Monday, September 5, 2011

food storage

Becky wrote and asked about storing food.  She's starting to make more of her own foods and would like to purchase in bulk but is not sure how to store things.  This is a brief post but one that shares my experience and what I do.  The storage that I am talking about here is dry storage, I'm assuming that if you have a freezer or even two freezers you are already using them to full capacity.

dry beans in jars | photo: dancesincreek
For smaller items (seeds, beans, herbs, etc) I collect glass jars.  Lots of them.  I confess that I have aspirations of being one of those wonderfully well organized people who has all their jars coordinated and they are the same so they all fit neatly on the shelf.  The truth is, well, let's just say a little more practical.  It's a mis-matched hodgepodge of jars.  I use smaller jars for smaller things and bigger jars for larger quantities.

If it is something that requires a good seal (such as agar agar) I will sometimes cut a piece of wax paper to put over the top of the jar before placing the lid on it.  Obviously things kept in jars do better stored in a cool dark place.

I like using glass jars, even though they are more breakable, because I feel that they are the best, least contaminating containers.

For large quantities I use five gallon buckets.  Although they are plastic, it is not possible to store very large quantities in other containers.  Many people can get five gallon buckets for free from their local grocery store.  In the bakery section simply ask for their buckets; the grocery stores throw them away.  These are food safe buckets.  Sometimes they come with some of the contents (frosting, etc) still stuck to the inside, but washing them out is a small price to pay.

For the lid I use something called a gamma seal.  This is a great thing to create a water-tight, air-tight, vermin-proof seal.  I like them in part because they are spin-on/spin-off rather than a rip-off-your-fingernails-prying-the-lid-open.  Essentially there is a threaded plastic ring which snaps onto the rim of the bucket.  The lid then threads into the ring.  If I am planning on very long term storage (more than six months) for the contents of a bucket I will add oxygen absorbers to help the contents last longer.  The trick with the oxygen absorbers is to figure out how much airspace is left in the bucket so you know how many absorbers to use.

I find that a five gallon bucket easily stores twenty-five pounds of dry goods.  I use mine to store grains such as hard wheat, barley, oats, and buckwheat.  I also use these buckets to store sucanat and evaporated cane juice crystals.  Due to the weight I don't stack them more than three high.

In order to make sure that I am staying on top of my large scale dry goods I write the contents of the bucket on a piece of scotch tape with weight and the date it needs to be used by.  This piece of tape is placed on the rim of the lid.  This way the buckets are clearly marked and when I go into them and I can see how much I still have left.  The tape sticks well enough to be used but comes off easily enough if the information needs to be changed.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Perfect! Thanks so much for your quick response! I love the suggestion about getting buckets from the bakery. And I'm way ahead of the game in glass jar collections! I should be all set to receive my shipment this week!