Understanding Julian Dates

If you’re new to the food storage world, you may be a bit confused about expiration dates and Julian dates, the string of numbers you see on some MREs and  #10 cans. These numbers represent the manufacturer’s Julian dates.  While initially this system can seem confusing, there’s an easy way to decipher these numbers.

The Julian Calendar – Julian dates are based on the Julian calendar which started over 4000 BC. It started by simply qualifying each day as Day 1, Day 2, etc. So, January 1, 4713 BC was Day 1.  January 30 4713 BC was Day 30.

That doesn’t do much for us since we work with the Gregorian calendar now, using days, months, and years. However, many manufacturers, especially MRE and food storage manufacturers depend on Julian dates simply because it’s easier for their computer systems to calculate them.

It’s Like Military Time – Think of it this way, the military uses continuous military time as a 24-hour system so it doesn’t have to differentiate between AM and PM. It takes a bit to get used to military time, but once you do, it’s a very clear way to document time. A Julian date is also a very easy, clear way to document dates. Manufacturers don’t need to use a mix of letters and numbers, work with shorter months/longer months, or adjust to leap year days. It’s simply a number.

Breaking it down – A Julian date is usually a 4 or 5 digit number starting with the last 2 digits of the year the item is made. The last three numbers correlate with the day of the year the product is made.  Here are a couple examples:
Product made January 12, 2018.  Julian Date: 18012.
Product made August 24, 2016.  Julian Date: 16237. (2016 was a leap year.)

If you’d like a Julian cheat sheet, here you go.

Just a reminder- MREs have a 1-5 year shelf-life. The Julian date is NOT the expiration date, but rather the manufacture date. Look at the date and add 1-5 years to figure out when you need to restock.



How Long Does an Open Can Last?

One of the questions we get a lot here at Daily Bread is, “How long will my can last once I open it?” Here’s a simple guide to getting the most out of your open can of Daily Bread food.

How long will my food be good? Easy. 6-12 months, depending on the conditions you store them.

Where should I store my open cans? That’s a common follow-up question. The best place to store an open container is in a cool, dark, humidity-controlled place. If your pantry is cool and dark, store it there. It’ll probably last about 6 months in the pantry after you’ve opened it. If you have room in your refrigerator, it’ll last closer to the 12 months. (Just a personal preference, I always store open freeze-dried meat in the refrigerator, just to be safe.)

Will the oxygen absorber help keep the food fresh after it’s been opened? Nope. You can throw that little square away. However, if you keep the lid on the container, it helps keep excess oxygen out of the container, keeping your food fresh longer.

My apples are softer than when I opened the can. Are they good? Oxygen and humidity change the texture of freeze-dried food. That’s why they are stored in a cool, dry place. Opened foods will get softer over time. Chances are, your food is still good if it’s in the 6-12 month window.

How do I know if it’s not good anymore? Freeze-dried food should not have any strong odors and shouldn’t have anything growing on it. If it does, throw it out. If not, and it’s in the safe storage time, it’s probably just fine. Use your judgment, though.

I don’t know if I can use the food that quickly. Yes, you definitely can. Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are simply foods that you use every day, just preserved. An open can of chicken can be used in every single chicken recipe you have. Those green beans? Rehydrate them with some freeze-dried corn and add a little butter and salt. Your family won’t know the difference. Daily Bread food is perfectly convenient for your emergency needs, as well as your daily nutrition.

What other questions do you have about freeze-dried foods?

Ideal Conditions for Food Storage

Starting your emergency food storage can be a daunting endeavor. We get it. Figuring out how much food to store can be overwhelming. Not to mention, what kinds of food do you want to store? What kinds should you store? Even more so, when you get that food home, where are you going to put it? Are there ideal conditions for food storage?

We’re going to help answer all of those questions today and we’re always here to answer any other questions that you might have.

So, first, are there ideal storage locations for food storage? The short answer is, yes. Freeze-dried food has a potential of up to 30 years of shelf life and dehydrated food will stay good for up to 20 years if stored correctly.

Ideal storage for food storage includes:

– Under 65 degrees Fahrenheit (Actually, the cooler the better without reaching freezing)
– Consistent temperatures. The more the temperature varies, the worse it is for the food
– In a room that has no direct sunlight
– In a room with low humidity

In other words, your perfect storage area would probably be a cold storage room in a basement.

You don’t have a cold storage room? Don’t stress. People store their food storage in less-than-perfect conditions all the time. You just have to be more creative. Here are some ideas that customers have shared with us.

Under the stairs – We have one resourceful customer who didn’t have a good place to store her food storage. She was looking at her house and realized that she had wasted, open space under her stairs. She cut out a rectangle in the wall, insulated the space, put in a door, and filled it with her food storage. She chose the area because it was not against an outside wall so it wouldn’t get too hot in the summer. But really, she chose the space because it was her only real option.

Under beds- Many people don’t have any extra room to pile their cans and water containers. That’s when they get creative. Daily Bread customers have found great ways to find that space in places like under beds, linen closets, and other nooks inside their houses. Look around to see where you can hide/store your cans in plain sight. You might be surprised. Your food storage doesn’t need to be clumped together. In fact, it might be good to have it spread on different levels of the house.

