Thursday, January 22, 2009

Food grade?

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Food grade?

Their has been lots of discussion over buckets. What is food grade? Do I "need" food grade buckets? Do I "need" food grade buckets if I'm using mylar?

Some things in life can be skimped on. You can eat rice and beans daily and save yourself a pile of money on your grocery bills. You can move to a smaller house and learn that 2 people don't need a huge Chipboard McMansion to live in.

I try not to skimp when putting away food. Finding out that a container failed or that you have an infestation when rotating your food years from now may just be an inconvenience. Opening the food and finding this when you REALLY need the food- i.e, an emergency constitutes a good deal more than just an inconvenience.

Not to sidetrack but here again is where I think QUANTITY can help as well. If I'm convinced that all I need is 5 buckets of rice, 2 buckets of beans and that will make me good to go (don't follow that advice btw), and years later I find that 2 of the buckets of rice got infested and are no longer edible, I've effectively just cut my food storage by 1/3. That means 1/3 less time period where I have food to eat.

Let that sink in please.

Not to say that quantity alone can overcome a problem with poor packaging, nor SHOULD you purposely package poorly, but stuff DOES happen, and having a little more than even you "feel" like you need might save your bacon one day.

OK back on track....

Buckets- look on the bottom of the bucket for the three arrows chasing each other and a "2" in the center of it. This is HDPE 2. I know I know, someone will say "that doesn't make it food grade, rabble rabble rabble rabble!" I would tell you to call Ropak- the biggest bucket manufacturer in the U.S. and ask them what they would recommend for packaging grains. Then call Waltons, Honeyville or any of the professional packing houses that pack superpails and ask them what grade of bucket they use.

I'll save you some time here- HDPE2 is what is used.

"But it's NOT food grade, rabble rabble rabble rabble!"

Go and see Sally the counter gal at the local bakery. If your looking to pack food on the cheap, she is your new best friend. Ask to purchase for a small amount ($1-2. each) their used icing buckets. BEHOLD! What marking is on the bottom of those buckets? HDPE2! And just think, that icing wasn't packed in mylar liners, that FOOD (the icing) was in physical contact with the side of that HDPE2 bucket!

Firehouse subs sells their used pickle buckets for $2.00 Here again, these are HDPE2 buckets where the pickles were (GASP!) in physical contact with the side of the bucket.

Here is where the analytical types are going to freak- these buckets would not be considered "acorrding to Hoyle" food grade buckets, yet food that is eaten EVERY DAY is in physical contact with these buckets.

In short, if it's HELD FOOD IN IT and is HDPE2, it's "safe" to use.

What you DON'T want to use-

Buckets that have held ANYTHING with chemicals in it- cleansers, cleaners, acids, etc. I don't care if you are using mylars or not, stay away from stuff like this.

What MAY work with mylar-

Buckets that have held sheetrock mud. This cleans up with water and the buckets can be cleaned pretty well. IF and I want to understand that word, IF you are using mylar you might could get away with using old sheetrock mud buckets.

Personally, I would stick with bakery buckets, pickle buckets and/or buy new buckets.

5 gallon buckets can be purchased new at Lowes, Walmart and Home Despot. (pun intended). Where possible shoot for the white buckets. There's been a lot of hype about buckets with any type of coloring in them. Some folks think they are up there with Obama and the antiChrist... LOL

In my experience of storing food for 22 years, we have used MANY buckets that were green, red, even blue. Up till the later part of the 90's, our buckets were packed WITHOUT mylar as mylar and absorbers weren't readily accessible. Other than oxidation resulting from no oxygen barrier (that's what the mylar does, a bucket itself is NOT an effective oxygen barrier), we have seen NO problems with colored buckets. Your results may vary.

The important thing, especially late in the game, is to DO SOMETHING. If you over analyze things, their is a reason not to do anything. You can't allow yourself to get paralyzed into INACTION due to that.

Get moving, time might be short. Good luck.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Source for mylar and o2 absorbers

This is one of our most commonly asked questions.

We purchase our mylar liners from

Wendy is a great person to deal with, quick to ship and her prices are right. That says a LOT coming from a cheapskate like me :)

For what it's worth, don't worry about purchasing more of this than you currently need. Mylars store very well and oxygen absorbers WHEN LEFT UNOPENED remain effective for quite some time. At Casa de Henry we are still going through oxygen absorbers left over from our cannery operation in 1998-1999 for our personal storage. I have yet to see a failure in a package of unopened absorbers. Figure 10 year storage life on these if your doing your part. Most specifically this means keeping them out of sunlight. The plastic bag that the absorbers come packed in will likely degrade in sunlight fairly quickly.

I've said this before but it's worth saying again, when you set up your packing run, try to use ALL the absorbers in a sealed packet at one time. Some folks seem to have good luck with placing absorbers in a mason jar after opening the package- I NEVER HAVE.

"Oh but I might waste 4 of them." No nice way to say, don't be cheap! Double up on your absorbers if need be. If you have no more food to pack and have a couple oxygen absorbers left over, toss them in an ammo can with your long term ammo storage. In my opinion, it's better to do this than to try to reseal the bag or put them in mason jars.

Oxygen absorbers are designed to (drum roll) ABSORB OXYGEN. Therefore as SOON as they are open you need to be putting them in bags and begin to seal the bags. Now if 5 minutes goes by, that's no big deal, but if 5 HOURS goes by, that's another matter.

Keep in mind also the tremendous amount of money you will be SAVING on packing yourself versus buying commercially packed. Therefore, dont' quibble over losing a few pennies on a couple of absorbers, be glad you saved potentially HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS.

Bottom line, the phrase so many people liked from the videos- "Don't step over a dollar to pick up a dime." ;)

Next edition- assuring a good seal on your bags