The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Pantries and Preparedness with Glenda. Making things last as long as possible.

This week Glenda is adding some information that will help with making stored food last much longer. I hope you find her tips as helpful as I do.  I note that many times it is a combination of things that work to maximise shelf life.  I am learning a lot in this area as it is my first year of really needing to rotate goods on a large scale.  Food is expensive and also a major asset so this is really important information.

Over to Glenda...

   There are a few more things, along the way, I would like to share with you about preparedness, so I hope you don't mind it coming in a little at a time :).
   Basic storage has always been a primary goal for us. If we needed three days, three months, or a year or more, we needed to consider what foods we could survive on and how to store them long term. Grains, Beans, Pasta, dehydrated vegetables and fruits, sugar, salt, and sourdough all have a lifespan of over thirty years, if properly stored. The biggest enemies of food are: light, heat, and air. 
   Some people put their food and emergency stores in a garage, but this is unwise, unless it is temperature controlled. Most garages, especially in the U.S., are hot in summer and cold in winter. The temperature extremes will affect the quality of the food, herbs, or medicines. It is best to keep a stable temperature year around. Dark, temperatures between 50 to 60 degree F, and lack of oxygen will keep foods fresh and usable for a very long time.
   I mentioned dehydrated foods as a long term storage item. This is true if the moisture has been thoroughly removed and the items are vacuum sealed once dehydrated. I have found that just putting them in jars will work for several years, but they do dry out more and some become too hard and tasteless to use. It's a learning process over the years. 
   When we started buying in bulk, eating healthy, grinding our own grains, and baking and cooking from scratch, almost four decades ago, we did not have the internet or all of the sources people have now to help them prevent mistakes. Having said all of that, I still believe each family has to see what works for them in their own environment and situation. We live in a dry climate that is not bothered by mold, bugs, or dampness. If we lived in S.C., where my mother was from, we would have another set of conditions to consider when storing food.

    Grains and a grain grinder will supply wheat (or similar grain) for baking all forms of muffins, breads, cakes, etc. Salt, sugar, water, powdered milk, and powdered eggs are all that are necessary for most breads. The spices add a lot of flavor, but again last a very long time if sealed properly. Everything I have mentioned here are very long term storage items; most thirty years or indefinitely. White Flour, at the most, stores one to two years with oxygen absorbers and stored properly. The bran and germ have been removed from white flour and unless it states unbleached it has been chemically bleached. The health issues with white flour can be found on a search on the internet.

   The LDS website is a good source to find shelf-life lists of foods. There are other sources also, but the LDS calculator is on the internet for anyone to use as a guideline for food storage.
    According to their list: Wheat, Corn, White rice, sugar, some beans, oats (I consider this under grains when I speak of grains), pasta, dehydrated potato flakes (easy to make at home), dehydrated apples slices, powdered milk, and some dehydrated vegetables will last 30 years or more. 
   To make dehydrated powdered potato flakes, we buy organic potatoes because potatoes are highly pesticide contaminated in the U.S. Peel, slice, and blanch the potatoes for about three minutes in boiling water. I like to use a steamer because it eliminates the potatoes from being submerged and it is easier to transfer them to the ice water. Immediately plunge them in ice water to stop the blanching process. We lay them out on either paper towels or dish towels  and dry the slices as much as possible without breaking them. Then we place them on the dehydrator trays and turn it on. After they are thoroughly dried, we leave them in a pan and once a day stir them gently to make sure they continue to air dry for two days. If we want slices we vacuum seal them in canning jars and put them in the food storage room. If we want powdered potato flakes, we grind them in the Cuisinart until they are like powder and then vacuum seal them in canning jars and store them in the food storage room. We always label the jars with item name and date we sealed it.
   There are some tips when sealing powders in canning jars in order to not plug up the tubing to the vacuum sealer. Make sure that the canning jar is only about 1/2 to 2/3 full, depending on how fine the powder. I usually shoot for 2/3 full, but have had that not work at times with powders. It's important to make sure the rim is really clean, just like in canning. 
   I vacuum seal spices, herbs, and medicinal herbs. I opened some basil I grew three years ago and dried, then sealed, and it smelled  and tasted as fresh as the day I dried it.

    Lavender for soaps, room fresheners, and other uses is wonderful and fresh smelling for years when vacuum sealed in canning jars. We try to grow a lot of lavender and culinary herbs during the summer. 

Next time we are going to cover my least favourite subject which is being prepared if you have to evacuate your home.

Glenda also mentioned that having seeds to sprout is a good idea as sprouts are power houses of nutrition and I really hope we will have a post on this subject coming up. 

Another consideration is getting the best value for money in the food we are storing. Glenda costs out how much things are in various sized packs. Here she showed me how she buys cheese in bulk and freezes it.

