Wednesday, 10 August 2016

09:56 – More work on science kits today.

Dave Hardy posted this query in yesterday’s comments, and I thought I’d answer it here.

The latest Woodpile Report:

Chock-full of good stuff, as usual. He first mentions using his FoodSaver and storing a bunch of stuff in quart Mason jars. Anyone else here do this and/or recommend it? How long does the process take to, say, fill a dozen jars with whatever, flour or baking mix, for instance?

One of the selling points he brought up was how much space is saved once it’s all outta the boxes and bags.

Far be it from me to second-guess any prepper, but I don’t think this is a good solution for most people. To the plus, canning jars are rodent-proof. But the minuses far outweigh the pluses for almost anyone. As it happens, I just had two dozen quart wide-mouth Ball jars delivered from Walmart yesterday. I bought them at the best price around, and they were still $0.75 each. One pound, give or take, will fit in each quart jar. That’s pretty expensive storage for bulk staples. Compare that to recycled PET bottles at $0.00 per pound, or even the one-gallon 7-mil foil-laminate Mylar bags from LDS on-line at about $0.40 each. A one-gallon bag stores at least four pounds and often five or six pounds of a bulk staples. That translates to $0.10 per pound or less.

As to using storage space more efficiently, I’m not sure how he arrived at that conclusion. I just measured a case of 12 one-quart Ball jars. It’s 16.5″x12.5″x7.5″, or about 0.9 cubic feet. Call it 6.7 gallons. So, 12 quart jars, three gallons’ worth, occupies more than twice that amount of cubic. If he’s storing 10 cases, that’s 67 gallons of cubic to store 30 gallons of product. In that same 67 gallons of cubic, I’m sure I could fit 60 gallons of product in Mylar bags. I’m sure the problem is that the Mason jars are round, which wastes cubic. So perhaps he’s talking about a lot of stuff that was originally packed in even more cubic-wasteful containers.

On my most recent order, I received a #10 can of Augason Farms potato shreds. It cost $8.24, and includes 23 ounces of the product, which comes to $5.73 per pound. That’s a lot for potatoes, but remember they’re dehydrated. I’m going to test them by rehydrating 100 grams of the product in the refrigerator overnight and then weighing the rehydrated result. My guess is that the 100 grams of dehydrated product will rehydrate to 400 or 500 grams. Call it a pound. If so, that 23 ounces would reconstitute to about 6.5 pounds of raw potatoes, at about $0.88 per pound. That compares favorably with products like Ore-Ida frozen hashbrowns, at about $1.50 per pound.

I also pulled a can of Augason Farms Cheese Blend Powder out of the freezer and put it in the kitchen with the potato shreds. At $16.57 for a 52-ounce (1.47 kilo) can, its price also compares pretty favorably with similar processed cheese products like Cheez-Whiz, at $4.00 for a 15-ounce jar. The 10.75 cups of powder in that #10 can reconstitute to about 14 cups of cheese dip, roughly equivalent to seven 15-ounce jars of Cheez-Whiz. Using less of the powder, you can instead make about 21.5 cups of cheese sauce for casseroles, pasta, and so on.

I got an interesting email yesterday from someone who thought it was stupid that, if things got really bad, I planned to share our stored food with Colin. Apparently, this guy had read One Second After, where the protagonist lets his dog starve to death, and thought this was a fine idea. The guy also pointed out that every pound of food we fed to our dog would be one less pound we’d have for ourselves, and asked if I’d really let starving children die while giving food to a dog.

I told the guy he was a speciesist, and that dogs had as much right to eat as people do, which is to say none. But we feed ourselves and family first, and Colin is part of our family. If nothing else, he’s an essential part of our planning. So we plan to feed the three of us, Barbara’s sister and brother-in-law if they show up, and my brother and sister-in-law if they show up. Some random starving child doesn’t affect our priorities. There may be lots of those, and we can’t feed them all.