My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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My Harry Potter Closet Under The Stairs Is Clean! For Now…

I don’t know if you remember or not, but when I started this blog, I posted a picture of what my food storage area actually looked like (see original post here).  It is temperature controlled and safe, but it was a MESS!  See?

 

 

*Before* picture of my infamous Closet Under The Stairs.

 

I wanted to keep it real though, so I posted it, as embarrassing as it was.  I also promised that I would eventually clean it.

 

Several weeks ago, I finally did it!  And I took pictures to show all of you.  It’s still packed, but it’s organized in such a way that I can rotate the food I use regularly with my long term storage, which I don’t need to access as often, in the back.  Take a look.

 

After clearing everything out, which was faster than I thought with the help of my boys, I reorganized the entire closet.  First, I put in the things I wasn't planning to rotate right away: my wheat, beans, and other grains.  Next, I organized my dehydrated and freeze dried food.

After clearing everything out of the closet, which was faster than I thought with the help of my boys, I started with a clean slate and reorganized the entire closet. First, I put in the things I wasn’t planning to rotate right away: my wheat, beans, and other grains. Next, I organized my dehydrated and freeze dried food and my “just add water” meals.

 

Then I put in the items I plan to access regularly: my grain mill, honey, flour, sugar, etc.

Then I put in the items I plan to access regularly: my grain mill, honey, flour, sugar, etc.  I also put our “bug out bags” (aka 72 hour kits) in a place we can grab and go, if needed.  In addition, I put some store brand “Sterno” to use as emergency fuel for cooking in an easily accessible place.

 

Then I organized my jams, jellies, and other home canned goods for easy access.  I also used an old book shelf for food I rotate regularly.

Then I organized my jams, jellies, and other home canned goods for easy access. I also used an old book shelf for food I rotate regularly.

 

See?  I also have some of my regularly used supplies on top of the bookshelf (food grade hose, gas shut-off tool, etc), so I can easily access them.

See? I also have some of my regularly used supplies on top of the bookshelf (food grade hose, gas shut-off tool, etc), so I can easily access them.

 

Is it my ideal food storage compartment?  No.  But who has the ideal everything in life?  I make do with what I have, and I’m very grateful to have it.  You may be thinking, “Great!  She’s a crazy prepper!” and will ignore everything I say from here on out.  If so, that’s your prerogative, but there is wisdom in storing food.

 

Food storage like mine has become a thing of the past for most families, but it didn’t used to be that way.  Families used to regularly store food to get through the winter and pantries were rarely completely bare like ours often are now.  We are used to shopping daily or several times a week for food.  Did you know that grocery stores usually stock enough food for 1 day or less for the entire community they serve?  Food storage is vitally important for all who want to eat when things go wrong (tornadoes, snowstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).

 

As much as I love my readers, neighbors, and friends, I can’t feed you if things go wrong.  Take a minute or two today and evaluate how long you would be able to feed yourselves and your families if the grocery store ran out of food.  Would it be months, weeks, days, or hours? 

 

Make a plan today to get one more day’s supply of food than you currently have and build on that.  If you do this each and every week, in six months, you will have almost a 1 month supply!  If you do it once every other week, you will have a 2 week supply after 6 months.  Plan for the worst, but expect the best.  That’s my mantra.

Do you have any long term storage?  If so, what are your favorite things to stock?

If not, why not?  If you had one, what would you like to stock in long term storage?

 How do you organize your food storage, both long and short term?

 

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The Squash Is Coming! The Squash Is Coming!

While I don’t know yet if my spaghetti squash plants will actually produce spaghetti squash this year, they sure are growing!  I had quite a few problems with spaghetti squash last year and the beginning of this year, but things seem to be turning around!  They are beginning to flower, and I’m going to keep a close eye on them, hand pollinating, if necessary.  Take a look!

 

Those are two different spaghetti squash plants planted near my orange tree.  Ideally, they would have been planted in a dedicated bed, but I live in southern California which means TINY yards.  I do what I can...

