Food Storage: What I Have Changed

Food Storage: What I Have Changed

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Today I want to talk about food storage: what I have changed over the years. When I was growing up my family had a pantry in the kitchen and it was very small. Back then no one stored water, that I’m aware of.

About 50-60 years ago most people in our neighborhood stored powered milk, TVP (textured vegetable protein), wheat, and sugar in 50-pound green metal containers.

I was thinking 100 pounds, but Mark remembers 50, so 50 it is. It doesn’t really matter because looking back, it was not the smartest way to store food.

We also stored 25 pounds of chocolate chips and flour in smaller 5-gallon buckets which were really hard to open. We had this tool shown below to pry off the lids and it sometimes would break a fingernail. Thankfully, we don’t use lids anymore that need this tool. They still sell them: Bucket Opener

Bucket Opener

Thankfully Gamma Lids came out with an easier lid to open our 5-gallon and 6-gallon buckets. Hooray! They are a two-piece unit that fits nicely on buckets that are compatible. We used a mallet to put the “ring” on very carefully and then we screwed the lid in place.

Food Storage: What I Have Changed

Food Storage: What I Have Changed

Food Storage: What I Have Changed

Water Bath and Pressure Canned Foods

When our girls were growing up we always grew a very large garden. We pressure canned vegetables for the entire year each summer. We water bathed every fruit we could get our hands-on.

We were blessed to live by orchards and we could buy bushels of fruit and we also picked up the dropped fruit from the ground. We made grape juice, salsa, apple pie filling, we canned sweet cherries, pears, apples, applesauce, peaches, lots of peaches.

We dehydrated every vegetable and fruit as well. It was a family affair. Then we moved and the fruit was more expensive to can, and our canning days slowed down. Then there was a so-called sugar shortage, whatever, we canned without sugar.

Did you know you don’t need sugar to can fruit. It doesn’t preserve it, it just makes it sweeter. It’s all good. That was a tidbit Mark and I learned in our Master Canner Preserver classes. Sugar is for taste only, gotta love it.

We froze corn scraped off the cob. Life was good seeing all those jars lined up in the basement on the shelves Mark built for us. And the freezer was filled with grated zucchini and sweet corn.

Freeze-dried Food

We soon learned about freeze-dried food and how great it is. About 15 years ago the prices were high compared to dehydrated food but the shelf-life was longer. We signed up with a monthly service to make it more affordable, as in discounted pricing.

We lived too far away to go pick it up from northern Utah. If you spend over $100.00 a month the shipping was free. It’s much easier to buy monthly than have a pallet full of meals delivered to your door, or at least for my budget.

I was fortunate to teach at a food storage store up north and learned about freeze-dried food, dehydrated food, Mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers. I even had the chance to teach people how to cook with the store’s products. I learned a lot more about food storage than I had ever known before.

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Mark and I still occasionally have freeze-dried food delivered, but rarely nowadays as the prices have become way too expensive, in my opinion. I flat out refuse to buy the meats right now, they are over-priced. It may just be the case based on my food budget, but I will not cave in to those prices. I will eat beans for my protein and other less expensive food.

I recently purchased some freeze-dried cucumbers from Thrive Life, I was curious how they looked. I bought the pantry size cans which are a lot smaller and work better for Mark and me. They are chopped, and they taste awesome! You would not need to rehydrate them, just sprinkle some on salads.

Freeze-Dried Information

Let me explain what freeze-dried food is in a nutshell. The first step to freeze-dried food begins with freezing. The second step is the frozen food is placed in a vacuum chamber under low heat. Then the third step starts when the frozen water crystals evaporate directly from ice to vapor which is a process called sublimation.

What’s really nice about freeze-dried food is the fact that it lasts longer, depending on the manufacturer. Please always look at the cans and see the shelf-life listed. You can eat the food directly out of the can and therefore uses a whole lot less fuel, if any, when it comes to meal preparation.

Freeze-dried foods usually have an open shelf-life of 1-2 years. Here again, please look at the #10 can or on the website of the producing company.

