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The Basics of Home Food Storage

There are certain fundamentals that if followed will ensure the quality of your stored food. You should first store what you eat, and consume what you stockpile. People in general store quantities of food they hardly eat during normal times. They have usually listened to others instead of themselves when deciding what foods to exactly store. We all know that it isn't easy to change eating habits overnight, even during emergency situations. It is commonplace to assume everyone will consume anything if they are hungry enough. Unfortunately, that is not the case, there have been many confirmed instances where people have resisted eating anything, and have chosen to starve themselves. The infirm, seniors, and the young are also averse to changes in their diets. The obvious answer to this problem is to stockpile foods that are to their liking and acclimate them to tastes of foods that they are particularly not familiar with that you may have decided to store.

You probably already know that your body is not fond of sudden changes and the typical reaction your body will exhibit in the event of a negative change will usually be in the form of a stressful response. Your digestive system will take time to adapt to anything apart from your normal diet. Therefore, it is wise to remember that sudden variations in diet can lead to very unpleasant physiological reactions . This problem can be avoided by gradually adapting to the foods you store in your storage. In addition, you should also take into consideration each family members' (including yours) medical background – such as which foods they are allergic to – when deciding what emergency food supplies to store. It would be a crude surprise to discover in the middle of an emergency that the food you have stored is just as life threatening as the emergency itself.

The fact that foods breakdown and spoil over time is no secret. There is no way to extend the shelf life of foods that have already expired. One way to maintain the health of your food storage is to rotate your foods by eating the ones that are old and replacing them with new ones. Another factor to consider when deciding which foods to store, is whether you have previously used that food item before when preparing a meal. And if you usually store food items that you don't use, then it is smart to learn how to use that food ingredient in the preparation of a meal.

Moreover, accumulating what you already consume on a day to day basis will augment the diversity of items in your food storage area. Never accumulate foods that you detest.

1. Shelf-life of Foods

There is no food that does not spoil over time, even freeze dried foods have a maximum shelf-life of 10 years or so. How will you find out what the shelf-life of the food items you have decided to store are? These statistics are not that difficult to find. There is only one problem, however. As it is with all statistics and figures, the issue becomes one of which numbers to trust and believe. The answer to that predicament is embedded in a battle of semantics over what is meant by a food item being no good. Personally, I think that a stored food that has expired by a few months (2-3 months) can still be eaten. Nonetheless, when a food item expires it losses nutritional value as vitamins lose strength, proteins breakdown, and minerals oxidize. The right environment allows bacteria to flourish, giving rise to poisons and toxins detrimental to human health.

Determining the shelf life is difficult due to factors such food properties, packaging, and processing methods, and the environment food is stored in. Varying foods have different physical and chemical properties, and it is these characteristics that determine the period a food becomes inedible. Differing methods are employed to preserve food. The method utilized impacts product stability, shelf life along with the food item's retention of nutrients. Advancements in technology have drastically improved the packaging of food items, but it is environment that the food is stored in that truly affects the shelf-life of food. One would assume that there is a plethora of knowledge regarding specific shelf-life of particular foods. Sadly, the opposite is the case. The truth of the matter is that all claimed shelf lives are basic estimates. You will come to extrapolate and predict the shelf-life of food products with the aids of expiration dates found on the products and personal experience as you build up your food storage and sample the different items as you rotate them.

2. Spotting Spoiled Food

In order to ensure the health and safety of your family and preclude the occurrence of food poisoning, there are certain measures you can take to determine whether a food is edible or not. Firstly, do not immediately taste the food product but visually examine it and look for signs of spoilage, such as foams, slimes, molds, cloudiness, and discolorations. Secondly, use your sense of smell to ascertain if the food product is spoiled; does it possess a pungent, acidic, egg-like smell? If you are unsure, then heat the contents in a pan and as the heat amplifies the food's odor, it will be easier for you to determine whether the food has spoiled or not. Should all else fail, taste the food by taking in just enough to make an educated guess, if it is sour or bitter, eject the morsel of food from your mouth immediately. Last but not least, the consumption of spoiled meat can pose a serious threat to your health and life. According to Wikipedia, the best way to prevent botulism – an illness that can be contracted from eating tainted meat – is to cook the food over the course of a few minutes to destroy the botulism toxin, which may be present in the food you are about the taste to determine if it is good to eat.

3. Rotate Your Food Storage

The rotation of food items guarantees that they are always as fresh as possible. Food rotation also reduces the chances that the food items are wasted as the items are consumed a few weeks before their expiration dates.

Your storage area should easily be accessible and all items should be labeled are marked accurately, and should include expiration dates. A rotation system can be devised to suit your circumstances, and it should take into account the shelf-life of the products and should ensure that the products are replaced within the recommended period. Moreover, you should also bear in mind not to accidentally or prematurely rotate the newest products first, create a rotation system that allows you consume the oldest products first. There are food storage racks, cabinets, shelves that allow you to easily store food products in an organized fashion.

4. Building and Regularly Checking Your Food Storage Inventory

When building your food inventory, you have to establish how much food you need for a specific time period, it can be anywhere from 3 months to a year's supply of food. In addition, you need to allocate just enough space – in your home -- for the purpose of food storage. It is vital to know exactly how much food you have in your possession at any given time. In order to successfully accomplish this, you will need to keep detailed and accurate records of your inventory. People mistakenly make assumptions about how much food they have in storage, when in reality, they are more often than not, wrong about the quantity of food left in their storage.

When keeping records of your inventory, you need to know how much food you need, how much you presently have stored, the replacement date of the food items, and finally the location of each food group. As you consume items, it is also important to take note of what you have used, and to make sure you replace it as soon as possible.

You should carry out inventory checks regularly to determine what you need and don't require.


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