A lot of people are now considering storing food for emergencies but feel they have obstacles that prevent them from doing so. Perhaps they feel they don’t have any free space, or become overwhelmed by the task.
Having limited space and living in a hot humid climate for at least 120 days out of the year, I am very familiar with storage problems.
Ideally, food should be stored at around 50-55 degrees, with no more that 15% humidity. Does that mean you cannot store food if you do not have these ideal conditions? Of course you can! The conditions described are “in a perfect world” type scenario, and we all know it’s not perfect, otherwise we would not need to store food.
Summer temperatures in Texas reach over 100 degrees with 80% humidity. To save electricity, we keep the air conditioning at around 78-80 degrees. The A/C cuts down on humidity, but moisture still seeps in. This is something we cannot ignore. We just factor in that the food stored will not last as long as it would have at cooler, drier temperatures.
Here are some tips:
- Clear out an area before getting started, or as you supply grows. Clean out the junk closet and sell or donate items, leaving free space for food storage. Try using underutilized spaces such as under the beds, inside empty suitcases or TV cabinet.
- Avoid waste and store only foods that your family eats. Resist the urge to stock up on sale or discontinued items just because of the low price.
- Choose canned foods that have the longest expiration dates. Do not buy cans that are dented or misshapen even if they are heavily discounted. Although some studies have shown they can last a few years past their expiration dates, I prefer not to risk it, especially after a friend’s unfortunate experience. Getting ill from eating spoiled food is not worth it.
- Rotate your food constantly. I mark the expiration date with a Sharpie marker on top of the canned food and on the sides to make sure I use them before those dates. At least twice a year, go through your supplies and use anything close to expiration.
- If you are storing bulk foods in mylar bags, observe the proper technique by using oxygen absorbers and letting all the air out. Label your buckets with the contents and the date the food was stored. Plan on using these stored foods within five years, instead of ten, if your storage conditions are not ideal.
- Find out that pests got into your stored food such as rice or flour would be disastrous, not to mention expensive to replace. Clean the area surrounding your food storage thoroughly. Make sure the area is dry and pest free. For additional protection from pests, keep stored foods in five gallon food grade buckets with tight lids.
- For maximum shelf life, choose dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. Mountain House,a provider of food for recreational and emergency purposes, just increased their stated shelf life from 10 years to 12 years on their pouches.
- If you are storing water in containers for drinking, use and replace the water after a year. Mark the date of storage on the container using a label or sharpie marker. Mold or moss may develop after the container been sitting in a warm, humid area for a while. If you do use water that has been stored for a long while, have a backup water purification system by running it through a filter, boiling etc.
- Bottled water does last past their expiration dates, depending on the storage location.
- Make sure your food and water storage is not close to gasoline or other chemicals that emit fumes that will contaminate your supplies.
These tips will help minimize mistakes, and ensure your stored food and water will be available when you most need them.