New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food Storage - Appendix – More on Containers - Part 6

Storing Bulk Dry Foods in PETE Bottles using Oxygen Absorbers from

PETE plastic bottles are good containers that can be used for storage of shelf-stable, bulk dry foods that you normally keep in canisters in your pantry. Normal kitchen canisters do not have air tight seals. As a result, with changes in atmospheric pressure, air and moisture are pumped in and out of the products causing them to become stale more quickly.

Because of their oxygen/moisture barrier qualities, PETE bottles can be used as canisters to better maintain the freshness of stored dry foods. If you want to store these items for a longer time period, the use of oxygen absorbers in the PETE bottles will protect against insect infestation and help preserve quality longer.

In order to kill insects in adult, larva, and egg stages of growth, it is necessary to pull the oxygen content down to below 1% and hold it there for at least two weeks. Most types of plastic bottles are too porous, and leak too much oxygen in, but PETE bottles work well. Soda bottles and most shelf-stable juice bottles are made of PETE. Look at the recycle emblem on the bottom. It should have a #1 in the emblem and the letters PETE or PET below.

Step 1 Choose which types of bulk dry products you want to store

Decide on the types of products that you are going to store in PETE bottles using oxygen absorbers. These bulk items need to be dry, about 10% moisture or less and low in oil content.

Examples of suitable products are:

Grains : Oats, White Rice, Wheat, and Corn
Milled Grain Products : White Flour, Degermed Corn Meal, and Rice Flour.
Legumes : Beans, Split Peas, and Lentils
Nonfat Dry Milk: Regular and Instant
Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables : Apples, Carrots, Onions, and Potatoes (Must be dry enough, both inside and out to snap when bent)

Examples of products that are not suitable in this type of storage are items that have high or exposed oil content, high moisture or contain leavening. Most of these foods are kept in their original containers and rotated frequently Storage time can be increased by storing them in freezer bags, in the freezer:

Oily or Moist Grains and Milled Grain Products : Brown Rice, Whole Grain Flours and Cereals, Granola etc.
Brown Sugar
Products containing leavening : Cake/pancake mixes, Biscuit mixes, etc. In the grocery stores these products are package in breathable packages that allow the gas produced by the leavenings to escape.
Home Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables This is "reduced oxygen packaging". If moist foods, such as inadequately dried vegetables are stored this way, it could result in a botulism poisoning risk. If you have any question about the storability of a given product, contact your local County Agriculture Extension Service office.

step 2 Start saving, washing, and drying bottles

Start saving bottles Each time you empty a PETE soda or juice bottle, wash it out, drain it, and allow it to dry out completely, For this purpose, save only bottles that have been used for food or water.

Used wide mouth PETE jars that contained items like peanut butter, mayonnaise, and nuts can also be serve as canisters. However they may not be airtight enough to use with oxygen absorbers. The remnants of the original foil seal from the jar rim can limit their ability to provide an adequate seal. You can test the seal by tightening the lid on an empty bottle, placing it under water and squeezing on it to see if any bubbles come out.

The photo below demonstrates how oxygen absorbers work . Air is about 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen. Nitrogen does not harm food or promote insect growth and does not need to be removed. Oxygen absorbers reduce the amount of oxygen in the container to less than 1%. This results in a lower oxygen content than can be accomplished with vacuum packaging.

The sealed bottle has one AGELESS 300 oxygen absorber and a few drops of water for this demonstration. This is how it looks after one week. It shows that the bottle volume was reduced by about 20% , as the oxygen was absorbed. Do not add water with bulk dry foods when packaging. The products already have adequate moisture to activate the absorber.

step 3 Obtain oxygen absorbers

Obtain Oxygen Absorbers To find oxygen absorbers, you can check in the yellow pages for "packaging" suppliers or search online for "oxygen absorbers". The type of oxygen absorbers I have used for over 10 years are the AGELESS 300 absorbers from Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. This type of oxygen absorber comes in sealed bags of 100 absorber packets each. The 300cc size, with its reserve capacity, is adequate for PETE bottles up to 1 gallon capacity, regardless of the density of the dry foods stored.

Once you are ready to use your absorbers, you will want to open the bag and place the absorbers into glass pint canning jars. One pint jar will hold 25 absorbers, as shown below. Other sizes of jars may be used, but they need to be clean glass jars with metal gasketed lids. They do not have to be new, but must have an airtight seal.

step 4 Package bulk dry foods in bottles

Verify that the bottles are completely clean and dry before filling.

