Start Growing Your Own Food Using Hydroponics

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Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil, is gaining momentum throughout the gardening community for many different reasons.

The water requirements are stupendously less than growing in soil, you don’t have to worry about what chemicals have leached into your soil, and you can grow healthier plants that yield more fruit in less space, both indoors and out.

Though many people are vaguely interested in the concept, most people write it off as being too technical, difficult, or expensive. The truth is that none of those terms apply, or at least they don’t have to.

You can start a hydroponic garden for very little money and it takes practically no effort to maintain it, at least in comparison to a soil garden.

Start Your Seeds

Regardless of whether you are planning to grow your plants in soil or in a hydroponic system, starting them from seeds is basically the same process. You need to choose a medium to start the seeds. You can use just about anything that you want – rockwool, grow cubes, or even plain dirt. The important thing is that you get your seeds to grow to seedlings.

There are also mediums that support starting your plants right in the system from seeds. In that case, don’t worry about the seedlings! The only problem that I’ve heard about from folks that do this is the same one that I’ve experienced when starting my garden using only seeds – they’re not all going to sprout, so you may have dense areas and sparse areas.

Regardless of whether you’re putting seeds or seedlings in your system, it’s a good idea to start your own seedlings.

Seeds are cheap, you can choose what you want to grow instead of depending on what plants the store has available, and your system won’t be contaminated with chemicals, pests, or diseases that may accompany commercial plants.

Choose a System

You also need to choose a system. For your first time, it’s probably a good idea to start small so that you can make your mistakes and learn the ropes on a small, manageable scale. There are several different types of systems, but the one that we’ve found to be most efficient on a small scale is a drip system.

Drip systems use a submersible pump placed in a basin on the bottom that pulls the water up to an irrigation tube above the plants. The water drips down into the pan(s) and trickles back down into the catch basin and is then recirculated. It’s efficient and simple to use.

NOTE: Very few commercial hydroponics systems (or DIY ones for that matter) operate without electricity. In the case of an EMP or a complete grid failure, your system will require manual watering, so choose carefully if those situations are a concern for you. You’ll want to choose a system such as a vertical gardening tower that makes it easy to water without an operational pump.

We tested the Plug & Farm Tower system that’s great for both beginners and experienced growers and works well indoors or out, though it does require electricity. There are many different options out there, or you can build your own.

What Can You Grow Hydroponically

Well, just about anything, in theory. After all, you’re providing everything any living plant needs to thrive – water, nutrients, light.

However, there are some plants that are more challenging than others. For instance, root vegetables are a challenge and require a system that’s deep enough to grow them. You may want to get a bit of experience before you jump off that particular log.

Vining plants and light-weight fruits grow well hydroponically, too, and did well in the tower we tested. You can even start fruit trees, then plant them into soil when they’re big enough.

Now, for the system that we tested, vining plants, herbs and green leafy vegetables worked, but not root vegetables.

Transplanting Seedlings

If you’re starting your seeds outside of your system and transplanting it as a seedling, it’s a simple process. Germinate your seeds. You can do this by placing them in a grow cube or in a paper towel or baggy.

If you use the grow cube, just keep it damp with water or your hydroponic solution until your seedling pops through – anywhere from two to four weeks.

If you’re germinating the seeds before putting them in a growing medium, put them in a damp paper towel on a plate and keep the towel damp. Your seed will germinate in just a few days.

Now that you have your seedlings, you’re ready to transplant them to your system so that they can grow into delicious plants.

This process is going to be determined by the system that you’re using but will consist of placing the seedling so the roots are in the water/solution and the plant top is not.

A Note about Growing Mediums

You can use many different mediums in your hydroponics setup including gravel, sand, coconut shells (they don’t break down easily) or just about anything else that is food-safe and won’t decompose.

If you choose to use gravel, be sure to choose stones that won’t leech minerals into the water, because then you’re affecting the nutrients available to your plants.

The entire purpose of the medium is to support the roots in a way that water can flow freely around them, so don’t use mediums such as mulch that are going to break down to, well, soil.

Growing Your Plants

Now, your plants are in your hydroponics system, so what next?

Make sure that they stay hydrated and are getting the nutrients that they need! They should be watered thoroughly several times daily to prevent the roots from drying out, and the automatic drip system is great for this.

Once your plants begin to grow in earnest, you’ll need to provide support for vining plants. Trellises are great for this.

Keep your plants from dragging the ground in order to avoid rot and exposure to disease. Prune them properly and watch them grow!

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Prep Blog Review: Food Lessons For Survival

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It’s survival food time again! From how to grow your own vegetables, to how to stockpile correctly, this topic never gets old, and it’s one of my favorites, too.

Starting with a few food lessons from the Great Depressions, and continuing with some emergency food preparedness basic, for this week’s prep blog review I’ve gathered five useful articles on this topic.

  1. 10 Food Lessons From the Great Depression

“A time wracked with suicide and fear the great depression was a holly terror on the nation.

Many people exclaim that the crash of 2008 cost them everything. The truth is that the “everything” of 2008 was very different than the everything of 1930. Mothers left alone by their husbands to feed children while living in doorways. Losing children to disease or hunger and not having a dime to help them, nor a way to procure one.

All that terror aside the emulsification of cultures and despair in America during the depression created everlasting practices in the management and creation of food. The type of meals that remind you of your grandmother and her dinner table. Many of these meals are still popular today. Many of the methods are used widely as well.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

  1. Emergency Food Preparedness Basics Every Prepper Should Know

“Emergency Food Preparedness is essential for every prepper to have. In this video we will be talking about the 3 different types of emergency food preps that essential for survival.”

Video first seen on Smart Prepper Gear.

  1. 13 Direct Vegetables to Direct Sow

“To direct sow your seeds just means to plant your seed outdoors in the garden where it will grow instead of starting the seeds indoors in containers under lights.

If you live in a warm climate, you can direct sow almost any crop. Those of you who garden in colder areas either begin sowing seeds indoors under lights or purchase seedlings form a green house that can be transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost is past. If we don’t start some crops ahead og time, there isn’t enough time to produce a harvest before our first fall frost.”

Read more on Grow A Good Life.

  1. How to get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

“Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource.

It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

  1. Perennial Plants that Produce Food Year After Year

“A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. Perennials, especially small flowering plants, grow and bloom over the spring and summer, then die back every autumn and winter, and then return in the spring from their rootstock, are known as herbaceous perennials”.

Below are a few of the more common food plants that are known to live and produce for over two years, and some like asparagus, for example, can produce for literally decades if the asparagus bed is well taken care of.”

Read more on Prep for SHTF.

 

This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.

Take The Advantage Of Growing Hydroponic Plants!

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of hydroponic planting. Even if you did live in a cave, you probably saw an example of it when you saw that little plant growing in a puddle of water in the rock. That’s what hydroponic growing is – it’s simply growing plants without soil.

But why should you try it? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

When you think about hydroponically growing plants, you probably get this vision of complicated systems and expensive grow lights, but that’s not the case. Growing plants using a hydroponic system is actually easier that using a soil-based system, as you’ll see in a bit.

You can use water alone, gravel, sand, coconut husks, or even artificial materials to secure the roots of your plants, but the idea is to choose a medium that allows the water to flow freely around the roots of the plant.

Here are just a few advantages of growing hydroponic plants.

Plants Grow Faster and Yield More Fruit

Studies show that plants grown hydroponically grow 30-50 percent faster than soil-grown plants and also yield more fruit. This is probably because there is a constant supply of water and the nutrients are delivered straight to the roots throughout the day.

Since the plant doesn’t have to search through the soil and break the nutrients down in order to absorb them, it’s free to use that extra energy to grow and produce.

Also, there is generally more oxygen in water than there is in soil. This helps the plant absorb nutrients faster and it also promotes root growth.

No Weeding

Since you’re controlling the medium and you only plant what you want in it, you’re not going to be dealing with weeds, and if you do manage to get a couple weed seeds blown or carried in, they’re easy to pluck out, roots and all.

This saves you time, and prevents the plant from fighting with weeds for nutrients and water.

You Control the Nutrients and pH

One of the biggest problems that we face when we grow plants in dirt is that we’re often at the mercy of the quality of the soil. Without sending it off to be tested, it’s tough to tell what nutrients are in your soil and how acidic it is.

Since some plants prefer a more acidic soil and others prefer neutral or base soil, you’ll find that some plants grow better in your soil than others.

With a hydroponics system, you take all of the guesswork out of the growing process because you control the amount and type of nutrients as well as the pH. This is another reason that plants are healthier and more productive.

You Know What you’re Eating

You really don’t know what’s in your soil even if you’ve lived there for 20 years because pesticides, chemicals, and even acid rain can contaminate it with all sorts of harmful materials. When you grow your plants using the hydroponics method, you know exactly what’s in the food that you eat.

Year-Round Fruit

Because there’s no dirt to mess with, hydroponic systems are exceptionally easy to manage indoors or in a greenhouse, which means that you can have fresh produce year-round.

If you get sick of growing tomatoes, just switch them out and grow some basil to go with them. Since your plants will also yield more fruit, you’ll really ramp up your production.

Indoor/Outdoor Options

We just mentioned that hydroponic systems are easily adapted to indoor growth, and there is more than one reason why that’s a good thing. First, you don’t have to go out in the rain or heat to tend your plants, or look at a snow-covered, barren garden in the winter.

That’s great, but what about security? If you’re growing plants inside, nobody will know what you’re doing. In hard times, when you’re trying to survive, this can be a deal-changer. And you don’t necessarily need much room for an indoor hydroponics system, either.

As a matter of fact, we’ve tried on, the Plug & Farm Towers can be mounted against a wall and only extends about 6 inches from the wall. It’s only a few feet wide and tall, but is designed so that you maximize your growing space. You can use it in an apartment or even a slightly large closet as long as you have the necessary lighting.

Less Space

Unlike traditional soil growing techniques, hydroponic systems lend themselves nicely to growing in stacked trays. I’ve seen many setups that range in size from the Plug & Farm Towers to ones that consist of 5 or 6 layers of trays that are several feet wide with a couple of feet between each layer.

If you use a gravity system, you can get quite clever with your angles so that each layer trickles down to the next, then is fed back up to the top again. Even using a hydroponics system that large, you’ll still be using very little water in the scheme of things.

Vertical crops

Soil Quality Doesn’t Matter

This one sort of goes without saying since you’re not using soil. To drive home the point, though, I live in Florida and the soil is extremely sandy, with just a bit of loam on the top. Tomatoes grow OK here in that, but they’re merely compared to ones that I grew in the rich soil of West Virginia.

However, if I use a hydroponics system, I don’t have to worry about soil quality. If you pair this with an indoor growing system, you can grow pretty much anything.

Lower Water Requirements

Any plant needs water because that’s how it absorbs nutrients.

Now, of course we can’t give an exact number here because the US has such a wide variety of soils and rainfall amounts, but in soil that’s not too wet or too dry, and grown in conditions that aren’t miserably hot with low humidity, it will take about 20 gallons of water per week to water a 32 square foot garden. That’s a garden that’s roughly 5 feet x 6 feet.

Now, if you have to water an area that large using a hydroponics system, you’re going to use as little as 1/4 of that. Maybe less if you’re filtering and oxygenating the water, because it’s a re-usable source.

In other words, with a soil garden, you’re going to be using 80 gallons per week, but in a hydroponics garden, you’re going to be using that initial watering (5 – 7 gallons) over and over again.

When you’re in a survival situation, that’s a huge difference in the amount of something that you need to live! In essence, that saves you an extra 15 gallons just in the first week, and, even assuming you lose a couple of gallons to evaporation weekly, you’ve still saved at least 40 gallons. That’s enough water for almost two people over a month!

Diseases and Pests are Easier to Get Rid Of

The way that many diseases and pests attack your plants to begin with is via soil. So, since you’re eliminating soil, you’re also eliminating much of the risk of your plants becoming infected. And one of the main reasons that pests and diseases are so hard to get rid of if you DO get them in soil-grown plants is because they hide in the soil and keep reinfecting your plants.

With a hydroponics system, there is no dirt to hold the pest or disease, so they’re easier to get rid of if you are unfortunate enough to contract them in the first place.

Greater Variety

Since you’re no longer dependent on soil quality or large land areas, and you can easily use a hydroponics system to grow year-round in a greenhouse or indoors, you can grow basically whatever you want.

You can also experience three or even four growth cycles (depending on what you’re growing), so even if you have a smaller growing area, you can grow one plant this cycle, and another plant the next cycle.

Physically Easier to Grow and Harvest

You can grow your plants at whatever height is comfortable to you – just build your system accordingly. That means that you don’t have to bend over on your hands and knees like you do when growing a traditional garden.

You don’t have to weed the garden, either, at least not on any serious level. If you do need to pick out a few, they pull out easily because their roots aren’t buried in dirt.

Now that you have a few really good reasons to try a hydroponics system to grow your fruits and vegetables, get started! We’ve provided a link to one that we’ve personally tested. It’s efficient, easy to assemble, and simple to use.

It’s also big enough to make a nice wall garden outside, but small enough to use inside even a small apartment. And with only 10 minutes a day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

This Is The Smart Way To Invest In Food!

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The Smart Way To Invest In Food

Remember when Mom or Grandma would send you to the pantry or down to the basement to grab another jar of pickles or peanut butter? There were probably at least a couple of extra jars behind the one that you grabbed.

That’s because they lived through times when having backup food meant the difference between eating and going hungry. They had it “just in case.” Do you practice this? If not, you should.

We live in unsure times. The United States economy is by far the largest in the world; more than twice that of China, the world’s second largest economy. US money and goods support the global economy to the point that if we suffer an economic collapse, we take the rest of the world down with us.

But there’s one solid way to hedge your future – a basic commodity that everybody will always need: food.

Considering the state of the nation right now, an economic collapse is just as likely as not – maybe even more likely. The crazy explosion in the US monetary system and the instability of our government doesn’t just make it possible that we’ll face hyperinflation in the near future – it practically guarantees it.

Food costs are going to keep increasing and in the case of an economic collapse, will quickly increase to the point that foods that are barely affordable to many households now, such as meat, will be completely out of reach. The price of many “affordable” foods such as sauces, pasta, rice, sugar and flour will likely increase to the point that they’ll barely be affordable, assuming they’re available.

Until recently, the primary concern for most of us was economic collapse, with governmental collapse being a peripheral concern. Now, in these uncertain times, either – or both – is increasingly likely. Both would bring about life-altering circumstances that would dethrone the current money-based system in favor of a barter system.

Guess what that does to all those stocks, bonds, and savings accounts (and for that matter, cash) when that happens: they become worthless. But do you know what gains value exponentially? Food. And to a lesser extent, hygiene products. Investing in both will give you the tools you need to barter, survive, and even thrive.

No matter how poor somebody is, they’ll always need to eat. That doesn’t mean that you should gouge them. It just means that you’ll have a commodity that will be of value to everybody.

So, investing in food is the way to go. Even if you only invest in it passively, without ever selling a single noodle of it, you’ll still be saving much more by buying food for tomorrow at today’s prices than many investments that most of us can afford would yield. The longer you eat food bought at today’s prices, the more money you’ll save.

Food costs, with the exception of fresh fruit, decreased for the first time in years from December of 2015 – December of 2016, but that isn’t anticipated to continue. The USDA anticipated a hike in 2017 based on stable conditions – in other words, before the political climate changed so radically. Essentially, you have the chance right now to buy at bargain basement prices and put off buying when the prices go up.

So, how do you invest in food? Well, there are several different ways, and you can do it, at least to a certain degree, no matter where you live or how much money you have.

Considerations to the Return on Your Investment

Unless you have a huge farm with numerous gardens and storage spaces, and a lot of money to feed livestock and grow fresh produce, you have some challenges. That’s OK. You just need to work with what you have and find a proper way to secure your future.

Save Yourself $24,000 Instantly Using This One Easy Prepper Hack!

Space

This is probably the biggest limitation that you may face. If you live in a 1-bedroom apartment in an urban environment, the only space you may have is a closet and some cabinets. That’s fine. Make the most of what space you have by stockpiling a variety of staple foods and hygiene items.

Even the cabinet under your bathroom sink will hold more hygiene products than you might think. The more you can buy now at a lower price, the more you’ll save. Utilize your space well, buying products that you’ll use, and that will last.

Shelf Life

No matter how much space you have, shelf life is always a consideration. If you buy enough food to meet your needs for five years but it expires in two, you’ve wasted your resources.

Allocate your money responsibly and with forethought. Know how much you and your household eat monthly/annually. Use the FIFO (First In, First Out) method and store food in a way that will preserve it for as long as possible.

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What Types of Food You Can Store

While you can save a ton of money on buying extra boxes of cereal and jars of peanut butter, there are some types of foods that will save you more than others.

For instance, meat, eggs, and dairy prices are anticipated to increase significantly more than cabinet foods but they don’t have much of a shelf-life. Consider your resources and storage capabilities when you plan your shopping.

Methods to Help You Invest in Food

Now that you know what you need to consider when you’re investing in food, let’s talk about ways to help you invest better so that you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Buy a Freezer

Milk, meat, and eggs just aren’t shelf-stable as-is, but they’re the top foods that increase quickly in cost. You do have some options. All of these products have canned or powdered options that have excellent shelf lives.

You can also can your own meat and butter, and you can buy a freezer to store up to a year’s worth of food. Believe it or not, all dairy is freezable.

Many people are worried about lack of electricity in the event of a collapse and avoid freezers, but the odds of complete electric failure are pretty slim if you have an alternative power source. Most meats and dairy store frozen for up to six months, or even a year. Also the cost of a freezer, if you have a proper place where you can put one, will be covered by the savings in a short time.

2. Build a Food Storage Space

If you have the space, build or buy an extra food/supply shed. The money that you save in food and necessaries will pay for it in very little time.

3. Use Coupons and Sales

If you combine coupons and sales, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can build a stockpile for next to nothing. It’s a matter of paying attention to what’s on sale.

For instance, today I bought 6 bottles each of ketchup, shampoo, and laundry detergent for $13 total. My total savings was $24. And that doesn’t even count what I’ll save by not buying later when the price is higher.

All three are products that I use and that would be valuable if something happens and I need to barter, so there’s no way I can lose.

4. Buy Popular, Necessary Products

There are some foods and products that everybody just has to have. Examples: flour, green beans, tampons, deodorant, etc. Don’t buy a ton of lima beans if they’re on sale unless you really love them because they’re not a popular food. Sometimes there’s a reason things are on clearance – nobody else wanted to buy it!

Also, if you’re preparing for a bartering situation, alcohol and tobacco are going to be premium, in-demand products. Cigarettes are brutally expensive, but loose tobacco and rolling papers are fairly inexpensive and, as long as they’re sealed in air-tight containers, have a long shelf-life.

Regarding alcohol, remember that it’s not just for drinking – you can make tinctures and clean wounds and first-aid tools with it, too. Having extra vodka or bourbon is never a bad thing.

5. Buy Healthy Products

For some reason, people seem to want to pile in the boxes of cookies and cans of spaghetti-o’s because they’re cheap and delicious, but have no (or little) dried eggs, milk, canned meats, or meal stretchers such as flour and rice.

Think healthy. It’s important that you buy foods that you like – and cheap is good, too – but remember that you may be depending on your stockpile for survival. Stock up with healthy foods, too.

Also, canned milk, eggs, flour, rice, and other similar products are extremely versatile. You can eat or drink them as-is, or you can use them in recipes to make other products such as bread, cakes, side dishes, etc.

6. Buy in Bulk

This is our final point today, and it’s a big one because you may not need 20 pounds of flour or sugar now, but will you use it eventually? Of course you will, and it really doesn’t go bad as long as it’s stored properly.

A 20-pound bag of sugar often costs only a few bucks more than a 5-pound bag. Same with sugar. Compare cost per unit instead of just thinking of one being more expensive than the other. Dollars to donuts, bulk is almost guaranteed to be cheaper than smaller portions.

Now that you have some ideas about how to invest in food, start planning, then start buying. You can have a great stockpile built up in no time even if you just buy stuff that’s on sale buy-one-get-one-free and put back the extra. It adds up quickly, and you’ll have a nice nest egg sitting in your pantry or basement!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

10 Long Shelf-Life Canned Foods Every Prepper Should Consider Stockpiling

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Stockpiling food is a key part of being prepared. Even if you have the skills and space to grow your own, you can’t be sure that a disaster will leave

The post 10 Long Shelf-Life Canned Foods Every Prepper Should Consider Stockpiling appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

Prep Blog Review: Best Practices For Storing Survival Food

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Disasters can happen to anyone, anytime and hence you can’t prevent them, you can prepare for them. I want you to answer to one question: if disaster strikes tomorrow, do you have the basics covered? And when I say basics I mean food and water.

Water and food are at the top of the list when it comes to storing for survival if you want to have a healthy, ever-lasting, super-diversified diet when SHTF. But storing food for survival becomes overwhelming when you keep buying, and buying without a plan in mind.

That is why, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered 4 articles that sum up the best practices for storing survival food.

  1. Top 10 food Storage Myths

TOP-10“The internet is full of websites that give information on survival topics, including food storage. There are dozens and dozens of books that will teach you “the right way” to store food and YouTube videos galore. Most contain valid, trustworthy information, but mixed in with that are a number of food storage myths that many people accept without question. Here are 10 that I take issue with, and I explain why.

Myth #1:  You should stock up on lots of wheat.

When I was researching foods typically eaten during the Great Depression, I noticed that many of them included sandwiches of every variety. So it makes sense to stock up on wheat, which, when ground, becomes flour, the main ingredient to every bread recipe.”

Read more on The Survival Mom.

  1. The Best ORAC Foods to Stockpile

“ORAC stands for ‘oxygen radical absorbance capacity.’ It is a unit of measure to determine the antioxidant capacity of a particular food. The higher the ORAC unit value, the more antioxidants a food will have.food Storage

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and therefore play a role in overall long-term health. Of course, you may think: why should I care about my long-term health when SHTF? No, you probably shouldn’t. But, if you are like me, you’re probably rotating your food stockpile. So when your cans are about to expire… instead of throwing them away you can eat a healthy balanced meal.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

  1. 50 Food Items To Keep Stocked for Emergencies

food-storage“Emergencies happen every day. We are faced with everything from a broken-down car on the freeway, medical emergencies, financial difficulties and natural disasters on a pretty consistent basis. Over the last 16 years, our country has been faced with some major events. We were attacked on 9/11 and many other terror attacks followed, we were faced with the devastating effects of Katrina, school shootings, our officers being shot, economic difficulties, and even rioting in our streets. All of these things are red flags that remind us to be prepared for just about anything.”

Read more on The Well Prepared Mama.

  1. How To Dehydrate Herbs for Long-Term Storage

dehydrating-herbs-for-storage

“Herbs are one of the first plants we put in our garden. There is nothing like fresh culinary herbs to intensify the flavors of food. As well, herbs are hardy garden plants that don’t have to be watered as much as vegetables and can serve more than one purpose by being used as natural medicine. For instance, did you know that a sage leaf can be used instead of a band-aid because it has natural healing qualities? Some of these popular culinary herbs are oregano, thyme and sage and can grow year-round in many parts of the country.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.  

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Survival Food: 5 Hearty Soup In A Jar Recipes

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Soup in a jar

We’ve already discussed how to preserve many foods, and even entire meals, by canning them using either pressure canning or water bath canning. Canning entire meals in a jar provides both convenience and nutrition; both of which will be to your advantage in a survival situation.

The difference between the two types of canning is that any food that is low acid, which is most vegetables and all meats, needs to be pressure canned in order for the food in the jars to reach a temperature that will kill all microorganisms such as botulism that will make you sick.

The general rule of thumb is that you process pint jars for 60 minutes and quart jars for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for vegetable soups, and 75 minutes for pints/90 minutes for quarts for meats. Leave 1 inch of headspace in the jars.

If you’re canning something with dried beans, put them in a pan and cover them with a couple inches of water. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let them soak in the hot water for at least an hour. Bring back to a boil, remove from heat, drain, and add to the soup.

The general rule for canning soups is that you have half small cubed solids and half liquid. This may sound like a lot of liquid, but by the time the other ingredients absorb the water and swell, it will be nice and hearty.

You want that much liquid in the beginning so that heat can circulate evenly, but when it’s finished, you’ll find that it’s about 3/4 solids to 1/2 liquid. Just enough to soak some bread in!

Don’t Overcook

The main thing to remember when canning soups is that you don’t want to cook it until it’s mush. You lose both flavor and nutrients at that point. This means that you’ll likely pack everything into the jars nearly raw. You can make soup and then can it, but if you do that, just know that many of your veggies will be pretty soft, and some will cook away altogether.

Bring everything to a rolling boil for 5 minutes or so, just long enough to get everything good and hot, then pack it into your jars and process. Let it cook in the jars.

With the long cooking times, you may find that rice (not instant) is better in your recipes than pasta, which cooks to goo.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills you need for survival cooking! 

Sterilize and Clean Everything

This is the key to successful canning. Your jars need to be sterilized before you put food in them.

Do this by washing them in hot, soapy water. The same thing goes for all of the equipment that you use, including lids, rings, spatulas and anything else that will come into contact with the inside of the jar, or the food.

Video first seen on Marjorie Vangenewitt

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the recipes!

And remember – you can adapt any of your favorite recipes so that you may can them and have your favorite meals anytime that you want.

Canning isn’t just about planning for the apocalypse. In fact, that’s just an added bonus. Canning is a means to preserve healthy food that you’ve grown yourself, so that you know what you’re putting in your body. If you have some left over, then even better!

5 Delicious Soups in a Jar

1. Italian Rustica

  • 2 gallons tomato juice
  • 3 cups cubed carrots
  • 2 cups chopped green beans
  • 2 pint canned tomatoes, rough chopped, not drained
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons chopped or dried oregano
  • 2 cups dried rice

Combine all ingredients except the rice in a soup pot. Bring to a rolling boil, then add the rice. Pack into jars and process. Yields about 12 quarts.

2. Ham and Bean Soup

  • 2 gallons water
  • 4 cups dried northern or cannelloni beans
  • 4 cups chopped ham
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Soak your dried beans as discussed above. Bring them to a boil, along with the salt, pepper and ham. Pack in jars and process accordingly. Yields about 12 quarts.

3. Beef Stew

  • 4 pounds beef tips
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 gallons beef stock

Braise beef tips with the onions and celery in a skillet just until rare but browned on all sides. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Pack and process accordingly. Yields about 16 quarts.

4. Cabbage Stew

  • 4 pounds ground meat, your choice
  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 pint canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 gallons water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

Brown your meat in a skillet and drain. Add it along with all other ingredients to your stockpot and bring to a boil. Process accordingly. Yields about 12 quarts.

5. Southwest Stew

  • 3 cups white rice, not instant
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 quart diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 pounds chicken breast, chopped
  • 3 cups corn
  • 3 15 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoon dried cilantro
  • 2 packs taco seasoning
  • 1 small can green chilis, diced
  • 2 gallon chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Pack and process accordingly. Yields about 12 quarts.

All of these soups are both delicious and healthy, and fairly easy to prepare.

Do you wonder what where the cooking secrets that helped our grandfathers survive the Great Depression? Click the banner below to uncover them!

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If you have any recipes that you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Surviving Off-Grid: 4 Recipes To Cook In A Haybox

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Haybox cooking

I have to admit, this was a new one for me, and I thought that I’d tried every method of outdoor cooking invented since cavemen sporked frogs and roasted them over an open fire. As it turns out, haybox cooking is a combination of two of my favorite cooking vessels – a Dutch oven and a slow cooker.

This method came about during WWII when cooking oil was rationed for the war effort. The air spaces in the hay trap the heat, as will anything similar, such as shredded newspaper or corn husks. You want the hay to be fine, though, so that you can pack it tightly. You don’t want stems and brambles.

The basic premise is that you heat the food in its own juices, or water, and then once you bring it to a boil, you put it in the haybox, which insulates it, and let it finish cooking all on its own. Of course, this is a method that requires food that is in a broth, but that’s about the only limitation that I can think of.

You can use it for roasting, boiling, simmering, or steaming; as long as there’s liquid to hold the heat.

This would serve you well if you were traveling and couldn’t cook along the way, or if you don’t want to use a ton of fuel by cooking it over heat all day. For that matter, it’s great just to help you save on your electric bill! All in all, it’s an extremely efficient way of cooking.

Learn the secrets that helped our grandparents survive the Great Depression! 

What Is a Haybox Cooker and How to Build One

HayboxA haybox cooker is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a box full of hay that you cook in.

The idea is that the hay is packed around a Dutch oven that has food in it that’s already cooked to boiling. You transfer it from the heat source immediately to the haybox, pack the hay around it, close it up as tightly as you can, and go about your business.

It’s a natural slow cooker, and just like cooking with its electric-dependent sisters, it takes several hours for food to cook. How long exactly, depends on the initial cook time of the dish, how long it’s already cooked, how tightly the hay is packed, and how air-tight the box is.

As you can imagine, it’s hard to give an exact time, but a good haybox will hold usable heat for up to 8 hours.

If you already have a trunk or old military locker/box that’s about 30 inches cubed, then you’re already good to go. If not, build one.

Start by building a sturdy wooden box that’s as airtight as you can get it – try to score some scrap tongue and groove from your local mill or home-improvement store.

Build a box with a sturdy, tight-fitting lid. Line the box with sturdy paper or cardboard to seal any cracks that remain so that the heat can’t escape.

To cook in your box, pack it with about 3/4 of the way full of hay, then form a little nest in the center for your Dutch oven and pack it as tightly as you can get it.

How to Cook With a Haybox Cooker

Bring your food to a boil or simmer, then transfer immediately to the hay box. Pack the top and remaining sides with more hay as tightly as you can pack it and shut the lid. Let it cook, and you’re good to go.

Note: You can even make you haybox in a hole in the ground – how handy is THAT for living in the woods in a survival situation? In that case, you could use dried grass and leaves, or whatever you could find lying around as insulation.

Oh, and did I mention that you can also use the haybox to make frozen treats such as ice cream?

Just make your favorite ice cream recipe and pour it into a coffee can with a lid. Find a bucket that’s 4 inches deeper and 8 inches (total) wider than your can. Put 4 inches of ice and coarse salt in the bottom of the bucket, put the can on top of the ice, and pace more ice and salt around the can. Put it in the haybox and seal it up. You’ll have ice cream in about 4 hours! 

Video first seen on Organikmechanic. 

4 Delicious Haybox Recipes

1. Hearty Beef and Cabbage Soup

This soup is especially filling and comforting. It’s a great meal-in-a-bowl for busy weeknights – just turn it on in the morning and come home to a wonderful-smelling pot of soup.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped red cabbage
  • 2 cups chopped green cabbage
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large heavy skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, just until browned, breaking up with a spatula periodically until meat is crumbly. Drain all but 1 teaspoon or so of oil/drippings and return to heat.

Add the cabbages, onion, carrots, garlic, celery seed, paprika and cumin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches a rolling boil.

Add all to the Dutch oven and add bay leaf and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Transfer to hay box for 8 hours.

2. Steak Chili

Sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like a good chili!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds top sirloin steak, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 12-oz cans dark red kidney beans
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 10-ounce cans beef broth or 2 ½ cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder

In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil and then brown the steak (in batches if necessary) on all sides for about 4-5 minutes.

Add all of the vegetables to the Dutch oven, pour in the broth and add the seasonings. Stir well to mix. Add the steak, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Transfer to haybox and leave there for 8 hours.

3. Slow Cooker Beef or Venison Stew

There are few things that say “comfort food” better than a hearty beef stew. Slow cooking means the meat is always succulent and tender and you’re welcomed home with wonderful aromas.

  • 1 ½ pounds beef or venison stew meat
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh kale, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 cups beef broth or stock, with ¼ cup reserved

Trim the stew meat of visible fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and brown the stew meat, in batches if necessary, about 4-5 minutes until browned on all sides.

Add carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, bay leaf and parsley to Dutch oven, then add meat. Pour 2 3/4 cups broth over all. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then transfer to haybox for 8 hours.

4. Vanilla Ice Cream

Delight your loved ones with this classic and delicious frozen treat you can make in a haybox.

You will need:

  • 1 can sweetened milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Add fruits or nuts after it’s frozen.

Have you tried haybox cooking? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Survival Lessons From The Old: One Pot Meals

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survivopedia-one-pot-meals

For eons, entire meals from stews to casseroles have been made in one pot.

The cowboys and settlers did it because they only had the luxury of one pot on the trail, and we do it today because of the convenience and simply because there are so many recipes out there that are delicious as well as fast.

We follow their example, and learn from their knowledge. Here’s what we should know about this old way of cooking!

As preppers, it’s important that we know how to cook without electricity, and though I’ve included slow cookers in this article, the rest of them don’t require anything other than fire and the vessel.

There are some rules for cooking in a single pot if you want the meal to be delicious and safe to eat, but for the most part, they’re quick and easy to prepare and clean up.

Adjust Cooking Times of Veggies

First, you want your vegetables to cook evenly, so if you’re standing over the pot, you may want to throw hard veggies like carrots in 15 minutes or so before you add the rest.

For soft veggies such as cabbage and broccoli, put them in at the last minute since they only take 10 or 15 minutes to cook in a pot. This isn’t a necessity, if you’re throwing something in the crockpot and leaving, so just know that some veggies may be a little mushy if you put them in all at once.

Sear Your Meat

Next, searing your meat adds flavor to the meal. This is especially true of large pieces of meat such as roasts, pork chops, beef tips, and other meats that are thick and solid. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, it will add an extra layer of flavor. Hamburger and Salisbury steak has a crispier texture if you sear it beforehand.

Beware of Pathogens

You must make sure that your meat cooks all the way through, especially if it’s poultry. This isn’t such a big deal with red meat as long as you don’t mind it a bit rare in the middle, but birds carry salmonella.

Trust me – one bout of food poisoning from that and you’ll make sure it never happens again! USDA guidelines say that red meat should be cooked to 145 degrees F, ground meats should cook to 160 degrees, and poultry should be 165 degrees.

When you’re finished eating, make sure that you refrigerate it. Bacteria begin to grow quickly between the temperatures of 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, so too avoid the risk of food poisoning, refrigerate your food within 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees) after it comes off the heat.

Cold foods, especially ones that contain mayo or eggs, should be kept at 40 degrees, so just put them in a bowl of ice if they’re going to sit out, and stir it frequently to keep the entire dish cold.

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as their stored in containers, and can be frozen almost indefinitely, but they’ll begin to lose flavor after a month or so depending upon the food.

Types of Cookers

There are several types of cookers that you can use depending upon the dish and the circumstances. Especially if you’re cooking over a fire, you’ll want to cook as efficiently as you can, and one pot meals are certainly the best way to do that.

Since our primary concern is cooking in a survival situation, we’ll start with those methods.

Dutch Ovens

This is one of my favorite ways to cook outside because you can quite literally cook anything that you want to in them. Whether you want to make stew, chopped steak, or breads, a Dutch oven will do the trick. They steam the food internally, which keeps it moist and tender. You can buy aluminum and cast iron Dutch ovens, though the cast iron, in my opinion, is far superior in nearly every way.

The history of the Dutch oven is believed to date back to Holland in the early 1700s, and was brought to America with the first settlers. They were popular with settlers and other people, such as ranch trail cooks, and were used in work camps during WW1. Paul Revere improved the design by adding a flanged lid and made some other modifications, likely to improve the strength and consistency of the cooking.

Joseph Lodge built a cast iron foundry in Tennessee that still produces arguably the highest quality Dutch ovens and iron skillets available today.

They come in different sizes and two primary designs – the bean pot or kitchen oven, best for use indoors or placing on a rack over an open fire, and the camp or outdoor oven, which has a flanged lid that can also serve as a skillet. It also has legs, a flat bottom, and a sturdy wire handle so that you can hang it or lift it from the coals.

They’re great for cooking indoors or out and can be used in the oven, over a campfire, or buried in the coals, depending upon your needs and what you’re cooking. Cooking with a Dutch oven is simple, too, once you get the hang of it.

Solar Oven

Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, here’s a recipe written specifically for that cooking method. You will surely love this pot roast cooked on your solar oven.

Ingredients for this tasty recipe are:

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes).

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Stop asking yourself if the solar oven works during winter, because it does, and here’s the proof!

Video first seen on jnull0.

Let’s celebrate the Winter Solstice with a special offer for Survivopedia readers!

Use the promocode SurvivoSolstice and get 10% discount to boost your cooking! 

Iron Skillets

Thank you again, Joseph Lodge for making iron skillets of the highest quality readily available in the US. The original iron skillet dates back to 1707, when Abraham Darby invented a process to make cast iron in large quantities so that they could be produced for common use.

Iron skillets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often with lids, and are great for cooking one pot meals in smaller quantity. They’re not quite as versatile as the Dutch oven, but certainly have value, especially for cooking quick meals such as breakfast scrambles and meals that don’t require a deep pot or long cooking times, such as Salisbury steaks, cornbread, camp biscuits, and fried chicken.

Slow Cookers

Ahh, possibly one of the best cooking inventions of modern times. Just as with man, the slow cooker started as something quite a bit different than what it is today. In 1952, West Bend came out with the electric bean pot, which was just a ceramic pot that sat on top of an electric heating element. This wasn’t much different than cooking on a stove, but was perhaps the first commercial attempt at a portable cooking vessel.

Enter Irving Naxon. He had developed the idea of a portable cooker that would have a crock sitting inside a casing that contained a heating element, thus providing even heating. He applied for the patent on May 21, 1936 and received it in January of 1940.

Naxon credited the idea to his Lithuanian grandma, who told him about how she used to cook dish called cholent after hours at a local bakery. She would prepare the meal, then place it in the oven so that the fading heat would slowly cook it overnight. This provided his inspiration for “low and slow” cooking.

He brought his idea, called the beanery, to market in the 50s and in 1970, Rival manufacturing hired Naxon, rebranded his product as the Crock Pot, and put it on shelves across America for $25. Surprisingly enough, that price hasn’t increased by more than a few dollars for a standard version since then.

There are, of course, improved versions with fancier technology and higher capacity that cost more.

Slow cookers are absolutely fabulous for all sorts of meals from stews to ribs that you want to cook slow and low while you’re away from the house or busy doing other things.

Canning

As survivalists, we would be remiss to leave out this method of preparing one pot meals.

We’ve discussed in another article how to put these together and, like our other cooking methods, canning is a great way to prepare both meals and desserts. You can also dry-can meals using dry ingredients that only require that you add water.

The one benefit that makes canning stand out is that you can eat the meal right out of the jar. It is, of course, more delicious if you heat it up, but if you’re without power and don’t want to draw attention to yourself with a fire, eating straight out of the jar may be your only option.

Another benefit here is that you can prepare the meals years in advance as opposed to cooking them on the spot. In a survival situation, that’s a huge plus.

The Beauty of One Pot Meals

There are a ton of reasons why a one pot meal is so appealing, but from a survival perspective, the ease of cooking is probably the biggest one.

You can cook a pot roast complete with all the fixings in a Dutch oven and you can even cook such meals as chicken and dumplings. They’re not just for soups and stews.

Having a variety of delicious meals is a huge morale booster as well as a way to get all of your nutrition out of one pot. Though beans and cornbread are delicious and filling, it gets old after a few days and isn’t a well-rounded meal.

One Pot Cooking Ideas

A quick internet search will net you a ton of great ideas for one pot meals, but you can always just use your imagination. There are also some recipes that you should know by heart. They aren’t necessarily one pot meals, but they are essentials that will help you keep your crew full and nourished.

  • Want fried potatoes, eggs, and sausage for breakfast? Toss your potatoes in first, then add your sausage and cook both til they’re done and throw in your eggs. Scramble them all together, and you’ve got a delicious one pot meal.
  • How about beef tips with gravy and a baked potato? Toss your beef tips into your crock pot or Dutch oven, wrap your potatoes in foil and toss those in with it. When they’re done, remove the potatoes and add some flour and milk to the beef tips. Cook it for a few minutes until the gravy thickens and you’ve got dinner.
  • Soups and stews, of course, are obvious, but how about ribs with corn on the cob and roasted potatoes? Easy peasy. Cut your potatoes into cubes and toss them in your seasoning. Wrap them in foil packs. Do the same with the corn after you break the ears into halves, or cut it off the cob. Put your rub or sauce on your ribs and toss them all into your Dutch oven or crock pot and you’re good to go. You can also do the potatoes and corn in the coals.

