Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Cool, Dry, Dark Place

Just about everything that comes with storage instructions that say something along the lines of "Store in a cool, dry place. Keep out of direct sunlight." Almost everything that is not refrigerated comes with that kind of recommendation.
But when was the last time you saw a floor plan with a cool, dry, dark place on it.
Room temperature is generally considered mid 70's°F. Cool would be in the mid 60's. The main thing is that the temperature remain relatively stable. 
You don't want to store food or batteries in a closet in the southwest corner of the house where the temperature can be in the 50's at night and the 90's during the day. Those kinds of temperature swings are bad for stored things.
A good storage place is a closet that has no walls on the exterior of the house is not adjacent to the utility (furnace and hot water heater) room or the kitchen or laundry. The utility, kitchen and laundry all produce heat and occasionally moisture. 
Storing food above the frig is bad since all the heat the frig expels will rise. Not to say you can't store some food up there but it has to be stable stuff like salt, sugar and honey. My dad used to keep that stuff up in attic since they don't care about temperature swings as much as long as it is well sealed. 
In our apartment we have a hall closet next to the bathroom that we use for medical supplies and batteries.
A better place is down in the basement. Particularly the northeast corner, which should be coolest. It has two walls in the dirt, which means that it will be near 55°F year round, which is great for most foods and batteries. A 8x10 foot room will hold enough food for a family of 4 for a year. Simple wood and cinderblock shelves will work.
The Best/Ultimate place is to line the walls with cedar plywood to repel vermin. Slanted pantry shelves to keep the oldest food in front. Wire rack shelves to promote air circulation and even covered tubs of play sand, run through the self clean cycle of your oven, to hold root vegetables like beets and carrots to keep them fresher longer.