Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Short-term tips for using your food storage

I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to my food storage. By that, I mean that I prefer individual ingredients to the mixes to which you only add water. I supplement the #10 cans and 5 gallon buckets with sprouting seeds and canned or dehydrated food from my garden.  I've alluded to some of my product management before, but thought I'd make a short, clear list of my favorites.

1. Get and use some of the European glass storage jars with attached glass lids. You can often find them at Ross or Marshall's for under $5. I usually buy the Bormioli, but will occasionally buy American jars. I do not buy the Chinese jars, partly principle, partly distrusting whether the seals are food safe or whether they will provide a hermetic seal.

2. Once you open a #10 can and use some of it for cooking, store the remainder in hermetically sealed jars (#1) above. For items like baking soda and powder, put them in a small mason jar, use a plastic Ball brand cap and store in fridge. Note whether it is soda or powder on the lid using a Sharpie.

3. Tomato powder is a great space-saver. I use it now for all my tomato paste and sauce needs. How many cans of tomato sauce, purée and paste do you have on your shelf? One can of tomato power will replace lots of them. I have used several cans of the Emergency Essentials brand and found it to have a nice, slightly sweet flavor that easily rivals the best canned sauces. The 'spaghetti and pizza sauce' is only about 40% tomato powder. Lots of sugars and starches that make it taste artificial. I tried it and do not recommend it.

4. If you can't afford a grain mill, do not fret. Practice now making your own sprouted wheat bread. Soak the wheat for a day or two, but not to the point you have a green blade forming. Drain well in a sieve or colander, like for a couple hours. You should be able to mash the grains into a dough, then add your yeast, sugar and salt.  Continue to process like a whole wheat bread.

5.  Unless you have a documented gluten allergy (get a blood test from your MD), keep some vital wheat gluten in your food storage. When added to flour made from non-wheat grains, like oats, nuts or acorn flour, at a rate of 1 tablespoon per cup it will help your bread stick together.

6. I don't store a lot of FD vegetables. Instead, I store seeds for sprouts and microgreens. Barring nuclear or volcanic winter for the microgreens, we have enough sunlight even in winter to get these to a point of being edible. Save some to grow out in summer if your emergency scenario is longer than a few weeks.

7. Last item is actually a frugality tip: use rubber bands. I buy #64 rubber bands at the office supply store and save the big bands from vegetables. For many consumer packaged items, if you carefully cut the package open, use what you need, roll the bag down and secure with a rubber band. You don't need near as many plastic storage bags. If you use all the product within a few weeks, it works. If it will take you longer than that to use it up, see #1.  Do this also with bag coffee, even before you open it. As soon as you bring home from the store, add a rubber band. It reduces the air in the bag for a longer storage life. Keep the band in use as you use up the bag. Don't forget to save it before you toss the bag!