Household Dry Food Storage Guide

(*Ed. note: Please submit your own essays to the Campfire series to

Given that I may have frightened some readers (and validated others) with my post on Scenario 2020 about a breakdown in the "Just-in-Time" delivery system, I thought it would be kind to talk a bit about preparation for transportation hiccups, specifically regarding food supplies.

This is a brief guide on how to estimate the amounts of staple, calorie dense, foods to be stored at a household scale. People choose to store food for a number of reasons, including being prepared for an emergency situation and saving money. Knowing some basic facts about human needs and the nutrient density of different kinds of food can help a family create a food buffer. However, people consume a great variety of food, and so planning for a household also requires accounting for special dietary needs and preferences.

From what I have seen elsewhere, this food storage guide is unique because it clearly presents the dietary information, with respect to calories, that approximate the quantities of foods to keep. It is a kind of "bottom up" analysis that the technically-oriented readers of The Oil Drum may appreciate (or at least I hope so).

This guide was originally written with background and summary tables AND a detailed worksheet. On The Oil Drum pages I will not provide the worksheet, but will attach the original document for those interested in such details. It may also serve as a useful handout for family, friends, neighbors, community preparedness, and emergency services groups, etc.

Some Basic Nutrition Facts

On average a person needs about 2400 food calories per day, and most people prefer to consume less than 5 lbs of food per day. Obtaining a proper balance of proteins, vitamins and nutrients, requires a variety of food sources. Some food comes dry and is prepared in water to make palatable, such as rice and beans, while other foods are usually eaten fresh and full of water weight, such as vegetables and fruits.

The table below shows how a nutritionally balanced diet of about 2400 calories per day can be had by consuming different kinds of foods. Following the detailed worksheet for planning for the needs of an average adult for one year would approximately yield this table. This information is useful for planning a household food buffer, including deviations for personal preference. For example, a vegetarian will have to make up for an absence of meat and eggs by increasing other foods proportionally. On the other hand, some people prefer more meat and less starch, etc. The caloric density values given are approximate for the food class. For example, potatoes have about 350 calories per pound whereas lettuce is only about 50 (other food classes are not so variable).

Estimating Your Needs

This guide’s worksheet is based on average needs of adults. Consider whether your family’s needs approximate the average—for example young children and the elderly eat less food, while teenagers and large men eat more. A very active adult may need nearly 4000 calories per day.

You may want to use the worksheet to calculate the needs of your household specifically. Alternatively, three scenarios based on the worksheet are given in the table below that may be similar to your situation (Scenario 1 approximates the above table, i.e., 1 person for 1 year).

Keeping Food Fresh

This guide emphasizes dry food storage because these foods have the longest shelf life and don’t require costly preservation methods. Even dry foods can deteriorate and spoil, with the major causes being incursion of moisture, oxygen, high temperatures, light, and animal infestation. The following table highlights the shelf life of different food classes stored at room temperature (70 degrees F) and kept dark and dry. Try to find a place in your home that doesn’t fluctuate in temperature very widely and doesn’t get above 70 degrees F often—a cellar or basement away from the water heater, or a closet in a cold room, for example.

If you store mainly what you normally eat, then your food is unlikely to spoil. The best strategy to keep your food stores fresh is therefore one of lifestyle and habits—for example a diet primarily based on whole grains and beans, seasonally available foods, and drawing from bulk household supplies of sweeteners, oils, and preserved out of season produce. Primarily local sources of meats, egg and dairy products might be healthy additions too. If you store several months of food or more, clearly label the containers by date and content and always eat from the older stores and refresh periodically to maintain your buffer.

Storage containers need to be “food grade,” meaning they won’t deteriorate and contaminate food, and be able to seal completely. A common and inexpensive container is the plastic bucket (HDPE, type 2) with a rubber gasket lid manufactured specifically for holding food. (Used buckets may be contaminated with non-food items and so only new buckets are recommended). Bucket lids may need a prying wrench to open, or a more expensive option is to buy screw top lids. You may want a scooper to remove grain from 5 gallon buckets and into kitchen containers. Alternatives to the plastic bucket include one or half gallon glass jars and metal cans, but these are not as widely available.

Grains and dry beans can be treated in various ways to slow the rate of deterioration and reduce the risk of pest colonization. “High tech” methods include placing oxygen absorber packets, flushing with dry ice, carbon dioxide or nitrogen, and vacuum sealing in mylar bags. These might be good choices for items you intend to keep for many years and not open.

Otherwise, several “low tech” and less expensive options exist. Two bay laurel leaves per gallon of grain may keep bugs away (perhaps fewer leaves with the native and more pungent California Bay Laurel). Mix one cup of diatomaceous earth per 40 lbs of grains or beans to prevent insect outbreaks (be sure to buy the organic version suited for gardening, not pool filters, and wear a mask when handling). Keeping waterproof buckets outside during a hard frost each year will likely kill any bug larvae that may be inside.


For further information on household food storage consider the books When Technology Fails (M. Stein), Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook (P. Layton) and Self Reliance: A Recipe for the New Millennium (J. Yeoman), and see the website

Many great tips here.

One question--Can't rats and other critters gnaw their way through those plastic containers?

Yes, though with mylar liners, the smell is absent, so no clue is available.

Wrong, Will. Plastic buckets are a huge mistake if you can't control rodents.

Using Mylar bages *would* work IF--an that's a big IF--all scent of food was removed from the *outside* of the bag after it was filled. No one does that, nor knows how to do that.

Go with CANNED food storage. See

Interestingly enough, Bruce Hopkins owns The Internet Grocer, and has frequently used the name Foodstr2 in the past. Bruce, this constitutes a surreptitious spamming of your products in an attempt to circumvent moderation.

and apparently he's Banned at

I'm not aware of rodents being a common (or even infrequent) problem when using mylar bags in tandem with sealed plastic buckets and at least rudimentary rodent control. Nor have I seen the issue of food on the outside of the mylar bags before they are sealed and stored. Perhaps there are a couple of reports (I haven't seen them), but let's not make extreme claims unless you have something solid to back up your statements.

Canned food is far more expensive (and much higher embodied energy) per calorie, though those with a strong opinion on the matter (or ownership in food canning companies) can weigh the cost/benefit for themselves...

Interesting info about Bruce, Will! I appreciate your sharing it.

But I buy cans in addition to my other stores because -
Time is money
I have the space
Canned meat is so cheap and calorie-rich.

It's not an either/or proposition IMO, and what balance we strike depends on our circumstances.

I also have some canned items as part of my food storage (and recommend it as well), though I just wanted to identify the bias against dry storage of grains and beans.

Having had a supply of food put up in #10 steel cans with oxygen absorber for the last 10-14 years, I can testify that the cans MUST NOT be stored on concrete, or in cardboard boxes, or in a damp area. They WILL rust, and the food within them will become worthless or downright poisonous. Whole grains and dried beans store well, and so does pasta. Dried fruit and vegetables do less well; anything else, forget about it. The LDS Church now suggests that their members use Mylar bags inside of 5 gallon plastic buckets with lids. Inside the mylar bags, with the grain, include two or three oxygen absorber packets, make sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag and tie it with a twist tie, then seal the lid of the pail.

squeeze all the air out of the bag and tie it with a twist tie

No, you have to heat seal Mylar bags.

Or use a ziplock mylar bag (which can be reused over and over).

i think so. i've had them[mice] eat thru large rubbermaid trash cans.

Maybe if a few cats are allowed access to the pantry? Seriously though, that is a good question. I don't know about rodents but I've seen what parrots can do plastic containers. I guess a good wire screen might work.

Build a better rat trap. Mice can gnaw through drywall and floor boards, but if you plug their holes with steel wool, they cannot gnaw through that.

Mice control: Cats and Ferrets!

Make sure that there is enough space for the cats to sneak around. I had a mouse in my kitchen that my ferocious Ian cat never caught because the mouse was able to sneak around behind the appliances. I got the mouse with a live trap and released him to the kestral in the park.

And don't forget that other pet useful against mice, ferrets! They are like a living slinky and they can get along with cats. An additional treat is that when they catch prey, they do a war dance.

Better yet, get a snake. Rats and mouse don't want to live near a snake because they know they can get into their nests. It used to be quite common in my area.

I have employed a 'Rat Zapper' with very very good results.

Its a small box with an opening on one end. A grid on the back side hooked to a circuit supplied by 4 AA batteries.

You put a few pieces of dry dog food in the back past the grid and the varmint creeps in and is electrocuted. Bloodlessly.

You empty , rinse , repeat. Took care of all my many mouse problems.

Requires a pretty good set of batteries but it could work on a small wall wart charger or PV panel charging a small battery. Put in a place they inhabit , like your pantry.

I mean it works well. Each day I caught a mouse. I had two running.
Now zero mice.

Cost about $35 but I got mine at closeout for $5.


Another solution (and perhaps somewhat cruel for the squeemish - but they are rats after all) is to put a regular trash can next to your storage for a few days. Fill it about 10 inches deep with water. Put something smelly and tasty in the water. The fool rats jump down to eat and by morning they are with their ancestors. You will knock out huge numbers of them in just a few days. Repeat as necessary. Cheap, low tech, sustainable. The big snapper rat traps work well also, but make sure your cats are not in the area.


Also, remember that plastics deteriorate over time. They can become brittle and break or tear. Exposure to sunlight will hasten the process. Plastic storage boxes will literally crumble after a few years. And yes, rats, mice and other animals can and will gnaw through plastics if there is the slightest hint of a food odor.

Plastic storage boxes will literally crumble after a few years.

? I have Tuff Crates from almost 12 years ago that are entirely undegraded. I thought we were all meant to be panicking about landfill and the non-degradability of plastics. Now because they interefer with the rural, survivalist eco-fantasy that seems to have gripped much of this website in the last year we are to be scared of them again ?? God give me strength.

"Now because they interefer with the rural, survivalist eco-fantasy .."

Well that's the trick with oversimplifications, isn't it? Plastics (lingistically descended from Plaster, Paste and Pasta) cover a wide range of materials, and can be extremely helpful.. just not floating in a pseudo-continent of trash out in the Pacific.. and often as not best to be kept out of the microwave.

