Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stock Up Saturday~Flour and Food Storage

Well hello!  I'm trying to slowly learn more and build up our emergency storage, this blog is helping to keep me accountable ;)  This week, I had an adventure buying rye flour.  I have a few pounds of whole wheat and all purpose flour for baking, but I had a serious hankering to try a Polish soup that I loved from my time across the pond.  The soup is called Zurek and has a sour starter using rye flour and water that sits on your counter for a few days.  I'll post one of these Tasty Tuesdays to let you know how it works out! 

In truth, all I needed was a couple of cups of rye flour for this recipe.  I know it's not the most common ingredient and read that it could be found in Euro markets.  I went to my local Kiev market, loaded up on my favorite Polish sweet treats, and asked the cashier about rye flour because I didn't see it on the shelf.  It turns out they had 20 KG (44 LB) bags, and that was all.  I had to do some serious thinking about it...what would I do with 44 lbs of rye flour!?  I've never cooked with it before... But I justified that I didn't want to keep shopping around...buying in bulk is usually cheaper...I could use this opportunity to support a small local business...a friend just gave me her bread machine....and heck, I can use it for food storage!!!  So off I went with a giant bag of flour, not really having a concrete plan on what to do with it.

I knew first of all, the important thing was to freeze the heck out of that flour!  I learned the hard way in college about bugs in gross!  My mom might have mentioned before that and I just didn't listen, but she has since reminded me to freeze all flour for at least a couple days.  It will kill any bugs and larva chilling inside the flour.  Since we were consistently having 5 degree weather, I just left it out in the car for a couple of days, dreading having to bring it inside the house and sort out storage details. 

Here is a little info I've gleaned and understand about flour, that might help when you are looking into buying in bulk, and working on your food storage:

*Fresher is better.  If you can buy the grain yourself (i.e. wheat berries), and have a grinder, it will last longer.  Grains, like spices, tend to do better whole.  We haven't yet moved to that phase and don't have a grinder.  We do have some whole wheat berries but I've also used them in various recipes so they would still do us good in an emergency if we needed them. 

*Less nutritional lasts longer.  Sad to say it, but this is why you see so much all-purpose flour and white rice sold by food storage companies.  In grains like wheat and rye, the grain germ has fat in it which can go rancid.  I've mentioned it before-I recommend a good mix of short and long term storage.  Since rye has lower gluten levels than wheat, it is usually accompanied by all-purpose flour in baking, and the same goes for whole wheat flour.  Have a mix! 

*Storage options---Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers stored in food-grade plastic tubs is a great way to go.  Again, running a smaller operation here, we opted into something a little less intense, and more short-term.  I went to the Dollar Tree and got some plastic containers (like you would get for leftovers) and filled them up, then stashed them in the freezer (luckily we have a large upright freezer).

I decided to keep the rye flour in the freezer since freezing flour (and refrigerating, to a lesser degree) will make it last longer-it protects it from going rancid.  It's important to store it in an airtight container (the original bag wasn't a good option) so it doesn't absorb moisture or flavor from everything else around it.  It is important to note though, that when you go to cook with it you need to make sure you allow the flour a few hours to warm up to room temperature.

Let me know if you have any additional tips/tricks for storing flour (or cooking with rye!)  I look forward to experimenting with my 44 whopping pounds of goodness!

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