Survival Skills #12
Storage and Preparation of Food Supplies
All dry ingredients or supplies should be stored off the floor in clean, dry, dark places away from any source of moisture. Foods will maintain quality longer if extreme changes in temperature and exposure to light are avoided.
If you purchase bulk wheat, dark hard winter or dark hard spring wheat are good selections. Wheat should be #2 grade or better with a protein content from 12 - 15% and moisture content less than 10%. If wheat is not already in nitrogen-packed cans, it can be stored in sturdy 5 gallon food-grade plastic buckets or containers with tight fitting lids. If the wheat has not already been treated to prevent insects from hatching, wheat may be treated at the time of storage by placing one-fourth pound of dry ice per 5 gallon container in the bottom and then filling with wheat. Cover the wheat with the lid, but not tightly, for five or six hours before tightening the lid to be air tight. Other grains to consider storing include rye, rice, oats, triticale, barley and millet. Pasta products also satisfy the grain component of the diet. Milled rice will maintain its quality longer in storage than will brown rice. Many of the grains may require grinding before use. Some health food stores sell hand-cranked grain mills or can tell you where you can get one. Make sure you buy one that can grind corn. If you are caught without a mill, you can grind your grain by filling a large can with whole grain one inch deep, holding the can on the ground between your feet and pounding the grain with a hard metal object such as a pipe.
Non-fat Dry Milk/Dairy Products
Store dry milk in a tightly covered air-tight container. Dry milk may be stored at 70oF for 12 - 24 months. If purchased in nitrogen packed cans, storage time for best quality will be 24 months. Other dairy products for long term storage may include canned evaporated milk, pasteurized cheese spreads and powdered cheese.
Other Foods or Ingredients
Iodized salt should be selected and stored in its original package. Dried beans, peas, lentils, etc. provide an inexpensive alternative to meat and are easy to store in glass or plastic containers tightly covered. Those purchased from the grocery shelf are normally the highest quality.
Open food boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them tightly after each use. Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in air-tight storage containers. Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or airtight food storage containers to protect them from pests. Inspect all food containers for signs of spoilage before use. Commercially canned foods are safe to eat after long periods of storage unless they are bulging, leaking or badly rusted. Quality, however, will diminish with long term storage. Changes in flavor, color and texture may be observed and nutritional value will decrease. For best quality, use within one year. If stored longer than one year, rotate canned goods at least every two to four years.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
To help compensate for possible deficiencies in the diet in emergency situations, families may wish to store 365 multi-vitamin/mineral tablets per person. Careful attention should be paid to expiration dates on packages.
Shelf Life of Foods for Storage (Unopened)
Here are some general guidelines for rotating common emergency foods to ensure the best quality of the products.
Use within six months:
Powdered milk (boxed)
Dried fruit (in metal container)
Dry, crisp crackers (in metal container)
Use within one year:
Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables
Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)
Hard candy, chocolate bars and canned nuts
May be stored indefinitely* (in proper containers and conditions):
Instant coffee, tea
Noncarbonated soft drinks
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)
*Two to three years