I've still got plastic bags from the bookstore at College, 1983.. and some very old peanut butter jars and tupperware containers.

You can say what you want, but don't step on my Blue-Swede Eco Fantasy! I need it!


They absolutely can! and will! Plastic containers are a huge mistake ... if you can't control rodents. Using Mylar bages *would* work IF--an that's a big IF--all scent of food was removed from the outside of the bag after it was filled. No one does that, BTW.

Go with CANNED food storage. See

I store food in white 5 gal. plastic buckets in the pantry. The pantry & sunroom are attached to the house but aren't part of the house and aren't heated. There are mice and possibly packrats (Neotoma spp.) out there. I've never seen any evidence of any gnawing on the plastic buckets, altho they sometimes gnaw the paper labels off store bought canned goods.

As an aside, just about one year ago, I got up in the morning before dawn, got the fire going in the fireplace insert, then went out into the pantry to plug the fireplace fan in. In the dim light I saw something move on a top shelf directly in front of me. It lept towards me & I thot I was being attacked! The animal landed beside me as I stood there in the door frame, then it ran thru the sunroom and out a broken window. It was a bobcat (Lynx rufus)! Presumably, it was up on the shelves where food is stored hunting mice. Since then, the bobcat - or its relative - has killed poultry, including a full grown nasty tempered gray goose. My son got some fantastic fotos of the lynx this past summer.

That is too COOL! I have worked in the empty parts of Nevada for years and bobcats are among my favorites to see and I see them but rarely.

Like you, I have never had anything get into a sealed five gallon bucket, but I manage my stored goods reasonable closely...I keep traps in there now as a precaution. BTW, I really like the Gamma Lids for five gallon buckets; way better than regular lids and a "bucket buster".

Yeah, bobcats are seldom seen but apparently aren't too uncommon. I've seen their tracks running everywhere after a fresh snow. I'm not sure if the one that leaped past me in the pantry was the same one that killed several chickens, a white duck, and the gray goose. The poultry killer was a male. He came around periodically over the course of the summer and we had to keep the remaining birds secure from him. He probably had a large territory to patrol, which explains his intermittent presence. I haven't seen any sign of him in recent weeks. Altho I considered shooting him after he killed my goose, I now hope that nothing's happened to him. He was so cool that having him around is worth the loss of a few birds. And I have since built a far more secure poultry house.

There are stories here of bobcats attacking humans. Rip their stomach with their back claws.

They are easily capable of doing such. We have them here but not too numerous as of late. Used to see them quite often.

Sometimes stories go around of panthers. Some swear to seeing them. Now those stories have quieted down of late also.

One evening tending a combine way up near some really big woods and near a large creek I heard something scream out by the woods nearby. It was an unearthly scream and raised my hair. This was an area uninhabitated and swampy.

I don't go into these areas without a gun. Never. Maybe nothing is there but if it is and stalks me I can let off a round and perhaps give it pause. I don't like something trailing me in the woods.

So mostly now I don't go there at night. Many here coonhunt in the deep woods at night during coon season. I did this only once in Alabama and after the leader got lost? We finally got out. I never went coohhunting again. The dogs are useless for helping with this.

They just run and run and lead you into trouble. IMO that is.

Airdale-the dark woods late at night ,,you can get seriously lost and break a leg...back then I didn't care too much

The mountain lions are becoming quite bold on the Colorado Front Range, snatching dogs out of Boulder backyards while the owners stand ten feet away.

At our house in the foothills we have two house cats patrolling for rodents on the the inside, and a posse of foxes, bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions taking care of the outside. In the summer, the bears pitch in. Rodents are under control!

I once had a small ground squirrel get caught in a large heavy duty Rubbermaid garbage can. It gnawed its way out easily. Plastic is no match for rodent incisors.

What about large, old style metal garbage cans with mylar bags inside?

What about the large metal job boxes used for securing tools on construction sites? (Jobox is one brand name.)

Also, if you are really concerned about survival, you need to worry about fire and flood as well as rodents. It seems like a tight-sealing metal box is the way to go.

One question--Can't rats and other critters gnaw their way through those plastic containers?

I'm on Oahu in Hawaii, and the coconut rats seem to chew through things just "on spec" to see what's inside them. They've even chewed into some of my toolboxes that have never been associated with anything edible.

I've found that 33-gallon galvanized trash cans are quite good for keeping the rodents out, and with a bit of caulk under the edge they can be made semi-airtight and hold quite a bit.

But also, I've found that locally I can get 50-gallon food-grade plastic drums that were used to ship vegetable oil, lecithin, and other edibles, for about $15 each, a real bargain. (The lecithin ones are a pain to clean out.) I'm experimenting with ways of opening and then re-closing them for food storage; if anyone else is trying it and wants to share tips, email me. Of course, these drums are also great for water storage, building rafts, and much else.

And coconut rats will probably make a decent stew to offer the neighbors.

Having kept a dog kennel for about 30 years, I used to keep my dog food in Rubbermaid trashcans. The rats and mice never seemed to be able to 'crack' them, but an opossum made short work of gaining entry. I have ever since used metal (galvanized) cans to store dog food. Now that I no longer have a kennel, I use those same cans to store grain for the chickens. I leave grain in the triple bag it comes in and just drop it in the can.

Thanks for this. For good how-to on long term dry food storage, check out "delta69alpha" on YouTube. He has some good demonstrations of how to store grains and beans long-term (more than 10 years) in his "Long Term Food Storage" series.

As an additional tip here, if you have a vac sealer instead of buying bags all the time we just reuse milk bags and keep reusing the same ones till nothing fits in them anymore. Regards oilcan

I think the seed storage method detailed (pdf warning) here could be a viable means to store dried veggies in a partial vacuum with mason jars.

I tend to use ziplock mylar bags and resealable lids, so that I can reuse them ad infinitum, as some day they may not be available.

I like the idea of Bay Laurel leaves, hadn't heard that before; someday, oxygen absorbers won't be available.

If at all possible, include as much variety as possible. People who are forced to eat too much of the same thing over and over can experience appetite fatigue and simply quit eating.

I love the way I can write a short post and just sit back while others fill in the details.

As a fine tuning, calculate the actual calories you'll need by age, gender, and activity level.

Storage timeframes for different types of food with and without special handling.

This is a great site to compare different foods for all sort of nutrients:

Which has Firefox and IE GoogleToolbar plug-ins....

Calculating actual calories needed? That sounds to me as being too dependent on individual biology, like efficiency of your intestines. People with slow metabolism digest more of their food for example, and I know one person who gets fat from eating very little, if he doesn't exercise very intensively and body-build.

One bodybuilding guide I read recommended eating 6 small meals a day, in order to always have food in your digestive system, always supplying nutrients towards building your muscles. But, it mentioned, this will speed up your digestive system. Inversely, people who skip meals are known to take on more fat because their bodies go into 'hunger mode', taking as much nutrients from food as possible (combined with water-retention).

Seems to me that theoretically, in case of low supplies, you could use this to your advantage by artificially inducing 'hunger mode' and slow down your metabolism, by eating only 2 meals a day, and no snacking. The inherent danger in this would be low energy (and having lots of energy is what makes life worth living, imho) and the very real risk of inducing depression, which is the mind's natural response to times of low resources and possibilities.

A couple of refinements - I think your "no used buckets" message might be refined. I don't see a problem with people using food grade buckets that haven't been used for anything else - when I get them from delis, for example, it is often pretty clear that they've been used to hold frosting or pickles, because you can see and smell the residue. I strongly encourage people to use these buckets - they work well, mostly keep rodents at bay and keep buckets out of landfills. I wouldn't, however, take any buckets that have been cleaned and you don't know their history.


I agree. I reuse buckets that originally held laundry detergent. This is a mild soap and leaves behind a non food odor that by itself might actually deter some pests. Put your stuff inside it in plastic bags and it is going to be just fine.


Used buckets can also be completely isolated from the food they contain by mylar bags.

I’m new – my thoughts are – pray for the best, prepare for the worst and try to be a “help” instead of a burden whenever possible.

Regarding grain storage, the potential for bugs is there always because the eggs are microscopic and ride in from the fields on the grain.

To help prevent bug infestations, you have several options.
1.) Buy grain that is triple-cleaned. Our number one selling grain is cleaned about 7 times and the dust is even blown off with air. I believe that “dusting” of the grain helps blow off some of those microscopic eggs for we have had very few outbreaks of bugs with this grain. (*I can’t say that about other suppliers, so it’s been a noticeable difference.) Triple-cleaned grain also helps prevent the tearing up of a mill with a foreign object from the field – pebble, BB, etc. – which is usually not covered in your mill’s warranty.

2.) You can also freeze grains, I’ve been told, to kill off bug eggs, but the grain has to remain in the freezer for at least 3 days to completely kill them off. My biggest concern with freezing grains is the potential of the grain getting moist. Wet or damp grain can mold. To me, that’s more dangerous than pesky bugs. So, if you freeze your grain, I’d find a way to be certain it’s good and dry before putting it into long term storage. There’s even concern about moisture getting in pails that are stored on concrete floors and it’s suggested you place wooden pallets under them to allow airflow so mold is something to be avoided at all cost.

3.) I’ve used bay leaves for almost two decades with excellent results. Just like you can plant marigolds around the garden to deter some insects, bay leaves also may put off some natural smell or chemical that, while not offensive to us humans, has the power to deter bugs from hatching out. Just be sure the bay leaves don’t get broken into pieces and milled or your bread will take on a whole new flavor! Obviously remove them before scooping grains out for milling.

4.) DE (*diatomaceous earth) is one I’ve heard and read about but not personally tried. You do have to get the food grade DE because the pool grade is not safe, and the ones sold in the gardening store often have bug “baits” in them, too. As I understand it, the way DE works is the shape of the molecules is angular. We’ve sprinkled DE in crawl spaces, basements, attics, etc. to control the big “roach”-like bugs we have here in the south called Palmetto Bugs. As the bug crawls through the DE, the sharp edges of the molecules scrape the insect’s outer shell, causing them to dehydrate and become “crispy critters”. Be aware that those same sharp edges can also irritate your lungs. If you mix DE into your grain, and if you use an electric mill, I’d consider wearing a mask because most mills put out some degree of “dust” which would include DE dust.

