How To Make Homemade Vinegar

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I learned how to make my own homemade vinegar a few years ago. I had been interested in making my own for some time since it’s something my grandparents used to do. It’s a good practice to make your own homemade vinegar as this product is recommended for preppers to stockpile. It has many survival … Read more…

The post How To Make Homemade Vinegar was written by Rhonda Owen and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Making Old Pioneer Sourdough For Traditional Baking

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I’m fascinated by the old ways of living and my mother and grandmother were the ones that showed me how to do things the old-fashioned way. I love to bake and I often surprise my family and friends with old recipes. Making pioneer sourdough is one of the teachings I try to pass on and … Read more…

The post Making Old Pioneer Sourdough For Traditional Baking was written by Rhonda Owen and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

How To Preserve Food In The Ground Like The Pioneers

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The pioneers had to endure harsh winters and food wasn’t as abundant back then as it is today. They had to come up with all sorts of ingenious ways to preserve food and make it last longer. Natural storage was one of the first choices for them and they learned how to preserve food in … Read more…

The post How To Preserve Food In The Ground Like The Pioneers was written by Rhonda Owen and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Preserving And Processing Herbs For Long-term Storage And Use

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I’ve been preserving and processing herbs from my garden for years now. I honestly can imagine my cooking without them and I make sure I always have some in my pantry. Survival foods can become dull after a while and you won’t be able to prepare tasty meals without herbs. Keeping a well-equipped pantry is … Read more…

The post Preserving And Processing Herbs For Long-term Storage And Use was written by Rhonda Owen and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Outdoor Kitchens For Sustainability

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Summer Kitchen Revival

Before the days of electricity in the house or the air conditioner cooling off the living spaces from the heat of summer and cooking, there were outdoor kitchens.

It was an effort to keep the house as cool as possible. They are also known as Summer Kitchens.

The summer kitchen’s purpose was for putting up food for the year, canning, preserving, pickling, and processing. It all took place on a wood-fired stove, which created enough heat to chase everyone out of the house.

Outdoor Kitchens Still in Use Today

When I lived on a small island in the Caribbean, our tiny beach cottage had a kitchen on the porch. Why? So cooking a meal wouldn’t heat up the entire 400 sq. ft. house. Unlike summer kitchens of North America, this little work space was our main kitchen year-round rather than seasonally.

In the past, the food was often prepped in the kitchen, but it wasn’t stored there. Herbs would dry in the attic, flour and vegetables were kept in a cool cellar. You would walk all over the house to gather the ingredients for a meal.

When electricity started making its way into homes, the summer kitchen was abandoned.

However, these outdoor kitchens are starting to make a comeback because people want to get closer to their food supply. There is no better way to get closer to nature and the food we eat than having a summer or outdoor kitchen.

What do you need for an outdoor kitchen?

When planning your outdoor/summer kitchen, think about function, efficiency, and comfort. What do you need and what can come later?

An efficient summer kitchen space could be as simple as you want it to be or as elaborate. Oh and that pizza oven you want, is it necessary or is it a luxury?

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your Summer Kitchen:

  1. Do you want it to be seasonal or permanent?
  2. Does it need to be enclosed, partially enclosed, or open to the elements?
  3. Does it need shade?
  4. Do you need seating? A table?
  5. What will you need to store? Food? Spices? Cutting boards? Silverware? Plates & Bowls? Cookware?
  6. Is there a nearby herb or veggie garden?
  7. Do you need running water?
  8. What about a greywater catchment system?
  9. Is a compost pile nearby?
  10. What will you cook on?
  11. Do you need an oven? A Sun Oven? A dehydrator?
  12. Is the ground level where you want to put the kitchen?
  13. Do you need refrigeration?
  14. What will you do when it rains? When it’s windy? When it’s blistering hot?
  15. Who will be using the kitchen?
  16. Who will be in the kitchen, particularly at the same time?
  17. How do you spend your time in the kitchen? Cooking or baking? Entertaining? Dishes? 

Think triangular work space

The triangle is a great shape when designing an efficient kitchen workflow. No matter the location of the kitchen.

How do you work in the kitchen when you prepare a meal?

You take the food out of the fridge. Then it is taken either to the sink or the stove area, cleanup goes from the stove and prep areas to the sink, and leftovers get put in the fridge.

Have a plan before you create your outdoor kitchen. Take a good look at what will fit in the space that you’ve allowed for your summer kitchen. Two ways into and out of the space will help with flow.

