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Food Storage Shelf Life

I just got an e-mail from a good friend that stated a lot of canned food and properly-stored dry good will last a long time. Here's the jist:

When stored away from light and heat, in airtight moisture-proof containers at temperatures between 40-70 degrees F:

30+ YEARS
-wheat
-corn
-white rice

30 YEARS
-apple slices
-macaroni (pasta)
-rolled oats
-potato flakes

20 YEARS
-powdered milk

INDEFINITE
The following items have an indefinite shelf life (last a very very long time!) when stored in the original packaging, away from heat and light and moisture (and bugs/rodents!):
-salt
-baking soda
-granulated sugar

Canned foods when stored away from moisture (to prevent rusting of cans) and away from variations in temperature (not in attic or garage) should last 20, 30, 100 years! These include jams, fruits, veggies, and even meats! The vitamins and nutrients degrade but studies show protein levels stay pretty much the same, although the taste ain't all that great!

For items I grow myself, I've been dehydrating then using a seal-a-meal and storing small baggies in mason jars (unprocessed). I'd like to re-pack some of my supplies. I used to buy bulk dried fruits from http://www.justtomatoes.com/ because my kid loves them but am switching to www.thereadystore.com because they have better prices. Need to buy blackberries, blueberries, mango and green peas... he loves these!

Sorry... I digressed! When I buy pasta and huge bags of rice (among other things(, I'd divide in smaller portions and seal-a-meal'd them. But I don't want to keep doing that. I'm thinking I'd like to seal in a mylar-bag and put in a bucket (used and cleaned icing bucket from bakeries). Will buy the supplies after we move (hopefully within another month).

Here's a link for the mylar supplies: http://www.survivalunlimited.com/buckets.htm

I would also like to #10 can (that's the can that things from Providant Pantry come in) my own supplies but I can't find a supplier for a non-Mormon. Anyone have a link and a cost?

NOTES:
1. The info above said "wheat" or "corn" - not the flour made from those. Grains should be stored whole, and ground when ready to use.

2. I can't find info on storing gluten-free grains like quinoa. I'm going to assume that properly sealed in mylar bags or #10 cans that the whole grains of quinoa, amaranth, etc. should be good for at least a couple of years. Hope so.

3. The info said "pinto beans" - sure am hoping it's good for other legumes, like lentils, split peas, black turtle beans, white navy beans, etc. We just don't like pinto beans much.

4. Not on the list was honey but we've all heard the story of honey from ancient Egyptian tombs that was still edible and delicious.

5. Before I store bought-rice, I always freeze it for 2 days to kill any bugs. Starting to do that with almost everything I buy to store!

6. I just read that a lot of dry goods can be preserved in quart canning jars, with just the tight seal of lids and rings, and not processing. Anyone done this?

Shortcut: Onions, Garlic, Herbs and Veggies

Here in Colorado, it's Fall bordering on Winter. Our best growing season is over. So, if you didn't garden this year and are worried about providing decent food for your family, it's not hopeless. This posting will give you a shortcut on providing a few essentials additions to your dishes.

Check out your local health food store. Near where I live are several locations of Vitamin Cottage. If you don't have a V.C. in your area, get out your phone book and call up health food stores to find out if they have the following:
  • Onion flakes: These are diced onions that have been dehydrated. I usually buy every bag they have out. If the section labeled "onion flakes" is empty, I find a clerk and ask! Sometimes they have more in the back and sometimes they are waiting to dry more. Sometimes I rehydrate them and use as regular just-diced onions. Most often, I leave them as is and use these while making taco meat, spaghetti sauce, stew, crock pot meals, roasts, etc.
  • Garlic flakes or granules: I prefer the flakes even though they look almost as small as a granule. Again, this is garlic dehydrated. These are still pretty potent and really add a great garlic taste, whether rehydrated before adding to a dish, or during cooking.
  • Spinach flakes: These are spinach leaves chopped and dried. Sprinkled on salads, add to spaghetti sauce, or rice. Remember that spinach has iron and calcium so we try to add them to our meals several times a week.
  • Soup Vegetables: This is a combination of dehydrated veggies like potatoes, celery, parsley, carrots and more. This can be powdered (see below), or added to sauce, stews, chicken bakes, and more. Or, here's a novel idea, make soup with them! One bag of soup veggies makes one decent pot of soup.
  • Parsley flakes: Same as spinach. Doesn't have as much flavor as fresh parsley but still provides great nutrition.
  • Herbs: they have chives, borage, thyme, and many many bags of dried herbs. Good not only for cooking but also holistic treatment of ailments.

The above aren't very expensive. A $3.00 bag of garlic flakes should last you a couple of months.Each comes in a plastic twist-tied bag, marked with contents and price. They aren't marked "organic", but I think they are pretty close. And they don't have any additives - just what's on the ingredients section.