5.) Some add nitrogen, but I don’t really like the idea of “adding” anything when I’ve gone to the expense and trouble of getting organic or “chemical-free” grain.

6.) Oxygen absorbers are often used with pails and mylar bags. They work well as long as the pail or bag remains sealed. Some of the pails I have are so airtight that the sides actually get sucked in from the vacuum created. Once the pail or bag is opened, the oxygen absorber no longer works because it’s power is “spent”. You’d have to put in a new one to re-seal it airtight again. Any un-used oxygen absorbers must also be stored in an airtight manner or they will quickly become useless, too.

7.) Your biggest need with storing grain is to keep it as cool and dry as possible. This means not storing it in damp basements, or in a hot garage, or near the dryer which puts out both heat and humidity. With heat and humidity, the pails or bags give the bugs a better chance of hatching out – think “incubators” for bugs.

8.) Regarding rodent control, we’ve never had a problem with this in almost two decades of using pails, but we do have a resident cat that patrols our home.

9.) Regarding the life span of grains – one lady called me, asking why her bread wasn’t rising as high as it did 30 years ago when it was “canned” in those #10 cans. At first I thought I’d mis-understood her, but it turns out she’s still using grain that’s 30 years old. She’s discovered she has to add extra “gluten” to get it to rise higher, but she says it tastes delicious! Amazing!

10.) Regarding seeds, many of the grains I carry by this particular company also have their sprouting ability. I know because we dropped some near a loading dock and had a beautiful ‘crop’ of wheat. Non-GMO & chemical-free, too!

Hope this is helpful. I’ll be upfront – my husband and I have worked in the grain/milling business since 1991. We own a store specializing in healthy whole foods, with an emphasis on whole grains and mills. I know it’ll be seen as an advertising “plug” but I have a lot of free info on our website at and you’re welcome to visit it – whether or not you ever buy anything. It’s just our attempt to try and be more of a “help” than burden. I also write a free e-newsletter where I give out a great deal of free information, but you must contact me through the website and request it for I do not spam anyone. If we can be of help, don’t hesitate to contact us - Thanks and best wishes for the future!

I love the way I can write a short post and just sit back while others fill in the details.

Welcome to the group mind.  You have been assimilated.

As for appetite fatigue, excellent point!

I would like to add, make sure that you have a good supply of herbs and spices. They tend to store well and are invaluable.

I could probably eat plain rice for a week without slitting my wrists.

OTOH, many people in Asia eat rice every day and enjoy it. When I left Thailand, I suffered from withdrawal for a time. There was a very good reason why the spice trade was so valuable.

Heavily seconded!

Although I know of people that survive on eating only birdfeed twice daily, I wouldn't for the life of me want to try if there are alternatives so easily available. People underestimate the importance of morale too much.

Some recommended putting up sugar powdered drink mixes (vitamin C added).

Not a bad idea. Powdered milk is on many storage lists too. Some folks keep freeze dried foods.

I don't emphasize these products because they are not part of the kinds of systemic and lifestyle changes I believe are needed in the long term. My guide is trying to both be valuable for emergency prep., and store the sorts of foods that could be produced outside of the global industrial high energy food context.

Can anyone suggest a good non-electric grain grinder? I've looked at several but don't have any experience with them. Thanks.

I have been using a Retsell LilArc for the last few years and found it very good, if a little basic.

There was a grinder comparison done by Walton Feed (changed their website, not back up yet).

The two that came out way on top were;

- Country Living Mill
- Family Grain Mill

Both can be electrified later. We use the first one and find it to be quite satisfactory.

Don't fall for a cheap one; you'll get frustrated and it will get thrown in the back of a closet where it will stay.

I bought the grain mill with the optional attachment to treadmill, bike, etc. intending on grinding some corn this fall into meal, flour and grits?

Something called TOD got in the way - grain mill sits in basement. Perhaps subject for another post...;-)

Don't forget Lehman's Non-Electric Catalog .. has a few grain mills, lots of farmy-foody stuff.

GrainMill Page:

Here's a design using an exercise bike, if you haven't pulled your other parts together yet!


The Family Grain Mill is the best one out there. It's made in Germany and imported here. It has all kinds of attachments that can be used with it. See

I disagree. I think The Diamant grain mill is better. Of course it costs way, way more.

The Diamant grain mill... Of course it costs way, way more.

$1,299! Que chingao !!

Interestingly, several years ago it was $399, a couple of years ago it was only $540. I bought mine last year for $800. Now it is $1300.

If you're pushing your own company, please make that clear when you post.. it's not appropriate to this kind of list.

I bought a hand operated grain mill 30 years ago and still use it, but for the last 29 years it has been electric powered. Hand grinding is very time consuming and tiring.

If you want a hand powered mill, I would recommend one that has a motor conversion option, such as a pair of sheaves and a jackshaft for two belt (double reduction) drive. You will also need a small sheave for the motor. Typically takes a ½ or ¾ hp motor.
Eventually I will replace my belt driven mill with a built in motorized one. The belt driven mills take up too much space to put in a kitchen.

Fresh ground whole (hard red) wheat imparts a flavor to homemade bread that is far superior to any bread most people have ever eaten. Also makes superior whole wheat muffins.

I bought a (fairly) inexpensive Jupiter mill. It came with electric motor and handcrank attachment, etc.
Grinding wheatberries by hand is IMO a very laborious task.
I made an adaptor for the hand crank (10MM socket) and attached it to an old slot machine motor (24V) I had laying around.
Now when it's a nice sunny day, I hook it all up to an old 45W PV I have laying around, and it'll grind all day as long as the sun is shining.
If I were to push it and start early in the day, I suspect it would crank out enough for about 10 loaves of bread.
It also grinds coarsly if you wish, toasted brown rice for cereals, etc.
Also comes with a roller assembly for making oat flakes for oatmeal (optional)
On a normal sunny day I can bake easily 3 loaves of bread in my solar box oven, toast several pounds of brown rice for cereal, and cook veggies, baked potatoes, etc.
I have a few extra motors if anyone is interested, tho' it would be far easier to just hook up a PV panel to an inverter and run it like that on 120V.
Grinding by hand is a bit too much for me, I'd rather have the sun do it for me, and do other things in the meantime.
And it seems this is one way to 'store' that PV energy.

were does one find slot machine motors? I'm an hour and a half from Reno

email me at charter and we'll hook up. I'll turn you on to one....

I have the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill and I am pretty happy with it. I have mostly been grinding beans with it's stainless steel wheels and don't have a lot of experience with the grain wheels yet.

I think it is important to recognize that any hand powered mill is going to take a lot of time to make flour. As long as we're still part of the rat race, finding that time can be difficult. Yet one needs to start practicing using the mill and preparing food from it. I find that while I still have power, putting the dried beans into a blender or food processor first makes the process go much faster.

I have a Vortex hand powered blender, but I haven't tried that yet with the dried beans.

I like my home made hummous better using the mill to make dried ground chick-pea flour than to pressure cook them and use the hand food mill.

Very Solidly built.
Good mounting to counter.

Not easily hooked up to something other than hand power.

You dont discuss strategies for dealing with insect infestation, in my opinion (and in my subtropical climate) the most likely problem if you have food grade buckets. Most of the bulk grain you buy will be infested with very low levels of weevils and other bugs that must be controlled.

I have found a good low tech solution- place a lit candle inside the bucket and seal it up. You need to increase the distance between the flame and the lid to prevent a hole being melted. I leave a 6" gap of grain from the top, then further sink the candle in a plastic container. You can also put a damp towel on the lid while you do it to disperse any heat. The oxygen level plummets and the bugs gasp for air.

This doesnt completely kill any residual weevils. It merely slows them down to such an extent that they do no real damage to the grain. After a few weeks if you open the top you will see them gathered at the surface gasping for air, mostly dead. The CO2 seems to seep out over time, so repeating the treatment every six months is useful. It also encourages you to inspect your stores, a good time to check quality and make an inventory. And of course when you open the bucket to get food out the effect is lost, but if you only access one bucket at a time it is tolerable.

Do you have a sense of how much stored food is enough? One week is a tiny buffer against minor disruptions. Years worth needs its own mini warehouse. I am guessing that 6 months at subsistence level, combined with a medium sized garden that can be scaled up within that time frame, is about the best balance you can take.

My personal expectation is that bulk dry goods will keep flowing, at higher prices, lower quality, and less reliability. Food storage then is mostly a buffer, and a way to reduce your food bills drastically. Being able to grow your own fresh food will be more critical for maintaining reasonable health, since this will become much more expensive and unreliable (it already is, you only notice it once you start growing your own high quality food at low cost). Learning how to cook from scratch is a more essential skill than growing food in my opinion. Buy and cook in bulk and you will only need to cook a couple of times a week (so it had better turn out good!).

Shane in Australia

Bug Out Tubes
These will certainly deter cats, rats and critters for storage. Just posted this on another site, and as I check up on you'all today, I see this very topic is being discussed. Deja Vu all over again. Hope no one minds this long post.
As an effort toward real personal recycling and also to suplement my BOB, here are plans for BOT's.
The tubes are made from nesting 12 oz Carnation Evaporated Milk cans. When you cut out the top with a side-cutting can opener, I've found that the cans connect in a VERY firm manner. Push them together until you feel/hear them snap into place. Takes some effort. They are pretty close to waterproof containers then, and can be made so by wrapping the seams with duct tape or gluing or waxing.
By opening the bottom-only of one can, it becomes a sealable secure top or cap for your tube.
I'm currently building a 13 can tube as a food/supply stash to give out to friends.
So far, it's a very sturdy tube, that could even be used as a defensive weapon. Hate to get smacket by one....
A 13 can tube can be 13 different compartments, or one big one (if you cut off bottoms and tops), or any combination thereof.
This tube is only 12 compartments, as the top one(two) contains supplies such as a bit of TP, matches, salt packets(free), more matches, a couple of nails, paracord, a silver dollar, a $20, a chunk of wax log for fire starting, etc. The rest of the tube is separate compartments.
In these remaining 11 cans are:
1 can wood pellets for emergency cooking/purifying/heating.
2 cans dry soybeans.
1 can white rice
1 can brown rice
1 can lentils
1 can buckwheat
There are 4 left to fill, and haven't determined what yet. A couple of wheat and a packet of yeast, for sure.... Input welcome.
I suspect one of these tubes would feed you for a couple of weeks in survival mode. Maybe even longer. In survival mode. 10 oz of dry soybeans makes a huge amount of cooked.

