Quick thoughts on Gamma Seal Lids

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Gamma Seal Lids– those nifty air-tight lids that fit onto 5-gallon buckets by way of a gasket seal, used for food storage by most Preppers. Now they come in awesome colors so you can color-code your food and water storage as well as your Prepper supplies!

Quick thought on color coding:

I like to use the colored lids to separate my supplies so they are easily accessible and easily located when needed. Make sure to label your buckets with contents and date you stored them.

BLUE lid– use this one to store your water filters and water purification items. Put your water treatment tablets in there.

RED lid– red is a universal color for first aid, so store your first aid supplies, medicine, essential oils, bandages, creams, and other medical related items in this bucket.

GREEN lid– I like to think of green when it comes to storing my NukeBioChem (NBC) items. Put your gas masks and filters in here. Add in decontamination kits, wipes, rad dosage meters, and pandemic supplies. On the flip side, you could use Green to signify your bucket of vegetables or heirloom seeds for gardening.

WHITE lid– you could make this color your beverage bucket. Put hot cocoa, tea bags, coffee, kool aid packs, and other drink mixes in here. You could also make this bucket your hygiene bucket since White signifies cleanliness. Put wipes, toilet paper, soap, sanitizers, toothbrushes, wash clothes, toothpaste, and other hygiene items in this bucket.

YELLOW lid– you could use this color for your grains. Store wheat, oats, rice, and other cereal grains including flour and yeast. You could also use this color as a baby/kids bucket, storing baby supplies, diapers, formula, wipes, clothing, etc that babies and small children need. A third option is to use this color to signify your butters, cheeses, oils, and fats that you need to store for cooking and baking.

ORANGE lid– making this a fruit bucket or fruit & veggie bucket is handy. This could also be a miscellaneous bucket to store personal items, self defense items, or whatever you desire.

BLACK lid– I like to use this color for my meats and proteins, including beans and legumes. I also like to store spices and can openers with this color.

You can organize your food storage in any way that you like; the possibilities are endless. The main point is to make sure you can easily recognize what your stored in each bucket so it is easy to locate and use when the time comes. It also helps your family, especially younger members, find what they need because it is color coded.

Just remember to label and date your buckets and practice rotating your food storage so it does not get wasted through spoilage. And don’t forget the bucket and bung nut wrench opener!

You can find these lids all over the Internet for sale, but I have found that Emergency Essentials has the best prices.

Happy food storage!

My Favorite Food Storage Method

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MY FAVORITE STORAGE METHOD

For long term food and water storage, my favorite is the 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal lid.  They are easily portable, easy to label the contents, easy to stack, easy to open and re-seal, etc!  They are a great way to store food, water, and supplies.  You can pick up any 5-gallon bucket from a hardware or paint store (darker in color, the better). You can get Gamma Seal lids online, in surplus stores, and some hardware stores (again, darker in color, the better).  Make sure they are new, have never had paint, chemicals, oils/fats, gasoline, stored in them before because those chemicals can leach back into your food/water and contaminate your stored goods.

 

I like to do my buckets this way:

 

-Several Complete Buckets that have MRE/Mylar Food Pouches (food & water for 2 or 3 people for 72 hours), Mylar water pouches, a can opener, some matches, a small water filter/water purification tablets, a roll of toilet paper, a small basic first aid kit, and some basic medication like aspirin, Tylenol or Ibprofen.   I call these Complete Buckets because if you had to Bug Out, if you grab a few of these buckets AND your Bug Out Bag (that should be properly stocked and ready to go), you can easily throw all of these in a vehicle and Bug Out or carry these items if you had to walk out of an emergency situation.  A Complete Bucket gives you supplies for a few days to a few weeks to hopefully get to a better location and away from the emergency. Label COMPLETE

 

-Several buckets that are just food (whether that be canned goods, mylar pouches, freeze dried foods, or grains/beans/rice/sugars)  If doing a whole bucket of grains, beans, rice, sugars, etc, make sure you purchase a mylar bag liner for the bucket to protect your stores. Label FOOD

 

-Several buckets that are just water pouches, water filtration/purification items  Label WATER

 

-Several buckets that are just first aid/medication products  Label FIRST AID/MEDICINE

 

-Several buckets that are just toilet paper  Label TP or BATH SUPPLY

 

-Several buckets that are just matches, lighters, firebuilding supplies, Sterno cooking fuel, candles LabelFIRE