One pot meals are, for the most part, only limited by your imagination. They’re easy to throw together, toss into your cooking vessel of choice, and forget about. Also, you’re getting many more nutrients than you would if you only cooked a single item. That makes them a great survival food.

There is a great opportunity for Survivopedia readers to prepare for cooking in the sun, so grab this offer available only for a few days!

Use the promocode SurvivoSolstice and get 10% discount to boost your cooking! 

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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3 Ways To Add A Rooster To Your Flock

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Rooster Flock

Roosters. These beautiful birds often earn a bad reputation. But, when carefully selected and introduced, a rooster can be a blessing to your hens, not a curse.

I’ll jump into the how-to part of adding the rooster a little later in this post. Keep reading to find out more!

But first, let’s talk about some basics behind adding a male bird (or birds) to your flock.

How Many Roosters?

If you have too many roosters, they’ll spend more time fighting than doing their job. A good way to calculate how many roosters you need is to count your hens. You want one rooster for every six-ten hens.

That way every rooster can have his own little flock of hens to care for and breed with. Your hens will be happy because there won’t be three roosters trying to mate with each one. It’s a good ratio to try and maintain.

When deciding upon the number of roosters, take into account the following factors:

Space

Are your chickens confined to a pen and a run? If so, you’ll need significantly more space per bird if you plan to keep multiple roosters in there. Each one needs plenty of space for his flock.

If your chickens free-range, you’ll be able to get away with less space in the coop. But, you’ll want to make sure you don’t go below the minimum recommended space of four square feet per bird.

Having multiple, small coops available also helps minimize rooster squabbles. Or maybe you’ll have some of your birds roost on the barn roof at night like mine do.

No matter where they are, make sure each rooster has roosting space to enjoy at night with his hens. They will enjoy being together night and day.

Rooster

Feeders and Waterers

Many rooster fights originate over a battle for resources. If you have multiple roosters, you may need multiple feeders and waterers too. You definitely want to keep an eye on your flock, and if there are meal time problems add some additional options.

You’ll want them to have plenty of food and water for their ladies. Roosters will eat whatever your hens are eating, so you won’t need to worry about separating food.

Chicken feeding tips

Noise

Roosters are roosters. And they make noise. Contrary to popular belief and many movies, roosters don’t just crow when the sun comes up.

They crow pretty much all day, or at least mine do. When a hen lays an egg? They crow. When they sense danger? They crow.

Roosters are loud. So if you have a backyard flock in the city, be sure to check out your town’s ordinances before introducing a male. They aren’t as easy to hide behind a privacy fence as hens are.

How to Pick a Rooster

There are so many breeds of chickens available, so you’ll have plenty of choices for your rooster. While there are breeds that are known for being more docile, each rooster will have a temperament all his own.

That means you can pick a docile breed and still end up with a mean rooster. Likewise, you can raise a rooster from an aggressive breed, and wind up with a sweet, docile boy.

So basically, there are no guarantees when buying a rooster when you buy one as a baby.

I’ve had the best luck with banty roosters. My Ameraucanas, Australorps, and Blue Andalusians were all aggressive. While Ameraucanas are typically aggressive, Australorps are supposed be more docile.

The banty roosters have been fine. So have all of our new cockerels since the initial banty, that are half banty.

There’s been a little fighting, typically when a new batch matures in the summer, and they establish a new pecking order. Thankfully, there’s been no aggression towards myself or my children with these smaller roos.

Since breed isn’t a reliable indicator of a rooster’s personality, here are some characteristics to watch for when buying a rooster that’s full-grown. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to see him in action at his current residence before purchasing.

  • What do the backs of the hens this rooster is with look like? (You don’t want a rooster that tears up the backs of his ladies.)
  • Has the current owner noticed any aggression?
  • Is this rooster the dominant one at the top of flock, or a beta male?
  • Does the rooster share food with the hens, or does he keep it for himself?
  • How old is the rooster? (Young roosters who are just figuring out the mating thing are typically the roughest on hens.)
  • Is the rooster healthy?

Be careful buying roosters sight unseen unless you’re prepared for your new rooster to end up in the stew pot. Many people who get rid of their roosters are getting culling a problem bird. It’s not always the case, but is common enough that you should always be aware of it.

3 Ways to Introduce a Rooster to Your Flock

Over the years, I’ve introduced roosters to my flock in three different ways. They were all successful, but each had their pros and cons.

1. Buying a Rooster Initially with Baby Hens

The easiest way to introduce a rooster to your flock is to do it before your flock is established. When you’re buying baby chicks for the first time, just add roosters to your order to maintain the proper hen to rooster ratio.

This is how I started off. I ordered my chicks, added a couple of cockerels to the order and raised them all together. They established their pecking order from the time they were small, and I didn’t have a problem with fighting.

The chickens and roosters knew each other. I didn’t have to worry about isolating new birds, or introducing illness. It was simple.

But, you really don’t know the temperament of roosters until they are bigger. The roosters I ordered as cockerels turned mean. They were a risk to the children, and those roosters are no longer on the farm.

2. Adding a Full-Grown Rooster to Your Hens

About the time I got rid of my other roosters, a friend of the family had given my mom a small flock of banty chickens that included two roosters.

At first, she kept her flock in her coop across the road, though the long-term goal was always for them to move over here to join my flock.

Isolation: It Takes Time

The new birds were kept them in their coop for three weeks. This isolation time allowed for illnesses to be displayed. The birds were healthy.

Whenever you introduce a new bird, it’s important to not just stick them into your flock and hope everything goes well. A quarantine period allows you to check for mites and disease. That way you don’t inadvertently expose all your chickens.

If you don’t have a separate coop, you can create a smaller coop inside your existing one with chicken wire. Or you can use a shed or barn on your property. It won’t be forever, so as long as the space is predator proof it’ll work.

For introducing a single rooster, you can also use a large dog crate. I did this when introducing a batch of chicks, and it worked well for the birds to get to know each other.

Just be sure to keep an eye on food and water in the isolation unit, and make sure you don’t let the birds get too cramped.

Rooster ans chickens Start with Face to Face meetings in Large Spaces

Once you know your new rooster is healthy, you still don’t want to just add him directly to your flock. Give them time to get to know each other in a less territorial space.

My chickens and the new chickens free ranged together at my house. They had plenty of space, and at first both flocks stayed separate. They each foraged over a different section of land, and all went to their known coops at night.

After a few days of this distant meetings, the birds began to mingle. This mingling was repeated every day, and became more frequent.

Let the Rooster in at Night

Now that all the birds knew each other, it was time for the next phase of the assimilation. One evening after all the birds were roosting, I began to move the new ones. Since they were roosting, they were calm and easy to move.

I walked each bird across the street and into my coop. In the coop, I placed them on an extra roosting pole. That way they weren’t directly touching any of my existing flock.

By introducing the birds to sleeping together at night, the birds will be more likely to accept the new member. Then you can just let them all out in the morning.

Don’t Let Your Chickens Be Bored

Many problems with roosters arise when they’re bored. To solve this problem, provide your chickens with some activities they can do together.

Provide a spot for them to take dust baths. Toss out some grains and let them scratch. Give them your food scraps.

These things are simple, but will keep your chickens engaged and busy. They’ll be less likely to fight.

Know a Pecking Order Will Be Established

Even when you take precautions to introduce your new rooster, there will be changes in your flock. Each rooster will want his own girls, and there will be a new pecking order established.

There might be some squabbles while this occurs, but they should be minor. If you notice severe fighting, or injury, the rooster might not be a good fit for your flock. Slow down and go back to isolation at night.

Once my flock had its new pecking order figured out, one rooster took his hens to the barn to sleep at night.

Since they could get up high on the rafters, they were impossible for me to get back down and bring into the coop. So they still sleep there at night.

You might notice your chickens and roosters sleeping a little differently as well.

3. Letting Hens Hatch New Roosters

The final way that I’ve introduced new roosters into the flock is to have my hens do it for me. One benefit of having a rooster around is the fertile eggs. If you have a hen that will brood, you can have a self-sufficient flock.

When the chicks hatch, the mother hen will take care of flock introductions. By the time the hen leaves her chicks, they are grown enough to know their spot in the flock.

But, there will be a new pecking order established. I’ve seen the most problem as the new roosters begin to become interested in mating. They will always try to claim hens for himself.

In that process, he will almost always step on the toes of an established rooster. There’s a bit of squabbling, but the older roosters help the young ones learn their place.

The downside of this method is you can end up with too many roosters. So be prepared to cull some for the stew pot to keep there from being many problems. Then you’ll get both meat and eggs from your flock!

Adding a new rooster can take time. But, having one around can bring plenty of benefits to your flock.

A chicken flock is  as crucial for your homestead nowadays as it was for our grandparents in the past. Discover the secrets that helped them survive during harsh times.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia. 

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How To Make a Mini Root Cellar In Your Backyard With $10 In One Hour

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Once upon a time, root cellars were commonplace. They were the only way people had to preserve their food. These wonderful cold-storage areas became less common when refrigerators became affordable.

The post How To Make a Mini Root Cellar In Your Backyard With $10 In One Hour appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

How To Wax Food For Long-Term Storage

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How To Wax Food For Long Term Storage

You’ve probably noticed how shiny your cucumbers, apples, or other smooth produce looks when you buy it. That’s because it’s coated in a wax.

Though they pretty appearance is one of the benefits of waxing food, the main reason for waxing food is for preservation. Wax is also used for jellies and cheese.

Using Wax to Preserve Fresh Produce

The wax that commercial producers use may contain fungicides, bactericides, growth regulators, anti-sprouting agents, or other preservatives so that the food stays good as long as possible. The wax itself helps hold in moisture and slows oxygen penetration that causes ripening.

Another reason that wax is used on produce is to reduce the use of disposable, non-biodegradable packaging such as sleeves and plastic wrap.

Though waxing fruits and vegetables slows down the ripening process, it doesn’t extend it for long enough to be considered a viable long-term preservation method. There are better ways to preserve your produce long-term.

Using Wax to Preserve Jams and Jellies

For many years, paraffin wax was also used to seal the top of jams and jellies. This was meant to be more of a temporary preservation method of a food that didn’t spoil quickly anyway.

Consider it the precursor to Tupperware – it just formed a physical seal that prevented mold from growing for a couple of months until it was eaten.

The technique for this was fairly simple. You sterilized your jars and lids, and made your jellies just like you do now.

Instead of adding the lid and water-bathing it, though, you would have poured a quarter-inch or so of melted paraffin wax over the hot jelly, then stirred it just a bit to completely cover the top.

The wax is lighter so it stays on top, and as the wax and jelly cools, the wax forms a seal. Then you add your lid.

Since the advent of canning, waxing jelly has pretty much gone by the wayside because canning preserves your spreads for years instead of months.

The acid and sugar in preserves are pretty decent preservatives, anyway – the wax just extended that by keeping water from settling in dips and wells on the surface. That’s what promotes mold growth.

Using Wax to Preserve Cheese

Now, another food that’s still preserved with wax is cheese. You’ve likely bought those little individual bites of cheese that are covered in red wax. You just peel the strip back and the wax opens up like a lid, revealing the cheese inside.

If SHTF, cheese will be a luxury item, so learning to make it and preserve it now is the way to go. Even if you just buy cheese from the store and wax it, it’ll keep in a cool dry place nearly indefinitely.

We all know that everything’s better with cheese on it, and if you have a stockpile of it, you’re going to have a delicious way to keep food interesting. You’ll also have a valuable trade item.

Now, you should know from the outset that the government warns against eating any type of dairy product that hasn’t been refrigerated because of the risk of botulism.

They actually spend millions of dollars a year fighting the bacteria that afflicts 160 or so people a year. Don’t get me wrong – botulism is nasty business. It’s just that I couldn’t find a single case of real cheese-induced botulism.

Wax is great for preserving cheese because it keeps the moisture in and the bacteria and molds out that cause spoilage.

I like the thought of waxing for a couple of reasons – it allows the cheese to age and develop flavor, and it preserves one of my favorite foods in a manner that doesn’t require refrigeration.

What Cheese Can I Wax?

Great question. Because of the high moisture content, soft cheeses aren’t good candidates for waxing. Harder cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, parmesan, Colby and Gruyere are all good for waxing. If you start checking deeper into the USDA thing, many extensions say that it’s OK to store hard cheeses without refrigeration.

Choose cheeses that have a 40 percent or less moisture content. After all, moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, and you don’t want your cheese to spoil inside the wax.

Remember that your cheese will continue to age after you age it. I think that’s a good thing, because I like those sharp flavors.

Video first seen on Linda’s Pantry

What Kind of Wax to Use?

Before you pull out your chunk of paraffin, you need to know that you can’t use it for cheese. It’s not pliable enough and it doesn’t get hot enough to kill bacteria. You need to buy cheese wax specifically. This is easy to find online by running an internet search for cheese wax or cheese making supplies.

Word of caution: wax explodes at high temperatures, so once you heat it to 180 degrees F (the temperature that kills bacteria), turn the heat off. It’s a good idea to use a double broiler, too.

Another benefit of using cheese wax is that you can strain it through cheesecloth to get the cheese off of it and re-use it. Finally, it dries faster than paraffin, which cuts down on your processing time and gives bacteria less time to reach the cheese.

Oh, and don’t forget about gravity – your cheese is likely going to be sitting on a rack so that moisture can’t pool under it, so it’s going to sink a bit. Cheese wax will shift with it, but paraffin won’t.

What do I Need to Wax Cheese?

In order to wax your cheese, you’re going to need three things, at minimum: cheese wax, a cheese wax brush, and a can to melt the wax in. A metal coffee can is great because you can just put the lid on when you’re done and store the wax right in it until you want to wax your next batch of cheese.

Waxing Cheese

The reason that you need a special cheese brush is that regular nylon brushes will melt when you dip it into the wax. That’s never a good thing. So, buy a good brush.

Methods to Wax Cheese

Ahh. Now the rubber’s going to hit the road. There are two different methods that you can use to wax your cheese. You can dip it or you can paint it on. Either way, remember that two thin layers is better than one thick layer, so plan on going over your cheese twice, regardless.

1. Dipping

Dipping your cheese in the wax is a much prettier way to wax your cheese but it has one major downfall: you can only dip cheese chunks as big as your container, and as deep as your wax.

Still, if you’re waxing store-bought cheese in the small bricks, dipping will work just fine. So, let’s get started.

Before you wax your cheese, it’s best to let it rest at cool room temperature for a few days and get a bit of a harder rind on the outside. That also helps it dry out a bit more.

Now that you’re ready to dip, heat your wax up in your can or container until it’s 180 degrees and remove from heat. Have parchment paper ready to put your cheese on after you dip it.

Now, using tongs  or your fingers (use tongs!), dip your cheese in the wax as far up as the tongs or your fingers, then pull it out and let it drip for 10 seconds or so until the wax dries.

Place it on the parchment paper and move on to your next piece. Pick it up by the part that’s already been waxed, and dip the uncoated part, holding it up for 10 seconds or so just like you did the first side.

Repeat this process so that the cheese has two coats. Make sure that you get all of the little air bubbles or pin holes covered so that the cheese is completely covered.

2. Painting on Wax

The next method is exactly what it says – you paint the wax onto the cheese. Heat the wax the same way as above and lay your cheese out.

The main benefit of painting wax is that you can cover any size piece of cheese that you want. After you’ve coated the first side with the first layer of wax, flip it over and do the other side. Add two coats.

Now your cheese is ready to store, and you no longer have to worry about facing the end of civilization as we know it without cheese.

There are so many things you can learn from our ancestors about preserving your food for survival. Click the banner below and discover how to keep your loved ones well fed when SHTF!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Why Vertical Gardening Is The Way To Go For Survival

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Vertical Garden Survival

One of the biggest problems for many of us when it comes to gardening is space. Not everybody has a few acres to spare to grow a full, standard garden.

Another problem for many people is physical limitations. A regular garden requires a lot of labor that some people just can’t handle.

Many of us also worry that people will find our food source if SHTF.

An open garden planted on flat earth is painfully obvious to just about anybody passing by, but if you can build a vertical garden that is out of sight or even portable so that you can move it out of sight if you need to.

Vertical gardening solves many problems.

4 Benefits of Vertical Gardening

We just touched on a few of the benefits of vertical gardening but let’s get into it a bit further, because this is seriously great way for just about anybody to grow food.

Demands Much Less Physical Labor

When you’re growing a garden, you already know that it’s going to be a ton of work. You’re going to need to till the space, then plant the seeds or plants. You have to weed the gardens so that your plants thrive, and you have to keep the soil loose around them. Then, of course, you have to harvest your crops.

Nearly all of this requires a lot of bending, kneeling, and twisting. That’s great if you’re 25, fully healthy, and WANT to do that much work.

However for many of you, that level of physical labor is difficult or even impossible. Growing a vertical garden eliminates all of these issues.

It’s Easier to Hide

Another benefit is that, even if somebody happens to glance at your back yard, they’re not necessarily going to pay attention to something growing on a wall, especially if you’ve planted flowers among your vegetables.

Looters won’t be prone to look too hard because they’re in a hurry looking for an easy mark.

Vertical gardens are a bit easier to camouflage than an acre-wide garden. Also, you can make your garden so that it faces the back of your house, which would make it virtually impossible to see.

Finally, you can always make your vertical gardens portable so that you can move them out of the line of sight of looters.

Covers Plain Walls with Beautiful Plants

There’s nothing particularly pretty about a blank wall, so cover it up with a beautiful, and possibly edible, wall of plants! Don’t want to look at that privacy fence between you and your neighbors? Cover them in plants.

There’s just something cozy about a backyard with vine-and-flower covered fences and walls. It gives the whole place a homey feeling.

Easier Quality Control

When your plants are growing in pots or planters that you’re managing, you know exactly what’s in the dirt and you’ve possibly made your own fertilizer so chemicals aren’t an issue.

There’s no need to worry about the quality of the nutrients in your dirt; you put them there. You also control the amount of moisture and can feel when the plant needs more or less because all you need to do is stick your fingers into the dirt.

Plants that are off the ground are easier to inspect for insects and fungi that can wipe out all of your plants before you get to taste even one morsel of them.

You can also nip the sucker leaves off and provide all the care that your plants need from a much more comfortable position. When you’re comfortable, you can take your time and care for your plants properly.

Different Types of Vertical Gardens

A vertical garden is exactly what it sounds like – a garden planted vertically instead of on the ground. There are many different ways that you can do this depending upon your space, what you want to grow, and how you want to do it. Your garden, your decision!

Aquaponics System

Aquaponics is the art of growing plants and fish together. The plants provide the fish with nutrients that they need and the fish byproducts provide nutrient-rich fertilizer for the plants.

The system can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to build it. You can use dirt or start an aquaponics system. As a matter of fact, you can build an aquaponics system that’s very nearly a vertical garden itself, and it gives you fish AND plants.

Latticework with Baskets or Boxes

Another way to build a vertical garden is to use hanging baskets and latticework. This type of garden is good for plants that don’t grow out or get too tall.

Plants such as peppers, strawberries, onions, garlic, lettuce, and spinach are great for  the baskets. To help your space do double duty, use the lattice work to grow vining plants such beans or tomatoes.

An alternative to baskets is to hang planters from the latticework. This will allow you to grow plants that vine out a bit or need more room to grow, such as potatoes, carrots, or squash.

You can stagger the boxes as needed to accommodate the space requirements of the plant. Again, you can grow vining or heavy plants on or at the base of, the latticework.

Gardening Walls

If you have an empty wall – it could be the side of your house, an outbuilding, or a garden wall – then you have a place to put a vertical garden. Plus, you’ll be covering up a plain wall with beautiful plants.

Be sure when you use a wall that you allow space for the extra moisture so that you don’t damage your wall.

You can use just about any construction material that you want. Chicken wire, lattice work, and trellises are all good choices.

You can also use gardening bags, which are made from a variety materials including burlap and canvas. One of the good things about using bags is that the extra moisture drains right out the bottom. You can use this system to water the plants below if you’d like.

Gutter System

I saw this in a magazine and fully plan on making it my next project. The problem is that I don’t have access to old gutters. It’s a simple yet brilliant design.

Just drill drainage holes in the bottom of old gutters and hang them on a wall of some sort. The holes will keep the moisture content at a good level and will even allow for trickle-down watering.

Vertical Towers or Walls

I love these systems. I’m currently using one right now and even though I’ve just started, I absolutely love it. It’s easy to use and has an aquaponics watering system that makes my life much easier while keeping my plants happy, too.

Usually I build my own stuff, but this one looked too good to pass up, so I bought it. It’s a tower farm wall and the short video above was made while unboxing the package.

Possibly the best thing about  the wall is that it’s easy to put together regardless of your skill level, and it’s easy to take care of.

The trays are set at heights that are easy to reach regardless of how tall you are and if you were to anchor it, it would be free-standing with very little modification. Low maintenance is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Towers are always a fun way to go. For instance, you can cut out holes from a length of PVC, fill the pipe with dirt, then plant strawberries or other similar plants in the holes. You can also make a tower using round planters.

Use a large one on the bottom, then use two mediums – 1 turned upside down inside the big one for support, and the other one upright to hold dirt. Repeat this step with 2 smaller pots. Fill with dirt and you have a 3-tier plant tower. You can add to the levels if you like.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Though making your own vertical gardening structures is awesome, it’s not always practical. If not, then consider the Tower Farm Wall that I discussed above. I really am having a good time with it and the customer support is great.

Start growing your own food right now and you will not have to worry if SHTF. Click the banner below to discover how to provide as much food as your family needs in a crisis, with only 10 minutes a day.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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4 Easy Solutions For Lighting Your Indoor Plants

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Lighting Your Indoor Plants

Whether you’re trying to start your seeds so that you have healthy seedlings or young plants to set out when the weather warms or you’re growing all of your plants inside, lighting is an integral part of growing.

Finding the best indoor lighting options for your plants can be a challenge, though.

It would be ideal if you could place all of your plants by windows so that they can get their natural source of light: sunshine. However, that’s not always possible, especially if you’re growing a lot of plants and you want to keep them under the radar.

There are plenty of great options and, thanks to technology, they won’t all cost a fortune. We’ll discuss that as we go.

Choosing the Type of Light

Before we start discussing bulbs, you need to understand a bit about growing plants and what type of light they need. Many newcomers to the scene think that, like owning a guinea pig or a snake, the light is used to keep the plant warm, but that’s not the case.

light

Plants require light to grow and flower, but not all light is equal. For that matter, not all light is necessary and the types of light that plants need are actually dim to human eyes.

The sun offers a full spectrum of light colors that range from blue to red. It’s actually those two colors that plants need the most. Blue light enables the plant to grow bushy and full. Red light causes the plant to produce a hormone that makes it flower. As you’ve probably already figured, you want both for your edibles.

The colors in between, particularly green, are completely unnecessary; green light is purely for aesthetic purposes. It just makes your plants appear green and glossy because the plant reflects it back. That may be useful information if you want your plants to look pretty as they grow.

Another factor that you need to consider is heat. Unless you’re growing your plants in a cold room, standard room temperatures are more than enough heat to grow most plants. You really don’t need heat from your bulbs. Too much heat will burn your plants and many high-heat bulbs burn out fairly quickly, too.

You’ll see watts, which is how much energy the bulb produces, and you’ll also see Kelvins. Kelvins are the basic unit of color temperature that’s used to measure that whiteness of a bulb’s output. In other words, it’s the best description of the visual warmth or coolness of the bulb.

The higher the degree of Kelvin, the bluer the light. The lower the Kelvin, the warmer, or redder, the light looks. Shoot for 4000-6000 Kelvin because that level of light borrows from all parts of the spectrum including the blues and reds that you need for growth and flowering.

Some plants, such as peppers and lettuce, may not need as much red light because they don’t flower quite as much.

Now that you understand the basics of what you need to make your plants grow, let’s talk about the different types of light and whether they’re best for your needs.

1. Incandescent Lights

These are the types of bulbs you probably already have in your fixtures. They’re pretty much standard bulbs. Incandescent bulbs put off a ton of heat and don’t really produce the type of light that your plants need to grow.

Only about 10 percent of the energy that they produce goes toward light; the rest is heat. They’re OK for growing low-light plants such as vines, but they’re not much good for growing anything seriously.

2. Fluorescent Lights

These lights put off mostly blue light, which means that you’ll have bushy plants. These are OK for growing plants that you don’t need to flower such as lettuce or cabbage. They’re also good for starting your plants inside. Fluorescents come in different lengths and are shaped like tubes.

One of the biggest downsides here is that you have to hang them is special ballasts. Regular fluorescents are great for at least starting your seeds, and they’re good for plants that don’t need so much of the red light such as herbs.

If you opt to go with fluorescent lights, you should know that the narrower the bulb, the more efficient the light is. They also use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lights.

Now there’s a new fluorescent system out called the T5 system. They put out double the amount of light per tube as regular fluorescent tubes and they’re full-spectrum. That means that instead of just having the blue light like regular fluorescent lights have.

If you’re using a T5 system adjust the proximity of the light to the plant as it grows. Since the bulb isn’t insanely hot, you don’t have to worry about burning the plant.

Video first seen on katie phibbs.

3. High Intensity Discharge Solutions

These are great options for growing your plants but they’re expensive. High-intensity discharge lights are extremely efficient and produce a lot of light. There are a couple of types that emit different spectrums of light.

The Metal Halide, of MH, light emits the blue light that will encourage the leafiness, and the High Pressure Sodium, or HPS, lights produce the reds that you need to make it flower.

You could use the MH light to get it started and full, then swap it out for the HPS to get it to flower, or you could use them in tandem. These bulbs are expensive but one 1000-watt lamp can produce the same amount of light as fifty 40-watt fluorescent bulbs. They come in different sizes.

Just to give you an idea, one 400-watt bulb can produce enough light to cover a 15sf growing area, or a 4’x4’ garden. The 1000-watt bulb covers about a 7’x7’ area. Figure that each 25 watts covers 1 square foot of garden.

4. LED Lights

We’ve been using them for Christmas lights for years but LEDs are relatively new to the agriculture scene. They produce practically no heat and don’t use hardly any power, either. Remember how we discussed the Kelvin measurements? Well LEDs can be programmed to 5700K to mimic the light spectrum of the sun.

Right now, LED grow lights are expensive but they’ll likely become cheaper as they develop the technology and the method becomes more popular.

Figuring Costs

Remember that you’re going to be in this for the long run. If you’re only growing a few plants, it’s probably fine to go with a cheaper bulb or system but if you’re going to grow a significant amount of plants and plan to do it for the foreseeable future, you’ll probably be better off to invest a bit of money in the beginning and let it pay off in the long run.

To figure the cost of your system, add up the combined wattage of all of your lights and divide that by 1000. That will give you the kilowatts used. Multiply that by how much your power company charges you per kilowatt hour. Multiply that by the number of hours the lights will be on per month and you have your monthly energy cost that you can compare to the original cost of the system.

If you’re fortunate enough to live completely off the grid and you are powering your house by solar or some other sustainable method, then you can go with the best system for your situation that’s within your price range. If you notice, though, the more expensive systems use relatively little energy.

Every survival plan must have food at its core. Click the banner below and discover how you can grow your own food with just 10 minutes a day!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Make Bannock For Survival

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Bannock for Survival

Do you need a quick bread that’s easy to cook over a campfire? Your very own instant baking mix of sorts that just needs water added?

Then you need some bannock!

Like hardtack, bannock has a long history. It’s believed to have been brought to North America by Scottish explorers. In Scotland, bannock was cooked over an open fire on a bannock stone.

Once in North America, the love of bannock spread quickly. Indigenous tribes from coast to coast adapted the method and created their own versions of this survival food.

Today, many outdoor enthusiasts rely on bannock to accompany their meals. It’s easy to prepare before heading out, and simple to cook over a campfire. This portability makes bannock a wonderful addition to your survival stores.

The ingredients of bannock are very similar to those of hardtack. Like hardtack, you can make a simple bannock out of just flour and water. However, to get the best tasting bannock, you’ll want to add a few additional ingredients.

A Variety of Bannock Recipes

There are bannock recipes with just two ingredients, and others with a lot more. At the heart of every bannock batch is flour.

The Scotts traditionally used oat flour. As the recipe grew in popularity in North America, corn meal and wheat flour were used. Obliviously, bannock works with a variety of flours. So use what your body can tolerate, and what you can easily store.

Besides water and flour, you can add some additional items to improve the taste of your bannock. Here are a few common additions, and how much to use of each.

To keep your bannock light instead of dense, add baking powder to your flour. A teaspoon for every cup of flour is an appropriate amount. Adding salt improves the flavor of the final product. Use ½ teaspoon of salt for every cup of flour.

Cutting a tablespoon of fat for every cup of flour into the dry ingredients helps improve the taste and texture of your bannock. If you use a shelf-stable fat like lard or shortening, you’ll still be able to store your dry mix for several months at a time.

You can adapt the recipe to use what you have on hand, which makes this bread an ideal survival food. Here’s how I tweaked the recipe. It created a flavorful bread when baked, pan-fried, or cooked over an open fire.

For each batch, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of white wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 TSB. unrefined coconut oil

You’ll also need some water when you’re ready to cook the bannock.

Begin by preparing the dry ingredients. I mixed them in a small bowl, and used a fork to incorporate the oil. My end mixture looked a lot like commercial Bisquick or other baking mixes.

Once you’ve prepared your bannock mix, you can store each batch in a sealable bag. Throw a couple of these bags into your bug out bag, along with a bottle of water, so you can always be ready to make bread.

Here’s a picture of a bag of bannock mix I made, along with a bottle of water and a green stick. All I need is a fire and I can have freshly made bread! Since each batch doesn’t take much water, that single water bottle is enough to make a couple of bags.

Bannock stick

How to Cook Bannock

The ingredients aren’t the only thing you can vary when making bannock. This bread can be cooked in several ways.

No matter how you cook it, you’ll need to add water to your mix. Just pour in a little water into the bag, and start gently squeezing the bag. You’ll distribute the water throughout the mix.

The dough will begin to form a soft ball. If your mix is too dry, add a tiny bit more water. It’s much better to add the water slowly than to add too much. Once your dough is a soft sticky ball, stop working it. You’ll make the bannock tough if you handle it too much.

Here’s a picture of what my dough looked like when it was ready to go.

Bannock dough

There’s many ways to cook your bannock. Here are three popular methods:

Pan Fry

Heat a little bit of oil in a cast iron skillet. Once water droplets dance, it’s time to add your bannock. You can just squeeze it directly from the bag to the pan. Or you can break it into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking. That’s what I did.

Let it cook a couple of minutes, shaking the pan gently. Once the bannock comes loose from the bottom of your pan, it’s time to flip.

You can either grab a spatula like I did, or grab the frying pan tightly and toss your bannock in the air. It’ll flip over and you can catch it. Then cook the other side.

Bake in an Oven

In a survival situation, you probably won’t have a traditional oven. But if you have a solar oven set up, or are just making bannock for supper, you can bake it.

Before putting it in the oven, dump your prepared bag out onto a greased pan. Then flatten it out a bit with your hands.

I baked my bannock at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. It came out nicely browned, and cooked all the way through. Here’s a picture showing pan fried bannock (the small ones) and baked bannock.

Cooked bannock

Over an Open Fire

If you’re in the wilderness, find yourself a green stick from a tree. You’ll want to strip the bark from the end you’ll cook the bannock on.

You’ll also need a fire. Similarly to roasting marshmallows, you’ll want a fire that has plenty of hot coals. That way the bannock cooks all the way without burning on the outside.

To prep your stick, hold the peeled end of the stick over the coals for a couple of minutes. This will heat the stick and help the dough to cook on the inside.

When you’re stick is hot, it’s time to wrap your dough around it. Just pretend the dough is playdough and make it into a long snake. Then, wrap the snake around the peeled portion of the stick. Remember it’s hot, so be careful! You want the dough to be thin on your stick so it can cook.

Here’s what my wrapped stick looked like. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just as long as it’s on tight enough not to fall off while over the fire.

Raw bannock on stick

It took me a couple of tries to get my bannock cooked correctly, and not burn it. Then I discovered it was very similar to roasting a marshmallow, and adjusted the distance from the coals accordingly.

It should take a couple minutes to cook. When I thought it was done, I pulled my bannock away from the fire and broke off a little piece to test the center. After the center was no longer doughy, it was ready to eat.

Here’s my finished fire roasted bannock on a stick. The kids thought it’d make a fun hot dog bun substitute the next time we have a cookout. I agree.

Cooked bannock on stick

Add-In Ideas

We just tore this bannock into pieces to eat. But, you don’t have to eat your bannock plain. You can doctor up the final product with butter, jam, cheese, or some meat.

You can also stir many different ingredients into your dough to mix it up a bit. If you’d like a sweeter bannock, consider adding a teaspoon of sugar into your dry ingredient mix. Honey would also be a good sweetener, added at the same time as the water.

You can also add some shelf-stable ingredients to your dry mix that’ll add some texture and flavor to your bread. Here are some ideas to try. You can either use a single add-in, or make up your own favorite combination.

  • Chopped, dried fruit
  • Chopped nuts
  • Spices (such as cinnamon or nutmeg)
  • Seeds
  • Mini chocolate chips

Storing Your Bannock

The shelf life of your bannock mix will depend on what ingredients you include, and how you store it. A basic mix with flour, baking powder, salt, and oil will last at least a couple of months when stored in a sealed plastic baggie. If you remove the oil, the mix would have a longer shelf-life.

Mixing up a batch of bannock mix takes just a couple of minutes. You won’t have a large time-commitment ensuring you always have a fresh batch on hand.

If you’re storing plastic baggies in your bug out bag, or even just for a camping trip, be sure that they aren’t going to get punctured. You might consider keeping the smaller bags inside a stronger, larger freezer bag to offer more protection.

Once your bannock is cooked, you can keep it for several days. That means you can cook up a big batch and use it to help give you strength if you’re on the move to another bug out location. You’ll notice the texture will change a bit as the bannock dries out, but it’ll still taste fine.

Want to learn how our Grandparents survived through the Great Depression? Click the banner below and download your own collection of real American survival wisdom!

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7 Ways To Prepare For An Economic Crisis

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Using the past economic collapses as an example, we can see that people’s lifestyles changed dramatically. Even those who managed to keep their jobs and businesses have to make radical adjustments in their lies, just to be able to survive.

There is no reason for us to think that things will be any different here in the United States, than they were in Argentina; in fact, they could very well end up being worse.

The reason I say it could be worse is that there will be nobody to bail out the United States, as has been done with other countries. We know from the 2009 housing collapse that anything negative that happens in the U.S. economy has a worldwide effect.

Since other countries will end up suffering as well, there is no way that they will be able to help us.

Liberals have touted the idea of redistributing the wealth of the wealthy in order to take care of our country’s woes. I’m not going to discuss the morality or ideology of that right now; but I will say this: if you were to take all the wealth of the 100 richest people in the United States and add it together, it wouldn’t pay our federal government’s bills from January 1st till tax day.

Of course, since their wealth isn’t really in cash, but rather in ownership of properties and companies, there’s no way of using it to pay the government’s costs or debts.

The other thing that could make the collapse worse here in the United States is that most Americans aren’t prepared to live without all of our comforts. If you go to other countries, people are more accustomed to doing things themselves, instead of expecting society to do them. They know how to do basic things like slaughter a hog and pluck a chicken; things that the average American hasn’t had to do for generations.

Here are a number of lifestyle changes which can help your family to be ready to survive the meltdown:

Pay off Your Home

Home mortgages are dangerous in a financial crisis. If you don’t have enough income coming in to make the payment on your home, then you could very easily lose it. No matter how prepared you are, if you don’t have your home, you’re going to be in trouble.

There are a number of strategies around for paying off your home mortgage early. I won’t go into them here, because this really isn’t a book about personal finances.

You can find the necessary information on how to pay off your home early in a number of places. I highly recommend looking into Dave Ramsey’s teachings on the subject.

Another option you may want to consider is downsizing. By selling your existing home and moving into something smaller, you might be able to reduce your mortgage payments or even the length of your mortgage. That would help you to get rid of your mortgage sooner.

In the case of the financial crash coming before you manage to pay it off (which is very likely), your payments will be smaller, making it easier for you to keep making those payments.

Pay off All Other Debts

Any debt is a liability, enslaving your family’s finances to others. By paying off your outstanding debt, you eliminate the risk of lenders coming to take what you have. While other debt is not as important as your home mortgage, paying it off can make it easier to pay off your mortgage quicker.

Paying off your debt also reduces your monthly cost of living, freeing up more money for use in preparing for the pending crash or some other activity your family wants to do.

The vast majority of Americans have too much debt, which greatly limits their options and the decisions that they can make.

Learn to Do Things without Electricity

So much of our modern lifestyle depends upon electricity. We are used to using it for literally everything; from preserving our food to entertaining us. However, loss of electricity is a common problem during times of economic meltdown.

Oh, the electricity probably won’t go out and stay out, but you can count on a lot of service interruptions.

When service is lost, many of the things which we take for granted are lost as well. Our ability to store and cook food is compromised, as well as our ability to work. Lighting is gone, as well as most of our communications. For many people, the loss of electricity means the loss of being able to work as well.

For everything you use in your life that is electric powered, you need an alternative. That means having something that you can use to do the same job, should the power go out. In some cases, you might be able to do without that thing, but you need to analyze that and make that determination, not just accept it as an assumption.

Re-do Your Budget

Probably one of the best things you can do to prepare for a financial meltdown is to re-do your budget, establishing a more frugal lifestyle. Chances are, when the economic collapse happens, you’re going to have to be living that more frugal lifestyle.

By establishing it ahead of time, you not only train yourself and your family to be more careful of how you use your money, but you also save money which you can then use to buy and stockpile necessary supplies.

Many people today live from paycheck to paycheck. That doesn’t mean that they’re using their money wisely though. Their budget may include eating out three times a week, spending $400 per month on their cell phones and another $300 per month on entertainment. Yet they complain about not having enough money to buy some basic emergency supplies.

There are a lot of places where the average family spends more than they need to. Buying new cars is another one. Banks and the auto industry make a lot of money off of families who are making payments on two cars at a time. For some, their combined car payments are higher than their house payment.

While reliable vehicles are a necessity, having two car payments every month isn’t. It would be better to buy older cars and not have those high payments to make.

Eat Healthy

How can eating healthy be part of preparing for a financial meltdown? Easy; the most expensive things that most of us eat are junk food. As a nation, we spend a fortune on prepared foods, snack foods and sweets.

When the financial meltdown comes, you probably won’t be able to afford all that junk. You’ll end up eating much simpler foods, which carry more nutrition.

At the same time, eating all that junk food is not good for your health. Medical expenses can be extremely high, especially for those who have ignored eating healthy.

While it may sound a bit extreme, eating healthy can make the difference between life and death, by helping protect you from a life-threatening medical problem.

Vitamins

Get in Shape

This one goes hand-in-hand with eating healthy. People who are in good physical condition are much less likely to have medical problems, especially high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol; all of which can become life-threatening.

However, there’s another part to this as well. That is, preparing your body for the physical rigors of survival.

Living without all the modern conveniences requires much more physical work than living with them. That’s why so many of us are out of shape. We’ve become accustomed to allowing machines to do the things that we used to do ourselves. We’ve become softer.

Many of us can’t do the physical work necessary for surviving without all those modern machines.

Find Like-Minded People

Many experts on survival and preparedness recommend banding together with other like-minded people and forming a prepping community. The idea is that in the wake of a disaster, the community would gather in one place to live and work together. Each member of the team would have their assigned area of responsibility, based upon their unique skills.

There are many advantages of working together in a prepping community. The right community can increase your chances of survival.

However, the wrong one can cause severe problems, with people leaving the group and taking most of the supplies with them.

Be careful what group you join, investigating the morals and personalities of the people first, to make an informed decision about whether the group will stick together to help each other, or become selfish and steal from each other.

Our ancestors survived harsh times and their secrets can help you survive during the most treacherous conditions if the world is struck with a tragedy.

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Senior Preparedness: What Types Of Food To Store?

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The great thing about modern technology and food industrialization is that there are now all types of food commercially available.

That’s great news for those of us who aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore because it makes building a diverse stockpile extremely simple.

What to Stock?