Pros: Lasts 20-25 years, depending on the company where you purchase the food. You can also eat the food directly out of the can. You do not need to slice, chop, or cut the food into bite-size pieces.

Cons: It is more expensive, but remember you use less fuel.

Purchasing a Home Freeze Dryer

I’m asked often if someone should buy a home freeze dryer, I think the concept is awesome. I have friends that share them. There is a store here in St. George, Utah that had one on display and was actually freeze-drying some food. Now, this is when they first came out and it was the small original model.

As I looked at it, I got the giggles in a nice way. I said, to my sister, this would never work for me, I preserve way too much food. The food item they had in it took 24 hours. If I had to wait to freeze-dry 4 boxes of peaches in that little unit the fruit would be too ripe. Those of you who bottle fruit know exactly what I’m talking about. The “race” is on to get them all bottled within a couple of days.

Preserving pears are more forgiving, you wait until the ones in the box are just right for canning. I’m very glad I purchased my freeze-dried food when I did because of the cost of them now. The home freezer-dryer is a great idea if you have the money to purchase one, and can find the necessary items to store the food properly.

Dehydrated Food

Okay, most of us buy dehydrated food every day. We purchase cereal, spices, pasta, beans, baking mixes, etc. Dehydration is the way the water has been removed from the products. The water is slowly removed from the food without actually cooking it.

It’s one of the most affordable, lightweight, and compact ways to purchase food for our storage or everyday cooking. We need to be aware of the dehydrated term, it generally takes longer to cook. You can’t “snack” on it right out of the can. It’s too hard. This is fine for soups, stews, etc.

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We need to remember that typically dehydrated food does not last as long as freeze-dried. It usually has a shelf life of 5-8 years. They typically have an OPEN shelf life of 6 months to 1 year.

Pros: Dehydrated food is a lot cheaper. It’s ready to stir into a pot of soup or chili. No need to chop, slice or cut into pieces.

Cons: Shorter shelf-life and you can’t eat the food right out of the can. It must be cooked, and therefore uses more fuel and time to prepare a meal.

Canned Goods

Now that my daughters have started their own chapters in life, we no longer need to buy #10 cans. We have stocked for years, and now we are down to a family of two. It’s surprising how much less food you buy for two people.

We rarely eat out, so I still stock a good pantry. I call it my own grocery store to shop from. In case you missed this post, Canned Foods I Highly Recommend You Store

I remember teaching an emergency preparedness class and a woman said she doesn’t own a can opener. WHAT? I thought to myself, how are you going to open your #10 cans or your other canned goods.

She said she eats only fresh food. I get it. But, I asked her if she had olives, tomato sauce, tomato paste, cans of tuna, etc.? I guess she didn’t, but I do. Of course, a lot of canned goods come with pull tabs now.

In case you have #10 cans, this is the only can opener that works for me on those large cans. Can Opener: Swing-A-Way Commercial Easy Crank Please stock more than one can opener, you will need them. Regular Can Openers

Bulk Food I Recommend

When I say bulk food, I’m talking about 5-gallon buckets filled with the items listed below. Every family eats differently, I understand that. If you have dietary issues, you will stock different food, I get it. But this is what I store so I can feed many people, yes, many people. Please remember this, God helps those who help themselves.

We must all store food, the government will not deliver food to everyone during a disaster, I can guarantee it. If we have a disaster, the drive-throughs will be closed, and the grocery stores wiped out within 24 hours. We must think about short-term food, prices are going up and they will not stop going up. I hope the world is listening.

Here are a few food items I want to mention:

  • Wheat
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • White Rice
  • Pasta
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans

Smaller Storage Containers:

  • Honey (I store it in quart mason jars)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Spices
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Salt
  • Lemon and Lime Packets
  • Vinegar
  • Peanut butter and jam
  • Dog food and treats

In case you missed this post, Food Storage: What I Stock and Why

Final Word

If you see things I have missed, please let me know and I will add them. You remind me of items and I so appreciate it. My mind never stops when it comes to my blog, so I may forget an item here and there as I put my lists together. I’m always doing 5 different posts at once, that’s how I roll.

