After an emergency or environmental catastrophe, there’s no way of knowing when emergency respondents will arrive. It could take days to weeks, depending on your accessibility.
It’s greatly beneficial to know how to pack and prepare food for long-term storage to ensure you and your family’s survival. The key takeaway is to keep your food dry and sealed in an airtight container to prevent them from going bad. Purchase foods and basic ingredients with long shelf life.
How Does Food Spoil?
It helps to understand what causes food to spoil so that you can take the necessary measures to prevent it. Food gets spoiled because of the growth of microorganisms. Most microorganisms grow and reproduce in the presence of water and oxygen. As such, storing food in airtight containers often prevents them from getting spoiled. Make sure the food containers are sterilized beforehand to get rid of all possible microorganisms.
Dehydrated foods like jerky and dried fruits are also less prone to spoilage because of the absence of water. Dehydrating foods can be performed by using a dehydrating machine or by letting the food sit under the sun until all the water is drained and evaporated.
Another preservation method is to freeze the food. Extremely low temperatures can stop the growth of numerous microorganisms. Freezing is better at stopping microorganisms compared to plain refrigeration.
How To Use Mylar Bags
Mylar bags are thick plastic bags that are perfect for airtight closures for food. Dehydrated food is placed inside and then all the air is vacuumed out of the bag before it is sealed with heat. This bag is strong but not completely puncture-proof which is why the sealed food must be stored in another airtight container, like 5-gallon buckets with airtight lids.
There are two main ways by which you can remove oxygen from Mylar bags. The first method is to place oxygen-absorbing packets into the bag. These packets are usually sold by the same supplier of Mylar bags. The second method is through using carbon dioxide to replace the oxygen contained in the bag. This is done through dry ice.
Dry ice is just solidified carbon dioxide. Be careful when handling this because it is extremely cold and can cause “burns” on your skin. Here’s how to use dry ice in food preservation:
- Purchase dry ice from your local dealer. This is fairly common and you can even find a listing in the Yellow Pages. Since it is extremely cold, make sure to handle it with thick gloves.
- Fill your storage container with dry ice. Leave at least an inch of space at the top for your food. Place in your food and then add some dry ice at the top.
- Don’t seal the container yet. You need to wait for the carbon dioxide to completely evaporate so as to build pressure in the container and to drive out any traces of oxygen. Dry ice is heavier and denser than air so it will stay put in the container. Seal it in.
- Make sure to use the correct amount of dry ice. One to two ounces or 50 grams of dry ice will be needed for a five-gallon airtight bucket.
How To Use Oxygen-Absorbing Packs
As aforementioned, oxygen-absorbing packs are used to eliminate oxygen from airtight Mylar bags. Here’s how to use them for long-term food storage.
- Purchase your food like whole foods, wheat, berries, and nuts. It’s advisable to buy in bulk to get discounts and to save money in the long run. Purchase 5 to 6-gallon buckets with airtight lids to store all of your foods. These buckets come in two types of plastics: food-grade and normal. Food-grade buckets are expensive so it’s better if you just seal the food in Mylar bags first so that they won’t make contact with the plastic.
- Purchase 20 in x 30 in Mylar bags. Place your food inside. Vacuum all the air out. Place 200-cc oxygen-absorbing pack in the bag before sealing it with a hot iron. Make sure to work quickly to keep the packs functional. Take a 30-inch board and wrap a towel around it to create a makeshift ironing board. Place the bag on top of it and run the hot iron. Trim off any excess.
- Label the buckets accordingly. Place the date, the food, as well as the expiration date. If done correctly, your food can last up to ten years.
Shelf Life Of Foods
Knowing the shelf life of different foods can help you identify if they’re still edible. This also helps you keep your shelf up to date by clearing out the expired goods and replacing them with something fresh.
Whole wheat berries, white sugar, salt, pure sorghum molasses, pure honey – indefinite
Dried beans, dried corn, rice, couscous, whole spices, cereals, oats – 5 to 10 years
Hard grains (Kamut millet, triticale, corn, wheat, dry flax seeds) – 15 to 20 years
Soft grains (oat groats, barley, rye, rolled oats, quinoa) – 8 years
White rice – 8 to 10 years
Brown rice – 1 to 2 years
Beans (blackeye, barbazo, great northern, lentils, mung, soy, pinto) – 8 to 10 years
Dehydrated vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery, peppers, onions, potatoes, broccoli, etc.) – 8 to 10 years
Dried dairy (powdered milk, powdered eggs, cheese powder, whey powder, cocoa, powdered margarine or butter) – 8 to 10 years
Flour and all ground products – 5 years
Pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, macaroni, noodles) – 10 to 15 years
Garden seeds or sprouting seeds – 2 to 3 years
How To Use Wheat Berries
Wheat berries are survivalist staples because they are so versatile. You can roast, sprout, or even grow wheatgrass. The most common recipe is to ground them and turn them into flour. You can throw in some other ground ingredients like grains or dried beans. You can now use the flour to make pancakes or to bake some cake.
Make sure to use a reliable hand-operated grinding machine to effectively turn the wheat berries into fine power.
It can be challenging to meet all of the body’s basic nutritional requirements during an emergency situation. The best you can do is to make sure that you’re still eating well-balanced meals despite the situation. Another way is to take vitamins and supplements to make sure you won’t miss any nutritional requirements. Go for multivitamins that have everything you need in one tablet per day.
Vitamins and supplements have a shelf life of around two years. After their expiration date, most of them are still consumable but may have lost most of their potency which is why it’s important to consume them on time. When shopping for long-term storage, make sure to ask for new stocks that still have a lot of time before they expire.
Grow Your Own Food
For severely long-term emergencies, it’s a handy skill to know how to grow your own food. This ensures that you’ll have a consistent supply of food even if it’ll take months for things to go back to normal. Vegetable gardening and fruit growing are two handy skills for every survivalist.
Composting is the act of recycling biodegradable wastes to turn them into nourishment for the soil. All you need to do is to bury all of your leftover food and vegetable peels in one spot. Add in some worms to aid the decomposition process. The biodegradable wastes will be broken down into nutrients for the soil. The worms will also aerate and fertilize the soil.
The soil you get from composting will be so rich in minerals that it will make any plant thrive. This also helps with waste disposal because you recycle what is normally garbage.
Composting is a self-sufficient way to sustain your plants. You no longer need to buy chemical-based fertilizers just to provide nourishment. This is an organic method that’s guaranteed to nourish your plants without any side effects.