The cost of groceries is steadily rising, which makes proper food storage more important than ever. In most cases, tucking your groceries into air tight containers and making sure your refrigerator is properly calibrated will be enough, however when you’re storing extra food for emergency situations or to help your through camping/hiking expeditions, there are six issues you need to keep in mind.
Make Sure the Temperature is Correct
One of the most important factors when storing food for emergencies is the temperature. Even freeze dried food keeps best when it’s stored at cooler temps, with between 40 and 50 degrees being the ideal. When your food is exposed to higher temperatures for a sustained period of time, the food items will start to break down and nutritional value will decrease. If you are going to be in an area, such as the desert, where keeping your food at a lower temp isn’t an option, you will do well to stock up on a type of food that’s called Life Raft Bars that are designed for higher temps.
Keep It Out of the Light
When you’re storing food for emergencies, place the food into opaque containers and avoid setting the containers in direct sunlight. The light causes the food to break down, which not only decreases the nutritional value but also impacts the flavor and texture.
Keep Things Airtight
You’ve seen how oxygen can cause metal to rust. What you might not know is that oxygen can also have an adverse impact on your stored food. When you’re food supplies have been exposed to oxygen over a long period of time it can become discolored, rancid, and will lose a drastic amount of its nutritional value. The good news is that there are some foods, such as beans and grains that naturally resist the damaging effects of oxygen, provided they remain in their natural state. All other food items should be stored in containers that have an oxygen environment that measures less than 2%.
Keep it Dry
The great thing about storing your food in airtight containers is that it’s also protected from moisture, which not only causes the food to breakdown, but also turns the food into the perfect habitat for a variety of molds and bacteria that can be harmful if ingested. If you plan on storing the food for an extended period of time, you should avoid using plastic containers. Instead of plastic stick to storage containers that are either glass or metal and make sure that they’re tightly sealed for freshness.
Keep it Pest Free
A big part of making sure your food is securely saved is making sure there aren’t any pests snacking on it. The types of pests you have to worry about include rodents, insects, molds, and a slew of microorganisms. The best way to make sure your stored food isn’t attracting an assortment of pests is keeping it in tightly sealed metal and glass containers, cleaning up any spills as soon as they happen, and regularly checking your storage space for signs of infestation.
Handle it With Care
Making sure you have stored your food properly is just part of the equation. The way you handle the food prior to storing it also has an impact on how edible it will be when you’re finally ready to eat it. Use care when transferring the food to prevent it from getting broken before you have a chance to eat it. If you’re transferring the food to smaller storage containers you should wear a pair of plastic or rubber gloves which will prevent any bacteria or oils from transferring from your skin to the food. As you put the containers away, carefully expect each container and make sure it’s tightly closed and that there aren’t any holes or cracks in the container.
Sticking to these 6 components whenever you’re storing food for emergency supplies ensures that you’ll never have to worry about going hungry, and the food will last for a very long time. As you pack your food away, label each container s that you know what it contains and add the date you stored it. Make sure you consume the food that has been stored the longest.