Jamie asks: How long will pasta last? I find conflicting info about this. Some sources say virtually forever, as long as it’s kept dry, dark, and bug free. How would you know if it’s bad? Is it ok to store it in the original bags, inside a tin with tight lid, & some bay leaves added? Would you share your thoughts on this, the length of time for storage, & best way to store, please?
SURVIVAL MOM: No, pasta certainly doesn’t last forever. Old pasta gets crumbly, not to mention the nutrients that are lost over time. Old food loses flavor, texture, the appearance can change, and it loses nutrients.
image by Tusca Mendaharin
How to store it? All food needs to be stored in a way that protects it from light, oxygen, humidity, pests, and heat.
1. Light: Your idea for storing it in a tin with a tight-fitting lid would be effective in protecting your pasta from light, but it isn’t enough on its own. The plastic bags are worthless, so you might as well empty the pasta in other containers, such as canning jar, buckets, and/or mylar bags. Since canning jars are made of clear glass, you should store them in containers that will protect them from light, which degrades food over time. Those containers might be cardboard boxes, plastic bins, or anything similar.
2. Oxygen: It’s surprising how easily air can get into most containers over time. Even sealed 5-gallon buckets, which are very popular in food storage
circles, will gradually let in air and should be periodically re-sealed with fresh oxy absorbers. Here are a couple of options for you. Buy heavy duty mylar bags or small buckets (I’m not crazy about the big 5-gallon buckets for pasta unless you have a large family and will be rotating through the pasta fairly quickly.) Buy oxygen absorbers (the ones on Amazon work just fine and are priced well) and place one or more in a container, along with the pasta. This page
has some good info about how many absorbers to use.
Another option is to put pasta in canning jars. This would work well with small pasta, such as macaroni. If you have a Food Saver, purchase a Jar Sealer, and use it to vacuum pack the pasta. The air will be removed, and the pasta will remain fresh for years, similar to using oxy absorbers. The nice thing about this process is that air will not be able to seep into a sealed canning jar.
3. Humidity: This can affect pasta that isn’t stored in containers that are not tightly sealed. Make sure you follow the directions for removing oxygen, and then store your containers of food off the ground and away from windows and exterior walls. If humidity is a big problem in your area, research the use of desiccant packets. Some folks who live in places like Hawaii or Florida even use a dehumidifier in their pantry area during the most humid months of the year.
4. Pests: Place containers of pasta in the freezer for at least a week to kill any microscopic insect eggs that might be present. Make sure the container is air-tight so moisture from the freezer doesn’t affect the food. Once you’ve done this, just make sure that your containers have tightly fitted lids and that you periodically check your food storage area(s) for signs of insect or rodent infestation.
5. Heat: Food will have the longest shelf life when it’s stored at 70 degrees (F) or cooler. If you live in a warm climate as I do, this can be a challenge, but do the best you can.
Regarding the use of bay leaves, they can’t hurt but reviews
of their effectiveness are mixed. Some people swear by them, others say they make no difference.
I hope this helps!
From Ann: I am from Malaysia and have been following your blog for a short while. Thank you for all the sharing and knowledge. As you may know, Malaysia is consider a, “safe,” country. We don’t have natural disasters like storms, earthquakes, volcanoes. Thus, there seems no reason for us to prep. After reading your blog, I feel blessed and appreciate the things I have.
image by jcantroot
As December is approaching, there comes the concern if Mayans are correct. Due to uncertainties, I am following your advice. I am slowly stocking up food, medical and survival supplies. My target is 2 weeks supply. I do not share what I’m doing with my friends. They definitely think I’m crazy! How can the world end so easily? Sometimes I do doubt if I’m paranoid. On the other hand, how sure are non-preppers that nothing will happen? Right?
SURVIVAL MOM: Ann, you can rest easy. The world is absolutely not going to end on December 21. Modern day Mayans have been interviewed by various researchers, and they have never heard of such a legend!
