I recently came across a very cool website called The Survival Mom. The site owner wrote an article a few months ago that I wanted to share with you, as it provides some great ideas and suggestions for vacuum packing a whole lot more that just food!
Last year I made an appearance on Good Morning, Arizona, a local morning news show. My job was to show what items could be included in a Survival Mom’s purse-size emergency kit. It was a fun challenge to see how much I could fit into an old sunglasses case.
I knew I wanted to include money but I needed it to be somewhat inaccessible to me, the free-spending adult in the family, and also waterproof. I folded up about $50 in cash and then used my food vacuum sealer to vacuum pack the emergency cash. I trimmed the edges so it fit nicely in the case, and voila! Waterproof and Lisa-proof emergency cash!
Now that I’m packing suitcases for another trip, I decided to use my vacuum sealer to pack a few other items:
- travel-size packages of hand wipes. The airtight seal will keep them nice and moist.
- Ditto for packages of baby wipes and makeup remover wipes.
- This trip will be spent at a beach, so I vacuum packed a dry t-shirt and pair of underwear per person.
For a couple of camping trips last year, I used the vacuum sealing machine to seal up rolls of toilet paper (remove the center cardboard tube first).
“Lisa asked me what other uses could there be for a vacuum packing machine. It dawned on me, I’ve used mine for at least two other uses.
- I used it to seal a box of Strike on Box matches approximately 3 years ago. I have always been concerned that the pressure may have compromised the matches, but after cutting the package open and pulling the match box open, I found them to be in perfect condition! I re-sealed the matches for a future camping trip or emergency.
- I’ve also vacuum sealed batteries. Due to the hot and humid climate we live in, packing these items in this manner made sense.
- Other items that might do well with a sealer are feminine products and some clothing items.
Based on my own personal experiences and mistakes, I do not recommend storing these foods in large quantities, long-term. Let me know what you think of my list and what other foods you would add.
1. Any canned vegetable or fruit that you do not like. Don’t assume you will fall in love with slimy, aged canned apricots five years from now if you detest apricots now! Canned veggies and fruits aren’t nearly as tasty as fresh versions, so if you decide to store them, make sure you really like them.
2. Tuna. I know that canned tuna is a staple in many food pantries. However, I’ve discovered that after a couple of years, canned tuna becomes mushy. Now, if you love the taste of tuna, you may not mind the mushy version, but for me, I really didn’t like it. Also, reports from a year ago found that every single bluefin tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean, in a study, was contaminated by radiation from Fukushima. I don’t know what the current status is of radiation in bluefin tuna, but I’d rather not store it in our food pantry.
3. Flour. As flour ages, it can develop a stale, rancid smell. Additionally, it likely contains the microscopic eggs of flour weevils, which will hatch at some point. To get the longest possible shelf life out of flour, first place it in an airtight container and freeze it for about a week. This will kill the insect eggs. Then, before storing it, add an oxygen absorber or two, depending on the size of the container. Still, you can expect a shelf life of 18 months or so from flour, which is why most preppers prefer to store wheat.
4. Saltine crackers. Just for fun, take a sleeve of saltine crackers out of the box and set them aside, at room temperature, for 3 or 4 months. You’ll never get over the stench of rancid saltines! If you must, you could store them in an airtight container with oxygen absorbers, or learn how to make them from scratch. Buy and enjoy saltines but do rotate through them and don’t depend on a giant stash staying fresh a year from now.
5. Graham crackers. I didn’t think our family favorite, graham crackers, could go bad, but they do go rancid with time. Again, you can repackage them in an airtight container using oxygen absorbers, but that’s a lot of extra work. You can also store the ingredients to make homemade graham crackers. Have an extra 3 or 4 boxes around is quite fine. Just remember to rotate and use up the oldest crackers first, while storing the newly purchased crackers for later.
6. Breakfast cereals. These are not packaged for longterm storage, likely contain GMO ingredients, and probably contain a lot of additives that you would just as soon not consume. However, I know they’re a quick and handy breakfast food, especially if you have kids. If you must store them, again, rotate and repackage them for the longest possible shelf life.
7. Canned tomato products. Personally, I have always stored a number of canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, but then, we use those products often in our meals. Over the years I have heard more complaints about canned tomatoes than any other canned foods: the cans leak, they bulge, a seam opens. If you store these, be sure to rotate through them and plan on growing your own fresh tomatoes so you’ll have those to rely on instead.
8. Home-dehydrated foods. Again, these aren’t bad, but for long-term storage they won’t last nearly as long, mold-free, as commercially dehydrated foods. This is because we have no way of measuring the actual moisture content of our home-dehydrated foods. We dry them, “until crispy” or “leathery” but those are pretty subjective measurements. Commercially dried foods are tested for moisture and then packaged in a container in which most or all of the oxygen has been removed. If you dehydrate your own foods, and please continue to do so!, just keep in mind that it has a shelf life of a year, maybe two, and rotate through them.
9. Brown sugar. There really is not need to store brown sugar if you have granulated sugar and molasses on hand. Molasses has an extremely long shelf life, as does sugar, and when you combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses, you have freshly made brown sugar.
10. Bottled salad dressing. When a bottle of Kraft ranch salad dressing is the same color as Thousand Island, you know something went very, very wrong on your pantry shelf! That was our experience just last week. About 4 years ago I used a number of coupons to buy bottled salad dressings for my brand new food storage pantry. I didn’t stop to think that I usually make my own homemade dressings, so here these 8 or 10 bottles sat. Needless to say, we tossed them into the trash. It’s too easy to make homemade from fresh or shelf-stable ingredients, so forget the store-bought dressings unless you rotate through them fairly quickly.
Please keep in mind that I’m not saying to never buy these or never have a few of these on your shelf. They just aren’t good candidates for long term storage, so don’t stock up on them in large quantities unless you really are going to rotate through them on a regular basis.
What other items could be preserved using a vacuum-sealer machine?