Three Letters Re: Lessons Learned the Hard Way About Food Prep

The author has certainly learned good lessons from his storage experiences, but there are lots more lessons to be learned, like how to put to new use items that can no longer be used/eaten. Specifically, the big jug of soya oil. In itself, soya oil, is no longer a healthy alternative, but it does make excellent lamp oil, whether rancid or fresh. Label it for oil lamp use only, and you’ve saved the cost of some commercial lamp oil. Another lesson is that any sort of plastic container will never store for any length of time. Air leaks through the plastic, e.g. the fruit cups. Always repack newly purchased contents into glass jars or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and/or vacuum sealers. – G.L.

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HJL and JWR, I thought I would mention after reading this submission that the author said they threw away several gallons of cooking oil that had expired. That made me cringe a little, as I am as adverse to waste as the author mentions. However, I also understand the need to downsize when moving, but that oil, even though was not safe for consumption, could still be used. I know that various paints are oil-based, and it could have been used to thin it out. Also some generators and motors can be converted to use an oil drip or even just selling it or donating to someone who has a biodiesel vehicle could have used it. I’ve even seen homemade lamps for sale at a local Farmers Market that can use cooking oil for a fuel. They were a bit stinky but in a pinch as a light source, necessity can be the mother of invention. Food for thought: Keep up the good work. – A.W.

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I would like to respond to Northern Prep.’s letter . I really enjoy articles about food storage because it’s one of my passion’s as well as part of my faith ( LDS) . Please, please , please don’t freak out over those silly dates on canned goods . As a long time past volunteer at my local food bank we enjoyed our lunch hour as volunteer staff on expired food . The food bank themselves would not give away the expired food but we as volunteers would be free to have at it . It was a daily competition on who could find and eat the most expired food . I know, we were young and it was a game to us . The most expired food we ate was Campbell’s Tomato Bisque soup 16 years past expiration date ! And yes it was a little off so a couple of shots of Tabasco and it was yummy . What is more important is the integrity of the cans the food was in . Any rust or bulging or if it didn’t suck air when opening we would pitch it out . Keep the cans cooler like in a basement and it will double the shelf life. There is a great scene in the movie ‘The Road’ when the father and son find the bunker underground. The place is packed with canned goods . All those canned goods were at least 12 years old . Yet father and son dined quit well on them . Don’t let corporate America convince you to throw away good food. There is a difference from peak of freshness foods and life sustaining foods . We need to change our focus to the latter. Use your nose and good common sense and enjoy good food. – M.H.

HJL Adds: One of my most painful moments was when I helped a friend who had lost a job. We had just begun to prep and I took about half of my stored foods and gave to their family. These were foods that we were regularly eating out of. A few months later, my friend took me aside and discretely told me that he’d had to throw most of it away because it was a couple of months past it’s expiration date and he wanted me to check my pantry. I really felt like crying. Expiration dates (with few exceptions, mostly regarding medicines) are for legal or marketing purposes.

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