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How to Store Food

Long Term Food Storage: The Basics

Have you wondered how you can effectively store food, and what foods are the best to store? it is always a good idea to have an extra stash of food around, in case of any prolonged period of time when there is no power, or some type of natural disaster that limits your options as far as food supplies are concerned. Luckily, with the advent of mega-supermarkets, families across north America have take to buying in bulk and already have the resources available for long term food storage. Most foods can be stored effectively for months, even years, depending on the type of food, how it is stored and how it is preserved.

What types of food can I store?
Most foods can be kept for long periods of time as long as it is preserved properly. The usual foods that are kept in an “emergency supply” are: water; cereals or grains, cooking oil, dried milk, spices, chocolate (or other “non-perishable” comfort foods)dried beans (including lentils), canned fish, canned meats, canned and jarred fruits and vegetables (or frozen/freeze-dried/dehydrated fruits and vegetables.) As long as most foods are preserved properly, they can be kept for emergencies.

Where should I store it?
The general rule is to keep these foods stored somewhere that is cool and dark. Warm temperatures and sunlight will ruin your food supply. Some people choose to have an area in their basement where they keep stored foods; others simply keep their stored foods in their pantries.

Storage rooms in basements are typically cool and dark and work nicely for food storage. There are a couple of things to take not of if this is your preferred storage area. First, make sure that your food is properly sealed to prevent the dampness of your basement from seeping in – nothing ruins stored food quicker than moisture. Second, if your food is out of sight, it will be out of mind – stored food has to be rotated regularly so your family does not end up with spoiled supplies.

Pantries and deep freezes are present in most households and are also a great place to store extra food. Cereals, grains, canned and jarred goods, etc., can be kept in the pantry; meats can be kept for up to six months in a deepfreeze.

How should I store it?
There are several methods of preparing food for storage and different ways to preserve it.
Freezing: Fruits, vegetables, and meats can be stored with this method. Simply be sure to protect food in good quality freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn as this will ruin the quality and taste of the food. Frozen food can be kept for about 6 months. Warning: Just remember that frozen food will spoil in the case of a power outage and is not the most recommended method for emergency food supplies and cannot be used for canned, jarred or dry goods.
Dehydration: Dehydrating foods is relatively quick and simple. It is the oldest method of preserving food but is not the best method for preserving taste or quality. You can use your oven to dry foods out and store them moisture-proof containers.The easiest foods to dry at home are lean meat, and (blanched and cooled) fruits and vegetables.
Jarring / Canning: This method of preserving food is a very popular one due to its ability to keep the taste of foods intact. Water, meats, fish, oils, vegetables and fruit can all be jarred and canned. If you are a DIY kind of person, jarring and canning can be easily learned. If not, mega-supermarkets allow us to buy the majority of canned goods in bulk.
Other: Grains, cereals and beans can be bought and immediately stored in airtight, moisture-proof containers (1/2 Gallon minimum is a great size to use) as long as your food is vacuum-packed.

*After any of these processes are completed, make sure to label your items with the names of the items and the dates packaged.

How do I use my food supply?
Rotation
 of your emergency food supply is extremely important and practical. You do not want all of that food to go to waste, which is why it is important to buy and store in bulk and then rotate your stored food in with your weekly fresh assortment of meats, spices, fruits and veggies, dairy, etc. If the food is not used on a regular basis, it will spoil and be useless to your family, and a huge waste of time and money.

Rotation Schedule:
Grains, cereals, flour, sugar, spices, etc: 6-12 months
Dried beans: 2-4 years
Frozen foods: 6-12 months
Canned and jarred foods: These can last years but it is recommended to rotate them every 6-12 months if possible.
Dehydrated food: 2-3 years
Pasta: 1-2 years

It is recommended that you rotate everything on a constant schedule and keep bringing in new foods on a regular basis.

Water Storage

How to Store Water

When considering drinking-water storage, be sure to use the proper water storage techniques. Water is a the most important necessity to have stockpiled in your house in order to ensure health. Water can be stored in both portable and permanent containers, made from plastic, glass, fiber glass or even certain metals. Containers such as used milk cartons (the plastic kind), bleach jugs and even empty canning jars can be used; Just make sure you wash them thoroughly before use. Never use any container that has previously held fuel, poisons, or other toxic chemicals. As well, it is important that all stored water is clearly labeled and dated.

