length of storage

Grains that have less than 10% moisture and are low in oil are best suited for longer-term storage. If your storage conditions are ideal (here is a link to a past post on ideal storage conditions), then some products can be stored for 30 years or more. This can give you a lot of time to rotate and replace your storage.

It's good to be educated about which grains store well and which don't so that your long-term storage doesn't spoil in just a few years. The following foods are NOT recommended for longer-term storage because of their moisture or oil content:

NOT Recommended:
(Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Provident Living)
Pearled Barley
Whole Wheat Flour
Milled Grains (other than rolled oats)
Brown Rice
(Some additional dry products that are NOT recommended for longer-term storage are brown sugar, nuts, dried eggs, and dried veggies and fruits)

Provident Living (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has published this new list of longer-term storage products and their expected "life sustaining" shelf lives:

Recommended (Life Sustaining Shelf Life Estimate):
Wheat - 30+ years
White Rice - 30+
Corn - 30+
Rolled Oats - 30
Pasta - 30
(Some other dry products that store well long term are sugar - 30+, pinto beans - 30, potato flakes - 30, apple slices - 30, powdered milk - 20, and dehydrated carrots - 20. "Salt, baking soda and vitamin C" tablets also store well.)

This is a great article which discusses the research into shelf-life in depth:
Home food storage lasts 30 years or more.


the peace of preparedness

I've been carefully watching the flu outbreak in Mexico that is the main headline for every news source I checked this morning.


My husband and I had a brief conversation as we discussed the possible implications of this outbreak for our family. I asked if there was anything that he wished we had in our storage for a situation like this. We both paused for about 20 seconds and considered our storage. We both listed a few things: a few more general medications, some dishwasher soap (which we thought we had run out of last night), and some diced chilies/tomatoes (also running low). There was a lot of peace as we both realized that we were already prepared. Of course, I'm sure we haven't anticipated every need, but we've already covered most of them.

I'm not sure that preparedness is about one single event. I think it is mostly about being prepared for many challenges that may face us like quarantines, natural disasters, or more simple things like job loss, disability or decrease of income. With a water supply, financial reserve, three-month supply and longer-term supply, we really are prepared for a myriad of problems - including a flu outbreak.

There are a few things that you might want to consider adding to your storage right now that would help with a pandemic situation. You might already have most of these things as part of a complete first aid kit.

*A current supply of your own prescription drugs
*Cough and cold medications
*Fluid electrolyte solutions
*Gloves and masks

There is a scripture in D&C 38:30 that states, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." I'm not experiencing fear right now because we are prepared. What a wonderful blessing that comes along with preparedness! If you aren't feeling that peace, you can reevaluate your own preparedness and set some firm goals so that your family can have that peace.


moist storage conditions

So what are we supposed to use when we live in a very humid area if the plastic buckets are not recommended?

Good question. Given your conditions, the cheapest and easiest route would be to put your grains and beans into PETE bottles (and then store the PETE bottles in bins, boxes or an area that restricts light) . A lot of the food, water and juice that you buy at the supermarket come in these PETE bottles. Many of those large blue-colored square filtered-water bottles are PETE plastic and would be stackable. Just clean the bottle out and pour your grains or beans in using a funnel. Add an oxygen absorber to kill any bugs.

Here is some more information about PETE bottles (and how to make sure they are air-tight) http://providentliving.org/pfw/mult...ions_v4_pdf.pdf

You can also repack grains and beans into foil pouches, but they are more expensive and not as readily available (but are more light proof than PETE bottles). Some retailers sell "super-pails" which is a bucket with a foil pouch liner inside. These are more convenient for large quantities, but are also more expensive. You can do the same thing yourself if you have access to a pouch sealer.

#10 cans tend to rust in high humidity. Buckets also aren't recommended in moist/humid areas, but you can use them for storing food that you were going to use within a couple of years (more short-term than long-term).

