"I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread."
~ Psalm 132:15
Here are some important things you will want to remember when purchasing in bulk. Storing a large quantity of food is not prudent if your family won't consume items prior to their expiration. We are also sharing some of our personal preferences for stocking a pantry.
- First and foremost, keep in mind that all your food will last longer when stored in a cool, dry, dark area, away from direct sunlight (such as behind a cabinet, curtain or closed door) and in airtight containers.
- Resist the urge to show off your canned goods because sunlight will compromise the quality of your food (and may spoil in time). Heat should be avoided also (so do not store next to stoves, furnaces, etc.).
Storing Nuts and Seeds:
- Nuts can go rancid rather quickly (and are very expensive!), so once the package is opened (especially in the warmer months), we store our excess in the freezer and keep only a small amount in our pantry. Pine nuts and pistachios are the most sensitive to expiration dates.
- Whole seeds may last between 1 - 4 years (depending on the kind), if stored properly in airtight containers, and out of direct sunlight. Chia can last from 2-4 years, flax for 1 year, while pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds have a shorter shelf life of 2 - 3 months in your pantry (though longer in the refrigerator).
Storing Whole Grain Flours:
- Whole grain flours such as whole wheat flour have a shorter shelf life (about 3 - 6 months) so I keep a smaller supply in the pantry and store the rest in the freezer. Because of the wheat germ content, it tends to go rancid quicker than the processed white flours. Intact (un-ground) whole grains will last longer in your pantry.
- Spices stored properly in airtight containers should last a year and will begin to lose potency after that.
- Yeast, baking soda and baking powder should be watched carefully for expiration dates because they will lose their strength and will compromise your baking. Generally, baking soda should last two years while baking powder will last 18 months. You can also freeze your yeast to extend its shelf life.
- We like to keep a larger amount of honey in our pantry because it boasts an excellent shelf life (practically indefinite) and is therefore an excellent preparedness food. It is more affordable to buy raw honey in bulk via 5 gallon bucket if you can find a local source.
- We maintain a larger inventory of tomato puree because it is so versatile. You can prepare Italian dishes, Mexican dishes, soups, sauces and stews with it.
- We store a larger quantity of vinegar because the shelf life is almost indefinite. We use the white vinegar for cleaning and canning so it helps to be stocked. Balsamic and red wine vinegar are delicious as dressings and raw apple cider vinegar is simply excellent for your health.
- We also keep a large quantity of certain oils. The shelf life of unrefined coconut oil is about 2 years (some claim even longer) if properly stored away from direct sunlight. Also, high oleic sunflower oil boasts a longer shelf life so we purchase a case of this. Unopened grape-seed oil should keep 1-2 years (unopened) in a cool, dark place. Unfortunately, olive oil goes rancid rather quickly (so I would maintain a smaller inventory of it).
- Water is one of the wisest items to store. Being on a farm with a climate prone to powerful storms, we lose electricity often (which is what operates our well pump which means no electricity, no water if our tank isn't full). I encourage everyone to store what you can because every area is prone to some sort of disaster (please know that this is not meant to scare but simply encourage you to prepare).
There are many options for storing foods in a larger scale for a longer period of time. However, these posts are intended to aid the home pantry while trying to maintain a fair amount of food storage for practical and preparedness purposes. We hope to go into detail of longer term food storage in the future. Do you have any tips you would like to add? We will be sharing the first set of pantry printables in our next pantry post.
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