Set up the packaging area. Once you know how many bottles you are going to fill in the next 20 minutes, remove that many absorbers from your absorber supply jar, spread them out on a tray and reseal the jar lid.

Place an oxygen absorber in the bottom of the bottle. The absorber will work regardless of its location in the bottle. However placing it on the bottom allows for full use of its reserve capacity, once you start using out of and reclosing the bottle.

Fill the bottle . As you are filling, tap the bottle several times on the table to settle the product. Fill it all of the way to the top.

Wipe off the top rim of the bottle.

Verify that the lid is clean and dry.

Tighten the lid down firmly to reseal

Label the bottle with the packaging date and, where applicable, ingredients and recipe instructions.

You may want to tape around the lid with a narrow strip of duct tape to help prevent others from opening it until you are ready to use it. White duct tape works well for this purpose.

step 5 Storage of PETE bottles of bulk dry foods

Store bottles in a cool, dry location, away from light and heat. Fruit boxes from the grocery store are very good containers to store the filled bottles. Like a used apple or produce box.

PETE bottle storage Information Resources

The following are links to other reference sources for PETE bottle storage and general infomation on bulk dry storage.

Utah State University Extension Service

Brigham Young University


LDS Church,11666,7534-1-4065-1,00.html

Foods for Storing and their Containers from

Containers - Containers for food need to be water proof and vermin proof (preferably metal):
1. 200 litre (44 gallon) clean open mouth drums may be obtained from food manufacturing factories etc.
Plastic bag liners may be available and care must be taken once the food has been placed in the drum that the drum is not subject to extremes of temperature allowing condensation to form on the inside of the drum, thus potentially spoiling the food
2. 20 litre square sided honey tins. These may be acquired from bee keeping suppliers and are excellent for storing food where the food may need to be moved.
3. There are many other storage containers that may be used eg. galvanised water tanks, 20 litre round food pails, large glass bottles, large concrete water pipes, heavy plastic bags.
Which Foods are best for storage. Seven factors may be considered in deciding which foods to store.
1. Calories. This is the energy carried within the food and provides the body with energy to function.
2. Nutrition. This is the vitamins, minerals, essential oils, fibre etc that are essential for health.
3. Life force. This is the vitality of the food that can add to the vitality of the individual.
4. Storage life. This is the time in which the food can be stored without losing it vitality, nutritional qualities and edibility.
5. Bulk. Storing foods efficiently requires choosing compact foods that hold a high calorie and nutritional value in a small volume.
6. Cost per calorie.
7. Preserving or protecting the food once stored from weevils, vermin and oxidation.
Food types
1. Grains. Unground cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize, rice, sorghum and millet are ideal for storing. Wheat keeps the best of these and rice the least. Wheat has been stored in underground plastic lined pits for many years without going rancid. Rice apparently does not keep for more than one or two years.
Grains need to be protected from weevil infestation and moisture.
2. Legumes. These are foods such as beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas and soy beans. They store well although some may dry out and become very hard. They compliment cereals by balancing the protein content.
3. Edible Seeds. There are many varieties of seeds that can be stored such as sesame, sunflower, alfalfa, pumpkin, poppy and linseed. These need similar storage conditions to cereals.
4. Nuts. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts peanuts
5. Spices. Examples of spices are cardamom, caraway, cinnamon, cloves, dill, peppers, mustard, and celery. There are many spices not mentioned, all can be stored so that they can be used to enhance the flavour.
6. Salt. This should be included in the storage list, needing only to be kept dry. Use "iodised" if possible.
7. Sweeteners. Honey, sugar and malt etc are high calorie foods providing a quick energy source. Honey and malt also contain a modest nutritional value.
8. Oils. Olive oil and Ghee (tinned).
9. Proteins. Tinned meat, fish and other sources of protein.
10. Water. While not normally considered a food, water is an essential nutrient. People who live in towns and cities have become used to turning a tap and getting water. Ahead this may not be the case. Obtaining adequate drinkable water should be a priority in preparing for the times ahead. Rain water can be collected from roofs and stored in tanks. Some provision should be made for sterilising water by boiling. River water quality and quantity should not be assumed. Those people living in towns and cities should consider a stock of water sterilising tablets.
11. Vegetable seeds. The growing of food will be a major need ahead and thus the seeds necessary should be stored along with the other foods. Seeds such as pumpkin, turnip, parsnip, carrot, corn and the cereals can be grown for calories. The leafy vegetables such as silver beet, celery, cabbages, lettuces, parsley etc for the greenery of the meal. Whatever your local climate and food produce is, choose the seeds accordingly and store in a similar way as to cereals. These are best kept in brown paper bags, do not use plastic air tight bags.
How to store and preserve grains and seeds. Grains and seeds can be protected from weevil infestation in two ways.
1. Commercially, carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to displace the oxygen in the container. This is reported to kill all weevils and their eggs. For those who have the availability in their area of hiring gas bottles of carbon dioxide, a hose can be placed into the bottom of the container, the container filled with grain and then the gas trickled through the hose into the bottom of the vessel. The carbon dioxide gas being heavier and cooler, slowly fills the container. When a flaring match goes instantly out at the top of the container it is full of the gas and the container can then be sealed. If the reduction of the level of oxygen through displacement with carbon dioxide if sufficiently high, it will kill the weevils and eggs.
It is very important if using large containers that no one enters the container after the carbon dioxide is used as loss of consciousness followed by death may occur due to the lack of oxygen.
2. Diatomaceous earth. This is obtained from fossilised sedimentary layers of tiny phytoplankton called diatoms. It can kill insect by desiccation absorbing the oils of the insect allowing dehydration and death. It can also kill the insect through its abrasive action. It is non-toxic but care should be taken to avoid inhaling the dust. Use at a ratio of approx 1 part to 250 parts of grain and mixed into the grain as the container is filled. Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic.
If the grain is being milled, monitor the process to ensure that the mill surfaces are not worn by the dust. The powder may be washed off before using the grain. Diatomaceous earth does not work as well for maize and is more successful when the moisture content of the grain is low.

