Long term storage in basement (may be dumb question)

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by suzyq, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. suzyq

    suzyq Member

    18
    0
    We live in an old house with a fieldstone foundation. The basement is part dirt flour and some broken up sections of cement (don't know why). Perhaps twice a year we get some water in it; but we now know where it's coming from and hopefully can stop it from happening. Other than those times, I would not consider it damp.

    We were thinking of building a very large cupboard down there (off the ground on cement blocks or something) to store some food. We have even thought of using non-working freezers down there for storage. I really hope there's a way to make it work. It's nice and cool and dark without a huge change in temperature. As long as we can stop the water from coming in those couple of times, can the basement be used for long-term food storage?

    We're trying to figure out where to store everything. This old house has very little storage space.

    Thanks.
     
  2. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    8,000
    10
    Are the basement walls suitable for shelving to be attached directly or would you need to have floor-standing shelves? If you can, whatever shelving you use, make sure that they are fairly heavy-duty in nature (nothing thinner than 16G steel) so that they do not buckle under the weight of the product / produce that you plan to put on them.

    If you want to use the basement as a cellar for root-vegies, there are plans here on PS (and all over the 'net) for making proper boxes that you can fill with sand in order to keep potatoes, carrots, etc all fresh with very little work.

    Moisture in the air will not harm home-canning jars but it can attack metal containers (commercial canned product). If you can keep the humidity level low (like with a passive dehumidifier) then metal cans will be less likely to rust.

    Any dry-goods should be stored in plastic-pails with a good sealing lid (a lid like a gamma-seal lid is a great choice)
     

  3. JayJay

    JayJay Well-Known Member

    3,104
    98
    Sounds great---and I am not an expert on dampness..but when you start shelfing??? concrete blocks and 2 X 10's or 2 X 12's depending on your space are great inexpensive shelfs..you can even use shelf paper to make the wood smooth and pretty!!;)

    I wish I had your basement.:2thumb:
     
  4. suzyq

    suzyq Member

    18
    0
    Thank you. I will be sure to make them sturdy enough to hold the weight. I had planned on using 5 gallon buckets with gamma seals for dry goods and was hoping they would be OK down there. I'm waiting to see if I can get free pails from the local grocery store bakery. Two sons work at the store so I'm having one of them ask the bakery manager. We would be building free-standing shelves. The furnace has it's own "room" down there.

    Now to clean out that basement. There's so much junk down there that was there when we moved in 18 years ago, including an old oil tank and a couple of metal 55 gallon drums.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. JayJay

    JayJay Well-Known Member

    3,104
    98
    You're welcome...I couldn't find anyone to give me buckets either and bought at Lowe's for $3.54 each..my husband was looking at a second truck 20 miles away and we went into an IGA---I asked and she sold me 2 and 5 gallon with seal tight lids for $1 each:2thumb:--the little ones are great for heavy food like sugar...

    Good luck with your stocking...I just emptied 4 buckets of water(20 gallons) and put it in 45 gallon trash cans with rollers and filled it little by little...I have a back I am careful with..:gaah:

    I now have 4 buckets to fill with whatever!!:2thumb:
     
  6. suzyq

    suzyq Member

    18
    0
    I will head to Lowe's if I can't get any from the supermarket. One son is getting transferred to another store next week, so I can always have him ask there too.

    It's the super busy season for my husband, so all food storage for now will just pile up wherever we can fit it. Once things slow down in the spring (he delivers home heating oil in addition to being a pastor), we'll work on setting up the basement. Looks like most of this year's vacation time will be spent prepping! Hopefully we can fit in a few days of camping.
     
  7. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

    3,848
    7
    I woudn't use the old freezers as food storage. There gonna get musty smellin an less then plesant. Good shelves an a good dehumidifier, steady cool temps an keep it dark, ya got a great food storage site. The keep it dark part can be done with black plastic er heavy dark fabric surrondin the shelves.
     
  8. iouJC

    iouJC MAGIC Bullet

    54
    0
    Only thing I would be concerned about with plastic buckets is rats or other vermin.....they got some sharp teeth and with it being an earthen floor and sides, they might make an appearance. I think I would get metal barrels or tin trash cans and go from there.
    I don't have that problem anymore because I have 21 cats!!!!
     
  9. dawnwinds58

    dawnwinds58 The Kentucky Lairkeeper

    105
    0
    Don't get rid of the old barrells or oil tank. See if you can get someone to split them legnthwise and get them cleaned out. This providing they did not store serious chemicals leaving either residue, or anything that soaked into them.

    In half, they become root storage containers. You can use damp sawdust or moss, or sand but I do hate sand on vegetables of any sort. It is hugely difficult to get back off.

    Since root crop storage needs higher humidity, 90% or so and temps barely above freezing, the damper area of the basement could become the "root area" and the packing around the roots will natually pick up and absorb some of the moisture in the basement.

