One Mans Long Term Storage Experience

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by UncleJoe, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    I found this letter at survivalblog and felt it was worth sharing.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to perform a long term test of goods improperly stored. A friend of mine placed his possessions in storage in a hurry in 1999, left the state, and did not arrange for anyone to
    maintain them. He returned last year, and we recently opened his storage locker and removed the items.
    Items stored in the Midwest, in an outside, sheet metal storage facility with no heat or AC, placed on minimal dunnage and piled in without neat packing or stacking. The interior was dark. Duration was 11 years—1999-2010. The lows near 0 Fahrenheit, highs near 100 Fahrenheit, humidity from 35-100%. The storage facility had a basic sheet metal door and roof with gypsum board walls. Here is how the various items fared:

    •Clothes: a bit musty, undamaged.
    •Books and magazines: Bent unless packed properly. Mostly intact. Pages still glued and turned freely, perfectly readable. Some by the
    door damaged by humidity.

    •Stick matches: Fine after one day of drying.
    •Strike anywhere matches: nonfunctional first day. Fizzled on second day. Fizzled then burned on third day, but would only strike on box. After two weeks, their true "strike-anywhere" function returned.
    •Clear packing tape: Functional.
    •Brown packing tape: some peeling and loss of adhesive, but functional and plenty strong.
    •Fireworks: Functional, but a little weak.
    •VCR tapes: 95% were playable, both factory and home-recorded.
    •Spam Lite: Can still sealed, contents crumbly, but edible. Taste probably normal (I don’t eat this stuff normally). Note: We conducted tests for bacteria and spoilage before attempting to eat.Do not conduct your own experiments without professional assistance. Use at your own risk.)
    •Canned sweet peas: A bit pale, but surprisingly tasty.
    •Vinegar: Stale and tasteless.
    •Cooking wine: moldy.
    •Bottled sauces (Sealed): Edible, not very tasty.
    •Bottled and canned acidic foodstuffs: Eaten through can, evaporated.
    •Aerosol cans: depressurized.
    Bic brand lighters: Functional.
    •Cardboard boxes: Mostly intact, some un-glued or re-glued due to humidity and pressure.
    •Particle board furniture: Failed. Crumbly and bent.
    •Inexpensive couch and mattress: Intact, slightly musty, springs and foam returned to shape after several hours, despite being weighted down for eleven years. Textiles sturdy, color bright.
    Obviously, varying climates and conditions will yield different results, however, minimal protection from the elements seems to be adequate for a great many items. Nutritional value of foodstuffs lacks quite quickly, but protein and calories remain good. Better dunnage and packing, a sealed environment and some careful planning should yield excellent storage of cached supplies.
  2. lanahi

    lanahi Well-Known Member

    Good to know.

    My own experience has confirmed that acid canned foods don't do so well in long term storage, even at more normal room temperatures. When the over 5-year-old cans of acid foods didn't actually get eaten through, the food smelled like the can, though I didn't taste them. Likely they would have still been edible since the cans did not leak or bulge, but I didn't trust it. Rotation is still the best plan for any canned goods. The expiration date is not can still eat them out of date, but you do lose quality and nutrition, and the taste of "can" is not my favorite. A survival situation calls for maximum nutrition in what you do eat. Another example of: "Store what you eat, and eat what you store."

  3. Lowdown3

    Lowdown3 Active Member

    Another reason I stopped buying wet packed (grocery store type) canned goods for long term storage in the mid 90's.....

    When- not if- when you miss a rotation date you usually end up tossing the contents.
  4. HarleyRider

    HarleyRider Comic Relief Member

    Thanks for the info. I will keep this in mind. The best thing for food, though, is to rotate...rotate...rotate.
  5. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    This is really interesting information. Thanks, UncleJoe, for the original post, and thanks, all of you who shared comments.

    I have some store-bought canned tomtatoes that I bought almost 3 years ago. Do you think I could open them and re-can them in jars? I can't possible eat all of them soon. There's about 20 cans left.
  6. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    It's already in a thread somewhere, but I used a can of commercially packed tomato soup that was, I believe, 4 years past the "best buy" date. No problem.
  7. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

    Intersting tidbit about the matches comming back to usefulness! thnx
  8. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    Interesting read. I wish there was some clarification on which sauces he stored.
  9. kyfarmer

    kyfarmer Well-Known Member

    All i want to know is did the texas pete come through ok. I have eaten 5 year old caned goods, store bought and they were fine. Some loss of taste extra salt made it ok. 11 years is a long time in that much of a temp. change. Wonder about a bunker with steady or mostly mild temp,s. Nice post about how things were after so long. Maybe in better conditions things would end up in better shape, ya reckon. Still sounds like most of it was ok. Rotate i think is good advice. :)
  10. lotsoflead

    lotsoflead Well-Known Member

    i found that putting a little bacon grease or olive oil,butter in a fry pan and warming store bought peas,corn, mixed veg,string beans and using a touch of curry powder on them just before taking them off the stove gives them a new taste when they're 6-7 yrs old and even when they're just bought, almost like stir fries.
  11. Vertigo

    Vertigo Member

    Thanks for the reminder UncleJoe, I read that article too, but apparently it didn't stick in my brain for too long... Only explanation is too much inside already I guess :p

    Could you explain to me what 'acid canned foods' are? I haven't seen anything canned in acid as far as I know... Unless this refers to pickles and those small onions. However those usually are (at least over here) in a glass container and I cannot believe a glass jar would break down. Not within a lifetime at least...

    thanks and take care,

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  12. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    Foods that are naturally acidic. Tomato sauce would be one. Certain fruits, such as pineapple, peaches,lemon and lime are also acidic. That's the reason you are able to can them just using the boiling water bath method (BWB) as opposed to pressure canning. When I make applesauce I put a little lemon juice in the pot to raise the acid level a bit so I can use the BWB method.
  13. Vertigo

    Vertigo Member

    Thanks, that explains it well!

  14. airjacobs

    airjacobs New Member

    Bottled sauces (Sealed): Edible, not very tasty.
    Bottled and canned acidic foodstuffs: Eaten through can, evaporated.
    Aerosol cans: depressurized.

    I do all of the above! :)
  15. lanahi

    lanahi Well-Known Member

    "Could you explain to me what 'acid canned foods' are? I haven't seen anything canned in acid as far as I know..."
    Lol, I didn't explain that too well. Should have said acidic foods. The acid foods should be used up sooner than the others and rotated. Taste of can just isn't pleasant, IMO.