Thanks to Michael Bush for this contribution.
If you are flush with cash and worried about a pending apocalypse there are plenty of options available for you purchase. Wise Company is an excellent choice for quality, long-lasting emergency food stores. Be prepared to pay a premium for these and other store bought freeze dried foods though.
Unfortunately, most of us do not have the available resources to pay thousands of dollars for food that will hopefully never be needed. Instead, we buy rice, beans and other dry staples a few pounds at a time. The problem with this approach is that the packaging these foods come in is not suitable for long term storage. Flimsy bags and boxes cannot seal out oxygen, water and pests. Instead we need to do a little work in order to project our food. Our weapons of choice in this exercise are 5 gallon buckets, heavy mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.
In the post, i will walk you through the steps needed to help preserve your dry foods. Always remember to use care and caution before consuming anything. No matter how careful you are in your preparations, nothing last forever. Not even the Pyramids. Always treat stored food and water as if it is contaminated and prepare it accordingly.
Step 1: Find your bucket and lid. I have a whole separate post of whether or not you need a food grade bucket. Please feel free to read that post at your leisure. Suffice to say, if possible find a new food grade bucket with a secure, tight fitting lid. If you like, opt for a gamma lid – which is essentially a fancy, high quality lid. I don’t personally use them due to the added expense though.
Step 2: Ensure your bucket and lid are clean and dry.
Step 3: Line your bucket with a large, thick mylar bag. Mylar bags are a mixture of metal and plastic layers, and are specifically designed to prevent gas from passing through. Ensure your back fills as much of the bucket as possible, and is free of any and all tears. the Mylar bag is really what is going to be protecting and preserving your food. the bucket is mostly to provide projection from tears, but also does help with the preservation.
Step 4: Ensure your food is clean, free from debris, pests etc.
Step 5: Fill the bag as much as possible with your food. Make sure it will fit in the bucket when closed.
Step 6: Shake and stir the food to ensure any potential air pockets are removed and the product settles. If necessary, top off with additional food.
Step 7: Add a fresh Oxygen Absorber or two (or three) to the bag. Oxygen absorbers do exactly that. They suck up excess oxygen. Without oxygen, most organisms that would rot the food cannot survive. All pest cannot survive without oxygen. I have been told that simple hand warmers will work as well, but I have yet to try it.
Step 8: Manually try to fold over the lid of the mylar bag in such a way that as much air as possible is forced out of the bag.
Step 9: Seal the mylar bag. This is relatively easy to do, and a fancy bag sealer is really not needed. Fold the bag over a broom handle and apply an iron across the whole width of the bag. Do this two or three time to ensure the seal is tight. I suggest practicing first – not because this is especially difficult to do, but because iron temperatures will vary. You want your iron to sort of weld the two sides of the bag together, not melt a hole straight through it.
Step 10: Secure your lid and make sure to put a label on it with the date and contents.
That’s about it. With a few minutes time and the right supplies, you can set aside beans, rice, pasta, flour and other dry goods for a considerable amount of time. Again, always be cautious before eating or drinking anything that has been stored for a long period. No process is perfect, and we all make mistakes.