Emergency Food Storage - Grains and Dry Beans
Whole grains and beans are a good choice for long-term food storage, as long as they're kept cool and dry and stored in a dark place. They can be cooked as is or used in many simple dishes that use only your emergency food supply.
They can also be ground into flour and used in baked goods, fried breads, soups, casseroles, etc. This, of course, requires that you own a grain mill. A manually-operated mill is recommended in case of a power outage.
And you'll also need a means to cook without using electricity. My solution is to use my wood stove - which has a cooktop - in the winter and a Coleman 2-burner camp stove in the summer. For fuel for the camp stove, I use a 20-lb propane tank. (Note that propane camp stoves should only be used outdoors.)
Grains and beans supply many necessary nutrients in the diet. They are a good source of plant protein - especially when the grains and beans are combined to make a complete protein. Grains and beans also provide some important vitamins and minerals and have a high fiber content.
Buying in Bulk
I buy my grains and beans at a natural food store where the minimum bulk order can be 10 lbs., 25 lbs., or 50 lbs., depending upon the type of grain or bean. So far, I've only been brave enough to do 10-pound or 25-pound purchases. They give me a 10% discount on these bulk orders. When ordering in bulk - whether grains, beans, or canned goods, check with your local store since many do give a bulk discount.
Until recently, I haven't done lot of cooking or baking from scratch. So I first buy a small amount of one type of grain or bean. Then I look for a recipe that contains this food and try it out. I look for simple recipes that can be made solely with the food items that I have in my emergency storage. Once I have successfully prepared at least one good recipe that uses the grain or bean, then I do the bulk purchase.
Storing Grains and Beans
I store most of my grains and beans in half-gallon mason jars. I vacuum pack the mason jars using my Foodsaver appliance (to be discussed in a later post) and store the jars in a cupboard in the basement, as shown in the photo at the top of this page.
High temperatures greatly reduce the shelf life of stored foods. So, when winter comes and I start using the wood stove in the basement, I'll move the jars to an upstairs closet to keep them cooler.
Each jar is labeled on top - using masking tape - with the name of the grain/bean and the date purchased. I also put a label on the side with just the date. This way, when the jars are stored in an upright position, I can still read the date.
When grains and beans are exposed to light, this can also decrease their shelf life and degrade the nutritional value. So it's important to store them out of the light - whether in an enclosed space or by covering them with a blanket or cloth of some type.
I keep one jar of each type of grain or bean in the kitchen for immediate use. After I use this jar, I get another jar from the basement. When I've used about 1/2 of my initial purchase of any one item (which hasn't happened yet), I'll do a new bulk purchase. In order to continue rotating the foods, I'll use up the original jars before starting on the new ones.
Posted by Beth on Thursday, August 17, 2006