I’m not a patient person, when I do a project it needs to be cheap and fast with the end result being the best method and results. One of the cornerstones of cheap and fast is having minimal options or ways to accomplish your goal including the right equipment.
Here’s the food storage system that works best for me.
For a food storage system to work for you it needs to save money everyday while at the same time is also your survival long term food stash. Buying in bulk does save money so I designed a system that let’s me make use of the stored foods everyday and take advantage of the bulk savings in a manageable way. This method also let’s me experiment with recipes and create dishes that are based on survival meals so should the day arrive when this is all the food I have to eat we won’t be eating strange meals or have them be a shock to our digestive system.
Through much experimenting and trial and error I now use exclusively one gallon Mylar bags for my bulk food storage with the only exceptions being wheat grain and all purpose flour because I use all 5 gallons of those in 3-6 months.
The reason for storing in 1 gallon Mylar bags?
It’s because I use 5 quart plastic jugs with molded in handle to store the food in the pantry. In the 5 quart jugs I have a complete variety of all the foods that I long term store on hand for everyday use. The replacement food remains in storage in one gallon Mylar packs, inside 5 gallon buckets, that are the perfect size to refill the jugs when they get close to being empty. Now using the 1 gallon packs size I have just enough long term stored food in them to refill the jugs with the freshest food coming out of storage as compared to opening a full single bagged 5 gallon bucket to take some of the food out and then may not use remainder of it for a year or two risking spoilage.
In a nut shell here are all the components used for my long term storage:
• 5 gallon buckets, new, FDA Food Compliant with gasketed lids
• Mylar FDA Compliant Food Storage bags, 20 x 30 x 4.3 mils thick, for 5 or 6 gallon buckets
• Mylar FDA Compliant Food Storage bags, 12.5 x 18 x 4.3 mils thick for 1 gallon quantity food packs
• Mylar bag Heat Sealer machine
• Oxygen Absorbers, 500cc (I use 2, 500cc absorbers per 1 gallon of food stored)
• Quart canning jars
The Mylar bags and Sealing Machine:I buy and use just two bag sizes:
• 20 x 30 x 4.3 mils thick ($1.50 each for 5 or 6 gallon buckets)
• 12.5 x 18 x 4.3 mils thick ($0.50 each for 1 gallon bags)
• I also use the ‘Impak’ 16 inch Heat Sealer machine
• I buy all my bags and the heat sealer from www.sorbentsystems.com
• Sorbent makes the bags and the heat sealing machines in the US.
The ‘Impak’ Heat Sealing Machine
This machine may be a hard pill to swallow due to cost $130.00 but I feel it is absolutely necessary to ensure you have that perfect long term heat seal of the Mylar bags. In the past I like many others used a clothes iron, yes it works but I was never sure I had a good seal. Since buying the heat sealer machine I have resealed all my bags that I had used the clothes iron for the seal. After all we are talking about long term food storage of 10, 20 or maybe 30 years and worst case life or death. This machine is designed to produce the perfect seal time after time without any guess work.
Why is this sealing machine the better way to seal Mylar Bags?
1. It is specifically made for the job.
2. It has the recommended 5mm wide heat strip.
3. The top clamping arm has a positive stop to prevent excessive clamping pressure and upon touching the stop a micro switch is tripped to start the heat strip and at that moment a timer also starts and automatically turns off the heat strip via a programmable timer for the perfect heat duration every time.
4. Incorporated in the top clamp bar is a spring loaded silicone rubber pressure bar that applier the exact amount of pressure so you don’t over or under squeeze the seal area.
5. Bottom line is it duplicates the precise heat, duration and pressure needed to produce a perfect seal every time.
6. It will last forever; even if you let your friends use it for their sealing needs.
The large Mylar bag is 12.5 x 18 x 4.3 mils thick.
I no longer trim the corners as shown in the photo. In the beginning, I stacked the four bags in the bucket one on top the other. Today I stand the four bags on end in the bucket and that is easier to do.
If you need smaller Mylar bags to custom fit a smaller volume I do not have to buy and stock a number of different sizes. I simply cut and heat seal the large Mylar 12.5 x 18 x 4.3 mils thick bag into 4 smaller bags for 2 cup capacity you can use for up to two meals in each bag for back packing, camping etc. Cutting up the larger bag into the smaller bags ends up costing about $0.12 each. Example of how much food fits in the smaller bag: 2 cups of rice or beans dry equals 6 cups of cooked food.
I use a 1 gallon pitcher so I can easily and consistently measure out 1 gallon quantities of food for each bag. I have a chart that breaks down how many meals we can get from a single gallon of stored food. This helps greatly for knowing exactly how many meals you have in total in long term bulk food storage stock.
The bag with 1 gallon of food in it (about half full) just before sealing.
I use some books to elevate the bag so it is more in line with the sealer surface and this avoids fighting with bag wrinkles at the seal point.
The first seal is continuous all along the top edge of the bag. There is no oxygen absorber inside at this time. I seal close to the top because when I open the bag I just trim enough to cut off the seal and enough bag is left for 2 or 3 more reuses. Saves money on buying new bags! I found doing it this way it was a lot easier to get the bag to lay flat and eliminate any wrinkles in the large main seal. Wrinkles will cause an oxygen leak down the road.