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I have become convinced that people who do not live in hot, humid zones do not have an appreciation for the storage challenges of those of us who do! There are also storage issues for those of us who grow and store (often in the freezer) our harvests.
I remember when I was growing up in New Jersey, we kept everything on the counter: bread, butter, cookies, fruit. Flour could live happily in a cabinet.
None of this is so in Florida where whole wheat flour can turn rancid in less than a month if not kept in the freezer or refrigerator; bread left on the counter more than 24 hours can easily mold. Even high sugar content foods break down pretty quickly. And let's not even talk about the various critters that can slip through a crack and and chomp down on food left out, even right through a paper or (dare I say it) a plastic bag!
We live in a rural area just outside a small city in Florida. We do not eat out much; we like to store our garden harvests; and we also like to make food ahead and keep it in the freezer so meal times are easier after a long day of working.
Okay, so you get the point. I would love to see an ongoing forum topic of nonplastic food storage solutions for those of us who harvest and store our own food and for those of us who live in less than hospitable climates for storing food. I would love to hear from people in similar areas. How do you store food?
I was talking to a friend of mine about the prospects of buying a 60 lb bag of rice (basically food for the year, dirt cheap), and how to store it without electricity. He suggested something that might work for hot/humid areas, but I don't know.
He suggested that I partition it off into [amount I could consume before it went bad] and put it in [container that seals, dependent on amount] with a chunk of dry ice and the lid barely on. Once the container reaches room temperature, you know the dry ice has melted and carbon dioxide has displaced all the lighter oxygen and nitrogen in the container, so tap the lid shut to seal it. If the container is opaque, no light can get in to encourage photosynthesis (possible with the CO2), without oxygen no aerobic bacteria can grow, and anaerobic bacteria shouldn't have been there in the first place, since the environment started off with all the wrong conditions.
But my area is only hot and humid for three months of the year, and I don't know how moisture would affect that method. I am curious about other food preservation methods – does salted meat keep in hot/humid climes? Sounds like you need silicon sealed metal containers – if a critter can get through that, they deserve a snack! I also use big ceramic canisters with silicon seals for just about everything I don't yet have mason jars for. But again, you'd need to set up the right conditions *before* placing them inside the containers, and each time you open them to avoid the pitfalls of living in such a perfect bacteria environment.
I'm not jealous of your spoilage issue, but I am jealous of the prospects of fresh, local oranges :)
Since I live in Oakland, I don't have these problems. But I have scheduled a tweet to go out on Twitter at 9am asking the question. Hoping you'll get some other responses.
One container that I do like are Life Without Plastic's airtight stainless steel containers that come with a silicone ring:
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