The recommended storage amount for sugars is 60 pounds per person per year. Most people in the developed world at this time consume far more than 60 pounds annually. It is definitely far more than we should and what is best for our health. However, if you choose to store less for your family, be sure to increase the amounts of other foods you store to compensate for the loss in calories.
To give you a bit of perspective on sugar demand, here are some historical figures on per person sugar consumption in the developed world. In 1700, sugar consumption was about four pounds per year. In 1800, this amount had risen to 18 pounds per year. By 1900, it was 60 pounds per year. We now consume over 100 pounds of sugar per year.
The 60 pounds of sugar per person is what is used for baking and cooking. It does not include what you would use for preserving foods such as by canning or making jam. If you are including food preservation in your plan, you need to increase the amount of sugar you store accordingly.
Sugar is one of the easiest items to store. Because it does not deteriorate in quality or nutritional value, it is one of those items that does not need to be rotated and is not temperature sensitive. It does, however, still need to be protected from pests and from absorbing odors from nearby items.
There are several different forms of sugar to store. Personal preference is your guide here.
We store only pure cane sugar, as opposed to beet sugar. If sugar is pure cane, it will be stated as such on the label. Otherwise, you may be sure that it is beet sugar. Those desiring to avoid GMO products may wish to know that 96% of the sugar beets raised in the U.S. is GMO. We also make sure that our brown sugar and powdered sugar are pure cane as well. It is best not to substitute powdered sugar for granulated in canning. Powdered sugar contains some cornstarch, and this will result in a cloudy product that some mistake for spoilage. Because of the high moisture content, brown sugar does not store well. Putting a slice of bread in an airtight container with the hard brown sugar will soften it in a few days.
Much has been written about adulterated honey being sold in this country, so I won’t go into that here. Be sure you are buying real honey for your family. Real honey will start to crystallize within a year or so of purchase; the adulterated stuff will not–ever. To liquefy solid honey, place the container in a pot of simmering water. Honey will store indefinitely. It also has trace minerals important to the body.
Other forms of sugar you may wish to include in your storage to add variety to your diet include molasses, maple syrup, and corn syrup. (Karo syrup has no HFCS, last I checked; most of the other brands do have it.)
Sugar is easily stored in plastic buckets. It does not need an oxygen absorber. In fact, oxygen absorbers should never be added to sugar, or it will turn into a rock hard mess. Be aware that sugar is very heavy, and for ease in handling it should be stored in smaller buckets, probably nothing larger than 4-gallon buckets.
The best way to acquire your sugar supply is through loss leader sales at the grocery stores. The LDS Home Storage Center is usually a more expensive option, and you can’t be sure whether it is beet sugar or cane sugar.
Oils are an essential component of food storage, because this is where your fats come from. Fat is essential to life. It is critical to brain function. A diet low in fat will dumb you down pretty quickly.
The recommended storage amount is 20 pounds or 20 pints of oil per person per year. There are no set recommendations on what kinds of oils to store. That is entirely personal preference. All oils must be kept as cool as possible. Oils stored in glass or metal will have a longer shelf life than those stored in plastic. When I lived in the Midwest, where concern for earthquakes was non-existent, I stored all our oils in glass. Now that I live in an earthquake-prone area, I still choose to store most of my oils in glass. Most oils—vegetable, corn, canola, and peanut—have preservatives added to prevent rancidity. Olive oil and coconut oil usually do not have these preservatives.
Vegetable, Corn, and Canola Oils
Vegetable oil is soybean oil. Soybeans are almost entirely GMO, as are corn and canola. When I learned about this many years ago, I could not immediately replace all the less expensive vegetable oil in storage for our large family with higher quality oils. I kept the vegetable oils and slowly built up our supply of other oils. The now very old vegetable oil can be used to make oil candles or soap when that need arises.
Peanut oil is what I store for most of my baking and frying. It has preservatives, which I would rather avoid in my foods, but I have not as yet been able to find a peanut oil that does not.
Olive oil is another oil I store for some of my frying and for salad dressings.
Shortening is hydrogenated soybean oil, which I still want to avoid. I only keep one can in the house for making buttercream frosting for cookies and cakes.
Some just have to have it. Red Feather butter, though it has a great reputation for taste, is a pretty expensive option for many families. Ghee is also up there is price. There are several companies that offer freeze-dried butter. It doesn’t reconstitute perfectly, but the taste is acceptable. It just doesn’t have the right texture. The option oft promoted in prep circles is home canning of butter. Everyone acknowledges that the USDA cautions against such and warns of the risk of botulism, but they also say our grandmothers did it and nobody died. I have canned butter for my family– several dozen pints. In my experience, there is a rather substantial failure rate for the seals. But even when seals did not fail, many of the jars had an off smell and tasted kind of moldy. I decided the risks just weren’t worth it.
However, for some of us, life may not be worth living without butter. So what to do? Is there a palatable long term storage option?
