There are always questions about the best way to store your food storage items. I am going to share with you what I have found are the best ways to store most of your items, especially those that you will be storing in bulk.
1. Canning Jars
(Peaches, rhubarb, cherries, and homemade applesauce)
SO many foods can be canned using canning bottles. Most fruits, veggies, and meats can wonderfully! (Just remember with most vegetables and all meat, you need to can them in a pressure canner, not a water bath canner.)
A great resource if you are wanting to can is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. It has a wealth of information, and can answer just about every question you can possibly have when it comes to canning.
As a general rule, the National Center for Home Food Preservation says that food canned in canning jars will last at least a year. Meats last about 5 years. And if you ask your little granny next door, she'll tell you she's still got 30 year old peaches in her fruit cellar that taste like they were picked yesterday. For the most part, as long as the seal is still good (meaning that the lid is still tight and hasn't popped out), and if there isn't any weird fuzzy things growing inside the jar or around the lid, it's probably still good to eat.
Canning jars is the way to go for canning meats. After they have been canned, they do not need to be frozen or refrigerated, they can just sit on your shelf at room temperature. For my year's supply, I have QUITE a few meats to can. I need 104 quarts and 104 pints of beef, 104 quarts and 52 pints of chicken, 52 pints of turkey, and 52 quarts and 52 pints of ham.
That adds up to 260 quart jars and 260 pints.
That's a TON of jars right?! So of course my next step would be finding cheap jars. A great place to keep your eye on are Yard Sales and Craigslist. The picture below is what I found on Craigslist a couple weeks ago:
40 quart sized bottles for $10! That works out to 25 cents a piece.
Tips when buying used jars:
- Make sure they are truly canning jars. If you see any residue on the side from someone taking off a label (from a pickle jar, mayonnaise jar, etc) those are not appropriate canning jars. Some canning jars don't have a name etched on the side -- like Ball or Kerr -- but if you see that residue, don't buy it! Mainstays (Walmart brand) jars do not have any etching or words on the side, but they are still canning jars.
- Make sure when calculating the cost that you make sure it really is a better deal. Lids can never be reused, so when buying used jars you need to calculate in the cost of buying a new lid for each jar. The lids that I buy are about 29 cents a piece (a dozen per box). If you can find them cheaper, that's great! Let me know where you got yours from. When you buy brand new jars, not only do they come with brand new lids, they also come with the rings.
- Rings are not needed for storing jars, but they are needed during the canning process. After your jars have been sealed, you can take the ring off and reuse it. So you really only need 12 or so rings as a necessity. Rings are also used after a can has been opened to help keep it sealed while using it.
- So far, the cheapest jars I have found are at Walmart. The Walmart brand (Mainstays) of jars were $7.88/dozen for quarts and $6.28/dozen for pints. That's an amazing deal! This works out to 66 cents per jar, and 53 cents per jar. If you have found somewhere that has new jars cheaper than that, please let me know!
2. #10 cans
#10 cans can be used to store pretty much anything dry. The size of a #10 can holds about 13 cups of flour, and is the size of what most people think of a coffee can looking like.
In 2009, my family bought a bunch of flour, wheat, beans, rice, and powdered milk from the Garden City Cannery, as well as all of our #10 cans, lids, and oxygen packets. We reserved the use of our local LDS Stake's #10 can sealer for free, and spent a few hours canning our goods.
This is how I am going to continue to can all of our dry ingredients (except I won't be buying the boxes like shown in the pictures). At a local LDS cannery by you, a #10 can costs 75 cents, the oxygen packet is 10 cents (they come in bags of 100), and the plastic lid is 10 cents as well. (We already have plenty of lids so we won't be buying a new ones. You don't need a lid for every can. We probably have a total of 20 for upwards of 75 cans that we have.)
The LDS cannery has available MANY bulk foods at some great prices. You still need to price shop to make sure it is the cheapest at that time, but from what we have found, for most items, it's cheaper when you buy the item and can them yourself. Pretty much every item you will ever want in your food storage can be found at an LDS cannery. If you are not a member of the LDS church, you just need to find a member in your area to take you. That is all that is required is that you have an LDS member be there with you, and then you are free to purchase what you need.
At the LDS cannery, along with every can you buy, they also give you a free label per can for the items that you have. The workers there are great at helping you figure out how many #10 cans you need for the amount of... say flour... you purchased. The labels have all of the nutritional information, shelf life, re hydrating steps (if there are any) and anything else that you would need to know about that product. Most items in a #10 can lasts at least 10 years, most are between 15 and 20 years.
3. 5 Gallon Buckets
5 gallon buckets are a great way to store items that you have a lot of. I will be using buckets for my flour, some of my granola, cereal, any wheat I might have, and sugar. If you are storing them for long term use, you will need 2 oxygen packets for every 5 gallon bucket. When you get ready to use a bucket, you discard the oxygen packets if they are at the top (they might be buried down a little bit, just make sure you don't scoop one into something you will be eating.) When in use, these buckets remain air tight if the lid is replaced right for, which means the contents remain fresh for up to a year, even if you are opening and closing it regularly.
Gamma lids are a great way to ensure your contents stay fresh. While they aren't a necessity, they sure are nice, and the gamma seal is almost fool proof, and they are really easy to use.
Tips for 5 gallon buckets:
- Check your local bakery or cake shops. Any food grade bucket can be washed out and then reused for your food. Many bakery's and cake shops receive ingredients shipped in these large buckets (like flour, icing, etc), and when they are done with them, they usually toss them. What's great is they usually give them out free or they charge a very small fee for them.
- You might be wondering where you can store these. We've found that they make great little tables for kids' rooms. Just put a flat piece of wood over the top of 2 or more buckets, add a tablecloth or blanket, and viola!
- Food grade plastic or glass containers are good for storing water. Soda and juice containers are great for water storage! Every time we get done with one, we'll wash it out and store water in it. I've even been known to come home from a get together with soda bottle under my arms. Almost any place you look in our house you will find a small stash of these water bottles.
Just a couple of examples -- the first picture shows our plant shelves in the Master Bedroom, the next picture is up on one of our kitchen cabinets.
- Before I put my water up to store, I write the month and year that I filled it with a permanent marker. Water needs to be replaced after 12 months of storage. So after 12 months, be sure to wash out your containers again and put new water into them.
- 55 gallon water barrels are also great to store water. We got ours from a soda/beverage distributor in Oregon for $35 each. They are called "Syrup Drums" because they carry the syrup used in making sodas. White/clear barrels are generally cheaper, but blue or black ones are a little better because light can't get through to the water.
- If you store these barrels in the garage or basement where there is a cement floor, do not place these directly onto the cement. You will need to place them on some sort of platform to keep them off of the cement.
- Like the small plastic containers, you will need to replace the water in these barrels yearly.
If you have other tips of how to store your food storage, please Contact Me!