 

-A bucket or two of Baby Supplies  (see Putting up for Baby post), more if you already have a baby or are/will be expecting a baby for sure.  Label BABY

 

-A bucket or two of Pet Supplies (see Putting up for Fido and Fluffy post)  Label PETS

 

-A few buckets of alcohol and tobacco products-  even if you don’t drink or smoke, these make great barter items in an emergency Label BARTER

 

-A bucket of “fun stuff”-  books, games, cards, toys for kids (children get easily bored in an emergency situation and may not have electricity to play their Game Boys or cell phone games)  Label RECREATION or FUN

 

-Several buckets of comfort foods-  candy, chocolate, hot chocolate mix, coffee mix, or other favorite treats

 

-Several buckets of feminine products- not only are these great barter items, need items for women every month, but can also use to stop heavy bleeding on a wound (cut, gunshot wound).  Label FEMININE HYGIENE

-Several buckets of soap, wash rags, shampoo, comb/brush, razors, a bath towel or two rolled up, and other hygiene products you prefer  Label HYGIENE

 

How many calories do we need?

Calories

 

 

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PRE-PACKAGED FOOD UNITS

There are numerous companies that have chosen to offer dried foods already combined into units. Most of these units consist of large quantities of traditional grains and beans and dehydrated vegetables. Some companies have specialized in freeze-dried and “no cooking required” units with complete entrees, breakfasts, soups and desserts. Units are primarily packaged in #10 (about 7/8 of a gallon) cans and /or large 5 or 6 gallon plastic pails.  Shop around and compare before purchasing an all-inclusive food unit, or find a dealer who will work with you to design a plan specific for your needs and tastes. Most pre-designed 1-year Food Unit for 1-person is what we at the School of Self-Reliance call a Starvation Diet–  meaning that yes, there is food in those pre-designed food units to last 1 year for 1 person, but usually those units only provide about 1,500 calories per day per person.  Since most normal human beings need at least 2,000 calories per day to meet their bodily requirements (in a normal safe situation, not an emergency scenario where you can easily burn over 3,000+ calories in a day), these food units will put you on a “Starvation Diet”- a long, slow and painful route to starvation that undermines your safety, health, and wellbeing.  Old trappers and mountain men used to die of “rabbit starvation” because they lived off of primarily rabbit meat, which is lean and does not contain much fat, vitamins or minerals, just lean protein. Having a bare minimum of calories daily to maintain life is one thing, but having enough calories to burn so you can improve your situation, stave off infection/disease, and survive is an entirely different thing. Take care in choosing what long-term food you store and rotate.  Want a basic idea of calories we burn? Check our my table below:

 

HOW MANY CALORIES DO WE BURN PER DAY? (numbers may vary depending on type of person, physical activity level, dietary needs, medical conditions, environment, etc).

1500- 1800           JUST ENOUGH TO KEEP YOU ALIVE (STARVATION DIET)

2000 -2200         NORMAL DAILY REQUIREMENT FOR ADULTS (You are burning this every day at work/home)

2500- 2800          PREGNANT & NURSING WOMEN,  VERY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE MEN

3000 -3500          SOLDIERS IN COMBAT SITUATIONS, PRO ATHLETES

3500+                      WINTER/FREEZING LONG-TERM SURVIVAL SITUATION (THINK DONNER PARTY)

 

Scientists did a study a few years back where they took a few healthy men and women into the Sierra Nevada mountains (the same pass that the Donner Party starved to death in), and hooked them up to ECG/EKG machines and caloric meters, and had them do the same tasks the Donner Party would have had to do in a high altitude snowy environment- look for firewood, hunt for food, collect/make water, stay warm and dry.   After several hours of tramping around in deep snow at the same altitude and location that the Donner Party perished at, the scientists found that their test subjects were burning close to 5,000 calories just doing basic survival skills to stay alive!  And this was only 1 day of performing these tasks.  The scientists concluded from these tests that most people underestimate how many calories they need in a survival situation to stay alive and be able to perform tasks that will ensure their survival- like making shelter, making fire, hunting food, getting water, etc.  It is no wonder the Donner Party wasted away in a high altitude snowy freezing environment- they did not have nearly enough calories in their diet to survive..(which may have resulted in the proposed cannibalism that supposedly took place among the Donner Party).  Researchers who have studied the Donner Party extensively have found that had the Party descended 600 feet in altitude down the mountain pass, they would have come across wild game, wild edible plants, running water, far less snow, and material for making proper shelters.  600 feet and they might have survived the winter!