When you’re making your list, be sure that you include the following groups in order to have a full supply of foods that will meet your dietary needs:

  • Vegetables: These are most easily bought canned. If you have high blood pressure, watch out for the sodium content because salt is often used as a preservative. Be sure to get a variety of colors because each one offers different nutrients. For example, oranges and reds are high in vitamins A and C and greens offer iron, vitamin C and, often, the B vitamins. Veggies also offer protein as well as fiber that will keep your digestive tract healthy.
  • Fruits: Fruits can be purchased canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated. All forms of preservation maintain high levels of the nutritional value of the fresh fruits. Be sure to buy ones canned in juice instead of ones canned in syrup. Again, go for different colors for the nutritional range that the offer. Fibrous fruits such as peaches are great for long-term energy because the fiber slows the absorption of the natural sugars in the fruit.
  • Meats: Thanks to modern technology, well-preserved meat can be purchased dehydrated, smoked, or canned. Each way is nutritious and delicious. Again, watch the sodium levels if you have blood pressure issues and shoot for nutritious meats such as jerky and canned tuna and chicken instead of fatty, processed meats such as Spam or potted meat.
  • Beans: You can purchase beans canned or dry. They’re a great source of protein and B-vitamins as well as carbohydrates. If you have digestive problems with beans, try soaking them first and cooking them with an onion. That sometimes helps get rid of the “gassy” properties.
  • Dry Goods: Flour, sugar, pastas, rice and other dried goods will be good for two reasons: they’ll help round out your meals with delicious, filling sides and sauces and they’ll make great barter items.
  • Spices: Dried spices last for years and are easy to store. You can also opt to grow your own indoor herb garden, which we’ll discuss in a bit. Spices will make a great barter item as well as help you add flavor to meals.
  • Desserts and Treats: Sometimes eating is about more than nutrition. A nice piece of apple pie can boost morale and give people the mental boost that they need to get through tough times. Adding some pie filling or some chocolate chips to your stockpile will add a welcome burst of comfort to life if SHTF. Don’t depend on treats for nutrition, but storing some for treats or trading is a good idea if you have the room.
  • Fats and Oils: Healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil deliver nutrition and a good backup source of energy. They also help flavor meats and are necessary if you want to make such dishes as biscuits or sauces. Your body needs omega-3’s in order to function and since it can’t make them on its own, you need to eat them. Fish and olive oil are both good sources but olive oil doesn’t have the risk of mercury poisoning that you may encounter by eating too much canned fish.
  • Energy Bars: Because they’re portable and often contain all of the nutrition that you need for an entire day, energy or protein bars make great additions to your stockpile. Since they’re lightweight and take up very little space, you should toss a few into your bug-out bag so that you have some quick energy and nutrition should you need to evacuate.

Stocking Up with Store-Bought Foods

Though growing your own food and being completely independent of outside food sources is great, it’s also extremely difficult to do if you live in an urban area or have physical limitations. There are numerous reasons why purchasing your food supplies from the store may be your best option, especially as you get older. Here are just a few:

  • The food is safely preserved.
  • You can buy a wide variety all at the same place.
  • There’s no manual labor involved.
  • You don’t have to learn any special food growing or preservation techniques (though we recommend that you learn how to do it in case you need to in a long-term survival situation!)
  • You don’t need garden space or special equipment.
  • Purchasing your food is by far the easiest way to build your stockpile. If you watch for sales and use coupons, it’s extremely affordable as well. Even just taking advantage of BOGO sales will save you a tremendous amount of money.

Not only can store-bought foods save you time, many of us don’t have the space or the physical strength to manage a large garden anymore.
Growing a small one for fresh foods is fabulous but growing one large enough to produce extra for canning can be taxing when you get older. Heat stroke is no fun at all, and picking beans sure is hard on the back muscles.

Foods Shelf Life

If you’re nodding your head in understanding and agreement, store-bought supplies may be the way to go.

A Bit About the Types of Foods Available Commercially

You’ve been buying commercially prepared foods all of your life but you probably haven’t ventured far beyond the standard canned foods aisle in your local supermarket. A trip to a hunting goods store or a military surplus store will open up the doors to a few more options. Here’s a brief rundown on the major preservation methods available to you:

  • Canned Food: This one doesn’t need much of a description because unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve eaten it in mass quantities throughout your life. Food is sealed in plastic or glass jars or in steel or aluminum cans in such a way that air can’t get in to cause spoilage.
  • Dehydrated Food: Again, this one doesn’t need much of an explanation because you’ve surely had jerky or dried fruits. Food is seasoned and cooked in an oven or a dehydrator to remove the liquid. It’s then typically sealed in a bag or jar in order to keep out moisture that will cause spoilage. With the moisture removed, dehydrated food is lightweight, takes up very little space, retains nearly all of its nutritional value and is good practically indefinitely as long as no moisture gets to it. Great for your bug-out bag. You can add water to dehydrated foods to rehydrate them and cook with them.
  • Freeze-Dried Foods: This is a method that you may not be so familiar with. Freeze-drying is a 3-step process sort of similar to dehydrating, except the food is first frozen. Then it goes into a warm vacuum chamber where it remains for several hours. Instead of turning to liquid, the vacuum causes the liquid to leave the food in a frozen form that vaporizes. Finally, the food is dried to remove the rest of the water and sealed to keep moisture out.
    Most freeze-dried foods have a recommended shelf-life of 25 years. It’s also extremely light and can be eaten as-is or rehydrated and cooked. You can buy single products such as fruits or complete freeze-dried meals.
  • Meals Ready to Eat (MREs): These are meals created originally by the military to provide nutrition to soldiers in the field. Nowadays, they’re available from military surplus stores if you want the real thing. Companies also produce them for the private sector and you can buy them at sporting goods stores. As with freeze-dried or dehydrated foods, MREs are available as single foods or entire meals.
  • Dried Foods: Spices and beans are great examples of foods preserved by drying. It simply involves allowing the product to hang and dry naturally. Unlike dehydrated foods, the process doesn’t involve heat. Otherwise, it’s the same idea; remove the water and bacteria can’t grow.

With all of these options available, there’s no reason why you can’t stock your pantry and eat well even if disaster strikes.

Here are a few tips for buying supplies that will help you store what you need while getting the most mileage for your buck:

Buy foods that you eat. Yes, canned asparagus may be on sale but if you hate it, don’t buy it. There’s a reason that you still have 2 cans of it in your pantry from 1972 – you think it’s gross and would rather go hungry than open that can and ingest the contents. Not a great way to stay in good spirits in a tough situation.

Buy in bulk. Food is often cheaper if you buy large quantities of it. For instance, a 50lb bag of flour is going to cost much less per pound than a 5lb bag will. You can always separate it out into manageable proportions. Since a bag that large is difficult to handle, check to see if any of your local grocers deliver. Many of them do today and that will make it easier and safer for you to buy items that are difficult to handle.

Buy extra when you can. This is a great way to build your stockpile with foods that you enjoy. If you’re buying a can of clam chowder, buy two instead. If they’re BOGO, buy four! You’re accomplishing two things here; you’re building your stockpile and you’re ensuring that what you stock is what you like. Plus, you’ll have an extra can of soup on hand if you feel like sharing or if you forget to get it the next time.

Seal your dried goods. Just because your flour may be good for a year or more, it’s not going to be that appealing with bugs in it. When you get it home, store it in plastic containers or bags that bugs can’t get into so easily. This will keep it fresh longer, too.

Don’t buy damaged cans. If a can has a dent, don’t buy it. It’s entirely probable that the safety of the food has been compromised because if the can’s damaged, air could get in. Also, cans have a protective lining that keeps the steel or aluminum from seeping into your foods but if they’re dented, that protective lining could be damaged. Don’t risk it even if you’re going to eat it that night.

Building your stockpile with purchased food offers a safe, simple way to ensure that you’ll have what you need to get you through a survival situation.

It’s time to go back in time and learn valuable survival secrets and skills from our ancestors.

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Top 5 Versatile Foods To Survive Nowadays

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When you’re living small and running out of space in your home, anything you buy raises the same big question: where am I going to store it?

A lot of people live in small spaces, and still buy a lot of everything, even if most of it finally goes to waste. Let’s be smart and buy what you really need and use, in or outside the kitchen. Think about how to use in multiple ways everything you buy, including food.

In other words, choose versatile food as much as you opt for multipurpose items when building your reserves. In the end, its about money, but also about space and resources.

Here’s what I chose!

Flour

First, there are a lot of grains that you can use to make flour at home: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, corn, oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias, and walnuts), seeds (such as sunflowers, hemp, pumpkin, amaranth and flax), potatoes, arrowroot, tapioca, coconut, soybean and others.

You have undoubtedly heard of cornmeal and possibly even almond meal, but what’s the difference between a meal and flour? Meals are ground more coarsely. To make meal, just don’t grind your product as long. When it starts to get a crumbly texture, you’re done. Compare it mentally to cornmeal.

Meals are great for several different uses because they add a heartier flavor and more texture to your goods. They’re bad, though, if you’re shooting for something nice and light to make a cake with.

Then you have pasta, and all those tasty dishes based on them: lasagna, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese or simple yet delicious rustic dishes made only from the ingredients in your garden. You won’t need many ingredients: flour, eggs (optionally) and salt. Some people like to add oil, but it’s not essential to making basic pasta.

All-purpose flour is just fine for a basic pasta mix. If you want to add texture and a bit of hardiness to your pasta, you can add some semolina flour to the mix. If you want silkier pasta for a more refined noodle, add some cake flour, or 00 flour.

Milk

cheese bucketMilk is packed with calcium and protein and is also a necessary ingredient in many recipes.

It’s something that you’ll want to have on hand in a survival situation.

Milk doesn’t keep long, but there are different ways to preserve it for later use. Read this Survivopedia article to find out more about how to preserve milk.

Also, there are about a million different cheese recipes out there that you can make depending upon your personal preferences and the type of milk (goat or cow) that you’re using.

Cheese is a lot easier to make than you’d think and you can keep it forever without refrigeration.

Coat the cheese in wax to preserve it. You’ll need a special cheese wax because paraffin wax will crack as it dries. Waxed cheese will last up to 25 years but remember that it will age and become sharper so if you plan to store it for an extended period of time, start with a mild cheese.

Another idea is to make butter or buttermilk. Or if you’d like, you can also make yogurt (here are a few recipes you might use for making yogurt), sour cream or cottage cheese but storage methods for those are just simple refrigeration. It will extend the life of the milk for a couple of weeks, though. And I’ve also heard rumors of canning buttermilk.

Salt

Let’s talk multipurpose! The main purpose of salt for most people is to add a bit more taste to their food. However, salt can be so much more useful in the kitchen and around the house, thanks to the many applications it has.

  • Prevents the browning of fruits and vegetables. This is something that can be done with lemon juice or vinegar, but a bucket of salty water will also do the trick.
  • Preserves food naturally for long term survival. Salt works by dehydrating the food as well as the microbes present in the food. Most especially, mold and yeast cannot grow in food pretreated with salt. Food preserved this way could last for years.
  • Fresh egg test. You need a cup of water with two teaspoons of salt in them. Drop an egg in the cup. A fresh one should sink straight to the bottom while an older one would float. An older egg has more buoyancy because the air cell inside of it increases.
  • Makes cheese last longer. Even when it is preserved properly in a refrigerated environment, cheese will inevitable spoil due to mold. This cannot be prevented with salting the cheese, but it can be delayed. Wrap the cheese before storing it in a damp cloth moistened using saltwater.
  • Puts out grease fires. One thing to never do is to throw water on top of a grease fire. The water evaporates instantly and spreads the fire all over the room. Instead, throwing salt on top of the grease fire will create a crusty layer without oxygen, thus smothering the flames. Moreover, the salt also acts as a heat sink, dissipating the heat.

Salt keeps well in cool, dry places and you can prevent it from clumping by dropping a few grains of rice at the bottom of the shaker.

Honey

In addition to tasting delicious in tea and in baklava, honey has some pretty nifty health benefits. When you eat local honey, it’s said to help with allergies, which is great. The real use in an emergency though lies in the antibacterial, antimicrobial and emollient properties. It also has a ton of practical uses:

  • Has vitamins and minerals so if you’re using a sweetener, honey is better than sugar
  • Can be used as an antibacterial on wounds
  • Is a great healing agent for wounds and helps keep the bandage from sticking
  • Barter – sweeteners are going to be way up there on the list
  • Excellent skin moisturizer (if your skin is so dry that it cracks, you’re going to have problems)
  • Makes a great burn treatment because of the antibacterial properties and the moisturizing power
  • Soothes sore throats
  • When mixed with vinegar and water is an effective parasite remover
  • Make fly/bug strips

Did you know that honey was found in Egyptian pharaohs’ tombs and it was still as good as new?

It only needs to be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place and it will last a lifetime. And don’t fret if your honey has crystalized; just place the jar in some warm water (without letting water enter the jar) and it will be smooth and good as new in no time.

Kitchen Scraps

Some of us throw away a ton of food scraps on a regular basis, but did you know that you can repurpose much of it? You can, of course, start a compost pile, but there are also many uses of kitchen scraps, and they would make your life easier if you are prepping or just homesteading.

First, use them to grow more food. In most of the cases, the roots will regrow if you plant them in the soil, just like bulbs of flowers do.

regrow

You can also use some of the scraps for filtering water. For example, grind the corn husk into dust and mix it with coffee grounds and clay. Add enough water to make it “clay-like” and shape it into a bowl. Allow to dry in the sun, then put your water in it and place it over another vessel. The water will soak through the bowl and into the other vessel, leaving contaminants behind. Rinse the corn husk bowl and reuse.

Onion peels, apple peels and banana peels also help removing pollutants from water. They attract and capture ions and pollutants because they’re adsorbent. This won’t purify the water or remove biohazards but it will help remove some of the dangerous pollutants.

And here are a few more examples on what kitchen scraps can help:

Onion Peels

  • Sooth stings – the end of the onion can be used to sooth stings. Just hold it on your skin.
  • Use them to dye your hair a beautiful golden brown, or to color fabrics or Easter eggs a bright purple!
  • Cook it up along with your garlic peels to make an organic pesticide. It stinks, but it works!

Corn Husks

  • Make baskets – braid or weave the husks into a basket.
  • Protect delicate foods when grilling – if you want to grill your fish or other delicate food but are afraid it will fall apart and be wasted, wrap it in a wet corn husk while cooking.
  • Treat bladder infections – boil the husks into a tea for relief. It also works as a pain reliever for some types of joint or muscle pain.
  • Start fires – dried husks are extremely flammable so if you don’t have any good kindling, don’t pitch those husks!

Egg Shells

  • Fertilizer – your plants need the calcium and other minerals in the shells so you can crush them up and mix them into the dirt or you can soak the eggshells in the water that you use for your plants. You can even use the entire shell as a “cup” to start your seeds in if you crack them carefully.
  • Pest deterrent – having problems with deer or cats in your garden? Crush the eggshells and scatter them around your garden.
  • Calcium supplements – we all need plenty of calcium but in a survival situation, we may not be able to get enough. Thank goodness you thought to raise chickens! Just grind the eggs into a fine powder and mix it into your smoothie or other food once per day.
  • Feed them to your chickens – that’s right – they need calcium to make more eggs so instead of using oyster shells, crush up the egg shells and give them back.
  • Candles – if you crack the tops off carefully, you can fill the shells with beeswax, add a wick, and you’ve got a candle that you didn’t need to use another container on.
  • Seed starter pots – again, crack them carefully and put your soil and seeds in them. You’ve got organic seed pots that are already rich in calcium and minerals that your plants need.

Add few more items to this list, and you’ll have a practical “To Buy” list for your kitchen, and your stockpile too. Less means more, and people living small can confirm that. Not to mention how easy and convenient is to carry a smaller bag when you are on the run for survival.

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How To Survive Eating Wild Winter Edibles

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Recently, we’ve been asked a question about what types of foods are good sources of carbohydrates in the winter.

The reader was specifically worried about his son, who is going on a military survival retreat in Maine and can’t afford to lose the 20 pounds that the program has warned him that he will likely lose. His question was about sources of carbohydrates.

My son will be sent to Maine in the winter for a 3 week military survival course. Others who have experienced this say that the participants will lose an average of 20 pounds during that time. He can ill afford to lose 20 pounds, so I was wondering if you knew a good source for carbs that can be found in abundance in the winter? I think he is fairly good at locating small game for protein. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
Best regards,

Everett

Though there are many great wild sources of carbohydrates to eat in Maine, I’ve had a problem finding exact nutritional values of wild plants. Go figure. Since the main goal is preventing weight loss, we’re looking for plants that can be found in a great enough quantity to thrive, versus simply survive.

Therefore, we need plants that are both high in calories and found in enough quantity to make a substantial meal. The first part was easy, the second part, not so much. So, I’ll share what I’ve found.

Cattails

It turns out that these plants are considered a pest by many because they grow so prolifically in marshy areas and around ponds.

Fortunately for somebody foraging, cattails are a great source of carbohydrates and nutrients year-round. In the winter time, the best parts of the plant to eat are the rhizomes, or roots, and the corms, the little shoots that are the beginnings of next year’s plants.

You probably won’t be able to just rip the cattail out of the mud; you’re likely going to have to dig for it a bit. Just run your hand down the stalk of the cattail and into the mud. Feel for the roots, then follow them down a bit and PULL!

Don’t stop with just one plant; grab several at a time because they’re not that heavy and you can carry them or store them in camp. No need to get wet more than once if you don’t have to.

Now, you’re going to notice little shoots around the base of the plant, which are older corms and are the beginnings of next year’s plant.

You’ll also find little pod-like pieces on the rhizomes and around the bottom of the stalks. These are less mature corms and are also edible. You can eat both types of corms raw. Just peel off the outer fibrous part and eat the delicate interior.

The rhizomes are going to look sort of hairy. Wash them as well as you can, then peel them just like you would a potato. Your goal is to extract the starch from the rhizome and there are a couple of ways to do this.

You can break up the rhizome and then put it in a small bowl of water and squeeze the rhizome pieces in the water until the starch is remove. The water turns a milky white. Let the water settle for a couple of hours and the heavy, starchy flour will settle to the bottom. Pour off the water and spread the flour out to dry.

The second way is to use your knife to squeeze the starch out onto a rock. Just lay the rhizome flat and slide your knife down the rhizome, sort of like you’re squeezing toothpaste from a tube. The starchy paste will collect on the rock.

Either way, you can let the paste dry and smash it with a mortar and pestle into a flour, or you can toss it in the pan and toast it as-is, toss it into a soup along with the corms, or you can eat it raw.

Of course, you can always make a bread with it by mixing it with other ingredients, but in a survival situation, you’re probably not going to have access to yeast and all that good stuff.

rose-hips

Rose Hips

These pretty berry-like plants not only add a pop of color to the winter landscape, they’re also a good source of nutrition and can be found in enough quantity to be worth the effort. Rose hips are the fruits of the rose plant and are usually red or orange but can also be dark-colored. Just open them up, pop out the seed, and eat the flesh.

One cup of rosehips has 206 calories, 49g of carbs, and 31g of fiber. It also provides 110% of your RDV of vitamin A, 901% of your RDV of vitamin C, and more than 20% of your RDV of calcium and magnesium. Eat more rose hips!

Pine

They’re not just for Christmas anymore! Pine trees provide a couple of different sources of food. If you’ve ever eaten pesto, you’ve eaten pine nuts, which are found in pinecones. There is some work involved for the amount of food that you get, but there’s also a tremendous amount of calories and nutrition in them.

Just one cup of pine nuts has 909 calories, 92 grams of fat, 23% of your RDV of potassium and 84% of your RDA of magnesium. They’re also a good source of fiber, so that you have a slower digestion process. You’ll feel full longer.

All pine trees have edible nuts tucked into the pine cones, but only about 20 species produce seeds that are large enough to warrant the effort. Still, in a survival situation, something is better than nothing. Fortunately, there are often many different types of pine trees in the same area, so if you don’t get decent-sized nuts from one, try another.

Wild Berries and Fruits

Even if there’s snow, it’s still possible to dig through the snow to get to fruits, and if you’re lucky, you may even find some grapes or berries, especially cranberries in Maine, above the snow.

One of the advantages of having thumbs is that you can dig through the snow a bit if you find a bush to see if there are berries buried. Apples are another great resource that you can find under the snow.

Yes, they’ll be frozen, but they’re delicious, nutritious, and packed with carbs. They also drop late, so it’s probable that they were frozen before they rotted. Other fruits to keep an eye out for include peaches and pears.

Grass and Grains

Believe it or not, most (99%) of all grasses in the US are edible. They’re often tough for your body to digest, but they’re better than nothing. This includes wheat, oats, and wild meadow varieties. The best part to eat in the winter is the starchy base and the seed heads.

1% of the seeds are toxic and need to be cooked before being eaten, and if seeds are blackish or purple, avoid them because that’s a sign of poisonous fungus. Eat them if they’re green or brown.

I often consult a man very close to me when I have questions such as these, because he’s actually been there, done that as part of his army survivalist training. He made it all the way through the training and has described in great detail (and to my dismay) exactly what a bug feels like when you eat it. He says the trick is this – crunch (chew), crunch, crunch, crunch, swallow!

Aside from his advice about how to eat a bug with minimal “biting back”, he also says that the most crucial step to survival is knowing the plants, animals, and insects of your area. Know what’s edible and what’s not, and most importantly, know what will kill you if you eat it.

If you have a problem with being too thin, it’s important to realize that your body uses more than just carbohydrates for energy – it can also use protein and fat. The bottom line is that your weight isn’t dependent upon eating carbs. It’s a matter of calories in versus calories out. It doesn’t matter if those calories are in the form of carbs, fat, or protein.

There will likely be some energy dips while you’re transitioning from carbs to protein, so if you’re planning to use protein as your main source of energy during a retreat, you may want to do that before you leave. In real life, of course, you won’t have that luxury, but until then, do what you can to survive the survival training.

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FAQ On Survival Food: How To Pressure Can Bacon At Home

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How To Pressure Can Bacon

It’s bacon. Who doesn’t love it? Bacon for breakfast, bacon bits, bacon grease, bacon for your beans … bacon is awesome.

But it’s one of those foods that, unless you have a pig and a smokehouse, you may have given up on for survival because it needs refrigeration.

We’ve had some questions about canning bacon, and we’re going to address them now.

“A question about canning the bacon. How long do you pressure can the bacon? Do you also add 1/2″ of water to these jars? Does the pressure canning melt wax paper? Can parchment paper be used instead?”

Cheryll

Though you can purchase canned bacon, it’s extremely expensive – the cheapest I found was about $15 USD for a 9-ounce can. That’s out of the range for many of us, but don’t throw in the towel yet! You can home can bacon so that it will be there to comfort you no matter how bad things get.

Until recently, the only way that I’ve ever heard of home canning bacon was raw and dry; in other words, you don’t cook it, and you don’t add anything to the jar. However, I recently watched a video that documented how to can cooked bacon.

There’s some merit to this because cooking it before you can it may reduce the chance of botulism. Some people believe that the meat doesn’t get hot enough in the middle to kill the toxin. However, I’ve spoken to many people who swear that they’ve canned bacon raw forever with no problems whatsoever.

My suggestion would be to roll it a bit looser if you’re canning it raw than if you’re canning it cooked so that the heat can circulate better through the roll. The key is to pressure can that bacon regardless of whether you can it raw or cooked.

I’m going to outline three different methods of canning bacon. Let us know which ones work for you.

But before we begin, let’s go ahead and get the ever-present government warnings out of the way. None of these methods have been approved by the USDA as safe. As a matter of fact, the USDA hasn’t approved ANY methods of canning bacon.

Now, let’s can bacon.

Ingredients and Tools for Canning Bacon

There are only a few tools and 1 ingredient that you’ll need. Of course, you need bacon! The thick-cut cans better than the thinner slices because they don’t tend to stick to the paper as much if you’re going to use the rolling method.

You can also home-can bacon ends and pieces (the cheaper kind of bacon that you can often buy in 3-pound packs for just about the same price as 1 pound of strips. That requires a different method, though.

Next, you’re going to need wide-mouth quart canning jars, rings, seals, and jar tongs, a pressure canner, and the divider for the bottom of the canner. Finally, if you’re using the rolling methods described below, you’ll need parchment paper or masking paper, which you can buy at your hardware store for less than ten bucks for a decent-sized roll. Do not use waxed paper because the wax will melt.

Before you start any of these processes, prepare your jars by sterilizing them, and get your seals in hot water if you’re using standard seals.

1. Canning Raw Strips of Bacon

Each quart jar will hold about a pound and a half of bacon, or maybe a bit less. Lay out an 18-inch piece of parchment paper. Lay out the strips of bacon side by side as close as you can get them without touching. Cover with another layer of paper.

Fold each end of the paper over the first and last strips of bacon. Next – and this is a little tricky – fold the paper in half lengthwise. Just to be clear, fold it so that each strip of bacon is folded in half. It may help to use a yardstick or something else to help you flip it.

Now it’s time to roll the bacon so that it will fit in the jar. Start at one end and roll the bacon strips into a log. Remember, if you’d like, you can roll it a bit loosely if you’re worried about raw packing, but you won’t get as much bacon per jar. Stuff the log into a quart jar. If you can’t get it in, remove a few strips of bacon until you can.

Clean the mouths of the jar well so that there’s no grease on them or else you won’t get a good seal.

We’re dry canning the bacon, so you don’t need to add water.

Once you have the seals on, screw the rings on finger-tight. Place your jars in your canner, making sure you have the divider in the bottom. Add 2-3 inches of water to the bottom. Put on the lid, but leave the weight off so that you can allow the air to escape. Bring the water to a simmer and let it simmer so that all the air is out. Place the weight on and cook at ten pounds pressure for 90 minutes.

Allow it to cool on its own. It’s fine to leave it in for a couple of hours to cool after you’ve turned off the heat source.

Remove the jars from your canner and set them on a towel on the counter. Let them cool for 48 hours so that you can make sure that they seal properly before you store them. It’s not uncommon for some of it to “unseal” a few hours after the seal because of a bit of grease or some other problem.

You’ll have some juice in the bottom, then the grease will be on top, so you’ll have the bonus of having bacon grease, too! Date your jars and store.

Video first seen on BexarPrepper.

2. Pressure-Canning Cooked Bacon

This method is absolutely identical to the one above, except you cook the bacon before you put it on the paper to roll it. You can bake it at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Baking is a bit better because the bacon cooks more consistently. Don’t add the grease from the pan to the jars.

Cook the bacon until it’s done but still pliable before you wrap it, then pressure can it for 90 minutes. You’ll have less juice and grease but there will still be some.

One advantage here is that your bacon is ready to eat straight from the jar.

3. Pressure-Canning Bacon Ends and Pieces

Packs of bacon ends and pieces are something that I stumbled upon several years ago at Wal Mart. They’re kind of a pain because the bacon is all lumped together and there are some pieces that are just fat. However, the 3-pound pack is often just about the same price as one pack of sliced bacon.

Since I use bacon fat in my beans and to cook potatoes, and even in some of my sauces, I don’t mind having the extra fat. I look at it this way – I’m getting a pack that has slices of bacon to fry for breakfast or a BLT, I have pieces of bacon fat to add to my beans, and I have crumblies of meat to fry up for bacon bits or to add to a salad or something.

Considering the cost, it’s a win, especially if you’re canning (or living) on a budget. Each 3-pound pack is going to yield about 3 quarts of meat and fat. Simply take the meat out of the pack and stuff as much into the jar as you can because it’s going to shrink up. Leave a half-inch or so headspace. There’s no reason why you couldn’t do this with regular packs of strips, too.

This is a raw packing process, so don’t add any liquid to the jars. When you have your jars stuffed, clean the rims thoroughly because they’re going to be greasy. If you don’t get that grease off, the jars won’t seal.

When they’re clean, add your seals and rings, finger-tight, and put them in the canner. Process as described above. 90 minutes for quarts, 75 minutes for pints.

Tip: If you have hard water, add a tablespoon of vinegar to your water to keep that white film off your jars.

If you’re in a survival situation, don’t throw away the paper because it’s an excellent fire starter with all of that grease!

Raw-packed bacon stores well for up to five years. After that, the fat starts to break down and the bacon won’t be the same. This is one good reason to rotate your canned goods, so that you don’t have meat going bad.

Video first seen on BexarPrepper.

Nobody has really shared any information on the shelf life of cooked bacon, but I would imagine that it’s about the same. It would be interesting to hear from any of you that have done it.

When you open your cans of bacon, don’t just rely on the seal to tell you if it’s good. Just in case, give it the sniff test. If it smells off, throw it away. If it’s got a greenish tint, throw it away.

Now you have three different ways to can bacon so that you don’t have to go without that deliciousness even if things go south.

Click the banner below to discover how to make the ultimate survival food plus other survival secrets that helped our ancestors survive hunger and deprivation!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Which One Of These 22 Awesome Foods Do You Have in Your Stockpile?

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Looking for something to add to your stockpile this weekend? How to Make Homemade Bread in a Can How to Make 2400 Calorie Emergency Ration Bars Designed to Feed You

The post Which One Of These 22 Awesome Foods Do You Have in Your Stockpile? appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

5 Survival Recipes You Should Know by Heart

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Survival Recipes

What do you do now if you want a recipe for something you don’t know how to make? You go to the internet, or perhaps to a cookbook, though that’s becoming a rarity.

However, if you’re faced with an emergency where you have no power or no access to your cookbooks, you’ll have to know how to make some basics from memory.

Today, I’m going to tell you about 5 foods that will help you fill bellies in an emergency situation. Memorize them!

Pemmican

This is crazy simple to make, and was a staple food for Native Americans. It stores well and contains enough nutrients that you can effectively survive off it for a long time. It’s also easy to carry and doesn’t require refrigeration, which is why it was a staple for nomadic tribes or for hunters.

Traditional pemmican has three primary components: fat, lean dried meat, and dried fruit. That’s it. Add some flavor, nutrition, and texture by adding honey and nuts.

Tip:

Don’t use pork or bear for this recipe due to high fat content of the meat. Use any other lean meat, including beef, venison, caribou, or moose. Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried crushed meat
  • 2 cups dried crushed berries or dates
  • 1 cup melted fat
  • 1/2 cup crushed nuts
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions:

Trim all of the fat off the meat, then dry in a dehydrator until it cracks and breaks. If it bends, there’s still too much moisture in it. Do the same thing with the berries. Render the fat into a liquid form and crush your nuts. You can grind them if you want, or leave them a bit chunky to add texture.

Crush the meat and berries into a fine powder. Using your blender or food processor for now will work better but if you’re making it without power, just grind them with a pestle. If the meat is a challenge, use the pestle or a hammer, or even your fingers to get the meat as finely ground as you can.

Add enough fat to the meat and berries (and the nuts if you’re using them) to make it stick together; no more. Add enough honey that it’s sweetened but not overly sticky.

Roll it out and cut it into bars, or do it as the Native Americans did and roll it into balls. Store in a bag in a cool, dry place.

In the video bellow you can discover the great Pemmican recipe inspired by The Lost Ways guide. You can prepare right now this delicious pemmican.

Many other survival secrets and recipes that helped our ancestors survive gloomy days are about to be discovered in “The Lost Ways” book. CLICK HERE for more information about this awesome survival book!

Hardtack

If you’re like me, when you hear the term hardtack, you might think of candy, but traditional hardtack is basically a cracker that will last practically forever as long as it stays dry. Cowboys carried hardtack with them to eat when they had nothing else. It was a staple for soldiers on long military campaigns.

It’s not as nutritious as pemmican, but it will fill the hole in your belly and provide you with carbs that you need to keep moving. It’s extremely hard, which explains the nickname “molar breakers”, and is easier to eat if you dip it in your coffee or water or add it to your soup.

Hardtack is extremely simple to make and consists of only three ingredients. You can cook it on the trail, too. Some recipes call for milk, sugar, and butter, but those ingredients significantly reduce the shelf life.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the salt and flour, then add the water. The dough shouldn’t stick to your hands, so either add the water a bit at a time, or add a bit more flour if it’s sticky.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle until it’s no more than 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough twice lengthwise and twice across the width into 9 equal squares, then use a nail to poke 12 holes (a 4×4 grid) into each square.

Place each square onto a cookie sheet or into your Dutch oven or covered iron skillet if you’re cooking on the trail. Bake for 30 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.

How to Make Hardtack

Beans and Rice

Though this recipe is extremely simple, it’s packed with nutrients and is a complete meal. If you’d like, throw in some bacon or some cayenne to taste to spice it up.

Ingredients:

  • Equal parts beans and rice (not instant or quick-cook). Any type of beans will work, but pintos, great northerns, or black beans are exceptionally good.
  • Salt and pepper to taste – start with a teaspoon per cup and add until it suits your taste.
  • Three times as much water as you have beans and rice

Instructions:

Rinse the beans and let them sit overnight. The next day, bring to a simmer and let them cook until the beans are still slightly crunchy, but starting to get tender – about 2 hours. Add rice and cook for another 30 minutes. If you’d like, throw in some bacon when you start cooking the beans. Add spices such as cayenne pepper, onion (fresh or powdered) or garlic to suit your tastes.

Trail Biscuits

You can make biscuits in your oven or in your Dutch oven or a skillet on the trail. Though ingredients such as buttermilk make them fluffier and more delicious, you can make biscuits with much simpler ingredients. These are heavier, but still soft and go great with gravy.

This is a stick-to-your-ribs food that will help stretch rations or fill bellies. The egg and lard is optional, but if you’re not using lard, substitute the baking powder for a couple of teaspoons of baking soda.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg (optional if available)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or lard
  • 1 – 11/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 370 degrees F. or stoke your coals so that they’re hot enough to cook in.

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl, then cut the cold butter or lard (bacon grease actually makes them delicious, but heavy) into the flour mixture until you have pea-sized pieces. Add milk until dough is barely sticky. Don’t overmix or your biscuits will be tough.

Drop about 1/4 cup at a time into a greased pan or Dutch oven.

Cook for 20 minutes or so until biscuits are brown. If using a Dutch oven, put the biscuits in, then put the lid on the oven and bury in the coals for 15-20 minutes.

Sausage Gravy

This recipe can be modified to use bacon, hamburger, or just about any other meat, but you will need a fat source. That means that venison is likely out unless you have some bacon grease or other flavored grease because that’s where the flavor comes from.

Though this recipe calls for milk, I’ve made gravy with only water. It’s not nearly as good, but it’s edible. It’s better to carry some dried milk than to skip the milk altogether. You can also use all milk, but when it’s in short supply, the amount listed will do just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions:

Fry the sausage, crumbling it up with the spatula as you cook it.

Sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over the sausage and allow to brown, stirring as you go. Smash it with the back of the spatula to keep it from clumping.

Add the water a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and smashing with the spatula well to prevent lumps. Once you have it smooth and it’s turning from a thick paste into a thin paste, pour the milk in, stirring vigorously as you do.

Gravy is easy. You don’t have to use exact amounts. Just add enough flour to make the grease a thick paste, then add enough milk and water to bring it to a gravy consistency. If it starts to get thin, stop adding liquid. If it’s too thick, add more. Remember that it will thicken slightly as it cools.

Sausage Gravy

There are many different easy recipes that you should learn so that you can make them off the top of your head. Fried cornmeal mush is one that I can think of. Cornbread is another.

Remember that in all recipes, dried milk, dried eggs, and dried butter are all perfect substitutes for fresh ingredients and will make your recipe better than if you don’t have it at all.

Eventually, you’ll have to make it up whatever you have on hand, just like our ancestors did in times of need. Click on the banner below to find out more about the way they survived during hard times!

 

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Wilderness Survival: How To Catch Edible Frogs

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How To Catch Edible Frogd

Frogs are considered a delicacy or as a routine food in many parts of the world. Remember that fact when forced to survive in the wilderness and the idea of hunting frogs for eating gives you chills.

Even though many frogs are on the verge of extinction, there are others with so many members that they can serve as a food source in time of need. Read the following article to learn which frogs are safe for eating, and how to catch and turn them into a tasty meal.

Frogs to Avoid

As a rule, most of the frogs in the United States are safe to eat. That being said, as global weather patterns shift, it is entirely possible that poisonous frogs will move into areas where they don’t normally live.

Poison Frog

Here are some frog characteristics that may indicate they have poisonous skin or other body parts that make them unsuitable for eating:

  • Blue, red, yellow, orange, or other brightly colored frogs. As with many other animals in nature, one that is brightly colored tends to signal danger. They are not trying to hide or camouflage themselves because anything that may try to eat them will see the colors and leave them alone.
  • They tend to be active during day hours. Most frogs that are safe to eat will be out during dark hours when their predators are more likely to be asleep or would have a harder time seeing them.
  • They are observed eating prey that consume plants with high alkaline content.  For example, if there are poison ants in the area, and you see frogs consuming them, these particular frogs may be able to take the poison and store it in their skin. With the exception of one species of frog in South America, known poisonous frogs do not make their own poison. Instead, they consume plants with high alkaline content and then store the poison in their skin. It should be noted that the muscle meat from these frogs may still be safe to eat as long as you know how to get the skin and poison sacs off without contaminating the meat.
  • You should also be aware of the differences between frogs and toads, since toads can be poisonous without showing indicators that you would see in frogs. In order to tell the difference between frogs and toads, remember that frogs have smooth skin, while toads will have bumps on them. Frogs also have longer, narrower faces while toads have shorter, wider ones. If you watch a frog capturing its prey, you will notice that it has a sticky tongue that extends easily. By contrast, a toad will actually have to capture its prey in its mouth. Finally, if you watch their motions, frogs will only hop (they also have longer legs than toads) while toads can run and jump as well as hop.

Parts You Can Eat and Parts to Avoid

Typically, most people only eat the back legs of the frog because that is where you will find the most meat. If the frog is especially large, you might also try for the front legs. Even though frogs have a good bit of skin, it is best not to eat it for the following reasons:

  • If the frog is poisonous or going to cause you to get sick, the greatest concentration of poison will be in the skin.
  • Since frog skin is always moist, it is also a prime breeding ground for bacteria. You can easily come into contact with salmonella and several other diseases.  If you must eat frog skins and know that the species is safe, be sure to cook the skins at a high enough temperature.
  • Many people feel that frog skin is a bit strong tasting and a bit hard to swallow. Needless to say, if you are very hungry and very little food is available, you can find ways around these issues.

Insofar as the frog’s internal organs, remember that they consume all kinds of insects. You can be exposed to all kinds of poisons and diseases if you ingest the digestive and related organs. In addition, you will also find that frog organs aren’t very large. You are likely to be wasting more time and effort trying to consume the organs than it’s worth.

Testing to See if the Frog is Edible

Consider a situation where you are an experienced camper, have seen the world, and feel that you know just about all there is to know about living off the land. Perhaps you have eaten frog meat as a delicacy, and have even captured and eaten them on your outdoor adventures. To you, it may make perfect sense to consume frogs in the post crisis world, and it is likely that you will look to them as a valuable source  of nutrition. Now, let’s add one more point in your favor and even say that you know the local species of frogs quite well in many areas of the United States and feel confident that you know which ones are safe to eat and which ones aren’t.

Under these circumstances, you may feel that you don’t need to perform a modified Universal Edibility Test in order to determine if the meat is safe. You, and anyone that you are traveling with that trusts your judgment on these matters can become very sick or even wind up dead for the following reasons:

  • As with any other species on this Earth, offspring can be produced between species that may or may not produce offspring. In this case, as poisonous frogs move from one region to another, they may just produce poisonous offspring that aren’t as colorful or have traits that cause you to mistake them for safe frogs. If you do not run some kind of Universal Edibility Test, you will have no chance to find out the truth before consuming too much of the meat.
  • Nuclear attacks aside, there are many other sources of man made nuclear contamination in the environment. Aside from causing all kinds of mutations, the nuclear material may also have a large impact on insects and other food sources for the frogs you are planning to eat. Even if the frog is from a non-poisonous species, that does not mean it isn’t harboring increased levels of radiation that will pose a risk to your health.
  • Heavy metals, pesticide runoff, fertilizer runoff, and many other industrial poisons find their way into the water where frogs spend most of their lives. As a result, if you don’t pay careful attention to the area where the frogs are living, and the quality of the water, you may wind up consuming all kinds of hazardous materials that have nothing to do with the species of frog you are trying to consume.