I mentioned above that often there are a combination of steps that maximise shelf life. Here Glenda is vacuum sealing butter to go into the freezer... (after being purchased on a big special.)

Knowing how to make things last also allows us to take advantage of good prices when we see them!  I note that butter has a long history of being greatly sought after and valued and hard to get at times. 

I will add that in Australia we have the same situation with most sheds being way to hot in the summer to use for food storage.  Over time I realised if I had the right type of cupboards outside or in the shed I can store toilet paper, cleaning products and many things out there and in turn free up lots of space in cooler places inside for food storage. It was a bit of a change around but made a lot of space I didn't know I had! 

When our bathroom is finished I will have room for a set of shelves in there. It will mean my linen cupboard will no longer have towels. I can see a heap of space coming my way!  I plan on having baskets in my shelves to store supplies like shampoos etc.  Each area that I organise ends up having much more storage space than I thought. 

How are you progressing with building up your pantry? If you have any tips for making things last, long term storage and making the most of great prices please share them! 
If you have any questions for Glenda she is a wealth of information! 

Have a wonderful week! xxx


  1. We have found that we rotate and use our food storage best if we keep small canisters/jars of basic dry pantry items in our kitchen on shelves with the buckets and larger quantity storage containers in our basement. When a kitchen container runs out (for instance sugar), we just take the empty container down to the basement and refill it from the sugar buckets! So it seems that, for us, if we have our food storage in the kitchen in small amounts rather than totally in the basement that we will actually use it and rotate our food storage regularly!jj

    1. Thank you for your comment and mentioning this aspect of food storage.
      We do the same thing in our home :). We keep glass canisters and large canning jars filled with necessities for baking and cooking upstairs and refill them as needed from downstairs.
      We have an interim way of doing this, also, which might help those with health issues or age progression. We have the very large containers in the food storage room; the room is kept at a certain temperature and dark. Then we have smaller, two gallon buckets with gamma lids in another location downstairs. These can easily be carried upstairs for refilling jars.
      Your food storage plan sounds perfect for you and it's great to rotate regularly.
      Thanks again for your comment,

  2. Thank you Glenda and Annabel

    So much thought recently has gone into what route I need to take to make the best of my food dollars and also how to best store it. As I am able to grow more and more of my food I am changing the foods I store. I have been thinking on this for quite a while and trying hard to have less wastage. This post is most informative, thank you

    Mel S xxx

    1. Thank you, Mel, for your comment.
      Growing your own food is awesome and a great solution for filling long term needs. We did that for years in our previous home. I miss that!!
      It sounds as if you are very thoughtful and that is always the mark of a wise person. You will do great!
      Many blessings to you,


  3. Hi Annabel and Glenda!!

    You've done a nice job, Glenda! It's good to see how you modern ladies do things!

    For those of us who live in a world of less electricity, I remember how it can be beautifully cool under a high tank stand covered with a thick passionfruit vine. The coolest places in summer, for us, are outdoors, under densely leafed trees. If I got stuck, I think I could keep some things cool in the water tank! I'm a bushie!

    In winter, pantry items, for us, would be best outdoors, too, away from the cozy warmth of the fire!

    Ha ha!! I have an outdoor pantry location in mind! Who started this topic?!!!!

    With very warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Hi Rachel,
      Your climate sounds as if it is very mild, even during the winter. We have temperatures sometimes down to -35 degrees F, winds 60 mph, and snow 3-4 ft deep; an outside pantry definitely isn't in the cards (LOL).
      Everyone's food storage should be adaptable to their circumstances, financial situation, climate, and personal preferences. I know people that have apartments that can, dehydrate, and store vast amounts of food; they are very wise and creative in their storage. Some people have no garden area and grow solely in pots on a deck, patio, or balcony. Food storage is possible for everyone, in some form and amount.
      Thank you for your comment, Rachel, and for presenting a different way to store in a mild climate.
      Many blessings to you,

    2. I'm just getting used to typing on a tablet! I meant to say I had several questions. Sorry!! This touch pad takes some getting used to! Cookie

  4. Dear Annabel and GLenda,
    Thank you for another very informative post. I have several D. When freezing bulk cheese do you freeze blocks or shredded? If shredded can I shredded it myself and then freeze I successfully? Can cream cheese be frozen long term? I have frozen it short term. Cream cheese is on sale this week for 85 cents per 8oz down from $2.25 for the same amount! Also I have a dehydrating book that has recipes in it to make meals ready to eat which includes dehydrated meats and poultry. Have you ever done this and was it successful? Blessings, Cookie