The tubes are designed to be more than just containers for your stash.
You can cook in them.
You can eat from them.
You can soak stuff in them (beans,dried fruits)
You can boil/sterilize water.
You can build a wood-gas stove.
You might be able to distill water with them in a sealed baggie.
You can punch in holes and sprout seeds in them.
Bake bread in them.
Flatten and use as skillet for bisquits.
You can punch holes, fill with sand, and filter/clarify water.
Can be opened and used as reflectors for fireside baking.
Can be used as vent tube for below ground pit fires for better burning. (cover with sand, sleep on carefully.)
You can solar cook in them if you cover with a glass jar (with or without an alum foil reflector.)(Add a glass jar to your BOB)
Vent pipe for cooking/warming fires in make-shift tents or other enclosures.
You can hopefully come up with a few other uses and post them here...

Do a search for wood-gas stoves and you will see how to build them from cans.
My model is built for wood pellets, twigs, and is a little bit different from others. I do not punch out holes in the bottom center of the can, but only around the bottom side/edge. This seems to allow a greater distribution of ash, and better air intake and fuel use. The unburnt fuel in the (non hole) center feeds the rest of the fire on the perimeter. Pretty amazing burn.
Mine is 2 can lengths high, (top can is a tube, bottom cut out), and the gas-holes are at the top of the top can. I've gotten some very impressive flames, and found that 4 oz of pellets will burn fiercely for 20 minutes, and stay hot for about as long. Punch a semi-large hole just under 1/2 way up the lower can to allow you to put a match into. This hole I've found will create a very nice jet which helps to ignite the lower unburnt gasses and gives greater spread to the top gas holes. I've yet to see if this amount of fuel (4 oz) will bring my pressure cooker up to steam, but if it will, then that is enough to cook large bulks of beans. Could always start with more wood, tho'. I have put the heated press-cooker into a homemade blanket of carboard and temps so far are: held steam for 20 minutes after removal from flame. Temp. was 150 after 1 hour - enough time to cook several cups of presoaked soybeans. (which are more filling than any food I've eaten)

Other tubes I've built for my BOB hold small sampler bottle of booze, tobacco, coffee, sugar, Coconut oil, dried fruits, wheatberrries with a packet of dry yeast, more wheatberries, spices, veggie seeds, etc.
After sealing the cans with duct tape, and covering the contents label area (Sharpie over shiny) with temporary tape, I spray paint them black. Soot would work, but messy, ick.
Black cans are less reflective, and also can be used to heat water in good sunlight. (esp. when covered with baggie or glass jar)
And, they look better and more mysterious.
The finished tube is 42 and 1/4 " high, and makes a fairly unwieldly walking stick.
I've thought about burying these tubes just off the highway en route to our far-away lifeboat. If we ever have to walk there, the caches will be waiting. Will use hiway mileage markers as guides, and bury a few paces off the road, marked with a line of stones. Probably every 30 mile marker near my area of US 80 (if you ever need one...)
But, I'd really rather try to tough it out here in the unreal world, and hope they are never needed.
I guess that's the nature of Bug Out Bags, you hope you never need them.

BOT's can also be made from other cans, but they will not seal nearly as well, or be as sturdy. Just use normal cans and tightly tape them at the seams with duct tape.
Can tubes also work well around the house. I've built cheap solar hot air boxes for supplemental heating with them (which also dehydrate veggies), and have a tube de-stratifier running here in the motorhome as I type this. A 12V computer fan is attached at the top, and pushes risen heat down to floor level. Works nicely, and would work better with another fan at the bottom (push/pull), but am too lazy right now to wire one up.

Hope you can come up with some more ideas, these nesting cans are pretty amazing. What tooling....
I think them excellent for long term sealed storage. Keep them handy if I ever have to bug out.
And they're 3rd-level recyclable. Whatever that means.

Thanks for this nice site.

Very good informative post Reno.

I have yet to try the wood gas stove but its on my list of
ToDo projects.


I understand that without sufficient moisture that weevils and other critters cannot hatch.

I have some wheat that I dried down to a little less than 10% and put in plastic bags. To date, though I haven't opened one of late, I have seen no evidence of anything. Weevil damage can be seen as the inside of the wheat being totally consumed and just the outer bran layer left.

This wheat is now 3 years old and in the husk/bran shell.

When I grind it with my steel burr grinder I sift it through various seives until I get the amount of bran left that I desire. Some I sift completely and some I leave a lot for fiber in my diet.

I much prefer to save my corn since its far easier to store. Again about 10% is what I go for. Farmers carry a moisture checker in their combines to field test the moisture and that is what I use or borrow.

I have a concrete apron on the front of my barn and spread the wheat there on a tarp or plastic or bedsheet. Sprinkle it about , turn it some,make sure it is not shaded. Doesn't take very long.

I have used the oven but that is tedious and wastefull of energy.

On another note: I have observed the fields as I drive around and the absence of winter wheat is very obvious. If thats the same in the rest of the country then this years wheat harvest may have some shocks to come.

Better stock up while you can and keep cycling as you use it up so you always have a goodly supply on hand. At least for the seed value.

AFAIK there is no GMO wheat nor genetically altered. You can replant what you combine but I don't think many do that. The seed companies might be watching. They hate for you to not buy their seed.

Soybeans and corn are different.

I may have missed it if wheat has gone genetic, but if so I have not heard it yet.

Around here wheat is not a big crop. For now its corn on corn on corn with some soybeans throw in. Little wheat. Reason is that after you combine wheat its too late for corn.

Airdale-my views are on this part of the country.I am unsure of the far norhtwest. They do hard wheat as opposed to our soft.

PS. Bread made with hard wheat will not usually mold as it grows stale. Easy to use in many dishes then. Can be ground for bread crumbs. Soft wheat bread will mold. Don't know about all-purpose flour but likely to mold.

I have some leftover bread from two years ago. I think I could still make stewed tomatoes with it. Or bread soup.

I believe you are correct about wheat, not being GMO, and most wheat seed varieties are in the public domain via university research and development. However, the seed companies do tend to be big on marketing their own certified seeds. Though farmers with independent streaks could get free university wheat samples, make test plots, save what does well and keep planting that variety.

The current situation in the US is that there is a voluntary ban on the use of GMO wheat seed as the farmers do not want to lose markets that prohibit GMO Products. However, because of UG99 (A wheat stem rust) the companies that produce GMO seeds are hoping that the ban will be lifted. The Seed companies already have GMO seeds ready to go. For those not familiar with UG99 it is a wheat rust first noticed in Uganda in 1999. It has been moving eastward and may be as far as east as Pakistan.

You can get non-hybrid CORN at if you want to get away from the GMO stuff.

I am wondering if Eucalyptus leaves would be an Australian-ready deterrent, much the same way bay laurel ones are? Diatomaceous earth is the other non-freezing, non-vacuum, non-oxygen removal method I know of.

Interesting use of candles!

How much food is enough...I really don't know. What are you comfortable with? I think you answered your question. The Mormons say a year. Emergency services ask people around here to have 2 weeks covered.

Learning how to actually USE this food source is key, as you say. My family has gotten used to it by now, but it took some time. We do eat very nicely. I must work on a similar mini-guide for cooking.

How much food is enough...I really don't know.

I think it depends on how hard the TSHTF. Two months for initial hiccups, after that, I think the Mormons are right. You need to span a complete growing cycle. Imagine if everything goes sideways just after harvest.

I could put this bit anywhere on the thread but having a sack of flour is worth diddly if you have never baked anything and has limited value if you don't have yeast (or an oven) so learn how to make unleavened bread as well. Pita anyone? You can bake unleavened bread with a campfire an a chunk of sheet metal or a bunch of bricks.

Hmmmmm, perhaps in a gastronomical sense there is a Liebig minimum (yeast, spice etc). Sounds like a post. Any takers? :-)

How much food is enough...I really don't know.

I think it depends on how hard the TSHTF.

And how fast it hits. Do I get a day to panic-buy at the cross-town grocery? (I'd possibly be writing bad checks, so I'll try not to anger the closest one (or I might need to rob the closer one as a backup plan)). How many woefully unprepared family members are going to show up 2 weeks later when their own cupboards are bare? Do I need food to buy security from neighbors? (bad idea, but it might buy you a bit of time for a better solution (run, kill them, etc))

If there really is no food, then in 90days large portions of the population will have starved to death (or eaten one another). At that point, foraging should get much easier. Even if its hunting rats and feral dogs, there will suddenly be a large amount of game compared to the population.

Planning 3 months would probably be adequate. Then plan on trying to stretch that via foraging to double that. Don't forget the economy-sized bottle of multi-vitamins.

...bit of time for a better solution (run, kill them, etc)

I suppose that depends on how many sociopaths there are per square mile in your part of the world. One or more, apparently...

Like the race-war fantasies some residents chose to act out the streets of Algiers Point after Katrina, there is a serious likelihood that enough people are fixated on mad max scenarios that they will act them out delusionally in circumstances that are far less dire than they anticipate.

Ironically for these 'survivalists', that could prove to be fatal. Communities under stress are not a good place to engage in antisocial behavior, like, for example, shooting the neighbours.

Weekly reading of The Archdruid Report, ClubOrlov, and other hard-nosed but realistic commentators on collapse is a good corrective for this kind of thinking. Likewise, histories of communities undergoing starvation and hardship would be good for balance. The siege of Leningrad included incidents of cannibalism, but also the heroism of the Vavilov Institute scientists who starved to death while defending the seed grain collection.

"What must I do to live?" is a question of very little importance, since you WILL NOT live. You will die. We all do. Get over it.

The more important question by far is "What is my life for?" and that is a question you will have an opportunity to answer through your choices and your actions.

