find some mold, cut it off and eat the rest. If you cook the entire ham, however, any uneaten portion must be refrigerated. Most people soak these hams (or the ham slices) in water for several hours to leach out some of the salt.

Refridgeration without electricity

In rural northern Nigeria, there are no refrigerators. Most people don't even have electricity. So perishable food must be eaten immediately, or it will go to waste. Mohammed Bah Abba, a local teacher, has developed an ingenious solution: the Pot-in-Pot Preservation Cooling System.

A small earthenware pot is placed inside a larger one, and the space between the two is filled with moist sand. The inner pot is filled with fruit, vegetables or soft drinks; a wet cloth covers the whole thing. As water in the sand evaporates through the surface of the outer pot, it carries heat, drawing it away from the inner core. Eggplants stay fresh for 27 days, instead of the usual three. Tomatoes and peppers last for up to three weeks.

Protein foods

Dry beans, peas and lentils are excellent storage food. They keep for years when stored in a cool, dry place in rodent-resistant containers. It will take a little tome to accustom your family to a large diet of beans if you are not now big bean eaters. Tradition says adding cetain herbs to the bean pot mitigates the gas problem. Other cooks add baking soda. If you think dry beans are inconventient, try soaking up and canning a batch for use later as "fast food". Don't forget nuts and nut butters. Even the "just nuts and salt" brands store well, unopened.


The basis of some food storage programs is wheat. Wheat is a good storage item, as it's versitile and stores forever. If you don't have a grain grinder and aren't used to eating whole wheat you'll probably find it pretty uninteresting. Actually, most whole grains (as opposed to flour) store well so keep whole grains, including rice, and haveing a grain grinder.

Pasta also keeps well if it's dry and away from mice.

Vegetables and fruits

The traditional backbone of a food storage program is home canned fruits and vegetables. Whether you do-it-yourself or buy case lots on sale, these foods will store for a year without losing quality. for variety, store some fruits and veggies fresh as well.

Potatoes, ontions, carrots, winter squash, cabbage, beets, apples and pears are the easiest to store and most like a cool moist cellar (onions and potatoes are the exception). If you have an unheated area that doesn't freeze, add moisture toyour cellar by spreading a layer of sand or dirt (if you don't have a dirt floor) or sawdust and sprinkling this layer with water.


There are two ways that to store eggs without refrigeration. They both require cool temperatures, however. A cellar, cool basement or cool room in the house will suffice. The cooler the better the chance that your eggs will last longer.

The first method is to coat the eggs with a non-toxic substance, sealing the pores in the shell and thereby sealing out oxygen and moisture. When oxygen is present, many bacteria can grow, thus spoiled eggs.

To use lard or shortening to coat the eggs, first melt the grease and cool it til it begins to solidify again. Dip each egg in the melted grease individually and set them on a paper towel to dry. When the shortening or lard is dry on the eggs, rub the eggs with a clean towel, removing excess solid grease. Rub gently and buff each egg. Now repeat the process, before the shortening solidifies. Work fast, allowing the shortening to get almost solid before re-heating it.

Line the bottom of a flat box with a clean soft towel. Place the eggs in the box in a single layer. Cover the box with either a lid or another towel. Place the box of eggs in a cool, dry environment. Eggs prepared this way will last up to 6 months, although I have heard people say that they have kept eggs this way for 1 year if they are kept very cool. A product used to coat eggs in this way, but that is supposed to keep the eggs fresh longer is K-Peg. The eggs are coated with this product much the same way they would be coated with the shortening, and prepared for storage the same way.

The other way to keep eggs works on the same principle, cover the pores and keep the eggs cool. However, the eggs must be kept immersed in a solution of Liquid Sodium Silicate. It is usually mixed with sterilie water.

Liquid Sodium Silicate is a non-toxic substance that will cover the pores of the egg shell so well that you will probably be able to keep fresh eggs for up tp 2 years! You can buy it as Sodium Silicate Solution at any pharmacy, however they may not have it on hand and have to order it for you.