Most of the above can be found in V.C.'s bulk item section, along with other herbs, nuts, seeds, TVP (textured vegetable protein), granola, beans, and much more. Check out the entire section.

When you bring these home, mark on the bag the date you purchased them. Then store them in the original bag but placed inside something airtight like a mason jar. Include a dessicant package (moisture-eater) if you have some (we save them from new shoes or vitamin bottles). No need to process by canning; just seal tightly. Store in cool place, away from light. I have my VHTS color brown paper bags, cut to fit, as labels.

POWDERED: If you need to get more veggies into your children, use a spice or other grinder to turn them into a powder. This will hide the color and individual tastes. We call this our "all-vegg powder". Add to mashed potatoes (covered with cheese), rice, into mac-n-cheese, pizza sauce, etc.

Individual Packets Important

I was browsing Sam's Club this morning, especially the food section. I noticed, in the spice and condiment aisle that there were boxes of individual packets of mayonnaise, etc. That got me thinking. Even tho the price is a bit high for individual servings of various condiments, like mayo, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, etc.... they might actually be a good idea to store.

I like the big bottles of lemon juice, but what if we should lose electricity and thus, refrigeration? How could we keep the bottle of lemon juice fresh without keeping it cool. (Found this link - check it out: http://www.foodservicedirect.com/index.cfm/S/489/CLID/64/N/3366/Portion-Pac-Realemon-Juice-Packets.htm )
Remember - using a citrus juice like lemon or lime will "cook" meat and fish. Might come in handy, but then, a bigger bottle would probably be necessary.

Has anyone else stored individual packets of condiments?

Fridge Food

Well... we terminated the contract to sell the house. The buyer's mortgage-people lied about the financing being in place, and since we were already out of contract for about a week (2 deadlines not met), and since we couldn't trust this buyer's team, we killed the deal. We went back on the market as of Friday afternoon, so we're back to showing the house, sometimes at a moment's notice.

So... here's what we ate today:

Breakfast:
-yogurt (kid had goat, Hubby/I had greek)
-apples (shared with Hubby, me, kid and our bunny)

Lunch:
-rice crackers
-pears

Dinner:
-carrots (shared with Hubby, incl bunny!)
-deli turkey with gf bread for kid, bagel for me
-hubby had chicken/broc pot pie

Guess we're eating on the fly again. It's too late to do this tonight, but tomorrow after showings are done, I'll put some white navy beans, bacon, onion and later tomato sauce in the crockpot so we'll have them cooked to eat the next day. Always have them stored!

Ate Out - oh no

Yesterday we didn't spend much time at home, between the long drive to check out the new place and general crankiness from the delayed closing, so here's what we did yesterday:

Breakfast:
-goat yogurt
-handful dry gf cereal

Lunch (at Village Inn):
Kid: eggs, bacon, applesauce, milk
Me: turkey and bacon flat-bread sandwich, applesauce, chamomile tea

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that we ate out again for dinner.... met up with Hubby who we don't usually see during the week.

Dinner (at Outback Steakhouse):
Kid: baked potato, orange juice (carrots later at home)
Me: salad, sweet potato, grilled shrimp
Hubby: pork tenderloin, string beans, garlic mashed potatoes

So... I didn't do great planning meals yesterday. Barely any veggies. Hope to do better today - we still have some fresh zucchini I harvested the other day and we sure do like them raw!

On a good note... we're actually supposed to close today! Streamers! Confetti! Okay, hold on... maybe I should wait until we've actually signed the documents. I just don't trust the situation.

Quick Healthy Menu

Still being in the State of Upheaval with no real kitchen, here's what we snacked on yesterday (from either fridge or our "stored foods stash"):

Breakfast:
-dry chex cereal
-fresh pear

Lunch:
-rice crackers
-canned fruit
-pumpkin seeds
-sunflower seeds

Dinner:
-gluten-free bread with butter, garlic powder, and cheese, melted in toaster oven
-carrots
-baby spinach
-cole slaw (me, not kid!)

I'll be soooo glad when this fiasco of a house-sale is over, and we move. But this is teaching me a lot about not being able to use a microwave (sold it day because our first scheduled closing date).

It's time for a Snack Meal!

It’s so hard to eat healthy and use our stored foods while our kitchen is all packed up. Which it has been. For weeks! That’s right, we still haven’t closed on our house that we’re selling… something about the buyer’s finances aren’t in order. Hmph. So we’ve been eating a lot of “Snack Meals” lately. Here’s tonight’s menu, taken straight from the fridge and a box on the counter:

Baby carrots
Dried peas
Turkey lunchmeat
Rice crackers
Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Water

I’ll be glad when this house is sold! Hmmmm... wonder where my camera is?!