Legumes. These may be stored in air-tight containers and appear to keep reasonably well for several years. Some legumes dry out and become very hard over a period of time. These may be ground for use as a "flour."
Nuts. Nuts removed from their shell oxidise quickly and need to be eaten before a year has passed. Unshelled nuts may last longer.
Spices. These will lose some of their flavour over time due to the loss of volatile oils and to oxidation. Many spices keep in air tight containers for several years.
Sweeteners. Raw honey keeps quite well for several years in a sealed container. Sugar keeps indefinitely. Molasses etc can go "off" and should be stored in a sealed container away from light to give it an extended life.These foods are favourites of ants and care must be taken to use sealed containers
Oils. These need to be stored in airtight tin or dark glass to slow oxidation.
Using the stored foods.
1. Cereals mills. With cereals and seeds, some of them such as rice and oats can be cooked in water and eaten, others can be ground to make a flour and thus bread etc. Thus a means of grinding the grain or seed needs to be acquired.
There are several types of grinders from metal through to stone. It is suggested that the grinder you decide upon should first be trialed to note how efficiently it grinds the grain and how long it takes for the quantity required.
2. Sprouting. Sprouting of seeds, legumes and grains substantially increases the nutritional value and volume of the food. To sprout these foods, a rough guide is as follows:
A. Select, wash and place in a 1 or 2 litre wide mouthed well-washed jar.
B. Allow for a six fold increase in volume. Cover with 4 times the volume of luke warm water and allow to stand overnight or until they have swollen.
C. Pour off water and wash thoroughly and drain well.
D. Cover the jar top with cheesecloth or other mesh screening and tie on securely.
E. Invert jar and place in a cupboard or dark place allowing excess water to drain away.
F. At least once, preferably 3 - 4 times daily, wash thoroughly with plenty of cool water and drain well. This washes away moulds and bacteria that may have developed whilst moistening the seeds.
G. In 3 - 4 days at room temperature the sprouts will be from 1 to 5 cm (0.5 - 2 inches) long. Eat at a time that is found most suitable for each food. They may be lightly cooked if necessary.
H. The food chosen will require its own sprouting time and preparation for eating that can be easily learnt as you go.
Purchasing. This will depend on which country you live in but listed below are some general guidelines that may help.
Cereals, seeds and legumes can be purchased in bulk directly from farmers, grain merchants and bulk health food wholesalers and retailers. Be sure to state your usage to ensure that the food purchased has not been treated with chemicals making it unsuitable for human consumption.
Other food such as honey may be purchased directly from the producer and tinned meat and fish from supermarkets or wholesalers.

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