Following directions are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: In the first place, the eggs must be fresh, preferably not more than two or three days old. This is the reason why it is much more satisfactory to put away eggs produced in one's own chicken yard. Infertile eggs are best if they can be obtained-so, after the hatching, exclude roosters from the flock and kill them for table as needed.

The shells must be clean. Washing an egg with a soiled shell lessens it keeping quality. The protective gelatinous covering over the shell is removed by water and when this is gone the egg spoils more rapidly.

The shells also must be free from even the tiniest crack. One cracked egg will spoil a large number of sound eggs when packed in water glass. Eathenware crocks are good containers. The crocks must be clean and sound. Scald them and let them cool completely before use. A crock holding six gallons will accomodate eighteen dozens of eggs and about twenty-two pints of solution. Too large crocks are not desirable, since they increase the liability of breaking some of the eggs, and spoiling the entire batch. It must be remembered that the eggs on the bottom crack first and that those in the bottom of the crocks are the last to be removed for use.

Eggs can be put up in smaller crocks and eggs put in the crock first should be used first in the household. Water Glass Method Water Glass is know to the chemist as sodium silicate. It can be purchased by the quart from druggist or poultry supply men. It is a pale yellow, odorless, syrupy liquid. It is diluted in the propotion of one part of silicate to nine parts of distilled water, rain water, or other water. In any case, the water should be boiled and then allowed to cool. Half fill the vessel with this solution and place the eggs in it, being careful not to crack them. The eggs can be added a few at a time till the container is filled. Be sure to keep about two inches of water glass above the eggs. Cover the crock and place it in the coolest place available from which the crock will not have to be moved. Inspect the crock from time to time and replace any water that has evaporated with cool boiled water.

When the eggs are to be used, remove them as desired, rinse in clean, cold water and use immediately. Eggs preserved in water glass can be used for soft boiling or poaching, up to November. Before boiling such eggs prick a tiny hole in the large end of the shell with a needle to keep them from cracking. They are satisfactory for frying until about December. From that time until the end of the usual storage period-that is until March-they can be used for omelettes, scrambled eggs, custards, cakes and general cookery.

As the eggs age, the white becomes thinner and is harder to beat. The yolk membrane becomes more delicate and it is correspondingly difficult to separate the whites from the yolks.

Sometimes the white of the egg is tinged pink after very long keeping in water glass. This is due, probably, to a little iron which is in the sodium silicate, but which apparently does not injure the egg for food purposes."

When you crack your eggs after storage, crack them in a cup, not directly into your food. You might get an awful surprize and ruin a dish.

common mistakes

1. Variety

Most people don�t have enough variety in their storage. 95% of the people I�ve worked with have only stored four basic items: wheat, milk, honey, and salt. Statistics show most of us won�t survive on such a diet for several reasons. a) Many people are allergic to wheat and may not be aware of it until they are eating it meal after meal. b) Wheat is too harsh for young children. They can tolerate it in small amounts but not as their main staple. c) We get tired of eating the same foods over and over and many times prefer to not eat, then to sample that particular food again. This is called appetite fatigue. Young children and older people are particularly susceptible to it. Store less wheat than is generally suggested and put the difference into a variety of other grains, particularly ones your family likes to eat. Also store a variety of beans, as this will add color, texture, and flavor. Variety is the key to a successful storage program. It is essential that you store flavorings such as tomato, bouillon, cheese, and onion.

Also, include a good supply of the spices you like to cook with. These flavorings and spices allow you to do many creative things with your grains and beans. Without them you are severely limited. One of the best suggestions I can give you is buy a good food storage cookbook, go through it, and see what your family would really eat. Notice the ingredients as you do it. This will help you more than anything else to know what items to store.

2. Extended staples

Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze dried foods as well as home canned and �store bought� canned goods. Make sure you add cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast, and powdered eggs. You can�t cook even the most basic recipes without these items.

