Purchasing food in large quantities is certainly economical but not always convenient. Not only are there issues with finding adequate and temperature controlled storage space, but If you are like me, you struggle with setting aside an appropriate amount for daily use.
In keeping my commitment to respond to reader questions, today I share thoughts on the following question that was asked back in April. Although the question is specific to tubs coconut oil, the answer applies to other food products as well.
I have questions about how you use and store your coconut oil since you buy the larger tubs from Tropical Traditions. So here goes.
How much do you keep out for daily use and what do you put it in?
Do you leave the remaining oil in the tub or do you repackage it? If so how, please.
How can you tell if the stored coconut oil has gone bad after it’s been opened (or does it)? I am single so it will take me some time to go through it, but I want to take advantage of the economy of the larger packaging.
In my usual style, I am going to tell you what I do and then let you pipe in with comments relative to your own strategy.
To save money, I purchase coconut oil in five gallon tubs. I wait for a sale and also for one of the Tropical Traditions free shipping coupons. For day to day use, I scoop the coconut oil into pint sized mason jars. An ice cream scoop works great for this purpose.
In doing this, I am mindful of a few things. Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees so if it is too hot indoors, I wait for a cool day. On the other hand, if it is too cool, the coconut oil is hard as a brick and difficult to deal with. If I have exhausted my supply of jarred coconut oil and it is a cool day, I will set the tub next to the fireplace for about 30 minutes which is long enough to soften it up. Using this method, I will package six to ten jars at a time.
I store what I call my “working tub” in the rear of my pantry closet and only drag it out when I need to refill my jars.
I use this same method with pet food, Because I have a small dog, it takes a good year to go through the large sack of food we purchase and store in a 5 gallon bucket. Using a similar method, I will jar up some food, then seal the rest in a bucket with a gamma seal lid plus a fresh oxygen absorber. I do realize the dog food is on the oily side but using this method, I have never had the food spoil.
Has the Food Gone Bad?
That leads us to the next question: how do I know if the coconut oil (or other food) has gone bad?
Food that has gone bad is going to smell. Trust me, you will know when your food is rancid. My home is cool and the area I have set aside for food storage never gets warmer than 70 degrees. Fingers crossed, I have not had to deal with food going bad.
In my research, I have learned the biggest problem with coconut oil is the introduction of contaminants. I suppose to lessen the chance of that happening, you could purchase your coconut oil in smaller quantities and indeed, due to storage limitations, while in Arizona I purchased 2 gallon tubs instead of the 5 gallon buckets. These smaller tubs fit nicely under a bed and overall, may be more convenient to your situation. That being said, virgin or extra-virgin coconut oil should last indefinitely.
What I have described not only applies to coconut oil and pet food, but to oats, rice, flour, beans, and other food items stored in large buckets. Keeping my packaging products scrupulously clean is always a priority. Besides that, I always do a sniff test when opening stored food for consumption..
Let me address one more thing: I also do a visual test. Food that looks bad can still be healthy and nutritionally viable. Or so they say. I have never been quite sure who “they” are so what I do is ask Shelly if he also thinks the food looks bad. All I have to do is ask the question, or visa versa, and the food gets dumped automatically. This is a little game we have played for 40 years but seriously, why take a chance?
Since I am on a roll here, let me remind you that if you store food in buckets and are not using gamma seal lids, invest in one of these cheap lid openers, I purchased mine from Tropical Traditions but they are ubiquitous and can be found on Amazon or at your big-box hardware store for about five bucks or less.
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The Challenges of Moving When Your Are a Prepper
Progress toward selling our Washington State home is moving along nicely. While we wait for the perfect buyer, we are refining our wish list for the mountain retreat. We are calling our future home “Mountain House” which is a private joke since I am such a big fan of Mountain House freeze dried foods.
Purging and packing are consuming a lot of time as I sort through what goes and what stays. One of the decisions that has been most difficult is dealing with the items I have collected (hoarded?) for barter purposes. As of this moment in time, I am keeping them.
Likewise my two 55-gallon water barrels. They have come down in price since I purchased them years ago, Are the really worth moving?
The Final Word
With everything going on in our country (Hillary gets away with WHAT?) and the Dallas shootings, you would think I would be glued to the news feed. Not so. The burden of truth and knowledge I like to talk about is often too much to deal with so I resort to some of my favorite hobbies: dancing, making salves, and coloring.
If you are getting the big time blues over domestic and world events, take some time out for a hobby. I am working on an article that addresses just that but in the meantime, you might enjoy this article from my friend Daisy Luther: Fun is not the F-Word for Preppers.
So what about you? How do you deal with buckets of food when it comes to daily use?
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: For you convenience, here are the items mentioned in this article plus a few additional favorites.
Coconut Oil: Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions is my preferred coconut oil. I love it so much I purchased a 5 gallon tub. Really, I did! I find it very silky to work with and love the taste when used in cooking. Note that no refrigeration is required and although it solid at room temperature, it melts at 76 degrees. The Nutiva brand from Amazon or Costco works well too.
Plastic Pail/Paint Can Opener: I told you these were dirt cheap. This one is only a couple of bucks and shipping is free. I purchased my own metal bucket opener from Tropical Traditions, but you can get this one at Amazon:Foodservice Aluminum Pail Opener.
Spark Naturals Base Salve: This is a foundation salve and is comparable to my Simple Salve. Using base salve, you can add your own oils to mix and match and concoct your own unique salves. Base salve is a bargain especially when you consider you can re-purpose the jar (worth a few dollars itself) when making your own Simple Salve down the road! Get a 10% discount using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.
Ultimate 55 Gallon Water Barrel Combo: As of this writing, $94.99 which is a great deal. Everyone should have at least one. Remember, if storing in your garage or on pavers, place the filled barrel on a wooden platform and not directly on the concrete. Here is a similar system on Amazon.
Color Me Calm: 100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation: Those of you that follow Backdoor Survival on Facebook know that I have become a coloring maniac. This book is my latest splurge and what a fantastic adult coloring book it is! This is another one of my favorites: Balance (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1) Yes, I am totally addicted. Why color? Read Nine Reasons Why Adult Coloring is Important to Preppers.
Mountain House Freeze Dried Foods: My favorite Mountain House product this week is Chili Mac. You will love this stuff plus it is frequently on sale.
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Which are the best oils for your survival kit? This article describes my top picks.