Friday Food Storage Quickie

Sharon April 24th, 2009

Ok, this week we’re going to add some more stuff to our pantries - I find that my food storage gets down to its lowest ebb around now.  The fall’s meat is being finished up, the vegetables are down to the ones no one is excited about.  The greengage, raspberry and peach jams are all gone, leaving rhubarb and one lonely jar of strawberry.  The potatoes have sprouted and gone soft, so have the onions, and there’s still not much out there in the garden.  And with all the spring stuff to do, it can be hard to think about shopping.  So it isn’t a bad idea for me to remedy some deficiencies.   For those of you just starting to think about food storage, picking up a little extra each week at your regular grocery shopping is a good way to get started.

Of course, you’ll get much better deals and better food if you can afford to buy in bulk, perhaps from a local coop, direct from farmers, or through a buying club, but food storage isn’t just for people with easy access to these things, or with enough money to buy 50lbs of this and big sacks of that.  It is something that everyone needs, that can be built up incrementally.

Don’t forget, if you so desire, to pick up a little extra for the food pantry - or to make a donation if you can.  Remember, food pantries are really strapped right now.

Ok, this week we’re going to buy rice.  Why?  Because nearly everyone can eat rice, you don’t need any fancy equipment to prepare it - just a pot, and you could use an old tomato can or a soup bowl (in the microwave)  if you had to.  Nearly everyone likes rice in some form, too.  And some rice keeps a very long time.

Now this is where rice gets tricky.  At most stores, you can buy two forms of rice, brown and white (I am leaving out instant or converted rice, which isn’t good for you and which no one really needs - you can make regular rice even if all the cooking facilities you have is a microwave).  Now most people know that brown rice is the healthier one, and if they imagine having to live on their food storage, they want a lot of it.

The problem is that brown rice goes rancid very quickly - in a matter of months at room temperature.  So if you buy more brown rice than you can eat in six months to a year, you are likely to have rancid rice.  Some percentage of the population will be able to taste that it is rancid, but a lot of people can’t taste rancid oils in grains, and they don’t realize it is - and rancid oils are not good for you (if I had nothing else, I’d eat rancid brown rice, but I don’t recommend it otherwise).

The reason for this is that brown rice is not, as most of us imagine, whole rice.  When rice is harvested, it has a hull on it.  The hull is not very digestible, and most people don’t have a way of removing the hull at home, so it is removed in rice processing.  When just the hull, but not the germ is removed, you get brown rice.  When the germ is removed as well, you get white.  Of course, the germ is very good for you, but it also contains oils that are oxidized in contact with air, so like ground whole wheat flour or cornmeal, it doesn’t last very long.  White rice lasts 30 years.

That means that if you are going to buy more than six months worth of rice, you should probably buy white rice or some whole grain, like barley, to be cooked and eaten like rice.  This is the bad news.  The good is that six months of rice is a lot, and that almost everyone can eat rice - in fact, it may actually be impossible to have a true allergy to rice.  So even if white rice isn’t the most nutritious food, it can be useful to have a supply of it for emergencies - it is up to you. 

The second thing we’re going to buy (which is way less complicated) is some kind of non- animal, long lasting protein.  This could mean dry beans (the longest storage life, and better tasting when you cook them yourself than canned beans), it could mean lentils or dried peas, canned beans (I don’t really recommend canned baked beans, but you could, if you like them), soymilk or shelf-stable tofu (Mori-Nu is the most readily available brand).  Personally, I think all food storage programs should probably have a variety of these - at least several kinds of legumes - beans, lentils, split peas, cowpeas.  The range of flavors and textures is quite dramatic.  I also think some shelf-stable tofu is really nice to have for stir fries and other treats - I can’t make drunken noodles without it. 

Why would you buy beans and tofu if you eat meat?  Well, there are a number of good reasons.  First if you buy dried beans, you will have the cheapest form of dense protein you can buy.  Second, lots of meat eaters like tofu, beans *and* meat - it isn’t an either or.  Diversity is always good.  Third, the reality of the future is that we all need to eat less meat than we do now.  Plus, even if you aren’t a vegetarian, you may want to invite one to dinner.  Most of all, these are good foods - if you think tofu and beans don’t taste good, you just haven’t learned to cook them yet.

Finally, in our non-food section, we’re going to check out your lighting situation.  Ok, right now - do you know where all your flashlights are?  Can you find them in the dark?  Do you have at least two for everyone in the household, in case one breaks?  Do you have rechargeable batteries, and a solar charger?  Flashlights that can be powered without batteries?  Do you have a headlamp for outdoor chores or two handed projects at night?  An LED nightlight for children who are scared of the dark?  LED night lighting for elders vulnerable to injury?  What about candles or oil lamps?  Do you have those?  Do you have a safe place to hang/put them, away from pets, children and fire hazards (I like wall sconces and hanging lanterns, personally).  Do you know how to clean and maintain your oil lamps?  Do you have matches or lighters, and lamp oil?  And again, can you find what you need in a low light situation, by flashlight?  Even if you can’t get the whole thing put together this week, at least consider picking up some extra matches, checking flashlight locations and batteries, and gradually adding to your list.



14 Responses to “Friday Food Storage Quickie”

  1. madison says:

    A comment regarding night lights. What I’m using right now is a rechargeable battery inside a solar outdoor path light. It charges in the window all day, and at night it sets on the floor. I use the spike on the end of it to stick it in a ceramic pot full of sand, which makes it stable and standing upright. Looks like a weird flower. Works great!!!

  2. Edward Bryant says:

    Hi Sharon,

    You lumped quick rice in with converted:

    “(I am leaving out instant or converted rice, which isn’t good for you and which no one really needs”

    I think that is a mistake. Instant rice is truly vile stuff, but converted rice is not.