3. Vitamins

Vitamins are important, especially if you have children, since children do not store body reserves of nutrients as adults do. A good quality multi-vitamin and vitamin C are the most vital. Others might be added as your budget permits.

4. Quick and easy and �psychological foods�

Quick and easy foods help you through times when you are psychologically or physically unable to prepare your basic storage items. �No cook� foods such as freeze-dried are wonderful since they require little preparation, MREs (Meal Ready to Eat), such as many preparedness outlets carry, canned goods, etc. are also very good. �Psychological foods� are the goodies�Jello, pudding, candy, etc.�you should add to your storage. These may sound frivolous, but through the years I've talked with many people who have lived entirely on their storage for extended periods of time. Nearly all of them say these were the most helpful items in their storage to �normalize� their situations and make it more bearable. These are especially important if you have children.

5. Balance

Time and time again I�ve seen families buy all of their wheat, then buy all of another item and so on. Don�t do that. It�s important to keep well-balanced as you build your storage. Buy several items, rather than a large quantity of one item. If something happens and you have to live on your present storage, you�ll fare much better having a one month supply of a variety of items than a year�s supply of two or three items.

6. Containers

Always store your bulk foods in food storage containers. I have seen literally tons and tons of food thrown away because they were left in sacks, where they became highly susceptible to moisture, insects, and rodents. If you are using plastic buckets make sure they are lined with a food grade plastic liner available from companies that carry packaging supplies. Never use trash can liners as these are treated with pesticides. Don�t stack them too high. In an earthquake they may topple, the lids pop open, or they may crack. A better container is the #10 tin can which most preparedness companies use when they package their foods.

7. Use your storage

In all the years I�ve worked with preparedness one of the biggest problems I�ve seen is people storing food and not knowing what to do with it. It�s vital that you and your family become familiar with the things you are storing. You need to know how to prepare these foods. This is not something you want to have to learn under stress. Your family needs to be used to eating these foods. A stressful period is not a good time to totally change your diet. Get a good food storage cookbook and learn to use these foods! It�s better to find out the mistakes you�ll make now while there�s still time to make corrections.

8. Rotation

It is also important to rotate and monitor your storage so that you use the oldest stock first and so that you don's loose track of what you have on hand.

minimalist pantry

  • canned mashed potato flakes
  • honey
  • oatmeal
  • olive oil
  • non-instant nonfat dry milk
  • hard red winter wheat
  • soybeans
  • pinto beans
  • brown rice
  • dried fruit
  • seeds for sprouting
  • Cans of beans
  • salt
  • herbs and spices



There are many factors to take into consideration as you begin to ponder your own food pantry. Every home manager reading this will have to decide what works best in their family. There are no right or wrong answers, only choices that you've already made, or ones that you may be deciding to make.

   * How much space do I have for my pantry? Is there space in my kitchen? Do I need to find another space, like under the bed or in a closet knowing that I need to store my pantry items in temperatures less than 80°F?
   * What items do I currently have? Do I have an inventory control system? What items do I need to add to have an adequate everyday pantry? What about my short and long- term pantry needs? How long should I stock-up for the future?
   * Are there food items that only have one use, or can they be used in more than one recipe? Convenience foods are good to have on hand. They have allowed us quick meals in our current lifestyle, but the skill of cooking seems to be a lost art. Take some time and learn how to cook some low-cost basics. Basic foods take less space than our modern day convenience packaging. You can have variety and the nutritional value of incorporating basic foods in your diet will be an added benefit.
   * Do I have a variety of canned, and dehydrated foods in my pantry, knowing that dehydrated foods take up much less space? Do I know how to incorporate them into our eating lifestyle? Do I have foods that all of my family members like? Are they nutritious?
   * How much of my grocery budget is available to build my pantry in the next few weeks and months.
   * Of the items that I use frequently, is there a source where it is advantageous to purchase a larger size? Does the unit price reflect a savings? If I purchase bulk items, do I have containers for the foods to be stored in? Where can I buy these containers? Are they cost-effective? Will I use the larger quantity in a reasonable amount of time before it goes stale or rancid? Do I know how to properly store my food?
   * Do I know that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) advises that we should include in our emergency pantries a three-day supply of foods that do not require any cooking? It should also include foods that do not increase thirst. During an emergency water may possibly be limited.
   * Don't forget the special needs of the elderly, those with special diets and allergies, nursing mothers, and babies.
   * The meals that you eat away from home need to be part of your food diary. It is vital that you include those meals when calculating how much and what types of food to include in your own pantry.
   * Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable eating utensils. And don't forget non-perishable foods for your pets.
Start Early

