Food Storage Suggestions and Considerations
Yes, fresh food is more attractive, more nutritious and better tasting. There's no denying it. A freshly cooked steak; a nice, crisp apple; a bright, red, juicy, flavor filled tomato -- these are the kinds of things that, for many, the very thought of them sets your mouth watering. Yet, there are also times when the fresh food option is simply not an option -- whether it's because of availability, cost, condition, or food storage difficulties. In such cases, other choices need to be made.
When making those choices, however, it is important to remember that what is appropriate for one might not be appropriate for another. Remember, too, that when talking food storage you are not always talking long-term food storage. Sometimes it is just a matter of deciding what to do with the leftovers from this evening's meal. With that in mind, please consider the following food storage suggestions from Storeitfoods.com:
What to Do with the Leftovers
If leftovers come and go quickly with no spoilage and little waste, then all may be well. But if they tend to develop the "grey fuzzies" then there is a popular food storage/food preservation tool that just might come to your aid. Vacuum Sealers. Extend refrigerator life by providing air tight seals to your food. It's also possible to divide those leftovers into meal size preparation for boil-in-a-bag or microwave-in-a-bag preparation. You could even save several such meals in the freezer for an even longer food storage life.
Problems with Space
Is the freezer too small, the refrigerator too disorganized, and shelf space simply poorly designed? There could be all sorts of problems confronting the person trying to implement a food storage program, even if it's only on a limited basis. Lazy Susans, organizers and wire baskets might help. As far as specialty kitchen appliances are concerned, vacuum sealers will once again help decrease space requirements for stored food. The clear bags they use will also help you to easily identify food preservation items -- ending the "I wonder what's in that?" syndrome. As for saving space, dehydrators also provide you with a product that does just that. As a bonus, dehydrated foods require neither refrigeration nor freezing. The same can be said for your store bought canned goods, and, of course, for canning done at home.
If you're energy conscious, you probably already know that refrigerators and freezers can be energy gluttons. The biggest Excalibur dehydrator may use some power, but once it's done, it's done. In other words, the end product can be packaged and placed on a shelf without the need of additional cooling to prevent it from spoiling. Water bath canners also requires heating on the stove, but again energy savings result due to the undemanding storage requirements that follow. If you have used pressure canning techniques then you can take advantage of additional savings. Your pressure canner is also a pressure cooker, and pressure cooking decreases cooking times and lowers energy consumption.
One of the biggest advantages of doing your own food preparation, food preservation and food storage is that you have total control over what is prepared, preserved and stored. Not unexpectedly, there can be health benefits to this as well. Do you have allergies? Avoid those ingredients that provoke them. Are you skeptical about some of the preservatives used in commercially prepared foods? Don't use them. You can still prepare foods deliciously and safely without having to resort to some of what you might feel to be unnecessary, chemical additives. Consider a meat mincer so you can produce your own, additive free sausages. Did you know that many suppliers of peanut butter add icing sugar to their product so as to enhance the creaminess. That may not be such a good idea if you're trying to avoid sugars. Make your own. Some grain mills will also grind peanuts, as will many blenders. Use one of those in producing your own creamy or crunchy peanut butter. Recipes are available. Home-made apple sauce is also a possibility, and a Store-It provided apple peeler or sauce maker might be of great assistance. There are many, many such things that can be done at home and with relative ease. The secret is determining what you need and then doing it.
Thinking Shelf Life*
Home-made peanut butter does not store as well as its store-bought, additive-rich conterpart, and what you produce should probably be kept refrigerated until it is all used. The shelf life of commercially prepared peanut butter (unopened) is rated at 6 to 9 months. Even opened, the shelf life remains relatively high at 2 to 3 months. That certainly beats what you can do at home. Or does it? Peanuts, roasted in the shell, are said to have a shelf life of approximately 37 months. From that perspective, then, fresh is best. The same is true of breads and other baked goods.
Bread, it is well known, has a relatively short shelf life. All purpose flour, properly stored, has a rated shelf life of some 8 months. Wheat itself, lasts indefinitely -- with no appreciable nutritional losses. So if you love baking, and grind your own flour with something like the Wonder Mill or even some less expensive mill, you'll end up with something that is fresher, and probably more nutritious than the store packaged product. And that wheat is excellent for long term storage too, if you want to consider that aspect of it. For similar reasons, you may want to consider a standard juicer or some sort, or even something more specialized such as the Miracle wheat grass juicer. This is another instance where the fresher the product, the better it is for you.
*Shelf life specifies the period of time which a product can be stored, under specified conditions, and remain in optimum condition and suitable for consumption. Food is quite often usable beyond this point, but nutritional value is generally acknowledged to have begun to noticeably deteriorate. There are a number of online sources to which one can turn for additonal information on shelf life, including a highly informative web site maintained by Hormel Foods.
Where Fresh Doesn't Work
As has already been mentioned, fresh foods are not always the answer. This can be the case even if we are not speaking of times of scarcity or in emergency situations. Fresh foods might be either an inappropriate or an inconvenient food storage choice. Camp or trail foods, for example, should be lightweight and easy to transport. Here the dehydrated product might better serve. Or how about smoothies? Recipes for this tasty, nutritious product often call for frozen fruits rather than fresh. Whether use is being made of a blender or an actual smoothie maker, a pre-measured, vacuum packed, frozen serving of fruit, just might work out better than the fresh product. There are certainly other examples. The key is to analyze the food storage and food preparation needs at hand, and then determine how to best meet them.
Short Term - Long Term - Any Term
Personalize. That's what needs to be done. Everyone needs a food storage plan of some sort -- no matter how simple. There are certainly lots of tools available to do the job. What is required is to select the right ones. And some will do the jobs of many. There is a Blendtec blender, for instance, that will not only blend and chop the foods necessary for a delicious soup, it can also be used to cook it for you. Would that be useful for your home? If so, take a look at it. If not, keep looking. Store-It will likely have something to help meet your food storage, food preservation, food processing and food preparation needs.
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Can it, freeze it, dehydrate it, use it fresh, or keep it on hand for emergencies. At Store-It foods it is our desire to see to it that each food storage choice is a possibility for you.