Those are two different spaghetti squash plants planted near my orange tree. Ideally, they would have been planted in a dedicated bed, but I live in southern California which means TINY yards. I do what I can…

 

 

My summer squash plant is quite prolific, with several “fruits” on the vines.  Some are getting quite large and will be ready to harvest in a couple day’s time.

 

See the little yellow squashes?  I read that they can grow up to an inch a day.  If that's the case, I'll have some ready to pick by week's end!

See the little yellow squashes? I read that they can grow up to an inch a day. If that’s the case, I’ll have some ready to pick by week’s end!

 

I am really looking forward to these peppers ripening!

 

Yes, it's planted next to my electric meter, but what can I say?  I have a small yard.  I use what space I have in any way I can.

Yes, it’s planted next to my electric meter, but what can I say? I have a small yard. I use what space I have in any way I can.

 

I picked one today along with one yellow cherry tomato and a few radishes.

 

Not a huge harvest, but it is a delicious one!

Not a huge harvest, but it is a delicious one!

 

 

Speaking of radishes, I should have a few more ready later this week.

 

And, yes, those are around my water shut off valve.  Again, small yards.

And, yes, those are around my water shut off valve. Again, small yards.  There’s also a garlic plant tucked in there.

 

Can’t wait until the harvest is in full swing!


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Guest Post – Candi on Food Preservation

I am blessed to have some *AWESOME* readers.  One of them is a fellow blogger, Candi (find her blog here).  She kindly agreed to write a guest post for me about food preservation.  Candi shares what’s she’s learned about food preservation in hopes of helping each of you.  Thanks, Candi!

 

This beautiful lady has generously agreed to share her knowledge with us.

This beautiful lady has generously agreed to share her knowledge with us.

Food preservation

Most of this is regarding Long Term Storage, but some of the tips are very important for Short Term Storage and every day use.

 

I’m Candi Harris and I really have to thank Laurie for asking me to guest blog regarding Emergency Preparation.  She does such an incredible job sharing all the information on Food Storage, canning and everyday use. It’s good information, and I learn more from her every day, I really do appreciate all she does. I’m just a novice, so please check various sites to get precise directions.  Mine come from my own experiences after researching the process.

Some things I learned the hard way, I lost freeze-dried meat, TVP, some veggies, even things as simple as flour and eggs because I didn’t read the labels  thoroughly.  It was a very costly and sad learning experience. Read the label on your can regarding storage, not only  dating and shelf life of unopened cans, but “opened cans”.  Uppermost are the meats. Because they are a real beef product, when you open the can that first time, you must reseal the meat not used in another container WITHIN 24-48 hours. A sterile air-tight container, such as a canning jar, that can be sealed either using an oxygen absorber or a “dry vacuum” method.  You CANNOT  vacuum seal fresh meats, vegetables or any fresh produce for long term storage. IT must be either water canned or pressure canned.

There are pluses either way.  The Oxygen Absorbers are handy to have on hand . The flip side of that is once you open the package of absorbers, you do need to work quickly putting them in the jar putting the lid on, add the ring and tightening securely. Then reseal your remaining Oxygen Absorbers – I use a half pint jar and pack them in as tightly as I can)  Just as anything you can, wipe the edges of the jars with a clean cloth so there is no residue to interfere with the jar sealing.

 
Vacuum Sealing isn’t a lot different. The basics are the same, but you CAN-NOT use the vacuum sealer bags for long term storage.  You follow the same process as when you use the absorbers, except you put just the lid on and use your vacuum sealer attachment, and it will remove all the air from the jar.  If you are resealing any powdery substances, you’ll want to use something to keep the powder from plugging up your sealer.  I use coffee filters and cut them to fit inside the jar.  They’re cheap, easy to keep on hand and simple to “cut to fit” 🙂
Food Grade Buckets and 5-gallon Mylar Bags.

Food Grade Buckets and 5-gallon Mylar Bags.