When evaluating the safety of frogs (and many other kinds of game) it is best to do a modified form of the Universal Edibility Test that accounts for modern hazards. Bear in mind that there may still be other factors that you will need to consider and account for in adaptions to this basic method:

  • Start off by making sure that you know what region  you are in. Find out if there are nuclear facilities, industrial dumping grounds, old factories, or factory farms within 100 miles of the area where you plan to catch frogs. If any of these factors apply, then be extra careful when evaluating each animal that you are planning to consume.
  • Next, study look at the soil, water, grass, trees, insects, and animals in the area where the frogs are living. Does the water or soil have an unusual odor to it? Dig into the soil and see if there is an unnatural or chemical smell to it. Is the vegetation healthy, or does it show signs of plant tumors, unusual growth patterns, or sickly development? Are there a lot of dead birds, animals, or other insects around? Do you see signs of unusual growth, deformed limbs, erratic behavior, or anything else that might indicate chemical or nuclear poisoning?  If you see sick animals, insects, or plants in the area, you can rest assured the frogs are also contaminated.
  • Now study the frogs. Are they healthy and active during their normal hours of being awake? If so, then you may have a safe, viable source of frogs to hunt.
  • After capturing one frog that you believe safe to eat, study the bones, skin, flesh, and organs for signs of abnormal growth or poisoning. Make sure that you know enough about frog anatomy and diseases so that you can spot the kinds of illness that might indicate the animal and those in the surrounding area may have been exposed to heavy metals or other toxins that might be harmful to you and other survivors. If you see signs of these illnesses, do not capture any more frogs unless you intend to use them as bait.
  • Once you have determined the frog is safe from an environmental perspective, it does not hurt  to make sure you haven’t captured a frog that is a poisonous hybrid. For this, you can follow the more conventional points of the Universal Edibility Test. Carefully skin the frog and separate it into hind legs, front legs, organs, and skin.

If you only intend to eat the hind legs, then just use them fully cooked for the test. Just remember if you decide to try and eat frog organs or skins later on, you will need to the Universal Edibility Test all over again.

Where to Find Frogs

Almost all edible frogs will be found in or near a pond or other shallow bodies of fresh water.  If the body of water has a muddy bank, reeds, or logs dipping into the water, look in these spots first for frog hiding places.

If you are scouting an area at night, listen for the sound of something jumping into the water, as this is likely to be frogs. To draw frogs to your area, you can try making waves in the water to mimic insects or other prey that would be of interest to frogs.

3 Ways to Catch Frogs

With the exception of making a trap for frogs, the other two methods for capturing them usually have to be done at night when the animals are out and searching for prey of their own.

Method 1:  Catch Frogs By Hand

As surprising as it may sound, catching frogs by hand is actually the easiest of the three methods. Once you have spotted a frog, start moving towards it. As you approach the frog, move one hand in circles.

Keep moving your hand with a circular motion, and then simply grab the frog with the other hand when you are close enough. It is best for your catching hand to come from behind the frog since it won’t be able to see your hand that way. You can also aim a flashlight at the frog to stun it temporarily.

Just make sure that you act quickly to grab the frog or it will get away on you.  Once you have hold of the frog, be sure to hold it by the hips and let the rest of your hand support under its armpits. The frog will be unable to get out of your hands.

Method 2: Catch Frogs in a Net

After locating a frog of interest, you can use a flashlight or the circular hand motion to slow down the frog’s attempt to escape. Instead of putting your hands around the frog’s body, use the net to capture it instead.

As with catching frogs by hand, the net should come from behind the frog and swish under it. If the frog is on land, the hoop of the net should fully surround the frog. Try to get your hands onto the frog’s body as quickly as possible.

Do not forget that frogs are strong jumpers. If you have one captured in a net, it can jump around quite a bit and make its escape before you know what is happening.

When choosing a net for catching frogs, make sure that the holes in the net are small enough to prevent the frog from through it. It is also better to choose a net with a shorter handle because you will be less tempted to rely on the mesh of the net to hold the frog until you can a better hold of it.

Method 3: Make a Frog Trap  

Since you may need several frogs to make a good meal,  it is likely that you will want to use traps as well as hunt for them. There are many different ways to make frog traps.

One of the most common ways is to simply get them to fall into a pit or waiting tin that they cannot jump out of easily. In this case, you may set a bucket or something else into the mud bank of a pond, and then cover it over with twigs and leaves. When the frogs land on the twigs, they will fall through and be unable to get out of the pail.

You can also try making a frog trap similar to the way you would make a mosquito catcher. Simply take a plastic bottle, cut the top off, and then invert it into the bottle.  Set a cricket or some other suitable bait inside the bottle. Even though the frog will be able to squeeze into the bottle opening, it will not be able to get back out.

Video first seen on Amber Haines.

How to Prepare Frogs for Cooking

Unlike a fish out of water, a frog won’t simply suffocate and die in a matter of minutes. No matter whether you capture a frog by hand, in a net, or in a trap, you will have to kill the frog and then do a bit of work to make what little meat there is ready for eating.

Dispatching the Frog

As fragile as frogs may seem, they can actually be difficult to kill. The fastest and most humane method is to behead the frog. Some people prefer to pith the frog (basically stick something sharp through the brain case so that the brain is destroyed). Other people crush the frog’s skull by bashing it into something hard or using a hammer.

Skinning the Frog

Skinning a frog is actually much easier than it looks. Follow these steps:

  • Start off by taking a sharp pair of scissors and cut off the feet at the ankles.
  • Next, cut across the lower part of the frog’s belly. Continue cutting until you have made a line all the way around the frog. If you want, at this stage, you can also sever the spine and remove the legs. It is easiest to take them off in pairs so that you do not lose any of the valuable muscle meat. Set the legs aside so that you can check the internal organs for signs of disease.
  • Cut from the bottom of the abdomen up to the throat, and then across the shoulders. Open the flaps and observe the organs.  Do you see signs of tumors, abnormal swelling, or anything else that might indicate the frog had some kind of disease or exposure to hazardous chemicals?
  • If it seems that the frog was healthy, go back and look at the skin from the belly area on the part that is still attached to the legs. You should be able to see a clear color difference between the skin and the flesh beneath it. Take the sharp point of a knife, or even a scissor and gently pry between the flesh and the skin. It will loosen fairly easily. Keep prying until you find something like threads that hold the flesh and the skin together. They will pull apart easily, or snip them with the scissors.
  •  Once you have enough of the skin pulled away from the flesh, just go ahead and pull the skin straight down over the frog’s legs.  Even though frogs skin can be slimy and moist, you should be able to pull the skin with your bare hands. If you are having problems, go ahead and use a pair of pliers.
  • Before cooking the legs, you can cut between them. If there are any organs or other material besides bone and muscle, remove it before cooking.
  • Do not forget to wash the frog legs in clean water to remove bits of the organs or other unwanted residue that may have come from the skin or other parts of the frog.

Video first seen on Crawdaddy Kings

Basic Ways to Cook Frogs

You can cook frogs just as you would any other kind of meat. They can be fried in oil, boiled as for soup and stew, roasted, or baked. Do not forget that frogs also carry bacteria just like any other animal. Make sure that the flesh cooks thoroughly, especially in areas near the bone.

Does it Pay to Grow Edible Frogs?

If you have a homestead or are planning to raise smaller animals for meat, you may be very tempted to try raising frogs instead of fish. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider:

  • Even though frogs are fairly easy to care for, it can take several years for them to grow large enough to eat.
  • Since frogs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, you can purchase frogs that are specifically bred for human consumption. Depending on your needs, you may want to start off with about 6 or 7 pairs of frogs and then calculate how many you will need for routine nutritional needs.
  • If you have a homestead and outdoor ponds, you can keep edible frogs around to control the insect population. In fact, if you also have larger animals that tend to draw flies and other insects, a few frogs may be quite useful.
  • There are few, if any municipal codes that would prevent you from keeping frogs as pets. As such, you can more than likely keep several dozen of them indoors without may problems. Just remember that you will have to keep a fairly large number of if you expect to have a steady diet of frog legs.
  • When it comes to alternative meats, frogs taste like chicken.  Once they are skinned and cooked, they also don’t look all that different from conventional meat. As a result, adapting to frog meat may be easier and more palatable than trying to adjust to insects. You use them as a “gateway” alternative food if you already know that you will need to make the jump to indoor insect farming.

Right now, there are many species of frog that are plentiful to the point of being a nuisance in some areas. This, in turn, leads more than a few people to believe they will make a viable source of food in a crisis situation.

Even if you are an experienced hunter or camper, and have consumed frogs before, it is important to exercise caution. In these times, our society is not the only thing that is changing. There are subtle, and not so subtle changes happening to the climate and temperatures on this planet. Animals, including frogs, will adapt as quickly as they can. These adaptions may include mating with neighboring poisonous species that will make it harder to determine which frogs are safe to eat.

When consumed with care and awareness, frogs can make a valuable and nutritious meal that should not be overlooked. You may also want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of raising frogs so that you do not have to hunt them or be as concerned about consuming poisonous or diseased specimens by accident.

If I missed something in this post or you’ve tried this wild delicacy, leave a comment in the section bellow and share your experiences and tips with all the readers.

Our ancestors’ experiences serve as a great lesson for those planning to survive any hard times to come. Click on the banner bellow to discover more lost pioneer survival skills!

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

References:

https://www.reference.com/home-garden/build-frog-trap-6735e7119bb5979b

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50 Things To Stockpile On A Budget This Fall

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2016_10_03-stockpiling

Depending on where you live, summer heat can be miserable, but the dead of winter can be lethal. Good thing we have autumn between, which leaves us enough time to prepare for the harsh time of winter.

If there is a blizzard or downed powerlines, it may be tough to get to the store. Even if you do, the shelves may be bare. That’s why you need to stockpile for winter weeks ahead. 

I’ve composed a list of must-have items that you should have on hand before the snow flies, in no particular order (except the first 4). But first, you should know how to calculate your reserves, so read this Survivopedia article to determine how much food and water would you need to survive in the worst case scenario.

Remember that stockpiling on a budget IS possible, if you know how to make the most out of coupons. We put up a list with useful tips and over 100 companies that you can ask for coupons from, when building your autumn reserve. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter and get full access to this info, and the rest of our survival free reports.

The List you Need to Have When Shopping

  1. Even if you’re surrounded by snow that you can melt if necessary, there’s no way to tell what’s in it. Plan on 2 gallons of water per person per day, and don’t forget about your pets.
  2. Two fuel sources, plus vehicle fuel. Make sure that your primary sources for warmth and cooking are well-stocked, and have a back-up fuel source for both. If the power goes out, you still have to cook and stay warm. A back-up supply is especially critical if you heat and cook with electric. If nothing else, keep extra Sterno cans.
  3. Back-up light sources. Even if you’re lucky enough to have solar panels, there may not be enough light to charge them. Candles and camp lanterns are two good choices. Make sure that if you’re using camp lanterns, you have plenty of batteries or fuel for them.
  4. First Aid Kit. If you’re like me, you probably pick through your first aid kit throughout the summer; a band aid here, some tape or first aid ointment there. Make sure that it’s replenished with fresh items before winter. Items such as tape actually go bad after a while.
  5. Pre-cooked canned meat. Tuna, chicken and salmon are all nutritious choices. Some of the canned hams are OK too, but avoid the unhealthy processed “meats” such as potted meat. If possible, can your own meat. Plan for at least 1 serving per person, per day. 2 servings are better.
  6. A variety of canned vegetables, preferably home-canned. Go by color because in general, different colors contain different nutrients. Eat at least 2 different colors per person per day. Plan on at least 4 servings per person, per day.
  7. A variety of canned fruits and dried fruits. Follow the same color rule as above and shoot for 2 servings per person, per day.
  8. A variety of canned meals. You can make can your own, or you can buy them in the store. Soups are great and are often BOGO at the grocery store if you watch the ads.
  9. Powdered milk and canned milk. Both have a long shelf life.
  10. Powdered eggs. Great source of protein and can be used in baking and cooking just like fresh eggs can once you reconstitute them.
  11. Whole grains have a longer shelf life than flour, but I’ve used flour that’s 2 years old and it was fine. If it goes rancid, it will smell funny. Store flour in air-tight containers or dry-can it so that bugs can’t get in.
  12. This is probably the cheapest, most versatile, longest-keeping food you can get. Stockpile whole-grain rice though, because it has a longer shelf life than instant.
  13. You can prepare cheese so that it will store for years and it’s a great source of protein. It’s also a luxury food that will help the kids eat veggies.
  14. Your body needs sodium, and it adds flavor to food.
  15. Sugar and honey. Honey literally keeps forever. Perfectly edible honey has been found in tombs that are thousands of years old. Even if it crystalizes, heat it a bit and it’s good as new.
  16. I prefer cubes, but powder is available, too. It turns a few mixed veggies and some canned beef or chicken into soup.
  17. A variety of spices. You can stock up on store-bought spices, dry your own, or even keep fresh spices growing indoors year round.
  18. Coffee or Tea along with filters. Seriously. Enough said.
  19. Peanut butter. It has a great shelf life as long as it’s unopened and is another good source of protein.
  20. Cooking oil and lard/shortening. Did you know you can actually can butter?
  21. Baking soda. A great multi-purpose item, useful for cooking, cleaning, and first aid.
  22. Again, multipurpose. I prefer apple cider vinegar because of the health benefits. You can make your own if you have apples.
  23. Active dry yeast packets. There’s nothing like fresh-baked bread. You can make your own yeast if need be.
  24. Baking powder and cream of tartar. Quick trick – if you don’t have baking powder, you can make it by combining 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp. baking soda to equal 1 tsp. of baking powder in a pinch.
  25. Dried beans. Amazingly nutritious and are available in such a variety and can be prepared in so many ways that they won’t get boring.
  26. Extra can opener. Ever tried to open a can without a can opener? It’s easier to just keep a backup or two.
  27. Hay and grain for livestock. If you’re an experienced farmer, you know this already, but if you’re just starting out, store enough hay for the winter now, and at least a few weeks’ worth of grain. Trust me: the price of hay skyrockets once the snow flies.
  28. Weather radio with extra batteries.
  29. Extra blankets or sleeping bags.
  30. Toilet paper. Being trapped in the house for a week or so due to a blizzard just isn’t the same without it.
  31. These have dozens of uses, so they’re not just for girls. There should be a few in your first aid kit, and they make excellent fire starters.
  32. Laundry soap.
  33. Hygiene items such as soap, lotion, toothpaste, etc.
  34. Lighters or matches. Hard to light a candle without one.
  35. Spare cash. If the power goes out, your ATM card will be useless and the banks will likely be closed.
  36. Pain medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin. Personally, I go with the ibuprofen because it’s an anti-inflammatory as well as a fever reducer and pain killer.
  37. Bleach.
  38. Alcohol that’s 70 proof or above has a variety of uses, including sterilizing needles or wounds, starting fires, and making merry when you’re stuck in the house. If you’re using it for the latter, see number 37.
  39. Baby wipes. They’re not just for babies.
  40. Peroxide.
  41. Extra equipment parts. Do you have a snowplow or tractor that you use to clear the driveway or to carry hay? Keep extra of the parts most likely to break.
  42. Garbage bags. If you need to leave the house, they keep the water and cold air out and the body heat in. They have several uses, so keep different sizes handy.
  43. Games, books and crafts. Board games, puzzles, puzzle books, and even Twister are good ways to kill time. Crayons, paper, scissors, coloring books (kids and adults), glue, and whatever else you need to perform your craft project(s) of choice.
  44. Rubbing Alcohol.
  45. Fire starters if you’re heating with wood.
  46. Fire-proof cookware if you’re using your grill or a fire as a backup cooking method.
  47. At least 1 5-gallon bucket with a lid. There are dozens of uses for them.
  48. Extra plywood, nails, and screws. If a window breaks during a storm, you can freeze to death quickly if you don’t get it sealed up. Plywood is also good for getting a car or tractor un-stuck.
  49. Rock salt. This keeps your walkway safe, but be careful. It melts the snow, but that water will refreeze again if the salt is washed away or absorbed into the ground.
  50. Duct tape. I through in an extra, because you always need duct tape.

This is a good list to use as a guideline but each situation is different. I’m sure that I’ve left off some important things, so if you have anything to add, please do so in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Prep Blog Review: How To Eat Right When SHTF

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Eat Right When SHTF

As a prepper, you constantly ask yourself what you and your family are going to eat when the store shelves will be empty. You need foods high in calories, proteins and nutrients to stay alive.

Having a balanced diet is pretty much of a challenge considering the limitations one has to face in a survival situation.

Here are some useful tips I found this week, on this topic. If you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comment section.

  1. Key Facts: Protein Deficiency

Protein “Even though many people have a medical kit that an accident and emergency department would be proud to own, that alone will not be enough to guard against dietary deficiencies.  As our life-styles get ever more fast moving and the need for instant-everything grows by the month serious deficiencies caused by bad diet are becoming far more commonplace.

Most of these issues are remarkably easy to sort out by simply adjusting what we eat but you wouldn’t think that as the incidences of malnutrition in the wealthiest First World nations are rising to levels never seen before.”

Read more on UndergroundMedic.

  1. Food Storage Smarts: Stock Up On Meal Stretchers

Meal Stretchers

“For many of us, buying food specifically for food storage is an additional expense that can, sometimes, become too burdensome.

When money is tight, it’s hard enough to cover the groceries for our main meals, much less add another few day’s worth of food to the grocery cart.

One solution to this dilemma is to stock up on meal stretchers. Foods like rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, and other grains have always formed the core of most food storage plans. First, they are inexpensive foods, like these potato dices.

Purchased either from the grocery store or in large multi-pound packages, it’s a lot of food that will go a long way in your meals.”

Read more on TheSurvivalMom.

  1. Survival Food – What To Eat When SHTF

Survival Food

“Unless you’re a zombie, you’ve probably thought about how you’re going to feed yourself and your family when the grocery store shelves are empty. You’ve shopped around on the survival food websites, priced how much it would take to keep everybody fed for a year.

If you haven’t started already, now is the time to start taking action, to make sure you and yours have enough food for survival. There are different routes you can take, but the safest would be to incorporate as many of the actions I’m about to discuss as possible. Redundancy just might save your life.”

Read more on EXXOGEAR.

  1. How To Make Jerky For Your Stockpile

Make jerky

“When you decide what types of food to keep stocked for bug-in or bug-out situations, there are dozens of good choices. Canned goods are great for bug-in situations, but nobody wants to carry all that weight in their pack if they are on the move. Another option would be MREs (meals ready to eat). These are nice to have because they give you some variety in your diet, but they can take up a lot of space in a pack and add a good amount of weight. The cost can add up quickly as well.

Meal replacement tablets do a fine job of providing all the nutrients you need to survive, but they do not taste all that great and can be expensive as well.”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

  1. How To Make Delicious MREs at Home

MRE

“When it comes to emergency food supplies a lot of people think military-style MREs are the gold standard. They do have some advantages – they’re rugged, easy to prepare and can be eaten cold in a pinch – but they have drawbacks too.

They’re not designed with food intolerances or other special dietary needs in mind. They don’t always taste great. And, to get good ones with a lot of life left, you can end up spending a lot of money.

One way to get the advantages of MREs without the drawbacks is to make your own. This isn’t all that hard, and gives you a lot of options. Military MREs come in a couple of dozen menus, but if you’re making your own the choices are almost infinite.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia. 

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How to Make 2400 Calorie Emergency Ration Bars Designed to Feed You for a Full Day

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Across the table from a government worker I was discussing the importance of emergency food. The discussion was centered on freeze dried meals and canned foods. We were discussing the

The post How to Make 2400 Calorie Emergency Ration Bars Designed to Feed You for a Full Day appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

Secrets Of Dehydrating Fruits For Long-Term Storage

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Survivopedia dehydrating fruits

There are several good options for preserving food for long-term storage, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Dehydrating foods is one of the skills that you should acquire in the event that SHTF. Fruits, along with several other foods, are perfect candidates for dehydration.

There are several advantages to dehydrating foods for both homesteading and prepping purposes. The most obvious advantages, at least from a storage and survival point of view, are that dehydrated fruits take up very little space, pack a ton of nutrition in a handful of food, and is so light that it adds very little weight to your bug out bag.

You can, of course, buy freeze-dried fruits if you’re looking for lightweight foods, but it’s nearly impossible to make them at home. The equipment required is extremely expensive and the environment is difficult to duplicate.

Dehydrating is a good option to freeze-drying for home-preserving lightweight food.

The primary problem with dehydrating fruits is that if they’re left open to air, they will absorb moisture. Along with the moisture that they absorb and the sugar content of the fruit, dehydrated fruits are extremely susceptible to spoilage. There’s a few different fixes for that, though.

Choose and Prepare Your Fruits

The only fruit that doesn’t dehydrate well is avocados because of their high fat content. Otherwise, have a ball. Choose fruits that are ripe because as they dehydrate, all that delicious sugar will make the end product delicious. Unripe fruits can be bitter or tasteless when dehydrated.

To prepare your fruit for dehydrating, clean them, remove stems or leaves, peel them and slice them into small slivers when possible. The exception to this is citrus fruits. It’s best to slice them into wheels instead of peeling them. Though they may not be as tasty whey dehydrated, they are excellent to use as flavorings or in medicinal teas.

I like to spritz all off my fruits with lemon juice to add the extra preservation and vitamin C, but it’s critical that you do it with apples, peaches, apricots, bananas, and pears to keep them from oxidizing, thus turning brown. You can also soak them in a solution of ascorbic or citric acid. For the ascorbic acid, you don’t have to buy anything fancy. Just crush up 20 vitamin C tablets and dissolve them in 2 cups of water.

Don’t slice more fruit than you can dehydrate at one time because it will turn brown.

Another option is candying your fruits. This doesn’t work so well with bananas, at least for me, but it works for other fruits. Make a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water (some people also add 1 cup of corn syrup), then blanch – simmer – the fruit slices in it for 10 minutes, then let it set for a half hour or so. Drain it well, rinse it, let it drain again, then dry it.

Methods of Dehydration

There are several different methods of dehydrating the fruit. The most important consideration is that the fruit needs to be thoroughly dehydrated before it starts to spoil or oxidize. This timeframe varies by the water content of the fruit, the humidity in the air, and the method of dehydration.

You want to remove as much water as possible. Your goal is 4 percent moisture or less. At this point, the fruit will snap when you try to bend it and will store for much longer than if you dehydrate it to that leathery state where the fruit is still pliable – at that point, it still has about 35 percent moisture. That’s not good for long-term storage.

You need three things to dehydrate food: dry air, movement to wick away the moisture, and heat that’s warm enough to draw out the moisture, but not so hot that it cooks the food.

Using a Dehydrator

If you have a food dehydrator, then great. It will work for now, but if you lose power, it won’t work. Until then, though, it’s an awesome tool. Drying times vary using dehydrators depending upon the wattage of the machine. How many trays you use alters the time, too. Or you can build one yourself, and read this Survivopedia article to find a few ideas that might work.

solar dehydrator

As a long-time dehydrator, I like to switch the trays around so that the food dries evenly. I also remove dehydrated fruit as it’s finished and consolidate trays. You don’t have to do that, but I like to get it done faster. No fruit should take more than 16 hours or so to dry.

Using the Oven

You can most certainly use your oven to dehydrate fruits. Lay the fruit out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and set the oven to its lowest setting, usually 150 degrees, and let the fruit dry. For apples, you may want to bump the temp up to 200 or 225.

After a few hours, check the fruit and flip the pieces over so that it dries evenly. Once it snaps when you try to bend it, it’s done.

Sun Drying

Sun drying isn’t that great for some foods because they require higher temperatures but it’s a good method for dehydrating fruits. You need warm weather – the temperature needs to be at least 85 degrees F and the humidity needs to be less than 60 percent.

You’ll need clean racks or screens to place the fruit on and to cover it with. I use screen-covered racks because then I don’t have to worry about bugs getting it from the top or the bottom, and I can flip it over so that each side is getting an equal amount of sun.

If you have a fan that you can place in front of it (without blowing sand or dirt over the food), then that’s great. Place the racks on cinder blocks, point the fan on it if you have one, and let the fruit dry.

Bring it in at night before the dew sets, and set it out as soon as the sun is out the next morning. You won’t be able to get the fruit past leathery using this method unless you live in an extremely dry, hot environment.

drief fruits

Extending Shelf Life of Dehydrated Fruits

Even though you’ve removed as much moisture from the fruit as you can, the problem is that there is more than 3 percent moisture in the air pretty much regardless of where you live. Your fruit will reabsorb that moisture and spoil.

In order to prevent that, you need to store your dehydrated fruit in an airtight container, preferably one in which as much air as possible has been removed. You have a few options. You can vacuum seal it using a home vacuum sealer, you can use Mylar bags, or you can dry-can them. Any of these methods will extend the life of your fruit by several months.

Vacuum sealing is good because it keeps the fruit lightweight. If you opt to do this, store the individual bags in a 5-gallon bucket in order to keep bugs and rodents from chewing through the bags. For directions on dry canning, check out our article here.

Rehydrating Fruits

Sure, your fruits are great to eat dehydrated as a snack, but you can also rehydrate them to use in recipes such as pies, sauces, baked goods or anything else that you want to make.

Essentially, you just need to reverse the process by soaking them in water. Different fruits require different times, but for some ideas, we go into a bit more detail here.

Dehydrating those delicious summer fruits is a great way to bring back a bite of summer when the snow gets deep and the days are cold. Because the heat is low during the process, much of the nutrition in the fruits is maintained. You can eat them dry or rehydrate them; it’s up to you.

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If you’re a seasoned dehydrator and would like to add something, or if you’re new to the game and have questions, let us know in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Build Up Your Food Reserves For Everyday Use

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Survivopedia food reserve

Having a stockpile of food on hand for emergencies is essential. But, it’s not the only step to ensuring your family can eat if a food crisis arises.

You also need a pantry of food reserves intended for everyday use.

What’s the Difference Between a Pantry of Food Reserves and a Food Stockpile?

Some preppers might use the terms food reserves and food stockpile interchangeably, but in my mind they’re different. Let me explain.

My food stockpile consists of much food designed for emergency rations. It’s long lasting, and stored securely out of the way of pests. Some is packed in go bags, or directly in the car.

This stockpile is food that I know the family will eat, but it’s not something we eat all the time. Food in my stockpile typically costs more than I’m willing to spend on food for daily consumption. It’s truly for emergencies.

Conversely, my food reserves are in the kitchen pantry cupboards, ready to feed my family on a daily basis. They’re canned good, shelf-stable staples, and other items that we use routinely. They even include items in my fridge and freezer—things we use frequently.

My reserves aren’t stored to last for decades, because I plan on using them up well before then. It’s food that’s needed to create the meals on my annual meal plan.

These reserves are more short-term than long-term. They’re how I fight back against rising food prices, and save gas by not having to constantly drive an hour to the store. It’s how I can throw together quick meals to avoid the expense of going out to eat.

As long as my pantry is stocked, I don’t ever have to worry about my family going hungry.

How to Begin Building a Pantry

If you currently don’t have a lot of food on hand, the idea of creating a well-stocked pantry may be overwhelming. But, by taking it one baby step at a time, you can get to the point where you don’t have to go to the store every week. You may even stop going to the store for a couple months at a time.

Sit down for a bit and think. You’re going to want notes, so grab a piece of paper, your favorite notes app on your phone, or your computer. Once you’re ready, here’s what I want you to think about.

1. What Does a Typical Day’s Food Look Like in Your Home?

Are you currently cooking three meals a day from scratch? Are the kids eating lunch at school while you’re going out to eat? Does dinner come in a box?

There are no right or wrong answers right now, so answer honestly. What does your family eat in a typical day?

If you aren’t sure, you might need to spend a day creating a simple food journal. Just write down everything you eat all day long. Indicate if your family members joined you, or if you were on your own.

Once you have a general idea of what your family eats in a day, it’s time to do some analyzing.

2. How Much of that Food Was in Your Pantry?

Look over the list of consumed foods. Put a star next to everything that was in your pantry. Also circle anything that you grew on your own, or produced on your property.

3. What Does Your Family Enjoy Eating?

Now that you have a better idea of how much food from your pantry you’re already using, it’s time to think about food your family actually enjoys. This step is important because if you fill your pantry with food your family despises, you won’t use those food reserves. You’ll actually have wasted money on food that likely won’t be used before it expires. That sort of defeats the purpose.

If you’re already a meal planner, you can pull out several of your old meal plans and look over which meals your family enjoyed. If not, take a few minutes now to write down several meals that your family enjoys. Try to think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner to ensure you’re prepared for each meal of the day.

Once you’ve created your list, look for similarities. Are there several recipes that use oats? Or that use a particular type of bean?

Those items need to be in your pantry! They’re items you use in multiple dishes, and you know you’ll eat.

Is Building a Pantry of Food Reserves Expensive?

If you have nothing in your cupboards and plan on adding a month’s worth of staples, then yes—building a pantry can be expensive.

But, it doesn’t have to be. You can start slowly—adding a few extra cans or bags to your grocery cart each time you go shopping.

Look for bargains on what you know you’ll eat. If you find cans of tomato sauce marked down, buy as much as you can. Look for deals on flour, rice, and spices.

If you only buy items for your pantry when they’re at their lowest price point, you’ll save money in the long run.

How I Tackle Pantry Building

I live in the middle of nowhere, and it costs money to get to the store. This realization helped shape my current pantry building routine. I now try to shop only once a month. My goal of each trip is to ensure my pantry is well-stocked enough that I can go 6-8 weeks without visiting the store.

Though I usually shop more frequently, I love knowing that I don’t have to. It’s been especially helpful if the kids are sick when I’m planning on going to the store.

But how did I get to this point? Let me walk you through what works for me in hopes it’ll inspire you to create a plan that works for you.

food storage

An Annual Meal Plan

I hate meal planning. I know it saves money, but it’s not something I enjoy. So I learned how to minimize the amount of time spent meal planning.

The kids and I work every July to create an annual meal plan. We pick a breakfast for each day of the week. That means we eat the same breakfast every Tuesday for a year.

With seven breakfast options, it’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. We do the same process for lunch.

Dinner is planned around a theme; such as noodle night. We pick four or five meals for each theme. At this stage in my life, I tend to stick with simple meals as often as possible.

So for noodle night, we may have spaghetti and meatballs one week, and beef stroganoff the next week.

A Shopping List

Once our meals our planned, I begin creating my shopping list. By the time I’m done, I know how much of any one item I’m going to need for a month’s worth of meals. I know what I need to buy when I go to the store.

By using a little basic math, I can easily extrapolate how much I’ll need for a year. That means when spaghetti noodles go on sale by the case, I can accurately predict how much we’ll go through in a year. And I buy that many.

Now I don’t have to buy spaghetti for a long time. I can take the money I was using to buy spaghetti each month and put it towards another staple. Doing this allows me to continue to build a stockpile without spending an arm and a leg.

I’m buying what I know we’ll use before the expiration date rolls around. But more importantly, I’m buying food that already has a purpose.

That keeps me from stocking up on canned kidney beans just because they’re on sale. No one in my house really likes kidney beans. Before I figured out this food reserves thing, I had a dozen cans just sitting on my pantry shelf. I bought them because I knew I should have food on hand.

But just having food on hand doesn’t actually help feed your family on a daily basis if it’s food they don’t like. A shopping list will help you be wise as you build your pantry.

Building Food Reserves at Different Seasons

Because of the snow we get here, it’s much more difficult for me to go to the store regularly in the winter. That means I spend my summer and fall building even more of a reserve.

Conversely, in the summer I’m able to grow more of our own food. Our chickens are laying at their peak production. Our cow is putting out a lot more milk.

There’s also a ton of edibles growing in the forest. I don’t need to worry about having as much food on hand, because I know we can eat emergency meals based on what we produce if necessary. That’s why I picked July to redo our food plans.

I can let our stores get used up leading into summer. I make sure we use the last of things I won’t need again with the new menu. I’m able to save some grocery dollars this way.

Then, when I’m ready to start building a new year’s worth of reserves in August, I have extra money to use.

Spend some time thinking about the seasons where you live. Are there months when you’re without an income due to seasonal employment? Are there months where flu season is running so rampant that you don’t want to leave your house any more than necessary?

Do you visit a farmer’s market in the summer or participate in a local CSA? Do you grow your own food during some seasons?

Think about your year, and the highs and lows you have. You can prepare for these seasons by having food reserves on hand. A well-stocked pantry helps you make it through the rough patches in life.

Where Do You Live?

Where you live also impacts your needed reserves. Think through the amount of space you have on hand. You may have to get creative to store your extra food.

If you grow and preserve much of your food, your shopping list will be different than a family who lives in an urban setting.

Start Filling Your Pantry

You know now what kinds of food your family eats regularly. You have an idea of what meals you can make and know that everyone will eat.

You’re ready to start filling your pantry. Start slowly, and buy as much extra as your budget allows.

Try to buy food when it’s on sale, and only buy food that you’ll actually eat.

How did you start building your food reserves? If your pantry is ready to sustain your family in the midst of a mini-crisis, please tell us how you started in the comments section below.

If you haven’t yet started, is there a particular question you have about building your reserves? Chime in in the comments, and other readers can help!

And click on the banner below to find out how our ancestors planned their food reserves for survival!

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Important Tips For Home Canning Sweet Foods

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jelly

Who doesn’t love jams, jellies, pickled beets and other sweet goodies, especially if they’re homemade? As homesteaders and preppers, we’re all about storing our own foods.

Different types of foods require different techniques. Home canning sweet foods is no different.

The thing about sweet foods is that they’re likely acidic. Nearly all fruits are high in acid, which makes them easy to can, even over an open fire. You don’t have to use a pressurized canner like you would with meats or low-acid vegetables, but you do need to take some extra precautions because mold and bad bacteria like sweet stuff.

Since you may want to can sweet foods in different forms (whole, jellied, etc.) we thought it might be a good idea to touch on some of the special needs of these particular foods.

The most important key to successfully canning anything is to hygiene. All utensils and jars have to be thoroughly cleaned and as sterile as possible so that your products don’t go bad. With fruits, you always want to use a ripe product, with no bruising.

Canning Jellies and Jams

There are two primary concerns when you’re canning jellies and jams: getting them to seal, and getting them to thicken. The sealing part is an easy fix, though if you’re a first-time canner, you want to be extra careful so that you don’t ruin all of your hard work just to find that you didn’t get a good seal.

Getting Canned Jams and Jellies to Seal

The first key is to use good quality jars that have no chips or cracks on the rim, or on any other part of the jar for that matter. You can check this off by visually inspecting the jars.

The second reason that your jars may not seal is because you didn’t get all of the juice off of the rims of the jars before you put the seals on. This is a bit harder to fix, but you just need to be thorough.

Use a clean damp towel to wipe each rim well. I usually do this twice, with two different towels, to make sure that I get them clean, then I follow up with a dry towel. My mom, whose been canning for upwards of 50 years now, calls it overkill, but after one time of re-canning an entire batch of jam so that it wouldn’t go bad, I’d rather take the extra steps.

Finally, to make sure that you get a good seal, heat your seals in warm water, if you’re using the standard kind. This makes the seal a bit gummy so that it adheres and seals to the jar better. Make sure that the water that you heat them in is clean.

Note: Completely off topic, sort of, but I recently discovered how to make rose jelly, which is absolutely delicious as well as beautiful. I didn’t even know that roses were edible until I stumbled upon the information via a friend.

How to Make Jams and Jellies Thicken Properly

This is another stumbling block for many new home canners. Nothing is more disappointing than to open up a beautifully sealed jar of jelly to find that it’s more juice. You can also go the other direction and cook it too long so that it’s more like taffy. There are two components to thickening: sugar thickens it and pectin gels it. Getting your jams and jellies just right is easy as long as you use the right amounts of sugar and pectin and you pay attention.

  • Pectin is a natural fiber found in fruits and vegetables that give the cell walls structure. Some fruits, such as blueberries, cranberries, and apples have enough pectin in them that you don’t need to add extra. Low-pectin fruits such as strawberries and pears either need to be canned with high-pectin fruit or have pectin added to them so that they gel.
  • Use the spoon method to tell when your jams and jellies are done. While you’re cooking your jellies, do the spoon test. If your sauce runs off of your spoon easily, it’s not done. If it drips slowly off and forms a drip off of the bottom of the spoon that drips off slowly, it’s either done, or super close to being done.
  • Use the freezer method. This isn’t one of my favorite methods because if your jelly is done, you’ve overcooked it by the time the test is done, but here’s how to do it. When you put your fruit on to cook, put a couple of saucers in the freezer.

When you think that it’s almost done, pull the plate from the freezer and put a blop of jelly on the plate. Stick it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes and if it’s jelly consistency, it’s done. Cut the heat on your jelly while you’re waiting.

  • Use a candy thermometer. This is my preferred method because it keeps me from overcooking my jams. Sugar is able to bind with pectin, both naturally present and added, at 220 degrees F. Use this in conjunction with the spoon method and you’re much more likely to end up with a good consistency.
  • Don’t freak out if your jelly isn’t firm as soon as it comes out of the canner. It can take a few days for it to set properly.
  • Don’t go the other direction and cook it too much either, remember, sugar is the main ingredient in candy and the last thing you want is strawberry candy instead of strawberry jam!

info jelly

Canning Whole Sweet Foods

Jams and jellies are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to home canning sweet foods. What if you want to preserve those beautiful peaches and pears so that you can eat them or bake with them throughout the year? Again, it’s a lot of hard work but the process isn’t difficult.

Tip: Stone fruits are much easier to peel if you blanch them first. That just means dipping them in boiling water for a few seconds. Peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums that are blanched will slip right out of their skins, saving you time and waste.

There are a couple of different ways to can fresh fruit. You can hot pack them, or raw pack them. Which method you choose depends largely on the type of fruit and what you want to use it for. Usually, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Raw packing is easier, but your fruit may turn brown because there’s a greater chance of air. Just peel them, remove the seed, and slice them (or halve them), then stuff them in the jar and add sugar water. Some people sprinkle sugar over them as they layer them in the jars, then just add hot water. It’s a matter of what you prefer to do.

Hot packing is more work but may end up with a fresher tasting, prettier product. Cooking the foods for a few minutes releases the air from the fibers of the fruit, shrinks the fruit, and helps with the seal.

If you want to make apple pie filling, you’ll want to hot pack them because you want to cook the apples so that the syrup thickens and the spices soak in. This means that you cook the apple pie mixture, then put it in the jars hot.

Here are some tips to help you successfully can whole fruits:

  • If you’re packing the fruit in syrup, make sure that it’s a light or medium syrup because when canned in heavy syrups, the fruit will float to the top. This will also happen if the jars aren’t packed tightly enough.
  • Another problem that you may encounter when raw packing is trapped air. We all know that air is not a good thing when canning. As a matter of fact, it contributes to several different situations in canned foods that can kill you. To help avoid this, slide a spatula or spoon down the insides of the jars to release any air pockets.
  • As your fruit processes, the syrup is going to expand, so you need to leave a half-inch or so of headspace to allow for that.
  • On the other hand, your syrup may cook down so that there’s not enough in the jar to cover the fruit. To combat this, make sure that you get as much air as possible out of the jar before sealing, and keep the jars covered with water while processing.

I hope that you’ve learned a bit about canning sweet foods that are delicious, nutritious, and beautiful. If you have anything to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

And click on the banner below for more old tips on food preserving for survival!

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How To Store Flour, Sugar And Rice For Survival

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In addition to your garden, if you have sugar, salt, and rice, plus some chickens and a milk cow (a few beef cows or  canned meats would really put you up there), you have everything that you need to survive.

The thing about sugar, salt, and rice is that you can’t really produce it yourself without a lot of acreage, ideal conditions, and a ton of work, so you need to stockpile them.

Fortunately, all three of them are relatively cheap, especially if you buy in bulk. The problem is how to store flour, sugar, and rice for the long-term. All three of these items are sensitive to moisture and well-loved by critters of all sorts, so it’s imperative that you keep them sealed in a manner that won’t allow them to be eaten or ruined by moisture.

This point was driven home to me just the other day when I opened a new bag of flour to make biscuits. It hadn’t been on the shelf for more than a few months, yet when I dumped it into the bowl, I noticed little black bugs in it. Now I’m not a picky eater by any means, but I draw the line at bug biscuits. I guess I’ve just never been that hungry.

And if I have my say, I never will be. I learned my lesson – now all of my flour, even the smaller bags, go straight into a plastic container. That’s not the only way to store any of these items though. As a matter of fact, I’ve discovered a few pretty nifty tricks that I’m going to share with you!

