I’ll have a side of Toxic with that…

Shall we chat about food storage again?  Oh sure, why not!  🙂

Over the holiday break a reader watched my video on long term grain storage and commented with some questions on storage containers.

Thanks for showing us how you store your grains and encouraging us to be better prepared! What size mylar bags did you use to where 2 could fit in 5 gallon bucket? I too wanted to not use one bigger mylar bag for 5 gallon bucket to have less opened up at once. Would you say putting 3 bags would not be good? Also could I store the 2 mylar bags in a rubbermaid roughneck plastic bin? If not, why is that? Thanks for sharing and all your help!

Thanks for your questions, Shari!

I bought my mylar bags in bulk a couple of years ago, but if I remember correctly they were either one gallon or 1.5 gallon bags – fitting two per bucket (my memory is leaning more toward the 1.5 gallon).  I would say that you could use as many bags as you want to fill a bucket – it all depends on how much and how fast you’ll be using whatever’s stored in that bucket.  If you don’t go through a lot of whatever you’re storing, then definitely go with smaller bags so you don’t have the item open to the elements for longer than necessary.  The #1 enemies to food storage are light and air.  That’s what makes them spoil.  So if, like me, you’re only feeding one or two people you’re not going to be burning through the individual items.  So smaller bags are better so you can keep your food fresh longer. If you have a family of six, and you’re using larger amounts of the items, then it makes sense to use bigger bags.

Another thing to keep in mind is how much the bags cost.  The more bags you use, the higher the cost.  Unfortunately mylar bags aren’t super duper cheap. Depending on the size, they can cost anywhere from a few dimes to a coupla-few bucks each.  Of course, the smaller the bag, the less it costs.  So you’ll just have to do some math and figure out what’s best for your budget and your usage needs.  A good source of mylar bags is USA Emergency Supply. One product they offer are mylar bags with a zip-lock top.  I like these!  They’re definitely a bit more expensive, but they also offer a way to re-seal the bag while the item is being used.  You can heat-seal the very top of the bag initially, then once it’s open and being used, use the zip-lock to keep the contents fresh.

As far as using a Rubbermaid bin to store your bags… well, unfortunately I’m not well versed on Rubbermaid bins. Most plastic products have a number on the bottom that refers to its recyclability.  That number refers to the material the container is made of – some, like soda bottles and whipped cream tubs are safe for food.  Others are not.  For those that are not considered food-safe, even if the item is contained in the mylar bag, I would still not advise using it to store the sealed bags. You can find a list of the numbers and if they’re food safe at http://ecovillagegreen.com/903/what-do-the-plastic-recycling-numbers-mean/.

You may be wondering why – even if the food is stored inside a bag before being in the bin, you shouldn’t use it.  Well, it all comes down to chemistry and all that brainy stuff.  I asked a similar question on a forum a few years ago when I was first beginning to store food. The answers that came back eluded to the gas permeability of the bags.  Air molecules are bigger than gas molecules, so I’m told, and therefore may be able to pass through the bag and into your food, thus contaminating your food with toxic nasties. Now, is this true?  Got me.  I’m no brianiac when it comes to science – but it sounds good!  What it comes down to, I suppose, is whether you’re willing to risk if it’s true or not.  I think of sometimes when you get a cheap plastic tub, and it smells super chemically – that’s probably not safe.  That smell is indicative of the toxic gases being emitted from the plastic.

So first I would say take a look at the type of plastic the bin is made of and check the number against the list linked above.  If it’s a number that comes back as food safe – then go for it.  If it’s a number that equates to non-food safe, then you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to risk it.  In the end the food will probably still be edible – but will it be contaminated is the question. Many plastics are being linked to cancers these days.  So it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I go to the bakery counter at a local grocer and buy left over frosting buckets for about $1.50 each. You can buy brand spanking new ones from places like USA Emergency Supply, but they can be pricey compared to my used ones from the Bakery.  The Bakery buckets come with lids and are more often than not clean.  They may smell like butter cream or chocolate… but if that’s the worst of it, I’m a-okay with that!

If you decide to go with the Rubbermaid bins, one other consideration you might want to make is how big the bin is.  Those buckets I use end up being pretty heavy when they’re full of grain.  Close to 25 pounds each.  Not an impossible weight – but at the same time I don’t want to carry them more than a few feet to move them around.  So if you go with something that would hold a larger quantity, keep that in mind if you ever have to move them around.  Or heck, even for stacking them.  You could end up crushing the bottom container if you stack them more than two high.

So I hope this helped answer your questions.  And I’m glad to hear you’re starting to store food.  It’s never a bad idea to have that little insurance policy in the pantry.

Categories: Food Storage | 1 Comment

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One thought on “I’ll have a side of Toxic with that…

  1. I remember looking @ the #’s on various plastic containers in our cupboards last year…could not believe my eyes when I saw on the apple juice jug one of the more toxic #’s …why in the world would you package juice in that type of container????? The really sad thing was, because I liked the sturdy feel of the empty jugs I had been using one as my water bottle all summer. Not any more 🙂

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