Taking Notes Here (More Helpful Tips)

Lately I’ve been a sponge, soaking up all of the information I can about everything from companion gardening to preserving food to how to get my Wordle fix without having to wait for the timer to count down to the next word (urrgghh!!).

That last one is easy, I just go to Wordplay.com.

Companion gardening is definitely a learning curve and so far I’ve been quite successful at pairing the right plants. Nasturtium really compliments so many things…

And strategically planted onions really help keep the pests away…

Our corn did phenomenal last year, so we’re hoping to grow at least twice as much this year.

This year, though, I think we’re going to attempt a ‘three sisters’ garden which is where you plant corn, beans and squash together.

I’ve seen and read a lot of good things about this method.

I’m also learning a lot about food storage so I thought I’d share a few tips here that I think are great to pass on. Some you may already know and some may be new to you, too!

  • You can use your convection oven to dehydrate food. Set your oven to the lowest setting (140 is best so it doesn’t cook your food) and put the food you want to dehydrate on a cookie sheet with an oven safe wire rack on top of it. If necessary, prop open the door slightly to reduce temperature and increase airflow. You can also use an air fryer. Learn more here.
  • Raisins (which are just dehydrated grapes) and other dehydrated fruits have a decent shelf life of up to a year past their “best by” date when kept in your pantry but have an indefinite shelf life if you put them in the freezer. More on that here.
  • Freezer burned meat is not spoiled and is edible, although the quality and flavor may be less than optimal. You can still eat it. Learn more about that here.
  • Bottled water has an expiration date but it’s the bottle that expires, not the water. Over time, the bottle may break down and leach dangerous chemicals into the water so it’s best to either drink the water before the “best by” date or transfer it to a safe, long term water storage container. Read more on that here.

Speaking of “best by” dates, did you know (and you probably do) that many foods are still good to eat long after their printed date? I did quite a bit of research for my own pantry items and am making hand-written lists of both edible and non-edible things. I thought I’d share a few things from the list I have so far here.

Remember, these are time frames past the printed date.

Salt – indefinite

Butter – 1 month (refrigerator) 6-9 months (freezer)

Sugar – indefinite

All Purpose Flour – 6-8 months (pantry) 1 year (refrigerator) 2 years (freezer)

Honey – indefinite

White rice – 4-5 years (original package) 25+ years (vacuum sealed)

Beans – indefinite

Brown sugar – indefinite

Powdered sugar – indefinite

Baking soda – indefinite

Baking powder – 1 year

Yeast – 1-3 months (pantry) 1 year (freezer)

Olive oil – 2-3 years

Peanut oil – 3 years

Oats – 2-3 years

Peanut butter – 6-12 months (pantry)

Jelly – 2 years

Canned foods – 5+ years

Coffee (ground) – 3-5 months (pantry) 1-2 years (freezer)

Coffee (instant) – 2-20 years (pantry) indefinite (freezer)

Spices (dried) – 2-5 years

These are just a few things on my list and I’m adding to it regularly as I sort through my food supply and other non-food items. Things like dehydrated vegetables have a much longer shelf life if you vacuum seal them, like I’ve been doing. They can last up to 10 years this way!

Things like bleach, antiseptic and soap all can have “best by” dates so we have to keep those in mind and also learn how far past those dates these things are still usable before we stock up for Armageddon (and then end up having to throw a bunch of stuff out when Armageddon doesn’t happen!).

Here are a few from my non-foods list:

Kerosene – indefinite

Bleach – 6 months to 1 year

Iodine – indefinite

Hydrogen peroxide – 3 years

Laundry soap – (liquid) – 1-2 years (powdered) indefinite

Shampoo – (opened) 6 months – 1 year (unopened) 2-4 years

Conditioner – (opened) 2-3 years (unopened) 3-4 years

Soap – (commercial) 3+ years (handmade/organic) 1-2 years

Again, these are just a few things from my own list. Some of them surprised me while others I kind of suspected had shorter lifespans (like bleach) due to losing its effectiveness over time. I compiled this information from various sources across the net.

Some good resources for food items are:

For non-food items, there are several different resources on the web. Use your discernment and best judgement when searching for these items.

I hope this helps someone, it sure helps me to figure out what to store, how to store it and when to use it up before it goes bad. There’s nothing worse than having to throw away things unnecessarily!

9 thoughts on “Taking Notes Here (More Helpful Tips)

  1. I tried that 3 Sisters method a couple of years to no avail. This year I’m trying for just 2 sisters instead! Corn and spaghetti squash. What a disaster trying all 3, but that could just be our weather? One year it was a jungle, but nothing really produced well. Another time the corn blew over in a storm and squashed everything beneath it when it was still too small to recover. Frankly, I think our ancestors had much more consistent weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, I wonder if it’s really worth messing around with especially given this isn’t exactly the best time to be experimenting in the garden. We might have to play it safe and just grow as much as we possibly can using methods that have worked for us here so as to not waste any seeds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We got gifted a garbage bag full of old seed. I almost threw them out b/c they were all nearly 10 years old. Instead Hubby insisted on trying a ‘gorilla garden’ in the orchard and he threw down about a gallon of combined seeds and I am so surprised how much has come up from that. Going to have to write a post about that i think.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, please do write a post on that! I love that idea of gorilla gardening. We are working on the food forest thing here. I ordered my elderberry bushes this week and we’re adding more fruit trees. Problem is, they take sooo long and I don’t think we have years before SHTF the way things are going. Still, we’re gardening for the short and long term, fingers crossed.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. There was quite a discussion about the three sisters method on one of the zone 3 gardening groups I’m on. For some people, it worked great, yet for others, it didn’t work at all.

      Personally, this year I plan to plant some remaining bush bean seeds I have from last year with my corn, rather than pole beans. The role of beans is for nitrogen fixing, and corn needs a lot of nitrogen – and our soil is nitrogen depleted. The role of the squash is to shade the ground, helping keep weeds down and keep the ground cooler and moister. I figure if I plant bush beans, they’ll play both roles, at least a little.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good idea! I like the look of pole beans. Normally they do so well here and now this year I’ve planted them 3 times already and my germination has been about 10%! With new seed packets each time. It’s a mystery to me, all I can figure is suddenly my soil PH is off? Going to have to go for bush beans in another section I guess. At least I have loads of seed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Only 10% germination? Yikes!

        I’ve never grown pole beans before. From the people talking about it, one of the problems was that the pole beans grew so much faster than the corn, and overwhelmed them. I think planting the beans after the corn germinated was a suggestion, but our growing season is so short, I can’t see doing that here. This year, we will try doing pole beans on the squash tunnel. When I found seeds left over for green and gold beans, I figured I’d find a way to use them. They did so well last year, even under such terrible conditions. Our soil is a pH of 7 or 8. Even the loads of garden soil we bought is alkaline.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It’s frustrating because we have such a short season here, too (not as short as yours) and we’re racing against the calendar with almost everything we plant. I really want to get a big greenhouse set up properly so we can extend our growing season but that’s just not in the budget yet.

        Liked by 1 person

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