Here is an additional link (it includes instructions for storing cans, pouches, buckets and bottles): http://providentliving.org/content/display/0,11666,7532-1-4063-1,00.html


#10 cans

The last type of recommended long-term storage container is the #10 can. Prepacked #10 cans are readily available through LDS Distribution, at Home Storage Centers, as well as through food-storage retailers (online and in-store). You can also pack items at Home Storage Centers or purchase the supplies and borrow a sealer from your local group of LDS congregations (stake) and pack your own products.

Only dry food (10% moisture or less) should be packed into these cans. An oxygen absorber should also be used when filling #10 cans. The sealer you use should have a motor-powered chuck (see link below for more information).

These cans are pretty sturdy, but can rust in humid climates. Avoid storing them directly on the floor or against a wall to reduce the potential for rust. It's hard to stack more than one or two of these cans. So, I usually leave them in boxes of 6 (home storage centers and retailers typically have these on hand) and just stack the boxes. My shelves are set up to accommodate two stacked boxes per shelf height.

Most of the lids that accompany these cans are white, but occasionally I'll get a colored lid. I love the colored lids. I protect them and resuse them over and over because they make it easier to differentiate between can contents in my pantry.

Here is more information about storing #10 cans:
Provident Living PDF File

Photo is copyrighted by this blog author.


strawberry syrup

I made 9 pints of strawberry syrup last night. I still have 8 pounds of strawberries on my fridge waiting for a second batch. My 11-year old son was heard saying, "this is the most fun I've had in a long time!" as he dropped the strawberries into our juicer. The whole family helped with the process.

Actually, this is the first time that I've ever done water-bath canning. I regularly bottle peaches using a steam* canner. I also do grape juice with a juicer. My family gave me a large water-bath pot for Christmas, but I was hesitant to use it on my flat-top stove. Someone recommended that I check my stove manual for any canning restrictions. So, I located the manual online. I was pleased to find that canning was allowed on my stove top.

I bought 8 pounds of strawberries for $6.99. Those strawberries made 12 cups of juice and 9 pints of syrup. I used this berry syrup recipe from the USDA Canning Guide. I reduced the sugar a bit and added some lemon juice to the recipe. Usually you shouldn't modify canning recipes, but this is fine because I was actually adding acid rather than reducing it.

The whole process was a bit chaotic as the bottle-sterilizing water came to a boil way faster than I anticipated. It took longer to cut and juice the strawberries than I had planned. I know from past experience that next time I'll have a better sense of how to time everything.

*The USDA does not recommend the use of steam canners due to inadequate research and testing. However, Utah State University has tested the steam canners and has found them to be safe and adequate for processing certain foods if used according to instructions and safe canning procedures. Due to botulism poisoning potential, we do not recommend that you use the steam canner for meats, tomatoes, and vegetables. If you choose to use a steam canner for fruits, jams, jellies, and salsa, only USDA approved and tested recipes and canning times should be used. Processing times for boiling-water bath canners may be used for the steam canners. It is very important to make sure that an eight inch plume of steam is present during the entire processing and water must not run out before the end of processing. [source]

[photo copyright owned by blog author]


labeling long-term storage

As we continue to talk about different kinds of containers for long-term storage, you may have noticed that the foil bags, PETE bottles, buckets and #10 cans all look very generic. This can make finding food a little tricky. With a little work, I'm always able to find what I need, but typically it takes moving several stacks of buckets or shifting many boxes. I currently label my cans, boxes & bottles with a black sharpie. For my buckets, I only use a small piece of scotch tape with one edge folded back on itself (for easy removal). These labeling methods are okay but I still end up twisting buckets and straining to read my labels. I need a better system!

Recently Stephanie posted these food-storage labels at a local money-saving forum. She has given me permission to post these pictures.