 
Another method is the Mylar bags.  They’re great for use in Earthquake country, but mice love them:(. So if you’re going to use them and store where there is the slightest chance of critters, be sure you put the Mylar bags in a a food safe storage bucket and put the lid on tight!  Those little buggar’s have radar noses. 
 
TVP products are easier to work with in that they remain pretty good for about 6 months.  So if you’re going to use it up in that period of time, it doesn’t hurt to throw in an Oxygen Absorber when you put the lid back on and put it in the cabinet. It’s just my husband and me so we don’t use it that fast. So for us I find it best just to reseal it in the jars with my vacuum sealer. I do that with most things TVP included, because I want to keep them as fresh as I can.  Unless I make  Meals In A Jar, I’m not sure when I’ll use that product again.  Even though I try to plan our meals, we often change them:)
Always remember, anytime you do this, LABEL the jars. Write  Date Opened ,Expiration Date,  Shelf Life of contents is quick to spot too.  You want to Label what is in the jar, directions for use (rehydrate, cooking directions, etc), as well as the dos and don’ts of the product. 
Mason Jars.  Make sure to label with contents and date!

Mason Jars. Make sure to label with contents and date!

 
I make the Meals In A Jar so I tend to reseal everything I use:) Chef Tess Bakeresse has a recipes from her book “52 Meals In A Jar” on her site using all freeze-dried foods.  She goes deeper into Vacuum Sealing than I did, as well as the Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers, as Laurie does.  I have her books ( and believe you me, I’ve used several of Laurie’s ideas too) and before I can a meal,   we try it out.  If we like it, then I make up several and put them in the cabinet.  We’re trying a variety of them, from cereal to roast beef and potatoes:)  There are also recipes on Meals For One.  (*Meals In A Jar have a shelf life of anywhere from 3-15 yrs) A lot of these recipes are found in her books. You’ll find a lot of books on food in a jar, but not all of them give you the length of Shelf Life.
 
The great thing about all of this is it’s such a wonderful variety.  Using freeze-dried foods everyday in your cooking and baking makes things so much easier, too.  There are Freeze Dried Eggs, Shortening, Sour Cream, Butter, Margarine, as well as all the fruits, vegetables and meats.
 
As I said in the beginning, read those labels, look on the site where you bought them and read all the information so you don’t lose them or contaminate them.
 
I hope I’m not sounding like a “worry wart” lol I am just hoping I can save someone else the aggravation I went through. I’m not a blogger on Emergency Food Preparation as Laurie is, but I have friends that blog some about it, so I’ve learned a lot. Especially from Susan, who is also LDS and has shared a lot with me as Laurie does:) Mine, Quilts n Things is more about Quilting, Recipes and my Grandchildren.
 
Laurie thank you so much for the opportunity to share with your readers:)  I think what you’re doing is just wonderful, and you’ve also helped so many people learn about Emergency Preparedness and why it’s something we should all do.  None of us are alarmists or expecting the world to come crashing down around us.  As Laurie has said, be ready, you don’t know when an earthquake might hit, a tornado, an unheard of snow storm in your area or Forest Fire.
 
Just an FYI about jars and the worry about them breaking.  Use an old sock, put the jar inside it, and if you have the storage put them back in the box they came in.  If you don’t have old socks, go to your nearest Deseret, Cancer Society, Hospice or any thrift store and pick some up real cheap. Use bubble wrap that is in packages you receive.  I use anything I think will work .lol  If they’re on a shelf, use a bungee cord to put across the front row to keep them secure.  Or something even stronger.  We live East of San Francisco, so we get a tremor now and then.  We’ve had some strong one’s too, so I’m always open to ideas on how to protect those canning jars:). 
 
Laurie, thank you again, and never stop doing what you’re doing:) God Bless you, yours and all your followers.
 
 
Susan’s prep blog is.  http://providentprep.blogspot.com/
 
Cheff Tess Bakeresse (52 Jar Method) is: 

Candi