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Storing Preps in the Heat


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Welcome Mommaofmany! I am also in Central CA. The short answer that you won't want to hear is, NO. It is not okay for grains, rice, beans, and pasta to be in the heat. You need to find space indoors in the air-conditioning if you plan on storing these foods long-term. The LDS Church recommends temperatures of no more than 75 degrees for optimum long-term storage. Now, in triple digit heat there is no way we can afford to keep our homes that cool in the Central Valley, but we can keep them out of the garage where temps often reach triple digits during the course of a summer day. That being said, you will find stories online of people storing foods in the heat without problem. Personally, I've invested too much time and energy into stocking a well-rounded pantry to risk losing product to heat damage.

 

Can you find some creative storage solutions? Visiting the Urban Forum may give you some good ideas.

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This leads me to a lot of thinking. How can we prep for major disasters where electricity is not a guarantee long-term?

 

We don't use the AC here at our southeastern IN home. We have very hot and humid summers. I'm trying to keep my preps in the coolest area, use a fan to keep the air circulating, open windows at night to let the cool air in, and do all sorts of "keep the heat out" measures. My house will heat up to 87 degrees regularly. We're working on adding insulation, but it will be a slow process.

 

Kim H

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Kim, here we don't have air conditioning either. (New Hampshire) But we do have a nice dry basement where I keep my buckets up on a pallet in the corner. The house can get up to 85 degrees but the basement is always nice and cool, at least 10 to 12 degrees cooler.

 

I know not everyone has a basement, but if you do, it's a great place for canned goods, buckets of grains, and shelves of home canned jars provided it is dry and not subject to mold, mildew or damp.

 

 

 

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My grandmother had a pantry just off her kitchen in northern Mississippi. No AC. She kept all her home canned foods in there for years, because she always put things by. It was a farm after all. The pantry was dark, and their old home was built to be as cool as possible, but her home canned foods were all OK.

 

That said, they did the best they could with what they had. Today we know we need to keep it cooler if possible.

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Check a list of what lasts longest, and if possible move everything else inside, like to a closet or under the beds or somewhere. White sugar and salt seem to take the heat without trouble. Both are, of course, moisture sensitive and therefore should be kept from swinging temps. White rice doesn't seem like it should be heat-delicate, but I have had bad luck storing it out on porch or in a shed. I have also had very bad results from storing beans, whole grains, powdered milks, FD meats, and dried onions in #10 cans in an un-air-conditioned apartment. Very expensive bad results. I'm not sure I will ever again stock FD meats.

 

Light energy striking a light-proof solid object, whether it be skin, a tent, a rock, a leaf, a car roof, or a garage roof, transforms into an array of other energies. One of those others is radiant energy. Radiant energy travels on past the light barrier and heats up whatever it strikes. If the next object is a person, that person heats up. If the next object is a tangle of fibers or particles called insulation, the first layer of them traps some of the heat, and the energy only very slowly works its way though the tangle. If the next object is a leaf, surrounded by air, the leaf heats and radiates heat, but blocks the radiant energy from travelling on. This is why a camping tent with a double canopy is so much cooler than one with a single canopy, and why the plains peoples' teepees were double-layered with an inner cone of canvas or thin-scraped hides to protect the people inside from the radiant energy. This is why I tried to get a "Radiant Barrier" added when they put on my new roof (looong story, though) and why anything you put in your garage will do much better if you can line the roof and the sunniest wall with insulation or a radiant barrier.

 

If you can't move your milk, beans and grains inside immediately, this week, see if you can line the ceiling and the sunnier walls with reflective mylar. Failing that, throw a thick blanket or two over the stacked buckets.

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I know this is simplistic, and some people might think I'm nuts to mention this, but honestly, this is worth considering IF you can do it. (I know it's not feasible for everyone!)

 

Plant shade trees around your house. Yes, it might take ten or fifteen years to get shade from them. But ten or fifteen years is going to pass whether you plant them or not.

 

I've learned the value of shade trees, and always took them for granted. In every other house we've lived in, it has been an older house with well established trees that usually blocked us from the worst of the south and west suns. I never gave thought to this.... until we moved.

