Recent circumstances have shown the importance of being able to survive without leaving home for long periods. This makes knowing about proper food storage for items bought in bulk an essential skill.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a major reason people are now buying in bulk, the fact is that this survival strategy should always be in use. You never know when disaster might strike, so having a stockpile of food on hand is essential.
Once you purchase food in bulk, though, keeping it fresh until it’s needed is paramount. This is why you should consider the following proper food storage techniques to maintain freshness, and better prepare yourself and your family for the unexpected.
Freeze Foods for Storage
Perhaps the easiest method for storing food bought in bulk is to freeze it. This could be an issue if you only have the traditional freezer that’s part of your refrigerator, so many people go the extra mile and purchase a chest freezer to keep in their garage or den. At 0°F or lower, however, either of these options will do the trick.
Most people recognize that they can freeze raw meat for long-term storage, but many don’t realize that this is true for nearly all foods. Soups are a common dish that’s placed in the freezer for later consumption, but a variety of other prepared foods can also be frozen. This includes rice, pasta and cooked meats. You can even freeze flour, butter, herbs, wine and many other staples for later use.
Avoid freezing the following items:
- Crumb-topped dishes: These can turn soggy.
- Milk: Frozen milk can be used for recipes, but it forms lumps when thawed.
- Sour cream: This is also okay for cooking, but separation makes it not ideal for lone consumption.
- Deep-fried dishes: The crispy coating turns soggy.
Of course, frozen food will go bad pretty quick if you lose power during an emergency. This is why you should consider purchasing a generator or utilizing other bulk food storage strategies.
Freeze Dry Foods for Storage
An often-overlooked method of storing food bought in bulk is freeze drying. This process freezes a food item and then removes the ice via sublimation. This dehydrates the food while maintaining many of its original properties thanks to the low temperature procedure that goes into preserving the item. Both NASA and the U.S. military have used this process.
One of the best aspects about freeze drying bulk foods is that preserved items can be rehydrated much quicker than with traditional dehydration methods. This is because the freezing process leaves tiny pores that allow water to more quickly infiltrate the items. The lack of heat also maintains most of a food’s nutrients. The really exciting news, however, is that almost all items can be freeze dried.
The following foods are among the few that shouldn’t be freeze dried:
- Peanut butter
- Pure chocolate
Just about anything else – ranging from ice cream to entire meals – can safely and easily be freeze dried. Storing these foods in airtight containers is the best way to make them last. There are several methods for accomplishing the dehydration process – including the use of dry ice – but the simplest way is to purchase a freeze dryer for your home. This will save a large amount of time and guesswork.
Can Foods for Storage
While the process can result in significant loss of certain nutrients, canning is still one of the most popular methods for properly storing food bought in bulk. Fortunately, you don’t have to go this route on your own. Helping with the canning process is a great activity for kids during the COVID-19 lockdown. Just make sure they’re not assisting during the boiling procedure.
After washing, peeling, mashing or other methods that are typically used to prepare foods for canning, the items are placed in self-sealing jars with lids. A pressure canner or boiling water is then used to process the foods and kill off pathogens/bacteria in order to preserve the items longer. If you’re looking for the easiest foods to can, consider the following:
- Leafy Greens
Most places suggest eating foods within one to two years after canning. In reality, this recommendation is geared more towards taste and nutritional value than actual shelf life. Properly canned items are often edible long after any suggested expiration timetable. Check for complete color alteration or muddy brine – as these can indicate spoilage.
Since canning is one of the bulk food storage methods that involves high heat, make sure you utilize proper cooking safety strategies. You can also check out the University of Georgia’s thorough canning guidelines.
Dehydrate or Dry Foods for Storage
While freeze drying may be the ideal method for dehydration, you can still dry foods bought in bulk without the use of cold temperatures. Regardless of the process, dehydration prevents bacterial growth by removing water. Herbs can be hung to dry out, and other foods can be dried in the oven. You can also build your own solar food dryer – but purchasing a commercial model will be much simpler.
Similar to the issues experienced with canning foods, the heat involved in dehydrating items reduces the density of certain nutrients. Of course, few will complain about minuscule nutrient reductions during an emergency when a constant source of food is what really matters. Dehydrated items can also be frozen to extend their shelf lives.
If you’re not freezing these items, keep them in a cool, dark and dry location. Rooms in your home that have molding or other water issues are not ideal. If moisture gets into your stored bulk food, your reserves may become worthless.
Remember: Proper Food Storage on Bulk Food is Essential!
Preparing for unexpected events and life-altering incidents is something every household should do. Failing to properly store the food you’ve bought in bulk, however, can negate all the preparatory actions you’ve taken. Without food, little else matters.
When storing any form of preserved food, make sure you do so in a rotating fashion. Newly purchased foods should be placed at the back or bottom of shelves, freezers or other storage areas. This ensures the oldest items are consumed first and lessens the chance of spoilage.
Always remember, though, that properly storing bulk food is only one aspect of thriving during emergencies. You also need to make sure your home is sturdy, so contact a local WIN Home Inspection expert today by clicking here. Alternatively, you can reach our professionals by calling (800) 309-6753 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.