Check flour, sugar, and rice before you store it

This is a big deal. I say so because I’ve bought both buggy rice and flour in the past, and ended up having to throw away most of the stuff in the cabinet because they infested all of my dry goods that were either boxed or open.

It would have REALLY upset me if I’d been pouring it into my storage bin with other flour or rice because then I would have lost all of it. Since those two incidents, I’ve been really careful about checking for bugs before I even put it in my cabinets. This is a concern for beans and pasta too, so take a look at them all before you toss them on the shelves.

You can check the rice and beans at the store before you buy it  – just look for the bugs in the bottom of the bag. Flour, sugar, and pasta isn’t so easy. Pasta gets kind of a whitish, dry, brittle appearance when it’s buggy, so that my help you avoid buying buggy noodles.

If you’re going to pour a bag of dry goods into a larger container, I’d highly suggest pouring it into a big bowl and checking it before just tossing it in with the rest of your batch.

Store flour, sugar, and rice in plastic buckets

5 gallon buckets rock – that’s just all there is to it. When it comes to a great survival item, they rank right up there with duct tape as far as I’m concerned, at least when we’re talking about non-portable items. The great thing about 5 gallon buckets is that you can get them for free from local restaurants and bakeries.

If they happen to smell like pickles or whatever else was stored in them, scrub them good with some soapy bleach water and rinse well. If they still smell a bit weird, put a box of baking soda or some charcoal in it, put the lid on, and let it sit overnight. It’ll smell fine the next day.

When you’re getting your buckets, make sure they’re food-grade and make sure that they have a rubber seal around the inside of the lid. Most do, but check to make sure before you store your dried goods in them. If you have trouble getting the lids off, you can actually buy a tool specifically designed to help you with that.

You can also buy gamma lids, which seal, and then part of the lid screws on and off so that you don’t have to struggle with removing the whole lid. They’re a little pricey but if you get your bucket for free, then it may be worth it to you.
storage

Dry-Can Flour, Rice, and Sugar

This is a good method if you want to store your dry goods in smaller containers that you’ll use quickly. I wrote an article about safe dry-canning a while back that gives you specific instructions on how to do it.

Vacuum Packing

I think that vacuum packing is a great idea but, after having been raised in WV where the mice have no shame and in Florida where they’re actually armed, I’m not a huge fan of using vacuum packing as the only method of storage. We’ve written an article that gives you some great ideas to keep the mice away here.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great way to extend shelf-life but if you’re going to vacuum seal your dried goods, throw the in a 5-gallon bucket to keep the critters from eating through the plastic. Then you’d have the best of both worlds – small, lightweight, portable portions stored securely in one larger space that nothing will chew through.

Mylar Bags

I know that Mylar bags seem to be the direction that everybody is heading and I can’t deny that they’re a great way to store food, but the cost of them is prohibitive for me. However, if you don’t mind paying a bit more, then by all means, jump on it. They’re certainly more secure than just vacuum sealing. As a matter of fact, they can preserve food for up to 15 years, so that’s a definite check in the bonus column. Again, I’d use the buckets to store the bags.

Barrels and Drums

Since I’m typically the “if it’s free, it’s for me” type of girl, I didn’t realize until recently that there was such a great selection of food-grade barrels and drums that came in sizes other than 5 gallons and 55 gallons. I don’t mean to sound out of the loop, but it just never occurred to me to check it out until I was looking for smaller rain barrels.

It turns out that you can buy them in just about any size in between, and they’re made for both food AND water, so you have a wide array of fairly affordable options that suit your needs no matter how much space you have or food you want to store.

Shelf Life of Flour, Sugar, and Rice

This is probably something that you haven’t given a lot of thought to, but shelf life is pretty important when you’re talking about long-term storage. As always, practice the FIFO (First in, first out) method of stockpiling.

That aside, sugar and white rice (along with several other great foods discussed here) have a shelf lives of literally forever as far as anyone knows, but flour and brown rice are only good for about 15 months. After that, both will start to go rancid. Though both may last longer, especially if stored in airtight containers in cool, dark environments, you’ll know if either have gone bad because they’ll smell sour.

This lends credence to the ideas of canning, or to vacuum sealing, then storing in buckets because both canning a vacuum sealing keep out the air that facilitates spoilage.

Did I miss anything, or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

And click on the banner below to learn how our ancestors used to store their food for survival!

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The Secrets You Need To Know About Fermenting Food

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Foods have been fermented for centuries. It was used originally for preservation but modern knowledge about nutrition has revealed that fermentation provides several nutrients including probiotics, or good bacteria, that helps keep your GI tract healthy.

For survival purposes, this makes it a no-brainer but there are some things that you need to know to safely and effectively ferment foods at home.

What is Fermenting?

Fermenting is actually fairly similar to wine making, except it’s easier and you don’t need as much specialized equipment. Fermentation takes place during a process called lacto-fermentation, in which natural bacteria feed off of the sugar and other carbohydrates in the food to create lactic acid. All you need is the produce, the starter, water, and an anaerobic (air-free) environment.

Some foods are fermented using sugar as a starter, and some are preserved using salt, whey, or even seaweed. Obviously, sauerkraut is salty, but wine is sweet. In a pinch, most foods don’t need the starter because they will eventually create the starter themselves. It’s already on the skin of the produce. Salt does, however, speed up the process and help keep the food crunchy.

Fermentation preserves the nutrients in the food. It also creates other nutrients including essential Omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs but can’t produce, B vitamins, and enzymes that help with digestion. The probiotics created during the process help keep the bacteria in your GI tract in balance.

Fermentation creates a unique, pungent flavor that you may initially find overwhelming (think sauerkraut) but once you get past that, you’ll find that the flavors are actually quite delicious.

What’s the Difference between Fermenting and Pickling?

This gets bit confusing, especially when you think about the fact that salt is used in the fermentation process. So, simply put, the difference between pickling and fermenting is that pickled foods are preserved in an acidic medium such as vinegar. Fermented foods create their own acidic liquid during the fermentation process.

This process is why fermented foods have the wonderful probiotics and other enzymes that pickled foods don’t.

Also, there is no heating or canning process necessary for fermentation. In fact, heating fermented foods in order to can them will likely kill the enzymes.

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What Foods Can Be Fermented?

When you think of fermenting, foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, ginger, and kimchi probably pop into mind. You may be surprised to learn that cheese, salami, bread, vinegar, and olives are other examples of fermented foods. Wine is included in there, too.  Just about any vegetable or fruit can be fermented, but not all of them, such as leafy greens, taste good.

Today, we’re concentrating on fermenting vegetables. Here are some examples of foods that ferment well:

  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Okra
  • String beans
  • Green tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes/yams
  • Ketchup

You don’t have to use just one vegetable at a time; you can combine them to create chutneys and vegetable blends.

When it comes to fruit, you can most certainly ferment them, but they need to be consumed quickly before the fermentation process turns the sugar to alcohol. You probably don’t want the kids to get drunk off the strawberries.

What Vessels Are Good for Fermentation?

Two of the best vessels to allow your food to ferment in are glass canning jars and stone crocks. You absolutely do not want to use plastic because chemicals can leach into you foods. Metal aren’t good either because the salt corrodes them.

If you choose to use canning jars, use the wide-mouthed variety. You need to use your hand or a tool to pack the veggies tightly. Self-sealing jars are ideal because they lock the air out.

If you use stone crocks, use ones that are glazed inside and, preferably, have airlocks with a release system. You can buy these online and they help you control the fermentation process by making the environment anaerobic. That being said, you can use a standard stone crock. Just make sure that the vegetables are weighted so that they stay submerged so that they ferment, and covered so that bugs can’t get into the brine.

Tips for Fermenting Food at Home

Though fermenting food is almost bulletproof, there are some steps that you can take to make the process more successful and ensure that the food is properly preserved.

  1. How you slice, dice, or cube your veggies doesn’t really matter as long as you keep the pieces fairly uniform so that they ferment at the same pace. Dense vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and beets should be sliced, diced or chopped so that the lactic acid can reach the center.
  2. Keep food submerged in the brine. This is important because food left above the brine will spoil instead of ferment and will ruin the batch.
  3. Fermented foods are acidic and need to have a pH of at least 4.6 or lower.
  4. Though botulism found in home-fermented tofu and other bean products is one of the top causes of food-borne illnesses in china, there’s only been one reported case in the US. Still, follow refrigeration and preservation protocols to avoid this. Botulism is not your friend!
  5. If your food has slime, mold (yeah, some people say it’s fine, but experts say don’t risk it for home fermenting), a creamy white film, a yeasty smell, or your cabbage is brown or pink, it didn’t ferment correctly and isn’t safe to eat. A white film on top is OK as long as there’s no slime.
  6. Be careful if using sealed containers because the fermentation process releases gases that can cause your container or seal to blow. Using airlock devices helps with this.
  7. A film of olive oil across the top of your brine lets gas out while keeping oxygen from getting in.
  8. Though many recipes may call for a starter, you may not want to buy one, or you may not have access to a retailer in a SHTF situation. You don’t really need one – it just hastens the process that will occur anyway.
  9. Don’t forget to sterilize everything that comes into contact with your food, including the jars, utensils, table top and weight. Wash your hands well, too.

How to Ferment Your Food

plumsNow we’re getting down to the good stuff.

There is no blanket recipe for fermenting foods because some veggies obviously already have a lower pH than others.

These foods won’t need as much salt. You’ll also see recipes that call for whey or a starter.

Both of these are to add extra bacteria to get the fermentation process started.

The veggies will do this on their own if you ferment them correctly, so you don’t necessarily need them. Salt is used for preservation.

There are a couple of different ways to begin the fermentation process: You can make salt water brine, or you can salt the produce and use the natural juices from the produce to make the brine.

If using salt brine, simply add 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. Pack veggies tightly into container, cover with brine, weight the veggies with a heavy plate (you can add a freezer bag full of water to the plate to help weight it if you need to, or a sterilized rock), then let it ferment as follows.

Here are the steps for using the natural juices.

  1. Choose your vegetables. Use only organic produce to ensure that there are no chemicals and the good bacteria can flourish.
  2. Begin by chopping or slicing your food in whatever manner suits you, as long as the brine can penetrate. Are you going to eat it as a relish or in the form of slices on a sandwich? Prepare you food according to what you’re going to use it for.
  3. If you’re using whole vegetables, pack them into your jars or crock. If not, salt your vegetables in layers as you slice them to draw out the moisture, then squeeze, knead, or mash the juice out of your produce and place it into your fermentation container. This will be your brine.
  4. The amount of salt you use depends on the product, but a good rule of thumb is to use 1-3 tablespoons per quart of food or brine. Any type of course sea salt (gray, black, pink, or red), or Himalayan Salt is a good choice if you don’t want the food to taste super salty.

You can use whatever salt you like as long as you make sure that it’s pure salt – no anti-caking agents or any additives. As long as you reach the proper pH, the level of salt is a matter of personal taste. Salty sauerkraut may be fine, but you don’t want your chutney to be so overpowering. Experiment to find what you like.

  1. Tightly pack the food into a fermenting crock or jar and cover completely with the brine.
  2. Add the airlock lids or, if you’re using another type of container, weight the food with a plate or whatever you want to use (not plastic) so that the food stays under the brine. The liquid, and even the veggies, will likely expand during the process, so prepare for that.
  3. Let the veggies ferment and ripen for 7-30 days in a dark place at room temperature. When they process is complete, refrigerate, vacuum can, or store in a cool, dark place. Fermented foods can keep for months.

The Three Fermentation Stages

As I said above, the fermentation process can take anywhere from 3-30 days. This varies depending upon room temperatures and vegetables. During the first stage of fermentation, you’ll notice bubbles. Next, you’ll notice a pleasant, sour aroma. It shouldn’t be yeasty, exactly.

Finally, you’ll notice a sour, tangy flavor. Smell and taste your fermenting veggies daily if you can so that you know when they’re to a stage that you like. If you smell anything rotten, the process has failed. Throw it out.

After your fermented veggies are finished, store them in the fridge, or at least in a cool, dark cellar.

Now you know how to ferment foods at home! But wait, there are more survival secrets to learn from our ancestors! Click on the banner below to discover them!

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Stories To Learn From: WWII Survival On The Home Front

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SVP one nation

Life in Detroit back in the early 40s was idyllic for most—far different than it is today.

America was clawing its way out of the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt calmed fears with his homey fireside chats on the radio. Americans were hardy and most exhibited strong work ethic. They had little money, but families stuck together—helped each other, and helped their neighbors as well.

From Promise to War

Kids didn’t have cell phones, IPads, computers, notebooks, X-boxes, video games, cable TV—they didn’t even have TV back then—radio was their communication medium. They played outside with their friends. And they made up most of their games. Marbles and “hide-and-seek” were popular. They walked or rode bikes to see their friends. And no-one locked their house doors. All the kids could play outside until the street lights came on. Then they had to return home.

Parents sat on porches, visited with passing neighbors, and watched children play in the neighborhood. Everyone felt safe and secure. If a child disobeyed, any parent in the neighborhood could discipline the child—including spanking. Then when the child got home, they were given another spanking by their own parents.

They didn’t sue each other at the drop of a hat. They learned discipline and respect for adults and the law. And they learned how to survive as a group.

The year 1940 was a good year for America—full of promise. The country was getting back to work, and the Great Depression was fading into history. The window to the world was the radio and families crowded around the big box in the front room every night to listen to their favorite programs—Jack Benny, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee and Mollie, and The Shadow.

Every Sunday afternoon, a radio announcer would read the comic section of the local paper—people called them “the funnies.”—imitating the voices of the characters as the children laid on the floor and read along. And most families were poor but content.

Then came Pearl Harbor and suddenly our country was thrust into a long, bitter, and violent war. My older brother remembers when the president announced to the world that America had been attacked and uttered his famous statement: “December 7th, 1941, a day that shall live in infamy …” My brother doesn’t remember what was said, but at one year old, he felt the anger and fear that filled our home.

Video first seen on War Archives.

Soon over a million young Americans were putting on uniforms and going off to fight the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the South Pacific. Eventually almost 14 million would serve. Our dad joined the fight and spent almost two years in action in the Pacific—particularly Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

We were no longer Catholic or Protestant, Jew or atheist. We were no longer Republican, or Democrat, and our skin color or where we grew up didn’t matter. We were all Americans. We were all in this together, and we intended to win. We were at war.

As American involvement increased, the government soon realized we were rapidly expending vital resources sending men, machines, supplies, and food overseas. Washington knew our resources were limited—although manufacturing immediately ramped up, and 3.5 million women went to work—so an Office of Price Administration was established with directions to ration vital resources. Production of new cars was halted during the War so plants could manufacture planes, guns, tanks, and ships.

food stamps

When President Roosevelt announced to the country that America would begin rationing, my mother knew instinctively what to do. As a Canadian who grew up on a Mennonite farm where the family grew its own food and scrimped and saved, it wasn’t difficult to repeat this lifestyle.  Her family in Detroit joined other Americans—mostly immigrants like her—and cut back on the use of meat, fuel, sugar, coffee, shoes, rubber, and other consumer goods so the troops “would have enough.”

The federal government established War Price and Rationing boards in every community to verify and certify households and issue ration books to buy certain commodities. All heads of households were required to register for ration books containing ration stamps. Each stamp had a simple drawing of a plane, ship, gun, tank, wheat stalk, fruit, or alphanumeric lettering, and a serial number.

The stamps were printed in color—red for meat and butter, blue for processed foods, and gray for general commodities. People could purchase rationed products by using ration stamps or compressed wood fiber token representations of ration points and cash. Tokens were used as change for ration stamps because metal was in such short supply.

Sugar was rationed first—one half pound per person per week—half what people normally consumed. One #30 stamp from book 4 plus cash would get you 5 pounds of sugar. Then chocolate was rationed. Chocolate was being used to make chocolate candy bars for the military. Even coffee was rationed—one pound every 5 weeks.

The national speed limit was reduced to 35 mph to minimize tire wear. The Japanese had taken over all the rubber plantations in Indonesia so rubber was very difficult to obtain. Nylon was needed for parachutes and gun powder bags so sale to civilians was quickly banned. Even after the war in 1945, women’s nylons were not available until late 1947.

Gasoline was carefully rationed based on five levels of need.

  • A letter sticker on the windshield identified the level of need. “A” stickers had the lowest priority. The car owner could purchase up to 4 gallons a week. Gas cost 12¢ a gallon back then.
  • “B” stickers were for people working in the defense industry. They could buy up to 8 gallons a week.
  • “C” was reserved for doctors, who were deemed essential to the war effort.
  • “T” stickers were on trucks. They could buy all the gas they needed.
  • An “X” sticker gave the holder unlimited access to gas. This sticker was for defense workers, fire fighters, police officers, and ministers. A scandal erupted when about 200 members of Congress were found to be illegally using X ration stamps. Some felt they were above the law.

To help fund the War, children purchased 10¢ victory stamps and pasted them in Victory Book albums that were exchanged for $25 War Savings Bonds when all the stamp spaces were filled. Schools and veteran groups conducted scrap paper drives to extend our supply of paper packing material, and others collected scrap metal for recycling.

Even bacon grease was saved and donated to butchers who collected it and provided it to rendering companies that processed it into glycerine, a substance used for explosives. Some families also used the fat in bacon grease to make soap. My mother did this and used this soap to clean the floors. Because meat, oil, and butter were rationed, she re-used the fat for frying as much as possible before pouring it into a can and turning it into our butcher.

The Lessons We Learned

We became accustomed to shortages and soon more vital commodities were rationed. Adults were allowed 2-1/2 pounds of red meat each week (if it was available). Hamburger cost about 43¢ a pound plus 8 points in ration stamps. Pork chops cost 37¢ a pound plus 7 points in stamps.

Americans found ways to cope. And we found creative ways to make meals. Very few people complained. We considered shortage an inconvenience but not devastating. We shared, we re-purposed old clothes, we handed clothes down to younger kids, we made clothing out of feedbags, we used rags to make warm quilts, and we put cardboard in our shoes to make them last longer. We made do with what we had or made what we needed. This included much of our food.

As the War dragged on, access to even more goods became restricted. In 1943 the government began rationing canned goods. Each person was allocated 48 points of ration stamps per month to buy canned, dried, and frozen food. And people were encouraged to plant gardens in every back yard. President Roosevelt urged all Americans to start “victory gardens” to grow enough fruits and vegetables to help sustain a family through the winter. Posters hung on walls and buildings saying “Plant a Victory Garden – A Garden Will Make Your Rations Go Further.”

A Victory Garden Institute handbook was created with a patriotic red, white, and blue cover. It told people how to start and maintain a home garden. Over 20 million Americans planted gardens in backyards, empty lots, in flower beds, and on rooftops. My mother fell back on her Mennonite upbringing and began to improve soil, compost, and journal her gardening successes and failures.

Today my mother’s journal is a treasure trove of good sage advice for optimum planting, harvesting, and bug control. People talked with their neighbors and like my own parents, millions of Americans grew gardens to produce as much food as they could. If they could produce over five percent of their own food, they felt good. If they could grow over 20% of their own food, they became ecstatic. They shared garden harvests and they taught others how to replicate their success.

Victory-gardenBy 1944, about 40% of food for America came from Victory Gardens. This program was a huge success—many emigrants were doing this before the government acted and established policies.

Many of them were drying and canning foods from the time they arrived in this country. So when Roosevelt urged all Americans to preserve foods, many thought, “Yes, we already are.”

Then they expanded their food preservation operations.

Home canning became a major food processing industry, and canning was occurring almost every day. By the end of the War, my mother was canning about 200 jars of food each summer. The family constructed a pantry to hold food stuffs, and we never went hungry. By agreeing to produce four quarts of canned fruit per pound of sugar used, she and other like households could receive extra sugar allotments. We ate well.

Americans are highly adaptable, and we survived rationing and victory gardens quite well. Today the victory garden concept is growing popular once more as people realize that the healthiest foods available are those grown at home.

Just like our grandparents who found ways to survive the Great Depression, adults living when WWII ended carried with them valuable lessons for the future. They hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst.

They identified with their local community, and they learned who had the skills they may need. One skilled person welded and repaired most of the vehicles, wagons, and toys in our neighborhood. My mother conducted canning classes where she taught other women how to safely preserve garden produce and fruits. Before being drafted and shipped out, my father taught how to repair vehicles to get the most miles out of each gallon of gas.

Kids entertained themselves building forts and reading comic books playing together in groups of friends. No one was barred from joining the fun.  In the evening, neighbors gathered to play cards and board games. Everyone knew everyone else and all felt safe and secure in their close neighborhoods.

As Americans we respected faith, family, and community. We didn’t flaunt our religion. We respected all religions. And we accepted a duty to help others while living within our own means. We learned and taught new skills and we worked together to develop capabilities that would benefit all.

We never knowingly left any family without food, water, or shelter. But we expected each person to do everything they could for the benefit of all—to help carry their own load. And we corrected our own problems. There were those who abused the system, but because they lacked character and integrity, we moved beyond them and they were soon left behind. For us, we never felt alone. And we survived as a community.

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Robert Brenner for Survivopedia.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

http://www.genealogytoday.com/guide/war-ration-books.html 

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How To Build A Portable Survival Garden

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survivopedia portable garden

There are several reasons why you’d want to build a portable garden, but today we’re going to focus on building a portable garden for bugging out.

Some of you may only have space in the back of your car or truck, and some of you have a hitch that can pull an entire shed or trailer.

If you’re planning on building a large portable survival garden, it should probably have walls for two reasons: you don’t want to damage your plants when traveling and you don’t want others to know that you have a truckload of food.

Weight and Size

The first thing that you need to consider when planning your portable garden, besides the space you’ll have available, is weight. How many people are going to be available to help you load up and how strong are they? Raised beds can get heavy fast when you factor in the weight of dirt along with the weight of the plants.

If you have access to a forklift or have plenty of people to help you load, then larger raised beds may not be an issue. If you’re going it  alone or with people who aren’t so strong, then you should probably go with small beds or some of the other options that I’ll discuss.

Size, of course, depends on how much space you have and how you’ll be transporting the plants. You won’t want to plan portable trellises or large beds if you’re going to put them in a truck bed, car, or low-roofed trailer. As with everything, think ahead when planning your portable survival garden.

Types of Portable Survival Gardens

There are several different methods  that you can use to grow your garden so that you can take it with you if you bug out. You can also combine methods so that you  can take more of your garden with you.

Potted Plants

poted plants

If you have limited space, you can always plant your veggies and spices in pots and hanging baskets. Since you can adapt the sizes of the pots to the size of the plants, this is a great way to make your plants portable, and to use space efficiently.

You can put the smaller planters in between the larger ones while transporting, or even put them in the floorboard of your car.

Portable Raised Bed Survival Gardens

There are a couple of different ways that you can make your raised beds portable. You can adjust the size to meet your needs and capabilities.

Portable Raised Beds on Stilts

First, you can make your raised bed survival garden small enough that you can pick them up and move them. This works great for plants that grow low to the ground or for short plants that can be grown close together such as peppers. Here’s an inexpensive, easy plan for building one.

The idea is similar to window boxes except they’ll be on the ground. Build them on stilts so that they’re easy to pick up. If you plant them on the ground, they’ll likely sink and be difficult to pick up. A huge advantage here is that you can load them into the back of the truck.

Larger Portable Raised Beds on Casters

If you go with a larger raised bed, you can put casters on the bottom to make them portable. If you go this route, it needs to be built on concrete or on placed on 2x4s so that the castors don’t sink in. Here’s a great instructable for portable raised beds. You can adjust the size to meet your needs.

raised bed

Vertical Gardening Made Portable

We’ve talked about vertical gardening before, but most types of plants grown vertically would travel well in the back of a truck or in a closed trailer. If you’re using potted plants, you can always pull them right off the latticework and carry them with you as described above.

diy vertical gardenThe only adjustments that you’ll have to make when planning a portable vertical garden versus a stationary one is ease of movement.

Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re using potted plants but if you’re using vining plants, you need to make the vertical structure so that it’s easy to disassemble, or small enough that it will fit into whatever method of transportation that you’re using.

You should also use durable material to build the structure.

PVC works great because it’s light and can be built to disassemble.

Panel  grid wire is also a good choice because it’s light, sturdy, and comes in a variety of sizes. You can always cut it down to meet your needs.

Ladders are also another good option.

Portable Survival Garden Houses

I absolutely love this idea, but you’ll need a hitch and a vehicle with enough power to pull it. If you’re travelling on level roads, you won’t need as much horsepower as if you’re traveling on mountainous or hilly terrain.

Portable Greenhouses

greenhouse

You can buy or build a greenhouse fairly inexpensively and they’re multi-purpose. You can use them to extend growing periods in good times, but if things go south, you can always pack them up and go with them.

Portable greenhouses need to be a bit sturdier than the average greenhouse, so I’d recommend using Plexiglas instead of plastic sheeting. Buildeazy offers a free plan that is not only versatile, but you can also modify it to suit your size. It provides several different options for building materials, so that’s good, too. Remember that you’ll need a solid floor if it’s going to be portable.

If you really want to make a greenhouse portable, build it on a trailer base so that all you have to do is maintain the tires and hitch it to your truck if you need to go in a hurry. It’s also easy to load your vertical gardens, potted plants or gear into this, so you can use the space efficiently.

To add to the internal stability of the plants, I would probably modify the shelving so that the pots can be attached, or make them so that the plants sit down in the shelf. Just off the top of my head, I’d either cut pre-sized holes in the shelves or use some sort of sturdy wire mesh shelving that can be adapted with different size holes since most planters come in standard sizes.

Finally, this structure could actually serve as a shelter for wherever you’re going after you unload the plants. My imagination is running wild with the possibilities here; solar panels, rainwater collection systems, etc.

Tiny Homes

This idea kind of feeds off of the last one. If you really want to get the biggest bang out of your portable survival garden idea, then this is the way to go. There are many tiny homes that are built in such a way that many of the inside structures fold up to make them easier to transport.

You could, of course, transport small vertical plant structures, potted plants, window planters and even small raised beds inside of them and unload them when you arrive at your bug out destination.

tiny houseOne idea that I have, though, is to make a tiny house with a covered porch  that can be enclosed with hinged doors that open to provide a really cute serve as storage for such items as pots and pans, hanging plants, garden tools, or just about anything else that you’d want to hang.

In the meantime, when traveling, the doors would be closed and serve as additional storage for gear or plants.

Another house with this theme is shown in the article that I wrote about tiny houses.

The one in the picture is a bit pricey, but you could build it yourself for much less and adapt the size and insides to suit your needs. I even like the idea of the window planters on the outside, modified so that they can be covered for travel, of course.

Once you get to your bug out destination, you’d be ready to quite literally unpack an instant house and garden. Again, build it on wheels and add a hitch so that you can load up, hook up, and head out.

There are many different ways to make a portable survival garden; you just need to think a bit ahead and plan according to what transportation you have and what plants you want to take.

Think about the old ways our ancestors used for survival and click on the banner below to learn more of their secrets!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Build Your Own Irrigation System

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Survivopedia diy irrigation system

In the summer time, when the weather is hot (actually scorching hot in some places), what can be more important than knowing how to build your own irrigation system for your garden?

DIY irrigation systems will save you some of your hard-earned dollars, and they also make for an interesting learning experience. They help you with acquire new skills and that’s a big part of a prepper’s way of life, isn’t it?

Now, irrigation systems are essential whether you’re growing roses in your back yard for winning prizes or what not, or, more importantly, for your survival garden. Hose-watering your plants is quite a chore. You’ll have to move the hose around every 30 minutes or so and then store the hose in your yard afterward etc.; basically it’s a waste of time and resources.

Today’s article is built around a few ideas about DIY drip irrigation systems, as they’re very efficient and simple. As a matter of fact, their beauty is their simplicity, like a Swiss watch. Oh, and they’re also dirt cheap and easy to build using readily-available materials. That’s a huge plus in my book.

Soaker Hose vs. Drip Irrigation System

Taking into account that not all irrigation methods are created equal and obviously, there are quite a few systems of irrigation available, let’s begin with the basics.

While soaker hoses are the most common irrigation method for “amateurs”, i.e. home gardeners, they’re rarely used in commercial gardening for several reasons. One of the reasons is they will end up costing quite a lot. They’ll also cause you more problems than they solve.

The biggest problem with soaker hoses is that they don’t water your garden evenly. Due to their intrinsic design, i.e. they seep water all along the hose’s length, the water delivered at the beginning of the hose will always be considerably more than the quantity delivered at the end of the line; that’s a law of physics folks. Basically, there’s no way of delivering the optimal amount of water for all of your plants using soaker hoses.

Long story short, that’s inconsistent watering and it’s a big no-no for your survival garden, as it leads to rotting in some places (too much water) and your plants dying of thirst in others. Also, soaker hoses don’t function properly on slopes because they’re not pressure-compensating. The maximum length of such a system is less than 200 ft.

Another disadvantage of soaker hoses is that they’re prone to clogging easily and that leads to even more inconsistency over time. When left in the sun, soaker hoses are also prone to damage, as they’ll harden (rubber doesn’t cope too well with UV light) and get brittle in time, breaking over when you’ll need them most.

To make things worse, the soaker hoses are also prone to bursting, making a huge mess and leaking large amounts of water. And yes, a burst soaker hose is pretty hard and expensive to repair if needed, especially if it’s hardened and brittle from sun exposure.

Just check out this cool video about soaker hoses vs drip irrigation; you’ll see with your own eyes what I’m talking about. On the good side, soaker hoses are cheap and fairly easy to install compared to drip irrigation systems.

Video first seen on CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY.

Now, talking about drip irrigation, these babies are built using flexible plastic tubing that features tiny emitters (holes basically) that allow water to drip slowly into the soil.

There are a few advantages of using drip emitters over soaker hoses: they are not wasting as much water as the latter, they’re totally fixable when they break, and even if they require some maintenance, many of the parts are re-usable. They’re one hundred percent repairable, which is very important in my book.

Besides the almost–zero waste of water, a drip emitter puts the water directly where it’s needed, with pinpoint accuracy so to speak. For example, you will be able to space them (the drippers) so the water drips exactly over the root zone of your plant.

How to DIY The Drip Irrigation System

Project #1

Now, let’s see about how to DIY a PVC-made drip irrigation system. Here’s an extremely interesting video depicting the advantages of a homemade drip irrigation system compared to regular flood irrigation.

Video first seen on Utah State University Extension.

This PVC-made drip irrigation system will help you save money, time, and water. A fabulous advantage of using this design is that you’ll be able to reduce water use by up to 75%, and that’s quite a lot, especially in a survival situation. All you’ll have to do is turn it on and forget about it, as it doesn’t require monitoring or supervision.

This system uses water wisely and you’ll end up with a beautiful garden that will provide you with fresh veggies for you and your family all summer long. Also, this project is not expensive: the estimated cost for a 15ftx15ft garden is under $50 and the time to build it is approximately 5 hours. You’ll only need ¾-inch PVC pipe, a drilling machine, and connectors/fittings. These are intuitive to use, user friendly, easy to set up, and lots of fun.

Project #2

The next project is about a small-scale DIY gravity-fed drip irrigation system. The complete plans for the project can be downloaded from here. Here’s a video tutorial depicting the system working and most of the DIY details.

Video first seen on Ross Lukeman.

The materials required for this project are dirt cheap and readily available; you probably already have them lying around your property somewhere. You’ll need a 5 gallon bucket for the reservoir, a drill, garden hose fittings, irrigation tubing, some planks of wood for building the structure that holds the bucket in place (you’ll have to cut them), and that’s about it.

For added precision, you can throw in a digital irrigation timer, which gives you a lot of flexibility because it allows you to do whatever you want. For example, if you want to water your plants every morning at 8 AM with a predetermined amount of water and so on and so forth, you can arrange it; just take a look at the video.

Project #3

Now, let’s talk about the easiest way to DIY a rain-drip watering system for keeping alive a relatively large garden. This DIY project is very efficient. It uses an electronic timer, a back-flow system, and a water filter to prevent clogging. It will help you with your bills and also with conserving water if you’re living in a remote area.

Thanks to the electronic timer, this irrigation system will save you a lot of physical labor, as it will basically automate the whole process and you’ll not have to water every plant by yourself. Also, this system is expandable, adaptable and relatively cheap, and it can be used with basically anything: flowers, veggies or hanging baskets. Take a look at this video and start working.

Video first seen on RedneckResponder.

Project #4

Last but not least, here’s an interesting idea about DIY-ing a self-watering container garden. The main benefit of a container garden is its efficiency, as the plants will draw the exact amount of water required from a reservoir placed below the soil; no more, no less. Also, there’s no loss of water through evaporation.

Video first seen on XoletteLife.

This project will provide you with better-tasting veggies and fruits, as the plants are free to use as much water as needed for optimum growth. The main benefit of a self-watering container garden is its relative self-sufficiency, i.e. you can go on vacation for extended periods of time. As long as you set the hose on a timer, the plants will take care of themselves.

The total cost of this project is about $50, so you’ll not have to break the piggy bank either. Materials required:

  • Commander 27-Gallon Tote
  • 10′ Orbit Polyethylene Riser Flex Pipe,
  • FLEX-Drain Corrugated Pipe with Filter Sock 4″ x 25′
  • Apollo 3/4″ Polyethylene Drip Irrigation elbow
  • Miracle-Gro 64 qt. Moisture Control Potting Mix
  • Apollo 3/4″ PVC Drip Irrigation Female Adapter

The rest is up to you.

I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. And click on the banner below to discover one amazing tool that any prepper should have for building what he needs for survival!

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Prepper Project: 5 Ways To Build A Chicken Incubator

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Survivopedia diy incubator

Even if I don’t like chickens very much personally, I am aware of the fact that raising chickens on your own homestead is becoming increasingly popular, especially among preppers.

Raising your own livestock is a big step toward getting off the grid. If you own a small farm or you have enough room in your back yard, chickens are a great opportunity for providing yourself and your family with fresh meat and eggs, totally organic and the whole nine yards.

However, keep in mind that free range chickens tend to forage in your garden (if you have one) so be extra-careful with these pesky birds.

In my opinion, from a prepping/homesteading point of view, chickens are very close to perfection when talking about raising your own livestock, especially for beginners. Home-raised chickens are way more tasteful (and better for you) and also significantly cheaper compared to the commercial variety.

A home-grown chicken will be free of hormones, antibiotics, growth stimulators and the rest of the pharmacy you will find nowadays in store-bought chicken.

The same story goes for the eggs, which are an excellent survival food. If you’ll be raising your own chickens you’ll have fresh eggs on a daily basis for you and your family.

Last but not least, a backyard chicken farm will provide you with top quality manure for making compost, thus your veggie garden will benefit enormously from these beautiful critters (or creatures, whatever you want to call them).

Oh, and I almost forgot: raising chickens is incredibly easy, as they require very little maintenance and they will be able to take care of themselves provided they have enough space to forage for food (I am talking about free range chickens here). Basically, if you have a chicken coop, a little bit of space and some spare time, raising chickens will present no significant problem.

However, at some point in time, you’ll have to deal with the incubator problem. Any chicken farm operation will require an incubator, if you want to hatch your own chicks. Commercially available devices are pretty expensive, north of $200, but the good news is that you can build your own chicken incubator for as low as $3.

hatching eggs

The 3$ DIY Incubator

Okay, for three bucks you won’t get all the bells and whistles available on a name brand variety, but even the simplest and cheapest DIY incubator will succeed in its main goal: hatching chicks from fertilized eggs.

So, if you’re resonating with my preamble and you’re copacetic with raising your own chickens for scratch (that’s eggs), check out my first DIY project which will cost you just $3, no change. Remember, it doesn’t get any simpler/cheaper than this, so keep your eyes peeled:

For the $3 chicken incubator project, you’ll require:

  • a light-bulb socket
  • a regular extension cord
  • a thermometer/hygrometer (that’s like a thermometer which measures humidity)
  • some scrap wood for building the frame
  • an incandescent light-bulb (the wattage/power depends on the size of the box)
  • a Styrofoam box
  • a screen to wrap over the frame (a piece of fabric/hardware cloth)
  • a cup for holding water (an empty sour cream box will do the job with flying colors).

If you already have some of the gear available, as most homesteaders do, this project will cost you next to nothing. I mean, everybody has a light bulb around somewhere, along with Styrofoam boxes and pieces of cloth, right? The only high-tech piece of gear is the hygrometer and if you don’t already own one, well, you’ll have to cough up 7 additional bucks at your hardware store.

As per the DIY job, check out this instructable, it’s very straight forward: first, you’ll have to assemble the wooden frame to match the inner dimensions of the Styrofoam box, then attach the screen to the wooden frame, leaving enough room behind to fit a cup of water (hydration is always important).

Next, you’ll install the light bulb inside the box, put some ventilation holes in place, and in the last step you must install the thermometer/hygrometer inside. The assembly part is very easy and it will take you maybe 45 minutes. The general idea is that once you put some fertile eggs inside your home-made chicken incubator, you’ll just have to wait for three weeks for the fresh chicks to appear; that’s the boring part.

Now, whilst building the incubator is the easy part, the problem is with fine-tuning the environment, i.e. temperature and humidity. The general rule of thumb for hatching healthy chicks is that you’ll require a constant temperature of 99-102 degrees Fahrenheit 24/7. That temperature must be kept constant for three weeks. That’s why you need the thermometer inside the box, in real life the hen takes care of the temp problem.

Also humidity is important (here’s where the hygrometer comes into play), as it must stay around 40%-50% for the first eighteen days. In the last three days, it must be increased to 60%-70%. If it’s really cold outside, this may become tricky (cold weather means drier air) but you can mitigate the problem using a wet sponge placed inside the incubator.

Regulating the temperature inside your incubator is way easier; all you have to do is to cut additional holes in the lid until you hit the sweet spot (the optimal temperature). If you cut too many holes, don’t worry, you can always put duct tape over them.

Also, you can play around with the brightness of the light bulb and you have two options: you can switch the light bulb with a lower or higher wattage one or you can buy a dimmer switch for around $5. Either way, you’ll be able to get the ideal temperature relatively hassle-free. Additionally, you can purchase a thermostat and wire it to your power source; in this way, the light bulb will be switched off and on automatically when it gets too hot or cold.

Finally, you must turn the eggs a few times every day in order to prevent the developing chick-embryo from deforming (if you don’t turn the egg, the embryo will stick to the shell wall). Three times a day will do it.

That concludes our first project – the simplest, cheapest, yet very effective one. It’s the perfect DIY job for beginners.

4 Other Ways to Build an Incubator

Now, let’s take a look at a few more complex ones, shall we?

Here’s a video tutorial about a home-made incubator, a variant of the first but instead of a Styrofoam box, these folks are using a commercial cooler box but the rest is basically the same: a heat/light source, a hygrometer, a thermometer and a few happy chicks at the end of the video.

Video first seen on Sefa O’Reilly.

Take a look at this cheap home-made incubator, which is almost identical to our first $3 job, but with additional bells and whistles, i.e. a fan for controlling temperature/humidity better and a motor from a can opener for spinning the eggs automatically via vibrations (that leads to ADHD chicks, check that out).

Video first seen on Caton Domke,

Now let’s take a look at the next-level DIY chicken incubator, the fully automatic version. It’s homemade and uses an old fridge and some gear including water heater elements, a PLC Smatr Relay and a homemade rack.

Check out the video for more info, but keep in mind that this is a complex job. You’ll require some serious hardware and skills to pull it through. What I like the most about this project is that it turns the eggs automatically, industrial-style without the vibrations.

Video first seen on findrive.

Here’s another variant of the home-made incubator with an automatic egg turner. This baby uses a window motor from a Ford automobile with a PWM speed controller to turn the eggs, two limit switches, a timer and a Repti 500R thermostat. Again, a more complex DIY job, but check it out anyway.

Video first seen on gamecoker77.

I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Survival Food – 59 Long-Term Survival Foods and Supplies at the Grocery Store

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There is a whole industry that has grown up around the prepping and survival community. This industry is working overtime to provide everything from pre-packaged meals to the latest survival

The post Survival Food – 59 Long-Term Survival Foods and Supplies at the Grocery Store appeared first on Ask a Prepper.

What Is The Government Preparing For?