Lesson of the story- make sure you have enough calories in your Food Storage Plan to account for extreme survival situations like freezing temperatures, combat scenarios, or even common scenarios like a pregnancy. Calories mean life. Water and Food keep you alive so make sure you plan accordingly so you don’t become the Donner Party!

 

The TRUTH about Shelf Life, Expiration Dates, and Use-by Dates

Milk Expiration Date

SHELF LIFE VERSUS EXPIRATION DATE VERSUS USE BY DATE

What is the difference between all these crazy dates posted on our food and water???

SHELF LIFE-    refers to the length of time a food/water product can be stored, IF properly canned, stored, and proper temperature is maintained.  Example-  Freeze Dried Food in a sealed #10 can stored in a cool, dark, moisture/pest free environment can last up to 25-30 years.  Root crops (carrots, potatoes, turnips, beets, etc) store for very long periods of time if kept in a root cellar (somewhere cool and dark with very, very, little moisture).  IDEAL STORAGE CONDITIONS-  COOL (40F to 60F- temps higher than this destroy nutrients and cause spoilage), DARK (no sunlight that destroys nutrients), DRY (no moisture that causes rust and bacterial growth, and PEST FREE (no bugs or rodents).

 

EXPIRATION DATE–  by law (USDA/FDA) require only infant formula and medications to have a true expiration date.  This is to prevent food-borne illnesses in infants that are incapable of fighting off a severe case of food poisoning as well as to maintain high nutrient values for those growing little bodies and brains, and because some medication will deteriorate into a dangerous chemical form past the expiration date and should not be taken. (Example- Amoxycillian antibiotics will deteriorate past its expiration date into a deadly poison).  Product that has an expiration date that is not baby formula or medications/chemicals, is not regulated by the USDA/FDA and is printed by courtesy of the manufacturer of the product.

 

BEST IF USED BY DATE-   Also known as SELL BY DATE, this date is put on food and water products for several reasons.

1) The grocery store wants to move that item as quickly as possible so they can re-stock their shelves with incoming food orders. They are all about making money and selling products at their freshest insures the grocery store will make money with not a lot of waste.

2) Some foods, while they do not go “bad” (rancid/rotten), they do tend to lose a little quality or texture. Example-  Lettuce or leafy greens may not be as crisp, but are still edible.  Bread may be a little stale, but is not moldy.  Bananas turn soft and oxidize (turn brown/black), but are perfectly edible.

3) Some foods will go bad about a week after the SELL BY DATE/ BEST IF USED BY DATE. Example-  milk will begin to curdle or sour.  Some folks use soured raw milk (not pasteurized) for baking and other cooking uses  http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/101-uses-for-soured-raw-milk/

4)This date is to inform the consumer when the “peak of freshness” is in relation to the product there are purchasing.  Example- We know that canned beans might have a SELL BY DATE of a year, but those beans can easily last between 5 to 7 years on the shelf if the can is not dented, bloated, or rusted, and is stored properly. See above Shelf Life for Ideal Storage Conditions.

 

STILL NOT SURE ABOUT WHETHER SOMETHING IS SAFE TO EAT JUST BY SMELLING IT, LOOKING AT IT, OR TASTING IT?  

THEN DO IT THE FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY WAY-  Want to be safe with the foods in your refrigerator and pantry?  Then follow the Food Safety protocols that restaurants and other food service locations do-

1) Rotate all your food.  This is called FIFO- First In First Out.  This means if you bought a half gallon of milk on Aug. 18th, and then purchased another half gallon of milk on Aug 24th, you should use up the milk bought on Aug 18th FIRST, prior to OPENING/USING the milk bought on Aug 24th. This rotation method insures you don’t use product that is extremely old (because it keeps getting put/shoved to the back of the fridge or pantry.