I couldn’t do it without my husband, Mark. I’m so thankful for you my readers, who encourage me and mention kind words. We have an awesome group of people in our comment forum, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God Bless this world, Linda

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  1. Great article.
    One of my team has a freeze dryer. It’s a layer in our food stores. One thing I love it for is leftovers. I’ve got several one serving spaghetti put up. The best thing it’s good for is quality. I smoked a Turkey after thanksgiving I’d soaked in brine for several days. I grilled some salmon with lemon and cilantro. I made extra seasoned hamburgers during the holidays. So I’ve got extremely good tasting stuff put up. Right now he’s doing mulberries I harvested for me. I get about a quart bag every other day not leaving the ground, well that makes it in the bag anyway lol. That’ll be great vitamins and flavor.

    1. Hi Matt, oh boy, will you have some yummy meals!! I love the idea of one serving meals that you want to eat! I’ve never tasted mulberries!! You know I love hearing what you are freeze-drying!! All you have to do is make some hamburger buns and the patties are ready! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment! You will be the only one with salmon, life is good when you’re prepared. The turkey, oh my gosh!!! Linda

  2. Hi Linda. We store Red Kidney Beans and large and small Lima beans. We have peanut butter stored as well. Some is in powder form. I’m still a child at heart. I love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Even a peanut butter and banana one. I like making my own jelly, but will buy some on sale.
    We do have dried bananas for snacking. I love dried fruits.

    1. Hi Deborah, I dehydrated zucchini (post coming) and it’s so good. I pick when they are young and tender. Mark and I eat P & J’s for dinner some nights if I didn’t start dinner. I used to make jam but now I blog. I buy Smucker’s preserves because I like the chunks of fruit. Life is good with a P & J. I love dried fruits as well. Life is good, Linda

  3. Your list is great. I store extra food for neighbors who don’t store food at all. They go to the grocery store every other day so that tells me a lot. However, if the SHTF and they show up at my door hungry, I will feed them. That’s what I do! Also, husband has expanded the garden this year. We have enough to eat fresh food everyday, give to the neighbors and our kids, plus I can a lot of it. I have to admit to being addicted to canning my own food. It tastes so much better!

    1. Hi Paula, oh my gosh, I have to agree with you! Canning and dehydrating are addicting to me!! It’s hard to understand the grocery shopping every other day. I do not like shopping. LOL! I love hearing you expanded your garden!! Life is so good when we grow our own food! Linda

  4. Oh Linda, this article was amazing! I wish I had all your super powers. I do the best I can but I know I’m failing in so many areas. I can’t grow anything in my yard, it’s just terrible dirt. I don’t have the knowledge nor the energy to do whatever it takes to get a garden growing. However, the weather gods kept my apricots and peaches from freezing this year (shocker) so I’ll have a huge bumper crop of them to can! The birds still get to my cherries before I can, tho.

    LOCAL honey is always a good thing to keep in our food pantry. We have a handicapped daughter who is “allergic to Nevada” – if it grows here, she’s allergic to it. Sagebrush blooming in the Fall is her worst nightmare. However, “local” honey in her herbal tea helps her. We’ve always been told that the local honey has ingredients in it from the bees to help with local allergies. We don’t even bother buying store-bought nor honey from other regions were sagebrush, etc. doesn’t grow. It may be a wive’s tale but it seems to work for our daughter.

    Have you ever watched Homestead Rescue or Homestead Rescue: Raney Ranch on Discovery? He’s kinda over the top, dramatic but he has some innovative ideas. It’s a fun show to watch even if some of it isn’t realistic.

    Keep up the amazing work with this blog! I love it!

