Food storage is a great way to prepare your family for emergencies. However, bacteria and other contaminants can invade your emergency food and render it useless. Here is a list of the top ten ways to keep your food storage safe and secure!
1. Before canning, make sure everything is clean! Many people can their own fruits and vegetables. This is a great practice for you and your family, just make sure you thoroughly clean off the produce and canning jars before starting. This may require rinsing in a water/bleach solution or boiling.
2. While canning, refrigerate the produce you aren’t ready for yet. If you plan on canning 10 lbs. of strawberries, it will take a while to get all of them done. Instead of leaving all 10 lbs. on the counter while working, put the fruit-in-waiting back in the refrigerator. This is very important for fruit has been cut, because it is more prone for bacteria. Refrigeration will help keep your fruit fresh until you’re ready for it.
3. Weevils? Freeze that flour! Ever heard of weevils? These pesky bugs will hatch in your flour and invade all of your other grains too! When you purchase any form of grain, make sure that you freeze it for 4 to 7 days before putting it in your storage room.
4. Store plenty of water. When planning your food storage, make sure that you have enough water for drinking, food preparation, and general hygiene purposes. You can do this with a combination of water barrels and filters. Water storage should also been taken into consideration when purchasing food storage. For example, freeze-dried food requires substantially less water than dehydrated foods, or traditional foods like rice, beans and wheat.
5. No more expired food, rotate it out. If a portion of your food storage consists of canned goods from the grocery store, make sure to put recently purchased items in the back so that the oldest items get used first. This prevents you from having to throw out expired food.
6. Have a balance of food groups and nutrients. Have you ever tried eating just noodles and bread for a week? It gets boring real quick, and you are more likely to get sick when you don’t eat a balanced diet. When planning your food storage, try to have a good balance of fruits and vegetables with your grains. You can do this by storing canned goods, freeze-dried foods, and/or canning your own foods.
7. Do you know what you have? Take inventory regularly. This allows you to keep track of what you need and helps you watch out for expired foods. If you keep an accurate inventory, finding expired foods can be completely avoided.
8. Include comfort foods. I know this sounds silly, but in an emergency you and your family will be stressed. Having a tasty piece of strawberry shortcake (or whatever your family’s favorite dessert is) will help ease the tension of survival.
9. Use a proper long-term storage container. Leaving food in the bag it came in, or not lining storage containers with plastic can make them more susceptible to moisture and other contaminants.
10. Use oxygen absorbers appropriately. These are great for preserving foods! Make sure they are put in all of your dry food storage containers.
by Alyssa Staehli