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Survival World News

UN Vehicle - Jeff Stern

By Michael Snyder – The Economic Collapse Blog

You may not be getting prepared for a major national disaster, but the government sure is.  I have been informed that in recent months numerous emergency food companies have been contacted by the government, and they have been told that their inventories could potentially be seized in the event of a significant emergency.  And as you will see below, the government recently participated in an exercise that simulated “an unprecedented global food crisis lasting as long as a decade”.  In addition, NPR has just revealed details about the very secretive Strategic National Stockpile program that is storing billions of dollars worth of medical supplies in warehouses around the nation.  This is a program that most Americans do not even know exists.  On top of everything else, strange reports of military vehicles with UN markings have been coming in from all over the…

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Healthy Low Carb Foods To Stockpile For Survival

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Survivopedia low carbsThere are 3 types of nutrients that your body can convert to energy: carbs, fats, and protein.

Carbs are the primary source for most of us but the problem is that they burn up quickly, leaving us hungry and run-down an hour or so after we eat them. Good fats and proteins, on the other hand, burn slowly so they provide level, sustained energy.

Obviously, there are situations that call for each type, but the big thing with carbs is that you need to choose the RIGHT ones, which is a topic for another day. Today, we’re going to talk about good sources of low-carb foods (aka, high protein/fat foods).

Just as with carbs, there are good and not-so-good sources of proteins and fats. The debate about this is hot, especially when it comes to saturated fats such animal fats.

Your body is hardwired to use carbs as the first source of energy because they’re quick and easy to break down. When it doesn’t have carbs (or during prolonged exercise), it turns to fat, and then protein. You don’t want to push yourself to the point that your body is using protein as a fuel source exclusively, because it’s literally eating your muscle away.

Instead, use protein to build and repair muscles, and use fat as your energy source. Your body needs glucose (sugar) for proper brain function, but it doesn’t need it in large quantities or from junk sources. Fruits and veggies provide the carbs your body needs.

We’ve  all heard how eating too much red meat or eggs raises cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease, but now there are studies that suggest that meat wasn’t necessarily the culprit – it was other foods that were eaten in conjunction with the meat.

No matter what you think about meat, you probably agree that there are far worse foods in the junk-carb category than steak and eggs. Anyway, now studies are showing that many of these proteins are good for you.

Since it takes your body longer to break down protein and fat, you won’t get that pop of energy that you get from carbs, but your energy levels will remain steady for much longer and you won’t suffer from the crash that you get from carbs. There are many great sources of low-carb foods to stockpile for survival.

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(Fairly) Lean Meat and Poultry

Meats such as lean beef, venison, lamb, bison, rabbit, goat, and lean pork cuts provide are amazing sources of protein and vitamin B12, and generally have zero carbs. Sufficient amounts of this vitamin are found almost exclusively in fish and animal-sourced foods.

Vitamin B12 is critical to human health. It plays a role in the health of every single cell, including brain cells, in your body. Deficiencies are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, impaired brain function, mental disorders an even a decreased brain size.

Vitamin D3 is another vitamin that’s exclusive to animals. D2 is found in plants but isn’t as bioavailable as D3 is. Your brain needs this for proper function and it also plays a role in nutrient absorption. Typically you get all the D you need from the sun, but if you’re forced to hunker down, it may become an issue.

Add that to the energy that you get from the meat and it’s a no-brainer that these are necessary for your food stockpile. You can pressure can your meat, dehydrate it, or buy it in bulk freeze-dried containers. You can also farm your own or hunt for it so that you have fresh meat.

Fish

Fish is great for you. Even when red meat was the scourge of society, fish was still on the happy face list. It’s also basically carb-free and easy to source as long as you live near a water source and the water isn’t tainted.

All fish are good sources of protein but fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide Omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for numerous bodily functions, including brain function.

Be careful eating fish that are higher on the food chain, though, because they also likely have high amounts of mercury, which can poison you in high amounts. Shoot for wild-caught fish instead of farmed fish to help with this. Wild-caught fish also have a better Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio, which is also another article altogether.

You can pressure can fish (or buy it canned for fairly cheap), smoke it, catch it fresh, or buy it freeze-dried. It doesn’t last well when dehydrated because of the fat content. It’s probably easier to just buy the cans of tuna and salmon.

Eggs and Milk

Eggs are another excellent, low-carb (zero) source of protein, Vitamins D and B12, phosphorus and riboflavin. and they’re extremely versatile. Eggs are also a source of Omega 3s and the amino acid lutein, which your body needs to build muscle.

The best thing about them when it comes to prepping is that it’s available in three extremely user-friendly forms. You can either reach under your own hen and get a fresh one, or you can buy it powdered or freeze-dried.

Dairy Products

Yeah, I know the counter-argument to this already – humans are the only mammals that drink milk post-weaning. Blah. I’m a farm girl – give me fresh cream in my coffee and a huge scoop of cottage cheese on my tomatoes any day, and for heaven’s sake don’t mention this argument to my dad unless you want to set him off on a 3-hour tangent.

High-fat dairy, just like anything else, is only bad for you if it’s ALL you eat. It’s low-carb and has some excellent nutritional benefits, including being a great source calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

It also has amino acids in it that your body needs to synthesize muscle, and cultured dairy such as yogurt (unsweetened!) has probiotics that help keep your gut healthy. Omega 3s are also in there, though not in nearly the quantity that you’ll find in fish or nuts.

You can actually make and can your own butter as well as milk. You can make yogurt at home.

If you’ve looked into making cheese, you’ve probably noticed that many of them require rennet, which isn’t exactly something that most people keep on hand. There are, however, several cheeses that don’t require it, including mozzarella, cottage cheese, cheddar, and cream cheese. In fact, you can make these cheeses right at home in very little time.

The best part is that if you keep cows or goats, you can have a steady supply of milk. If not, you can buy it powdered or freeze-dried, or use the other methods in the article that I linked you to.

Vegetables

I’m not even going to touch on the health benefits of vegetables; otherwise we’d be here all night. Instead, I’m going to tell you which ones are the lowest in carbs and highest in nutrients.

Before I do that, though, I need to explain how the carbs in veggies and fruits affect your body differently than those from wheat or sugar. Vegetables and fruits are typically extremely high in fiber, which means that your body has to work hard to digest it. Because of this, the sugar is released slowly instead of all once.

A good rule of thumb is that if a veggie is green, it’s low-carb. Other veggies, such as yellow peppers, cabbage, and cauliflower are also good. Even if a veggie is higher in carbs, such as carrots and tomatoes, see above.

Root veggies and tubers such as potatoes and rutabaga are high in carbs, so if you’re shooting specifically for a low-carb diet, skip them.

I’ve written an article about the best way to stockpile veggies here.

Fruits

Fruits are iffy when it comes to inclusion on a low-carb list. The general rule here is that the higher in fiber and the less sweet a fruit is, the lower it is in carbohydrates. Fruits are like veggies, though. The more fiber they have, the slower the body extract the sugar, so you don’t get the carb pop and crash.

Good fruits include apples, pears, berries, and citrus fruits.

Again, preserving fruits is fairly simple. You can water-bath can them, pressure can them, freeze dry them, or dehydrate them, but if you’re shooting for low-carb, don’t add sugar to them. They are another healthy foods to stockpile for winter.

Preparing fruits and vegetables, and even meat for that matter, all involve a similar process that just about anybody can learn to do.

Nuts and Seeds

These are great because they’re easy to pack and take with you if you need to bug out or even if you’re just going on a short hunting or camping trip. Many nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds are rich in omega 3s too, so win-win!

Fats and Oils

Having a good supply of fairly healthy fats is necessary for a variety of reasons. They’re rich in omega 3s and they’re a necessary ingredients (well OK, you CAN substitute apple sauce in some baking recipes, but not for the good stuff like biscuits.

You can also can fats and seeds are simple to store. These definitely need to go on your list.

1_620x110_1Now that you have a general idea of some low-carb foods for survival, please feel free to mention any that I may have forgotten in the comments section below!

This article has ben written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Basic Survival Food From Your Garden: Corn

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Survivopedia corn

Corn has a bad reputation today. Besides being genetically modified, corn today has been transformed into high-fructose corn syrup. It’s creeping into all kinds of foods and beverages where it never belonged.

The modern agriculture movement has taken this important crop and turned it into something to be avoided. The soil becomes so depleted it needs tons of fertilizer to continue producing. It’s been eroded, and completely disturbed. But a quick look at history will show that our ancestors depended on this staple crop.

It’s a calorie-dense food that’s fed countless people and animals throughout time. It grows six out of the seven continents, making it an ideal survival food in almost every climate.

Corn is a great addition to a survival garden. It’s fairly easy to grow, and is easier to harvest than other grains. There’s no need to thresh the corn crop after all.

Types of Corn

You just need to pick the right variety of corn. There are six main categories, but I’m going to focus on only three, sweet corn, field or dent corn, and popcorn. The other main types are flint corn, ornamental corn, and flour corn. Since these types have different uses, you’ll want to be sure and grow the kind or kinds that you need.

Sweet Corn

Harvested when the kernels are in the milky stage, sweet corn is what you find in the grocery store on the cob. It’s sweet, tender, and flavorful. Many gardeners plant varieties of sweet corn in their home garden.

Field (Dent) Corn

Field corn isn’t as sweet as sweet corn, but it has a multitude of uses. It’s used as animal feed, ground and turned into cornmeal, or prepared as grits. It’s perfect crop to grow for survival.

Before harvesting, field corn is allowed to dry a bit while still on the stalk. As the moisture leaves each kernel, a little dent appears.

Popcorn

If you have space to grow an extra variety of corn, consider popcorn. The kernels pop up fluffy and provide a nice snack.

After you’ve harvested your popcorn ears, you’ll have to dry out the kernels even more. Some growers prefer an oven, others let the sun do the job.corn info

How to Grow Corn

No matter which variety of corn you decide to plant, make sure you find seeds that are open pollinated, heirloom varieties. These seeds haven’t been genetically modified, and they have a historical track record of helping nations survive.

If you plant more than one variety of corn, be sure to leave some space between them. At least 500 feet is recommended. Otherwise the different types of corn will cross pollinate and that can affect how each one tastes and grows.

Corn has a reputation of being a fairly needy crop. If you plant heirloom seeds, you won’t need to water it nearly as much as today’s popular varieties. After all, it survived all those years before irrigation was readily available. Mulch will help keep water in your soil.

However, this crop does require a lot of nitrogen. It’s known as a heavy feeder plant. In days past, each seed was planted on top of a dead fish. As the fish decomposed, it supplied the growing corn with the extra nitrogen it needed.

If fish aren’t in abundance where you live, you can also use compost and blood meal. You’ll want to give the soil an initial boost before planting. Once the corn reaches knee high, you’ll want to give it some more.

Corn thrives in soil that drains well. You should pick a location with full sun. You’ll want to know the length of your growing season, and plant a variety that does well.

Where I live, the growing season is on the short end. We often have killing frosts until Memorial Day or even a little past then. The locals recommend starting seed indoors and transplanting it to the soil in June. The saying here is that you want your corn, “knee high by the 4th of July,” but check with others in your area to learn what works best where you are.

3 sistersRotate Your Crops

Because corn pulls many nutrients out of the soil, it’s important to rotate your crops each year.

Many people plant a cover crop after corn, to help improve the soil.

Harvesting Your Corn

Sweet corn is ready to harvest when the tassel begins turning dark brown. You’ll want to open up an ear and check to make sure the kernels are milky. You also want to make sure the kernels are well developed and plump.

If the liquid from the kernels is watery, it’s too early to harvest. Let them continue to develop and test again later.

Field corn and popcorn need to be left on the stalks longer. They’ll begin the drying process before you harvest them.

To pick corn, twist the ear gently towards the ground. It’ll break off. Sweet corn is best picked on the day you’re planning on eating or preserving it. That’ll keep the flavor the best.

Preserving Your Corn

Once you’ve picked your corn, it’s time to eat it or preserve your harvest. You’ll need to shuck your corn, removing the silk and husks. But hang onto at least some of these—we’ll cover their benefits in a later section.

You can stockpile sweet corn in a couple of ways. You can dry it, freeze it, or can it. There are pros and cons to each method, but drying and canning are probably better for survival purposes. You might not always have electricity to run your freezer.

Field corn and popcorn are dried and stored either on the cob or as kernels. When you’re ready to cook field corn into cornbread, you’ll need to grind it into flour first. Be sure your grain mill can handle corn.

If you’ll be feeding corn to your critters, you can store it on the cob in a corn crib. The slats on this structure ensure that air can circulate around the cobs. This will keep them from molding.

Using Corn

Now that you have yourself some corn, what can you do with it? Corn can be used in recipes, to improve your health, and around the homestead. It’s a versatile crop.

As Food

Since corn stores so well, it’s an ideal addition to your food stockpiles. Once you’ve dried some kernels, you can easily roast it and turn it into parched corn. These original corn nuts will be handy to take on the road.

Cornmeal mush is another way to use your corn. Mix 2 cups of corn meal with 2 cups of cold water. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and carefully add the cornmeal mixture. After it returns to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer while you stir occasionally. It’ll take about ten minutes to thicken up.

Whole kernel corn is a popular ingredient in salsa. You can combine your corn with other produce from your garden to create a delicious dip.

You can pop your popcorn in a pan with a little oil. Put a tablespoon of oil in a cold pan, and add enough popcorn to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t want to add too many kernels or it’ll burn. Cover your pan, turn on your burner, and slowly heat the pan.

You’ll want to shake fairly frequently. This will prevent any from sticking and burning. When the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit for a minute or two in case any additional kernels pop. Serve with butter, salt, and any of your favorite seasonings.

Corn used in plenty of other recipes as well or you can turn it into flour or use it to feed your chickens. You can even use corn husks to wrap tamales in. Take time now to try some recipes and see what you and your family enjoy eating. That way survival foods won’t come as a shock to their system.

As Medicine

Corn silk tea has historically been used as a diuretic. It’s used to treat bladder and kidney ailments. You’ll want to finely chop your clean corn silk. Then, steep a tablespoon of this in a cup of hot water for ten or fifteen minutes. Strain out the silk before drinking.

In addition to its diuretic benefits, corn silk tea helps the body release extra fluid. It’s a gentle detoxifying agent.

Corn silk can also be used topically. It has some antiseptic effects, which helps promote wound healing.

cornstarch

Around the Homestead

Corn has been used as animal feed throughout history. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feed chickens or raise hogs, corn can help. Typically, you’d crack the corn through a grain mill once before feeding. The act of cracking the corn helps the animals to break it down better.

Saving Seed for Future Harvests

It’s important to save some of your crop each year to plant the following year. Not having to purchase seeds every year will help you become more self-sufficient. Saving corn seed is fairly simple.

You want to harvest your ears after the husks become dry. Then, you need to ensure the kernels are thoroughly dry. You can hang the ear upside down to help dry it out evenly.

Once dried, shell your corn. These seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location. They will remain viable for several years if properly stored.

Final Thoughts on Corn

Corn that hasn’t been genetically modified is a survival crop utilized throughout history. It’s beneficial as a food, for its medicinal purposes, and for feeding your animals.

Are you currently growing this essential crop? What varieties grow best in your neck of the woods? Please share your corn tips and tricks in the comment section, and click on the banner below to find out more survival secrets from our ancestors!

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Pressure Canning: 7 Survival Meals In A Jar

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Survivopedia 7 meals in a jar

OK, I’m a huge fan of fast food. By that, I don’t mean the golden arches; I’m talking about something that I can warm up and eat without putting forth much effort. I also like the idea of having ready-made meals that can be heated up in case of emergency.

Since I have to can my food at the end of the season anyway, and I always go home to help my parents since they still run the farm, my mom and I have developed some pretty delicious recipes. I also admit that I’ve snagged and adapted my share from the ‘net.

Since we all know that pressure canning is a must for low-acid food, why bother just canning green beans when you can make an awesome soup or stew instead? We just make up a huge pot of the meals, then ladle them into the jars before we cook it. The pressure canning will cook it, so cooking it in advance will just give you a jar of mush.

A couple of tips – always use a spoon or bubble remover to get the bubbles from inside the jar. Clean your rims with vinegar before placing the seals on them. Add the rack to your canner before putting your jars in. Add 4 or 5 inches of water to the canner after your jars are in the canner, or refer to your pressure canner for specific instructions. Have the water simmering when you add the jars to prevent bursting hot jars in cold water.

Without further ado, let’s get to the recipes. I’m including a bit of everything to get your creative juices flowing. Remember that anything that you cook can be canned, so there’s no need to rough it when the lights go out. You can eat easily and deliciously by candle light.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup

chicken soupPersonally, I like to add pasta to this when I’m warming it up, but you don’t want to can the pasta or else you’ll have mush.

To add it later, just toss in a handful of egg noodles when you’re warming up the soup and cook long enough for the noodles to get done.

Yields about 6 quarts.

  • 4 quarts water or chicken broth
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes if you’re using water
  • 4 cups of chopped raw chicken
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Place broth (or water and bouillon) and chicken into a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil again. Ladle into quart jars, leaving 1 inch head space.

While soup is cooking, get your seals hot. After you ladle your soup into jars, clean the rims very well and add the seals and rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

Traditional Chili

There’s nothing better than a good chili on a cold night, or a warm one when there’s no power! You can make this a vegetarian chili by leaving the meat out, obviously. Yields about 6 quarts.

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 lbs. dried kidney beans
  • 2 quarts tomato juice
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder

Rinse your beans and soak them overnight. Brown the hamburger and drain well. Bring the water to a boil and add all ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your seals in hot water. Ladle chili into jars and clean the rims well. Place in the pressure canner and cover with hot water to the bottom of the rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

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16 Bean and Ham Soup

This one says it all. Make up a pan of cornbread and you’ve got a delicious, nutritious meal that will stick to your ribs. We don’t add all of the extra vegetables but if you’d like, feel free to toss in carrots, tomatoes, or whatever you’d like. This is the traditional, simple ham and bean country recipe. Yields about 9 quarts.

  • 2 lbs. 16 bean mix
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cups chopped ham
  • Large hambone – DON’T use the neck bones because you’ll have chunks of bone. That sucks to pick out.
  • 14 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper

Soak beans overnight. Add all ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil for an hour and remove the ham bone. Meanwhile, prepare your seals. Ladle soup into jars, stirring and scooping deep to make sure you get an equal amount of ham and beans in each jar. Leave 1 inch headspace and process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

Chicken Corn Chowder

Use a mix of brown and white chicken to add flavor to this soup. Here’s the thing – I love chowder, which means I need to use flower to thicken it. The rub here is that you can’t can with flour because it prevents the heat from getting to the center of the jar. Therefore, add a couple of tablespoons of flour mixed with enough milk to make a thick slurry when you’re warming up a quart of the soup.

  • 4 quarts water or chicken broth (use 4 bouillon cubes if using water)
  • 4 cups cubed chicken
  • 1 cup diced green onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 5 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups corn
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. salt

Bring the water/broth and chicken to a boil in a large stock pot. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil again. Boil for 5 minutes. While it’s coming to a boil, heat your rings. Ladle the soup into quart jars, leaving 1 inch of head space. Process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

Sloppy Joe Filling

Who doesn’t love a good sloppy joe? It’s easy to heat up and the kids will eat it, especially if you throw a slice of cheese on it! Delicious! This yields about 6 pints.

  • 4 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a medium stockpot, brown the hamburger and onions. Drain. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. While it’s simmering, get your canner and seals ready. Ladle into pint jars and wipe the rims clean. Add seals and rings and place in the canner. Process for 75 minutes at 10 lbs.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

It’s not a good idea to can whole cabbage rolls because it’s tough for the heat to get to the center, but you’re just going to chop it up on your plate anyway, right? So why not just can all the ingredients and call it something fancy, like “deconstructed”? It’s still delicious! This yields about 5 quarts.

  • 2 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper

In a medium stockpot, brown the ground chuck and onions. Drain. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for a few minutes until cabbage wilts. Meanwhile, prepare canner and seals. Ladle into jars and clean rims. Add seals and rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Another stick-to-your-ribs meal. Yuuuumm. This yields about 6 quarts.

  • 3 lbs. stew meat (it doesn’t have to be expensive because the canning process will make it tender)
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 2 cups chopped onion (large chop)
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cups sliced celery
  • 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 quarts canned tomatoes or 4 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning mix

In a large stockpot, brown the meat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 min. While it’s simmering, prepare your canner and seals. Ladle into jars and clean the rims well. Add seals and rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

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Now that you have a general idea of some great pressure canned meals, get started on your own! Do you have any favorites that you’ve created or that have been in your family for generations? If so, please feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Surviving Deliciously: 5 Dry Canned Meals In Jars

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Survivopedia 5 meals in jars

You know those cool brownie mixes in a mason jar that some people give as gifts? Well, let’s take that one step further and apply the concept to prepping.

Dry canning entire meals has several benefits, and today we’ll take a look at them, and I’ll share some recipes, too.

In my article about dry canning, I discuss the methods of dry canning in detail but to sum it up, it’s canning dried foods instead of wet foods using dry heat or oxygen absorbers. The process is much easier wet canning but if you plan to use meat, you’ll want to use freeze-dried instead of dehydrated to really extend the shelf life. There are several reputable places to purchase all sorts of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods online.

5 Reasons to Dry Can Meals in Jars

You have your stockpile neatly organized. Green beans with green beans, pasta with pasta, etc. The boxes are lined up and the bags of flour and sugar are stacked, so why in the world would you want to throw a wrench in the spokes?

Better and Easier

Well, because dry canning an entire meal makes your stockpile better and easier. You can make several of the same meal all at once so that you don’t have open containers.

Keeps Bugs Out

The lights are out and the grocery stores are empty. Fortunately, you stockpiled plenty of sugar and flour, so all you have to do is build a fire and mix up some biscuits or pancakes, right? Sounds awesome, until you pour out about 100 little bugs along with your flour and sugar. Dry-canning seals out the bugs that can get into boxes and bags.

Take the Guesswork Out of Meal Planning

It’s tough for many to plan how many boxes of spaghetti, cans of peas, or cups of flour you’ll need per person per week, but if you have one meal for 4 in a quart jar (that’s about average), then that’s one meal you don’t have to worry about. No dividing cups of flour by number of people.

Keep Meals Interesting

One of the hardest things that many people who have survived catastrophe report is the need to eat the same foods over and over again. Yes, beans and rice will nourish you (sort of), but do you really want to eat variants of it daily? That may be your only option if you store food separately and have to bug out.

You can dry can soups, chili mixes, a variety of breakfast and dinner dishes, and even desserts so that you have wide variety of meals pre-made and ready to go. Many of these only require water. If you decide to bug out (or are forced to), you can always pour the contents of the jar into a plastic bag along with the recipe and toss it in your bug-out bag so you’ll have complete meals along the way. Lightweight, easy, delicious, and nutritious.

Great Way to Save Money

The cost of these recipes varies from $1 to $8 per quart jar full, not counting the price of the jar. Compare that to the cost of MREs made for camping and it’s almost mind-boggling how much you can save just doing it yourself! Once you get the hang of things, start making your own recipes and come back here to share them with us.

jars

5 Recipes for Dry Canned Meals in Jars

OK, now that we’ve talked about some of the benefits of dry-canning meals in jars, let’s get down to the recipes. 

Penne with Mushrooms and Sausage

  • 2/3 cup tomato powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried onion
  • 2 tbsp. freeze dried spinach
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. marjoram
  • Small pinch of thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. dried cheese blend
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup sausage crumble
  • About 1 cup penne (or whatever pasta you like)
  • 1/3 cup freeze dried mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. diced carrots

If you have extra room, stuff more pasta in. Remember to keep gently shaking/tapping the jar to settle the ingredients as you add them to the jar.

Directions: Pour the contents of a jar into a large skillet and add 4 1/2-5 cups simmering water. Simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked and the sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Add a bit more water if necessary.

Cheesy Hamburger Macaroni

You can make this cheesy if you want, or you can skip the cheese and just make it cream of soup – style. You can also substitute a couple of cheese sauce packets from mac and cheese for first 4 ingredients. You can also add some freeze-dried veggies if you’d like, if there’s room or if you’re using Mylar bags.

  • 2 tbsp. sour cream powder
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 cup freeze-dried cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp. dried onion
  • 1/4 cup instant non-fat dry milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup freeze-dried ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (adds color and nutritional value)

Directions: Pour contents of jar along with 6 cups of water into a large skillet. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce to a simmer for 12 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring frequently. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Universal Bread Mix (or Cinnamon Roll Mix) in a Jar

Bread really helps you stretch portions and this recipe yields about a 10-inch loaf of bread or a dozen rolls. It’s great for breakfast cinnamon rolls, too. When sealed, this mix will store for at least 3 years.

  • 2 tbsp. instant potato flakes
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. instant non-fat dry milk
  • 1tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp. powdered butter
  • 3 cups + 2 tbsp. bread flour (feel free to substitute 1/2 cup whole grain flour for ½ cup of the bread flour if you’d like)
  • 1 packet rapid-rise yeast

Pour the bread mix into a bowl and add the yeast. Add 1 cup warm water stir until it’s kneadable (is that a word?). You’ll need to add a bit more water, but do so slowly until the dough is elastic – neither dry nor sticky.

Knead for 5 minutes then shape into round ball and cover, rubbing a tsp or so of oil over the top to keep it from drying out. Allow to rise until double in size (60-90 min). Punch down, knead for a couple more minutes and shape into loaf or rolls. Allow to rise again.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. To make cinnamon rolls, just roll the dough out after the first rise, slather with butter, sugar and cinnamon, roll it up, slice it, and follow the directions listed above, though baking time may be a bit less.

Breakfast Sausage and Egg Hash

We all need breakfast, and this one is hearty and delicious. Keep the egg mixture separate from the meat and potatoes because they only take a few minutes, whereas the meat and potatoes will take several minutes to rehydrate.

I like to add a pack of sausage gravy mix to the jar, too. I just slide it down the side of the jar and press it to the glass so that it doesn’t take up much space.

Place directly in jar:

  • 1 packet country gravy mix (use mix that requires water, not milk)
  • 2 cups diced dehydrated potatoes
  • 1 cup freeze-dried sausage (the real stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Put in small fold-top sandwich baggie on top of potatoes and sausage in the jar:

  • 1/3 cup powdered eggs
  • 1/3 cup freeze dried cheddar cheese or cheese powder
  • 1/3 cup freeze dried bell peppers (optional but nutritious)
  • 2 tbsp. freeze dried mushrooms (again, optional)

Directions: Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large skillet along with 4 cups of boiling water. Let them rehydrate, then drain any extra water. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

While the potatoes/sausage mix is cooking, combine the egg baggie with 2/3 cup cold water (only 1/3 if you didn’t add the veggies) and whisk together well. Let it rehydrate for 5 minutes, then cook in a separate skillet, or pour right in over the potatoes and sausage when they’re nearly done and cook them all together for the last few minutes.

Make gravy as directed on packet and pour over the sausage/potatoes/eggs.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham Skillet Meal

Tip: Substitute 2 boxes of scalloped potatoes along with the cheese mix for the first 3 ingredients. Of course, if you buy in bulk, making the recipe as written will be much more cost-effective.

Tip: To make it vegetarian, substitute other veggies for the ham. Good choices include broccoli, peas or other greens that will add nutrition.

  • 2 1/2 cups dehydrated potato slices
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered cheese sauce
  • 1/2 cup instant milk
  • 2 tbsp. dried onion
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried ham (no substitutions)
  • 2 tbsp. freeze-dried carrots
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. butter powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Pour ingredients of jar into a large skillet and add 6 cups of water. Stir to mix while bringing to a simmer. Simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes and ham are tender. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

And here’s another one:

Video first seen on Linda’s Pantry.

3 Tips to Remember 

And here are some tips to do it right:

Tip: Once you have the jar sealed, label the lid and place the recipe inside of fold-over sandwich bag and tape it to the outside of the jar. I do this for two reasons:  it keeps the directions from fading or smearing, and if I want to pour the meal into a large zipper bag to take with me on the fly, I can peel the directions off and toss them in the bag, too.

Tip: For pasta dishes, I add the pasta first, then add the spices so that they settle through the pasta instead of taking up space at the bottom.

Tip: Instead of using jars, you can always use Mylar bags if you’d like, though that can get expensive and the bags aren’t rodent-proof.

These are just a few recipes to get you started and in the right frame of mind. I wanted to include some go-to recipes that include breakfast, pasta, potatoes, and bread so that you have a good base. I really recommend using oxygen absorbers instead of the oven method, especially in meat or egg dishes. That way, you know that the oxygen levels in the jar are nil or almost nil so that bacteria can’t grow.

There is much more to find out about long term food storage. Click on the banner below for more knowledge on homesteading and survival!

the lost ways cover

Now, start thinking and experimenting so you can share some ideas with the rest of us! If you’ve already made up some meals in a jar, please tell us about your experience (and share your recipe!) in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Basic Survival Food From Your Garden: Beans

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Survivopedia beans

As homesteaders, and preppers, we’re always looking for things that are versatile, easy to store and carry, and cheap.

Well, there’s one food that meets all of these criteria and then some: beans. They have a ton of health and survival benefits and are easy to grow and dry.

To Bean or Not to Bean? 

Why you should grow or stockpile beans for survival? There are at least four reasons to include beans in your stash.

High Protein

You can grow a beautiful garden and have a ton of veggies and fruits stored, but you likely won’t have much high-quality meat if the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) happens.

You can always hunt for it if it’s safe or even possible, but it’s good to have a substitute on hand. Beans have more than enough protein to get you through; 14-16 grams per cup.

One concern though; unlike meat, beans aren’t a complete protein; they lack a few essential amino acids. Pair them with brown rice, oatmeal, nuts or other plant-based proteins and you’ll round it out. In fact, beans and rice is a great carb/protein/fiber combination packed with vitamins and minerals that will feed a ton of people for practically nothing.

Packed with Fiber

Foods high in soluble fiber are beneficial for several reasons that are beneficial for us, especially in a survival situation. Fiber keeps your digestive tract clean, which helps prevent all sorts of illnesses from constipation to colon cancer.

Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and carry them out of your body, so it naturally lowers cholesterol (goodbye statins that won’t be available if SHTF) and helps prevent heart disease.

Fiber helps you stay fuller longer because it takes longer to digest. Because of this, beans have a low glycemic index, which means that they’re good for diabetics. This could be critical in a survival situation when insulin may not be available. Bonus: if you’re trying to lose weight, feeling full longer helps keep you from overeating.

That’s always a good thing!

Packed with Nutrients and Antioxidants

Beans have a ton of minerals including folate, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium and zinc. All of these are considered minerals that most people don’t eat enough of, so beans can help round out your diet now and keep you healthy when SHTF.

Beans contain antioxidants, specifically phytosterols and isoflavones, that protect your body from all sorts of illnesses, including different types of cancer, premature aging, and cardiovascular disease.

Beans are Versatile

You can do a kazillion things with beans. You can make baked beans, ham beans, bean soup, bean dip, refried beans, beans for salad; the list goes on. It would be hard to get tired of beans, especially if you have a variety of them.

OK already – beans are good for you, but how do you turn those beans in your garden into those nice dried beans found in the grocery isle that will keep forever? You’re going to be surprised how easy it is.

What Kind of Beans Should you Grow?

Honestly, I personally don’t grow beans because the yield doesn’t merit the effort right now. For instance, you’ll have to grow at least 25 pinto bean plants to yield 1 lb. of beans, and that’s assuming maximum yield. It may take more than 100 plants to yield that.

To put it in perspective, you’d need about a 10-foot row to yield 1 pound. Of course, if you’re in a survival situation and live on a large lot of land (which I don’t have at the moment), then you may want to plant them. Right now, I’d rather use that space to grow veggies I can preserve and just buy my beans.

But if you do decide to grow beans, here you go: Good dry beans include pintos, great northerns, cranberries, limas, kidneys, garbanzos and navys.

types of beans

Dry beans grow best in warm, dry climates and need good draining soil to keep from molding before they germinate. You may want to start your beans inside because you can’t put them outside until the threat of frost has passed. Also, you want them to mature in the fall because they won’t drop pods if the temperature is above 80 degrees. F.

Grow them in full sun and keep the soil around them loose, well-drained, and well fertilized with your compost. Depending on the bean, they’ll take from 70-120 to reach harvest. In warm, dry climates, the beans will likely dry themselves right on the plant; when the leaves have turned brown and the pods are crunchy, try the beans. They’re ready if you can’t bite them.

You want to get them in before the frost or fall rains even if they’re not dry yet; hang them in the barn or cellar or somewhere else where it’s dry until they’re ready to store. You could also spread them out on a flat screen in the sunshine or another warm place. Pods will split open when they’re completely dry.

You’ll have to remove them from the shells (thus the name “shell beans”) then remove the thresh from them, then store them in an airtight container.

Beans grow great next to bush beans, cucumbers, corn, potatoes, rosemary, strawberries and celery. Don’t plant them with onions, kohlrabi, or beets. Also, don’t

The good thing about storing (or growing) beans now is that if you need them, they’re versatile. You can sprout them to make great, protein- and nutrient-rich salad ingredients. You can also use them to feed your livestock – check out my article on 14 Cheap Ways to Feed Your Chickens.

The plant scraps make good scratch for your chickens, too.

Some Beans Make Good Flours

If it comes down to it, beans can make a great, protein-rich flour. Garbanzo flour is popular today with organic bakers, especially for people who are gluten-intolerant.

The downside to this is that beans are tough to grind into flour – you’ll need a home mill because, unlike herbs, you can’t grind them in your blender or coffee mill. Again, it will take a ton (not literally) of beans to make even a pound of flour, so you may just want to buy it.

Beans belong in your stockpile, in large quantities if you’re prepping for a long-term survival event. When cooking them, remember that they contain a mild toxin that causes gastrointestinal issues such as gas and bloating. Kidney beans contain a more extreme toxin and eating raw or undercooked kidney beans can make you extremely ill, and can even kill you.

beans

Read our article How to Rehydrate And Prepare Your Preserved Food to avoid the mistake some people are making when cooking dried beans.

If you want to grow them, you’re not alone – many people enjoy growing beans. Be aware though that if you’re going to do it, plant plenty of them because the yield is low.

Beans really are the ideal survival food. They’re nutritious, versatile, cheap, lightweight, and easy to store. Plus, they keep for a long time.

If you’ve grown dry beans, please tell us about what types of beans you grew, what problems, if any, you had, and what your yield was in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Here’s The Right Way To Build A Chicken Coop!

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chicken coop small

If you have a hammer and nails or a good drill, and a weekend afternoon, you can build your own chicken coop, spending less than the price of a new one or even for free.

Craigslist and local retail outlets are often a good source of used pallets, empty wooden crates and other scrap wood that you can get for free or at a minimal cost. You just need to know how to do it!

Chicken wire can be affordably sourced at a local hardware or farm supply store, along with a few hinges and a lock. With an afternoon of labor you can have a secure chicken coop for a handful of laying hens.

Here’s a really cool infographic from Urban Chickens Network about steps to take when building a chicken coop!

chicken coop

This article has been written by Gabrielle Ray for Survivopedia.

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Hardtack: A Simple DIY Survival Food From History

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Survivopedia homemade hardtack

With only two ingredients and a little time you can stockpile a survival food that’s been used for centuries. Let’s take a lesson out of the history books and learn from various soldiers, sailors, and explorers throughout time.

It’s time to look at hardtack.

Hardtack is a simple survival food. It’s really inexpensive to create, and lasts for years. In fact, there’s still some on display from the Civil War that’s still good.

The most basic of recipes call for only two ingredients: all-purpose flour and water.  Other recipes call for additional ingredients, but the basic recipe has stood the test of time. We’ll start with that one.

Hardtack provided nutrition for hard times throughout history. It’s a good source of carbohydrates. If you keep it and protein-rich pemmican in your bug out bag, you’ll have sustenance to keep you alive for a while.

It’s also a good addition to your supply of emergency food. You just have to ensure you keep it away from pests and moisture. If the bugs get it, you’ll find weevils living in your stored food. If the hardtack gets wet, it’s prone to mold.

Making Hardtack

corbis imagesHardtack is simple to prepare. Before you begin, turn your oven on to 350 degrees.

It won’t take long to mix your hardtack up and you want your oven ready when you are.

Now, get yourself a big bowl. Measure out two cups of all-purpose flour and dump in.

Next, slowly add a half-cup of water and stir.

Keep adding water, a tablespoon or two at a time.

Your goal is to achieve a thick dough that’s just slightly sticky. A thick playdough type consistency.

While many recipes tell you exactly how much water to add, it really varies quite a bit. Your humidity, the dryness of your flour, and the type of flour you’re using all play an important role.

A rough estimate is ½ the amount of flour. So for two cups of flour, you’d need about one cup of water.

If you accidentally add too much water and your dough is pasty, just add some more flour. Once it’s the right consistency, mix it for a couple of minutes. This will ensure your moisture is evenly distributed throughout the whole batch.

Now it’s time to roll out your dough. A rolling pin works best, but in a pinch you can just pat it out with your hands. You’ll want to roll the dough until it’s somewhere between ½ an inch and a ¼ of an inch thick. Any thicker, and it’ll be even harder to eat when it’s dried.

Once it’s thin enough, you can cut the dough. A pizza cutter works really well, but so does a sharp knife. If you want your hardtack to look uniform, you can pull out a ruler and cut it into 3X3 pieces. Or use a biscuit cutter and have round pieces. Otherwise, just cut it into rectangles that are roughly the same size.

Grab a chopstick or a clean nail, and dock each piece. Docking means you poke holes in it, but don’t go all the way through. You’ll want to poke about sixteen holes in each piece, with four rows of four. It’ll resemble a modern day saltine cracker.

Then flip over each piece and dock the other side. Docking your hardtack will keep it from puffing up in the oven. It’ll also help ensure the moisture gets out by allowing the steam to escape.

Place your docked hardtack pieces on a cookie sheet. You’ll want to bake them for 30 minutes. When the time is up, remove and flip over each piece.

Bake them for another 30 minutes before removing them from the oven. They should be fairly hard at this point.

You’ll want to set your hardtack pieces on a rack to continue drying. Let them sit out at room temperature for a couple of days. They’ll be hard as bricks when they’re fully dry.

Storing Hardtack

Proper storage is essential for optimal shelf-life. You can pack the hard tack into glass Mason jars, or metal tins. These will keep the moisture out better than regular Ziploc style bags.

You can also store them in vacuum-sealed bags. No matter how you keep them, you want to prevent moisture and bugs from getting in.

Video first seen on SNO Multimedia.

Eating Hardtack

Now that you know how to make and store hardtack, let’s talk about storage. While hardtack will help your belly feel full in an emergency situation, it can be difficult to eat. That’s because it’s so hard.

Back in the day, this survival food was commonly called “tooth-breakers.” Make sure you don’t bite into it directly with your front teeth. They can break.

Of course if you’re a parent to a baby, you’ll find a benefit from the hardness. A chunk of hardtack makes a good teething biscuit. Just be sure to provide supervision with it to ensure a small chunk doesn’t break off and become a choking hazard.

If you don’t desire to simply gnaw on a chunk of hardtack all day, there are other ways to eat it. Here are a few common methods:

Soaking

As hardtack sits in moisture, it absorbs it and becomes softer. You can soak your piece in just about anything. Coffee, soup, and water have all been used historically.

Another benefit of soaking the hardtack is bug removal. During early wars, proper storage wasn’t always possible. Weevils became prevalent in this grain-based ration.

Once placed in liquid, the bugs began to float to the top. Diners could easily scoop them off the top and discard them before eating.

Frying

After cooking up salt pork, soaked hardtack can be fried in the grease. This adds flavor and fat, helping to make it more palatable.

As a Thickener

You can crumble your hardtack with a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have one accessible, you can take a lesson from soldiers and hit it with the barrel of your rifle until it breaks. Once it’s powdery, you can stir it into a stew. It’ll act as a thickener and add some caloric bulk to your recipe.

As a Holder for Spreads

Many people have used hardtack as a bread of sorts. When you add a moisture-rich spread like soft cheese, honey, or peanut butter and jelly, the moisture will slowly soften your hardtack.

Using Hardtack Creatively

You don’t have to be limited to the above recipes when eating hardtack. With a little creativity, you can turn these hard squares of dried flour into many dishes. Here are two more ideas for you to try.

Slather it with pizza sauce and toppings and make yourself a mini-pizza. Just be sure to cut it before consuming so you don’t break a tooth.

