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Protecting Your Food Storage, Part 1

July 12, 2011

Food Storage, Nutrition

If you’ve begun to add depth to your pantry, good for you!!  You, no doubt, are feeling an increasing of satisfaction in your growing stores of food.  You are buying at prices you can still afford and while it is available (wheat crops are not doing well this year- buy now!).   It is important to make sure those food stores are still healthy and fresh when you need them.

Food can lose some of its nutrient value, change texture, or get odd flavors over time if not stored properly.  I want to share some ways to protect it and keep it at its optimum.

Air

The air we breathe is made up of many gases.  It is the oxygen in it that our bodies absolutely must have to live.  Ironically, this same gas hastens the spoiling of our food.

In the presence of oxygen, some foods “oxidize” and develop unpleasant flavors.  Fats and oils often turn rancid.  Chips, crackers, and breads get stale or dry out.  For this reason, we try to keep them fresh by twisting up the bread bag or using clips to keep chip pouches folded closed.

Oxygen is needed by the microorganisms that decompose food also.  That is one of the reasons that seals are so important on canned goods.

In order to keep our bulk foods fresh for long periods of time, we must limit its exposure to air.  In a future post, I’ll explain the use of mylar bags and oxygen absorbers in long-term food storage.

Light

The sun is a mighty powerful star and life on earth is dependent on its light and heat.  But the same rays that can cause damage to our skin can decrease the tasty life of our food.  The rays photodegrade the food, particularly the part that is closest to the exterior.

If you’ve ever opened a glass jar of food and found the food inside two-toned, it was likely exposed to too much light.  It should still be safe to eat (unless the seal was broken), but the exterior portion likely had an unappealing color and maybe flavor also.

If possible, store your food out of direct light, in a cabinet or pantry with doors.

Moisture (Water)

Human beings must have lots of water to live and organisms of decay often need it also.  Remove the moisture and you can arrest the life cycle of the bacteria, yeast, and mold cells that must also have it.

This is why the banana left on your counter eventually becomes a black oozy mess while the one you put in the food dehydrator as slices will keep for years if sealed up properly.

Temperature

The same way that we people like to have “climate control,” much of our food is at its best at consistent temperatures.

We refrigerate our milk to slow the microbial growth that sours it.  We keep our unopened mayonnaise from freezing to prevent the emulsion from breaking up.  We keep meat in the deep freeze to prevent the water in it from being available (liquid) to support the growth of microbes.  Once thawed, it is best used soon and not re-frozen.

It is said that for every 18 degrees the temperature of a food is raised, the rate of chemical reactions doubles.  This decreases the nutritious (and sometimes even safe!) life of your food.   It is best for food to stay as consistently cool as possible.

Microorganisms

I’ve alluded to these in the above sections, but it bears repeating that even things too small to see with the naked eye can ruin food.  They are killed or controlled by how the food is handled and stored.  In addition to removing moisture, high heat (especially pressure canning) can destroy them.

Pests

This topic also needs a post of its own.  Recently, I had to throw away EVERYthing in one pantry cabinet after a family of mice ate through the wallboard and helped themselves to all the food not in durable containers.  What a waste!  And the mess…  I’ll address this more at a future time.

Protecting your food storage could even have aspects of caching it to prevent it from being stolen.  This is an important topic and deserves sufficient coverage.  If you have experiences or questions, please share them below.

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8 Comments on “Protecting Your Food Storage, Part 1”

  1. Mike Duane Says:

    Protecting your food stores WILL become necessary during volatile times. Those people that are currently criminals will be joined by those that could not, or would not, save for this type of scenario. This is just human nature to get food by ANY MEANS for you and your family. While they could be armed, they could simply take your stored foods by means of a large group breaking into your home, pushing you and your family aside, and taking what they can get a hold of.
    So some advice: 1) don’t let it be general knowledge that you have large stores of food. 2) cache your supplies in different areas around your property (if applicable), 3) both husband and wife, also children 16 years and older, should be comfortable with firearms. A shotgun is a very good means of convincing hostile groups to not enter your home. Good, basic, inexpensive rifle training can be had from local Appleseed organization. They teach using a .22 cal rifle so there is no recoil fear from the ladies or kids.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Good thoughts, Mike. Thanks for sharing those!

      You’re right, operational security will be a big issue for a lot, if not all, of us in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. Being situationally aware is good, but taking concrete steps to better protect your family and secure your valuables could mean the difference between life and death.

      I’ve written a little about this in an post called The Zombie Apocalypse.

      Thanks for your comments, Mike.

      Joe

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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