Food observations

 I was tooling around YouTube this afternoon and came across a few videos on food storage. One of them showed a guy who was unboxing some rice he put away six years ago. It was in a mylar bag, vacuum sealed, and tucked into a five-gallon bucket. I admire that approach, but I gotta say….my experience has been that rice is pretty much the only food that you can store “poorly” and still have something edible. I have, literally, a 15 gallon blue barrel of rice from Y2k that has had nothing done to it except being poured into a clean barrel and had the lid screwed on. Thats it…no oxy absorbers, no nitrogen flush, no nothing…and it stored just fine and seemed to cook up and taste fine ten years later.

Does that mean that was a good way to store it? Of course not. But it does show that some foods can have a more…casual…approach and be just fine. I would imagine that because of my climate (arid mountain region with very low moisture) I can get away with that sort of thing. I wouldnt want to try it in Louisiana or similar environs.

I mention it because I’ve been going through some of my stored stuff and taking stock of how it has fared. I’ve not run across anything I’d discard except for some MRE cookies that tasted quite rancid. Other than that, most everything seems to store just fine, although I store it in the classic “cool dark place” that is the classically optimum environment for food storage.

I’ve come across a couple canned goods, over the years, that didn’t last the way they were supposed to but they are pretty infrequent. Food poisoning (the real kind…not the I-let-the-ppizza-sit-out-overnight kind, I’m talking about the botulism kind) is not something to mess with and even if that bulging can isn’t loaded down with botulism you’ll still probably get so sick you’ll wish it had killed you after all. So…screw it…it’s a $2 can of tomato sauce..chuck it. I guarantee you, when you’re driving the porcelain bus at 2:30am you’d happily pay $2 to not have spent the last 40 minutes doing intestinal somersaults.

The changing of the season from fall into winter always puts me in the mind to go play amongst the stored food and supplies. Dunno why, it just does.

15 thoughts on “Food observations

  1. I’ve been storing rice in 2 liter soda bottles. Dry and air tight. Mice can’t smell it, so don’t even try. I’m in very wet New England, and the bottle in my kitchen cabinet in current use was filled in 1987. Tastes like I bought it last week.

  2. I’ll agree, rice tolerates sloppy storage better than other foods, but I still use mylar bags, insert more oxy absorbers than it really needs and suck the air out with a vacuum pump before sealing. One thing I deeply fear is finding multi-year-old stored food unusable when I really, really need it.

    RE: bulged cans – IIRC, high-acid foods are more susceptible to storage failures than other foods. I’ve not tried to store canned tomato products ever since I asked the old man decades ago why he painted only one wall of his pantry red, and it turned out to be an exploded large can of tomato paste. I’ve noticed some sauerkraut cans showing a bulge beyond about the 15-18 month mark, so I’ve stopped storing them, too.

  3. Nesting response. Millennia of ancestors stocking up for winter. Preparedness = peace.

    Back when I had a family, and a reason, to store significant amounts…. I cooked up a nitrogen injection method for nitro-packing pharma barrels with dry goods. Worked a treat, and everything I packed stayed tasty for at least the ten years I had my hands on it.

  4. “…changing of the season from fall into winter always puts me in the mind to go play amongst the stored food and supplies…..”

    You’re just part-squirrel, that’s all. 🙂

    • Biology times millennia there.

      Weather turns all cold snappy, and the smarter mammals look to the larder, whether it’s stored body fat, or a nice stash of winter provisions.

      The animals that didn’t, including us, aren’t here anymore, so it’s a self-selecting trait, and life weeds out regression pretty ruthlessly. Elegant simplicity in action there.

  5. I put Costco rice in mylar with the 02 packets and then sealed in 5 gallon buckets. Haven’t tried any yet but it’s good to know we will at least have a go to long term meal around. Maybe mix up a little rat/cat/squirrel meat with it.

    The pop top cans of pineapple chunks failed in a spectacular fashion. The inside of the 20mm cans looked and smelled of black death after they cracked open inside the anaerobic space. My guess is the acidity of the fruit ate the can seals.

  6. I was stocking 12-can boxes of pop (soda for y’all, soft drink if you’re refined) when I noticed that the cans were upright when the best-by dates on the boxes were right-side-up during storage. Ya gotta rotate the box 90 degrees to make it into a dispenser, putting the cans horizontal. I later read that the cans are stored upright to keep the thinner metal of the pull tab margins out of the acidic liquid, lessening the chance of a catastrophic containment failure. I had stored some cans at a friend’s house; apparently one case was not in the preferred orientation. Oops. Made quite a mess when an older can let loose.

    • Yeah, that seems to be a problem with cans that have pre-scored pull-tops. It turns out to be a potential failure point. The pop-top cans are convenient, but I’d rather just use a can opener and have the peace of mind of a more secure can.

    • A few years back, the aluminum drink cans were suddenly made a lot thinner, so they have become much more delicate. You absolutely can’t allow them to roll around loose, like on the floor of a vehicle. Bumping against a hard object can cause leaks. They also don’t handle freezing anymore. They have the expansion capability, but not the strength to handle it.

      I’m also seeing a similar problem with some of the water bottles, the little drink type, and the gallon milk jug type. Very delicate jugs, and have encountered mice chewing through the drinking bottles. I’ve never before seen mice making holes in them, but suddenly, it’s water fountain time. Brand new, still in the plastic bundle wrap, and obviously chewed. Why?

  7. I’ve had lots of failures of soda cans over the last couple of years. Enough so I don’t really store any, just current stock.

    I’m currently battling with rats over my pouch meats, and boxed foods. I’ve gotten 8 of the tricksy bastards but there is evidence I missed one or two. I really don’t want to poison them, and have them dead in a wall. Glue traps have worked the best, but the tricksy rats will move them out of the way to get to food. Never had an issue in 8 years, but having one now….


    • Consider using double-sided tape on the underside. You could just tape the edges, but that might let them chew it loose. Or, use tacks, if the floor surface is amenable.
      If you set them on top of boxes that they can’t see without jumping up on, that makes an unpleasant surprise for them. In addition, if you tape the traps to vertical surfaces, and force them to move through narrow areas, they may not notice the hazard.

  8. @nick flandrey – 2 thoughts – Plano makes 56 quart and 108 quart fairly heavy plastic latch-lid tubs (; Academy Sports sometimes has the plain 56 qt ones for $18, Plano also makes a “marine” version that has a gasketed lid (over 2X the price, though, which seems steep for just adding a rubber gasket).

    And, those glue traps can be placed on vertical surfaces with the addition of double-back tape or plain staples if the trap has a flange and the mounting surface won’t be harmed by staples, and sometimes sticking a couple tiny pieces of cooked meat into the glue works as an attractant. I’ve had good luck with small cubes of ham, which can be removed/replaced every few days with hemostats or needle nose pliers.

  9. my y2k experience was quite the opposite. my barrel of rice was weavel infested and toxic. it was stored in a clean blue barrel with desiccant, but no o2 absorbers. the weavels hatched out and either ate or crapped on 100 lbs of rice. now everything gets o2 packs.

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