    Might be an idea to consider since you are working with an area prone to dampness. Just use that trait as an asset rather than a problem.
     
  10. SaskDame

    SaskDame Well-Known Member

    88
    0
    My basement of a similar age and construction, has a porous rock and cement floor. The original is partitioned in half, with one half a cedar lined root cellar, and the other half, with the entrances for dry storage. The wall in the middle gives something to anchor shelving against and the dry part is easier to keep dry.

    The dry and warmer half also doubles as a storm cellar.
     
  11. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

    300
    0
    Store in water proof and rust proof containers and you should be fine. Metal cans should get a light coat of oil and be checked periodically but plastic packages like MREs will be just fine down there if you keep rodents out of them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  12. suzyq

    suzyq Member

    18
    0
    Thank you so much for all your advice!

    My son asked at the grocery store bakery and I can have their buckets. They don't get too many 5 gallons ones, maybe a couple each week. But that's OK, I'll take them and the smaller ones they have more of. That son also just got transferred to another store today, so I'll be having him ask there about buckets also. Although we don't have a rodent problem now, I will try to come up with a way to rodent-proof anything stored down there. We do have one cat, but she stays up here with us.

    As for the barrels and old oil tank, I am assuming that the old tank had oil in it at one time; but I don't know that for sure. The people who lived here before just left a lot of their "junk" down there and in the woods behind the house. I think there are even two old furnaces laying around down there - lots of cleanup to be done!

    We do have walls dividing the basement into rooms, although one is partly broken down. The house is 100 years old or maybe even a little older.

    Again, thank you so much. I have spent the better part of the last few days reading this site. A lot of the info is a jumble in my mind right now, but I'm working on sorting it out.
     
  13. dawnwinds58

    dawnwinds58 The Kentucky Lairkeeper

    105
    0
    Suzyq,

    Copy to a Word document if you have it, as it will take pictures as well. If not, even Notepad can save the information you want. Then you pick through it at a later date making note of the parts you want to save or print.

    If save, you might want to make back ups on disc or flash drive in case of computer loss, if printed, use the smaller fonts to save ink, and use two-sided printing to save paper. Use one of the cheap expandable document containers to organise your information.

    Then, you can work through all the information and save only what applies to your situation and needs.
     
  14. mtnmom

    mtnmom Active Member

    27
    0
    I'm with JayJay - I wish I had your basement! We had a really great basement / root cellar at one place we lived at and it was amazing! Apples and potatoes kept for months in there.

    One problem was mice though. So you don't want to keep anything in cardboard or cheap plastic. I kept all my canned foods there and it was perfect for that. But not foods stored in cardboard boxes as the dampness would ruin it.

    Have fun with it!
     
  15. lotsoflead

    lotsoflead Well-Known Member

    837
    7
    you don't have to worry about rats or anything chewing plastic buckets, 99.9% of all prepps stored are in plastic buckets with mylar and Oxey absorbers. there has to be a reason for vermon to chew on things, like the smell of food ect.
     
  16. lotsoflead

    lotsoflead Well-Known Member

    837
    7
    once you have the water problem taken care of, a cheap way of moisture proofing the floor in lay down black plastic and then a thin layer of sand over it.
     
  17. suzyq

    suzyq Member

    18
    0
    Thank you. While we don't seem to have a problem with rodents right now, I've wondered if I'll start attracting them with storing food. I do plan to use buckets and Mylar bags (just picked up my first 2 yesterday at the supermarket). The neighbors across the road have a barn with horses, so they are probably more attractive to the rodents that we are, at least for now.
     
  18. lotsoflead

    lotsoflead Well-Known Member

    837
    7
    the only dumb question are the ones not being asked
     
  19. CulexPipiens

    CulexPipiens Still waiting for the zombies.

    1,596
    8
    I'd have to disagree. We had a mouse issue in our garage at one point. They were chewing up/into almost everything. Definitely did some plastic chewing (on more than one occasion) to enlarge a space so they could get in there... no food or anything, just a nice place to hide. House hasn't been an issue with our cats taking care of any furry intruders.

    We're at the point of having to go to a bucket option as I need to use either the garage or a 4' crawl space basement for new stuff and I'm really on the fence about plastic or metal. Obviously the 5 gallon buckets would be the plastic option. For metal, I'm thinking of 55 Gallon Steel Drum, Metal Drums in Stock - ULINE and specifically the 30 gallon open top one.

    Anyone else have any experience or other recommendations on steel drum options?
     
  20. lotsoflead

    lotsoflead Well-Known Member

    837
    7
    speaking for my self, I have over 300 five gal plastic pails of different dry foods stored and I know many deer mice come to where they are stored in the winter and have not yet had any one of them chewed on.