While really bad narratives are running through my head, I don't tend to dwell on them or talk about much because they can become contagious and self-fulfilling. I prefer to talk about what I'd prefer to see happen, which could increase the probability that it will.

You are correct that the very best and worst of human behaviors have occurred during periods of stress. The question I have is what might people do ahead of time to steer reactions towards the better? That would be a worthy topic to discuss.

Jason -- I agree with your perspective, and really appreciate the solutions and techniques-oriented Campfire posts. The neurological and psychological factors that can lead us to 'get what we plan for' are probably best left for a different thread.

Getting back on-topic then: I'm a big fan of white rice and small dried beans and lentils as a good base for a family food stock. They are easy to add to the shopping cart, and have a long storage horizon, and can be the basis for a lot of different meals. We've built up several month's supply just by over-buying over the last two years.

As many have pointed out before, brown rice is not as stable for storage, though better nutritionally. White rice is a buy-it-and-forget-it item in comparison.

As many have pointed out before, brown rice is not as stable for storage, though better nutritionally.

I never buy anything but organic long- or short-grain brown rice and have eaten it after being stored in plastic buckets for years, with no noticeable deterioration in quality. Usually I mix rice 1:1 with barley. White rice constitutes "empty calories."

Some people are not able to detect rancid fats; you may be one of them. My experience with brown rice is that unless it is very fresh(not likely in the conventional retail channel), it will be about 6-12 months before it is thoroughly rancid. According to many medical authorities, rancid fats are a health risks.

I get Lundberg's organic brown rice in bulk but even it eventually turns. As to "empty calories", maybe, but carbs are carbs when the chips are down. Another option is converted rice; much higher in nutrients but not vulnerable to going rancid. Converted rice...2500 years of experience can't be wrong!

Actually, the ideal solution in the rice front, and one that I simply don't have time to take on as a personal project, would be to get Lundberg farms or someone to sell *paddy rice* which is whole rice, with the hull on, in bulk online or through a major dealer. There's an internet plan out there somewhere turning a corona mill into a home-rice huller, and they are quite cheap. Unhulled rice stores for decades, and you could hull as much fresh brown rice as you wanted. But that would require a concerted bit of activism by someone who is not me ;-).

I agree, though - if you are eating brown rice older than a year, you are eating rancid fats, which is not good for you. It does go bad - but about half the people I've checked cannot taste rancid fats in grains. I don't recommend anyone store more brown rice than they will eat in a year. Otherwise, use white, or choose another whole grain that stores longer.


There's a simple-to-use FOOD PLANNER at

All you have to do is enter the number of people under 7 years old and over, and it calculates your needs ... for a year. Just divide by the number of months and you'll have your solution.

Being very intimate with the FEMA folks,(hint, hint), I would NOT put much weight behind what they recommend. Their guidlines and info, are only a starting point for someone not having any idea about taking care of themselves. They are pretty far down the food chain, so to speak, in dealing with an emergency. This post needs to be read by the head of FEMA, but won't be. ("Brownie, you're doing a Heckuva job!")

One year, in storage,food and WATER, get that, WATER, let me repeat it if you did not hear, WATER, is something to shoot for. Trying to predict anything farther than that is a waste of time. This only buys you some time to get into a sustainable situation, or to be honest, dead.

There are so many sites dedicated to long term planning. One that should be first on your list is , listed on the TOD Blog roll. Try .

Always remember,
Power Down.

Storing water is a mistake. Get a few cases of bottled water for a getaway kit, but for long-term, get a high quality, gravity water filter. The AquaRain is the best one out there. It's a gravity filter, so no energy is needed to use it. It will filter up to 32,000 gallons and will make lake/pond/puddle water safe to drink.

Check out

Not a mistake at all. You, are providing a little mis-information here. Prep, is just that. Prep. A Big Berkey filter is a great thing to include in one's prep. A filter system is part of a good plan, but what do you do when there is an order for Martial Law (it will come, to a theater near you), or Big Brother orders a "Shelter in Place", where you are not allowed to leave your home, "until further notice by FEMA"?

Last I checked, here in South Florida, a few million people live in a condo. How do they get raw water for a filter system? Raid the neighbors toilet?

Plan, Plan, and then revise your Plan frequently.

Read up a little and stop selling something.

There seem to be a variety of filters available for the Big Berkey. Any recommendations?

A gallon of chlorine bleach can sterilize more water than you can drink in several years.

OK then,,, I get a few gallons of water out of the local ditch, put in some of YOUR Chlorine to "sterilize" it, and YOU drink it.....write to us from the hospital and tell us how good it was.

Come on, use a little common sense here man. Providing bogus info does no one any good.

My suggestion for a "year" supply of water is only a target.....less would suit most, but the point I'm trying to make is, if you go to the trouble of putting up tons of food, and you do not put up any water, or have a plan to access a SECURE/SAFE SOURCE, quit now and save yourself a lot of trouble. You are dead in a few days anyway, without safe water....

Plan. Plan. Plan. Then revise it as things change.

Would 1 gallon per person per day be about right for potable water storage?

One gallon per day, is the min that most feel is safe, and is required for an "average" person, not engaged in strenuous (running away from zombies!) activities. This does not include hygiene needs, remember.

Walmart sells 1 gallon distilled, in plastic jugs for 79 cents. Biggest bang for the buck, keeps for about 6 months or more, in cool, dark area. I feel distilled is the way to go, since it can be used for many other things, including medical. So for little over $150.00, you have a very good supply to supplement a filter system. In regards to the posts about Chlorine, true, it is drinkable, but it does nothing for heavy metals or chemicals floating around the ditch. You DO NOT, want to be washing wounds with Chlorinated ditch me. I would only use that as a last resort for drinking, if there is an alternate, use it first. Water always, needs to be as clean/safe as you can make it under adverse conditions.

Distilled always makes the best tea and coffee anyway. Just rotate along with all your other foodstuff and you'll never have a problem. (until the zombies come out!)

But, don't just think food and water in your plan. Just keep a list of every item you use for a month, (toilet paper!!!)and see what you can do with out, (NOT toliet paper!!) then revise your plan. You'll be amazed at what a person thinks they need. I work with this type of planning on a daily basis and I have 1 years worth of food, mixed dry and wet, 6 months distilled water, and many other items in a very small storage space. (including Beer!)I could not leave the house for over 6 months, and never want for much of anything.

Each plan can be tailored to the individual need and preference. What works for some, vegans for example, will not work for others. Plan, Plan, Plan, and then revise constantly.

I have 4 rain barrels, and my system has an elbow I can swivel to send water into additional barrels rolled out into the driveway.

Distilled water will leach minerals out of the human body. Probably not a good idea. Spring or stream water, assumming the absence of industrial waste, can be treated by filling a clear plastic container and leaving it on asphalt for several hours. After the water reaches 157 degrees F, most biologicals have been killed.

Treating water is not rocket science, but knowing basic chemistry is helpful. I'm sure you can find lots of easy to understand literature on purifying water.

You can clarify ditch water by adding a little alum. It will quickly flocculate most of the suspended material which will settle out in a few hours.

Alum is used by municipal water systems that use river water. It is safe, tasteless and odorless in the amounts used.

It's been a long time since I worked in municipal water treatment, so I don't recall a rule of thumb for the amount of alum.

You can remove any remaining suspended material with some kind of filter. Municipal systems often use filter sand. Swimming pool supply companies sell it. Sand filters will actually filter out bacteria, but to keep the sand clean it need to be backwashed.

The amount of initial chlorine needed depends on the water clarity. Tap water needs at least 0.5 parts per million residual chlorine. Over one ppm the chlorine odor becomes noticeable.

You can use an inexpensive swimming pool test kit to check chlorine levels.

I'm thinking that 5-10 ppm chlorine should be sufficient to sterilize typical ditch water. The excess chlorine will evaporate over several hours. Again, use a test kit and do not drink any water with no residual chlorine.

Water from a properly grouted well is usually sterile, or at least does not contain harmful organisms, and needs no chlorine. However, any stored water needs to be kept in a sterile, air tight container.

bleach goes bad in matter of months.

Use Calcium Hypochlorite for Disinfect Water

A 1-pound pag of calcium hypochlorite in granular form will treat up to 10,000 gallons of drinking water

Calcium hypochlorite is one of the best chemical disinfectants for water, better than household bleach by far. It destroys a variety of disease causing organisms including bacteria, yeast, fungus, spores, and viruses.

Calcium Hypochlorite is widely available for use as swimming pool chlorine tablets or white powder that is much more stable than chlorine. This is often known as “pool shock”.
How to Disinfect Water Using Calcium Hypochlorite

Using granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water is a two step process.

1. To make a stock of chlorine solution (do not drink this!) dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon (about one-quarter of an ounce) of high-test (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite for each two gallons (eight liters) of water.
2. To disinfect water add one part of the chlorine solution to 100 parts water to be treated.
3. Let the mixture sit for at least one-half hour before drinking.

Be sure to obtain the dry granular calcium hypochlorite since once it is made into a liquid solution it will begin to degrade and eventually become useless as a disinfecting agent. This also means you should make your treated drinking water in small batches, for example enough for a few weeks at a time at most.

Another plus for using calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water for emergency use is that a little goes a very long way. A 1-pound pag of calcium hypochlorite in granular form typically costs only a few $US dollars and can be obtained in any swimming pool supply section of your hardware store or online. This amount will treat up to 10,000 gallons of drinking water, which is enough for a family of four for some six or seven years at a gallon per day per person!

Calcium hypochlorite will store for a long period of time and remain effective as a chemical drinking water treatment. So get rid of the household bleach and buy a can of Calcium hypochlorite for your disaster emergency water disinfection needs. It lasts far longer and treats far more water than the traditional chlorine bleach water disinfection treatment.

looks like "calcium hypochlorite shelf life", the dry stuff is good for 2-5 years, depending on your storage conditions. A higher temperatures results in shorter shelf life.

Even 2 years, though, is a lot better than 3-6 months for the liquid bleach.

Bleach goes "bad?" No it doesn't! Not at all!

