Over the years I have tried several different methods of dry food storage with varying degrees of success and cost. I’ve tried buckets, Ziploc bags, and canning jars. What I finally stumbled upon almost by accident was 2 and 3 liter soda bottles.
I like sodas but hate to throw the bottles away! I had been making whirly-gigs out of them for the garden to keep the birds away but there are only so many whirly-gigs a garden needs and I had extra bottles and wanted to do something with them.
Looking at the bottles, I realized that they are durable, light weight, water tight, and once the soda is gone, free. What more could you ask?
I had saved up about a dozen of the 2 ltr. bottles and had a few 3 ltr. ones as well. they have wider openings and are good for large beans like limas, or for flour or meal.
To begin, I wanted a sterile container so I mixed about a tbs. bleach in a quart of water and rinsed and swished each bottle then rinsed with clean water and turned upside down in the dish drainer.
Another way to dry thoroughly is sit them in the warm sun without their lids, or, if you have one of those big Excalibur food dehydrators like I do, take out the shelves and lay some bottles inside. Remember to remove the lids. You can dry them in there on low heat usually in a few hours or just let run overnight. The point is, you want your bottles bone dry.
Next, get your space ready. you’ll need your bottles of course, as well as a funnel or another bottle cut in half to use as a funnel, clean work space, marker and dry food for storage.
I like to pre-treat my beans, rice, grains, meal, flour etc. with a couple weeks in the deep freezer, take out and allow to come to room temp and then put back in for a week or two. This really helps kill off any mealy bug eggs that might be lurking in your food. You’ll want to take your beans and flour treated in this way out of the freezer and allow to come to room temperature. Just sit on the counter overnight.
(You can also just put the filled tightly capped bottles in the freezer too.)
Now, all you have to do is, using your funnel or cut off bottle, fill your bottles with the rice, or beans or whatever you have, cap, use your marker to date and tell what’s inside and you’re done!
I have to say that this is one of the best storage containers I’ve come across yet.
Your food is safe, easy to move or store, won’t pop open, and is practically unbreakable.
You can also fold and insert oxygen absorbers if you like or desiccant packs for added protection and longer storage. Of course with things like sugar or salt, only the desiccant pack would be useful.
These are also excellent to store things like dried bean soup mix in for camping or for putting in your bug out bag (BOB). Being light weight and extremely durable, they are good to have in the BOB and once empty can serve other purposes like storing water.
You can also use 20 ounce bottles for smaller amounts of food that you want to store, or you can store seeds in them provided of course attention is paid to thorough drying.
I also leave the original labels on for the most part as I feel they offer some measure of added protection and aid in keeping out the light.
If you make your own dried soup mixes, or dried vegetables you can store them in the smaller bottles to take camping or in the event of a bug out situation. Dehydrated re-fried bean mix is delicious and easy to store in bottles like this, as well as ready to cook rice dishes.
Also, if you are able to get coke lugs, the heavy plastic bottle trays that the supplier uses, you can use those to put your bottles back in and stack them that way as well.
My husband was able to get a few of them from the coke man where he works and they are ideal for holding the bottles and stacking them. Otherwise, you can use cardboard boxes or just put your bottles in the cabinet if they are used often.
So, to recap. The pros of using these bottles.
1. they are cheap/free and easy to come by
2. they are durable, designed to withstand 200 lbs. of pressure, definitely tough
3. they hold foods in manageable amounts
4. water tight.
5. they are reusable
6. you can see the contents without opening to check for any problems before opening
(important if you worry about mealy bugs and the like)
7. fit easily into the BOB!
The 2 ltr bottles have a rather small mouth and so you are limited to what you can store in them, however, the 3 ltr bottles have a wider mouth and you can often use those for larger things like pasta or the big lima beans.
Other than that, I can’t really think of anymore cons.
Just one more thing.
It is important for everyone to have some food stocked up. Regardless of a person’s income of lack of it. Encourage your family and friends, neighbors and co-workers to put up at least a little food for the future. This is likely the single most important thing you can do to protect your own family because, if your neighbors and friends are provided for, you won’t have to worry about them being in need and perhaps turning to you for food. Many people are put off by all the recommended methods and supplies like Mylar bags or special drums or buckets. For those people that can’t afford those things try using what is freely available and perhaps even superior as a storage container. The ubiquitous soft drink bottle!