Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Food Storage I

A question has come up about storage. Specifically, buying food in bulk and how to store it.

There are actually several options available for storing bulk purchase foods. This particular question was about a grain so that is where I will start.

First of all, when you buy any grains (note: sugar is NOT a grain, do not freeze it), did you know that you should freeze them for a few days? If you haven't heard that before, well now you have. The purpose of this is to kill any bugs that might be in there. EEEWWWW! I hear you saying. But if you believe there are no bugs, parts of bugs or eggs (and worse) in the store bought stuff, you are sadly mistaken. If you ever wanted an ironclad reason to produce all your own food, go do a search on the allowable "extras" that are in your food products you purchase. So freeze your grains for a few days to eliminate those mealy moths or whatever buggies are lurking in there.

If you choose to, you can leave your grain in the freezer all the time. Just take out what you will use for the week and you are good to go. Store it in the freezer Ziploc bags if that is your choice. Or use any container that you like: empty, washed soda jugs, mason jars, just about anything will work.

If you are trying to eliminate the use of your freezer for items like grain, take it out after a few days. Let it come to room temperature and repack it. Again, there are many options for storage containers. Ultimately what you use will be preference and availability. If you are a single person or the only one in your family that will eat something, say rice, then it makes sense to store it in much smaller individual packaging in your cabinet. If the whole family likes it, say oatmeal, and you eat it regularly, then you want more of it available to you in your kitchen cabinet.

The first, optimal (but most expensive) option is to store all of your grains in mylar bags. These bags eliminate air, moisture and light from getting to your foods. These are the three items that will ruin your food. Once you seal the food up into the mylar bags with an oxygen absorber, then you would store them in a food safe plastic bucket with a gasketed lid to seal it completely.  This works very well for long term storage.

A second option is to skip the mylar bags and put your food into a food grade plastic bucket.
Side note - how do you know you are getting a food grade plastic bucket? Look on the bottom, there should be a wine glass and a fork. That is the universal symbol for food safe.

Putting your food into a plastic bucket with no mylar bags will still keep your food fresh for a while. Not long term, but possibly long enough to go through the whole bucket.

Another option is to use the zipper storage baggies. This will be a relatively short term way of storing things, but still an option.

If you are trying to eliminate plastic out of your home (and you should-look it up), then you can use glass. Mason canning jars come in a variety of sizes. They do not offset toxic gasses. They do not however block light, one of the three food damagers. Make sure you have a secure, solid, dark place to store them.

Now you have a few storage ideas for bulk food storage.