Sunday, 5 February 2017

10:56 – It was 34F (1C) when I took Colin out this morning.

Email from a regular reader who wondered what we actually store in our deep pantry. That’s a complicated question, because unlike most preppers we don’t have a very large separate deep pantry. We store mostly only stuff that we actually eat day-to-day, just in larger quantities than most people do.

I’ll define our deep pantry as including only items that we stick on the shelf with the intention of never using them unless there’s a serious long-term emergency. All of this stuff is commercially packaged for long-term storage. With that definition, here’s what our long-term pantry includes:

o White flour – four cases (24 #10 cans) for a total of 96 pounds, all from the LDS Home Storage Center.

o Macaroni and Spaghetti – four cases each of LDS HSC products, for a total of 156 pounds.

o Rice – four cases of LDS HSC white rice, for a total of 129.6 pounds, plus two 26-pound buckets of Augason Farms brown rice, for a grand total of 181.6 pounds.

o Sugar – four cases of LDS HSC white sugar, for a total of 139.2 pounds.

o Potato flakes – four cases of LDS HSC potato flakes, for a total of 43.2 pounds.

o Dairy – two cases (24 28-ounce pouches) of LDS HSC nonfat dry milk, for a total of 42 pounds, plus a case of six 3.5-pound #10 cans of Augason Farms Morning Moo’s milk substitute, for a grand total of 63 pounds.

o Miscellaneous – about 50 #10 cans of assorted dehydrated foods, from powdered eggs, cheese, and butter, to beef and chicken TVP, to dehydrated fruits and vegetables and soup mixes, totaling about 180 pounds.

The grand total of our very deep pantry totals about 800 pounds of dry bulk staples, which is sufficient for Barbara, Colin, Frances, Al, and me for about 6 months.

Beyond that, we also keep a fair amount of other foods stored, both commercially canned wet foods (probably a thousand pounds of meats, soups, sauces, peanut butter, etc. etc.) and bulk dry staples that we’ve repackaged ourselves. The amounts of those vary, because we actually use them day-to-day, but for example at any one time might include roughly 200 pounds of flour, 200 pounds of sugar, 300 pounds of pasta, 40 pounds of oatmeal, 40 pounds of pancake mix, 30 pounds of cornmeal, 80 pounds of pinto beans, large amounts of herbs and spices, a bunch of salt, a bunch of evaporated milk, etc. etc. All told, our shorter-term food inventory added to our deep pantry would feed the five of us for more than one year.

And another email from a regular reader who has a cunning plan. She’s ordered a lot of jarred Bertolli and Classico sauces, both of which come in glass jars that look very much like canning jars. She uses them regularly, and intends to build her stock to a year’s worth for her family. As she accumulates empty sauce jars, she plans to wash them out and re-use them as canning jars for pressure-canning foods.

I replied that the first part of her idea was good. As a matter of fact, I just ordered another 18 jars of Bertolli Mushroom Alfredo sauce from Walmart this morning. (Walmart price = $2.12/jar, Amazon Prime price = $6.81/jar …) But the second part of her idea is truly bad.

As much as the jars look like canning jars, they’re not, and it’s a big mistake to re-use them for pressure canning. Yes, standard lids and bands fit them. The problem is that they’re made of thinner glass than real canning jars, and the glass isn’t annealed. If you use them in a pressure canner, when you open the canner you’re going to find from one or two to all of the jars fractured. And even the ones that look okay probably aren’t, because the thinner glass of their rims doesn’t allow a proper seal.

I recommended she do the same thing with those empty jars as we do: use them to store dry staples that are stored in smaller quantities. Things like herbs and spices, baking powder and soda, yeast, etc. They do fine for that and are good enough to maintain a seal if you add an oxygen absorber. Don’t try to make them what they’re not.

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