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Survival kit tips

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The general rule of thumb for canned foods is they have a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase.

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The general rule of thumb for canned foods is they have a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase. Photo Store

Dear Reena,
I am starting to put together a long-term survival kit, as I have loved ones dependent on me in the event of a disaster. My questions are:

•What is the shelf life of dried lentils, beans, rice, peas, barley and quinoa?

• What is the shelf life of: rolled oats and dry pastas, canned vegetables and meats, powdered milk, bottled water, packaged dried fruit like apricots and cranberries, and nuts?

•How long will garden seeds keep and still germinate?

•How long can batteries be stored for and still be good? Any suggestions you have for putting together this type of kit would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Mona

Dear Mona,
The key to a great survival kit is to collect enough supplies to last at least three days. Survival kits are available in stores but are quite pricey and may not contain everything that personalizes your family’s needs. If you have space, store your sturdy lidded plastic kit in the basement. If you do not have a basement, the bathroom is another option as it is the sturdiest room in many homes. Along with the items that you mentioned, remember to pack: duct tape, bandages, medicine, rubbing alcohol, tweezers, fishing line, scissors/knife, a flashlight, candles and matches/lighter.  

You will need to store all dry food in an airtight food-grade storage container. Temperature changes are a key component when it comes to shelf life. Food should be stored in a cool dry place. The shelf life of dried beans varies depending on the bean. Black eye and black turtle beans have a shelf life of 15-20 years while Adzuki beans and small red beans can be kept for eight to 10 years. Brown rice six years, lentils eight to 10 years, white rice eight to 10 years. Quinoa eight to 10 years, rolled oats 30 years, dry pasta 15 to 20 years.

 Most dried fruits can be stored for one year at 60ºF, 6 months at 80ºF. Non-acidic foods in cans: corn, green beans, mixed veggies, mushrooms, potatoes, yams, asparagus, carrots, store for a minimum of 24 months. Beyond these dates, there is a steady vitamin loss in percentage points each year for individual veggies and fruits. In terms of canned foods, your best bet is to check the ‘best before’ date. The codes that are stamped on canned food are manufacturer’s codes that usually designate the date the product was packaged. Many manufacturers offer a toll-free number to call for questions about canned food expiration dates. The general rule of thumb is that canned foods have a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase. It is recommended that all canned food be stored in moderate temperatures (75° F and below). Honey, salt and sugar can be stored indefinitely.

 Dry milk products are probably the most sensitive to environmental conditions, particularly to temperature and moisture content. Vitamins A and D found in dry milk are also photosensitive and will break down rapidly if exposed to light. Non-fat dried milk is suitable for short and long term emergency food storage. It is made from non-fat, grade ‘A’ milk that has been dried by spraying into a hot air drum. This process removes most of the water prohibiting the growth of micro-organisms. Dry milk should be kept as cool as possible. If the storage container is transparent or translucent then it should be put into a second container opaque to light or stored in a dark room. Mylar-type bags and #10 cans make good containers for large quantities of dried milk, if the conditions are right dry milk can be stored three to five years.

 Studies show that if water is bacteria-free and is stored in clean containers it will stay safe for several years. It is a good idea, however, to periodically check your water for purity and taste and change the water every few years.

 Alkaline and primary lithium batteries can be stored for 10 years with moderate loss capacity. For the best long term results, remove batteries from any equipment and store in a dry and cool place.

 Lastly, germination of seeds depends on variety, humidity and temperature conditions. On average most vegetable seeds such; beets, cucumbers and radishes store for up to 10 years in airtight containers.

Fabulous Tip of the Week:

•If you drop a can of pop or it gets shaken, prevent it from exploding when you pop the top, use your thumb and middle finger to thump up and down the side of the can as you rotate it for about 20 seconds. Pop the top and enjoy.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming! Missed a column? Can’t remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Interested in grocery coupons? Check out my brand new blog and website at www.reena.ca. You can contact me by email at householdsolutions@mts.net.

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