    While converted rice is expensive, it has more nutrients than white rice…Indians (of the sub-continental variety) have been converting rice for about 2500 years. Steaming the rice in the husk drives vitamins and other nutrients into the grain; that is why converted rice is beige rather than white once it is dried.

    Frankly, the expense of converted precludes it from forming the mainstay of my rice storage, but it is certainly a part of my pantry(about 40 lbs). Skip the puny boxes at the grocery store…the local food service grocer has 20 lbs bags for about $25.

    Thanks for this quickie!

  3. ChristyACB says:

    Another great post on practical things we tend to do then forget about.

    Like Madison - I do a lot of the stick lights. The solar chargers, while they have still gone down in price didn’t last as long as I would have liked when not in use. Not sure if that is just something inherent with that technology or what. For those that like a more permanent set up, I got some of those solar lights that have a separate charging station with 20 feet of cord for each of 4 lights attached. Those really do work great for stationary and stable lighting over a longer period, such as when the hurricanes keep lights out for weeks. The bucket of sand in each bathroom for a light stick is now a staple in our house also.

    Like Edward - Converted rice does have a good place in preps, assuming one has the budget for it. I’m just not sure how long it will stay nutritionally superior so I have only about 6 months worth. White rice is awesome for the long haul for sure. I wish I could grow it!

  4. kathy says:

    I am going to buy a food saver this week. It will really suck the air out of jars. If I buy brown rice, will keeping it in 1/2 gallon mason jars with an oxygen absorber packet and sucking out all the air keep it shelf stable for a year? How about if I keep it really cool (50-6o- degress) as well? I buy brown rice to eat and white to store but I would like to make it all brown rice.

  5. brad says:

    Love these quickies! Makes a large project seem much more manageable, which is a huge part of the valuable service Sharon provides.

    My question is - what to do with rancid brown rice? I’ve got a 50lb bag that is unopened and a year old. Can the pigs eat it? The chickens?

  6. dewey says:

    I’ve heard that every 10 degrees warmer halves the storage life, so the cooler you can keep that brown rice, the better.

  7. villabolo says:

    Hi Sharon, in your opinion how longwill brown rice last in the refrigerator?

  8. Laurie in MN says:

    I second villabolo’s question: I have some brown rice living in the fridge right now and am a little concerned about how long it will last. Or possibly has lasted. :(

    How about the shelf life of brown rice in a freezer? I’m still working on the whole cooking mainly from scratch thing, and it’s a real process with a spouse who is picky about any number of things. *sigh* (Won’t eat beans, won’t eat many veggies. I mean, who on earth doesn’t like *squash*?!? At least a well roasted one? I can forgive him the rutabega hate….for now.)

  9. Sharon says:

    I’d say no more than a year in the fridge. Probably a couple in the freezer. You can feed it in small amounts to animals - you may need to cook it, but I wouldn’t give them a lot of rancid rice at once.


  10. Laurie in MN says:

    Oh, that’s helpful! Thank you, Sharon! :)

    The rice is no more than 6 months old, so I’m going to start using it now. The trick will be getting the Spousal Unit to eat it.

  11. villabolo says:

    Thanks Sharon,


  12. Teartaye says:

    I’m just curious, since I always go into anaphylactic shock when I eat rice, what it might be that I’m allergic to, if it’s not the rice itself?

    I LOVE rice (I developed an allergy to it when I was about eight or nine) and would be so happy to eat it again.

    And I need to… well, completely overhaul my lighting situation. And here I was, five minutes ago, smug that I had a crank flashlight that I can find if the power’s out.

  13. Todd says:

    I have seen hundreds of food storages. I have helped organize & consult on what to have
    included in your food storage. I share the ideas that I have accumulated over the years.

    Along with your wheat, beans & rice, your canned foods etc. Some even have MRE’s & freeze
    dried items. Whatever it is you have in your food storage, I just want to give you a few
    ideas & suggestions. I am also open for suggestions, after 17 years, I still come across
    great ideas.

    First, make sure you have a good variety of spices. You can eat the same beans or rice a
    lot easier when one day they taste like taco spices & the next day curry etc. A variety of
    spices will make anything easier to eat long term. I personally have many bottles of
    tobasco. I can eat bugs with tobasco, crickets, worms etc. I am serious.

    In many emergencies clean water is a big problem. You will go through hundreds of gallons
    of water in just a few short weeks. Make sure you have a good water filter with your food
    storage. You use a lot of water to cook with & drink. A water filter that you hand pump will
    turn rain water, canal water or saved water from cooking etc. into good drinking water again.

    Have some good vitamins. Make sure they are good natural vitamins that your body will
    digest & absorb. 90% of vitamins pass through you & end up clogging the sewers. True.
    I came across Lifecaps, that is what I have in my food storage, 72 hour kits & bug out bags.
    They digest & get in your system within 20-25 minutes. All natural.
    You can survive on lifecaps & water alone for months. They have all the vitamins & minerals,
    also iodine & a little natural sugar to keep your blood sugar level stable. I bought 25
    bottles before I found a coupon code & then bought 75 more bottles. The coupon code is
    “healthcap” (save 33%) & you can find out more at

    Keep hand sterilizer with your food storage & hydrogen peroxide. In an emergency people get
    sick & die from simple infections. In an emergency, you lose your appetite & forget to drink
    water, under stress. Your immune system suffers tremendously & small infections grow large.
    Under stress TAKE YOUR VITAMINS & DRINK WATER! You will have more energy to deal with the
    emergency & have a healthy immune system. Keep your hands clean when dealing with food &
    use the hydrogen peroxide even on small cuts as a precaution. It can save your life.

  14. Florinda Wolfson says:

    I would like to say “wow” what a inspiring post. This is really great. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

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