Aren't these labels great!?! I think this is a fantastic idea! She made her labels on the computer and laminated them for durability. I like the idea of tying the labels to the bucket handles using ribbons. Those labels and ribbons would be much easier to find/see than my standard marker or tape. It would be so convenient to untie the label once the bucket was empty and keep the bucket-less labels on hand to let you know what you need to replace.

Here are some fun variations on her idea:
*Use different colored ribbons for each different food (i.e red for red wheat; black for black beans; pink for pinto beans; tan for oatmeal; white for rice; etc.).
*Use a second ribboned-label to indicate the date.
*Fancy ribbon isn't necessary - wrapping ribbon and index cards would work just fine.
*Instead of tying a ribbon to foil pouches or #10 cans (that don't have a handle like a bucket or a neck like the PETE bottles), just label the shelves like Stephanie has, or adhere a label with a small piece of ribbon directly to the product.
*Use different colors of paper to make labels for different food items.

Here are some other labeling tips and ideas:
*Label two sides and the top of each container for more visibility.
*Use different colors of permanent markers to differentiate between foods and/or dates.
*Jodi at foodstoragemadeeasy.net made her own labels and adhered them to her buckets.
*Use cup-holder screws to hang labels on wooden shelves.

How do you label (or easily find) your longer-term home storage items?



If you live in a dry climate, food-grade buckets can be an option for longer-term storage. They are NOT, however, recommended for use in humid climates because the moisture can permeate the plastic. Storing long-term in buckets is only effective when you use dry foods with less than 10% moisture content. Because the buckets are not air-tight, oxygen absorbers are ineffective. Instead, it is recommended that you do a dry ice treatment to eliminate any insects.

Buckets are available in many different sizes and are typically white. Some buckets are transparent white -- it is actually better that they be opaque in order to reduce light. It is important that the lid have a gasket. The lids that seem to be readily available with these buckets often do NOT have a gasket. You might have to pay a little more (maybe $2 to $3 per lid) for a gasket.

Don't store these buckets directly on cement because they leach chemicals and moisture from the cement. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommends that you store these buckets at least 1/2 inch off of the floor to allow air flow under the buckets. You can do this by storing the buckets on wire shelves or by placing strips of wood underneath. They also recommend that you only stack buckets three high, rotating regularly to prevent cracking.

1. Use 1 oz. of dry ice per gallon of storage.
2. Wear gloves.
3. Wipe ice crystals off of ice with a dry towel.
4. Place dry ice in the bottom of the bucket.
5. Pour grain or beans on top of the dry ice.
6. Partially seal the lid.
7. When the dry ice is gone (feel the bottom), completely seal the bucket.
8. Watch for several minutes after sealing the lid for bulging of the bucket or lid. If you see bulging, lift the lid to let off the pressure.
9. It is normal for the dry ice to create a vacuum and pull the lid down a little bit.
I also recommend that you store a bucket opener ($4 - shown above) with your longer-term storage because these buckets can be difficult to open.

I estimate that 50% of my food storage is in 5 and 6-gallon buckets. I live in a VERY dry climate and moisture is not an issue in our storage room at all. I've purchased some of my storage already cleaned and in buckets (eliminating the need to do a dry-ice treatment). I've also purchased some -- my oats and beans -- in buckets that are lined with foil pouches for double protection.

I also use these buckets to store other items such as packages of pasta, brown sugar and powdered sugar for my three-month supply. Because these foods are intended for short-term storage and I open the buckets often, I don't do dry-ice treatments in those buckets.


PETE bottles

Polyethylene terephthalate bottles, or those with the recycling symbol shown above, are some of the most inexpensive and readily available container resources for long-term storage. These bottles are available all over the world. Many products, like juice, soda and water, that we purchase at the supermarket come already packaged in these reusable bottles. If you are unable to find buckets, foil pouches or buckets for use in your area, PETE bottles can be your solution. It's pretty easy to collect these bottles over time and then repack them for long-term storage.

