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Storing rice and beans in 5 gallon buckets *without* mylar

 
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Hi! I've put about a hundred pounds of rice and pinto beans through 48 hours of freezing in the freezer, then thawing 24 hours, then freezing 48 hours, then thaw then freeze - three cycles of 48 hours of freezing.

Then I packed them in five gallon buckets, but without using mylar or dry ice (I just used oxygen absorbers in the bucket).

Are these fine for decades of storage?

I bought some mylar bags (which are expensive!) and am about to do some more buckets, with mylar.

But I want to know if I have to redo my previous buckets. 5 gallon buckets aren't air-tight: oxygen gradually gets absorbed in through the sides.

Are you 80% confident my food is safe, or 80% confident my food will get bugs or defiled by air?

I'm willing to risk 20% but if people think it's *likely* my food will go bad, I'll endure the expense of repacking them.
 
Jamin Grey
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Also, if I'm storing in mylar with sufficient oxygen absorbers, I can skip the freezing, right?
 
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My own experience with long term rice and bean storage is that air and moisture seem to be the worst enemies. I have most of my rice in 5 gal buckets; some are in mylar with oxygen absorbers, others are vacuum sealed (Food Saver). You're right, mylar is expensive! However, I try to reuse the bags often, which helps cut down the recurring costs.

I've had flour beetles in flour and cream of wheat, but that was when it was stored in basic ziploc baggies. I have wondered if freezing would have been a good option, but I had planned to use them immediately. Not for long term emergency backup.

My concern with freezing is that the food must not get any moisture condensing on it at all. Water is the enemy!

But I want to know if I have to redo my previous buckets. 5 gallon buckets aren't air-tight: oxygen gradually gets absorbed in through the sides.

If you're in doubt, try opening up one of the buckets to see how the contents look. If you have any doubts, I'd be wary. If you ever are in a life-or-death survival situation where your food stores are all you have, food poisoning could be lethal. And painful.
 
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I have never had a problem storing white rice for years, I don't do anything other than open the package and pour the rice into 64 oz bottles.

Brown rice will only keep about six month-twelve months before it gets rancid.

Pinto beans will only store about six months before they become hard to cook though they last for years.  If you are okay with eating crunchy beans and maybe pressure cooking the beans they are okay for years.

I use the Food Saver for pinto beans and then put them in the freezer until I get ready to use them. This will extend their life.

I don't use mylar or oxygen absorbers so I can't advise you on those.
 
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Not the same as your situation, but I have a few hundred pounds of pea seeds stored in galvanized garbage cans in my basement because I have a small microgreens business and got a good $/lb. price on the peas. I put them down there about 4 years ago and added some food-grade diatomaceous earth. The basement is a bit damp, but keeps a pretty even temperature. I open the lid about 1x/month to bring a few pounds upstairs when I run low on the seeds in my grow/seeding room.They are still germinating as well as they did when I first got them, and I have never seen even one insect among them. So while I don't have the same goal or set-up as yours, whatever you decide to do, I would recommend adding DE to your stored goods and just rinse it off before cooking, although that really isn't even necessary. The DE will not only thwart insects, but I think it also helps keep things drier.
 
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How long is long?

I think it was Jack Spirko who went into some detail on this. Ideally you are storing bulk food as part of your lifestyle, not a doomsday scenario and so bulk storage goes hand in hand with managing the warehouse so to speak.

If you have 100lb of rice and you actually eat rice then instead of squirreling away 100lbs, you cycle it through your regular consumption so you are always eating the old stock and replenishing it with the fresh stock.

Bear in mind that a lot of dry goods are stored in silos under less than ideal conditions for extended lengths of time...

The DE trick mentioned in an earlier reply is great for keeping bugs out. You need to wash it before using it but ok, so it's not as convenient as our normal modern lifestyle.
 
Jamin Grey
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Nick Kitchener wrote:Ideally you are storing bulk food as part of your lifestyle, not a doomsday scenario and so bulk storage goes hand in hand with managing the warehouse so to speak.

If you have 100lb of rice and you actually eat rice then instead of squirreling away 100lbs, you cycle it through your regular consumption so you are always eating the old stock and replenishing it with the fresh stock.



My family uses a moderately decent amount of rice and beans. I've been routinely cycling some through our pantry for about five years, though have stored and consumed some rice for as long as nine years in vacuum-sealed half gallon mason jars without any degradation in taste.

Most beans we store pressure-canned and ready to eat, but I'd like to store alot more than I have jars to hold them in, and have free supply of 5 gallon buckets and alot of PETE bottles.

My thinking was that in-addition to the usual cycling of vacuum-sealed rice and cooked beans, I'd like to store extra quantities of rice and beans long-term since rice especially stores well long-term.

Thanks for the heads-up about beans getting hard and nearly inedible when old. I wasn't aware of that!

This blog claims they ate 18 year old pinto beans that was sealed in a #10 can, and the beans softened well-enough, though they used some baking soda to ate the soaking process.

I wonder if this is the exception to the rule, or if other methods of storing beans will have equivalent results. Anyone know?
 
Anne Miller
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Jamin Grey wrote:This blog claims they ate 18 year old pinto beans[/url] that was sealed in a #10 can, and the beans softened well-enough, though they used some baking soda to ate the soaking process.

I wonder if this is the exception to the rule, or if other methods of storing beans will have equivalent results. Anyone know?



I am glad to know that since I bought a case of pinto beans from LDSthat were sealed in #10 cans thinking that they would last longer and have not tried them as of yet. Probably the cooking method has a big impact on how they turn out.  Did the blog say if they pressure cooked them or how long they were soaked?  I am betting they used a pressure cooker.
 
Jamin Grey
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Anne Miller wrote:Probably the cooking method has a big impact on how they turn out.  Did the blog say if they pressure cooked them or how long they were soaked?  I am betting they used a pressure cooker.



The blog says they typically soak them overnight, but for the test they only soaked them for four hours using one tsp of baking soda.

To cook them they used five different methods, and all five worked and softened the beans, but pressure cooker softened them the most.

They tried:
Slow cooker ("most the day")
Thermal cooker (5 hours)
Instant pot
Pressure cooker (10 mins)
Dutch Oven on a propane stove

All worked well, but pressure cooker seemed to have worked best: "The greatest success in cooking old dry beans is found by using a pressure cooker.
In my experience, the best texture and flavor when cooking dry beans is achieved by using a pressure cooker and allowing the pressure to release naturally.

Wait to add salt, sugar, and acidic foods (i.e. tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice) until after the beans are tender. They will harden uncooked beans, but add great flavor to tender beans.
"

A different blog shows the extreme difference warmth during storage makes the beans harder: a very visible color difference if they aren't stored someplace cool.

Two five gallon buckets of beans were stored in two different ways: 11 years in a warm garage vs 11 years in a cool crawlspace.

The beans that were stored in a warmer situation were more bitter.
 
Anne Miller
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Jamin, thank you for sharing that is really helpful.

I will now know to add baking soda when I cook them and pressure cook them.  I have always used the slow cooker until the last time I cooked pinto beans I tried the pressure cooker with good results.  I will have to remember not to add salt until they are tender.
 
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Some considerations that haven't been mentioned yet;

  • There are a lot of different variations of 5 gallon buckets - ones without the rubber gasket or ones where the lid and/or that gasket is damaged will not be as effective at keeping moisture/oxygen/bugs out
  • Vacuum sealing creates a lot of waste plastic that mostly gets thrown away after a single use
  • Old rice/legumes can be used for making Koji/Miso - the enzymatic action will likely mitigate most of the hardening from age


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    Annie Collins
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    Em Bracken wrote:Some considerations that haven't been mentioned yet;

  • Vacuum sealing creates a lot of waste plastic that mostly gets thrown away after a single use


  • Indeed, vacuum sealing the way it is typically shown with the plastic, etc., does cause a lot of waste. It's the reason I never got going with it. HOWEVER... BUT ... then I discovered another way to vacuum seal. Ooooh, I was rather excited about it. So much so, that I went straight onto eBay to go find what I needed for the system. I got everything used, of course (love recycling!), and in great shape. Now I can reuse all kinds of glass jars and vacuum seal my dried herbs, spices, beans, rice, you name it! Such a great system! And besides the initial investment of plastics (canisters and machine), the rest is all about recycling glass jars of all sizes and putting them to great use!

     
    Jamin Grey
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    Em Bracken wrote:

  • Vacuum sealing creates a lot of waste plastic that mostly gets thrown away after a single use



  • I should clarify, I was referring to vacuum-sealing half-gallon mason-jars, which works fantastically. Even the metal lids can be reused over and over when vacuum sealing.

    Great reminders, though!
     