It's a 3-4% solution of NaOCl in water. What it can do is reduce to NaCl, if it's induced to by contact with reducing agents like organics or metals. That's the mechanism by which it destroys bacteria. If overheated or catalytically broken down by e.g. hydrogen peroxide it will degrade to NaCl and O2. But bleach in a sealed jug WILL NOT GO BAD. Over the course of many years it will lose its potency as it reverts to NaCl and O2, but that can be offest by using a little higher concentration as a disinfectant.

Most sites say something like a tablespoon of bleach to ten gallons of tap water to allow it to be stored for a year. IME it lasts a good two years. "Ditch water" would take more - like a tablespoon per gallon - and you'd have to let it sit for an hour or so before it's safe. But then you can leave it open to the air and sunlight, which will drive off much of the residual chlorine and with it the bleach taste. This method has been used by backpackers forever - it works.

Trust me, I'm a chemist, and I've been at this food/water storage thing for many years myself.

BTW, I like pump filters like the Katadyn Guide - I don't have the patience for gravity filtration.

ok nelsone wrong words.

bleach ; to use u'r words
'will lose its potency'.

surely a granulated form is much safer for those relying on a formula, & treating something like questionable city water.

& by the way will the granulated stuff ever go bad; or just clump or something like fertilizer does.

so i had a chance to reference my 3-6 mo. re bleach losing potency.

'Does this mean bleach is useless after 3-5 months? No, because you probably don't need 6% hypochlorite for laundry and home disinfection. The 6% hypochlorite level is an EPA disinfection standard. If you store your bleach where it can get warmer than 70°F... like 90°F... the bleach is still effective for around three months.

So, when you buy a bottle of bleach, it has a shelf life. The bleach will be highly effective for around 6 months.'

the issue to me is longevity & judgment calls that non technical folks will be making. i imagine the 6% standard is the formula most water to bleach ratios use to make the water safe. bleach hypochlorite drops with time ; how much how fast?

Bleach releases oxygen when it breaks down. If it were decomposing, the bottle would pressurize and eventually burst.
This simply doesn't happen. You can leave a bottle of bleach on the shelf untouched for years and it will develop no discernible internal pressure.

well the reference i got was a chemist & clorox[the company]- read the links.

so lay out the facts as to how clorox & this chemist is wrong, &/or the details that back u'r position.

Chlorox does have an interest in selling its product, so suggesting customers keep a 'fresh' supply would be a defensible excuse against some incomplete science..

As an aside, having a solar oven or similar arrangement handy would also be a useful tool for disinfecting water. I forget the numbers, though. According to this site,

"...when contaminated water was heated in a black jar in a solar box cooker, both bacteria and rotaviruses -- the main cause of severe diarrhea in children -- were inactivated by 60°C (140°F). In the paper published this work (Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 47:223-228, 1984) it was concluded that if contaminated water were heated to 65°C (149°F), all pathogenic microbes would be inactivated. This includes the hepatitis A virus, which has a 90 percent reduction after two minutes at 60°C (140°F). "

the original link i gave besides saying use grandular hydochlorite says similarly in a link/article;

Think of the temperatures attained in the cooking of meat in order to make it safe to eat. Never are these temperatures anything like the boiling point of water. In general meats require temperatures of between 145 and 165 degrees F in order to destroy potential disease carrying organisms.

The pasteurization of milk is accomplished at a temperature of about 145 to 149 degrees F and in many areas of the world water is pasteurized at a similar temperature in order to destroy disease causing organisms. In fact, pasteurization of water at significantly lower temperatures than boiling is often prefered over boiling due to vast savings in fuel.

Solar writes “Heating water to 65º C (149º F) will kill all germs, viruses, and parasites. This process is called pasteurization and its use for milk is well known”.

i wonder if time at a temp. is a factor too.

& bob FWIW re clorox; pure conjecture at not u'r best; got some facts?

we probably agree that heat or filters is better than chemical to ensure water as ok to drink.

grandular hypoclorite is
cheap & uses less space & is simple enough in use, & with the likelihood that it stores a factor of ten times longer than liquid forms of hypoclorite: i'm gonna get some.

There's nothing wrong with conjecture, as long as you remember it's conjecture. I'm Just saying that you still have to be ready for a company to say.. 'Sure, you only want fresh Clorox!.. you should resupply regularly.' Listening for conflicts of interest can be useful even without hard proof.

As far as Time at a given temp, the link I provided mentions the various tested durations considered necessary for an N% reduction in bacteria.


There is on the net some data that says that storebrought bleach is of very little value. Its stated that when put into solution it starts immediately to lose potency. By the time you purchase it has lost a lot.

I don't have a link but stumbled across it very easily while researching lye.

Lye is far better the site said.
I am going to be making my own lye this spring with the huge amounts of wood ashes I have accumulated. Will also use it for alkaline treatment of my corn to bring forth the niacin.


Plastic is not air-tight. To use buckets for long term food storage, you must put the food in mylar bages (2 plastics which sandwich aluminum foil).

A more cost-effective and simpler way to control insects (in the US, at least) is by using Diatomaceous Earth mixed in with the wheat (or whatever grain you're storing). It naturally and mechanically kills the insects and is non-poisonous and harmless to eat. See

Mylar (PET) is plastic too. Polyolefins like PP and HDPE are great because they're so hydrophobic, which is why they're used to make buckets. It's true that polyolefin has a little higher oxygen permeability than PET (which also has a nonzero permeability), but in both cases it's an extremely small amount. Thick polyolefin buckets can have better O2 barrier qualities than thin PET film.

You want a total O2 barrier? Use metallized Mylar, preferably both inside and outside. IME it isn't necessary for multiyear storage of grains and beans. Hulled nuts might be a different story, since their oils are so vulnerable to oxidation (rancidity).

Below this, Preston Sturges suggests using canning jars as a storage container for grains. Is there any merit to using the jars as part of a vermin-killing technique as well?

Place the grains, beans, rice, whatever into a canning jar first. And then place the sealed jars into a boiling water bath or pressure canner. Heat treat the jars as you would for other preserved food.

Might have to increase treatment time to ensure the killing temperature penetrates to the core of the jar.

The dry ice idea is novel and intriguing for its simplicity, but may not be practical everywhere. The candle idea is also clever, but would it impart a bad taste to the product???

Muchos kudos to the editors for this new aspect of the forum.

Yes, canning jars are an excellent, rodent-proof solution (assuming you can afford them). Get extra lids for re-use.

Dry ice will work, if it's available. But it *is* expensive. A cost-effective solution is Diatomaceous Earth. It's non-poisonous and mechanically kills insects and is harmless for us to eat.

Read more about it at

I live in Calgary, and here dry ice runs for less than $2/lb. But, you have to use it fast: put it in an insulted cooler as soon as you buy it, and it will last ~12 hours, otherwise you lose ~1lb/hour in the paper bag they give it to you in.

Because so many people live in remote locations around here, the stores provide dry ice for keeping perishables cold on the long drives home from town. The dry ice used to be provided free but in recent years the stores have begun to charge for it. I put a chunk of dry ice in the grain storage buckets, put the lid on but don't seal it tight, wait until the bucket where the dry ice is no longer feels cold, then seal the lid. I'm not sure how much good this does but I've eaten grain sealed up this way after several years storage & it was still good.

Use canning jars to save dry grains. Just pack it down and put the lid on.

25 lbs of rice fits in about 14 jars, that's calories for one person for a month. Also save oatmeal, lentils, some minute rice. It's rodent proof, put it anywhere. I've lost count, but we're probably good for 4 months, not counting another 6 weeks of what's in the pantry.

In full blown SHTF, you'll want those jars for canning, barter, charity, making lamps, storing small amounts of kerosene.

If you have a Food Saver vacuum packer, you can buy attachments to allow vacuum packing canning jars (narrow and wide mouth). I do this for dried fruit and a few other things.


Oil is also important. It doesn't have to be the most expensive grade for frying, just the cheap blends for baking.

I started stocking up on tinned meat a couple years ago. I literally have no idea how much is stashed away, but it's a lot.

Another way to vacuum seal is the Pump N Seal, which allows you to use those giant jars you end up with from Costco (i.e. olives, artichokes, etc).

Dehydration of fruit and vegetables retains far more nutrition than canning, so after I dehydrate apples, tomatoes, and vegetables, I put them in glass jars and use Food Saver or Pump-N-Seal.

Vacuum sealing not only extends the storage of grains, but bread crumbs, crackers, pasta, cet and refrigerated items as well, which must continue to be refrigerated -- this isn't a substitute for water or pressure canning.

I do wish more was written about vacuum sealing in food science journals -- I'd like to know more about it, especially whether it's as good as the dry ice, oxygen absorber, etc methods.

How do the Food Saver and Pump-n-Seal work with powders like dry milk, cocoa, or flour? Doesn't some of the powder sneak out and ruin the seal?

As someone mentioned on a previous thread, storing in oil (and thus applying to vacuum as well, since it's about taking out the oxygen), leaves the risk of botulism. Botulism is a micro-organism that produces a powerful neurotoxin and thrivees in moist protein-rich but anoxic environments.

But I'd like to learn more about this from someone more knowledgeable.

Anyone found a good source for inexpensive food grade buckets? I've been to three restaurant supply stores in the past couple of weeks and haven't found anything (looking for standard 3.5/5 gallon food grade with threaded lids).

Online vendors go to town with shipping given the large size.

I'm looking at ordering a case from Yankee Containers (3.5 gallon versus 5.5, 6.5 for threaded):

Here's the page that says they are food compatible (the threaded section):

I have requested a quote with shipping but have not heard back yet.

I like the 3.5 size and threaded should provide some reseal.

My plan is dry ice oxygen removal. I'm using the Crisis Preparedness Handbook by Spigarelli. It covers food requirements and storage quite well in my opinion (over a third of the book).

As for variety, search for Canned Bacon. I doubt anyone would starve with bacon "garnish".

i get the buckets from a donut shop/bakery. i've paid $1 OR free currently as the manager likes to recycle.

Ask at a quality Diner if they get their pickles in 1Gal Glass Jars. Beats Plastic for many storage needs. I'm probably going to make Rope Nets for these jugs, though, to have carry handles, and a protective surround to reduce the chance of 'Glass-on-glass' disasters, as they're moved around.

