And now we’ll go into the actual storage of your food storage. After all, you gotta put it somewhere!
Storing Your Food storage
Okay, now you've got your food storage and you've spent a good amount of time and money to know that you and your family will not go hungry during an emergency situation. But you live in a small house or apartment and you have no idea where you're going to put it all or you simply don’t have any extra space. We’ll, you should have thought of that when you were planning this out. Just kidding! Seriously, many people have this problem (even in the planning stages).
When considering where to keep your food storage (which should be done during your initial planning stage), you need to remember the following:
1. In order to keep your food fresh and nutritious, you need as cold and dark a place as possible because light and heat can ruin the taste and texture of your food as well as the nutritional content.
2. You be very wary of insects and rodents.
The best temperature for food storage is between 50° and 60° F, though the colder the better (as long as it remains at least 10° above freezing). Most of the time, your food storage will be in one of two different types of packaging:
#10 cans (standard coffee can size): These are easier to keep fresh and safe, since it's next to impossible for light, insects, or rodents to get into a sealed metal can. As long as you can keep them cool, they will stay fresh for years (we’re talking upwards of thirty years).
Plastic six-gallon buckets (pickle buckets): These are more of a risk, but precautionary measures have generally already been taken to make sure they keep your food fresh. Being made of plastic, insects still aren't able to get into them but it is still possible for rodents to gnaw into them. And, if they can smell your food, they will. Inside the well-packaged buckets are vacuum-sealed Mylar bags. One company calls these "Superpails". The Mylar bags are airtight and do not allow smells to escape. Even so, it's important to check your “Superpails” (or whatever they’ve been called) and the bags inside as soon as they are delivered and again every few months to make sure they are still solidly sealed.
Since heat rises, the best to keep your food is in a basement or a cellar where it will stay cooler than it would in an attic. You can also put it underneath beds or on closet floors. You can also place boxes of #10 cans on their side behind a couch or even a headboard. Just move it about a foot away from the wall and suddenly you have several more cubic feet of storage space.
You can also store your food storage cans outside, but you must take care that they will not rust. Rust will destroy your food. The good #10 cans are double enamel-coated, inside and out, so they won't rust unless they get nicked or dented. Being directly exposed to the elements will generally make your cans much more likely to rust, but there are a few good places to keep your food cool. Just be careful and always avoid anywhere that gets direct sunlight. A crawl space that stays dry is a good place. A garage is another, but garages can get quite hot during the summer months. If your garage is gets hot in the summer (more than 60° F or so), don't hesitate to move it somewhere cooler.
Two words of caution about storage outside of your house: you don't want your food to be in areas that shift from cold to hot or dry to wet and back again. When temperature and moisture content go back and forth, it generally isn't very good for your food. Another caution about the garage is that you want to store your buckets away from gasoline, insecticides, or any other harmful chemicals. The plastic of the buckets is porous and will usually allow the toxic fumes that these chemicals give off to contaminate your food.
Burying your food storage in the ground (thinking that it would probably keep cool and secure) is not a good idea at all. This will make it much more likely to rust or, in the case of buckets, leak. You would have to dig down at least five feet plus the actual depth of your ‘package’, just to get it to where it would be safe. This alone could take you several hours. Also think of how much work it would be to get to your food in case of an emergency, especially if that emergency happens during any kind of serious weather. Imagine trying to dig your food up in the middle of winter. Also, you would have no way to rotate it and that will increase the chance that it will be no good when you need it.
Plastic buckets are harder to store (or hide) due to their size and weight. There are several ways. One involves hanging a floor to ceiling curtain or tapestry a foot away from the wall. Another good idea is putting an Oriental (or similar) folding screen a foot away from an existing wall, maybe in a corner. You can store and hide a large number of buckets behind these things. Even though if takes a bit of space, it is not a lot of space. However, if you already have only a small living area, this may not be possible. Buckets sometimes simply fit better in a ‘layer’ on your closet floors, since they are bulkier and closets offer more space. You should never store heavy six-gallon buckets on high closet shelves, because you definitely don't want it all to come crashing down to the floor or on top of you or your family.
You might even consider making furniture from your buckets. You can stack up two buckets and firmly attach a round piece of wood to the top and put a tablecloth over it and have a good nightstand. You can place four buckets in a square and put a couch pillow on top of them to make a ‘corner seat’. Put six of them together in a rectangular shape with a board on top to make a coffee table. Another rectangle of three buckets by six buckets with a board on top and a single mattress on top of that makes a bed. I know of a person who had a ‘hide a bed’ couch that broke. So, he took the ‘guts’ out and put his buckets inside. Use your imagination and make it a game with the family to see how many places a bucket can be hidden.
Most importantly, don’t forget the rules; avoid high temperatures, light and ‘uninvited guests’. With a bit logic and some creativity, you can keep your food good and fresh for as long as you need, so it will be there when you do need it.
Copyright ©2010 Noel Napolitan
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