Category Archives: Food Storage

7 Months in the Potato Freezer

I’ve  been meaning to post this for a long time now.  We’ve been using this system for over five years and it has met our needs well, providing plenty of potatoes from harvest to harvest.  This is what any remaining potatoes look like after wintering in the freezer.  As of mid-May in Ohio, they’re just starting to sprout, but most are still very firm and taste great.  None are rotting or smelly. The Kennebecs seem to fare better than the Pontiacs (red) which can be a little bit softer.

We pull out a bunch to take to the house to eat over the summer and then use the rest for “seed potatoes.”  I’m not sure what “best practice” would be in terms of selecting potatoes for seed (maybe reserving the biggest, nicest ones for this purpose?)  It’s tempting to cook those ones up, and honestly we always seem to have plenty so I just never gave it much thought, but it could be  worth considering, especially if you are limited on garden space.

Once it’s consistently warm outside, I do recommended dealing with potatoes in the freezer one way or another as they will begin to deteriorate in the summer heat.

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Storing Milk

We are a family of milk lovers, and though someday we’d love to own (or co-own) a dairy cow, until then we needed to address our need for milk (and yogurt) in our long term food storage.  I found an excellent comparison of various powdered milk products on the market at Food Storage and Survival and selected two products for purchase.  I bought a #10 can of each to try out before we bought a large quantity:

1) Nestle Nido, a powdered whole milk available in many Hispanic groceries and on Amazon.  At $14.84 for 3.52 lb container, it made 3 1/2 gallons at $4.24 a gallon.

2)  Provident Pantry’s Instant Nonfat Fortified Milk available at Emergency Essentials.  At $14.00 for a 2.65 lb container, making 3 gallons, it costs $4.67 a gallon plus shipping.

We also plan to purchase a brand of powdered milk available in our grocery stores at a lower cost.  Since we’re still able to purchase milk for less than $3.00/gallon (last year I only bought it when it was $2.00 or less), we will not be replacing our regular milk, but will pull these products into the rotation occasionally.  (We do also freeze milk–removing a little from each jug–when it can be bought a very good price.)

I purchased a FoodSaver last year through Craigslist, but was reluctant to purchase a jar sealer to go with it because the descriptions and photos made it unclear whether the sealer used regular canning lids or if one sealer was needed for each jar.  I’m very pleased to report that the vacuum sealer utilized regular canning lids, which can be opened and resealed repeatedly as long as they’re gently removed.  This allowed me to open and sample the powered milk, repackaging and sealing the contents in smaller portions for future use.  The Provident Pantry milk has not yet come in the mail, so I will update this post with a taste comparison at a later date.

What are your solutions for long-term milk storage?  Any tips to share or products to recommend?

This post was shared as part of Homestead Revival’s Preparedness Challenge.  Follow the link for many more ideas about becoming more prepared.

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Pantry-Building Resources

There seem to be two main camps when it comes to long-term food storage.  One approach involves setting aside a quantity of food and supplies for emergency purposes and leaving it untouched for a year or more.  Wendy DeWitt offers a plan for this approach in her book Everything Under the Sun.  In the other approach, supplies are rotated through regular use, a method I first learned about from Donna Miller at Grain Storehouse who describes it as a long-term workable pantry.  While there are advantages to the first method (more cut-and-dry, less regular inventory to worry about) and there are times that I do implement this method (emergency car kits and bug-out bags) I’ve found the second to be a better fit for my preferences and purposes.

Advantages of the Long-Term Workable Pantry
– fresher ingredients due to more frequent rotation
– greater familiarity preparing and eating pantry items
– more compatible with the use of real foods with less preservatives

Helpful Sites  Here are some of the many excellent websites that have helped me in developing my long-term workable pantry:
Kitchen Stewardship
Miller’s Grainhouse
– Simply Living Smart

Podcasts  I find audio is easier to integrate into my day than lots of hours in front of the computer, so for me podcasts have been even more helpful as I’ve been trying to assimilate information about building a long-term workable pantry.   The podcasts below can all be found on iTunes and many also cover other subjects of interest to preppers and homesteaders:
Nature’s Harmony Farm
New Life on a Homestead
Preparedness Radio Network (especially “Your Preparation Station” program)
Stumbling Homestead
Harvest Eating
Survival Podcast

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Burying a Freezer

  

We had a bumper crop of potatoes last year.  After freezing them (as fries, casseroles, etc), canning some, and giving over 200 lbs away, we needed a reliable way to store the rest.  The goal was to have enough potatoes stored to take us through to the next harvest…and possibly never to have to buy potatoes again.  We didn’t have a basement or root cellar (or time/funds to build a full-blown root cellar), so we had to get creative.  Clyde remembered his dad talking about burying old chest freezers for overwintering vegetables and we decided to give it a try.  His sister’s freezer had recently died and so was recruited for the job.

Clyde removed all of the working parts and cut two holes in each side.   (Note:  if your appliance still contains freon, certified individuals can be hired for freon removal or these services may be available at area junk yards or recycling centers.)  To the holes he attached PVC pipe for air circulation.  When in the ground, it looked like someone had buried a semi.  A tarp was partly buried as well in order to protect the freezer and allow easier access during icy conditions.  We later added a sheet of insulation under the tarp as well.  Clyde made crates for easier storage and better air circulation.With hopeful trepidation, we packed away our harvest.  We were careful to store only the best potatoes and packed the smaller ones in the upper boxes so we’d use them first.

I’m pleased to report that our deep-freeze root cellar had great results!  Mid-winter the potatoes looked just as we’d left them.  In early spring only a little bit of sprouting had occurred.  Later in the spring we sorted through some of the more deteriorated ones to use as seed potatoes for this year’s crop.  Now, in late June, they are not as attractive out of the box, but most still scrub up well, are quite firm and have a good taste and texture.  Although a true root cellar is still on the wish list, it’s nice to find an easy, inexpensive solution that works so well.

This post is part of Homestead Revival’s Homestead Barn Hop.  Check out the rest of the great homesteady ideas and information by following the link!

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