Rotating Your Food Storage

Self-reliance in food storage does not come merely from knowing what we need and then storing it. We must also rotate our food so that our health is not endangered and food and money are not wasted.

The quality of food in storage deteriorates over a period of time. Insects, rodents, chemical breakdown, loss of nutrients, rancidity, dark, mushy fruits, and off-flavors are among the enemies of food storage. Shelf life differs according to the type of product and the storage conditions. If properly stored in a cool (40° to 60° F.), dry, dark, well-ventilated room, some items such as whole grains, sugar, honey, and pastas will store almost indefinitely. Most canned goods will store two years or more. But for many items—refined grain products, mixes, canned berries and citrus fruits, etc.—the shelf life may be a year or less.

The higher the temperature is in the storage area, the shorter the shelf life is. Canned and dried foods are very susceptible to high temperatures; package mixes containing fat products become rancid much faster, as do bottled oils and peanut butter. The rate of loss approximately doubles for every twenty degrees the temperature rises.

Light may destroy the flavor and pigment of bottled and packaged foods. Heat and moisture increase chances for infestation, mold, and chemical reactions which may cause food deterioration.

For most storage items, a rule of thumb is to store no more than you can use in a year’s time, and to use your stored food on a regular basis. Determine how much of a particular food you will use in a year’s time, then use the food according to a plan. Each time you make a new purchase, date it and place it behind or under the old. An ongoing inventory will help you keep track of what you have, what you have used, and when you replaced or added to it.

If you live in an apartment or small home with little or no storage room, you should still be able to store canned foods in closets, behind screens, and under beds.

The best way to rotate foods is to use them. If you develop favorite recipes using foods in your storage, you will be prepared to use and enjoy what you have stored. It is particularly important that your basic storage of wheat or other whole grains or equivalent, salt, sugar or honey, oil, and non-fat dried milk be used regularly. If you have never eaten wheat, and then suddenly find yourself living on wheat, you may develop health problems. Similar consequences may result from eating only freeze-dried (low moisture) foods if you have not made them a part of your regular diet. Thus, even though these foods may have an indefinite storage life, it is useful to rotate and use them whenever possible.

Your emergency supply of water should be checked every four to six months for cloudiness or other evidence of contamination. Use what is stored to water plants, wash the car, etc., and replace it with fresh, clear water. As with other storage, it will then be ready to use when you really need it. Shirley Nielsen, Welfare Services

Notes from a Jogging Saint

I used to ride my bicycle around the block each day for exercise. One day the bike broke down, so I ran around the block—it felt wonderful. A few days later I tried running around our half-mile park. I ran about a quarter of the way and collapsed in utter exhaustion.

Later, I acquired a book on running. The rewards seemed so numerous that I kept pushing—all the way to a mile and a half every day. I kept at it for a year, considering myself in the “big time.”

Then, when our ward’s boundaries were changed, I was assigned to visit teach a wonderful sister whom I had not met. One day, when she talked of being overweight, I asked, “May I come to your house four mornings a week and take you jogging with me?” She agreed, so we huffed and puffed together each morning, building up to two miles.

When someone talked her into entering a six-mile race, I was hesitant. But she was determined to get herself into condition for longer runs, so I went along with the idea.

With an enriched training program based on our experience, reading some books on running, and advice from experienced runners, we conditioned ourselves over a period of months to run up to a fourteen mile distance. Our goal then became to participate in a marathon.

Our rewards have been many. We have felt stronger and better, and have enjoyed a new awareness and gratitude for the temples in which our spirits dwell. We have watched the beautiful earth in her many moods and seasons and have felt a nearness to our Heavenly Father. We have entertained each other over the many miles with stories, dreams, hope and faith, laughter, tears, and sometimes just a comfortable silence. We are grateful for the joy of increased physical fitness, which in turn has given us more strength to serve the Lord, our families, and others. Kathy Summers, Denver, Colorado

Stop-and-Go Chores

I was becoming more and more frustrated as I tried to get my four small children to finish their daily chores. A major problem was neighborhood children knocking at the door and asking if one of my “housecleaners” could play. Each knock meant confusion among my three oldest as they rushed to answer. With each knock they also left their tasks undone, which only added to my frustration.

Finally a solution came while I was chatting with a friend who had been raised in a family of nine. Her mother had made a sign that was red on one side, green on the other. When her children needed to do their chores, she displayed the red “stop” sign on the door or in the window to let their neighborhood playmates know that they were busy and could not play. When the chores were done, she turned the sign to the green “go” side, signalling these friends that her children were now free to play. I have found this idea to be a helpful aid in training my children to work. Jilleanne L. Hall, Roy, Utah

A Year’s Supply for $58.81?

We have a large family, and feeding them is a challenge. Seven of our thirteen are foster children, so we have inherited all kinds of appetites. Most of them are teenagers and seem to inhale food as easily as air; so when my husband came home and proudly announced that we were going to can and store enough food for one year, we all were more than a little skeptical.

“We can do it,” he said. “We can do anything the Prophet has told us to.”

“It seems to me,” he continued, “the answer is simple enough. We know we are always short on money, so we must do it with a minimum of cost. I have figured out that we have $58.81 to spend. Now, what shall we spend it on?”

“Well,” said our little oriental foster daughter, “we need jars and lids if we are going to can.”

“Good point,” said sixteen-year-old Missy. “What about sugar? We can’t can without that.”

“Yes we can,” I answered. “Your grandmother used to do it all the time when I was a kid. We never had sugar, but mom used to say if the fruit was ripe and in good condition, the sweetness of the natural fruit would come out. I have canned like that for years.”

After an evening of discussion, the jars and lids for home canning won.

The girls began an earnest search for inexpensive jars. We haunted yard sales in our area and found a sale on lids at our local flea market. Before long we had over a thousand jars to fill for storage.

The boys’ job was to locate fruit and vegetables for canning. William, our eleven-year-old, found four cherry trees; the man who owned them was getting old, and each year the fruit went to waste. It fell to me to ask for the cherries. “Mom,” William said, “just tell him we can’t pay for them but maybe we can clean up the alley in back of his garage instead.”

This approach has turned out to be the key. We have pulled weeds for rhubarb, painted fences for strawberries, cut wood for raspberries, hauled paper for peaches, and raked leaves for apples.

One night my husband came home and informed us that we would have the privilege of gleaning a potato patch in the morning before work. “It’s simple enough,” he said. “We leave home at 5:00 A.M. and pick until 8:00. We ought to be able to pick enough to carry us through the winter.”

There were groans when morning came, but with all of us working as fast as we could (that was the only way to keep warm), we were finished by 7:30. And we had enough potatoes to keep us through the winter.

Onions, peas, tomatoes, and any vegetables that we could find went into our storage. All were bought with work as we expanded our food storage for the coming year.

One truck farmer, after hearing a report of the frost warning, called us and told us that if we would come and pick his produce that night we could have as much as we could pick, because by morning it would all be frozen. So, bundled against the cold, and by the beam of our car’s headlights, the whole family picked most of the night. We picked squash, cabbage, and a variety of other produce. It was hard work, but we laughed and sang until we were giddy. It was a night we still talk about.

When we made our fall survey, we found that we had canned 1,500 quarts of fruit and vegetables and had enough potatoes, turnips, and root vegetables to see us through the full year. We have continued this method of acquiring necessary storage items each year.

Our son Marty’s observation sums up the family’s experience: “If you’re really willing to work together, you can accomplish anything—even a year’s supply for $58.81.” Nola Carlson, Chicago, Illinois

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch