Friday, February 6, 2015

Rethinking Food Storage

While waiting to go home from the rehab facility, I spent some time looking online at the floor plans of apartments in the building where I put in my application.  I hope to be able to get the least expensive one, which isn't much more than I am paying right now and is within my budget while being comfortable for one or two people.  After some quick calculations, I found that my heavy duty shelves that hold my canned goods just won't fit anywhere.  Drat.

After thinking about alternatives for a while, I have come up with a plan.

I did some extensive reading online about dehydrating.  I already dehydrate a variety of vegetables, but other foods can be dehydrated as well.  And when dry, they are light in weight and smaller in volume, making them easier to store than food in jars.  Food in jars is more convenient, but I have to work with the living space available.

So I have started dehydrating some of my canned goods.  I had 10 large cans of diced tomatoes.  I drained them, saving the juice to drink, and filled the dehydrator trays.  Those ten cans will dry down to about a quart of tomato bits.

I had five trays with mesh liners left over from the tomatoes, so I opened jars of canned sweet corn and dried them.  Corn rehydrates back to its original form - you can't tell the difference between canned or dehydrated.  And ground up in a blender, it makes cornmeal that results in the best cornbread ever.

I read a couple of articles about making your own instant mashed potatoes, so I have an experiment going for that.  I opened two quarts of canned potatoes and dumped them into the blender, liquid and all.  Whizzed them around for a while until the lumps were gone, and then spread them thinly on fruit roll-up sheets.  Three trays are in a dehydrator now, and when finished I will test the theory to see if it works.  I hope so, because I have at least 16 cases of canned potatoes on the shelves.

I've decided that I will continue to can meat.  It is so much cheaper to buy chicken breast and can it than it is to buy the little cans of chicken.  And canned meat doesn't get freezer burn.  Here is a list of the meats I normally can:

chicken breast
meatballs, plain
meatballs in mushroom gravy
ham cubes
pork roast
pork cubes
beef roast
beef cubes
bacon bits
sausage crumbles
I even tried some pepperoni slices for pizza, and it worked just fine.

Anyway, that's the plan.  We'll see how it goes.


  1. I think it's a good plan. Dried food takes much less space, and retains good flavor after hydration, and stores well.

    I'm amazed by your skills, tenacious efforts of sustainability, and lack of selfish pity.

    There should be an award for such things. I'll nominate you, if they ever come up with one.

  2. You young lady need to slow down, after all you just got home from the hospital. Please don't over do it. I as well as your kids worry about you. How long is the waiting list??

  3. Jess...This was the only plan I could come up with that saved the vegetables and fruit I have already canned but squeezed them into a smaller space. I will keep a few of the half-pint jars of vegetables as they are just right for one person and don't take up too much cupboard space.

    As far as the rest of it goes, I don't do anything special. The skills were learned at my mother's knee, as were most skills that have gone by the wayside in recent years. I just happen to enjoy those old-timey things. And I think that most folks of my vintage want to stay as independent as possible, and that means getting busy doing as opposed to waiting for someone to do it for you.

    As far as the selfish pity thing goes, I am reminded of my Dad. He was stubborn and tenacious and fiercely independent. He knew several of his peers who were continually whining about aches and pains or bad luck or whatever the crisis of the day was. He called them the "Poor Pitifuls." Neither he nor I ever wanted to be classed as a Poor Pitiful!! :)

    But thanks, Jess. Those were awfully kind words and I appreciate them and you.

  4. Rob...Not to worry. I'm not moving heavy furniture or scrubbing the ceilings or any other task that is difficult. I'm just filling dehydrator trays - easy peasy.

    Two weeks of inactivity nearly drove me batsh*t crazy, so now I am having fun. I feel really good. No pain. I am doing what I need to do, which includes rest periods and an occasional nap, along with behaving myself about diet, meds, etc. I'm being so good I can't hardly stand it!!!

    There are four people on the waiting list ahead of me. There might be an opening tomorrow or next year - who knows. I will just wait it out and continue with living my life until they call and tell me my apartment is available.

  5. I see said the blind man. Don't make me come over there and..Oh wait i don't know your building address anyway doesn't

  6. Rob...Funny!! Not to worry. I will not do anything that might land me back in the hospital. Two weeks of pokes and prods and constant people was not fun. Not something I wish to repeat!

  7. kudos to you my dear..just be easy on yourself!

  8. Thanks, Mary...Sitting around doing nothing is bad. Movement and exercise is good. I'm careful not to over do it, though. Just really loving being back home. :)

  9. does dehydrated food hold its nutritional value?
    deb h.

  10. deb h.....From what I have read, any food preservation method will result in some loss of nutrition. With dehydrated foods, the way to get the most benefit nutritionally is to cook with the water used to soak the food while rehydrating. In emergency situations even though we may be concerned about nutrition, I think we will be more concerned about just having something to eat. Dehydrating enables me to store a variety of foods in the least possible space.