Preserving Nuts by Pickling

This recipe is especially good for green walnuts, but will work for most all kinds of nuts. Use about 12 pounds of nuts, picked early while still tender and green and their shells haven't become woody.


Ingredients
12 pounds nuts
3 cups salt
3 gallons of water
2 tablespoons each of: mustard seeds, allspice, peppercorns
2 teaspoons each of: mace, ground clove
1 gallon vinegar


Directions:
Scald and de-fuzz the nuts. Soak in the salt and water (brine) for 10 days, keeping the nuts submerged. Replace the brine twice during that period. Drain. Thoroughly dry the nuts, pricking several holes in each. Combine all the spices. Arrange the nuts in a large (gallon will work) canning or "pickle" jar - add a layer of nuts then a sprinkling of spices, nuts, spices, etc. Boil the vinegar for 5 minutes, then pour it into the jar. Seal tightly. Store in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks before consuming.


Spoon out a few, leaving the marinade in the jar. Or you can serve with the marinade ... your choice!


This is a tasty and unusual treat to add to the Winter holiday table. Great source of protein, too.

Eating to Boost The Immune System

I don't plan on taking the H1N1 Flu Virus vaccine that supposedly will help prevent the "swine flu". I don't believe it, and really doubt that the vaccine came about while this virus is still mutating.

I've done my own research and am working to change my eating habits and food storage plan to go through this naturally. Here's our plan:

  • Lots of fresh vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, with gluten-free grains (for 2 of us but the 3rd gets other grains too).
  • Very little cooking to preserve nutrients.
  • Minimize processed foods. Processing foods into chips, candy and etc. takes out vitamins and other nutrients.
  • Cut out dairy products. Milk from dairy animals can cause an increase in mucous production. We've switched to supplemented rice milk and hemp milk. (Can't have soy milk.)
  • Cut out flesh products. We're not going 100% vegan or even vegetarian but we're minimizing. I recently saw a special on PBS that discussed how horrible the meat processing is ... and it's so bad that many meat inspectors become vegetarian. Meat is recommended to be fully cooked not because of the intrinsic nature of the meat but because it almost certainly has e-coli or other bacteria that needs to be cooked to be eaten safely. Except for tuna and some bacon (probably), we're working to become mostly no-meat people.
  • Garlic. I have lots of dried garlic and will add that everywhere and every chance I get.
  • Increase Vitamin D levels. It appears that Vitamin D levels are lower in the Winter when we're less exposed to sunlight. I'm storing rice milk supplemented with Vit D and the actual capsule/pill supplements. We'll also sun ourselves on the patio whenever we can.
  • Pro-biotics. Supplements, sauerkraut (for hubby because... ew!), kefir, etc.
  • Sugar - cut it out! We like honey in our rice and oatmeal, but I'm working to at least cut it back to one tablespoon per meal. We don't use white sugar. I like a little stevia in my tea but can do without. We eat a lot of fruit but since it has a lot of sugar in it - albeit natural - we'll cut it back.
  • Blueberries. Yes, I know, blueberries are fruit but they are a superfood and great for the immune system. I have a lot of dried blueberries stocked up, and we'll have one small "dixie" cup each day with lunch.
  • Lots of liquids. Keep things moving along with lots of water. Don't skimp.
  • Elderberry capsules. Starting with the first sign of Winter, we'll be taking one a day. Should I come down with a respiratory-something, we'll take elderberry syrup/extract.
  • Vitamin C... well, this one everyone knows. Goldenseal and echinacea are absolute musts for supplements.

Other things to do:

  • Get lots of rest to help the body fight off viruses and bacteria.
  • Use coping mechanisms to deal with stress - talk, throw pillows, scream, cry, hug, etc.
  • Exercise is essential to get the body in shape to fight off illnesses, but also produces adrenalin and endorphins and helps the circulatory system.
  • Wash hands often. Everything I touch has already been touched by someone else... shopping cart handles, items in the grocery store, car door handles, door knobs, money, etc. Keep hand cleaners handy, but don't use too much because we need some bacteria! Buy a good plain chemical-free soap. Even a "dry-rub" (rubbing your hands together for 3 minutes to get rid of the top layer of skin) is a good substitute when you can't get to a sink and soap.

We've set up an indoor grow room in our home (with grow lights). We are planting seeds for string beans, shelling peas and cucumbers. We already have 2 tomato plants, and 2 buckets with strawberry plants. We'll add parsley, zucchini, spinach and carrots when we figure out where to put them! This is in addition to veggies we've already dried.

We are also going to be raising quail soon. This can be done indoors, with very little evidence to people who don't come into the home or garage (not much of a smell or sounds). We'll be eating the eggs - 4 quail eggs equal 1 small chicken egg. Good source of protein.