Now, bad things can happen any time, anywhere, and that’s what you should be preparing for. I know what it’s like to live in a place that doesn’t have the traditional disasters, but man-made disasters can happen anywhere. These would include acts of terrorism, civil unrest, personal crises (job loss, severe injury or illness, for example), and even something like a house fire. Malaysia may have fairly tranquil weather, but freak storms can appear out of nowhere and cause power outages that could last for days or weeks.
So, you’re on the right track! A 2-week supply is a good idea, since it would probably take about that long for workers to repair damaged infrastructure and relief workers to begin reaching most affected people.
One possibility that you may not have considered is a worldwide economic depression. You’ve no doubt heard of the decline in America’s once-healthy economy and the loss of the dollar’s value. Sadly, many nations depend on a strong, vital American economy, and if/when that topples, itwill affect the entire world. For that reason alone, you should continue focusing on your efforts to prepare. Once you’re satisfied that you have a good 2 week’s worth of goods and supplies, you might as well set a goal of an additional week, if possible.
You’re very smart to keep this secret. If something does happen, you’ll be able to provide for the needs of your loved ones, and, depending on the size and extent of the crisis, you may be able to provide some assistance to others. Best of luck to you!
From A.B.: I’m very new to the details of the “prepper” mindset and what I am most concerned about right now is getting home with my kids if we’re away from home. I’m really lost and confused on how to be ready for something like this.
What I really have to take into consideration is the winters up here in the Spokane WA area–it can get down to -20 degrees F at night. Trekking 35 miles or so back home with a 4yo and a 2yo makes me nervous, but being stuck in town away from our country home scares me more. I am hoping that you would know of the best resources
to look into. There is so much information out there, my head is spinning. I know in my gut this is where I need to start since my husband has been in this mindset for a few years now. We don’t have an official 72-hour kit, but we have (probably) 99.8% of what we’ve found on most of the websites.
SURVIVAL MOM: Hi A.B. This is a tough question, but I’m glad you are considering various scenarios and how to best prepare for them. Let’s take a look at your first question, how to get home with your young kids if you are ever stranded.
image by katrinket
If this should happen, you can assume that your vehicle will be accessible, even if it stops running for some reason. In winter conditions, if you can’t seek shelter elsewhere, your vehicle will be the safest place to be. Therefore, this is where you should start preparing for this scenario.
First, make car maintenance a top priority. The easiest way to avoid ending up in the wilderness on a snowy night in a car that won’t run is to make sure it’s always in tip-top shape. This maintenance checklist
can help you keep track of all the various fluids and extra parts you may need. Additionally, keep an eagle eye on your fuel level. If you are headed more than 10 miles or so from home, and into an area with few gas stations, never let your fuel gauge register lower than a half tank. In fact, carry a filled gas can with you, just in case.
Next, don’t wait a minute longer to begin putting together a Vehicle Emergency Kit. You’ll find downloadable instructions here
. You probably already have a lot of these items around the house and garage. If there are items that will freeze in winter weather, store them in a backpack or satchel, and keep it right by your purse. Get in the habit of grabbing it every time you head out the door. We have to do that here in Phoenix to protect our emergency food from melting or being otherwise by heat.
Speaking of heat, check out this homemade heater
, give it a try at home, and if you like the way it works, store the supplies in your car. If you have camping gear, I recommend storing your sleeping bags in the trunk of your car. They can act like blankets on cold nights when you’re driving home, and worst case scenario, you’ll have them if you’re ever stranded.
When you know you’ll be driving those 35 miles, or more, be sure to dress for the occasion. Dress as though you WILL be walking a long distance to shelter. If you can’t do that, then keep a bag handy with rugged, warm clothing and shoes for everyone in the family. This is so important and is so easily overlooked.
Regarding that 35 mile trek, it can be done, but rescue workers will tell you that it’s safer to stick with your vehicle since it’s so much easier to locate a large car or truck than it is a woman and 2 small children. I know your concern is with winter weather, but you might consider physical training to get in optimal shape just in case you ever do have to walk those long miles.
Finally, always keep an eye on local weather reports. Our family has avoided being stranded along the highway in freak snowstorms just by listening to weather and highway patrol reports. If you have a smartphone, there are apps that provide this information.
Stay safe and hug those kiddies at least 50 times a day!
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