I'm Zoe, new to permies.com
Me and my boyfriend have been living off grid for two years now, in a forest, in a yurt, in south of France.
This year's garden is much bigger and we are starting to wonder how are we going to store all our dry goods away from mices and mold.
I am mostly thinking about our beans, broadbeans, corn, lentils, quinoa, sunflower seeds...
That's why I started looking into the forum : so far I've found people talking about oxygen free bags and freezer storage.
We don't have the energetic capacity to use a freezer, and we don't want too just as we would really like to avoid buying plastic bags to store our food in.
I was wondering if any of you have had experienced hanging bags (like jute bags) ? or metal boxes ? or anything really .
Glass jars upcycled may be your best and cheapest bet. Buy the oxygen and moisture suckers to put in the jars. I also cut a piece of waxed paper or parchment to cover the top. It gives the lid a better seal. Stay away from plastic lids, the wee beasties can and will chew through them. After I wash the jars I rinse with a mild bleach water (I tablespoon bleach in 1 gallon of water) to make very sure the jar is bacteria free. Once they are very dry you can store your dry goods in them. Canning jars work too but I get a thrill when I get to upcyle something. I'm big on back-up plans. If one of the jars becomes compromised you haven't lost your whole supply. The metal tops can rust, another reason for the paper. Keeping the moisture in the room very low helps avoid rust. Good luck.
Given your list, canning jars might be the best bet. If you are planning on using the goods in the next 6 months, you can probably get by without the O2 absorbers. Just make sure the jars and contents are dry.
We have repurposed buckets with tight lids for storage of dry goods in our damp basement with mice. We got them from the local ice cream seller so they are food grade. We use the same buckets in our barn and have had rats chew through the lid of our fermenting chickenfeed, but no rodent infiltration within the house. We haven't had any trouble, but we make sure everything is very dry when we put it by. Adding something to absorb moisture is also a good idea, like a small spice/muslin/jute bag filled with rice.
Wishing you a bountiful harvest!
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posted 2 months ago
Thanks to you all for your answers, we are going to try them strarting with broad beans today! I like the buckets of Julie.
We use metal garbage cans that come with a tight fitting lid. Where we live they come in a couple of different sizes. I use the large ones for storing the couple hundred pounds of dry peas and sunflower seeds in the basement which is humid, and the smaller ones I keep upstairs in our main living area for seeds/beans that I use regularly. I found a nice thick cotton "bag" that I put the garbage can in so it doesn't look so "garbage canny" in our living area. I also use a large garbage can to store the dogs' dry food. I rarely feed them that since I feed them raw, and the metal garbage cans are doing a great job of keeping the dog kibble fresh. The peas and sunflower seeds in the basement have been the same seed supply from over 3 years ago already, and the peas still germinate beautifully. (I haven't tried the sunflower seeds for germination since I use those particular seeds for birds.)
I've had great luck storing rice, sugar, and salt in half-gallon mason jars and using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer's mason jar attachment to suck all the air out.
My store-bought rice has lasted 8 years without *any* deterioration in quality, before I got around to eating it.
Freeze the rice for at least 24 hours first to kill any bugs (all store-bought rice is infested with rice weevil eggs). Then wait at least several hours at room temperature before unbagging the rice (or moisture gets on then due to condensation).
For beans, the reason I don't vacuum seal dry beans, is because it's much nicer to have already cooked food canned up. I have quart jars of canned pinto beans, black beans, red beans, split pea soup, and chili. This to me is the ideal way to store them, and super easy to do. I forget whether they need to be waterbath-canned or pressure-canned, but you can look that up.
I've never stored corn, but if I did, I'd do the same: I like precooked canned corn from the store, so I'd consider canning your corn cooked (by which I mean, the canning process cooks it).
I strongly encourage learning how to can food. While it may seem dangerous and time consuming at first, it's super easy and convenient to can a seven or eight jars here or there in the mornings or evenings without alot of fuss.
Once you get used to pressure canning, it's like 15 mins work, then just listen for the timer for 30 mins to adjust temperature, and set a timer again for when to turn it off. It's like doing laundry: put in wash, go do other stuff, put in dryer for longer, go do other stuff, then come back.
There are some risks/dangers involved, but mostly just from people leaving their house and forgetting they had their stove burning turned on. If you're in the house, you can audibly (and loudly) hear if it's going bad and easily turn it off with plenty of advance warning. You could even just set the timers on your phone instead of the stove, incase you go outside and out of timer range.
I know you don't have the electrical capacity for running a fridge or freezer, but you might keep an eye out for broken ones. They should be free, and the structure itself will keep pests out. Then you don't have to be so careful about the actual item-specific containers.
I know that people have dug root cellars for vegetables and used broken fridge/freezers to keep pests out, and that there's a complicated venting system for that. I don't know what condensation issues would arise at room temperatures with foods that are not trying to rot in there!