Saturday, June 23, 2018
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Dealing with the heat in the garage
It has been so hot and humid here that even with air conditioning, the air feels "soupy". My original plan was to re-do my "now bleached" shelves that are in the garage where I keep my overflow items from the kitchen (although there are not a lot of items to put there right now). It is just too humid.
I don't worry about food freezing in winter because the shelves I use are up against the wall to the house. It stays pretty much above freezing on those shelves.
We live far enough north that we normally only have a short period of time of very hot weather. However, this has been a record breaking hot spring so far and summer looks like it will continue with the heat. So only those items that 1) are not affected by heat, and/or 2) get used quickly are on the shelves.
There are a few food items I never put in the garage. For instance, chocolate of any kind stays indoors. I have large jars that hold such items as beans, rice, and... chocolate chips... on the red shelves in the kitchen.
Mary Berry often says that chocolate "melts at the temperature of a child's pockets" and if one thinks about it, that is not too hot. So any kind of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips, etc. stay inside.
Once the worst heat of summer has passed, then it is safer to once again stock the overflow shelves. It is useful that it corresponds in most places with the times of harvest and when some canned vegetables go on sale (selling last year's items to make room for the latest harvest). Not to mention those people I admire who can their own produce, meat, etc.
I've never had a problem with whole grains, beans, lentils, converted rice, etc. going through the heat of an average summer. However, most flours do not hold up well to heat (and I always place bags in the freezer for a week or two when I bring them home). Brown rice goes rancid quickly in heat. Most food type oils need to be kept from too much heat while being stored for any length of time.
I haven't had a problem with pasta kept in the garage through an average summer. I store extra boxes of pasta in their original boxes and keep them all in a Rubbermaid style container. (I should mention that these containers were purchased over a period of about twenty years!)
I have another set of shelves in the garage that hold nonfood items, paper items, small appliances, etc. That has been a huge help dealing with a rather small kitchen. I already had the paper items in a Rubbermaid style container (thank God!) but the mice did a number on the cords of the small appliances. I had to get rid of a couple and I have my blender and my Crockpot out to clean and carefully check the cords soon.
That is why I finally gave in and bought mouse traps that are sticky. They had been recommended by the employee of that department at Menard's awhile ago but I couldn't stand the thought of the mice getting caught that way. So I tried other ways that did not work once there were so many.
After seeing all the damage they did, I had to get more serious about making sure it does not happen again. Prevention will help. Everything that would attract them is protected as much as possible. I was told mice can eventually chew through even Rubbermaid but it takes them a very long time.
I believe it as I have a large Rubbermaid container that was kept in a barn at one time and part of the lid was chewed away, although I'm pretty sure that was not done by a field mouse.
So these days when I find a good stock up sale, sometimes the items will stay in the Study until the intense heat of summer is over. I still believe our pantry should be as deep as we can afford and that we have room for... and that we have time and effort to keep organized. My pantry is a fraction of what it once was since we are on a fixed income but it is easy for me to keep organized.
I was just re-reading a recommendation this morning by the late David Wilkerson (ie: The Cross and the Switchblade book and movie). He had recommended to his congregation and to those who received his newsletter that they should have a 30 day supply of food stocked at all times.
He understood that we never know what will happen in this world that could stop the transit of food and other necessary items. Not to mention a job loss, illness, or various other ways we cannot spend our money on necessities that are available.
He certainly could hear from God. Just prior to 9/11, he felt the leading of God to have his Times Square Church prepare to feed people. After the terrorist attack, they had everything ready and fed numerous first responders immediately and for quite some time.
Summer tends to pass quickly, even for those of us who do not care for hot weather, so I will be working on getting the overflow shelves ready for cooler weather. Not to mention those items that can be stored on those shelves now. Protected from tiny intruders, of course.