Over the weekend we were having dinner with some friends. As we enjoyed our appetizers, one of them looked at me and said: “Ok, I need some help.” She explained that she and her husband had stored several boxes of pasta in their garage and it had been eaten or pooped on by rats. “How do we avoid this?” She asked.
Food storage is a hot topic within our community, so let’s dive into some food storage tips to make sure your food is ready and available when you need it.
Freezing meat and produce is a great method for storing food, especially when you can find meat on sale. There are 2 big tips for frozen food.
Oxygen and moisture are the enemies of frozen food quality. Vacuum sealing removes the oxygen and will extend the life of your food and the quality when you prepare it.
Food in a freezer can be like a black hole for time. “When did we buy this?” “When did we freeze this?” “When does this expire?” Labeling your food before it goes in the freezer can help you use and dispose of your stores appropriately. Most store-bought frozen food has a Best Buy date already on it, so you really only need to worry about food that you are going to freeze for the first time. Make sure to label what it is, when you froze it, and when the original expiration date was. This is important because you want an idea of how close to expiring the food was when you decide to use it.
Packaged, non-perishable, shelf-stable food is the foundation of our food storage plan. This includes canned and packaged food. Packaged food can be dry like pasta and crackers or wet like almond or soy milk. Here are some ideas to consider for your shelf-stable food storage.
Keep all of the packages dry and off the floor. Moisture can ruin the packaging and spoil the food. Also, insects and rodents are more likely to find food at ground level, than if it is elevated (note: some pests may still find it in an elevated position, but it will deter some).
Store any food that is not in a metal can or glass jar in a plastic tub with a lid. The plastic tub will help keep out moisture (especially if there is a leak nearby) and will keep out vermin who are looking for a quick snack. Once the scent of food is out, it will attract more hungry mouths, so keeping that first hole from being made is critical. One additional note here, don’t get an air-tight lid for the tub. If you do get an air-tight lid you will trap humidity in the tub and it could ruin your food.
Canned foods have long shelf lives and are easy to forget about. However, they do have expiration dates and can become full of bacteria. The tell-tale sign of this is a bulging or bloated can. The bulge is from gas building up inside the can from bacteria. If you see a can like this, throw it away.
Food storage can be a big investment and no one wants to see their money running away in the mouth of a rat. Using these tips will help safeguard your investment and ensure that your food is ready for you when you need it.