I'm also liking these big square Kitty-litter Plastic containers for keeping drygoods inside another dry and carryable and stackable surrounding. (Also good shop storage.. nails, tools, cloth or wood.. items you want to be able to cover and keep dry.)

Maybe a couple strips of duct tape would make them safer. Super sized glass jars scare me because i have known several people that suffered terrible (disabling) injuries to their hands from broken glass.


As valuable and inert as a glass enclosure is, a really good Long Term solution would also be to make basic Wooden Frames to keep/carry them in. Remember the Wooden crating that a big 5 gallon water jug used to be carried in? This could also make the glass containers stackable and Sideways Storable.

I scored a 5gal glass bottle a couple years back, which will probably work as a solar batch heater. The case I made to protect that is a Thin Plywood Box Fully Lined with Foil-covered Insulating foam, and two adjacent walls hinge open to form a reflective collector for gathering solar heat. (More spare mirrors can, obviously add to the collector-area).. Hang onto Glass and Mirrors.. but wear gloves!

One of the worst workplace accidents I saw involved a 5 gal glass carboy. Obviously not as bad as getting caught in a grain auger, but very very ugly with lots of severed tendons.

I don't buy plastic containers anymore as I've found out the plastic does eventually deteriorate and break apart.
Tho' it is lighter and easier to transport than glass, glass is more long-lasting.
I save all our glass containers (with caps) and after washing them well, set them out in the sun for a few days to sterilize and dry them out completely. A 12 oz glass juice bottle will hold (yes) 12oz of dried grains, and for virtually no cost. If you use it in a stationary stash, then the danger of breaking the glass from moving it around is lessened. Mobile stashes of plastic and metal are ok, but not glass.
One of my favorite free glass containers is those old cherry and olive jars they use in the bars here. Those gallon glass bottles are routinely thrown out, and if you visit your local bar, have a beer, and tip the bartender, she/he may save you a few of them.
Not only are they great containers, but I have built several solar cookers out of them.
All it takes is 2 jars. The gallon one is the outside container, and the other jar is one that will fit inside the gallon jar. Paint the smaller jar flat black, and after drying and curing, you can fill it partway with rice and water, loosly put the cap on it, and cover it over with the larger gallon jar.
With the addition of a cardboard and foil reflector, it will cook 20 oz of rice in about an hour and a half. No muss, no fuss, no tracking necessary.
I think I measured 240 degrees one day in one of them, which is more than enough to disinfect water IMO.
Am currently trying to see if this unit will distill water, but without much success. I am comparing the glass bottle with a similar plastic one, and while the plastic seems to have more droplets, neither of them give any appreciable amount of water. Any ideas?
BTW, reused plastic containers do work great for short term storage, and also cans (see other post on BOT's here) are probably critter proof for long-term storage.
Great site!

You've been busy!

Haven't done much designing of 'stills yet, so I don't have any great notions on the best layouts for these.. I did see some as Third-world distillery projects where a collector box with a sloped Glass Lid would condense the vapor and drain it off downhill along the pane, where it's guttered and caught.

Google.. our fickle sage of the day!


Canned Bacon can be found at

It's pre-cooked and can be eaten as-is, or heated for 15 seconds in a microwave. Saves a lot of energy....

Jason, thank you very much for a very practical posting. I enjoy sprouting mung beans the best.

How do people store Apples? I can't seem to keep mine from going rubbery!

Naturally pickled foods like Kimshi and Sauerkraut can store vegetables so that they retain and in some cases INcrease the nutrients in the food. Some storage and cooked/canned foods deplete a lot of the food value.

Many sources say raw fermented foods are beneficial to the digestive system by increasing the healthy flora in the intestinal tract or creating the type of environment for them to flourish. Sauerkraut and its juice are traditional folk remedies for constipation. Fermentation actually increases nutrient values in the cabbage, especially vitamin C. Fermented foods are also said to facilitate the breakdown and assimilation of proteins. They have a soothing effect on the nervous system.

Before the days of refrigeration, sauerkraut served as the only source of vitamin C during the winter in northern climates. It was used on long ship voyages to prevent scurvy.

I like lacto-fermentation a lot myself. Have loads of pickles this year.

This was covered a bit in an "old" campfire post:

Was given the book "Salt" by Mark Kurlansky for Christmas, and it's very interesting.
While only 1/2 way through it, it talks about curing foods with salt and/or brine.
Pack your meats/fish/foods (without touching each other) in coarse salt and let em set. Time depends on poundage, but it looks like a week.
Have to experiment, since that's how they did it originally. The book says non-fatty meats and fish cure best.
When using brine they say to have it salty enough so that an egg will float in it.
Maybe time to stash a few bags of coarse salt.
After salting the meat/fish can be dried and smoked. (No, smoked without rolling papers...)
Also it talks about dehydrating sea water in shallow ponds, which is how the ancients made their salt, and perhaps Ghandi did? It was a huge industry in Europe, and made the ability to wage war better. (?)
Might be a nice PO skill to learn for you seacoast folks. I've had good sucess distilling water in a tilted plastic mortar mixing tub covered with a pane of glass. I get about 1/2 quart a day of distilled water per unit, and when completely evaporated, it should be easy to harvest any remaining salt left on the bottom of the pan.
It sounds like salted meats will last a very long time.
While I've never made saurkraut(?) I guess it's cured/fermented in salt. Just today read in an old Mother Earth magazine about a guy who makes saurkraut out of diced turnips. Turnips will be a good portion of this year's garden because of their storability, growability, etc. (overwinter well)
The recipe (TMEN #82., P. 86) says to cut into spaghetti width strips, put into quart mason jars, add 1 heaping tsp. pickling salt, and fill with hot water. Put on lids loosly, and let ferment in warm place (70) for up to 6 weeks. The author then boils the jars in a water bath canner with lids tightened for 20 minutes, and lets them sit in the water until cool.
Yet another thing to experiment with while I still can. And no, I've not yet tried salt curing, but wanted to share the concept with you.

For your stomachs health ferment some cabbage and make sauerkraut.

Put it in quart jars. Open one to cook with pork but drink the sauerkraut juice raw. Its will do wonders for the flora and fauna in your digestive system.

One grows to love the taste of it.

Storebought is not real sauerkraut..Its fake. Or so I read.

I make my own. Lasts a long long time. Make it in a 1 gallon jar since I had dealing with my crock. I have a couple of 1 gal jars and use a wine water valve on the top. This way I can see it work and judge it better. Makes superior kraut. If you have many 1 gal jars I guess you could just leave it in them..I water bath can mine. Sometimes. I think the heat might kill the lacto parts so I just seal after it works off. Too sour to spoil but I do have a few lids come loose but the contents are still prime.


How do people store Apples? I can't seem to keep mine from going rubbery!

Some apples are winter keepers, though still need to be stored at cool temperatures. It's best to acquire/harvest them in autumn when it's cool/cold outside and store them in a garage, root cellar, etc.

Apple storage tips

While I also have early and mid season apples, "winter keeper" apples provide fresh fruit through winter. I plant winter keeper apples based on 3 criteria;

1. Disease Resistance, so I don't have to continually spray through the growing seasons
2. Late harvest, so I don't have to use inordinate amounts of power to keep them cool until mid-late October, when I can keep them naturally cool
3. Storage hardiness: most popular apple cultivars don't keep very long, even with cool storage

This reference has apple cultivar information on all 3 criteria. Order your trees early this year, as nurseries will run out fast due to a high resurgence of interest in fruit trees.

The winter keepers that I've found to best fit the above (and certainly there must be others) are Enterprise and Arkansas Black.

A few sources; in VA (page down to apples)
RaintreeNursery in WA State
Fedco in Maine

Apologies to those in other countries, I'm unfamiliar with non-US nurseries.

Of course, there are a number of considerations, like soil, climate, rainfall, pests, etc. The topic of low maintenance home fruit trees is a whole 'nother subject unto itself...

You mention root cellars, but not humidity explicitly. Rubbery or wrinkled apples are drying out. Often our efforts at managing storage are directed at keeping the space dry, but root cellars are traditionally near 100% RH, at maybe 10-15C.

I would agree with your suggestion of humidity, though do not understand where you obtained your reference to 10-15C.


"Apples are best stored at 30°- 32°F, with a relative humidity of 90 percent and some air circulation."

90% humidity at 30-32F is much different than than near 100% humidity at 10-15C (50-59 ºF). If you take a look at this psychometric chart, you'll see that the former has 0.003 lb-water/lb-dry-air and the latter has 0.010.

In a sealed container, the apples themselves will transpire to humidify the air to the balance point. Leaving the apples unsealed and exposed would not be recommended.

The reference also states "Apples can be kept satisfactorily in cellars that are humid and cool (below 40°F)."

Wow, that's cold! My cellar is 50F year-round, and humid, liked more than 90%RH, but I don't know exactly how high. I'm concerned that the yeast on the apple skins could take off inside a sealed container, and I know that apples were stored for centuries without being tightly enclosed. I guess if you're barely above freezing then not even yeast can grow.
I have no way to passively control my cellar to get it that cold, so I leave my veggies unsealed and hope for the best.

"Do not store apples with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, lettuce or leafy greens. Apples give off a gas (ethylene) that can damage these vegetables. This same gas speeds the ripening of bananas, kiwis, peaches, plums and pears. If you want these fruits to ripen faster, place them in a paper bag with an apple."

From what I heard, they used to bury apples in a tub with sand as well.

Thanks. That makes sense. Our storeroom is cold, but dry.. will look for a basement area.

Thanks Jason !
& staff for this series!

Re several comments
- induced updraft wood stove
I've found that the performance of Tom's Wood Gas Stove can be improved so it rarely needs the fan. The trick is to mount it such a way it creates its own airflow like a small gas turbine. Next week I'll make a large casserole on it for a bunch of visitors. Fuel will be twigs fallen from a nearby tree. BTW the 3 volt fan can run for 00's of hours using a 12v gel battery and a linear rectifier instead of AA's.
-grain storage
I think all the suggested points are valid. A non-condensing container, essential oils to control fungi and impenetrable against rodents. That's why they lay people to rest in pine boxes.