Soak your hardtack overnight in buttermilk. In the morning, fry it up in butter or bacon grease. Serve with maple syrup and call it a pancake.

Recipe Variations

Since basic hardtack tastes a lot like flour, many variations of the original recipe have crept up. While the addition of salt, seasoning, oil, or protein powder may improve the taste, they do have an impact on long-term storage ability.

If you decide to make a batch of one of these recipes, inspect your hardtack closely before consuming. Make sure it’s still hard and hasn’t started to go soft. Be on the lookout for any mold growth. You might even decide to make a new batch every year or so, just to ensure your supply is good when you need it.

Adding Salt

To your original recipe, just add 2 teaspoons of salt. Then, continue as directed above. It’ll help improve the flavor.

Adding Seasoning

Hardtack is pretty bland. You can add some other seasonings like garlic or onion powder to the original recipe to enhance the flavor. Feel free to add your favorite seasoning blends as well.

You can even experiment a bit within a single batch. Before you roll it out, break your dough into smaller chunks. Add different seasonings to each, and then continue with the recipe. This will allow you to take notes on what you like or don’t like before committing to making an entire batch.

Adding Fats

Several recipes online call for the addition of about a tablespoon of shortening, butter, or oil. While the added fat would help improve the texture, it is prone to becoming rancid. This addition is better served for short-term storage.

Substituting the Flour

All-purpose flour is not the most nutritious flour out there. But, it stores well since most of the oil from the bran has been removed. By simply experimenting with the flour you use, you can change up your hardtack.

Give whole-wheat flour a try to increase the nutrients. Try substituting a cup of flour for a cup of cornmeal. Or a cup of protein powder to add protein to your emergency ration.

Hardtack is an excellent DIY addition to your survival food stores. When properly stored, it can be added to this list of foods that’ll last longer than you do!

Have you made hardtack? With the endless variations, I know I didn’t cover them all. What are your favorite additions or ways to use your hardtack?

Leave a comment below and share your tips with all the readers. And click on the banner below to get more tips on how our ancestors survived!

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Paleo Diet: 5 Basic Recipes You Need To Know

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Survivopedia 5 paleo diet recipes

Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers long before they began farming.  They also rarely made use of cooked or processed foods. Many people today feel it is best to go back to the kind of diet our ancestors consumed, and choose to follow the Paleo diet.

The Paleo diet is meant to mimic the kinds of foods that our ancestors were able to find and eat with relative ease. This means consuming foods that are readily available in nature, and ones that require a minimal amount of preparation.

Just about any type of wild game or fish might be found in a Paleo diet, but you would eat very little milk or cheese. Berries, roots, and fruits tend to be favored over beans and grains that require special preparation.

Here are some common foods you might find in a Paleo diet.  This includes foods that may not be readily available on supermarket shelves, but can be found easily enough in nature, or raised in aquaponic systems.

Recommended Meats

Meat is an essential part of the Paleo diet. Keeping a good supply of meat may be very difficult to some people, because you need to know key breeding seasons and the food requirements of targeted animals.

As you consider this list of healthy paleo meat sources, select a few of interest and see if you can raise them. Finding the best way to prepare alternative meats will also help you and your family in the quest of living a healthy life.

The conventional animal meats are chicken, pork, fish, beef, turkey, lamb, lobster, shrimp, goat, goose, quail, oysters, clams, scallops, crab, and bison. Other healthy Paleo meat sources  are rabbits, rodents, young hedgehogs, termites, earthworms, grasshoppers, grubs, beetles, ants, snails,  caterpillars (non-butterfly), deer, bear, buffalo, freshwater fish, clams, oysters, kangaroo, turtle, snake, and birds.

Recommended Dairy

Since dairy products require a good bit of preparation, they should be avoided as much as possible. Raw goat or cow milk may be permitted, but nut and vegetable blends are preferred. For example, you can use almond or rice milk, but should not use soy milk because it is made from legumes.

Eggs are allowed in the Paleo diet even though they are listed in the dairy food group. If chicken or goose eggs are not available, you can eat eggs from other bird species. Make sure you know when the breeding season starts for different bird species so that you do not destroy eggs with developing embryos.

Recommended Fruits, Herbs, and Vegetables

In the modern world, it becomes all too easy to believe that the vast majority of plants will flourish regardless of climate and seasonal constraints.

When it comes to adapting the Paleo diet to your needs, find out which plants are available in your area. At the very least, even if it takes time to raise crops, you can still make use of local plants to meet your nutritional needs.

  • Conventional (Non-GMO) Fruits, Herbs, and Vegetables – Berries, apples, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, spearmint, echinachea, turmeric, sage, paprika, citrus, brussel sprouts, avocados, mango, plum, peaches, pumpkin, sunflower, melons, bananas, papaya, lettuce, figs, carrot, celery, spinach, broccoli, squash, cabbage, pepper, tomato, onion, eggplant, cauliflower, and artichoke.
  • Healthy Paleo Fruits, Herbs, and Vegetables – Wild berries, dandelion, cat tail tubers, apples, lettuce, pumpkin, carrot, onion, broccoli, squash, pepper, tomato, onion, cauliflower, artichoke, seaweed, mushrooms, moss, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, spearmint, Echinacea, rosemary, paprika, and lichen.

paleo food

Plant Based Foods to Avoid

As you look at the list of plants most suitable for a Paleo diet, you may be wondering why rice, wheat, beans, peas, potatoes, and peanuts do not appear on the list. While these foods were all derived from wild sources, it is believed that our ancient ancestors did not make use of them until they began growing things in domestic settings. They are considered less healthy than other foods that were easily obtained in nature.

The Recipes

Rather than follow precise recipes, you are best served by memorizing proportions of some basic staples, and then work with them based on the foods available at hand.

1. Baked Meat with Stuffed Peppers or Tomatoes

  • 3 – 6 bell peppers or tomatoes
  • 1 pound of beef, pork, or lamb
  • 1/2 cups of broccoli or cauliflower (flower portion only)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 pound of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
  • basil and parsley for seasoning.

Remove tops and seeds from peppers or tomatoes so that only outer shell of flesh remains. Cut into bottom until shell sits straight in baking pan. Partially brown beef, pork, or lamb in animal lard or vegetable oil. Chop broccoli or cauliflower until it is grain sized. Stir in with meat and finish to brown.

Combine meat, vegetables, and tomato sauce in mixing bowl. Keep some tomato sauce aside for basting. Fill peppers or tomatoes with mix. Top off with basil, parsley, or other seasoning as desired. Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour, or until pepper or tomato shells are soft. They will need to be basted 2 -3 times to prevent burning.

2. Basic Omelettes

  • 2 eggs or egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup pepper
  • 6 ounces of pork or chicken
  • 1/4 cup tomato
  • season with parsley, rosemary, thyme or basil

Sear chicken or pork in hot oil until surface is light brown. This seals in juices and also gives a better flavor to the omelette. Dice onions and peppers. Fry lightly in hot oil and set aside. Scramble eggs or prepare egg substitute and pour into hot frying pan. Fold meat, onions, peppers, and seasoning into the omelette. Add tomatoes last to keep them as crispy and fresh as possible.

There is also a baked version for this recipe: after frying meat, mix all ingredients together and pour into an 8 ounce baking dish.  Cook at 350 degrees until center is cooked through, but before edges burn.

3. Vegetable Pancakes

  • 2 eggs or egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup chunk tomato, pepper, or onion
  • 1 tbsp powdered onion, rosemary, or thyme
  • 1/2 cups ground roasted pumpkin or squash seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Prepare ground seeds as noted in flour substitute table above. Chunk tomato, pepper, or onion.  While you can also boil and mash vegetables for addition in pancakes, they taste better when left in chunks.

Prepare egg substitute or scramble eggs. Add ground seeds to water and stir until smooth. Fold in vegetables, salt, eggs and seasonings. Add a tablespoon of oil to griddle or pan and allow to heat up. Pour a few drops of batter onto hot griddle, and remove when drops are evenly browned.

Proceed to pour enough batter into pan to make individual 4 inch sized pancakes. Flip pancakes when bottom side is golden brown and remove from skillet when both sides are cooked and inside has sponge like consistency.

paleo meal plan

4. Protein Cookies

  • 1 cup of boiled, mashed pumpkin or squash
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup boiled, ground dandelion leaves (can be bitter; so add to suit)
  • 3 1/2 cups ground and roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of shredded chicken

Combine mashed pumpkin, ground dandelion leaves, and ground seeds. Mix in salt and shredded chicken. If dough is too moist, add more ground pumpkin seeds. Flatten out dough on cutting board and cut into 1 x 2 inch squares. Place dough on non-stick cookie pan. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Remove cookies from sheet and place on cooling rack as soon as possible.

5. Conventional Vegetable Chips

  • 1 eggplant,
  • 2 tomatoes,
  • 2 peppers,
  • 3 onions, or separated cabbage leaves
  • 1/2 cup powdered dry basil, parsley and thyme

Slice eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers into 1/8 inch slices. For onions, slice into 1/8 thick slices and then separate rings. For cabbage leaves, remove from head one at a time, and try to keep them as whole as possible.

Arrange vegetable slices on a cookie sheet so that they do not overlap and brush with water. Sprinkle with powdered seasoning, but not more than will be absorbed by the water. Bake at 325 for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven when chips are dry and start turning up at edges. Let cool and store in airtight container.

If done correctly, these vegetable chips will have a bit more texture from the cauliflower and broccoli bits.

The Paleo diet’s high energy foods and simplicity also make it ideal for living a healthy life.  No matter how difficult times are, the Paleo diet will help you remain strong and healthy.

Remember that you need to stay healthy to be among the fittest who survive, and click on the banner below to find out more about the way our ancestors lived!

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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How To Dry Can Food For Survival

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Survivopedia dry canning

Wouldn’t it be great to just reach for a jar and know that all you had to do was add water, juice or broth and everything would be ready to cook? Dry canning is also a good way to extend the life of some dehydrated foods and to keep your dried goods fresh and bug-free.

I have some great tips and instructions to help you get started with your own dry canning projects.

What is Dry Canning?

Dry canning, also referred to as dry packing, has essentially the same purpose as traditional water bath canning: you want to extend the life of the food by storing it in sealed jars so that bacteria that can cause illness or spoilage can’t get in. Dry-canned foods can be good for 30 years or more as long as the seal remains intact.

The difference, as the name suggests, is that you’re not going to be using any type moisture; not in the food or in the process. In fact, the idea of dry canning is to keep moisture OUT. There are a couple of different methods that you can use to dry can your dried goods.

Note to Keep You from Drying Painfully

Yeah, the heading got your attention, didn’t it? Because we’re dealing with canning dried goods, we have to talk about botulism. I’ve talked about it in other articles, including my one on canning meat, but it bears repeating. Botulism spores thrive in high-moisture, low-salt, low-acid environments.

Any food with a pH lower than 4.6 is considered low-acid. This includes most vegetables, some fruits such as pears and bananas, and all meats. Drastically reducing the risk of botulism is one of the main reasons that most water traditional canning recipes call for adding lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to the food when you can it.

Dehydrating is a good way to preserve low-acid foods too. The key to doing it safely is to dry it until it has less than 10 percent moisture; a good rule of thumb is that the food snaps in half when it’s done. Grains will be hard and unable to bite.

freezing vs drying

Dry Canning Using Oxygen Absorbers

This is the preferred method for a lot of preppers because it’s easy and it’s thorough. Basically, you have two options.

First, you can use standard mason jars. Sterilize your jars and seals, add the dried food, then toss in an oxygen absorber before you put the seals and lids on. Make sure that your jars and seals are dried well after you sterilize them. You don’t need the seal to be hot when you put it on the jar; the oxygen absorber will seal it cold.

You can also use Mylar bags and food-grade buckets. Put your food and oxygen absorbers into the bags, seal them, then store them in the bucket.

The oxygen absorber isn’t edible but it’s not toxic, either. The active ingredient is iron oxide, so it doesn’t release any type of harmful gas and doesn’t affect the taste or smell of the food. It’s a great way to preserve any type of dried food from flour to cold cereal. You can use these to preserve your dried meats, too.

Just remember that if you’re dry-canning dehydrated meat, your shelf life still isn’t going to be as long as other foods because usually meat still contains enough moisture or fat to spoil or go rancid eventually. Trimming as much fat and tendon off the meat and dehydrating it after soaking it for 24 hours in a high-salt, high-acidic marinade helps extend the shelf life of your meat, too.

Some sites will tell you that it’s OK to use hand warmers to dry-can your food, but it’s not. That’s fine to use with your guns, ammo, and other non-food items that need to stay dry, but it’s not food-safe.

You can also store foods in PETE plastic bottles using oxygen absorbers. They’re lighter and less bulky than mason jars. Make sure that the bottles have screw on lids with plastic or rubber seals in them. To test to see if your bottle will seal, screw the lid on and submerse it in water. Squeeze. If air rushes out of the bottle and you get bubbles, the bottle won’t work. Just make sure that the bottles and lids are sterile before you pack them.

Dry Canning Using Vacuum Sealers

Did you know that you can use your vacuum sealer to seal dried foods in mason jars? Well, now you do. You can get a jar sealer for your vacuum sealer and suck all of the air right out. The jar will seal and you’ll be good to go. This isn’t great for powdery substances but is OK for foods such as beans, pasta, etc. The powdery stuff gunks up your machine.

One word of warning here: this is a good method if you’re just shooting for storage of foods such as flour that you don’t really have to worry about spoiling, but it doesn’t necessarily get enough air out to prevent the growth of mold. You need less than .02% oxygen for that and there’s not really any way to know how much oxygen is left in the jar with vacuum sealers.

Many people assume that as long as the jar is sealed, the food is safe, and usually that’s correct but there’s always that one-in-a-thousand chance that it’s not. Oxygen absorbers, when used as directed, take oxygens levels down to about .01 percent.

Dry Canning in the Oven

This is one of those topics where people stand on either side of the creek and throw rocks at each other. There are those who swear that they’ve safely preserved their dried goods using this method for years without a problem. On the other side, there are those who say it’s dangerous and should never be done.

As with everything, both sides are right. You can dry can in the oven for years with no problems, but there’s always the chance that the jars are going to explode in the heat.

Now I will lean slightly in the direction of the naysayers in one area: foods that have more than 10% moisture or have any significant fat content (including nuts) shouldn’t be dry-canned because the chance of bacterial growth or rancidity. You also can’t dry-can brown sugar and you absolutely CAN NOT replace water bath or pressure canning wet foods with oven canning.

Personally, I’ve dry-canned flour and some blended recipes in the oven and haven’t had a problem. Of course, I’m super cautious and use common sense. Besides the whole fat and moisture thing, I also never let my jars heat or cool too quickly, but then again, I do the same thing when I’m canning wet foods.

The theory that the jars will explode because of the heat bemuses me a bit because I put them in a pressure canner and expose them to an environment that, to me, is much more severe than a 200-degree oven. However, you’re on your own here. Do it at your own risk, as you do everything.

If you decide to dry can using your oven, here’s how to do it:

  • I’m weird about bacteria and you should be, too. I always sterilize my jars before I do anything with them; even dry-can. Just let them dry for several hours because they need to be thoroughly dry.
  • One of the biggest issues that many naysayers have about dry canning is that oven temps vary so the food may not reach a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. I’m pretty sure this one’s covered by using my oven thermometer. You should probably do the same.
  • Place your clean jars on the counter with a cookie sheet at the ready. Using a funnel if you’d like, fill them with your dry food of choice (beans, flour, brownie mix, pasta, whatever), leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.
  • GENTLY tap the jar on the counter when you think that it’s full to help the product settle so that you can pack them as tightly as possible. This also helps remove air pockets.
  • Wipe the rim with a dry (or SLIGHTLY damp) cloth to get any crumbs or dust off of the rim and set the jar on the cookie sheet.
  • Repeat until all jars are full.
  • Place in the oven and set it at 200 degrees. Note that I didn’t say to preheat the oven – you want the jars to heat gradually, remember?
  • Watch your oven thermometer. When it reaches 200 degrees, set your timer for 1 hour.
  • At the end of the hour, remove the first jar. Don’t take them all out at once for 2 reasons. First, if you’re like me, you’ll drop the sheet and waste all of your work. Plus, you’ll likely end up with all of that broken glass that you’re trying to avoid. Second, you want each jar to remain hot until you’re ready to put the seal on it.
  • Lay a dish towel out where you’re going to be cooling the jars. Wipe the rim of the jar again, gently, and place the seal on it. Put the band on securely but not overly tight. Set it on the dish towel.
  • Repeat with each jar, then turn off the oven.
  • Cover the jars with a lightweight towel and let them cool for several hours or overnight. (I use the same method with my water-canned foods. It was just the way I was taught in order to prevent the glass from cooling too quickly. Again, this may be overkill on my part, but I do it anyway.)
  • If you made a mix, such as biscuit mix or soup mix, attach a recipe to the jar. Otherwise, just label and date it like you do your other canned goods.

Test your jars to make sure that they’ve sealed. Just as with water canning, you may hear the ping or you may not. Touch the top to see if the seal is pulled in and can’t be pushed in with your finger. Store jars that don’t seal in the pantry and use them first.

If you have a problem with the seal, you likely didn’t get the rims clean enough.

Storing our food long-term is critical to our survival if SHTF and we lose our modern sources of food. Dry canning food is also a good way to save money because food is almost always cheaper when you buy it in bulk. Oh, and don’t forget bugs. Maybe it’s just me, but weevil pancakes are gross even though they are a source of protein.

If you’ve dry canned using any of the methods above or have any other ideas or questions about dry canning, please share it in the comments section below! And click on the banner to get more about ancient ways to preserve food and water!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

References:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/sanitation/low-acid-vegetables-botulism/

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Survival Gardening: What Grows Where

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SVP what grows whereWhich crops grow best? How long is the growing season? When is the last average frost date (assuming you aren’t living in a tropical zone)?

These are the sorts of questions to start with when planning your survival garden.

And you really need this knowledge, because even experienced gardeners find themselves overwhelmed when trying to grow food in a completely new climate.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide standard of splitting the country up into 11 basic hardiness zones based on the area’s coldest average temperatures in winter. Their interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map is therefore an excellent place to start.

plant hardiness zone map - CopyHow Do I know My Climate Zone?

Once you know your region’s USDA climate zone, you can identify the factors that influence your survival crops, such as how long winters last, how cold it gets, the length of the growing season, and which food crops can and can’t thrive.

The USDA hardiness definitions and map does provide a great basic framework to get you started, but keep in mind that it does have its limitations. Hardiness is only measured by the coldest temperatures of the year, and it doesn’t take other climate factors into account. Still, you need to be aware of:

  • The amount of precipitation,
  • Humidity,
  • Maximum temperatures
  • Soil conditions.

Both the high deserts of New Mexico and much of Connecticut, for example, are USDA Zone 6a, but their climates are still completely different. If you happen to live in the western United States, for example, and you’d like a more specific climate zone map, Sunset’s detailed climate zone map takes much more into account, helping you pinpoint your area’s overall growing conditions.

Before you get planting, you should also be aware of micro-climates, which are basically mini-climate zones created by features like bodies of water, parking lots or, more likely, the walls of your home. Taking advantage of micro-climates in your garden can help ensure that you’re plantings will thrive.

For more information on your region’s growing conditions, as well as help with common pests, soil amendments and other gardening stuff, consider visiting a local nursery, botanical garden or County Extension Office.

What Grows Where?

Each USDA climate zone has its own planting schedule, and has two basic growing seasons: warm and cool. The cool growing season, perfect for growing carrots, greens and radishes, takes place every spring and fall, and sometimes winter in the warmer zones. The warm growing season, featuring tomatoes, corn and squash, gets going in late spring and lasts through early fall.

Growing seasons in the sub-tropics and the tropics work a little differently, as the growing season technically lasts all year. Their planting times are generally based around annual rainfall patterns.frost in us

Below is a basic overview of the 13 USDA plant hardiness zones. Note that you can extend your growing season by utilizing micro-climates and by offering protection from the cold with row covers or cold frames.

Zones 1-2

  • Located in Alaska, the northern continental US and high mountains, this zone is defined by long, cold winters and a very short growing season.
  • Growing season: April – September
  • Coldest temperatures: -60 to -40F
  • Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, other vegetables with short time between planting and harvest

Zones 3-4

  • Located in the northernmost US states and cool mountain regions, these zones enjoy a slightly warmer and longer growing season with very cold winters.
  • Growing season: April – October
  • Coldest temperatures: -40 to -20F
  • Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, sweet peas, pole beans, winter squash, red and white potatoes

zone4Zones 5-6

  • Encompassing much of the continental US, these planting zones stretch from Washington and Oregon, down to New Mexico, and across the midwest to New England.
  • Growing season: March – October
  • Coldest temperatures: -20 to 0F
  • Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, beans, strawberries, lettuce and other greens in the spring and fall

Zones 7-8

  • Defined by long, hot summers and mild winters, these zones cover much of the southern US, including the desert southwest and many southern states.
  • Growing season: March-November
  • Coldest temperatures: 0 to 20F
  • Best plants to grow: Corn, tomatoes, melons, squash, collard greens, carrots, bush beans, asparagus and leafy greens during the cooler months

Zones 9-10

  • These sub-tropical to mild temperate growing zones cover much of the deep South, the Gulf coast, most of Florida and southern California. If protection is offered, the growing season can last throughout the year, though the occasional frost may still occur.
  • Growing season: February-November
  • Coldest temperatures: 20 to 40F
  • Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, melons, squash, corn, peppers, yams, citrus, peaches, figs, bananas, salad greens and sweet peas during the cooler months

Zones 11-13

  • Found only in Hawaii and the US territory of Puerto Rico, these tropical growing zones feature a tropical climate and year-round growing season with planting times based around the wet and dry seasons.
  • Growing season: Year-round
  • Coldest temperatures: 40 to 70F
  • Best crops to grow: kale, okinawa spinach, pole beans, passionfruit, sweet potato, red potato, cassava, pineapple, pumpkin, mango, papaya, Thai chili peppers, citrus, bananas, taro
  • Crops to avoid: Any fruits requiring chill time, including berries, cherries, apples and peaches

Growing your own food is a fun, family-friendly hobby with tasty and nutritious rewards. Whether you’re a newbie trying out your first tomato plants, or a seasoned pro moving to a new state, understanding your garden’s climate zone is the first step towards planning and growing a successful, productive garden.

EMPCover1References:

http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

http://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zones/climate-zones-intro-us-map

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How To Rehydrate And Prepare Your Preserved Food

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Survivopedia canning preserved food

You’ve stockpiled your heart out and have a great variety of foods to get you through if there’s a short-term emergency or a real disaster scenario.

Now, the problem is figuring out how to actually use these foods. You have dehydrated, freeze-dried, canned and dried foods, but how do you make them edible?

Today we’re going to talk about how to use the preserved food in your stockpile.

What You Need to Know about Your Canned Food

Before we start talking about actually cooking, there are a couple of details that we should discuss.

First Rule: Check if Your Canned Food has Spoiled

There’s a wicked little bacteria out there called Clostridium botulinum. It’s a neurotoxin that causes cramps, nausea, vomiting, double vision, difficulty swallowing, breathing or speaking, weakness, and/or paralysis. Symptoms appear 12-72 hours after you consume it and it only takes the tiniest bit (umm, 2 BILLIONTHS of a gram) to make you horribly sick or even dead.

If this happens now, call 911 as soon as you suspect it. If you don’t have access to a hospital, you’re basically depending on luck and a good immune system. There are also some natural remedies that may help but even the standard treatment is an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in your bloodstream to keep it from getting worse.

If you’re lucky, you’ll feel better in a week to 10 days, but complete recovery can take three months to a year and most people afflicted with botulism never fully recover. Symptoms still present after a year will most likely be permanent. So, avoid it. It’s worse than the plague.

Botulism spores thrive in low-acid, low-oxygen, high moisture environments, which includes most canned vegetables and meats. If you look at your jar and see bubbles in it before you pick it up, be concerned. If the seal is bulging, leaking or there’s a decided release of pressure when you open the jar, pitch it. If it looks cloudy when it should be clear, pitch it.

8 signs of canned food

Check out my article here if you’d like to learn to safely can low-acid foods. Number one goal of survival is … survival. Don’t get botulism. Period.

FIFO

The first and most important part of maintaining a good stockpile is to rotate your stock. When you’re choosing a product, make sure that it’s the oldest in the bunch. The easiest way to do this is to practice FIFO – First In, First Out. The first foods you buy are obviously the oldest, so they should be the first foods you use.

I use most of my stockpile as my regular pantry foods in order to make sure that my stockpile stays fresh, so this is easy. I just put the newest products in the back of the row when I’m putting away your food. That way, the oldest product will always be in the front.

This is super important because it would be a shame to lose the back half of your stockpile because it goes bad. Even if it’s still edible, most foods lose at least some of their nutritional value over time. This is a problem that’s too easy to solve – just practice FIFO!

Now, let’s talk about what to do with all of this food that you’ve invested so much time, effort, and money into stockpiling

How to Cook Rice

Whether you stockpiled instant rice or standard rice, it’s an extremely simple dish to prepare and you can eat it plain or flavor it with just about anything. It’s also a great source of carbohydrates.

Rice is, of course, a grain so it’s dry. The basic ratio of water to rice is easy to remember: 1 part rice to 2 parts water. In other words, use at least twice as much water as you do rice. Doesn’t matter what you use to measure, it’s nearly always 1:2. The difference is in the preparation of instant or standard.

To cook instant rice, bring the water (and a pinch of salt) to a boil, then add the rice, remove from heat, and cover for several minutes while the rice rehydrates. For standard rice, rinse it first if you have enough available water. Then put the rice, salt and water over heat and cover with a lid. Boil for 10-15 minutes at a slow boil/simmer until it’s tender and the water is gone.

Rehydrating Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Food

You can dehydrate just about any food and it’s a great way to preserve food long-term as long as you do it right and get all but about 10 percent of the moisture out. It doesn’t store as long as canned foods or grains but it’s lightweight and versatile.

To rehydrate food, you need to soak it in liquid. You can do that in one of three ways:

  • Soak in water
  • Boil in water
  • Cook in another liquid such as broth or juice

The great thing about dried foods is that you can combine them to make just about anything. For example, you can rehydrate dried onions with dried potatoes, then sauté them for some delicious hash browns. Toss in some dried herbs and the dish is even more delicious.

Soak your dried food in water for 20-30 minutes or until it’s soft. If you’ve chosen to rehydrate your food as you cook it, such as you would when making a spaghetti sauce with dried peppers, onions, and herbs, just toss them into the tomato juice and let it cook.

If you’d like, store some dried ingredients for dishes such as these together when you dry them, then seal them in a Mylar bag and label it. Then it’s ready to toss into your bug-out bag as a ready-mixed meal.

Here are two tips to help you best rehydrate food.

  • Don’t add salt or sugar during the first several minutes or rehydration because either one will inhibit the process.
  • Foods that take longer to dehydrate take the longest to rehydrate. Diced onions will rehydrate much faster than jerky.

Check out my article on how to make jerky from beginning to end – it’s delicious!

How to Cook Beans

Beans are packed in protein and store forever. They also contain a mild toxin that causes gastrointestinal issues such as gas and bloating. Kidney beans contain a more extreme toxin and eating raw or undercooked kidney beans can make you extremely ill, and can even kill you.

By soaking beans and cooking them correctly, you can avoid this, and it also makes it easier for your body to digest them and absorb the nutrients from them. Fortunately, the process is easy but beans aren’t something you’re going to be able to cook quickly unless you’ve already pre-cooked them and canned them.

Start by washing your beans after picking out any rocks or debris that may be in them. Cover them with water and a cloth and let them soak overnight. When you’re ready to cook them, put them in an appropriately-sized pot. Beans will double in size by the time they’re ready to eat.

Add about twice as much water as beans, then add salt and pepper. Toss in a ham hock or some ham chunks or bacon if you’d like – it makes them delicious! Cook the beans for 2-4 hours or until they’re tender, adding water as necessary. I generally put a lid on them but tilt it so that the steam can escape just to keep the stove clean.

One forgotten trick for cooking beans properly (especially kidney beans and white beans) is to change the water three times during preparation. Cook the beans in a pot with water and let them boil for 10 minutes. Use a colander to drain the beans, put them back in the pot, add water and cook again for 10 minutes before repeating the operation. After changing the water three times, you may add vegetables or bacon and season on your own choice, while boiling the beans for 1-2 hours.

canning beans

Preparing Frozen Food

As long as you have power, you may also have stored food by freezing it. It’s a great method as long as you’ve stored it well and you use it before it goes bad. How long food stores frozen depends upon how well you wrapped it before you froze it. Vacuum sealing is definitely the best way but plastic freezer bags work, too.

Most foods will stay good for up to a year or longer if it’s vacuum packed, though vegetables tend to freezer burn faster. Also, foods keep longer in larger chunks.

To properly defrost food, it should be done in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

To use the fridge, move the food from the freezer to the fridge several hours to a day before you want to use it. A good rule of thumb for larger items such as turkeys is that it requires 24 hours in the fridge to defrost for every 5 lbs. of meat. Use within 24 hours.

To use cold water to thaw it faster, submerge the plastic-covered food in cold tap water and change the water every 30 minutes. You want to make sure that whatever you’re defrosting is sealed. If it isn’t, bacteria from the air can get into the meat, or water could damage the flavor and texture of it. Cook within 24 hours of defrosting. If you’re not cooking it immediately, refrigerate it immediately.

To use a microwave to defrost food, cook as directed on your microwave. Because this method can bring the meat to the temperature that allows for bacterial growth but doesn’t kill it, you need to cook food immediately after you defrost it in the microwave. Before refreezing food defrosted in a microwave, cook it first.

Now that you have some basic ideas about how to make delicious foods with items that you’ve stockpiled in an altered form, get cooking! It’s always best to know how to use these methods BEFORE you actually need to know. Practice makes perfect! If you have anything to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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14 Cheap Ways To Feed Your Chickens

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SVP chicken on a budget

Owning chickens can be an expensive venture if you rely solely on purchased feed. Obtaining the feed will also be a problem if the transportation structure is disrupted. Since this is a real possibility, at least for a short period of time such as when storms strike, you need to know how to procure cheap food for your chickens.

In addition to being ready for an emergency, most folks who raise chickens in order to get “free” eggs and meat will tell you that those eggs cost at least as much as store-bought eggs. Most of this cost is attributed to the cost of feed so if you can lower that, then it can be financially beneficial to raise chickens.

The methods and foods that we discuss today will not only help in cases of emergency; they will also help decrease your costs to feed your chickens now.

Another bonus is that you’ll know exactly what your chickens are eating, and in turn, you’ll know what YOU are eating!

Allow Them in the Compost Pile

Allowing your chickens to scratch through your compost pile will help them because they’ll peck out what they like, including bugs and worms, and they’ll also turn it for you while they’re pecking.

Feed Your Chickens Table Scraps

Chickens eat just about anything, including fruit and vegetable cuttings or scraps, egg shells, and even meat scraps. Just keep a bucket by the sink and take it to them in the evening. As a matter of fact, if you crack the eggshells into pieces that they can eat, that will provide the same calcium that they get from oyster shells.

There are a few foods that your chickens shouldn’t have, though.

Survivopedia: 9 Foods to Avoid Feeding Chickens

Sprout Grains

Grains such as barley and hard red winter wheat, soft wheat, sunflower seeds, and oats are great for sprouting. Sprouts add extra nutrition and protein to your chickens’ diets and also make them happy, after they get used to the strangeness of it.

Most grains sprout in about 5 days and the process is simple, though it does take up some space. Spread the grains in seed trays and moisten them. Keep the layer between 1/4 and 1/2 inch deep. If you start a new tray every day for 5 days, then within 5 days, you’ll have a perpetual source of sprouted grains for your ladies.

Talk to Your Feed Store about Damaged Bags

During loading and unloading, bags often get ripped and the feed store is stuck with an unsellable product. Ask them about buying these at a discount, making sure that the bag is full enough to truly make it a deal.

Talk to Local Places for Free Food

Smoothie shops, gyms, vegetarian restaurants, co-ops, grocery stores and farmer’s markets are great places to look for scraps. Some areas have laws that prohibit restaurants and grocery stores from giving away old or damaged produce, but farmer’s markets and co-ops may be a little more willing to work with you.

If you have a local corn farmer, co-op or mill, ask them for the spillage, cracked corn leftovers, and older wheat that aren’t good for human consumption. Most will gladly give it to you for free and your chickens will be happy campers.

Let Them Till Your Garden

Once you harvest your garden, let the ladies loose to till it for you. They’ll eat the leftover plants and weeds as well as clean out the bugs.

Oh, and they’ll fertilize it for you as they go!

Free Range

Not everybody has this luxury, but if you can let your chickens wander the yard, do so. Of course, not every neighbor will appreciate it, and if you live in the country, they may be susceptible to roving bears, foxes and other critters that enjoy chicken as much as we do.

If you can’t let them free range, consider building a chicken tractor that will allow you to move their cage over the yard so that they can have access to fresh grass, bugs, and insects.

Feed Grass Clippings, Raked Leaves, and Garden Weeds

Your girls will love picking through the grass clippings and garden weeds and it’s a free source of nutrition. That fresh grass will help with nice, yellow yolks and the raked leaves make good cover for worms that they can peck for after it rains.

Feed Leftover Milk and Whey

If you have a milk cow, you’re likely drowning in milk unless you have a large family or are selling it.

Use some of that leftover milk for your chickens. It’s a decent protein source and if you allow to clabber a bit, you’ll give them an extra boost of probiotics which will help with their immune systems.

chicken feeding

Cull Your Flock

Yes, it’s one of the harder parts of growing chickens, but if a hen has greatly reduced egg production or is declining, it’s best to turn her into a nutritious soup instead of letting her wander around and eat without producing.

Grow Duckweed, Comfrey and Azola

Duckweed an Azola are water plants that are high in protein and vitamins, and your chickens will love them! You can grow them in a pond or a fish tank, though you won’t yield much in a tank.

Comfrey is an herb that grows on land and has several different medicinal uses, including making a great tea. It’s packed with protein for your girls, so it’s a great multi-use plant to have around.

Sell Your Eggs

Seems like a no-brainer and isn’t actually a way to create cheaper feed but now, in the real world, you can use the egg money to buy feed. If SHTF, you can trade the eggs for grain or other items that you need.

Ferment Your Feed

Fermenting your feed is much like processing the wheats used to make beer, minus the sugar. You wet it down and let it ferment. Fermenting your feed adds protein and probiotics and makes it easier to digest.

The probiotics help boost your chickens’ immune systems and a healthy chicken is a happy, productive chicken! An added bonus is that fermenting actually produces a pre-fertilized seed (if you use seeds) once it’s made its way from one end of your chicken to the other!

You can ferment your current food or use grains. Either way, this is how to do it:

  • Place the food in a quart jar or a plastic container with a lid (gallon or 5-gallon buckets are great). Don’t use metal. Your container size will depend upon how many chickens you have because you’re going to put 3-5 days’ worth of feed in it.
  • After you put the feed in the container, cover it with water so that there’s at least an inch of water above the top of the feed. Since the grain or feed will absorb the water, check it after a day or so and add more water if necessary. The layer of water helps keep it from molding.
  • The next day, do the same thing in a new container, and start a new one for a total of 5 days. Cover them with a towel or loose lid.
  • On day 4, feed the first batch to your girls an start a new batch in that container.

An alternative is to just make one big batch and keep adding water and grain to it  as you feed it. Since we only have a few chickens, the jars work best for us.

Grow Fodder

Growing fodder takes sprouting a step further. You actually grow the grass from the sprout until it’s a few inches tall, then feed the whole thing to your girls. They get the benefits of the grass, the seed and the roots, so it’s an extremely delicious and nutritious way to stretch your grain. You’ll get about 25 pounds of fodder from 5 pounds of grain and it only takes a few days.

Spread the seeds in a 1/4-1/2 layer in a pan with holes in it. You can build a stacking system using some PVC pipe so that you can water from the top and let it drain down through a few layers into a catch pan. Of course, you can use just the sprouts, too!

Did we miss anything about feeding your chickens on a budget? Do you know some old ways to feed the chicken healthy that we haven’t heard about?

If you have other ideas or want to share your knowledge, please do it in the comment section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Food Crisis in Venezuela Shows What could Happen Here

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food crisis

Food lines, they sometimes last from 5 am until well into the evening

There are always lessons to be learned from watching what goes on in other areas during crises.  For the last several years Venezuela has been having food shortages, infrastructure problems and inflation.  While this is an oil rich country, their socialistic economic policies have pushed them into a major food crisis.

Yesterday I received some information on the current food crisis in Venezuela.  Food is in short supply and very expensive when you can get it.  Supermarkets are locked into a system that controls their sales.  They are not permitted to sell Venezuelans food 15 days since their purchase of the same product.  At the same time, prices are skyrocketing.

Because people are hungry, they are starting to experience looting at shopping malls, pharmacies, supermarkets and food trucks.  All the while people are chanting, “We are hungry”.  Recently six Venezuelan members of the military were arrested for stealing goats, the Fort Manaure military base was out of food.

Hunting dogs, cats and pigeons is common.  Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said “the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food”.

Many families have had to cut down to just one or two meals a day. Victoria Mata said: “We are eating less because you can’t find the foods and when they appear, the queues are hellish and we cannot buy. Now we do not eat three meals, we are eating two meals a day, if we have them.”

These are hungry Venezuelans protesting that their children are dying from lack of food and medicine and that they do not have enough water or electricity.  The situation is now starting to turn violent with demonstrations and looting.  This has resulted in some vigilante justice.  An alleged thief in Caracas, Venezuela, was beaten up and burned alive in the street.

People are eating anything that is edible including garbage and wild plants.  During this type of situation a good food storage, knowledge of how to forage for wild foods and a good garden would make all the difference.  But don’t forget you need to protect it from others.  The best ways is to have it hidden and not to have to use violence.

Learn from the example that we see occurring in other countries.  But keep in mind cultural differences; on the whole the Venezuelans are not as spoiled as Americans and can probably handled their food crisis better than we would handle one.

Howard

The post Food Crisis in Venezuela Shows What could Happen Here appeared first on Preparedness Advice Blog.

Survival Gardening: How To Naturally Improve Your Soil

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Soil is essential for growing a traditional garden. It nourishes your plants, and helps produce an abundant harvest. Your soil needs care.

You can’t just drop seeds in the ground and expect a ton of produce. Gardening depletes the soil of essential nutrients. As a gardener, it’s essential to put those nutrients back.

In today’s society, many people turn to chemical fertilizers. These have been specially formulated to give your soil an exact dose of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. But, chemical fertilizers also contain undesirable ingredients. They also don’t take into account the other vital nutrients your soil needs.

A better solution is to save your soil naturally. You’ll be giving your soil exactly what it needs without any needless chemicals. You’ll also be prepared for a crisis situation.  If you aren’t able to buy chemical fertilizer or fancy test kits, your garden will still grow.

What Nutrients Does Soil Need?

There are almost twenty basic nutrients that your soil needs. Three of them are vital:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

The other nutrients are also important. But, not every plant needs exactly the same amount of each of these. That means some plants will still grow well even with a deficit. Those nutrients are:

  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Boron
  • Chlorine
  • Manganese
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Hydrogen
  • Carbon
  • Oxygen

Over time, your soil will lose some of these nutrients. Ideally, you’ll take little steps each year to keep your soil healthy. You can create your own fertilizer and add a mulch layer in the fall. These maintenance steps will help keep your garden growing.

However, it isn’t always enough. There will be times when a more intensive treatment is necessary.

How Do You Know When to Improve You Soil?

If your garden has been producing well and then your harvest slows down, it could be time to recharge your soil. There are other signs to watch for as well. Let’s look at four common gardening problems that indicate a soil problem.

Discoloring Leaves

If your plant’s leaves are changing colors, your soil is trying to tell you something. Take time to examine your plants throughout the growing season to check on the status of your leaves.

Look for yellow colored leaves towards the bottom of plants (a nitrogen deficiency), bronze colored or reddish leaves (low potassium or phosphorus is the likely culprit), new leaves that come in yellow leaves with dark spots (a lack of magnesium), older leaves that are wilting and turning brown only around the edges (a potassium deficiency), or new leaves that have yellow between the veins means (a lack of zinc).

leaves

Discolored Plants

It’s not only the leaves that can change color. Whole plants can as well. Here’s a couple of common ailments that cause plants to be discolored:

  • Purplish plants – a phosphorus deficiency.
  • Pale yellow plants – a lack of sulfur

Diseased Plants

If you suddenly start having an increase in diseased plants, it’s time to check the status of your soil. A good dose of compost will help replace many of the nutrients your soil needs. Healthy soil is more likely to produce healthy plants.

