If you remember, we decided to take some of our meager savings and buy some extra food for storage. We didn't get everything on our wish list, but we got a lot. We're "rounding out the corners" in terms of our preparedness efforts, and we wanted to lay in extra amounts of things we felt might be going up in price shortly: luxuries such as sugar, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder; but also some extra staples such as black-eyed peas, oatmeal, cornmeal, and rice.
Especially rice. We are huge rice eaters and rice is something we can't grow ourselves (unlike wheat). If I had my way (meaning, if we had the money) I would have literally a ton of rice stored away, though we have nowhere near that amount. White rice stores very well if properly prepared.
Which begs the question - how do you properly store rice? Here's what we did.
It all started a couple months ago when we got two food-grade barrels. We wanted these larger containers for - ta da - rice storage.
Once we had the barrels, we needed barrel liners, which are essential giganto-sized plastic bags. These types of barrels are used to transport such things as olives or anchovies or other (ahem) stinky things. The smell within the empty clean barrels can still be pretty strong. Thick food-grade plastic liners are available online, though we ordered them from a local source.
The next thing we needed was diatomaceous earth. There are two basic types of this material: food-grade (used for insect control in grain storage) and non food-grade (I think it's used to help keep swimming pools clean or something - not sure). It goes without saying we purchased food-grade diatomaceous earth. The non food-grade can poison you.
Diatomaceous earth works for insect control by scratching and damaging the waxy outer coating of the insects' exoskeleton. This means the insects are no longer water-proof, so to speak, and they will dehydrate and die.
If you do an online search for food-grade D.E., you'll doubtless find many sources. We bought fifty pounds for fifty bucks (that included shipping) and practically have enough D.E. to power the neighborhood.
One pound of D.E. will coat 300 lbs. of grain. Rice comes in 50-lb bags. This meant we needed 2.66 ounces of D.E. per bag of rice. Here Don is weighing the D.E.:
To mix the D.E. with the rice, we cleaned out one of our sturdy plastic 25-gal. farm buckets.
We poured the rice and D.E. in simultaneously. This proved to be such a dusty procedure that thereafter we moved this outside and wore a dust mask.
Then, with clean hands, I dug in and mixed. (This was where the dusk mask became necessary.)
Afterward we lined a barrel with a bag...
...and poured the rice, bag by treated bag, into the barrel (sorry, no photos). A barrel this size, we learned, holds about 375 lbs. of rice.
Next step: remove the oxygen. I purchased oxygen absorbers at the Mormon cannery, 100 for $0.10 each.
We placed about 15 of these oxygen absorbers on top the rice and then folded the plastic liner to squeeze the excess air out and seal the bag. Then we taped the liner shut with duct tape and put on the barrel top. The oxygen absorbers will absorb the remaining oxygen from the bag, leaving the rice in an anaerobic environment unsuitable to any insects or other life.
The rice is now protected against moisture, rodents, insects, and just about anything else that can be thrown at it. Stored in this way, rice will stay good to eat for many years.
Dried foods can also be stored in plastic food-grade buckets with gasketed lids (I get mine at grocery store bakeries). Line with Mylar bags, toss in some oxygen absorbers, seal the bags, put on the lids, and again you have food that will last for years.