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!