Start with the Sink. That’s where you’re going to spend a lot of your time, cleaning, prepping, and doing dishes. You’ll also want a beautiful view while you’re doing your work, right?

In the Cooking Area, you’ll want to be able to socialize with family and friends.

You’ll probably want between 18 in. to 36 in. for a comfortable prep area. There’s nothing worse than not having enough prep area. Am I right?

Think about walkways and flow into and through your summer kitchen, too.

Set the kitchen up into 5 zones:

  • Food storage (fridge, cabinets, or pantry)
  • Dishes
  • Clean up (sink area)
  • Prep area
  • Cooking

Store items as close to their zone as possible. For example, knives, mixing bowls, cutting boards, and wooden spoons should be in the prep area. Cooking and baking pans should be in the cooking area.

Store your dishes close to the sink. Having a cabinet above the sink where your dishes dry and store all in one place is amazing.

outdoor-kitchen

Food preservation in your summer kitchen

When my grandmother canned her summer vegetables, outdoor kitchens were the norm, not a luxury. She’d set up her outdoor kitchen under a giant poplar with the chickens running all around the yard. If grandma did it, so can you!

Preserving your harvest is wonderful in the cold, winter months. It may take time and effort right now, but it is well worth it.

Life slows down a little bit, so you can enjoy family and friends.

There are three ways of preserving food that can be done in your summer kitchen: storage, canning, and drying.

The important thing is to start where you are. Check out this video for more tip.

Storage

A handful of vegetables can be stored, but only for a limited amount of time. Here is a great article about storing fruits and vegetables from the University of Missouri Extension Office.

You can store:

  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • beets
  • turnips
  • parsnips
  • carrots
  • leeks
  • radishes
  • horseradish
  • rutabagas
  • garlic
  • onions

Make sure veggies are firm. Remove any dirt, but do not wash the veg. Place the veggies in a box or bin. Air should circulate around the veggies. Slatted wooden boxes and wire baskets work great for this.

Canning

If you’re going to be canning, make sure you have all of your supplies handy.

  • Canning jars and lids
  • Water bath canner
  • Pressure canner
  • Funnels
  • Ladles
  • Pectin
  • Spices
  • Salts
  • Jar Lifter

Here’s a recipe for “Canned corn that’s sweet every time.”

Know which fruits and vegetables need to be pressure canned versus water-bath canned. The book, Stocking Up is invaluable for this purpose.

Drying

It’s super-easy to dry fruits and vegetables. You can even do it in a Sun Oven! Dried foods can be stored indefinitely, as long as they are kept dry.

You can dry:

  • root vegetables
  • beans of all kinds
  • cereal and grains
  • celery
  • herbs
  • peas
  • peppers
  • berries
  • fruits with high sugar and low moisture

Here is a great article with dehydrator recipes.

If you’ve ever thought of having a summer or outdoor kitchen, perhaps now is the time. Share your thoughts on how you would set it up. We’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below!

 

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The post Outdoor Kitchens For Sustainability appeared first on The Grow Network.

Trail Foods from History – Food Preservation Ideas

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

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One of the challenges that regularly comes up when we talk about bug-outs is food for our bug out packs, and even food to stash in caches along the way. Food preservation can be a complicated issue, comparing water needs, calories and nutrients, camping meals or supermarket granola bars, and even if we actually need trail food for a journey of 3-5 days.

Then it expands past a bug-out or initial evac kit, to ways to make or stock foods that can be used for overnight and three-day trips after a disaster has struck. In some cases that proposed trip is following a 3-6-12-18 month shelter-in-place scenario, waiting for a die-off or for calmer times. In other cases, it’s looking at the fact that humanity has always made trips – to the coast, to hunting grounds, to and from winter and summer camps, away from danger, for fishing, for trading, even to visit family.

Happily, those journeys of the past, in peacetime and in war, can help us solve our travel food challenges. In some cases, they’re also methods we can use to just preserve foods, and let us preserve the convenience of dropping something in water to create a meal.

Pemmican

Pemmican is a great travel food that will store well for months in just paper, a full year if kept cool.

Pemmican is a great travel food that will store well for months in just paper, a full year if kept cool.

Pemmican is one of those well-known long-storage travel foods. The proteins and fats, and the precious calories from those fats, were hugely important to people who were in some ways very nomadic, and to those who might be largely sedentary, but whose opportunities for fats and meats came in very short bursts through the year.

