Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Prepping for the long haul
Well it was time to enter the big time of food preservation. This weekend I put up 250# of dried corn packed in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. I learned a LOT, and I would consider this only mostly successful.
I bought my mylar bags and oxygen absorbers from a prevalent online survival-related retailer. It took them a log time to get me the stuff, so no free advertising for them! The O2 absorbers are 500cc and the bags are 4mil.
After reading and watching and reading about a variety of methods let me describe what I was doing. The plan was to pack the corn into mylar bags using the buckets, then pull the bags out and store them in a galvanized trash can I bought a while ago. Now I could over-fill the buckets because the bags were coming out, so I fit about 40# per bag. These were 20" x 30" bags, suitable for 5 or 6 gallon buckets.
Once the bag was full I'd put in four 500cc O2 absorbers, and seal the bag up. To seal it I bought a cheap clothes iron at wally world for $10. I set it on high (cotton) and once heated up, I'd get the bag ready for sealing. What worked for me was to pull the bag up, getting a nice big flap to seal. I'd pull this opening back and forth to fold it nicely across the top where I could get at it to seal it. The actual sealing was done with the iron and a thick paperback book on the other side.
First, I wiped the seal clean with a finger, the corn has a lot of dust in it and I didn't want the seal to be weak. I would seal agross the seam leaving a 2" gap. All I can say is take the time to make it pretty before you start to seal, otherwise you will screw yourself as soon as hot iron touches mylar - any crease is there for good. I'd then compress it to get out as much air as possible and quickly seal the remaining gap.
Now it was recommended to use a teflon coated iron, but I forgot about that part. It worked fine for me, but don't let it linger in any one spot.
Now the first thing I learned is a galvanized garbage can holds only two of the filled mylar bags. So here I am with 4 others trying to figure out what to do with them. I put them in plastic bins, and I'll just have to keep an eye out for rodents. The other thing I learned is that dried corn is sharp as hell, and it will put a bazillion tiny punctures in a mylar bag... only 2 of mine are 100% sealed at this time. I bought extra O2 absorbers and bags, so it's no biggie.
I am buying a few more of the homer buckets this week, and will re-pack the bags that are no longer 100% air proof. To keep the corn from pucturing the bags I'll fill them in buckets, then seal them, fold it all up and put a homer lid on the bucket. The less screwing around means less chance a kernel has enough pressure on it to pop a hole. A lot of hooplah has been made about the chemical residue that may or may not be in the releasing agent for the homer buckets. My grain is in mylar bags so the food never contacts it, and the buckets are cheaper than the internet ones these days. Good enough for me.
I also took advantage of the foodsaver deal advertised on survivalblog and bought one. $60 + $15 for tax, shipping and handling. I wasn't pleased with the $15 bucks extra, but oh well. I think when I repack I'll put some grain in the foodsaver bags so I do not need to crack open a 40# bag for charity. I will need to do some experimentation, as I also want to store some powdered items. So this should be interesting on how to vacuum seal a bag with a powder in it. I bought a 20# bag of baking soda for $6 at BJ's and I'd like to re-package it into smaller containers. Also powdered milk, flour, cocoa, etc would all have thier shelf lives greatly extended by being vacuum packed.
When I re-package the grain I will take better pictures so you guys can see how I did it.