Diseased plants also indicate it is time to rotate your crops. Each crop takes a different amount of nutrients out of the ground. A simple rotation schedule will help revitalize your soil.

Excessive Moss Growth

Is moss starting to creep into your garden? Moss thrives in acidic soil. It’s an indicator that your soil is becoming too acidic.

How Do You Naturally Add Nutrients to Your Soil?

If you can get your hands on some rabbit droppings, you’ll go a long way to restoring the nutrients in your garden. Other manure helps too—just make sure to manage it correctly before adding it so you don’t burn your plants.

A compost pile is vital. If you don’t already have a pile going, start one today. That way you’ll be all set when you really need it.

compostAll the organic matter you add to your soil helps feed the tiny microorganisms living in your soil. Those creatures digest the material you added. This process helps improve your soil structure and increase your yields.

You want some bugs in your garden; just not the pesky kind. Here are a few useful bugs you should have in your garden, and the plants that you should grow to attract them:

  • Ladybugs – Plant dill, fennel, yarrow, angelica and coreopsis to attract lady bugs and their mighty larvae.
  • Lacewinds – Plant cosmos, angelica, sweet alyssum and coreopsis to attract lacewings to your garden.
  • Pirate bugs – They are attracted by goldenrods, daisies, yarrow, alfalfa, buckwheat, corn, willows and flower pollen and nectar.
  • Soldier Beetles – Attract soldier bugs with marigolds, catnip, hydrangea and goldenrod.
  • Spined Soldier Bugs – Attract spined soldier bugs with perennial plants because that’s where they take shelter.
  • Ground Beetles – Plant perennials to attract them and provide ground cover such as logs or rocks for them to hide under.
  • Tachinid Flies – Plant flowers with lots of pollen and nectar to attract them. They also like herbs such as dill, parsley and sweet clover. Let a few of your herb plants flower for them because that’s the part that they like best.
  • Dragonflies – To attract dragonflies, build a little pond or leave a marshy area alone.
  • Spiders – Plant flowers with lots of pollen and nectar to attract them. They also like herbs such as dill, parsley and sweet clover. Let a few of your herb plants flower for them because that’s the part that they like best.

How Do You Naturally Adjust the pH of Your Soil?

In addition to nutrients, the pH of soil is important. Some plants prefer acidic soil. Others prefer alkaline soil. Many plants do well in neutral ground. pH test kits for soil are common in today’s society.

You can purchase DIY kits at the garden center, or pay for an analysis at an extension agency. If you’re able to test your soil today with a kit, you’ll get an exact pH reading.

But, we won’t always have these options. There are ways to naturally test the pH of your soil. While you won’t get an exact reading, these results will help pinpoint the status of your soil.

The Baking Soda and Vinegar Test

Baking soda and vinegar cause a chemical reaction when they’re combined. In fact, the fizzing, bubbling reaction is often used in children’s science experiments about volcanoes. These same ingredients can be used for a useful soil experiment as well.

The premise of this test is simple. You’ll get some soil and see how it reacts to vinegar. Then, you’ll see how it reacts to baking soda.

To prepare for this test, gather about a quarter cup of your garden soil. Divide this into two containers. In one container, add 1/2 cup of vinegar. Watch for any bubbles to form and listen for a fizz. If you don’t get a reaction, get your second container of dirt. You’ll need to mix this one with some distilled water to make a slurry. Then, sprinkle about ½ cup of baking soda over the top.

Here are what the results of this test indicates:

  • Baking Soda Reaction: Acidic soil
  • Vinegar Reaction: Alkaline soil
  • No Reaction: Fairly neutral soil

Homemade Litmus Paper for pH Testing

You can also test the acidity of your soil by creating your own litmus paper out of cabbage leaves. My kids and I tried this as a science project one spring. It worked well! Here’s how you do it:

  • Take a quarter of a red cabbage and roughly chop it into slices.
  • Add your cabbage to a saucepan with a half-cup of water.
  • Bring the water to a boil, and keep it boiling for 15 minutes. Then, strain out the cabbage and save your water.
  • Cut a couple of coffee filters into strips, then soak them in your saved cabbage water. They’ll absorb the color. Let these strips dry completely.

To use your strips to test your soil, you’ll need to create a slurry out of your soil again. Just add distilled water until it’s nearly liquid. It’s best to test the soil from a few different parts of your garden, which means you’ll use more than one strip.

When you’re ready to test, dip a test strip in your soil slurry and hold it for half a minute. Pull it out, and watch the color change. It’ll turn a shade of red or pink in acidic soil. Conversely, it’ll be blue or green in alkaline soil.

More Shelf Stable pH Test

You can keep your cabbage based litmus paper for a couple of weeks before it loses the ability to accurately test pH. But, you may not always have access to a fresh cabbage. There’s an alternative solution to create your homemade pH indicator.

You can use a combination of turmeric and water. Turmeric is shelf-stable, so be sure to keep some in your stockpile of food. Whenever you’re ready to use it to test the pH, add a bit of distilled water to make a liquid. Then add distilled water to a few tablespoons of soil create a liquefied soil. Add a couple drops of your turmeric test solution to your soil mixture.

Watch closely for the color change. Soil with a pH below 7.4 will be yellow. Soil with a pH above 8.6 will be a dark orange-red color. It’s not quite as accurate as the cabbage test, but it will give you a good idea about the condition of your soil.

plants phHow to Amend Soil pH Naturally

Now that you’ve tested your soil, you can take natural steps to improve it. If your soil is acidic, you’ll want to add wood ash or a generous amount of crushed eggshell. These elements will help move your soil closer to neutral.

If your soil is alkaline, you’ll want to add different natural matter. Pine needles work well to help adjust this type of soil. Spread a layer on in the fall so they have time to decompose over the winter.

Start Saving Your Soil Today!

Are you gardening? If you’re not, you should be. Even if you just grow one or two items, the practice will help you learn how to save your soil.

Building healthy soil isn’t a quick project. It requires time and effort. But, it’s possible.

What other tips and tricks do you have for naturally testing and improving your soil? I’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Prepper Project: 3 Ways To Make Seed Bombs

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SVP seed bombsI don’t know about you, dear reader, but I really hate those barren vacant lots on city streets or on the side of the roads, you know what I am talking about? Every single time I pass by these urban wastelands, I fantasize about planting a garden there, in one of those blank lots.

However, in this day and age, I bet it would be against the law and I’d end up raided by SWAT teams, under suspicion of aesthetic terrorism or discrimination against urban decay. Ok, I may sound a little bit dramatic; it’s just for the artistic impression.

Regardless, empty lots are a common problem these days, and plant transplants will end up costing you an arm and a leg if you want to really make a difference.

Enter the latest seed-bomb technology, just for you, the new Captain Planet, the Eco-warrior. Seed bombs are a cheaper alternative compared to buying plant transplants, and as organic and natural as Mother Earth.

The Anatomy of a Seed Bomb

Make no mistake: the bomb particle in a seed bomb has nothing to do with terrorism. This is a bomb that, once “detonated”, will bring peace and harmony, fresh air, beauty, life, the whole nine yards. If I may use a metaphor, the seed bomb can be described as the weapon of choice for urban guerrilla gardeners, as it gets the job done in two shakes of a lamb’s tale.

A seed bomb is fast, precise and laser-accurate! Okay, now that I’ve got your undivided attention, do you know what a seed bomb is? Let’s begin with the seed, which in itself is an amazing thing, as it contains the key that makes life on Earth possible and livable.

The vast majority of plant seeds will require next to nothing for germinating/giving birth to a new plant. In most cases, all a seed will ever need is to get buried in moist soil, safe from direct sunshine or dehydrating winds, and away from predators, insects, or animals that would eat it  instantly…yes, it’s a hard job being a successful plant seed.

Nature mitigates these survival problems by spreading the earth with a huge number of plant seeds, as becoming a plant from a seed is a very risky business.

But there is another way, and that’s where the seed bomb comes into play. Using a seed bomb, you’re basically hiding the plant seeds inside of a ball made from an absorbent material, usually a mix of soil/compost and clay. As the ball dries and its shell turns hard, it becomes very easy to spread the respective balls (these are seed bombs actually) on the barren area you wish to bring back to life. The hard shell of the seed bomb keeps the predators away until the planting time is near.

When the right time arrives, i.e. when it starts raining, the hard coating of the seed bomb will soak up with moisture, releasing its “cargo” (the actual seeds) onto the ground and providing a protective layer which holds the moisture near the seed, helping it germinate and develop into seedlings and then into a new plant. This is an elegant and beautiful concept, don’t you think?

However, this is not a new idea – pretty far from it. Seed bombs were used traditionally by many Native American tribes for protecting their planted corn kernels from predatory birds and drought. About 40 years ago, a Japanese gardener invented clay seed balls as an efficient way for planting his next crop of veggies and grains, but without disturbing what was left from the previous crop.

Seed bombs are the perfect way for planting all types of seed in places that are not very easy to take close care of, such as roadside strips, meadows or stream banks.

Also, seed bombs are a great method for planting grains or veggies without tilling or digging the soil, or for adding patches of color in already established gardens, without disturbing the plants that are already there.

If you’re a free range chicken-farmer, seed bombs will help your newly planted seeds to survive the chicken attack, and, as a plus, seed bombs are really fun to manufacture and to use, especially for kids.

guerilla gardening

Now, let’s see about the DIY part of the deal, i.e. how to make your own seed bombs.

Seed Bomb Recipe 1

Ingredients:

  • five parts pottery clay mix, available at your local art store,
  • two parts potting soil,
  • 1-2 parts seeds (whatever you desire),
  • 1-2 parts water,
  • a big tub for mixing the ingredients,
  • a big box for drying/storing the seed bombs.

Instructions: blend the clay, the soil and one part of water together thoroughly and stir vigorously, removing lumps. Add more water slowly, until the mixture has the proper consistency. It should be just like canned molding clay you buy in the store.

In the next step, you put the seeds into the mix and keep kneading until the seeds are mixed in well; if necessary, add more water.

Now it’s the time for building the bombs by taking small amounts of the mixture and rolling them to form a ball about 1 inch in diameter. If the balls tend to crumble, i.e. they don’t hold together easily, just add more water.

Let the seed bombs dry for one or two days in a shady location before storing or seeding them, for example put them inside a cardboard box, but never in plastic containers. They need the open air to dry or else they’ll mold.

After they are dried, you can place them/toss them on your desired location, but remember, don’t add water and don’t bury them. The rest is up to Mother Nature.

Seed Bomb Recipe 2

Ingredients:

  • seeds of your choice,
  • colored paper torn into pieces (3 pages for example, orange, pink and red),
  • two cups of water,
  • a silicone mold if you don’t want to use your hands,
  • 2-3 pages of newspaper torn into pieces, a strainer,
  • blender.

Instructions: All the paper must be torn up and the pieces put inside the blender. Add two cups of water into the blender and blend, baby, blend, until everything turns to mush!

Place the strainer over a small receptacle and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. The filtered “pulp” will be scooped out of the strainer and mixed with the seeds; this is basically the raw material for your seed bombs.

The raw material must be gently mixed and the excess water squeezed out, using the mold or your hands for making the same 1 inch-diameter ball as described in the first recipe.

In the final step, use a paper towel for pressing gently on every seed bomb, to soak any excessive moisture. You want to prevent the seed bomb from germinating prematurely; that would be bad. Now, allow your seed bombs to dry for two days and you’re ready to go. It’s best to store these seed bombs inside paper bags, remember that folks.

Or watch below for the video version about making the perfect tools for guerrilla gardeners and a great way for propagating seeds on a large scale or in not-so-rich soils!

Video first seen on Emilie Lefler.

Seed Bomb Recipe 3

Ingredients:

  • seeds,
  • sawdust,
  • natural glue,
  • seaweed extract.

Instructions: Mix one part seeds with five parts sawdust, and add some natural glue to the mix (read my previous article about glue here) along with a little bit of seaweed extract. The mix shouldn’t be too wet, or too dry, but just moist enough to form and keep a ball shape.

Allow the seed bombs to dry out thoroughly for at least a day, by placing them on a sheet of newspaper for example, laid out in your shed or something similar.

Remember to consider the habitat when you’re in the process of selecting the seeds, i.e. do you desire seeds that will build a brand-new habitat or you want to add some variety inside your garden?

Good luck, and have fun folks in your prepping!

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This article has been written by Chris Black on Survivopedia.

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What You Need To Know About Building A Grain Mill

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survivopedia grain mill

You are well prepared for a major disaster, and you think that stockpiling will guarantee that you have everything possible for your new life. But even if you have been off gridding for years, you will soon find that a few things that you took for granted are no longer available. A grain mill for making flour is one of them.

If you have been conditioning yourself to live on a lot of breads, and other flour based foods, lack of at least one grain mill will present a problem.

What is a Grain Mill and Why You Need At Least One

Basically, a grain mill takes grain or corn and mashes it up in order to produce flour. Even though you can use something as simple as grinding grain and corn between rocks, a grain mill makes it much easier to produce a useful and uniform flour. That being said, it may not be enough to have just one kind of grain mill on hand. Here are a few reasons why stockpiling just one grain mill may not meet all your needs in the post crisis world.

If you have ever made bread, then you already know that you will need at least 5 – 6 cups of flour. Today, most hand sized grain mills will only produce on cup of flour at a time.

Even among bread recipes, you will find that some work better with coarse flour, while others require a smoother, lighter flour. If you want to make cakes, gravies, and other foods, the weight and texture of the flour can make the difference between a flop and a success. In most cases, a grain mill will only grind one or two texture types. If you want smoother flour or lighter weight flour, you will need to use different grinding agents, or even a different mill altogether. Can you stockpile so many types of grain mills?

Also, maybe you have been making your own baked goods for years or even decades. While you may have stocked away all kinds of flour, and even have a hand based flour mill, you don’t know how much flour you will actually need in the post crisis world on a daily basis. Even if you know how much flour you need now, that amount may double or even triple when other foods are not available.

DIY or Pre-fabricated Grain Mills?

If you do some research, you will find that hand sized grain mills are some of the most popular new kitchen gadgets. As a prepper, you might be tempted to buy one or more of these grain mills and simply put them away until they are needed. Since even a hand powered grain mill can cost almost $100.00, it will be to your advantage to make your own, but here’s what you need to consider.

No matter whether you buy a hand powered or electronic grain mill, it is likely to come with several flour texture settings. As such, one or two mills with an appropriate batch of texture settings can easily meet your needs.

Even though you can get a number of textures in a single pre-fabricated grain mill, that does not mean they will process enough grain for your daily needs. In fact, most grain mills on the market will only process one or two cups of flour at a time. If you need to make at least one batch of bread on a daily basis, these mills will not suit your needs. On the other hand, if you decide to make your own grain mill, there is nothing to stop you from building a mid-sized mill that will process enough flour for specific tasks.

When you build your own mill, you will also know exactly how to maintain and repair it. On the other hand, even if you purchase a very basic manual hand sized grain mill, it may have specially shaped rollers and other internal elements. In the post crisis world, you may find it difficult or impossible to replace these parts or fabricate them from materials on hand.

While prepping, there are bound to be areas where you need to develop your skills. If designing and building devices is one of those areas, then it might be hard to try building a viable grain mill and develop your cooking and gardening skills all at the same time.

Start off now with a pre-fabricated grain mill and learn how they work as you develop your other skills. After you’ll see what your daily needs are, adapt existing grain mill designs to your situation. The whole process that starts with growing corn and grains, grinding them, and turning them into breads and other foods might seem easier this way.

A pre-fabricated grain mill can get you started very quickly on developing an often forgotten homesteading skill. On the other hand, if you are on a very tight budget, it’s cheaper to take some extra time and effort to build a grain mill from scraps.

Typically, if you focus on smaller hand powered mills, you can build a viable mill that will last for years. If you decide to build something larger later on, you will already know the basics and have a better chance of adapting the mill to other power sources.

How to Choose the Best DIY Grain Mill Design

small millAs with many other prepping decisions, you will find that a grain mill that is best for you may not be the best for others. Here are a few tips to help you pick the best grain mill design(s).

If you are going to bug out or live in a larger survival community, there should already be a community based grain mill that everyone can use to process larger amounts of flour.

Even if this mill is only used on a weekly schedule, it should be able to process several pounds of flour or more at a time.

Aside from survival communities, homesteads should also have a larger grain mill so that processing can be done at the best possible time.

Individuals that are bugging in or have very little space should still try to have a large enough grain mill to meet daily needs, and process at least 6 – 7 cups of flour at a time.

If you are using micro-harvest plants or other small scale growing systems, then this grain mill will optimize both your time and processing capacity.

When choosing a grain mill design, think about how you will adapt it to produce different textures and flour weights. If you are building a large sized grain mill, you should focus on a creating a coarse flour, and then use smaller mills for progressively lighter flours. Alternatively, if you need mid-weight and light weight flour, build the grain mill in such a way that you can change the grinding mechanism without having to make extensive changes to the way the mill is powered.

Remember that the bigger the mill, the more power it will take to operate it, and even a slight increase in the size of the internal grinder can make a hand powered mill impossible to use. That’s why you have to think about how you will adjust the grain mill to run on other power sources.

For example, if you think that an animal powered mill suits your needs, do not overlook powering the mill by finding ways to place it in a nearby stream. While keeping different sized mills on hand can help with power associated problems, yow will also need to consider how to make your designs as adaptive as possible. This is especially important if you decide to use electric powered grain mills that will eventually require new motors or sources of electricity in order to use them.

Basic Parts of a Grain Mill

Before building a grain mill, it is important to know what parts every mill has in common as well as the best materials. Fortunately, grain mills are not especially complex, however choosing the best materials can be more time consuming than expected.

Grain Hopper 

This is where the grain will be held while the grain mill is in operation. The hopper can be made of canvas or just about anything else that will hold grain. In order to make your design as compact as possible, try to make detbrewachable and foldable hoppers.

If you are going to make a larger grain mill, then it may also be a good idea to make the hopper in such a way that it will act as a cover for the internal mechanism when not in use. The last thing you will want to do is invest in building a larger grain mill with metal rollers only to have the rollers develop rust or some other form of corrosion. By the same token, you will not want wooden rollers to rot or stone ones to develop moss or algae buildups.

Grain Mill Body

The body of the grain mill should be durable enough to withstand the weight of the hopper and grain. It should also be able to take the friction created by the rollers without falling apart.

Hand sized grain mills can be made of wood or even plastic. Larger mills can be made with cement frames, wood, metal, or stone. You may also want to explore some of the more durable polymer products that will enable you to make different body shapes that will accommodate different power sources or roller sizes with less difficulty.

mill2Rollers

As the heart of the grain mill, the rollers are the most important. Some people have used PVC plastic, while others prefer metal, wood, stone, ceramic, or even polymer rollers.

Regardless of the material, you will need to experiment with the distance between the rollers as well as the best surface. It may be to your advantage to have several different rollers with differing degrees of smoothness as well as a means to set the rollers closer and further apart.

Power Source

The simplest grain mills rely on a crank that can be turned either by a human or animal. More complex grain mills can be turned by a series of gears and water power. You should also consider designs that are based on the ancient revolving hammers in China. Not only are these fascinating hammers the basis for modern pneumatic hammers, they can also be used for metal shaping as well as making good quality grain.

Study the shaft assemblies carefully for these devices and you will see that they can as easily be driven by a water wheel as they can a wind turbine or other non-electric based power sources.

Flour Hopper 

Once the grain passes through the rollers, you will need a place to store it. The flour hopper should be easy to remove and clean. You can use anything from a ceramic bowl to larger plastic vessels. Just make sure that the flour hopper can remain covered at all times, and that the seal between the hopper and the bottom of the grain mill does not allow dust to escape.

Dust Control

Many people are surprised to find out that grinding grains and corn can produce quite a bit of dust. To reduce this problem as much as possible, make sure that the body of the mill, grain, and flour hoppers all fit together tightly. You can use caulk and sealing agents to help with cracks and other areas where dust can get through.

Small Grain Mill Designs

Small sized grain mills can be powered by hand. They should be able to process 1 – 6 cups of flour at a time. In most cases,it will take from 1 to 5 minutes to grind a single cup of flour. Small grain mills are best suited for refining flour that has already gone through a larger mill as well as for processing grain directly.

Crank Mills

You can make any number of simple designs. This includes ones that have two rollers as well as sifters that utilize a screen on the bottom and a wire loop (or downward angled blades) inside the body. Simply turn the crank in order to turn the rollers, blades, or wire loop. As the grinding unit moves, grain will be fall into the path of the crushing elements and then fall into the hopper waiting below.

Gear Mills

As you may be aware, gears can be attached to a crank in such a way that one turn of the crank produces 2 or more revolutions in the rollers or wire loop attached to it. A gear system will process flour faster, however the gears can also wear out or break. For best results, use metal gears instead of plastic ones.

Gravity Motor Mills

These mills are similar to power generation motors in the sense that they use gravity to turn an object. In this case, you would need several feet of space so that the rollers can be turned as a counterweight falls to the ground. This design will require a gear assembly to optimize rotation as well as to get as much power as possible for turning the rollers.

Electric Powered Mills

If you happen to have a motor on hand and some electricity, these mills can be created in any number of designs. This includes using food processor blades as well as other designs that can be used to crush or cut grains apart.

Midsized Grain Mill Designs

These grain mills should process at least 10 pounds of flour at a time. You can still use crank, gear, gravity, and electric motors to power these mills. On the other hand, you might find that cement, metal, or more durable materials will be needed for these mills.

Large Grain Mill Designs

Trip and Pneumatic Hammer Mills

Trip hammer based mills basically use a central axis that turns several hammers, each in their own turn. Here is a basic design that has been used in China for centuries. It can process several pounds of grain at a time, or if built correctly, can also be used to pound metal into any number of shapes.

You can also study more modern designs that feature smaller hammers that can be driven by an electric motor. If you give it some thought, you will also see how to upscale these smaller designs so that they can be used with stones or other materials.

Animal Driven Mills

Historically speaking, these mills can be driven by both humans and animals that walk around in circles to turn large stones that grind the flour. In order to optimize these designs, consider adding a gear assembly, or better yet, take a hammer mill design and shift it to a horizontal axis instead of a vertically driven one.

Water Wheel Driven Mills

The size of these mills will be determined by the speed and amount of water flowing in the area. Smaller mills can be operated in streams, however you will need a fast moving river if you plan to process larger amounts. Together with above ground versions, you may also want to try and create designs that utilize water pressure built up in underground pipes.

watermillJust remember that when you try to generate power underground, you can get away with light weight fan blades and other materials. Grain mills require considerably heavier rollers that will be difficult to turn unless you add gears or other assemblies to compensate for the weight of the grain.

Motorized Mills

The best motorized mills for a homestead will most likely be driven by wind turbines. You can study windmills from Holland as well as the United States that were built for this purpose.

Video first seen on 32bituser.

Typically, these mills can easily last for centuries. If you want to optimize these mills using modern technologies, consider making the blades from polymers that will combine lighter weight with enough durability to withstand the physical force required to mill grain.

When it comes to grain and flour mills for survivors, more than a few people think that they can get away with a small mill, or even none at all. If you already have a hand mill, simply stop and think about whether or not you have 2 – 3 hours a day to sit around and grind grain. In the post crisis world, where you will have to perform many other tasks, you may have even less time to devote to grinding grain.

Study larger mills and also smaller ones that do not rely completely on hand power. For example, if you are going to build a hand power mill, at least consider gravity motors if you do not want to have all the worries associated with electric motors. If there is more than one person in your survival group, you are also going to find a mid to large sized grain mill absolutely essential.

Knowing how a grain mill is built is one trick that helps your prepping purposes. More valuable secrets from our ancestors are still to be discovered and developed for survival. CLICK on the banner below to find out more about the undisclosed tricks that helped our parents survive!

the lost ways coverReferences

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trip_hammer

web.hammermills.com/blog/bid/80081/Hammer-Mills-5-Key-Styles-You-Need-to-Know-About

homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=119521

homebrewersassociation.org/pimp-my-system/build-your-own-grain-mill/

instructables.com/id/Build-a-Quiet-Home-Brewing-Grain-Mill/

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Did Chemtrails Murder Prince And Merle?

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Survivopedia chemtrails

As a former detective and investigative researcher, my interest always gets piqued when I hear of untimely celebrity deaths. These situations are invariably not as they seem.

After the obligatory ‘sanitized’ public obituaries, there’s usually “the rest of the story”. Often it’s an old, well known killer like substance abuse.  Sometimes depression, hopelessness, or misadventure from a life style far exceeding the rationale speed limit of society.

But the recent demise of the iconic music entertainers Merle Haggard and Prince, stretches the outer limits of reality and sanity to reveal something so evil…that even the most intrepid conspiracy bloodhounds would retch in revulsion from the super suspicious mephitic stench wafting from the darker issues accompanying these unfortunate deaths.

Just to remember, both happened to be anti-government Chemtrail Activists, which included Chemtrail concerns voiced in the form of television appearances by Prince, and even a song written about Chemtrails by Merle. There were rumors that the two rich and famous entertainers were thinking about a world concert tour to bring mass attention to an esoteric but potentially one of the most horrifically sinister plots against humanity the world has ever seen.

Of course this would be bad news and blues for the current regime Powers That Be during the critical political election months ahead. That would be worse than Benghazi during the last election countdown. They couldn’t have that happen, could they?

If the truth exposed even a ‘smidgeon’ of the horrors some people think are associated with the Chemtrail spraying operations, that would be the end of the regime, politically, if not the tearing down of the whole psychopathic population cleansing government apparatus?

Video first seen on ConstitutionLost.

“LOOK, up in the sky!  It’s a bird, it’s a plane-with a Contrail-No…it’s SUPER TRAIL!”

Hard to believe that most people up until maybe a year or so ago still didn’t believe in Chemtrails. Even if people heard of them they simply dismissed the phenomenon as really just Contrails from jet engine exhaust that silly paranoid conspiracy theorists imagine are clouds of deadly chemical sprays.

But ubiquitous and large scale chemical spraying from large dedicated jetliners is done every single day in the U.S. or somewhere else in the world. Chemtrails DO exist, and this can now be proven above and beyond all reasonable doubt. The latest physical evidence is incontrovertible.  Anyone can find them, because they are right under our noses.  Or should I say our noses are right under the Chemtrails…

I personally attribute the abject universal obliviousness by the average person to a major phenomenon like large airplanes spraying unfathomable amounts of white cloudy trails of super fine nano-particle chemical dust poison to the simplest causes.

People simply do not look up in the sky that much, if at all? Especially city people, or people who spend a lot of time indoors. And even people who work outdoors are more often concentrating on looking ahead or down on what they are doing than watching the clouds go by.

Add in that spraying is more often done on bright sunny days, where nobody stares up too long at the sun anyway, and the fact that they start to resemble natural clouds pretty quickly, it actually takes some effort to pick up on them initially if you never were aware of them before.

Add in that the government and its cohort the MSM never talk about Chemtrails because Chemtrails are the 800-pound skunk in the environmental theatre room. In the beginning, when they first started spraying in heavy concentrated agenda format, these spraying activities were even outright denied by the government, and scoffed off as the pipe dreams of conspiracy theorist pot parties.

inside chemtrails

Those of us who were pilots, and weather experts knew they existed because we knew the difference, since the difference between a Contrail and a Chemtrail is obvious. Contrail is just the residual hydrocarbons and sulfates and other so-called micro debris from the engine exhaust which condenses ambient humidity and immediately freezes, forming a whitish trail at that altitude behind a jet, but then melts when the sun hits it. The Contrail follows the jet for only a short time so it never gets long.

The deleterious Chemtrails that stay in the air all across the visible sky leaving a noticeably long trail that slowly dissipates sideways, not evaporating, but spreading into each other from many traversing overlapping passes in a target area, eventually turning the clear cobalt blue morning sky into a dull disease colored dirty grey blur by afternoon are NOT Contrails. The amount of engine exhaust residue needed to even come close to creating what is happening from each plane, would have to be so voluminous as to be more material than the entire fuel payload being burned!

Yet there are government websites ostensibly pretending that these occurrences as merely different types of normal engine exhaust Contrails, which happen to be dispersed on excessively humid days, thus accounting for the massive cloud formations they produce.

Of course, if that were true, they’d have to shut down the entire airline industry for excessive dangerous pollution of the world if the engines could even remotely be that “dirty”.  And they’re not so dirty anymore for exactly that reason.

Plus, the facts are all scheduled airline flights have regular routes. So why do you see these on certain days in where there’s very low relative humidity in areas where virtually no commercial jetliners have overhead flights, planes flying overhead in an exercise that literally looks like a major strike force scale B-52 bombing run over Viet Nam? Back and forth, oblique and cross!  Then they all go off and away, and disappear in the same direction!

But with the internet slowly but surely getting the word out along with pictures of Chemtrailing by private citizens over their homes, which amount to far too much evidence for even the automatic government censorship to obfuscate, it becomes too suspicious and difficult for standard UFO type disavowing and dismissal to occur by the government anymore.

Video first seen on memewatchers.

Lyin’ Fed

So at this point the damage control faction of the regime had the stun grenade flash bang bright idea that they could do the cover-up by connecting the spraying ops to their global warming agenda. Why not? When you have one foot already in the BS, the other foot is the next likely step deeper in the crapshoot?

So, they finally broke loose with a tacit but not confirmed admission that scientists are experimenting with a new form of global warming greenhouse gas solution known as SRM (Solar Radiation Management). Ostensibly, to keep us all from frying like sizzling strips of crispy bacon and dying of draught induced thirst.

The idea they want you to buy, if you’re into buying Crocodile infested swampland these days, is to spray nano-chemicals which include brain deadening Aluminum-barium particles among other non-disclosed chemicals, to save civilization from global warming by blocking the sun’s deadly radiation, and reflecting it out back into space.

The Funeral

If you do the research, supposedly but not surprisingly, seems like Monsanto somehow had their dirty little GMO stained fingers handling the chemistry involved in spraying ops early on when they were originally involved. But they then passed it off on the military to keep it legitimately shrouded in secrecy, and immune for censorship because of its military applications—like weather and germ warfare experiments– for “national defense and security”.

Okay, yup. A lot of us were born at night. But NOT last night!

But some extremely interesting information came out when some prominent scientists started doing environmental tests and documentaries, at least on YouTube. He thoroughly exposed the dangers to the population and environment by this wantonly destructive mass chemical poisoning, under government control, without any plausible proof beyond a reasonable doubt of any form of dangerous global warming actually happening.

Which ran the gamut of everything from one out of every 30 male infants being born coming down with Autism in the heavily sprayed areas of large metropolitan Texas, to suspicious sudden depletion of the honey bee populations since heavy spraying commenced (which directly impact crop productions), unexplained increase in respiratory diseases in the general population, and unusual catastrophic storms with extraordinary flooding and damage, which point directly to measurable co-incidental results of this spraying.

And of course the additional sinister “conspiracy theorist” motives like intentional Eugenic-type population control through a genetically/chemically induced engineering and mind control through the use chemical inhalants. Also accomplished by Chemtrailing.

When you think about it, what better vehicle for germ warfare than the use of ultrafine micro contaminants virtually invisible, and spread–oh, so silently! –and innocuously in the air, against a target enemy population?

Slowly and surely, you’ll get them in your system. Because with Chemtrails, there’s nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.

And now we have “Chemtrail Flu?!”

Video first seen on The Alex Jones Channel.

“The wicked spies upon the Righteous and seek to kill him…” – Psalms 37:32

So when widely popular advocates like Prince and Merle who stood up for the survival of the people took on the Chemtrail cause,  it looked like a tipping point might be reached where the world would finally wake up to an obscene threat that was hell bent to become the Grim Reaper of the 21st Century?

But then suddenly, mysteriously, and suspiciously, BOTH Merle AND Prince–were DEAD?   Within only a couple short weeks of each other! Quick, someone calculate the odds of that?

I’ll say this first:  If it slithers like a snake, and if it bites you like a snake, and you die of “suspicious, out of place, causes” that bear the sinking weight of integrated objectivity, it becomes an exercise in submission to mental enslavement to believe it is a harmless lovebird gliding gently on the air currents of coincidence. Especially when all roads, or trails, also travel back to government connections.

“The probability of a certain set of circumstances coming together in a meaningful or tragic way is so low that it simply cannot be considered ‘mere coincidence’.” – V.C. King

It is my not so humble opinion that there might be much more to this than mere coincidence. Unless you consider the fact that the similarly very stinking circumstances and timing of Justice Scalia’s death is just a hyper conspiracy theory type suspiciousness over nothing more than co-incidental “natural” causes.

His death immediately changed the entire course of future 2nd Amendment and privacy rights cases, in favor of the gun confiscating group, and effectively opened the door for the worst anti-Constitutional legislating-from-the-bench imaginable that had already been carefully put in place by legislators. This is patiently waiting in the form of “sleeper Bills” designed to wipe out the 2nd & 4th Amendment personal freedoms once and for all, depending upon whether or not the third Reich of the Obama regime expands in power next November.

There’s a lot of information out there on Chemtrails if you want to keep yourself eyes wide and terrified late into the night reviewing it. The most condensed but comprehensive source is an article from Guns America website by Paul Helinski about Jade Helm that should answer all your questions (you’ll find it in the References section below).

The Eulogy

Sometimes in life it takes a sad tragedy to elevate humanity as a whole to higher consciousness for the ultimate salvation of the species. Prince and Merle gave us the wonderful gift of musical pleasure and that was cruelly lost when their celebrity outspokenness may have been sacrificed for the preservation of proprietary agenda based evil.

Hopefully this information stimulates people to demand that their representatives start getting “Fast and Furious” open answers from the government concerning the actual truth of this highly suspicious national danger in the form of virtually covert SRM chemical spraying, and poisoning of our population and natural resources without the permission of the people being harmed!

It is also our duty as Free Americans to keep an out-of-control government reigned in for the future safety and survival of our children. I think Prince and Merle would smile upon that from beyond… It’s the least we can do in return for what they gave us.

May they rest in a quantum of eternal peace, a never diminishing magnificence of heavenly melody, and a sublime, spiritual solace.

16_620x140

References:

https://chemtrailsplanet.net/2015/06/02/guns-america-jade-helm-part-of-a-government-engineered-mass-extinction-event/

http://yournewswire.com/the-united-nations-admits-chemtrails-are-real/

http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/chemtrails-a-planetary-catastrophe-created-by-geo-engineering/

http://www.disclose.tv/news/photos_from_inside_chemtrail_planes_like_youve_never_seen_before/128961

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5 Forgotten Plants Our Ancestors Used For Food

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Big 5 Forgotten plants Our Ancestors Used For Food

What would you say if I told you that there were between 12k and 25k different enjoyably edible things on our planet but we only actually eat about 500 of them, at the most?

Our ancestors ate quite a larger range of foods than we do today, and many of them had medicinal as well as nutritional benefits.

Read on to learn more about these lost yummies.

I said “enjoyable” because there are actually as many as 100k edible organisms, but they don’t all taste that great. Since there are so many forgotten food options, we’ll focus on the ones that taste good. Many of these may even still be in your backyard, or in the woods around your house, but the value of them has been lost, many of them in just the last 120 years ago or so.

Egyptian Onions

Egyptian Onion

Also known as walking onions, these above-ground plants are perennial and the little onions grow just like flowers would on a regular shrub. The reason that they’re called walking onions are because the bulbs fall off and start a new plant the next spring. Walking onions were a staple in kitchen gardens through the 1800’s.

These onions taste stronger than regular onions but the entire plant is edible. The leaves are good to chop up and use as you would scallions, and the little onions are great for soups, stews, or pickling. The beauty here is that you don’t have to replant them in the spring as you would regular onions.

Walking out and picking a few onions off the nearest shrub is a lot easier than going to the garden and pulling them up, too!

You likely won’t see onions the first year but by the second, you will.

Borage

borage

This plant was another staple in our ancestors’ kitchen gardens and I’m not sure why it fell out of favor. It’s easy to grow and creates many seeds in the fall that you can dry for use the next season. It also has several purported health benefits, attracts bees, and repels the tomato hornworm, so it’s a good companion plant for your tomatoes.

Borage has thick, prickly, fuzzy, leaves and pretty purplish star-shaped flowers. Both the leaves and flowers are not only edible, they’re delicious and great for you. The young leaves and flowers have a light, cucumbery flavor that makes them good in salads. Older leaves can be cooked just like other leafy greens and the flowers can be candied, added to salads, and used to make syrup.

Borage is a good source of calcium potassium, iron, and all of the other nutrients found in leafy greens, as well as GLA, an essential omega-6 fatty acid. According to the University of Maryland, GLA helps fight inflammation, skin disorders, ADHD, arthritis, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

Historically, Borage was also used to treat skin complaints and promote breast milk production and reproductive plants as well as the aforementioned conditions.

Mugwort

mugwort

This aromatic has been used for centuries medicinally and is pretty good in a salad as well because it tastes like lettuce. There are several different species that are used but the one that’s most common in the US is called common mugwort or Common Wormwood. It’s prevalent in the Eastern and Northwestern US. It’s well adapted to grow in rocky soil.

The leaves are edible, with a slightly bitter flavor. They can be used in salads or cooked in soups and is also used to make tea and alcoholic beverages. They’re frequently dried and used as a meat and fish seasoning. You can eat the flowers, too.

Fun fact: mugwort was used before hops to make beer, and a cousin species of mugwort was used to make the hallucinogenic alcoholic drink, absinthe!

This may have originated because mugwort has long been used to aid in digestion. It’s commonly used to treat cramps, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritability. Be careful though; it’s used to treat menstrual cramps because it tightens the uterine muscles, which can cause abortion, especially in the first trimester.

Now, for some survivor and homesteading uses: the furry underside can be scraped off and used as tinder, the stalks are good for kindling and the dried leaves will keep a fire smoldering for a long time, and it’s also a natural insecticide.

Be careful growing mugwort because it will take over your garden if you’re not careful. Growing in pots is a good way to avoid this. Do your research on specific mugwort species because different species have different uses.

Purslane

Purslane

You probably have this plant growing on your property and don’t even know it! You know that succulent weed with pretty little yellow flowers that grows in your sidewalk cracks, or between bricks in your garden wall? Yup, that’s purslane. It’s been used for thousands of years in the Middle East as a food source and made its way to the US before Columbus did.

The side-walk purslane also has a sea-dwelling cousin that’s edible and both were a common food source for Native Americans, and later settlers and pioneers. Over the last century or so, purslane has mysteriously slipped from the pages of cookbooks to the pages of horticulture books, which is sad. The entire plant is edible.

Purslane is good in salads and the mucilage (slimy stuff) inside the leaves is a good thickener. Purslane was used to make beer before hops entered the picture.

The leaves are packed with omega-3s along with vitamins found in other leafy greens and have a lemony flavor. It’s often used in place of spinach or arugula in salads but can be cooked, too. It’s good in soups and the seeds can be ground into flour.

From a prepper’s point of view, purslane is valuable because it grows in arid or dry places where other edibles are scarce.

Salsify

Salsify

Salsify is a root vegetable that dates back to the 500’s.

It looks kind of like a white carrot. It’s white on the inside and beige on the outside.

Unlike carrots, the tops look more like dark, thick grass. It’s often called oyster plant because some say the taste is reminiscent of oysters, though others call it nutty tasting.

The root is cooked similarly to carrots; toss it in soups or roasts, cook them alone or mash them. The greens are the same as other greens; use them in salads, cook them down, or sauté them in butter. They taste similar to asparagus or chicory.

Nutritionally, they’re similar to other greens and are purported to help remove impurities from the blood. Salsify was a staple food for centuries and is now making a culinary comeback.

These are just a few of the staple foods of our ancestors that have been lost by the wayside in the name of processed foods and grocery stores. There are quite literally thousands of other foods that are edible but unknown to most palates, and we might be forced to use them to survive.

If you miss the knowledge to grow your own food, click on the banner below to find out more about how our ancestors used to grow food and be self-sufficient with amazing efficiency.

the lost ways cover

And if you know of others, please share them with us in the comments section below!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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