By first separating very lean meats from fats, then processing those into the separate entities of dry beef and suet, they can be recombined into a travel food that will store well for months in just paper, a full year if kept cool. That food can then be eaten as-is, or used to make a soup.

Many, many modern pemmican recipes include “wet” dry fruits like raisins, craisins and currants  – that’s going to significantly shorten the shelf life. A lot of the recipes I see floating around also include a lot of dried fruit, even though some of it is the dry-dry “leather” or “plastic” level of fruits. In some, there’s almost equal ratio of fruit to meat or fats.

That’s not actually how I learned to make it. What I learned is a bit more like this.

My only ties to natives are from the upper East Coast and the Deep South Cherokees who were moved west. So maybe there are tribes out there that really do use as much fruit as meat, and it’s distinctly possible that something got lost in translation in Oklahoma and Wyoming or as tribes merged and disappeared.

I learned to make it at a ratio of about 3-4 parts dried meat, 1-2 parts suet or rendered fat, and at most 0.5-1 part dried vegetation – dried to the point when they, too, can be pounded into a powder.

Undoubtedly, the inclusion of a little bearberry or strawberry leaves would have boosted the Vitamin C, which would have been a huge aid to staying healthy in deep cold and deep snows, and while on the move. There’s also probably to-taste twitches that were used by individuals and groups to improve the palatability.

Some tribes and individuals probably used fruits, or a higher ratio of fruit.

Some tribes and individuals probably used fruits, or a higher ratio of fruit.

However, once mixed into pemmican, the application of dried fruits, leaves, and roots would have become limited: to food, and to a specific type of food. It no longer would have been possible to doctor them into the drinks, sweets, and herbal remedies that natives regularly used.

So I’m inclined to think that probably the truth from history lies somewhere in the middle (where it usually does), if not leaning just a little towards the “less fruit” side of the house. Some tribes and individuals probably used fruits, or a higher ratio of fruit. Some tribes and individuals probably used a minimum of fruit or none at all, packing more of the preserved harvest of spring and summer separately.

Natives wouldn’t be the last to separate their meat and vegetables for long trips and long storage, if so.

Instant Soup in the Old Days

Portable soup tends to vary from a veggie-based medley to a meat version

Portable soup tends to vary from a veggie-based medley to a meat version

Also called pocket soup, portable soup was made back in the days of the colonists and explorers of old. It was the equivalent of the broth base we can get in cubes and powders today – fast and easy, and with the potential to be not only flavorful, but to boost nutrients the way a bone broth can.

The descriptions given for pocket or portable soup tends to vary from a veggie-based medley to a meat version, such as the one demonstrated by James Townsend.

Lewis and Clark’s expedition wasn’t overly fond of theirs, which to me sounds similar to desiccated vegetables, but during the American Revolution, others took a more kindly view.

Either recipe gives us a way to produce our own instant soups and broths for convenience at home, and have something hearty in our pockets to dissolve into a warming drink or meal, now and in a potential future where supply chains are disrupted.

Desiccated Vegetables

Mmm, sounds yummy, right? We’re not just talking dehydrated/dried veggies here. Desiccated vegetables are a combination of starchy veg and leafy root veggies, either minced and mixed up or layered, that are pressed under high pressure to remove moisture.

Most of the references to its use are from the Civil War here in the U.S. , with citation back to the Crimean War about fifty years earlier. It was highly recommended by the author of “Prairie Traveler” in the 1940s. There are sometimes mentions of it or similar-sounding ship’s food in naval journals from the same general pre-Antebellum period, where the cakes or planks of desiccated vegetables served the same purpose – providing much-needed vegetables to prevent scurvy in forces that were largely eating hardtack or similar foods for long periods of time.

Some recipes list the inclusion of beans or peas, most likely lentils and the starchier peas once grown far more widely. In all likelihood, these were collected green or were pre-soaked or cooked to soften, as opposed to pressed in as hard and dry legumes. It’s possible, though, that they were pre-ground separately.

The mash that resulted was indented or separated into disks before drying, to allow for apportioning either on an individual basis, or by some accounts, into servings for four or five or eight souls. It wasn’t always a preferred food, but it definitely did its job of keeping folks healthier.

Long Live Desiccated Veggies!

You can make leather or chips or thin cakes out of darn near anything.

You can make leather or chips or thin cakes out of darn near anything.