If you’re looking to store large amounts of water, you can use swimming pools, large underground tanks, or an extra cistern.

If possible, look for containers that can be stacked on top of one another (obviously a more efficient storage solution). Also, if you are using large containers, you will want to keep a hand pump handy for extracting the water from the container easily. A hand pump is a lot less work than trying to lift a 5 gallon pail to pour yourself a glass of water.

To store water safely for a significant amount of time (4-6 months or more), you will want to condition it to prevent organism growth in the water.

Bleach

Use 8 drops per gallon (4 litres) of clear water or ½ teaspoon for a 5 gallon container. Let the water stand for around 20-30 minutes, and if you can still smell chlorine it can be stored. If you don’t smell chlorine, then retreat the water.

Heat
Another method is heating the water, then jarring or canning it. Fill clean jars or cans until they are full within an inch of the top of the container. Then place them in a pressure cooker for 5 minutes, or boiling in a water bath (around 20 minutes for a quart, and 25-30 minutes for ½ gallon). When processed this way, the water will keep for years, providing the seal on your container doesn’t break down.

It is best to store the water in a cool place, but make sure it doesn’t freeze and break the container. You should also sample the water every 3-6 months. If the water happens to taste flat, it may be because the air normally in the water is gone. In order to infuse the water with the air, shake the container, or pour water from one container to another. This brings the taste back to as good a new!

Basic Gardening

How to Make Growing Your Own Vegetables as Earth-Friendly as Possible!

(ARA) – There was a time when it was the norm to go out in the yard and pull fresh vegetables up from the soil. At some point over the years, we moved from the goodness of home-grown vegetables toward processed foods and microwave dinners. Now consumers are becoming more aware of the financial value of growing their own vegetables, and how doing so can bolster the health of their families and of the earth.

Vegetable gardening might sound intimidating, but new technologies can make your thumb greener than ever. Combined with good old-fashioned growing techniques, your garden can be healthy and yield a good crop with less effort than you’d imagine – all while being good for the earth. Here are some tips for a garden that is doubly green.

Water, water everywhere, but not too much 
A fine balance needs to be struck when it comes to watering your vegetable garden, especially during drought conditions. You want your plants to get adequate moisture, but overwatering can be bad for plants and a wasteful use of a precious natural resource. Because it’s better for both your crops and the environment, careful water usage is essential to being a truly green gardener.

Installing an irrigation system is a good way to keep water usage at the ideal levels. Plus, you don’t have to plan a schedule around when you need to water. There are user-friendly, affordable solutions like Mister Landscaper’s new Drip Irrigation Vegetable Kit, which connects to your outdoor spigot. It’s a great way to ensure that your plants get the water they need, without wasting or over watering. The kit is drought approved in most areas and available at Lowe’s in the plumbing department. Watering timers can also make the job of watering even easier. Keep in mind that it’s best to water in the early morning, when the sun is lower in the sky, for 30 to 60 minutes, every other day. For more information about watering vegetable gardens, go to www.misterlandscaper.com.

One man’s garbage is another’s fertilizer
Ever feel guilty about throwing out vegetable and fruit peelings, rinds or scraps? Your intuition might just be telling you that there’s a better way to handle those leftovers. Composting is a great way to make use of organic matter that might otherwise just get thrown away.

Building a compost heap is relatively easy, and it will keep on giving back to your garden and the environment. The four necessary ingredients for composting, according to California’s “CalRecycle” program, are nitrogen (from sources like grass clippings or those throwaway veggie scraps), carbon (from sources like sawdust or twigs), water and air. Once your compost is at the ideal level of decomposition (it will be uniformly dark brown and crumbly), spread it on your garden to give plants a nutrient boost.

Get growing – Organically 

From the moment you start planning a garden, think organic. The most basic – and fun – choice of all is deciding which plants you’ll grow. Choose organic seeds and starters so that you know you’re buying into an earth-friendly business venture. There’s the added bonus of knowing that your plants won’t be tainted with harmful chemicals.

When it comes to maintaining your garden, you’ll probably need things other than just compost. Look for products that are recognized as organic by respected organizations like the USDA or the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) – you’ll be able to find an ever-growing supply of products like pest repellent or soil amendments.

Growing your own vegetables at home has many benefits: it saves money, allows you to control what your food is exposed to and provides a fun and easy activity that the whole family can participate in. And when you follow these green gardening principles, you’ll be doing something good for the earth, too.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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