Pantry- Our favorite way to store food is to simply use the pantry. A rotating food storage system lets you use your food storage throughout the year, never letting it near its expiration date. An open can stays good for 6-12 months, so you can keep it in your pantry and go to it for your favorite recipes. Simply rehydrate and add it in.

Things to avoid when storing food:

– Great temperature variations. Places like your attic and your garage may be your only option. Just be aware that these areas can fluctuate in temperature greatly, compromising the shelf-life of your food.

– Areas against outside walls. While you may not feel the temperature variation, outside walls can absorb quite a bit of heat. Be careful when storing there.

Most of us don’t have perfect conditions for food storage. That’s okay. Like most things, you can adapt. With a little bit of creativity, you can make an ideal-for-you food storage system.

We’d love to hear from you. Where have you found to store your emergency food? Let us know in the comments below

Storing Rainwater – Your Guide to a Safe Water Supply

Water is, of course, one of the most important resources to have in your emergency supplies. Traditionally, people tend to store tap water. However, many of you may want to use the natural resources you have. One of those natural resources is rainwater. Is rainwater safe to store? If so, what is the best way to gather and store it?

Rainwater Collection
Rainwater is generally safe to drink. After all, that’s where all of our water supply originates. Granted, the water that most of us use is generally filtered and treated. However, there are some things to consider when gathering rainwater.
Legality. Some areas (especially places with farming irrigation systems nearby) have laws against rainwater collection. Look for those laws and learn how to work with them, if necessary.
Areas to Avoid. Rainwater has to pass through layers of atmosphere before it hits the ground. If you live close to any radioactive sites, power plants, or other pollution-emitting facilities, you probably don’t want to collect water. It has the risk of adhering to air particulates that you probably don’t want to ingest.
Direct Collection. If you do choose to collect rainwater, the best way to do it is directly from a bucket or other wide-mouth container.You may be tempted to expedite the process by cleaning your downspout and collecting all the rain from there, but due to bacteria and other germs that can grow on your roof and downspout, that is not a safe idea.

Once your rainwater has been gathered, you want to make sure it’s clean before you store it. Make sure that the bucket you’ve used hasn’t gathered bird droppings, bugs, or other debris.
After collection, let the water sit for an hour or so. This will allow any larger particles that have fallen with the rain to settle at the bottom. You may also want to pass the water through a simple filter, like a coffee filter as you pour it into storage containers. To be sure there are no contaminants, you may want to look into stronger water filters that eliminate protozoa and other harmful bacteria.

Once your water is collected and placed in storage containers, you need to make sure the water stays safe.
BPA-Free Plastic. Make sure your containers are BPA-free plastic containers. If the container isn’t BPA free, you risk carcinogenic particles seeping into your water. Most containers made after 2008 and sold in the US are BPA free. However, you should always look for BPA free labels on your containers. If your container was purchased before 2008, it is probably not BPA free and should not be used.
Treatment. Water never goes bad. In fact, if you think about it, we have the same water that was on the earth when it was formed. It’s lived through millions of years of water cycles. However, even clean water needs to be protected against bacteria that can grow in it. The best way to protect water is to use a water preserver. A Sodium Hypochlorite solution with about 5.25% potency is a proven way to safely protect water. Use about 8 drops of the solution per gallon of water.
Storage Location. Store in a cool, dry place with minimal light. Light and heat cause bacterial growth. Since rainwater is never treated, it has a higher chance of bacterial growth. Even treated water will grow bacteria eventually. If you have a basement storage room, this is the ideal place for your water storage. You can store treated water in a cool, dark room for up to 5 years. Remember to check for bacterial growth every few months, even if your water is stored in an ideal climate.
Of course, you may not have an ideal water storage situation. That’s okay. It just means that you need to rotate it regularly. Use your stored rainwater to water your plants once a year, then regather rainwater during the next rainy days.

Collecting rainwater is one of the many ways you can be proactive with your preparedness goals. If you do so correctly, it can be a safe, efficient way of storing water. We’d love to hear your tips and ideas. If you’ve collected and stored rainwater, what advice do you have?


What Is a #10 Can?

You’ll notice that most of our freeze-dried and dehydrated food is stored in #10 cans.  But what exactly is a #10 can?

#10 cans are large cans with the dimensions of 6.25″ x 7″. To put that in perspective, they are about the size of large coffee cans. The #10 classification refers to its size. All cans are named according to size. For instance, fruit/soup cans are #2 cans.  You can fit the contents of about 5 #2 cans inside 1 #10 can.

Volume vs. Weight
Due to the density variations of foods, the weight of the contents held in the can is different according to what the food is. For instance, a #10 can full of freeze-dried strawberries weighs about 7 oz. while the same volume of a can of freeze-dried ground beef weighs almost 2 pounds. Also, servings per container will be different, due to varied serving sized of foods.

Benefits of #10 Cans
A #10 can is perfect for your food storage because it seals in the nutrition of your food while preventing bacterial growth. The sealing process prevents air and moisture from entering the can.

Opening #10 Cans
You can open a #10 can with a handheld can opener. Once opened, if you use the plastic lid and store your food in a cool, dry, dark place, your freeze-dried food will stay good for 6-12 months. In other words, you do NOT have to use the food immediately.