    1. Hi Cookie,
      Good questions!!
      I shred the cheese or slice it first then freeze it. If slicing it and freezing it, put wax paper between the slices, so when it thaws they don't stick together.
      Absolutely, you can shred it yourself. We've done that often when the cost is more effective that way.
      I have frozen cream cheese, also, and after a couple of months it comes out crumbly. There is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't work for things like cream cheese icing. It works great for Amish overnight blueberry French toast :).
      We usually buy cream cheese at Sam's Club when it goes on $ off discount. Sometimes, they will have it for $2 off per eight pack. When they do I bring it home and vacuum seal it, then put it in the refrigerator. I've had it last, at least, nine months that way.
      I have never dehydrated meat, but it sounds really interesting and useful. If you do this and it works good would you please share the outcome and how you did it with us?
      Thank you so much for your comment and questions.
      Many blessings to you,

    2. Cookie, I have dehydrated cooked turkey, chicken and beef. The meat needs to be cooked first before putting it into the dehydrator. I ended up over-drying it and didn't like the results. This was a couple years ago. If you get your meat properly dried, vacuum seal it, it should work great. I will have to try that again. lol I do suggest doing research on dehydrating cooked meat/poultry.

      When I freeze cream cheese, I then use it to bake/cook with. It does change the texture some but I have used it in cream cheese frosting with success. I have also kept cream cheese, unopened, in the frig for over a year, and it was fine to use on bagels, toast, etc. or to cook with.

      And I always shred my own cheese. We don't care for the pre-shredded packages of cheese. I also cube cheese and freeze it that way to toss into white sauce, etc. Hope this helps! Teri :)

    3. Dear Glenda and Teri,
      Thank you both for your very helpful advice. Blessings, Cookie

  5. Annabel and Glenda,
    This is a great post! Just last week I sliced and vacuum sealed 5 pounds of mozzarella. We use a lot of it and Rick loves all kinds of cheese so we buy it at it's cheapest price and sometimes that is blocks so the slicing or shredding I do here at home. LOL everyone knows how I love buckets and have several of them filled to the brim! Thank you for sharing such good things!

    1. Hi Vicky,
      Good way to stock up on cheese. We used to buy the Tillamook in blocks, also, but when Smith's has it on sale it is less expensive and already shredded :). I still buy some organic cheeses in blocks and shred them here at home.
      Thanks for commenting and sharing. You have a lot of good advice for people and years of experience.
      Love and hugs,

  6. What is the LDS website?

    1. LDS is Latter Day Saints. They have amazing websites and in the US places you can go and can your food for no cost. They are extremely organised and informative and also generous in their sharing and education in the whole area of food storage. I follow many LDS blogs i.e. The Prudent Homemaker. If you just google food storage information or blogs many will be LDS. However hey are considered the experts pretty much as it is part of their beliefs that everyone has one year of reserves of food and goods for survival. Having done this for years they are good at it. Some of our Bluebirds are LDS Bluebirds too and buy are they wonderful as they know so much about this. A very good resource! Hope that explains it! xxx

    2. Hello! I believe it is Latter Day Saints. The Mormon Church :)

    3. Annabel,I just wanted to add that you can no longer go to the LDS store house and can dry foods in #10 cans. You can, however, go there and buy it already in the #10 cans. You can no longer buy the bulk 25 pound bags of beans, sugar, etc. And if you don't have a store house in your area, you can order online. Teri

  7. Glenda,

    Oh, how you help us, every time. Wise, wise advice and tips.


  8. Very helpful information, Glenda...thank you for sharing! I am dying to see your finished bathroom, Annabel!! (Though I imagine not as much as you are...ha, ha!)

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Thank you, Jen. I appreciate your comment.
      Many blessings to you,

  9. Thank you, Kelley, for your very kind comment.
    Sending you a big hug,

  10. Dear Annabel and Glenda, Thank you once again for sharing so much information on food storage. I do continue to learn. Annabel, you are reaching so many people with all this wonderful information. Thank you for taking the time to share these posts plus all the other posts!! :)

    Glenda, sorry I didn't comment to you last night. I was trying to get this done but got interrupted. LOL Until you started talking about your bulk buys being sealed in jars, I didn't do much of this. I did seal some food (corn flakes, beans, etc.) when I opened a bag/box. But never thought to repackage when I brought them home. This has made me rethink how I store my dry foods. Most of my dehydrated foods are stored in jars (not sealed) or in clean used #10 cans. I've never had any issues but now know to start doing my food storage differently. :) We do live in dry climate now, and keep the majority in the basement (dry, dark and cool). Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. :)

    Hope all you wonderful bluebirds have a great week!! Keep working on your pantries!! Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri,
      Thank you so much!
      It is interesting about the differences in our climates, humidity etc. We vary greatly! Here it is fairly dry climate and we don't go below zero usually. I think humidity would change a lot of things so would freezing temperatures. It is so good that we can all share and learn so much. Thank you for being so helpful! With love

