Saturday, November 14, 2009

#10 cans vs. Mylar pouches

One disadvantage of Mylar pouches is what to do with the product after you’ve opened the pouch.  I’ve found it difficult to store an open Mylar bag of dry milk in my cupboard without dry milk ending up everywhere.  I’m currently rotating out some dry milk I canned a couple years ago and my solution has been to pour the dry milk into a large plastic bin with a lid. However it seems the quantity of milk in the pouch is always a little more than the size of the bin and pouring the milk into the bin often results in a light dusting of sticky dry milk on the counter.

My new solution is to can all of my products in #10 cans.  The product doesn’t need to be transferred to a new container and when your done you might even be able to repurpose the can. 

Now what to do with all my pouches of dry milk.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Storage Conditions



As I've been storing food for the past few years, a few of the things I've worried about are rodents, insects or water destroying my hard work. To avoid having pests or water destroy your hard work here are some tips.

First, store food in containers that are bug proof. Plastic containers are good and any other container that can keep the food smell away from critters. Also, keep the area where you store food clean as possible and do any prep work away from the storage area.

Second, resources on the Internet suggest to keep your food dry and as cool as possible. Usually a basement or cellar would work best for these conditions. Keep food off the floor to allow for breathability. I'm assuming if you have a water leak you'd likely still lose some things so an auto-shutoff valve when water is detected may be just the item to have installed. Online you can pick one up for around $100, and it could definitely be worth a lot more than that in savings to your house and storage.

My third tip is to use what you store. If you're just storing food to use in 30 years or whenever disaster strikes, you might find that your food just wasn't stored properly, but 30 years too late. I think it's best to keep food you use, rotate food you have and set up a replacement schedule so that you can buy things on sale, and use them later. I also think that you should have your minimal threshold of food storage, and keep a small reserve beyond that to allow time to replace what you use and always have your desired level of storage on hand.

Sources

Provident Living - Storage Conditions

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rotating Food Storage - Powdered Milk

Many families go through milk by the gallon and ours is pretty close. I think we average just under a gallon per day. In order to keep up with this demand, and have adequate food storage, we use powdered milk for everything.

Storage


Powdered milk stored under normal conditions only keeps it's nutritional value for about 1-2 years. Canning the milk can increase the shelf-life significantly when done right. If milk is stored properly, in a cool, dry place at temperatures 75 degrees F or lower, you may be able to store it for up to 20 years.

But my kids won't drink it


If you can't totally replace your need for fresh milk then you can mix fresh and powdered milk 50/50 or you could just use powdered milk when you're cooking. I notice very little difference in taste between eating a bowl of sugar-o-s with fresh or powdered milk. A tall glass of fresh milk does taste different but if you get a decent quality powdered milk it's not too bad. You could also add chocolate powder to help make it more palatable. Storing milk can be great for food storage needs and if you can find a way to use and rotate it you'll save money and your bill for fresh milk will go down as well.

Sources



  1. Survival-Center.com

  2. Family Home Storage

Friday, October 30, 2009

Food Storage Rotation

When I started yearsofplenty.com a couple years ago, my intent was to provide both a resource for people who wanted to prepare themselves but also a place for a web application to help people to rotate their supplies. If you search the Internet for "food storage rotation" specifically, one finds many ideas for rotating food. One resource I found last night is http://www.pep-c.org/storageandrotationtips/. Reading through the list I think two of the major reasons that I wanted to write this software was to account for making sure that rotation happened when necessary and as a side effect of having good data, I would also be able to solve things like estimating a rate of consumption and other data points that might be interesting to my family. I have yet to write the software but now with the primary goals written down maybe I can start getting something off the ground. Drop me a note if you have thoughts or suggestions that might be helpful on managing inventory in a cost-effective and simple way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another 5 gallons of water

Tonight I stored water in a 5-gallon water container that’s been kicking around our house for the last couple of years.  Because it’s been empty for a while, the container had a musty smell and needed to be cleaned.  Using these instructions as a guideline, I used a mixture of two teaspoons of household bleach with one quart of water to clean.  The container is cube shaped so, after vigorously swishing the container a couple times, I set the container on each of the six sides for five minutes each.  Then I rinsed the container out and filled it with water straight from the tap.  Apparently no extra bleach is needed since the water is already treated with chlorine by the city.