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    Jamin Grey wrote:I bought some mylar bags (which are expensive!) and am about to do some more buckets, with mylar. But I want to know if I have to redo my previous buckets. 5 gallon buckets aren't air-tight: oxygen gradually gets absorbed in through the sides.


    Jamin, excellent question. Back in my Y2K prep days, we just used 5-gallon buckets and O2 absorbers. Now, mylar is the rage. So, I recently went through an internal mylar-or-not debate with myself and decided not. It seems all the food prep people have jumped on that bandwagon, and I couldn't figure out if they just wanted to sell mylar bags and sealers, or if it was over-zealous overkill. I even asked a question somewhere here on this forum about reusing mylar bags from purchased items, but I never really got an answer.

    The advantage of mylar bags with 5-gallon buckets seems to be that you can open the bucket, remove one mylar packed bag of food, and the rest of the bags in the bucket remain under their vacuum. That's assuming each mylar bag has it's own O2 absorber. Otherwise, you're looking at using up the entire 5 gallons worth of food before it gets too old, too stale, or moth ridden. (On that note, I know from experience that mylar does not keep moths out!!!)

    For my 5-gallon buckets, I just use O2 absorbers with no mylar. For smaller quantities, I vacuum seal in half-gallon jars or quart canning with a Pump-N-Seal (hand vacuum pump). Simpler is always better in my book!

     
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    Jamin Grey wrote:Hi! I've put about a hundred pounds of rice and pinto beans through 48 hours of freezing in the freezer, then thawing 24 hours, then freezing 48 hours, then thaw then freeze - three cycles of 48 hours of freezing.

    Then I packed them in five gallon buckets, but without using mylar or dry ice (I just used oxygen absorbers in the bucket).

    Are these fine for decades of storage?

    I bought some mylar bags (which are expensive!) and am about to do some more buckets, with mylar.

    But I want to know if I have to redo my previous buckets. 5 gallon buckets aren't air-tight: oxygen gradually gets absorbed in through the sides.


    All numbers in my post as for easy explanation. Not scientific proof!!!
    I've ordered food grade buckets which are claimed to be airtight. Some say the lid of the bucket or the bucket itself always lets air seep in.
    My thoughts on this topic.
    Oxygen absorbers with a descend price tag (I've seen) are sealed together in packs of 10, 25, 50, 100 or 300.
    The larger quantity packs are often lower cc absorbers, so you need more of them. From what I've seen smaller packs work out more expensive.
    Let's assume a 2000cc pack is scientifically proven good to remove all oxygen from my bucket or mylar bag.
    I've found 2000cc packs sealed together in  a 25 piece pack.


    The main enemy is speed/time.
    The moment I open the package of 25 it starts working on the air in my room. So one second after opening the package the capacity is below 2000cc.
    If I have 25 buckets ready quickly put one bag in each bucket and put on the lid it may take me 25 minutes. 1 minute a bucket.
    If I do the same with mylar bags it takes 50 minutes or 2 minutes a bag because the process is slower.
    I don't know how fast the packs wear out but I think after 50 and even 25 minutes their capacity degraded significantly.

    Smaller is more expensive?
    A way around this could be buying small packets which are packed together in a total of 2000cc. For example 50x 40CC.
    Then you open the package when you need it. I think a quick cut with a utility knife would be enough.
    The only disadvantage is that it's more expensive. But if you figure in capacity loss due to processing time the numbers my become more favorable.
    Besides the minimum capacity loss of using my small-packs-idea is that you can do 1 bucket/bag at the time. When buying a 25x 2000cc pack you are forced to have 25 buckets/bags ready.

    Overkill means longer storage in buckets?
    25x 3000cc packs costs only a few bucks more than 25x2000cc.
    The extra 1000cc compensates for capacity loss while closing the buckets/bags.
    Now let's assume that after all is figured in, the pack has 500cc capacity left.
    That's 500cc oxygen which translates to 2500cc air.
    That means the bucket can leak 2500cc air and it will still be oxygen free, because the remaining 500cc in the pack will continue absorbing oxygen.
    I think it will take quite some time to leak 2500cc. Which means the bucket stay oxygen free for a longer time. Which means food stays good for a longer amount of time.

    Your thoughts.....?

     
    Jamin Grey
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    Certainly a good point about oxygen degradation.

    However, I work *far* faster than 1 minute per bucket. I have everything ready to go and get them knocked out fairly rapidly.