My big hope is to make red bean burgers of out some home grown borlotti beans I have drying in the pantry. I'll cook them til soft, blend them to mince, add ham strips and spices and bind with egg or mashed potato. The burgers will be fried in oil on a skillet over the wood gasifier stove. That's free fuel and 90% free ingredients.

Thanks Jason (and everybody else who provided tips)!
Carolus Obscurus

If you're running a 3 V fan from a 12 V battery using a linear regulator, you're throwing a huge amount of energy away.  Get yourself a 12 V fan (maybe a computer power-supply fan) instead; even a 5 V fan will draw less power and run longer.

I have collected a mass of semi-dead solar yard lights.  One of these days I'm going to pull the dead ones apart and turn the cells into a 12 V battery trickle charger.

I'm pulling one apart right now to become a cell-phone charger.

Those path-lights are largely an abomination.. cheap materials, poor electronics.. unneeded and misapplied product.. but I'm keeping an eye out like you, to snag a bunch of little useful PV chunks.

This is a positively superb thread. I have seen several questions answered (what are good grain mills, which buckets are best, how much energy per food, etc.) that I have struggled with in the past, all now in one place!

I didn't see much, though, about frozen food storage. For bulk meats and some veggies, what would be wrong with a large chest freezer?

Obviously power is a concern, but they don't use much and solar is pretty cheap for such a valuable use -- and any good freezer would do fine with a sunlight-driven intermittency cycle.

Maintenance would be a long-term issue, but if we're just talking about a year I don't see much problem with freezer storage. Plus, six months into shortages I bet you could trade a steak for a bunch of beans. Am I missing something?

A high efficiency freezer tied to a renewable energy system might be great to have. I try to break posts into "digestible" bits, while whole books are written on these topics.

The energy intensity of different storage methods is quite interesting. There was quite a bit of discussion on the previous post I had regarding preservation of fresh produce. Traditionally, meat was stored on the hoof, or salted and dried. How does this compare to an efficient deep freeze? I don't know. Can anyone else provide an answer?

I recommend to everyone to buy large amounts of Vitamin C. It is used as an additive to bakery products as E-300 / ascorbic acid and you can buy it cheaply as such. Look for wholesale suppliers for bakeries.
The other Vitamin to get is Vitamin D especially if you live on a temperate climate.

These are great to stay healthy during winter and large doses (10 G / day) of Vitamin C make wonders when you are ill.

For storage I use large waterproof plastic barrels (120 liters / barrel). I mainly store rice and dry pasta in them. Pests are not a a problem with 2 cats around the house.

In my experience canned and bottled jams/fruits last for YEARS without any problem. The 18 months indicated in the article is way too low. I am bottling fruits, jams, tomato and peppers myself. It is easy and they do not spoil for several years.

Also keep in mind that if you have to resort to eating this, then it is most likely a grave life and death situation. It is good to have a balanced diet, but survival matters most. Thats why I mostly store rice but slowly building up a larger storage of canned meals and meat.
Pasta: there are ones that are made of high-protein wheat and do not have eggs in them. These can be kept longer without much problems.

It will probably be common to set a couple plastic barrels in concrete block enclosures and top them with concrete slab covers. The other thing to stock up on is rat and mouse traps. Once vermin become abundant, it's war.

Interesting thread.

While I believe that the probability of needing a large reserve of stored food is low, looking at history shows many instances where it could have saved one’s life. In this century there was starvation in Germany due to the blockade in WWI, which caused an estimated 750,000 deaths, and again during and after WWII several million starved throughout Europe. Unexpected events like volcanic eruptions as in 1816, The Year Without A Summer, and the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840’s caused mass starvation.

With world food supplies near modern all time lows, storing food is something to consider. While I don’t store much food, I do live where something can be grown all year, and I have seed, fertilizer and garden tools.

Storing food isn't just for the apocalypse, war, etc... It is also for when you lose your job and can't afford to buy food, or have a sudden medical crisis and can't get out to buy food.

It is not a substitute for gardening - but neither is gardening a substitute for food storage, as we all know that harvests can be destroyed in a very short time, leaving people with short or long term shorages of food if they rely entirely on gardens. A flood, a drought, or simply an illness during a critical food production period can disrupt "year round" supplies.

Food storage and growing food to replace your stores are interconnected projects, and food storage is valuable - even if you just want to keep being able to give to others in a time of economic hardship.

Sharon Astyk

Where do people buy their bulk food for storage?

I'm in eastern PA and would like to find a local place to buy 3 months supply of dehyrdated food, etc. All I can find is internet sites (usually in the west).

I go to local health food/grocery store and either take out of bins (small amounts) or order 25 lb bags.

Health food stores will usually sell 25 pound bags wheat or beans at reasonable prices. Also, some Mormons keep a year's supply of food and can tell you where to buy it, or maybe even sell it.

Say, is there any recommended way to store Avocados? I'd like to know long-term since it's what my yard produces best. And I'd like to know short-term because we just had a windstorm and I have several hundred pounds of them all getting ripe at once. Am gifting to neighbors, and may do a "free avocados" craigslist posting as well, but in general, does anyone have experience with preserving them? I've thought a bit about adding ascorbic acid and putting up some jars of guac, but I suspect it might not work well. My best guess is that mixing with lemon juice from the other trees and freezing would probably work, but only while the grid is up...

Guess I can google, eh, but where's the fun in that. Any TODers on oahu, email me for some free avo's, they're good ones.


Could I suggest terracotta, as a container that has proved itself over millenia?
My amateur researches into protohistory seem to show that for all its fragility simple fired-clay pots were central to very many civilisations:acting as everyday eating recepticles, storage bins and funerary repositories.
In particular - the function of amphorae seems to have eluded most historians : the nature of baked-clay containers is both to keep stuff in - but also to be part-porous on the outside. So those strange pointy-bottomed jars were designed [in my view] to be stuck in damp sand where the moisture would wick-up the porous outside, and then evaporate. Thus cooling your imported ancient greek wine, or oil. One must presume that all our cork forests here around the Mediterranean provided the bungs.
And it's rat-proof.
I do sometimes feel that the desire to re-invent the wheel is one of those male, show-off tendencies that we may not be able to afford for very much longer. And that the problem with a 'forward-looking' and progress-driven culture is that past technologies and solutions are derided.
I think we may need clay - and the women to work it [for I am sure that such a domestic and humdrum occupation was relegated to those who were not allowed to go hunting] more than we will need plastic, and candles, and cans, and glass, and rubber.
NB 50%+ of humans ARE smarter than yeast. How difficult is that.

Terra cotta would need to be glazed, to keep moisture out. And it shares with glass the problem of breakage. HDPE is the way to go.

We have a modern terracotta unglazed wine-cooler. It doesn't leak all over the table. But you have to soak it in water for a while before you get the benefits.
The glazing came much later [I can't be bothered to look it up because it's probably Roman, and that's not my interest.] But yes - there probably was a small amount of loss - in substance,or hygiene.
My tenets are small is beautiful, and less is more. Glazing probably came with the demands of trade and storage. I'm simply thinking how you get from one year to the next in the lowest-tech way.

Good reminder.

I like the new and the old..(and I also like my male show-off tendencies, I just do.)

I'm hoping we'll be able to have some mix of ceramics AND more recent materials, up to and including DD's wacky technofixes, like HDPE.

Lucky to be next door to a potter too, tho' I might have to make him a Solar-Mirror Kiln up on the roof one of these days, if the gas stops flowing. Meantime, we've got The Sacred and the Propane!

The Mormons publish a lot of info on food storage.

Keeping 6 months of provisions has been an important practice for them for a long time. I think they collectively have more experience in this area than most other groups.

You don't have to become Mormon to take advantage of their info. I use a spreadsheet from them for food storage that is pretty complete, and they have a reasonable number of cookbooks etc. so that you can actually eat off of your foodstores.

remember Howard Ruff in the 80's?

Regarding storage potential for unshelled nuts: we have lots of black walnuts in our area, and I collect them every year, but never seem to use them all each year.
So I have some as old as 4 years, and when I crack them open, a large percentage are still good. The meat may have shrunk a bit on the oldest ones. But they'll certainly keep longer than 18 months.
What I've found, in fact, is that it's a little easier to get the meat out if they're at least a year old when I crack them. And at a year old, virtually all are still good.

A very useful item post-SHTF would be a solar powered water bath for canning. I'm thinking of a large parabolic trough reflector heating water for canning water bath, possibly made from an old bath tub. just a thought.

Jason, that's a start. Some comments:

  1. Please use the metric system! Everyone in the US now gets schooled in metric, and the rest of the world has used it for decades!!
  2. Dry ice is carbon dioxide, not an alternative to carbon dioxide
  3. HDPE is gas permeable. That is what a mylar liner is for, to greatly slow this process down (it will not stop it entirely).


I believe some people get co2 in tanks (think home beer makers) and flush with those rather than the ice form.

I personally have about half my supplies in mylar bags that are vacuum sealed in HDPE buckets and the other half in buckets without the bags or vacuum seal. The half that is fully sealed I don't touch--should last for decades. The other half I use so am not concerned about the small rate of air flow through the plastic. More air probably gets in and out as I open and close occasionally.

Sorry about the metric issue. Would you like to write a metric version of this?

I have been eating 10 yr + old pinto beans and rice and wheat I stored up pre Y2K just in case, following Cresson Kearneys instructions in Nuclear War Survival Guide. Dry wall cut into 1" cubes baked at 350 for 20 mins put in a bowl on top of the wheat/rice/beans in a heavy plastic trash can lined with a big food grade plastic bag with air sucked out and sealed with a cable tie. No rodent problems, no insects mold or other problems. My pantry is cool but inside my house, just insulated and not heated door closed and I have a "dry Z air" in there on the shelves. Keeps everything dry so nothing grows, very cheap and low tech and has worked GREAT for about 10 yrs. so far.

I'm late to the party here, but the problems of food storage pop up in "This Is Not a Test" (IMDB) -- a little indie comedy with Tom Arnold.

It's actually a good movie for Peak Oil acknowledgers to watch because it shows how tough it was for Tom to convince his neighbors that they needed to keep supplies around in case of TEOTWAWKI. He teaches his neighbors to stock up on dry goods, water, etc. Maybe it could be a new hit in the Peak Oil community?