Yes! Coconut oil is second in importance in this house only to peanut oil. Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, so it feels “right” in your mouth. It passes for butter in every application, except for on popcorn. And even then it isn’t bad; it’s just that it lacks the buttery flavor. However, even that can be adjusted for. We have found that mixing freeze-dried butter powder into the coconut oil works perfectly—perfect taste and perfect texture. We keep a supply of butter in the freezer for short-term storage, but coconut oil and butter powder are our solution for long term.
Expanding the Basics
Because it is so high in fat, it is classed with the fats rather than with beans, and it is a great storage food. However, it really shouldn’t be calculated with the rest of the oils as part of your oil storage. It’s pretty hard to fry foods in it.
We make all our own mayonnaise here, using the following simple recipe: 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 very fresh large egg, and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend these well in a blender or food processor. In a very thin stream, slowly add 1 cup oil. (We prefer peanut oil. Olive oil tends to be a little strong in flavor.) After all the oil has been added, continue blending for another minute or so. (Make sure to store sufficient additional oil to meet your needs for mayonnaise, and remember that mayonnaise is used in salad dressings and dips as well as on sandwiches.) Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Save all your bacon grease. If you accumulate more than you can currently incorporate in your diet, pressure can the excess in canning jars for long-term storage. Follow the directions for canning meat. Use vinegar on a paper towel to eliminate any grease on the rim of the jar.
Of course, you can buy lard in the grocery store, with all the added preservatives included. Or you can very easily render your own. (See the link at the end of the article for instructions.) Lard is the very best stuff for making biscuits and flaky pie crusts. It is hard to imagine today, but our forebears raised pigs as much for their fat as for their meat. If you have friends who raise their own pork, see if you can get some of the kidney fat for rendering your own. You definitely won’t regret it.
We store far beyond the minimums for oil here. Frying in oil can make almost any food more palatable. While those with dairy animals and pigs can produce butter and lard, everything else is much more difficult to DIY.
Salt is the easiest of the basics to gather and store immediately. You can pick up a year’s supply for a family of four for less than $20 on your way home from work. The minimum storage amounts range between eight and ten pounds per person per year. Now this may seem like an awful lot of salt. You may think that there is no way that you use that much table salt in a year. In normal circumstances you would be 100% correct. However, when you are cooking everything from scratch, you use substantially more salt. Err on the side of caution and store ten pounds per person.
Most people leave salt in its cardboard packaging. Most of the time this works just fine. However, we are preparing for emergencies and other extreme situations. In humid areas, even salt with anti-caking agents added can become hard. And in all areas, cardboard cartons do not protect salt from water damage.
So what is the best way to store salt? Store it in a two-gallon plastic bucket. Put as many salt cartons in the bucket as it will hold. Pour loose salt from other cartons to maximize the storage capacity of the bucket. Do not store salt in metal cans, as it will rust out the metal. Also bear in mind that salt is very heavy—a #10 can of wheat weighs about 5.8 lbs, while the same volume of salt weighs 9.6 lbs. You definitely do not want to store salt in anything larger than a two-gallon bucket. Salt does not ever go bad, unless contaminated by water. Accordingly, it does not need to be vacuum-packed or stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, unless this is to protect it from water.
When it comes down to deciding what kind of salt to store, bear in mind that all salts are not created equal. Half of the salt in your storage should be iodized salt. Infants and small children require iodine for proper brain development. Iodine deficiency leads to cretinism in children and is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Iodine deficiency is also linked to hypothyroidism and goiter in adults. Salt is essential to proper nerve and muscle function and in the regulation of water in the body. Bear in mind that raw sea salt and rock salts lack sufficient iodine to prevent iodine deficiency diseases. Also, kosher salt is not iodized either.
With all this in mind, one may wonder why anyone would buy anything but iodized salt. But plain (or table) salt also has an important place in your home storage plan. Iodine retards the action of yeast in bread, and so plain salt is desired for bread-making. While the inhibition is not substantial, when it comes to making bread we sometimes need all the help we can get. Canning salt, which lacks the anti-caking agents found in plain and iodized salts, is preferred for canning.
Salt can be purchased in bulk bags at restaurant supply stores, but the savings is minimal and may not be worth the extra effort of storing in buckets. Because salt does not deteriorate, and because its nutritional value is not affected by heat or cold, it can be stored anywhere that is dry. Of course, it does not need to be rotated.
Ten pounds is the minimum amount to store for one year. However, if you are drying, curing, brining, or canning meats and vegetables, you should double the amount to twenty pounds per person. (Historical note: During the Utah War, the Mormon pioneers defended themselves admirably and severely delayed General Albert Sidney Johnston [later to die in the Civil War serving the south] and his army from entering the Salt Lake Valley. The pioneers harassed the army in the Wasatch Mountains, and in the process destroyed the army’s salt. The army then paid the Indians $5 per pound for salt.)