2) Label and date Everything!  In conjunction with food rotation above, restaurants label what a product is (you can use some plain tape and a marker to do this) with the name of the product, the date is was made/purchased/delivered, and a date that is no more than 7 DAYS past the date it was made/purchased/delivered as the date it needs to be consumed by or thrown out.  Example-  I made an apple pie and store it in a plastic pie container in my refrigerator. I put a label on the container with the following:  APPLE PIE, Made Aug 10th. Use by Aug 17th.    This lets me know that as long as the apple pie is stored in the refrigerator, I have until Aug 17th to eat the pie or throw it out.  Don’t let someone convince you that you have to use certain items in only 3 or 4 days. You have up to 7 days (if you store it in your refrigerator) to consume that item before wasting it in the trash can. This includes left overs that you cooled down immediately, and then labeled and stored in the refrigerator. (Never put hot food in a container and throw in the refrigerator, you are asking to make yourself sick) Always cool the food down quickly either with an ice bath or by spreading it thin in a large container, before refrigerating.)

 3) Time & Temperature Control-  I could go into a lengthy section on Time & Temperature Control that restaurants use in every step of food production (prepping, cooking, cooling, storing, etc) and perhaps I will in another post at another time, but I will hit on one major point,  If you have food product that is not meant for storage outside of a refrigerator (crackers, baking mixes, spices, unopened canned goods, etc are all fine sitting in your pantry) then remember to not leave it sit out of the refrigerator for more than 4 hours!  When you hit the 4 hour mark, you should assume that it has been contaminated with bacteria and needs to be thrown away.  Remember that Apple Pie I labeled up above?  Let’s assume I take it out of the refrigerator, I cut a couple slices out of it for my family to eat.  I have only 4 hours to eat those slices (and the entire pie!) or get them back in the refrigerator, otherwise at the 4 hour mark I need to throw them away because they are contaminated with possible bacteria that cause food-borne illness.  Yes some folks have kept food out on the counter top longer than 4 hours and lived to tell about it, but let’s be safe for safety’s sake and stick to the 4 hour rule that the FDA and restaurants all over the country are mandated to follow.  It’s just easier.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The best thing to do is to follow the Expiration Date if the product is baby formula or medication; trust your eyes, nose, and tastebuds on everything else that has gone past the Best If Used By/Sell By Date; and do everything you can to extend the Shelf Life of your food (especially if you are putting the food up for long term storage  ie- prepping).   If the food has an off-odor, doesn’t look right (looks oily or off-color), doesn’t smell right (your nose will let you know), or has turned into a fur-bearing mammal (mold), you probably should throw it out.   As for medication- NEVER throw medication down the toilet or sink!!!  This contaminates our water supply and reduces the effectiveness of the water treatment at the treatment plant.  Always throw meds in the trash or give to your pharmacist to dispose of properly.

WEB RESOURCE FOR SHELF LIFE:

www.stilltasty.com   has great references for Shelf Life of food!

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How Many Oxygen Absorbers Do I Need?

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OXYGEN ABSORBERS

Are you putting together you own food-storage buckets or mylar-sealed meals?  Then you will want to use oxygen absorbers to extend the shelf-life of your food!  Here’s a handy chart to have:

 

Oxygen Absorber Recommended Amounts

How Many Oxygen Absorbers Do I Need? Some Recommended Amounts*
Container Type Wheat/Flour/Grains/Rice
(More Dense/Less Air)
Pasta/Beans
(Less Dense/More Air)
FOOD STORAGE BUCKETS:
6-Gallon Food Storage Bucket 100cc: 20
500cc: 4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
100cc: 25-30
500cc: 5-6
1000cc: 3
2000cc: 2
5-Gallon Food Storage Bucket 100cc: 20
500cc: 4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
100cc: 25-30
500cc: 5-6
1000cc: 3
2000cc: 2
4.25 Gallon Food Storage Bucket 100cc: 15-20
500cc: 3-4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
100cc: 20
500cc: 4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
MYLAR FOOD STORAGE BAGS:
Mylar Bag 26in. x 36in. (6 gallons) 100cc: 20
500cc: 4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
100cc: 25-30
500cc: 5-6
1000cc: 3
2000cc: 2
Mylar Bag 20in. x 30in. (4.25, 5 and 6 gallons) 100cc: 20
500cc: 4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
100cc: 25-30
500cc: 5-6
1000cc: 3
2000cc: 2
Mylar Bag with Ziplock 18in. x 28in. (4.25, 5 and 6 gallons 100cc: 20
500cc: 4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
100cc: 25-30
500cc: 5-6
1000cc: 3
2000cc: 2
Mylar Bag 14in. x 20in. (2.0 gallons) 100cc: 10
500cc: 2
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 15-20
500cc: 3-4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag with Ziplock 14in. x 18in. x 6in. (2.0 gallons) 100cc: 10
500cc: 2
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 15-20
500cc: 3-4
1000cc: 2
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag 12in. x 18in. (1.5 gallons) 100cc: 3-5
500cc: 1-2
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 5
500cc: 2-3
1000cc: 1-2
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag with Ziplock 12in. x 16in. x 6in. (1.5 gallons) 100cc: 3-5
500cc: 1-2
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 5
500cc: 2-3
1000cc: 1-2
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag 10in. x 14in. (1 gallon) 100cc: 3-4
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 4
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag with Ziplock 10in. x 14in. x 4in. (1 gallon) 100cc: 3-4
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 4
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag 8in. x 12in. (1/2 gallon) 100cc: 1-2
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 2-4
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
Mylar Bag with Ziplock 8in. x 12in. x 4in. (1/2 gallon) 100cc: 1-2
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
100cc: 2-4
500cc: 1
1000cc: 1
2000cc: 1
*Note, these are average amounts at sea level. You may need more or less depending on your individual conditions and the remaining residual volume of air. There is no danger in adding too many as this does not affect the food.Oxygen represents 20% of the total volume of air and the number in cc’s above represents the amount of oxygen that would be absorbed.