    1. Hi Robbie, I have heard that about local honey for allergies. I had a dog with really bad allergies and I drove out to a place that sold local honey and gave a little to my pup every day. He stopped scratching, I believe in it!! Thank you for your kind words. I love gardening but I have a few mice who visit and eat part of my tomatoes. I’m not happy about that!! LOL! I remember years ago having bumper apricot years!! Oh, it was so fun! You get birds and I get mice. The good thing is you have apricots and peaches, life is good! Oh, I love hearing about shows, I haven’t seen. I will check those out, thank you!! Linda

      1. My biggest nemesis to my tomatoes, apricots and peaches is my Golden Retriever, Sage! She’ll pick the apricot and peaches off the tree or the tomato plants to eat them. First, she has to roll on them and get all covered in fruit juice/guts and then she eats them. She’s almost worse than the birds! LOL

        1. Hi Robbie, oh my gosh, funny, not funny! LOL! I have two ShihTzu’s who love hopping up on my pots with flowers and tomatoes. I look out and think, WHAT??? I just giggle. Life is fun! Linda

  5. I am saving up for a freeze dryer. I have wanted one for some time now. I also think the price of freeze dried and dehydrated foods have gone through the roof. I do can and dehydrate . I have both pressure canner and water bath canners. I have 2 dehydrators, one is round and the other newer one is square. We used to store rice and beans in one five gallon mylar bag. I wish we had known to do them in 1 gallon bags instead.( I do that now. ) Because it’s hard to use up all the beans or rice from 5 gallon bags . I opened a bucket of rice a year ago and we are still eating from it .I have red wheat stored. Some in #10 cans and some in 5 gallon buckets. I also have soybeans stored for making milk.I have ground coffee stored. I recently found a can the didn’t get rotated for some reason,it’s expiration date was 2015. I opened it, and I’m using it now. I could not taste any difference in the flavor. I no longer have a real garden. I grow a few things in buckets. I ordered a small aero garden system the should be here next week. I want to try it out before getting a larger one. We eat a lot of lettuce bell peppers,jalapenos, carrots,onions,garlic and radishes. We also have changed what we store. I try not to have too much meat in the freezer as we never know when we will lose power or the freezer will break down. I converted to a gas (propane) range from electric. I learned to make apple cider vinegar. I know how to make bread and noodles. I have many spices and seasonings. We are truely blessed. Thank you for all you do to keep us informed. The world is a better place with people like you that care and wish to help others. God bless and keep you safe.

    1. Hi Judy, you made my day, thank you for your kind words. I was looking at the AeroGardens today. I read you can’t grow carrots, I can’t find where I read that. Dang! You will be so glad to switch out your electric stove to a propane gas stove, I love it! If I was younger I would invest in a freeze dryer. I totally agree with you on the cost of freeze-dried food, good grief! But I guess we are paying more for food at the grocery store but the prices of freeze-dried meat, yikes! I would be a vegetarian! LOL! Good job, Linda

  6. Linda, definitely check out Homestead Rescue. Marty Raney is definitely “over the top” (very politely phrased), but e sure can get things done. Just for a hoot see if you can find “Doomsday Preppers”. It was on around 2012/2013 and obviously in reruns now. We’ve been catching DP and some of it is just hilarious. Many of these people are “over the top” also! (I do love that phrase! That may become my phrase of the week.) We have gotten some really good ideas from Marty, Matt and Misty Raney. We look at many of her preps differently thanks to them. We haven’t gotten much out of DP yet. We have learned many things NOT to do. We sometimes wonder how these people get through a week!
    Canning isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Paul got me a Ball Fresh Tech machine. Cut/bash up your fruit, pectin goes in the bottom of the machine, fruit goes in, lemon juice over the top – turn it on, set it for jam – and it goes all by itself for 4 minutes. It beeps at four minutes and you add your sugar. Yesterday I did 10 jam jars of cherry jam – with NO tears! How is that for a hoot? There are a whole lot of recipes at the Ball website but I’ve primarily done jams. Paul has had a number of bleeding ulcers so not too many tomatoes on the menu.

    1. Hi Cheryl, I saw one of the Ball Fresh Tech jam machines at my Master Canning Classes. Oh, I remember the Doomsday Prepper shows, they were for sure over the top. I have got to watch that Homestead Rescue!! I don’t have Hulu, though! Bleeding ulcers, ouch, that sounds awful!! Darn! No tomatoes. I love to water bath can and pressure can. It was more fun when I had 4 daughters helping…..LOL! It’s hard to get fresh fruit where I live now in Southern Utah. The jam sounds delicious! Linda

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