One thing that could help is to start buying your non-perishables now. Each time you grocery shop, buy a few items that you will need. I do this a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and it helps. J.C. Pick Containers Carefully

While you can get good 5 gallon containers from restaurants and such, PLEASE tell her NOT to use any except those specifically saying they are made of food grade plastic! The manufacturer is required by law to put the notice on the outside of the container, so look for it. Containers used for holding laundry detergent (and any other non-food material) are not the same as food grade, they contain chemicals which can and will bleed through into your food and contaminate the food. Also, it is impossible to completely clean detergent or whatever out of the containers, chemical residues will remain. I save every glass jar, 2 litre soda bottle, every reusable food container, even gallon-sized pretzel containers, and store foods in them. Its not worth jeopardizing your family's health just to save a dollar.

Also, while bay leaves can impede infestation of bulk flours, they aren't adequate to completely protect your investment. One good easy technique is to put your flour in the freezer for 24 hours, which kills the little nasties. Then put an oxygen absorber in with your flour or other bulk foods - these are available in craft departments at Wal-Mart, K-Mart or other major like store- and seal tightly. These techniques combined should help keep your flours fresh and bug-free. Angela 'Store' Money Instead

Since you are doing this *sometime within the next year*, I would suggest that you invest the money you are going to use to purchase these items now and buy them right after you move. This will give you more money to work with, eliminate the need to move all the food you have bought, and will allow for the food to remain fresher longer after your move. Scribe Try Extension Service

Have Faye contact the Extension Service in her province/county for information on storing vegetables in sand (and other ways as well). Ellen B Try Baker's Supply

If you will use it within 6 months, then store the flour in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and away from heat sources. If longer, then in the freezer in zip lock type gallon bags. Yeast stores wonderfully in the freezer. Generally, if you're storing the stuff in the seal-tight plastic buckets, there shouldn't be a problem with bugs or anything unless the stuff is already in there.

If you haven't already, it might be a good idea to get in touch with either a bakery's supplier for purchases of flour at 50-100 lbs. at a time. Much cheaper than at the supermarket. Either that, or join a food co-op. The same thing goes for grains like rolled oats, rice, etc... for the storing and the purchasing of it. Joyce in MA Cold Air Helps

Flour, cornmeal and other grains will keep longest without getting bugs if put in the freezer for 24 hours. Legumes such as peas and beans keep for a long time in glass jars with tight lids. I would think plastic containers with tight lids would also work. Dry milk keeps well in the fridge. I use bay leaves with pasta when I store it over the summer in Fl. It doesn't seem to get buggy if kept in sealed jars. I have a large glass jar for just that purpose. Joan Store the Nutrient, Too!

For sugar and salt, all she needs to do is make sure that they remain airtight and they will not get bugs in them. They will store that way indefinitely.

For yeast, she needs to keep it frozen and it will last even longer than the expiration date on the package, and keeping it frozen will help to make it last longer once she opens it, otherwise the package should give a expiration date.

Rice should be stored airtight and will last for 2 years if it is white. Brown rice will go rancid and so should not be stored longer than 6 months.