Conversions: 1cc = 1ml. 1000ml = 1 Liter. 3.78 Liters = 1 gallon.

Simple Food Rotation

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LONG TERM FOOD STORAGE

LAYING-IN FOOD (PUTTING UP FOOD)

When you purchase food to lay-in or put-up, consider this order in which you will eat your food in an emergency scenario.  Then rotate your foods often in the order below as well.

EAT FIRST-  What is in your freezer and refrigerator and what is already ‘open’ in your pantry and cabinets. Foods that will spoil without power or go stale within a week to two.

 

EAT SECOND- Canned goods (both commercial and homemade), unopened items in your pantry and cabinets. Home sealed/canned or dried foods. Foods that will spoil within in several months to a year.

 

EAT THIRD-  Commercial purchased freeze-dried, dehydrated, and powdered long-term storage foods.  Foods that have a shelf-life of 10 or more years.

 

ROTATE, ROTATE, ROTATE!!

IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU WILL LOSE IT!!!

LEARN TO ROTATE YOUR FOOD STOCK AND PRACTICE ROTATING:

Example:  I take fresh broccoli from my refrigerator (or a freezer bag from the freezer), a can of pinto beans from my pantry, and a #10 Can of freeze-dried pork chops from my long-term storage.

I cook dinner with these 3 items, replacing them when I go shopping the next time, and put the leftover/extra pork chops from my #10 Can sealed in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer. I can then use the remaining pork chops over the next month for several meals. I rotate my stock this way regularly.

I date all my food with Sharpie permanent markers on the packaging-  date with when I put it into storage, and then when I pulled it out of storage and opened it (if I have extra/leftovers).

Use the same methods restaurants use:  FIFO- First In First Out rotation to insure proper rotatation and use of your foods.  No sense in letting anything spoil or go to waste since food costs money!

What is BPA?

BPA-Toxins-Effects-1

What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?

from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

BPA stands for Bisphenol-A.   BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.

In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, and baby bottles and cups. They may also be used in toys and other consumer goods. Epoxy resins can be used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA. And certain thermal paper products, such as cash register receipts, may contain BPA.

Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA. BPA remains controversial, and research studies are continuing. The National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has “some concern” about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. This level of concern is midway on its five-level scale, which ranges from serious to negligible. The Food and Drug Administration now shares this level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply by finding alternatives to BPA in food containers.

In the meantime, if you’re concerned about BPA, you can take steps to minimize your exposure by:

  • Seeking out BPA-free products. This may not always be easy to do, of course. Some manufacturers label their products as BPA-free. If a product isn’t labeled, keep in mind that most aluminum cans or bottles have linings that contain BPA, while steel bottles or cans don’t. Polycarbonate plastic is generally hard, clear, lightweight plastic. It often has the No. 7 recycling symbol on the bottom.
  • Microwave cautiously. The National Toxicology Program advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe. The plastics can break down over time, possibly causing BPA to leach into food.
  • Wash safely. The National Toxicology Program advises against washing polycarbonate plastics in the dishwasher using harsh detergents, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe.
  • Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
  • Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since many cans are lined with BPA-containing resin. Or store canned foods in cool, dry, dark places to minimize heat fluctuation.