Now that the container is clean, as long as I rotate the water in it every 6 months, I shouldn’t need to clean it again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In the Kitchen: Homemade Yogurt

My children love yogurt and it is surprisingly easy to make. Learning how to make yogurt is an excellent preparedness skill to have.

Preparation
Gather the following equipment:
  • 16-quart cooler: I lined my cooler with aluminum foil for better incubation.
  • Double boiler: I use a 3-quart stainless steel bowl and a 4-quart saucepan instead of an actual double boiler.
  • Kitchen Thermometer: I use an AcuRite that ranges from 0F to 220F. You'll need one that can go as high as 180F. Bonus if it clips to the side of your double boiler or has a timer.
  • 3, 1-quart jars with lids and rings: I prefer wide mouth for ease of pouring and serving. Two of the jars will hold the incubating milk and one will hold warm water for incubating the yogurt.
  • Clean dish towels or other food safe cloth: Used during incubation.
  • Timer
  • Whisk
and the following ingredients:
  • 2 quarts of pasteurized milk: Don't use ultra pasteurized; it can lead to inferior yogurt.
  • 1/4 cup starter yogurt: I buy a quart of plain yogurt from the grocery store and then freeze into cubes. When I want to make yogurt, I thaw two cubes (2 minutes, 15 seconds on 20% power). I’ve also had success skimming off 1/4 cup to use in the next batch.
  • 1/4 cup dry milk: Optional. Makes a thicker yogurt.
Making the Yogurt
Time: 25-30 minutes to cook/cool, 8-10 hours to incubate.
General process: re-pasteurize milk, cool to incubation temperature, add starter, and then incubate.
  1. Fill the base of the double boiler with water. Leave some space in the base of the double boiler or the water will boil over, making a mess.

  2. Pour 2 quarts of milk into the top of the double boiler.

  3. (Optional) Whisk in 1/4 cup dry milk.

  4. Bring temperature of milk to 180F, stirring frequently. I turn my range to high and when the milk reaches 165F I turn the range off. At that point there is enough heat to raise the temperature of the milk to 180F and maintain that temperature during step 5.

  5. Maintain the milk at 180F for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Prepare cold water bath and defrost your yogurt starter, if necessary.

  6. Drop temperature of milk to 115F to 118F in a cold water bath. You can add ice cubes to the cold water bath to drop the temperature even faster, but be careful you don't dip below 110F. Save the water in the double boiler for step 9.

  7. Once the temperature of the milk is between 115F and 118F, whisk in yogurt starter.

  8. Pour milk into two quart jars and place jars into incubation cooler.

  9. Pour hot water from base of double boiler into the remaining quart jar. The temperature of the water will be hot enough to incubate both jars of milk for 8 to 10 hours.

  10. Place quart jar of hot water into cooler between the two jars of warm milk.

  11. Pack insulating dish towels and cloths around sides and tops of jars. I like to fill the cooler with towels and top it with an aluminum foil-lined piece of cardboard.

  12. Close the cooler and place in a location where it will be undisturbed for 8 to 10 hours.

  13. After 8 to 10 hours, remove yogurt and place in refrigerator.

  14. Flavor to taste and serve. We like to eat with berries and brown sugar or blend up in a yogurt smoothie. Yum!

Enjoy!

If you're interested in making other types of cheese products, be sure to check out http://www.cheesemaking.com for supplies and equipment.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Storing Water


Recently I had to empty out my 55-gallon water barrels to move them. I use them for emergency water supply in case of a disaster. Now I'm refilling and here are some of the things I have done to help keep the water potable and to stay prepared.

I picked up a motor home or marine water hose at the local hardware store since I've heard that your regular garden hose has chemicals that can affect your water.

I have picked a location before filling them since they are very heavy to move. One can purchase water barrels for around $50 or you might try picking up some old containers used in the manufacture of soft-drinks for about $10.

I'll prepare each container by adding 1/2 cup unscented bleach to the water before storing. Sometimes I have freezing temperatures where I live so I'll only be filling each container about 90% full.

Then hook up the hose and fill the barrels. It is suggested by various authorities to rotate water every 2 years or so, maybe less if you store the water inside. I'll likely filter the water when it comes time to drink it but storage of water at least allows me to have some to use.

Tell me how you store water in the comments.