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A List of Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much should I store in long term storage?
A. See the article “Basic Food Storage.”

Q. What is included in the 300-400 lbs of grains recommended?
A. Any whole grain or refined grain product. Whole grains provide fiber, vitamins, and trace minerals, including iron, which are not always found in processed or refined grains. When grains are a major part of the diet, eating whole instead of refined grains will make a difference nutritionally. Whole grains can also be sprouted. Therefore, at least sixty-five percent of the grains should be whole grains. The remaining thirty-five percent can be processed or refined grains and grain products, if desired, but any whole grain that is altered has a shorter shelf life.

Q. What are the different kinds of wheat? What kind should I store?
A. There are 3 kinds of wheat - hard, soft, and durum wheat. The hard and soft wheat are either winter or spring wheat. That indicates when they are planted. You can also get either white or red wheat. The red has a stronger flavor and a darker color. The white is milder and lighter which gives a product more similar to white bread. Hard wheat is best for bread making because of the protein content. Soft wheat is for baked goods that don't require the gluten formation that bread does. It can be used for cookies, pancakes, cakes, etc. Durum wheat is very hard and is used to make pasta. And just so you'll know, all purpose flour is a combination of hard and soft wheats so that it can be "all purpose." Bread flour is primarily hard wheat and pastry or cake flour will be primarily soft wheat.

Q. How do I know my wheat is still good?
A. There are 2 ways: Sprout 100 kernels of wheat. If 50 or more sprout, the wheat is still good. Or grind the wheat into flour and make bread. If the bread rises and bakes well, the wheat is still good.
     If neither test works, do not throw the wheat away. It can still be cooked whole and used in soups, casseroles, salads, bread and desserts. Or use it to feed someone’s chickens!

Q. Can brown rice be stored long term?
A. No, but its shelf life can be extended by refrigeration, freezing or dry heat processing. Fill clean, dry canning jars with food. Place open jars in a 200o F oven. Leave the oven door ajar to allow moisture to escape. Leave quarts 20 minutes; pints 10 minutes. Remove hot jars from the oven. Put clean canning lids and rings on the jars while they are still hot. Allow to cool. The lid will seal, but a vacuum may not form in the jars so the lid may push in when it is pressed. As long as the lids are sealed, the jars will be airtight

Q. What can I do with hard beans?
A. Crack them as you would crack corn or grain. This can be done in a hand grinder or by placing the beans in a heavy paper sack and pounding them with the side of a hammer. After cracking, soak and cook them. Hard beans can also be ground into flour and used as a thickener, cooked to make refried beans or put in creamed soups. Home pressure canning will also soften hard beans.

Q. Is it better to store sugar or honey?
A. Neither is better than the other. If you use both, store both.

Q. Is it better to store shortening or oil?
A. Shortening only because it has a longer shelf life. Oil can be stored if it is rotated within a few years and stored in a relatively cool, dark storage area.

Q. What kind of salt should I store?
A. At least half of the salt stored should be iodized. If you home can, also store canning or pickling salt.

Q. What is the difference between instant and non-instant powdered milk?
A. There are actually 3 kinds of non fat dry milk (NDM) – regular or non-instant, crystallized instant, and instant. They are all the same nutritionally but the processing method for each is different.
     Regular and crystallized instant look very much alike. Regular NDM is sold at the LDS Church canneries, at dairy co-ops and at some health food stores. It is the least expensive of the three kinds and has the least volume per dry weight. It is the most difficult to mix by hand but can be mixed easily with a blender. It requires 2/3 cup to make 1 quart.
     Crystallized instant NDM is sold through food storage companies and some powdered milk suppliers such as Maple Island. It has 10% more volume than regular NDM. It requires 3/4 cup to make 1 quart.
     Instant NDM is sold in grocery stores. It has very large granules and has twice the volume of regular NDM. It requires 1-1/3 cups to make a quart. Instant NDM is the least esthetically appealing of the three.

Q. How can I determine a 3-month supply?
A. By using a menu system (see “Using a Rotating Menu Plan”) or by following a general recommended list of foods (see “One Month Grocery Store Supply”)

Q. What is the difference between dehydrated and freeze dried foods?
A. Dehydrated foods are foods that have had water removed from them. They shrink in the process. Freeze dried foods have been flash frozen before the water is removed. They retain most of their original volume. As a result, there are many foods that are preferred in a freeze dried form such as berries and citrus fruits. They are also considerably lighter weight compared to the same volume of dehydrated food. Generally, dehydrated foods are also less expensive than freeze dried. However, freeze dried foods, when hydrated, will look and may taste more like the fresh food. (See "Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Foods")

Q. How much water should I store and how should it be stored?
A. A minimum of 14 gallons per person, a 2-week supply.
     Store water in thoroughly washed, clean containers, preferably of heavy plastic (not lightweight plastic that milk comes in) with tight fitting caps. They should be stored away from sunlight. Large containers should not be set directly on cement but should be raised slightly to allow air circulation underneath. (See "Water Storage")

Q. What is dry-pack canning?
A. Dry-pack canning is an effective method for storing dry foods. Bulk storage foods such as wheat or beans are placed in large metal #10 cans or mylar pouches, along with an oxygen absorbing packet, then sealed without further processing.

Q. What can be dry packed?
A. White rice, wheat and other whole grains, oatmeal, dry beans, powdered milk, white flour, pasta without egg, freeze dried foods, dehydrated foods that are crisp enough to snap, potato flakes, TVP, cheese powder, gelatin, unsweetened ready-to-eat cereals, and low fat or fat free pretzels.

Q. What shouldn’t be dry packed?
A. Foods that are oily, have high moisture content or contain leavening agents such as whole wheat flour, brown rice, brown sugar, pancake mix, granola, nuts, and biscuit mixes.

Q. Can I dry pack in something other than #10 cans and mylar pouches?
A. Yes. Glass canning jars or mylar lined plastic buckets.
     Glass canning jars are filled with dry food, an oxygen absorbing packet is added, the jar edge is wiped clean and a new, clean, warm and dry canning lid and ring are screwed on tightly.
     Because food grade HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic buckets are oxygen and nitrogen permeable, they must be lined with mylar bags before oxygen absorbers can be used. A thin mylar bag is placed inside a clean bucket, the bag is filled with food and oxygen absorbers are put in (one 300 cc absorber for each gallon of food). The bag is sealed by placing a wood board on one edge of the bucket, folding the top of the mylar bag over the board and ironing the bag until it is sealed. The top of the bag is then folded into the bucket. The bucket lid is secured by hammering around the outside edge with a hammer or mallet. The commercially prepared version of this is sometimes called a “super pail.” (See "Long-Term Storage Methods")

Q. How many oxygen absorbers should I use in a plastic bucket?
A. One 300 cc absorber for each gallon of food in a mylar lined bucket.

Q. Should I use oxygen absorbers in sugar?
A. No.

Q. If I can’t get oxygen absorbers, how else can I store food for long term storage?
A. In properly prepared food grade HDPE plastic buckets. A 2 to 3-inch layer of food is placed in the bottom of a clean bucket and dry ice is added (2 to 3 ounces for 5 gallons). The bucket is filled with food to within 1-inch of the top and the lid loosely attached. The dry ice is allowed to sublimate (change to gas) for about 1 hour or until the bottom of the bucket is no longer very cold. The lid is secured and the bucket watched for bulging for a short time. If the lid or sides bulge, the lid should be lifted slightly to allow gas to escape and then resealed. When the bucket no longer bulges, it is safe to store. (See "Long-Term Storage Methods")

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Last modified: 07/15/2013