Preparedness Skills – Sauce Up Your Food Storage
Sauces, mustard, and mayo might be the most important part of my food storage. OK, well maybe not the most important, but for my family it’s right up there. My husband cannot survive without some kind of sauce on his food! So one of the ways we add variety and “sauce up” our food storage and pantry is by making sure we have plenty on hand. I know having these sauces will keep my husband from complaining about having a food storage meal. Learning to make them from scratch will also allow you to save money and have food storage variety.
The first thing we always do is keep any eye on the sales and stock up on our favorite sauces, mayonnaise, and mustard. Kraft Thousand Island Dressing is one of my husband’s staples and I just picked some up for .99 cents a bottle. Any time you purchase pre-packaged sauces you need to make a plan to rotate them, keeping in mind the expiration date. If you find that you have some expired sauces in the cupboard, check out their shelf life at StillTasty.com. If they have been stored properly, you can probably still use them.
From StillTasty.com – Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention?
The dates on food labels can be confusing. The truth is, they often have nothing to do with food safety. Here’s what you really need to know.
You’ve assembled everything you need for the perfect deli sandwich: Genoa salami, prosciutto, some thinly sliced provolone and a crusty baguette. To top it all off, you reach into the fridge for your favorite spicy mustard.
And then you notice it. The “Best By” date on the mustard bottle was 4 months ago!
You might think you’ve got to ditch the mustard and settle for a ho-hum sandwich. But that’s not the case. Here’s what you need to know about food expiration dates:
- Use-By, Best if Used By, Best By, Best Before: These “use-by” and “best” dates are generally found on shelf-stable products such as Homemade Mustard, mayonnaise, and peanut butter.
The date, which is provided voluntarily by the manufacturer, tells you how long the product is likely to remain at its absolute best quality when unopened. But, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service points out, it is not a safety date.
After the “use by” or “best” date has passed, you may start to notice gradual changes in the unopened product’s texture, color, or flavor. But as long as you’ve been storing the unopened item properly, you can generally consume it beyond this date.
Your best bet for gauging whether an unopened shelf-stable product with this type of date is still of satisfactory quality is to simply smell and examine it first. Always discard foods that have developed an off odor, flavor or appearance. You can also consult the Keep It or Toss It database for optimal food storage times, for both unopened and opened items.
- Sell-By: Most sell-by dates are found on perishables like meat, seafood, poultry and milk. The date is a guide for stores to know how long they can display a particular product.
You should buy the product before the sell-by date expires. But you can still store it at home for some time beyond that date, as long as you follow safe storage procedures (check the Keep It or Toss It database for specific foods).
For instance, milk that has been continuously refrigerated will usually remain drinkable for about one week after the “sell by” date on the package. Likewise, you can store ground beef in your refrigerator for 1 to 2 days after purchasing it, even if the sell-by date expires during that time.
- Expires On: The only place you’re likely to encounter this type of date is on infant formula and some baby foods, which are the only food products the federal government regulates with regard to dating. You should always use the product before this date has passed.
- Packing codes: These codes, which appear as a series of letters and/or numbers on the package, sometimes indicate the date or time of manufacture. Often, though, they simply appear as a meaningless jumble.Either way, packing codes help manufacturers and grocers rotate their stock and quickly locate products in the event of a recall. But they are not meant to be interpreted as an indicator of either food safety or quality. For more information on product dating, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Web site.
Mayonnaise – I have always wanted to try my hand at making mayonnaise and I hear that once you have tasted fresh mayonnaise you will not want the bottled stuff again. This tutorial from CulinaryArts.about.com gives you the rundown on how to do it. Using just four egg yolks and some oil you can make a whole quart of the stuff! I’m going to try it later today.
Mustard – Another sauce we really like to have on hand is mustard. There are so many flavors of mustard in the grocery store now, you can get it sweet, spicy or somewhere in between. I have always wanted to create my own. WikiHow.com has a page on How to Make Mustard from Scratch. This is a skill I want to learn.
Salad Dressing – We do try to eat naturally at our home and the commercially prepared sauces always have unpronounceable (and questionable?) ingredients. And ultimately this is the reason we make our own – I love having control over what my family eats. Here are 31 cheap, easy salad dressing recipes from www.mrfood.com. I hope you try one today.
Ketchup – Wellnessmama.com has a recipe for homemade ketchup that we like. It does take a little extra to time and effort to prepare but is worth it in the long run. If you are trying to cut down on high fructose corn syrup, this is a great place to start.
Spices – Look for stores in your area and purchase your spices in bulk, then use canning jars with oxygen absorbers to store them in your long-term food storage. You will be glad you did. I keep a list of “best” prices from all the stores that have bulk bins and buy when they are on sale. We also purchase some items yearly from The San Francisco Herb Company and/or Mountain Rose Herbs . They both sell individual herbs as well as spice blends. I have used these recipes to create my own spice blends for less.
Go out today and create your own saucy masterpiece and let us know on our Facebook Page how it went. We would love to hear from you!