Here are some instructions:

1) Use only bottles that previously contained food items.
1) Clean bottles with dish soap, rinse thoroughly and dry completely.
2) Verify that lid has a plastic/rubber seal (not foam or paper) and is airtight by replacing the cap and immersing the bottle into water. Squeeze the bottle. If you see bubbles, then the bottle is not air-tight and cannot be used for long-term storage.
3) Put an oxygen absorber (available through LDS distribution) into each bottle. Replace the oxygen absorber if you reuse the bottle.
4) Pour dry (less than 10% moisture content) storage items, such as wheat, rice, beans or popcorn, into bottle using a funnel if needed.
5) Wipe the top of the bottle to remove any dust or foil-seal remnants that will compromise an air-tight seal. Tighten lid and label bottle.
6) Store bottles in a dark area to reduce light exposure. Storing bottles in a food-grade bin or box can also reduce light and help thwart rodents.

These are two great links for further information:
Storing Bulk Dry Foods in PETE Bottles (includes pictures)
Provident Living - PETE Bottles


foil pouches

Foil pouches or Mylar bags are a great choice for longer-term storage repacking. They are lightweight, adaptable and reusable. Any dry food (10% or less moisture) can be placed into these bags, which come in many different sizes, and sealed for long-term storage.

It is easy to repackage bulk foods using these pouches. You can borrow a sealer from LDS Home Storage Centers, your local LDS congregation or you can purchase one (LDS Distribution and Amazon both offer these sealers) for $100 to $300 dollars. Pouches, depending upon the size, cost around $.50+ each. Oxygen absorbers should be used inside of the pouches to remove all oxygen. Foil pouches are not rodent-proof. I would recommend that you store the filled pouches in a food-grade plastic container to provide a second line of defense against rodents.

These pouches are made of aluminum and lined with food grade plastic. Once you open the pouch, it is easy to reseal or reuse them if you've purchased a sealer. Some have stated that you can use an iron to reseal these pouches, but I don't recommend doing this because of the following statement at Provident Living, "Do not use an iron or another household heating device because it will not provide an adequate seal, especially for powdered products such as flour or dry milk."

Here is a link with more information about foil pouches, including pictures and instructions, at Provident Living.

[Photo Source]


home storage outside of the intermountain west

Gathering a huge amount of grains can seem very daunting. But it is even more overwhelming when you don't live in the Intermountain West, where grains packaged for home-storage are readily available. I didn't realize quite the challenge this presented until we moved to New York. All of a sudden the availability of simple things like buckets presented a huge challenge. So, today I want to talk about options that are available for those of you who don't have home-storage supplies sold on every corner. You might be surprised about the resources actually available to you.

Warehouse/Grocery Stores - Once you start looking for home storage supplies, you might not have to look farther than your local grocery store or warehouse store. Costco, for example, sells large bags of rice, beans, and popcorn at most of their stores. Often these items come in sacks and will need to be repackaged. Even if bulk quantities aren't available, it is possible to acquire a decent amount of storage by just purchasing smaller packages at your local grocery store. Depending upon the cost per pound, though, it may be worth it to order your home-storage, already packed appropriately, online (see below).

Home Storage Centers - There are LDS home storage centers all over the United States and Canada. Click here to find out the nearest location. If you live near one or travel nearby, these can be a wonderful resource. It might even be worth driving several hours to be able to utilize one of these centers and the very inexpensive products that they sell. You can also order grains, beans, as well as foil pouches and pouch sealers online through the LDS Catalog.

LDS Congregations - Local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will sometimes put together group orders from large home-storage companies. If you aren't a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, check your phonebook for a local church -- or ask someone that you know is a member. I'm sure that these congregations would not hesitate to let you add some supplies to their orders.

Local Bakeries/Packagers - Food-grade storage buckets (not recommended in humid climates) can also be found through neighborhood bakeries (once held frosting). Water barrels can be acquired from soda-packaging companies. Remember that it is essential that these containers be food-grade and completely clean so that your food supplies will store well long-term.

