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 I just recently got some food out of my storage unit that had been stored since about 2000. I suffered some loss, and would like to impart what I have learned about storing my food over time.
 
     This was a basic storage unit, not climate controlled, which certainly would have been better.
 
     Not having $3000 in my pocket, it was comprised of stuff that I had purchased at the grocery store a bit at a time, like rice, pasta, etc....I did vacumn pack most of it, and put it in plastic storage bins to reduce chances of mice...
 
    I was putting the "mouse tempting food" in plastic bins, and would generally pack the canned goods in small to medium sized boxes....since it was in there for so long and the canned goods obviously had temperature changes of about 20-90 degrees (outside weather) I am hestitant to try to use them. If one could afford it, I would certainly go with a climate - controlled storage situation. I have heard of people turning stacks of canned goods into furniture; stack up flats of canned goods, throw a decorative cloth over, and you have an end table! 
 
     My experience found: The bins that I had duct taped the edge of the lid to the bin, fared very well; The bins I did not do that to, lost pretty much everything in that bin due to mice.....
 
     Had some loss of canned goods due to rusting which opened and destroyed the contents and generally that box...
 
     I have since read that mice do not like dryer sheets in addition to not liking mothballs. I don't think I would have wanted to place rat poison around, because if they are not already in the storage unit, I would think that could draw them in. In retrospect, I think putting a dryer sheet in each bin, and same items liberally around the storage unit would have been a good idea.
 
    Flour and similar products like oats, cornmeal etc gets "weavils" in it after a couple years. I did some info chasing on the Internet and found that they normally are in the product but not apparent...and I guess "hatch" or whatever after a time.....one can apprently prevent that by two things, per my searches:
 
* Mixing diatomaous earth in the product  (did also recently read that basic talcum powder is the same thing as D. earth - but with all the scents and additives to talcum powder, I'm not sure we can use it for that...
* Alternating deep freeze and thaw for about a week each time, a few times, to kill the stuff.....
 
Summary: What would I do different??
 
* Put what I buy and use everyday in bins, date the bins, and rotate their use.
* Possibly scatter a few mothballs around the storage unit to deter mice, and maybe part of a dryer sheet or something in each bin as a deterent?
* Use strong heavy tape around the perimeter of ALL lids, to minimize any chance of mice squeezing in.
* Be more mindful about the climate control.
 
** Note - these bins can get very heavy, so keep that in mind when you are adding up the weight with things like 4, or 10 lbs of flour, sugar, and rice! **
     I thank the Lord for the fact that I am strong, but not everyone can lift a 50 lb bin.
 
     I did stock up on lots of spices - they look to have fared just fine...also plan to get lots of extra soy sauce and Worchestershire sauce: My husband and brother used low temp oven to make deer jerky strips, marinated in a mix of the above sauces, and it was SO good!
 
Happy storing!!!
Mary V.

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Replies to This Discussion

I too still have some Y2K and 2003 stuff that I did not rotate out. It did not go through the temperature extremes that yours did but I still did get some rust and could have benefited from better sealing the containers to reduce oxidation. What would I do differently? In addition to your great suggestions:
*Label everything with date of purchase whether or not it has any expiry or best-before dates on it, especially if acquiring supplies over time.
*Pack for rotation -- this means not having to sort through the entire inventory just to find the earliest items needing using up
*Acidic foods containing tomato or fruit fare better in glass jars than cans. Additionally the jars are useful later. Be sure glass-to-glass contact is padded with dividers.
*Rodents can chew through plastic and squeeze through very small slots. Their skeleton actually folds for flatness. I never use poison baits due to the danger to my cats eating the poisoned mice. And people may be eating those mice one day too. I would consider metal containers, well sealed, for things of interest to rodents. Large biscuit tins and metal trash containers with tight-sealing lids are worth considering. Farm supply stores are more likely than the "X-Marts" to carry metal containers in addition to the plastic. Garden seeds absolutely should be stored in metal, sealed. Light, heat and moisture will dramatically reduce the germination rates prematurely.
*Certain first aid supplies need to be rotated out too, again label date of purchase.
I know what 50 lbs feels like to lift since I am the one that moves 50 lb feed bags from my Tahoe into the feed room and dumps them into my feed cans. Thanks very much for the info!
I have a question, and hope someone can answer.. I had heard of small packets of (?) to put in with your dry goods, like rice and noodles to prevent spoilage.. Anybody heard of these..? thank you...
This site has a decent price listed for the oxygen absorber packets you are asking about , Dianna.

http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/oxygenabsorbers100cc.aspx

Dianna Spencer said:
I have a question, and hope someone can answer.. I had heard of small packets of (?) to put in with your dry goods, like rice and noodles to prevent spoilage.. Anybody heard of these..? thank you...
Those round and rectangular biscuit tins can often be found at the thrift stores mixed in with all the kitchen paraphenalia. Also, surprisingly, biscuits are still sold in them. Check out C***co and such mega-warehouse stores, especially around Holiday time. For example there are some kind of Danish butter cookies that come in a big, round dark blue tin.

Teresa C said:
Thanks everyone these are good ideas.
I have a few ancient rectangular tin containers that I inherited from Grandma. I wish they were bigger. They will hold 5lbs of flour or sugar. They are not fancy but air tight. This is pre tupperware days and they must have made larger ones and maybe they still make them if not here in other countries. They are so good at keeping the rodents out.
If you do use diatomaceous earth make sure it is" food grade"...you can also use it internally to rid oneself of parasites.
However it must be" food grade" as regular will tear the bowel apart.
I think I read there is an herb that repels rodents...I'll try to find it. But that would have to be replaced frequently for potency problems.
For flour and other such things that can have weavils,worms, etc get in them, use a bay leaf or two inside the container. I have done this for 30 years after I read that somewhere, I haven't had bugs or worms since.
Oh a bay leaf what a GREAT idea!

Marita Fox said:
For flour and other such things that can have weavils,worms, etc get in them, use a bay leaf or two inside the container. I have done this for 30 years after I read that somewhere, I haven't had bugs or worms since.

Mary, DO NOT store things in hot storage units.  The colder the items the better they last.  The things vacumed packet are a good idea as they should last long with out the air.  You must read all you can about food storage.   Be sure to rotate your food.  Don't just pack it and forget it unless it is long term storage like MRE's.  The canned items are best by only a few months after the date on the can.  However if the can is good and not bulging it may be good for many years but will loose flavor and color and you probably wont want to eat it anyway.  When I was little there were not dates on cans and they were on the shelfs for many years.  If the can was bulgy or hissed when opening it was tossed.  Remember if the food looks or smells bad toss it!  Some foods last a long time in a can like sardines which have a 5 year shelf life.  You might want to try what I am looking into, which is, dry food storage using oxygen aborbers.  Some dry foods when stored properlycan last up to 30 years.  Foods like pasta and uncooked rice.  Best thing to do now is start reading about food storage!

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