If you've been around It's Just the Coffee Talking for any length of time, you know I believe in being prepared for emergencies. Having grown up in tornado country that also doubled as the place to live if you enjoy seasonal flooding along with winters that promised 10 foot snow drifts lining your driveway and guaranteed blizzards and white outs, I know what it is to lose power for a week at a time. I grew up in a childhood home that kept a well stocked pantry, Coleman lanterns and we had a Franklin wood burning stove in our Family room that was not only used for heat, but we cooked over it when needed. (Including the Thanksgiving Day when the whole town was without power and we had a house full of guests - turkey, potatoes, gravy and corn... no problem. Lights? No problem with lanterns and candles. Heat? Wood burning stoves.) We had neighbors and even police officers knocking on our door to ask how we had heat and light when no one else on our surrounding blocks did?
Being prepared, people. Being prepared.
So now you know - I believe in emergency preparations. And part of that is having a small stock of long term storage items as well. I personally like to purchase freeze-dried, canned items because I want to be able to tuck some things away and not rotate them. I just want to 'forget' about them for awhile because I'm too freaking busy to add even more "remember to....." to my daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists.
But I had some concerns about how long you can really, truly store these long term storage items. Also - some concerns about items going rancid and lastly, what about those bulging cans and plastic buckets. What makes them bulge and is it a deal breaker on purchasing that type of item, knowing if I don't use them within a year or two, I'd be throwing them out?
I found a LOT of conflicting information 'out there'. Everyone is an expert it seems... but no one can agree. LOL.
Well, I finally found enough information from numerous sources pointing to what I believe is the best answer for me personally. When I've fact checked it on enough 'other' sites, I'm willing to go with this until I personally find out differently. And this was the source I thought did a pretty good job at making it as quick and simple to understand as I wanted/needed. (I'm not an affiliate for them and do not receive anything for mentioning them - I just really thought they did a great job explaining long term storage.)
Bulging cans: In almost every case, these cans held mixes that contained baking powder or soda. These cans were sent off for bacteria analysis and came back negative. (The bold text is my doing - CT) It is believed that occasionally the extremely small amount of moisture found in the product interacts over time with the baking powder or soda and creates a small amount of carbon dioxide gas*.
The Hard GrainsThe Hard Grains all store well because of their hard outer shell which is nature's near perfect container. Remove that container and the contents rapidly deteriorate. Wheat, probably nature's longest storing seed, has been known to be edible after scores of years when stored in a cool dry place. As a general rule for hard grains, hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 10-12 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Hard red wheat
Hard white wheat
Special bake wheat
The Soft GrainsSoft Grains have softer outer shells which don't protect the seed interior as well as hard shelled seeds and therefore won't store as long. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 8 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
BeansAs beans age they lose their oils, resist water absorption and won't swell. Worst case, they must be ground to be used. Storing beans in nitrogen helps prolong the loss of these oils as does cool temperatures. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 8-10 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Black Turtle Beans
Small Red Beans
Garden Seed or Sprouting SeedAll viable seeds are hibernating tiny living plants that only need moisture and warmth to sprout. And much like a chick in an egg, all the nutrients this little life needs to spring into existence is contained within it's shell. Like boiling an egg, heating a seed will kill that little life within it. However, unlike an egg, a seed can withstand cold temperatures. As seeds usually remain edible after the life within it dies, we must use different criteria when determining sproutable seed storage life. And again the big deciding factor is temperature. The big seed companies freeze their seed between seasons to promote long life. Of course, you can also do the same thing. Plan on a storage life of 4 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. And remember, you want to store all of these seeds in air. Packed in nitrogen, the viability of some seeds will last longer than others. This is still to a large degree an unexplored science, and therefore we recommend you store all the seeds you plan on sprouting in air.
Alfalfa is a unique seed as it actually germinates better if the seed is 2 or 3 years old. Most any sample of alfalfa contains 'hard' seed and 'soft' seed. Soft seed germinates within two days while hard seed germinates in about a week. The problem is, by the time the soft seed sprouts are ready to harvest, the hard seed may not have germinated yet. As storage time draws on, the hard seed turns into soft seed. Older seed germinates closer together. Stored in cool conditions, alfalfa seed should have a good percentage of germination up until it is 8 years old.
*Source of information.
Related items available through Amazon;
Mountain House Mac 'n Cheese 10 Can
Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce 10 Can
Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Bacon 10 Can