Dried beans and peas can be stored airtight in a cool place. They are good indefinitely, but will get harder the longer they are stored and will have to be soaked longer.

For pickling and freezing guidelines, the best thing that I have found is called the Ball Blue book. It has guidelines for canning, freezing and pickling and I got mine for only $3.00 brand new.

One thing to remember for preserving food, there are many ideas out there, but you want to keep as many vitamins and minerals in the food and keep it as safe as you can. The food might look okay, but due to improper freezing or storage, have lost any nutritional content. You do not need to panic about storing food, but follow guidelines and directions so that the food you have is safe. The best thing to remember is to keep it cool and dark. When foods are stored at normal household temperatures, the nutritional content is gone in half the time as it would be if you store them at 50-60 degrees. If you are going to spend the money to buy the food, you may as well spend the time to take care of it properly.

One place that she could ask about food storage guidelines is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or the Mormons). We also have "canneries" where we can go to help preserve and buy that food very cheaply. These services are not just available to members of our church, but to everyone that wants to use them.

Another thing for your readers to consider, having a food storage is not just for losing a job or emergencies, but makes eating very inexpensive. We have a family of 5 and buy just the things that we can get at the grocery store and a few things at our church cannery and we eat for one to two hundred dollars a month. We do this by having a storage and buying things that are on sale and buying a bunch of them when they are on sale and then using those things until the next sale comes.

Another thing for your reader to consider, if she does not grow her own vegetables and things that she plans to freeze, or if she does not have someone just giving them to her, she probably can buy the products already produced cheaper than she can buy the produce and preserve it herself. Many farmer's markets and pick your own produce places are not that inexpensive once you add in the cost of the supplies to freeze or can the items. Sometimes it is worth it, but be careful and check. Kim S. in American Fork, Utah

Ziplock Bags Work

In order to store flour for any amount of time, I put it in 5-lb. ziplock freezer bags (also sugar). But flour should be put in the freezer for several days to destroy anything growing (absolute necessity if you want to store flour for a long time). After keeping it in the freezer, then store it anywhere dry. Susan

Large Pop Corn Tins Work Great

Several years ago I was going to can a lot of pears...our tree put on a bumper crop. So I bought a huge bag of sugar in anticipation. When I had so much sugar left over, I purchased a large round tin with a tight lid. It was about the size that you see in stores around Christmas time filled with popcorn. It worked perfectly. The sugar never got hard and it remained as fresh as the day I bought it.

It also helps to put a few bay leaves in with flour or sugar no matter how you store them. It helps to keep the bugs out. Linda

Reuse Large Ice Cream Buckets

What works very well, and I use, are the large ice cream buckets. The ones you can get from an ice cream store hold a lot and are not too large to move around when needed. Label each bucket so you know what's inside. Kathy

Trash Cans Work Very Nicely

My parents always bought several months' worth of flour throughout my childhood. Because our old farmhouse wasn't mouse-free, Dad used a clean trashcan with a tight-fitting lid for storage. Fresh supplies were purchased only when we were literally "scraping the bottom of the barrel", as it had just enough room for one 25-pound sack! As it had a number of dings and dents, I believe the can was made of metal, probably steel. It has since been replaced by a plastic Rubbermaid version that works just as well. Never fear, no mouse will chew through that thick rubber wall.

Tips For Storing Food

Try to keep your food storage in a cool, dry place. Frequent temperature changes can shorten the shelf-life of your products. Rotate your food frequently, using the oldest products first. Make sure that all food storage containers are food grade quality. It is very hard to determine product shelf-life. It depends on: temperature of storage, moisture in food when it's purchased, type of food storage method,etc. The ideal temperature for storing foods is around 70 degrees.

Storage Life of Foods(approximate)

Beans=8-10 years Dairy Products=15 years Grains=10 years Pasta=8-10 years Salt=10 years Seeds=5 years Sugar=10 years Rice=8-10 years Textured Vegetable Protein=20 years Yeast=5 years(if kept cool)

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