  11. Dear Annabel and Glenda,
    Thank you for this informative post! I love my vacuum sealer and use it for the same things. To seal powders in jars, I place a coffee filter on top of the powder and that seems to work well.
    I am due for a trip to Sam's Club and need to make a list. I want to do a stock up before Baby Bluebird arrives! My pantry and freezer need to be cleaned out and I will take inventory and make my list from that.
    Glenda, I am very interested in the dehydrated potatoes. Our local store runs specials every so often on potatoes and I can get ten pounds for $2. That is such a good deal but I don't always use them up in time. Can you tell me how you reconstitute them after they have been dehydrated?
    I didn't comment on Friday, but Annabel, you have the most beautiful clothesline I have ever seen! Please tell Andy we all say well done!
    With love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey,
      It is really good to be well stocked up before the baby comes. I will leave it to Glenda to advise on the potatoes... what amazing prices! I would want to take advantage of those too!
      I am glad you like my clothesline! Thank you! I keep telling Andy how much everyone likes it!
      I hope your week is going well! With love,

    2. Dear Kelsey, Glenda just told me this:
      Rehydrating is very easy. I primarily use dehydrated potatoes in soups, stews, casseroles, and for scalloped potatoes. They can, also, be used for mashed potatoes, which we don't eat very often. I just put the dehydrated potatoes right into the casseroles, soups, and stews and they rehydrate while the dish is cooking. I make the scalloped potatoes as per the recipe and, again, they rehydrate with the liquid in the recipe. All dehydrated vegetables can just be added dry and they rehydrate and finish cooking with the liquid in the dish while it is cooking.
      I, personally, have never made mashed potatoes with them, but, if I did, I would just rehydrate them by cooking in some warm water, just as if I was cooking potatoes, but keeping in mind that they are already like frozen vegetables and partially cooked. After they are rehydrated and tender, I would add the butter, milk, and seasoning and whip them just like fresh potatoes.
      I hope that helps. The potatoes are such a bargain. Personally I make a lot of meat pies... first I use the crockpot to make a meat casserole then I use puff pastry to make the left overs into pies. A mashed potato topping is beautiful on a pie and this freezes very well. They are yum. So that would be another way to use up potatoes as

  12. What a great informative post Glenda and Annabel. Thankyou! It may interest some of you who don't know me well, that I was baptised into the Church of Latter Day Saints at the age of 11, so much of what I am learning here is gentle reminders and nudges in the right direction now that my Mother is no longer with us. I have chosen in later life to practice my faith more privately, but the life lessons from the church, remain strong. Having a frugal single Mum helped us all see that having a well tuned stockpile was important as well, but I see through following Patsy, Annabel, and the Bluebirds, that there are things even I did not know. That trick with putting lavender into canning jars to maintain the intensity of the scent is mind blowing! Have a great week everyone, and Kelsey all the best for babys' safe arrival. Annabel..your clothesline? Sublime. Love very much. Mimi xxx

    1. Well Mimi I never knew that! Wow no wonder you are so organised in your home and things like this... I knew your Mum was very wise with her ways and you have carried that on. How interesting!
      I am glad you like my clothesline!
      Ok Mimi I think I am going to pester you to share more about the stuff your Mum taught you... so interesting! With love

    2. Hahaha! Well I like to retain a bit of mystery ;-)

  13. Dear Annabel and Glenda,
    Thank you so much for the informative posts, and everyone else for the comments. We can definitely learn so much from each other and through the comments.
    Over the Easter weekend, we had an opportunity to watch tv (we don't have one at home) and we saw a commercial put out by U.S. Homeland Security about being prepared and it shared its website I had never seen a commercial telling people to be prepared before. It was a little jarring. I mean it is one thing to think that yourself, but when the government is telling you to be, it is a little disconcerting. I don't know if these commercials have been around very long as this was the first one we had seen, but yeah. I think we will carry on.

    1. Dear Sarah, Thank you for your comment! I have been reading on the US gov sites and what they require you to store etc and I think it is really good that they do encourage people to do that. Yes interesting that it is being promoted on TV ads I didn't know that! I think I would take it that yes they want you doing this and find that rather motivating!
      Interesting! Thanks for telling me this! With love

  14. Thankyou Annabel and Glenda for your interesting post and ideas. Im a city girl so not much preserving or such like goes on but I find it interesting to read about all you hard work.
    Amongst my family and friends though I am the one who has stored water since my early married life,and added to that idea when we moved into this bigger house over 30 years ago.
    Inspired by you all I cleaned out my small kitchen freeze yesterday and small chest freezer in our garage (which is a cool place btw ).Pulled out the spare pantry items (also small next to some here) and updated my stocks and lists so Im happy that job is done.Everything looks so much tidier.
    Kelsey , thinking of you and hope you are keeping well.
    Love Maria xxx

    1. Thank you, Maria! Yes, I am doing well, though I am starting to slow down quite a bit. Only three months left to go! Thank you for your thoughts.
      Love, Kelsey


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