Saturday, August 9, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile ... Bulk Foods

On a hot, hot , day in July ...

Five green and speckled frogs, sat on a speckled log --

(Oops, this isn't a Raffi concert and I haven't sung that song in a very long time.)

But it was July, the very last day of July, and it was very hot, at least 100°. The boys and I hopped gingerly eased ourselves into our very hot minivan and hot the road, headed 15 minutes down the freeway. We were on our way to me the truck from Azure Standard, a co-operative that many frugal and health-minded people across the country belong to.

It had easily been a year or more since I had ordered from Azure, and for the past several years I had a friend who would order too and pick up my orders for me. But she didn't need to order this month, so for the very first time I was going to the drop that replaced the drop that was closer to my own but that shuttered three years ago.

I had actually given up regular ordering because I would occasionally get weevils when I ordered bulk rice from Azure. Now, all bulk grains are going to potentially have eggs or weevils in them; anyone who thinks that they can buy pristine grain (or even flour that didn't have bug parts ground in it) is mistaken, because the eggs are laid inside the seed heads

The problems with the weevils is that I didn't have a way to kill them and prevent any eggs from hatching. The bet way to do that is to freeze your grains, legumes, and flour/cereal products for at least 3 days, preferably in a really cold freezer. In addition to that it is recommended to use the grains and flours quickly.

But now I have a chest freezer and I have a second refrigerator/freezer as well. I usually use the second freezer as a place to flash freeze items, but on that hot July day I took everything out of the chest freezer. I put most of the food into the top freezer of the refrigerator, brought a few things inside the house, and left the grain and flour I had was storing in it out there.

At the drop we picked up 50# of organic hard red wheat berries, 50# of organic hard white wheat berries, 25# of organic popcorn, 25# of organic sucanat, and several boxes of unbleached baking cups. Then we came home and put the grains directly into the chest freezer, where they stayed for the next 72 hours. The sucanat went into a food safe bucket with a gamma seal.

I had (mistakenly) thought that I would be able to put 50# of grain into a 5 gallon bucket, it turns out that a 5 gallon bucket can hold about 37 pounds of wheat berries, so now I had figure out a solution. I didn't want to buy bigger buckets as I can't get them locally and they cost a lot more than the 5 gallon buckets. I did the math and I can buy 25# bags of wheat for 2¢ more per pound, so I will deal with storing these large bags this time and buy smaller bags next time.

On this very same hot day in July my Amazon Subscribe and Save order arrived with a 25# bag of organic brown basmati rice, a case of canned organic pumpkin (for the dogs), and a case of canned organic sweet potatoes (for muffins), chia seed, and Lara Bars

Bulk foods make me smile, not only because they are almost always the least expensive way for me to buy my pantry staples, but also because I feel like we are more secure with food in the house. Something terribly could happen and even if I couldn't go to the store for fresh produce I could still bake bread and cook rice and legumes. Today, if I couldn't shop for a month I could still feed my family well everyday. We would eventually run out of produce, but I think we'd make it through most of the month with what we have; we'd eat the lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados first, then the broccoli, carrots, and cabbage, and then we'd hit the frozen fruit. We'd be perfectly healthy.

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