Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Storage Area

Many people are blessed to have a nice, dark, cool area in their basements to store their supply of food. Not everyone is in that situation. When choosing where to store your food, several things are important to consider.

"The storage area should be located where the average temperature can be kept above 32°F and below 70°F. Remember that the cooler the storage area the longer the retention of quality and nutrients. Freezing of some items, such as canned products, should be avoided since the expansion of the food during freezing may rupture (metal) or break (glass) the container, or break the seal on lids on glass bottles, and allow the food to be contaminated. This could pose a serious safety risk when the food thaws. The storage area should be dry (less than 15 percent humidity), and adequately ventilated to prevent condensation of moisture on packaging material. The area should be large enough so that shelves can accommodate all of the stored food and adequate space is available to keep the area clean and tidy. A 9 x 12 foot room with 10 foot ceilings will provide adequate space for a family of six to store an 18 month supply of food. Food should not be stored on the floor. It is a good idea to have the lowest shelf 2-3 feet off the floor in flood prone areas. Shelves should be designed so that a simple rotation system can effectively allow the oldest food to be used first and the newest food to be held within the shelf-life period.

When designing and building a food storage area, do it to minimize areas where insects and rodents can hide. As practical, seal all cracks and crevices. Eliminate any openings which insects or rodents may use to gain entrance to the storage area. Electrical equipment such as freezers, furnaces and hot water heaters should not be housed in the storage area. These appliances produce heat, unnecessarily increasing storage temperatures. Insulation of the storage area from other areas of the house will effectively reduce the average yearly temperature of the food."

Source: Charlotte P. Brennand, PhD, and Deloy G. Hendricks, PhD, Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences, USU

If ideal circumstances do not exist in your home for your storage space, consider storing under the bed (cooler, and darker), in coat closets, or anywhere where the temperature is cooler. The temperature is the main ingredient in maintaining quality food storage.

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