Dry Bulk Food Storage
by Steve The Survival Sasquatch
We are all trying to be as prepared for all eventualities as we can be, and we are all trying to get prepared within our budgets. With that in mind I have developed the following method for putting up dry storage in bulk.
Obtain five and six gallon food grade plastic buckets for free – ask for them at, Walmart bakery – Icing Buckets. Nursing home food service – Chicken soup stock buckets. Delis – Macaroni Salad and Potato salad Buckets – No Pickle Buckets (you can’t get the smell out.) Any where they do high volume food production call and ask – stop by and ask. Most of these places throw away the buckets – Offer a dollar a bucket to somebody if they will save them for you.
Best price I have been able to find otherwise is 7.50 per bucket – used
Do not use HDPE #2 buckets that are not specifically food grade. I have heard claims that the chemical formulation of the plastic varies, and regardless if it doesn’t the bucket may have held something in it that would not be safe to eat even in trace amounts.
Get Rice – It keeps salt from caking, it will be sufficient to act as a desiccant. (except of course when you are putting up bulk rice -in which case you won’t be using a separate desiccant) make up sachets of dry rice to use as a dessicant for keeping other things dry in your sealed containers.
Get disposable “Hand Warmers” – they are chemically the same as O2 absorbers, more readily available, and they handle a much larger volume of O2 per unit. They do contain salt and a very little bit of water to accelerate the reaction so they are not reusable. I checked with Poison Control, The Manufactuer, and A Yale Biochemistry Professor, these are safe to use for this purpose.
Make sure the environment you are going to work in has an ambient humidity less than 30% (I have a cheap indoor outdoor weather station thing that measures the humidity indoors – it was 7$ at homegoods) and in the winter here my basement averages 25% humidity. This level of ambient humidity is sufficient to dry flowers with out any other effort. I also dry my herbs by hanging them from a clothes line thing in the basement during the winter.
Ok here we go for the mechanics of the operation:
Sterile wash your buckets (if your dish washer does not have a sterile cycle add 2 tsp of bleach and run your longest wash cycle 1 tsp might even be sufficient, bleach is not good for the seals in your diswasher. So as another method for sterilization after washing in the dishwasher fill the bucket completely with water and add a tsp of bleach.)
At the end of the cycle remove the bucket and the lid – do not at any time touch the inside surfaces of the bucket or its seals! It wont be sterile anymore.
Using a heat gun if you have one, or a hair dryer, blow into the bucket until the entire bucket is hot to the touch and there are no drops of water in it. If you do not have a heat gun let the heated dry cycle do its thing and then let the bucket stand until it is absolutely dry. Optional: put a thin coating of warm (liqiud) petroleum jelly on the rubber seal in the rim of the lid of the bucket. (this protects the seal from dry rot)
Put your “Dry Bulk Food” in the bucket – (this is only for truly dried foods – any thing that is partially wet this will not work) Rice, Beans, Chick peas, Peas, Pasta, Cous Cous, Lentils, any dried food.
To any thing except rice add a cup of rice (from a sealed container that was packed in low humidity – Make sure you reseal that container right away) you may also add some salt if you want it won’t hurt any thing and it may very well help.
Open your Chemical Hand Warmer by tearing its packaging and with out touching it drop it in the bucket.
Seal with a rubber mallet or if you have Sasquatch hands use the heel of your hand – make sure the bucket is completely sealed.
Label, Date, and store up off the ground so that air can circulate under neath the buckets in a low temperature, low light, low humidity environment – the average chilly basement should be sufficient.
Rotate annually or semi annually and check seals – Do not stack buckets more than 3 high, heavy (35 lbs or more) buckets no more than 2 high.
This method properly executed will store dried goods in excess of 20 years – there will always be some food value degradation over time – many people say (I have no proof of this) that these foods will retain 90% of their nutritional value for 30 years and up to 70% as long as 50 years. However there is no perfect food preservation method and there will be some failure rate in all preps. Always remember; 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none.
Also remember that you are depriving the fungal, viral, and bacterial spores of the environment that will allow them to grow – not killing them – they were in the bag when you bought it at the store – you must cook these foods to make them safe to eat. And remember any method of food storage can fail – in fact will fail – given enough time and or neglect.
So eat what you store and store what you eat – rotate your storage – and have fun.
Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee any used buckets, food product, nor results. Food will go bad given enough time, moisture, heat, and other environmental inputs. Food will go bad even without the other environmental factors given enough time.
About the author;
On 9/11 Steve was 24 and very busy starting a corporate carreer. And He freaked out. Having been an avid camper he started preparing for a Bug Out. Over time, marriage and raising children and through more than a decade of continuous study he has become a prepper. He gives monthly talks in his community coordinated through The American Preppers Network and consults clients on the subjects of Disater Preparation and Self Sufficiency. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org