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Monday, November 9, 2009

Long-Term Storage Options

I store a lot of dry goods in our home emergency preps stores.  Rice, beans, pasta, sugar, spices and the like.  And a LOT of grains - mostly wheat and corn.

Generally speaking, I purchase my grains at a feed store that's about an hour away from where I live.  I can get a 50 pound sack of either grain for around $15.

Before a friend brought this store to my attention, I used to buy from Walton Grains in Idaho.  While their price-per-pound was good, the shipping was a killer.  For instance, I just checked their site, and a 50 lb double-plastic bag of Red Winter Wheat is $12.05.  The shipping to my home is an ADDITIONAL $24.63, for a total of over $36 a bag.

I can get two sacks for that price including the $6 for round-trip gas.

That's not a dig on Walton.  It's just a fact of life. 

I do my long-term storage a bit differently from other folks, I believe.  I take my 50lb sacks and break them down into 2- or 3-pound portions. 

I just sealed up a 50 lb sack of dent (or field) corn in 3-pound batches.

I vacuum seal the grains, mark down what they are, how much they weigh and the date I sealed them up.

 I used to add an oxygen absorber to the packs but have since discontinued the practice.  Obviously, the reason you add the absorbers is to remove oxygen from the packs.  That's what the vacuum sealer does!  Even if there happens to be a bug or eggs in with the grain (as is VERY likely), they will die very shortly from the lack of oxygen.

I've been asked why I break down my grains into smaller portions - why not just pour them into mylar bags in plastic buckets?

I have a few reasons:

1.  Portability - if I need or want to have my grains in multiple locations (as I do), I can more easily store 3-pound bags than 50-pound buckets.

2.  Barter - If things ever get truly ugly, I have my stores conveniently broken down into managable sizes.  I don't need to haul out a big old bucket each time I want to trade some grains for something else.  I also don't have to bring everything with me, and worry about getting hit over the head and all of my stuff being taken.

3.  Charity - at any time, I can easily give a neighbor or our church a few pounds of grain, beans, sugar - whatever - in convenient packages.  If it is dire times, I don't have to show or disclose the amount of food we have, while still being able to help someone out.  And again, I don't have to open up and break the seal on a larger bucket.

4.  Less spoilage - I only need to open up what I'm going to use in the short term.  I don't need to worry about a whole bucket getting kicked over or contaminated if someone accidentally drops something into an open bucket.

The downside of doing this is it takes up more space.  After I seal up the bags, I put the bags into a plastic bucket - this gives me some additional protection against rodents and insects getting at our stores.  But instead of a bucket being able to hold 45-50 pounds of grains, they can only hold about 30-36 pounds.

You also need to be careful with what you put in the bags.  Pasta, for instance, seems to always have some sharp edge that pierces the bag, rendering the vacuum seal useless.  You have to be careful not to over-stack the bags or have them packed with other pointy objects.

I think the benefits outweigh the negative side, but you need to make up your own decision on this.

Accept The Challenge

As I understand it, the Mormon Church (awesome preppers, BTW) recommend you store enough to eat 25 pounds of grain per person, per month.  That includes whole grain wheat, flour, rice, corn meal, oats and pasta.  They also recommend another 5 pounds of beans per person, per month.  That all sounds about right.

How much have YOU got stored away?  A couple of years?  A few months?  Two weeks?  Anything?

It is never too late to start.  If cash is tight, pick up a little bit each time you go to the store, and squirrel it away.

Don't be left unprepared.  Take responsibility.
Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Andrea said...

Wow. By Mormon standards, I don't have nearly enough grains, of course they're probably referring to adult-size portions, not children's right? If children's portions are 1/3 that of an adult, we have just under a year, give or take, that we eat from and replenish all the time.

Don't forget to mention a fun grain....popcorn! We try to keep many pounds of popcorn on hand all the time. My children love air-popped popcorn, and will even eat cold popcorn for breakfast, which is probably healthier than 95% of the cereals out there.

By the way, what the heck do you do with that dent corn?

Chief Instructor said...

Popcorn is great, and it is very important to have fun foods - munchies and desserts, etc., in your preps.

According to the Mormon site, kids (aged 0-6) need 148 lbs per year, or 12.5 pounds a month - about half of an adult.

Dent or field corn is the most widely grown corn in America. In home prep situations, it is used to grind into corn meal. You turn it into everything from corn bread, to pollenta, to grits.

Because it hasn't yet been ground, it will basically last a lifetime when stored (just like wheat). Once it's ground, the fat that is contained inside the kernel is exposed to air, and begins to go rancid. It's good for 6 months or so after it's been ground (again, just like wheat, and just like corn meal or whole ground wheat you buy in the store).

Andrea said...

hmmm. I didn't realize people actually ate field corn...just based on how field corn tastes before it's dried. (I'm still learning here, so don't laugh.) We live in the corner of a 100 acre corn field, and as of this writing, the farmer hasn't harvested yet. If he doesn't get a move on, he may find some of that field corn has disappeared :)

Anonymous said...

That's a well thought out plan. I keep my supplies in the big nitrogen packed pails they came from Waldon Feeds in, but I'd have to say your system is cheaper and handier.

Chief Instructor said...

I have 90 lbs still in the original nitrogen buckets I got from Walton. I paid over $60 a bucket for that stuff, as I got them when the price for wheat was sky-high. Everything I've put away since has been in the smaller vacuum packs.

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