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Monday, Jan 16, 2017

Don't use milk jugs to store emergency water

Q: I've tried storing water in advance in case of emergencies. Sometimes the bottled water I buy starts to turn green. But the city water I put in jugs stay clear longer. I suspect that's because the city water is chlorinated. So, how much bleach do I need to add to the bottled water to keep it clear? A: If you're reusing jugs to store water, only use water jugs. Don't try to store water in milk jugs. It's too hard to get the fat and protein out of milk jugs, so bacteria could be growing in them. You're probably right about the chlorine. City water must be tested for purity and safety more often than bottled water, and chlorination is done to keep things, including algae, from growing. The standard Food and Drug Administration recommendation for purifying water for emergencies is 1/8 of a teaspoon of unscented bleach for a gallon of clear water. That would be about eight drops of bleach per gallon. Be sure to check the label of the bleach container for the strength. Bleach should be between 4 and 6 percent hypochlorite to use at the amount I just gave. Some discount bleaches are only 1 to 3 percent hypochlorite. They've been diluted, so while they're not as expensive as the regular bleach, the added water is pretty expensive. If the bleach you have is 1 percent, use half a teaspoon or 40 drops per gallon of water.
If you are in an emergency situation and don't have clear water, leave the cloudy water sit as long as possible to let any silt or sediment settle to the bottom. Then carefully pour off the upper clear water. Add double the amount of bleach. Stir or mix the bleach into the water, then leave it stand for half an hour. It should have a faint chlorine smell. If it doesn't, add more bleach, let it stand again and smell it again. If it smells too much of bleach you can pour it back and forth between two clean containers to air it out and let the chlorine evaporate. Q: We've just been given a big bag of green peanuts. I've been told we could can them, instead of having to use them all now. Do you know how long they have to cook for canning? A: The University of Georgia has tested canning procedures for green peanuts. It takes a bit to prepare them, but you can process them in jars to keep for future enjoyment. Wash them well, then soak them in fresh water for one hour. Pour the water off, add more fresh water and soak them again for another hour. Repeat the fresh water soak a third time. Put them in more fresh water and boil them for 10 minutes. Drain. Make a brine of 1 cup of salt in a gallon of water and bring it to a boil. Pack the hot peanuts into clean canning jars, either pints or quarts. There are no safe home processing times for half-gallon jars, so don't try that. Leave half an inch of headspace at the top of the jar, between the peanuts and the top. Add boiling brine up to that half inch. Use a plastic knife to jiggle the peanuts around a little and get air bubbles out, and readjust the brine level if you need to. Put the lids on snugly but not super-tight. Process pint jars for 45 minutes or quart jars for 50 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a canner with a weight, or 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge canner. When the canner has cooled and the jars are out, leave them sit overnight to cool. Then take the screw bands off, wipe and label the jars, and they're ready to store. They'll be safe for years, but you'll surely eat them all before then.

Mary A. Keith, a licensed dietician and health agent at the Hillsborough County Extension, can be reached at mkeith@ufl.edu.