Online - You can purchase grains and beans easily online. There are extra charges for shipping, of course. PreparedLDSFamily posted a great online price comparison on her blog this week. It shows typical prices per pound found at all of the major online suppliers. You'll find grains and beans on her list, along with many other products for home-storage. She doesn't account for shipping, though.

For your information, I know that Walton Feed ships based on weight. They are often the source for many LDS congregation orders. Honeyville Grain charges $4.95 for shipping no matter how large the order, but their prices are higher to start with to account for weight. Emergency Essentials charges shipping by the item. Blue Chip Group also ships by weight. Shelf Reliance offers free shipping on any order over $200, though most of their prices are higher than any of the rest. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints only offers limited products to be shipped. Shipping costs are already incorporated into that cost. I would recommend comparing price-per-pound as well as shipping prices before ordering from any of these companies.

It is more difficult and expensive to acquire home-storage supplies outside of the Intermountain West, but it is doable. Watch your local stores, be aware of repackaging options, and check online. Through various combinations of these methods, our family was able to store grains and beans even though we were far from the best sources.

Do you live outside of the Intermountain West? What "local" options have you found for purchasing home-storage supplies? I'm especially eager to hear from any readers outside of North America. If you are willing to share, it may help other readers around the world.


conference reminder

Conference weekend is a great time to change your fire alarm batteries, check your water and rotate if needed, and update your 72-hour, car, school and/or work kits!


goal 4(b) - gather grains for longer-term storage

Our current goal is gathering our longer-term storage.

Specifically - Store Grains.

Grains are one of two main products that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recommends that you store for longer-term storage. (Beans are the other product - but we'll discuss them later.) They recommend that any dried products that you store have 10% or less moisture content and be insect-free.

Wheat is what people typically think of when grains are mentioned, but there are other grains that are equally suitable for longer-term storage. Corn, rice, oats and other grains are great for longer-term storage. We'll be exploring each of these different grains in depth in upcoming posts. These grain products have a storage life of 30 years or more, which is fantastic because you can take a long time to rotate through and replace your supply of grains.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommends that you store 25 lbs of grains per month per person. That's 225 lbs. for a nine-month supply or 300 lbs. for a 12 month supply. My personal goal is to store between 9 and 12 months of grains per person (added to my three-month supply to make a complete one-year storage). Here is a chart to help you determine how much grain you should store:

Grain Storage Amounts:
*1 person -
25 lbs (1 month) 225 lbs (9 months) 300 lbs (12 months)
*2 people -
50 lbs (1 month) 450 lbs (9 months) 600 lbs (12 months)
*3 people -
75 lbs (1 month) 675 lbs (9 months) 900 lbs (12 months)
*4 people -
100 lbs (1 month) 900 lbs (9 months) 1200 lbs (12 months)
*5 people -
125 lbs (1 month) 1125 lbs (9 months) 1500 lbs (12 months)
*6 people -
150 lbs (1 month) 1350 lbs (9 months) 1800 lbs (12 months)
*7 people -
175 lbs (1 month) 1575 lbs (9 months) 2100 lbs (12 months)

Make a note of the amount of grains that you want to store. I recommend that you write this number down. You can use a spreadsheet, table, or notebook to record and track your longer-term storage inventory. I personally use a doc file. I simply record the total amount we need, how much we have, and how much I still need to buy. It's not elaborate and doesn't have to be.

I would say that originally this was the most daunting home-storage goal for me. For our family, 1125 - 1500 lbs of grains felt like so much that it seemed unattainable. However, when you gather your grains a little at a time, it actually is easier than you think. And remember all of this grain storage isn't just wheat. I personally store wheat, oatmeal, cornmeal, popcorn, pasta and different varieties of rice. As we continue to discuss grain storage, pay attention to the kinds of grains that your family uses. It helps with rotation if you store grains in similar proportion to the amounts you use in your regular meals.