 

Yes, we moved a few years ago to a recently created subdivision, for a myriad of reasons. The first thing I noticed was the unbearable heat- and nary a tree in sight for a good half mile or more. I felt like we were baking in the sun. There is no refuge, and there is no *cool* part of the day ANYWHERE in the house.

 

Even though this new house is insulated to the max, and much better built, it is harder to keep cool simply because we sit like a bug under a magnifying glass in blazing heat. In contrast, our older houses were not built nearly as well, nor insulated as well, but even without air conditioning, we could keep the houses liveable and much cooler - and htey were only about four miles from where we are now, so the climate sure hasn't changed.

 

Honestly - good shade trees can knock ten degrees or more off the interior of your house. I know. I've seen it and lived it. This can certainly help in terms of preparing for a SHTF scenario, dealing with heat, and storing preps. It won't solve all problems, but it's better than nothing.

 

We've planted thirteen trees in the last two years - I'll never live anywhere that isn't well shielded by shade trees again!

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Hi Mommaofmany!

 

I'm in Arizona and have the same problem as you do with a garage lined with wonderful storage cabinets that I don't dare store food in! Ok, I store all paper goods out there, household cleaning, HBA, & laundry detergent there but not food.

 

That means I have to be space conscious inside (yet not obvious so my husband doesn't think I've lost it)! The pantry's full-- time to be more creative!

 

Look around the house-- bet you can manage to store some cans or jars in the cabinets around the dishes, behind the glasses, move mall kitchen appliances that you don't use often out to the garage & use the space they took up inside for more food items.

 

Have book cases with closed bottom sections? Stack food in them! Have some space behind the books (DVD's or whatever)? See if some canned food will fit there! Have a china cabinet or buffet-- stock up empty spaces with food. Have stck pots in the cabinets that you may not use frequently? Fill them with packets of tuna, spam, beans or whatever fits. Reorganize closets and use the top shelves for more food items if you can, have knick knacks that have lids? Fill them up with durable food items, dresser drawers that you could fit packets of tuna, salmon, or chicken in under clothes etc.... under beds, in closets, etc....

 

It's definitely becoming challenging here I must admit... but it's doable!

 

Good luck smile

 

 

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I shopped yard sales and craigslist until I found someone selling a huge chest freezer for a price I could afford. Then I put that chest freezer in my garage and I am filling it with vacuum-sealed bags of powdered milk, rice, oats, corn meal, etc. If we lose power, then I can put ice in there to keep things cooler in the short-term.

 

That's the only way I could figure to store some of those dry goods; my storage closet has all my canned goods in it - and I keep my house around 75-80 degrees.

 

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Well, it is better not to store foods in high temperature locations, but sometimes there isn't much alternative so we have to do the best we can with what we have.

 

If you just gotta use a hot location for food storage then use that area for foods that have the lowest sensitivty to heat.

 

Sugars of just about any kind are heat tolerant so long as they are well packaged. Granulated white sugar, brown sugars, confectioners (powdered) sugars, and so on. Liquid sweeteners are somewhat more sensitive, but if you can put them on a shorter rotation even those can be stored there.

 

Whole grains such as wheat berries and corn are not as sensitive as milled grain products. Put them on a shorter rotation but you should be able to get at least five years, maybe ten if they are well packaged. I wouldn't store any sort of flour, meal, barley, oats, and so on in the heat. White rice shold do OK though so long as you shorten the rotation period.

 

Pasta and macaroni made from white flour/durum semolina will do OK in the heat as well, but no egg noodles, no whole or multi-grain pastas, or with any added ingredients such as spinach, tomatoes and so on. Again, shorten the rotation period. Three or four years at most.

 

Off the top of my head I can't think of any other foods that will take high temeperatures for months without going over on you.

 

It's best to keep everything off of the floor and not in contact with any exterior walls. Storing them closer to the north wall is better than the south. This will minimize temperature swings. It is important that everything be well packaged preferably in inert atmospheres (as in oxygen absorbers or dry ice).

 

If storage space is really hard to come by think about the space inside the climate controlled areas of your home that have things in them that are heat insensitive. You may be able to move those into the garage area (suitably packaged of course) and use the areas they were in for your more sensitive foods.

 

.....Alan.

 

 

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