Friday, September 16, 2011

Class Highlights: 5 Things That Will Change Your Attitude About Food Storage

At the beginning of September our SLC Store Manager, Lisa Barker, taught a great class about 5 Things That Will Change Your Mind About Food Storage.

I always love going to her classes, she's VERY knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and there is usually some kind of yummy sample(s) to try afterwards.  In fact with any class regardless of the teacher I always come away learning something and motivated to try something new!



Her Five Things were:
1.  Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store
There seems to be 2 mentalities when it comes to food storage.  The first is in line with Lisa's concept, of buying what you eat, using it, rotating, etc.  The second is more along  Buy It and Forget About It.  I agree with Lisa's method.  When it comes time for your family to use your food storage, you'll want things that you normally eat.  In a emergency situation, stress levels can run high and you wouldn't want to elevate that even further by having your body adjust to a whole new dietary plan.  Sure I have a few ready to go freeze dried meals for an emergency pack but I don't eat them as my every day diet.

2.  Canning Her Own Food
As summer winds down, you've probably got some extra produce from your gardens that you don't know what to do with.  Don't let it go to waste-can it, dehydrate it, or even freeze it.  Our retail stores carry a great selection of canning tools (I just bought a 23 Quart Pressure Canner to can tomato soup base, and am loving their small jars to put up some Peach Freezer Jam!).  The SLC store has offered different classes on canning meats, fruits and vegetables.  Lisa teased all of our taste buds by talking about how she canned some roast and used it for some BBQ Beef Sandwiches.  My mouth waters just typing that!  Plus if things are already canned and ready to go, I think you could enlist the help of family members to share the fun of making a meal!

3.  Freeze Dried Foods
Tenille and I always laugh when we try a new freeze dried product and say "Wow this really does taste like _____!"  Food should taste like food!  The process of Freeze Drying is the food is flash frozen and then placed in a vacuum chamber where a low level heat is applied to evaporate the ice without returning it to liquid form.  The process removes up to 97% of the water in the product.  The major benefits to Freeze Dried Foods is that it preserves the freshness, color, and aroma similar to frozen foods while providing the shelf-stable convenience of canned foods.  They are super light (in weight) so they are easy to carry in an evacuation type setting or just to throw in a bag to munch on later. 

A general rule of thumb for shelf life (if stored correctly-kept in a cool, dark, dry place) they will last:
  • Freeze Dried Cheese: UNopened 15+ years; Opened use within a year.
  • Freeze Dried Fruits & Vegetables: UNopened 10-15 years (there are a few that last only 5-10 years, so check your labels); Opened use within a year.
  • Freeze Dried Meats: UNopened 15+ years; Opened use within a week if kept in pantry, or up to a month if stored in the fridge.
Once opened, place the remaining food in a resealable container.  If zip-top bags are used squeeze out excess air and seal.  Place the bag back into the now empty can and cover with the lid.  Please note: Heat, moisture, oxygen and light will deteriorate product if not stored properly.  Refrigerate or freeze reconstituted items in an air tight container.  Over time, the product will start to absorb any moisture in the air so depending on the humidity levels in your area you may need to use the product faster once opened.

4.  FoodSaver MealSaver Jars
 This handy-dandy device is SO cool.  It sucks out all the oxygen in the bag or jar.  I'm not the only one who thinks Chocolate (or dessert for that matter) should be in your food storage right?  You can get that big box now and divide up the chips into Mason Jars.  Seal them up using the FoodSaver MealSaver tool and Universal Lid attachment (use the Regular or Wide Mouth attachment, depending on the jar size) and your chips won't get that white film on them, but still store them in a cool, dry, dark area.  As Lisa has experimented with it and used it more and more, the possibilities are endless.  She'll want 1/2 of an avocado for a meal but doesn't want to see the other half go to waste and turn brown.  Well waste no longer!  She'll cut the whole avocado in 1/2.  Take the half that has the pit still attached and put it in a small jam sized jar.  Now using the FoodSaver and Universal Lid  she gets all the oxygen out and it'll still be green 2 days later.  Amazing right? I hope to have a video of her demonstrating it soon.  Stay tuned!

5.  "I Dare You To Eat It" AND "It's In The Bag" Plans
Again Honeyville has offered classes about each of these plans or at least similar ones (Dinner In A Jar, and later this month in Chandler, AZ 52 Method Meal with Chef Tess).  The basic principle is you gather the items you'd need to make a certain meal so many times, package them accordingly, put them away and then you're done! 
For example, if I was going to make spaghetti twice each month for a year, I'd need 24 bottles of sauce (or ingredients to make my own), 24 lb of spaghetti, bottled water to boil spaghetti.  I'd set up 24 bags on the counter and then add 1 jar of sauce (or ingredients to make my own), 1 lb of spaghetti, and then a couple of bottles of water.  Not only is this easy food storage, but it also works great for those nights when I never went to the store I can grab a bag and know that I've got everything for a meal.  You can get fancy and color coordinate meals (blue=beef, green=vegetarian, pink=desserts, etc). 
The Dinner Is In The Jar by Kathy Clark and the 52 Method Meals with Chef Tess are similar in the fact that you gather freeze dried or dehydrated ingredients (and spices) ahead and have a meal ready in one packaged item but you use Mason Jars and put the ingredients in and seal them using either oxygen absorbers or a FoodSaver.  When you want to make the meal you boil water, add the mix, and cook according to the recipe directions.
All the retail stores carry various books on the topic so browse and see what works for your lifestyle.  Get a group together and have fun making up meals for the future! 

Some of the class participants mentioned some of their 5 that helped them with food storage were: Gamma Lids (It's nice to actually get to the food to use it, no more breaking fingers trying to get lids off!), many agreed that the FoodSaver was on their list too. 

I think once you start trying to incorporate food storage into every day use, you'd be surprised how easy it can be.  Now, I prefer to use Powdered Whole Eggs in alot of my baking so I never have to worry about shells in my final product. There are times where I think using Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables are MORE convenient than the traditional stuff.  No washing, chopping, peeling, etc.  You measure, hydrate and go!  Maybe we all need to adapt the mantra of the Little Blue Engine "I Think I Can, I Think I Can!"  because YOU CAN!

What are some of your 5 that changed your attitude about food storage? 

Thanks for Reading!

2 comments:

Chef Tess said...

By and far the Freeze dried food has changed how I do food storage! I'm so thankful for Honeyville and the outstanding products they carry...at reasonable prices. The shelf life, nutritional value and tasting quality are amazing! Plus...you're right...they taste like food! Smoooches! You guys rock!

Flashlight Girl said...

Just learning how to use what I already had stored and planning my meals around them has made me converted to food storage for life. I love the convenience and security of being able to go to my "fruit room", grab a couple of items and go into the kitchen ready to make a completely balanced meal. Thank you for all of your great ideas and recipes that keep me trying new things.