Posts Tagged ‘Bulk-Foods’

Bags of grain are frozen for a few days before being put into storage

We lead exciting food lives – shopping at a farmer’s markets, preserving during the summer, budgeting for c.s.a’s – not to mention cooking. Get ready for another rewarding food project! I appreciate a few often-used bulk ingredients in my pantry and savor seasonal produce stored in my freezer. You may too!

We take advantage of sales and discounts when buying dry goods and processed foods like lentils and coconut milk. Our co-op gives a discount on entire bags or cases (as do other stores). Buying clubs like Azure Standard require a little more work than a traditional grocery store, but provide affordable access to real foods.

Before you begin to imagine the stand-alone freezer, dehydrator, canner, mason jars, lids, funnels, pumps, scoops, and storage buckets required to properly store bulk foods – remember that jars with tightly fitting lids and funnels (wide mouth or narrow) are the only special equipment required for many food storage projects.

I prefer mason style glass jars with screw-on lids for storing everything from frozen berries to grains and oils; but they are impractical for bulky things like rolled oats. For these I use twenty-two quart plastic food grade buckets, available at restaurant supply stores. Choose buckets with airtight lids. Never use containers with the number seven in the recycling triangle (they contain BPA).

Dry goods like grains and legumes will keep for many years, but I try to keep things fresh by using up all bulk foods within six months (except for things only available annually). Will you use 25 pounds of long grain brown rice in the next six months? Can you make room in your budget?


How-To Store Bulk Foods

Always freeze grains, legumes, and nuts with hulls for 3-4 days. This will kill any pest larvae common to organically grown crops. Put bags of grains, legumes, and nuts directly into the freezer after bringing them home. Freeze for 3-4 days then repackage them into airtight food grade containers. Always store grains, legumes and nuts with hulls in a cool (less than 65 degrees F) dry place that is out of direct sunlight.

Nuts with hulls removed are more susceptible to oxidation. This means that the oils in the nuts are damaged when they come into contact with oxygen. Try to minimize their exposure to air by packaging them in small (quart-sized or less) packages. Then store them in the freezer.

Dried fruits keep well when stored under dry and cool conditions. But dried fruits can spoil if they are exposed to heat or humidity. Store them at room temperature for up to one month. Otherwise, store them in the freezer, refrigerator, or a consistently cool dry place.

Fresh, high-quality dried herbs retain their flavor and aroma when protected from oxidation and u.v. rays. Keep herbs in tightly sealed plastic bags or glass jars with tightly fitting lids. Store them in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. They also keep well in the freezer.

The unsaturated fats in olive oil are prone to damage from oxidation. It is essential that bulk olive oil be repackaged into small containers (1 quart or less). This minimizes contact with the air, and  reduces the likelihood of chemical changes in the oil.

Coconut oil is a saturated fat with stable chemical bonds that protect it from oxidation. However, coconut oil retains more of its delicious taste and smell when re-packaged into quart-sized (or smaller) jars. If the oil is solid at room temperature set it in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place. After several hours the oil will become soft and it will be easy to scoop into jars.

Butter also keeps well because of the stable bonds in its saturated fat. We leave butter in its original wrapper and box in the freezer. The tightly closed box prevents it from absorbing any off flavors from the freezer.

Some oils should not be purchased in bulk because they are prone to oxidation and rancidity. Flax, walnut, and hempseed oil are examples. They must be stored in the refrigerator where there’s rarely extra room.

Canned foods keep for several years when stored in a cool dry place that is out of direct sunlight. Frozen foods, tightly packaged and sealed remain fresh for an entire year.

A pantry filled with frequently used and seasonally available ingredients is convenient, but the cost savings drive me to enthusiastically seek out bulk foods. To save money on some higher priced items we pool resources with like-minded friends. For big food storage projects like u-picking and canning we have parties. Price decreases with quantity and we spend valuable time with friends and family! Excited about having quick affordable access to your pantry staples? Is it time for a bulk food project?

This was shared on Real Food Wednesday.

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