    Also, I don't do the whole package at a time. I open the package, take out the number of oxygen absorbers I need, and re-seal the bag with a FoodSaver vacuum sealer. All the ones still in the package barely degrade at all - they're open for less than 30 seconds. Repeatedly doing this would accumulate degradation, but I use probably 1/3rd of the package at a time, so it's not a real issue for me.

    Plus, I freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw all my stuff first, which should kill all the bug eggs, so as long as I keep oxygen *minimal* I don't think I need to eliminate it all - but I'm not sure.

    What's everyone else's thoughts? If I freeze and thaw rice well enough, do I even need oxygen absorbers at all, if just in a food-grade 5-gallon bucket?
     
    Tony Masterson
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    About freezing.
    Would be a good or bad idea to put all my closed bucket outdoors for a week when it's freezing? (to kill off any bugs that somehow got in. Like hatched eggs, and whatever.)
    Or would that cause condensation issues? Perhaps add a moist absorber?
     
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    Tony Masterson wrote:About freezing.
    Would be a good or bad idea to put all my closed bucket outdoors for a week when it's freezing? (to kill off any bugs that somehow got in. Like hatched eggs, and whatever.)
    Or would that cause condensation issues? Perhaps add a moist absorber?



    I would be concerned about condensation from doing that depending on how much air is in your buckets. If you're concerned about insects in your food then using the right amount of oxygen absorbers will prevent any insects from surviving due to lack of oxygen in the bucket. The key is making sure you have enough oxygen absorbers. For 5 gallon buckets with rice 2000cc of oxygen absorbers should be fine. I like using multiple to spread throughout the bucket and I generally use extra just in case. Lots of good info here on how oxygen absorbers https://www.shtfbase.com/2023/01/13/oxygen-absorbers-for-food-storage/.

    As long as your lids are airtight you shouldn't have much to worry about. The thing about buckets is it's difficult to know how airtight your lids are. Some people use petroleum jelly to help make sure the lids are airtight.

    I like using mylar bags which I then place in my buckets so there is not as much concern over the bucket's lid being 100% airtight.
     
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    When I used oxygen in the past, I’d have all my buckets with 5 gal Mylar bags filled with product.  I would partially seal each bag with enough room to stick the oxy absorbers in.  I would have a canning jar with lid ready to put the unused oxy absorbers if say I had a pack of 25 but only used 15-20.  The size of the canning jar would be just enough to store the left over oxy absorbers.  I would then cut the oxy absorber bag open quickly pull out what I won’t use and store the remaining.  Then start putting all the oxy absorbers in the Mylar bags and quickly seal off the small opening in the Mylar bag that I partially sealed before hand.  With my Mylar bag sealer already prepared hot to seal, I begin finishing the final sealing.  Of course leave the tops of buckets open overnight to make sure everything is sealed tight and just finish with putting the cover on the bucket.  
    Have also tried rice directly in food grade buckets and food grade lids without Mylar but as others have mentioned using DE. I layer the DE in as I fill the bucket.
     
    master steward
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    Hi Max,

    Welcome to Permies.
     
    Max Lucas
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    Hi John

    Thank you for the welcome.  Glad to be part of this community where I can learn and better prepare myself.
     
    pollinator
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    Old thread...

    My solution was to buy 1 gal vacuum seal bags off Ebay.

    Vacuum seal all the grain in these food saver bags,   what this means is you don't need oxygen absorbers, and you don't need to freeze the grain, as bugs don't live long with no air.

    Then I put these 1 gal bags into 55 gal barrels which protects against mice, and light.


    My next level for this is to bury the 55 gal barrels into the ground so I don't have to keep the food air conditioned or heated.        This is still in experiment mode but others have done this with great success.
     
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    I've had no problems with a combination of storing white rice, beans, sugar & white flour (in quantities which we can eat in a year) in sealed bags in an unplugged chest freezer. As long as the freezer seals are good it keeps the food safe from rodents & cool, dry & dark. Perhaps I've just been lucky not to have issues with insects. Chest freezers that no longer work can be picked up for free Thanks for the useful discussion!
     
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    Hi Amanda.
    I've been buying ($10.00ea) gutted (refrigerant and compressor removed) upright and chest freezers from a local recycling scraper for a couple of years now, just for airtight cool storage.
    They work well for many things, chest types buried, act like a miniature root cellar, uprights work well for climate controlled storage for paint, epoxy, chemicals and glues in the shop as well as cool storage for my canned goods and smoked meats. Rodent proof air tight and insulated storage on the cheap, repurposing/recycling at the same time. (Refrigerator's work also, but not quite as well)
     
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