Friday, September 24, 2010

What to store?

As we begin to accumulate food storage we soon learn the difference between essentials and non essential storage items. Unless you want to live on just wheat, rice and beans and the other basic items you’ll soon find that there are some items that might be considered essentials. Let me tell you a few of my favorite “essentials and “non essential” items.

Everyone has things that they like and things they can’t or won’t eat. The items available now for storage are incredible. It is so much easier to plan your storage than it used to be. Let me tell you what I mean. For example, do you eat a lot of foods with a tomato base such as spaghetti? How about dishes made with tomato soup as a base? Dishes that call for tomato sauce or tomato paste? I started out trying to store tomato sauce, paste and soup and soon learned that in order to store as much as I wanted I’d need a really big house. Then along came tomato powder.

Tomato powder is an amazing storage item. One can contains the equivalent of many, many cans of other tomato products. It stores well, and is adaptable to any recipe. People have told me that they hesitate to buy it because it is so expensive, but they don’t realize how expensive it would be to buy the equivalent in canned products. If you don’t have any, check into it. One thing you might remember is this; if you open a number #10 can, it will last a long time but might go hard before you can use it all. What I would do when I open a can is reseal some portions of it with a vacuum sealer or in Mylar bags so it will store good until you can use it all up. Just a thought. A few of the places you can get it are at Emergency Essentials, Walton Foods and Augason Farms to name a few. It will cost between about $23 to $29 for a #10 (68 oz) can and around $10 for a #2.5 can (18 oz.).

Beef and Chicken bouillon or soup base would probably be my number one essential storage item. If you can flavor water and have things like pasta or rice or vegetables to put in it, you can make soup and sustain life. To me bouillon is an essential. It is available in #10 cans for a lot less than you can buy it in smaller portions. I also store the bouillon cubes from Sam’s club because they are premeasured and dry out less quickly than the powdered. It is also available in bulk at Winco, for example and you can dry pack your own in any quantity you wish.

Powdered Milk is another essential. It is one of the basic storage items suggested but many people don't feel it is necessary for them. It may not be necessary to drink but it is necessary to cook with. It has gotten a bad rap over the years but there are lots of different options and choices for storing powdered milk these days. We’ll talk more about this in a later post.

Shortening Powder is not an absolute necessity but because of the problem of storing oil long term it is certainly a great alternative in your baking. I think we’d find in an emergency that it would be a very valuable item if there were not electricity.Let me just mention though, that its been found that shortening will store a very long time if it is in a cool, dry place and unopened. It is valuable too.

Powdered eggs are important if you plan to do much baking. I know many people who use these on a regular basis in their baking and talk about how much cheaper it is to use the powdered eggs as it is fresh eggs in baking on a regular basis. One lady told me she saved enough on fresh eggs to more than pay for the powdered eggs in just a few months time and now uses them almost every day, just buying fresh eggs for her family’s breakfast meals.

Butter powder is another option you might want to consider, although less important than other items. Depending on how you cook and how much butter you use and if you have other things stored such as peanut butter, you may want to check this out.

Peanut Butter powder is not an essential item but for a family with children might be something you’d want to consider.

TVP is another storage item that can be very important. Unless you have meat stored, and I don’t mean what is in your freezer, I mean canned meats, TVP would be a good alternative. Many people claim they would never use the Textured Vegetable Protein in their cooking and meal planning but generally those people have never tried it. I’ve used it and eaten it and I think it’s a great option. It stores very well and is a great meat replacer.

Chocolate is certainly not an essential food storage item. Although, I’ve thought at times I’d never be able to live without it. Baking Cocoa is something I think is important. In hard times this and chocolate chips would be a great asset to you food storage. Let me just mention here that if chocolate chips are kept in a cool, dry place they store a long, long time. The only problem I’ve found with “old” chocolate chips is that they don’t melt as well but they still taste great in cookies.

Powdered flavorings are awesome. Flavorings such as powdered vanilla, orange, maple, butterscotch, cinnamon and lemon, store well and are a great addition. They are great for making homemade syrup and adding to your hot chocolate to make flavored hot chocolate or just for use in your regular baking. These can be ordered from Mixameal also carries many other products, tools and books. I have stored maple extract in the past to make maple syrup. It stores okay but the flavor dissipates over time. With the powdered flavorings, the flavor stays very strong. If we end up without electricity for a time, I think being able to make pancakes and syrup would be a great thing.

Just a couple more things to consider. I’ve bought potato pearls in the past. They are wonderful. I’m not sure they are even available any more. Check it out. If you can find them, they are a great mashed potato substitute or great as a thickener in soups and stews. Also if you have not tried the dehydrated refried beans, you should. I like these so much better than the canned stuff. They are easier to use in recipes and I really like them. The dry soup mix is also an awesome storage item.

Hopefully if there are any of these items that you don’t have, they are already on your wish list. It seems my wish list gets a lot more items added on than taken off but that’s okay. If you don’t plan to get the things you need or want, you never will.

Here are some websites to check for storage items if you don’t have them.

Just a few notes about these suppliers. This is a pretty competitive market right now. Wal-Mart has gotten into the mix and carries limited items in many areas. Walton feed in Montpelier, Idaho ships all over the world. If you and a group place a large enough order they will send a semi to deliver it anywhere. Emergency Essentials has monthly specials if you order group amounts; usually 6-12 of a particular item.

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