I get 30-50 emails a day which is great because I love hearing from you guys and gals especially when you turn my head with words of praise and approval. Many readers seek advice on one topic or another, and while I try to reply to everyone, I sometimes go undercover and lose an email in the mix. If I don’t reply in time, please be patient, I’ll probably do it in a few days.
The most common request is related to food storage. So much seems to have been written on the subject that some get lost in the Wortberg, confused as to what, how and how much. While I am not the authority on the study of food storage, I have accumulated enough expertise through my own efforts to intelligently engage readers with sound solutions to their problems.
what to save
This is by far the most frequently asked question.
This is the backbone of your survival diet. Wheat is nature’s longest-storing seed, with an indefinite shelf life under the right conditions. The wheat can also be sprouted to add fresh greens to the diet even in winter. Set back £400 per person.
Although it is not a food but a mineral salt, it is still important for nutrition and individual health. Salt is also used to preserve food and animal products. Like wheat, salt has an indefinite life of its own. Minimum £20 per person.
As a sweetener, honey makes an unrivaled contribution to nutrition. Some consider it a superfood that provides energy and renewed vitality. As an extract from the plant kingdom, it certainly contains numerous components that contribute to health. Like wheat and salt, honey has an unlimited life of its own. Minimum £10 per person.
Most people turn up their noses at the thought of powdered milk and prefer whole milk from the supermarket shelf. Admittedly it has a slightly different taste, but it’s not unpleasant to drink, after a week or two it seems to “grow”. Studies have shown that when stored dry and appropriately cool, non-fat milk powder has a shelf life of over 15 years with little change in value. You need 60 pounds per person.
After getting the four staples (wheat, sugar, powdered milk, and salt) in the required proportions, adding other foods is a simple matter when you get the extra money. Pinto beans, white rice, split peas, soybeans, dried green peas, whole grains and canned meats, fruits and vegetables can be added to add variety to the diet. And don’t forget to add pepper, baking soda, baking soda, canned yeast, dried eggs, cooking oil, multivitamins and minerals, and extra vitamin C capsules.
How to store
I store all my grains, beans and powdered milk in food grade plastic buckets. There is a lot of confusion and controversy as to whether or not a bucket is food grade. A #2 in a small triangle on the bottom of the bucket means it’s made of HDPE plastic and is food safe.
I bought mine at the local hardware store in the paint department. They also had them at Walmart, but I prefer to buy from local business owners when possible. Sometimes they can even be fetched free from bakeries and restaurants, just make sure they contain only food, no dyes, chemicals, or other things that can make you sick or dead.
Food packed in oxygen does not store as well as food in an oxygen-free atmosphere. Oxygen absorbers (available from Nitro-Pak) remove the air from the enclosed container, leaving an atmosphere of 99% pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum.
Do not open the oxygen absorber bags until you are going to use them, as they absorb oxygen from the surrounding air and become unusable. Have everything ready before opening the package. Any unused absorbers can be stored in a small mason jar until needed.
Make sure you have everything ready before you begin. Then pour the foods you want to preserve into the buckets one at a time, shaking each one as it fills to settle and distribute the contents. Fill each bucket to about ½ inch from the top and drop three oxygen absorbers into each bucket of food.
Quickly place the lids on each bucket and slam it shut by placing a board over it and hitting it with a hammer or rubber mallet. After a few hours, the absorbers create a vacuum that causes the lids of the buckets to “pop off,” indicating a good seal and a suitable atmosphere for long-term storage. Be sure to label each one with the date, contents and weight and write on the front with a permanent marker.
Where to store
The next question is where to put all that food? Lack of space is the main disadvantage of living in a 26ft caravan. Almost everything has to be stored outside. Even most homes and apartments can get cramped as more manure is brought in to fill the space. One option is to sell some of the stuff you don’t use, perhaps clearing out a large closet and stocking it with your stored groceries. You need to take a look at your personal situation and available space and store your groceries accordingly.
I cached most of my food in my outhouse behind my trailer. This may not be the idea, but it is dry and shady in the summer. I took a row of cinder blocks and laid a sheet of 4×8′ ply board on top to form a platform to stack the buckets to keep them off the ground. I’d like a root cellar big enough to hold most of my food supplies, but right now I’m dealing with less than perfect.