We might not go for a monster press to create a handful of cakes for our backpacks or caches, but we can apply some of the ease of a full-meal drop-in if we want, cooking and then dehydrating molds of mixed veggies made using our ice-cube trays.

Some of us already dehydrate mini black bean patties and cooked slices of sweet potato to make serving-sized portions. There’s also a common backpacking trick of dehydrating everything http://www.backpackingchef.com/dehydrating-food.html from fat-free refried beans to spaghetti sauce, applesauce to mashed potatoes, turning it into thin, flexible leathers or hard chips.

Spin it through a blender (with some water if necessary) and spread it thin on waxed paper or butcher’s paper, and you can make leather or chips or thin cakes out of darn near anything. They typically don’t store as long as those 1800’s lumps, though. For many, we’re looking at a handful of months, especially if we aren’t super careful about the inclusion of fats.

There are commercial alternatives, if we’re not interested in making our own.

Pocket Soup Still Going Strong

Erbswurst is compact rolls of five or six disks that dissolve into a pretty tasty and surprisingly textured lentil soup

Erbswurst is compact rolls of five or six disks that dissolve into a pretty tasty and surprisingly textured lentil soup

I ran into Erbswurst while deployed in a multi-national force. They’re compact rolls of five or six disks that dissolve into a pretty tasty and surprisingly textured lentil soup (never add as much water as a soup manufacturer calls for). It does better if you bash it a couple of times to increase surface area, or you can stick it in some water and over a fire, and usually about the same time it starts simmering, it’s started to dissolve.

It’s tougher to find in the U.S. but as the internet shrinks our world, we can pay the shipping for it, or, we can look at similar soup options.

It might not be quite as compact, but we can absolutely portion out things like Bear Creek’s split pea soup when we’re ready to roll or from the get-go. Dr. McDougall has some of those instant cups and packets of split pea and barley that we can store for a good while or repackage for longer shelf life.

So, why am I name dropping those specifically, and sticking to split pea and lentil soups?

Because they have no dairy or meats in them to go rancid early in storage or due to temperature fluctuations. Lentils aren’t calorie powerhouses, but compare a lentil or pea soup to the same serving size of non-dairy instant veggie-based soups. You’ll find that there’s a pretty significant difference there. There’s a whole lot more calorie – and nutrients – than ramen, and it’s in a far more compact form than noodles. They cook faster than the just-add-water offerings that have beans and lentils in them, and even rice in a lot of cases. Those particular options are also satisfying; textured, as opposed to others that are just broth or some of the other pureed and creamed soups on the market.

We can absolutely make our own dry mixes, and we have ways of making especially flaked beans cook faster, or we can prepare something, blitz it in the blender, and dehydrate it in cubes or patties. If we’re going to buy, though, we might as well make sure we’re buying something that checks as many blocks as possible.

Calories, protein, vitamins, fiber, and lasting satiety from food is something I tend to consider, whether I’m sticking it in a backpack for a fun weekend, packing it away so there’s something available on a trail later, or sticking it in my pantries to make fast and easy meals, now or later.

Trail Foods from History

Whoa, whoa, whoa, cowboy; you can’t sum up yet, you missed hardtack. – I skipped hardtack. I gave my opinion about hardtack in an article about bread options for disaster cooking. I don’t really consider fully dried hardtack much of a trail food (although we could carry peanut butter jars to soak it in daily).

And that’s what we’re talking: Trail food.

There are a lot of reasons we might hit the trail and live out of a bag or off caches in the coming years. Pleasure packing, exploration, intelligence gathering, evacuations, hunting trips, relocation, travel for family reunions – they were done in all of the preceding centuries of recorded history, and they’ll continue to be done for the foreseeable future, no matter what it’s course. Happily, history provides a number of to keep us well-fed during our travels, things we can make at home now or later, and in some cases, readily available commercial options for the less DIY crowd.

In some cases, foods that were traditionally for the trail can also just give us a faster, easier meals – as we’re accustomed to – compared to preparing everything from scratch.

Historic trail foods also have another major benefit: They largely use heat at some point, but otherwise, there are few or no preservatives, and there is no need for fresh canning jar lids. That means if we’re running short of salt, sugar, vinegar, or pectin, or a pressure canner goes down, we still have viable means to get our foods from one harvest season to the next, just as some native tribes and northern explorers once did.

The post Trail Foods from History – Food Preservation Ideas appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Thrift Tips for Stretching a Buck in a Tough Economy

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How to Survive a Layoff

Don’t panic. With a little “belt tightening” and a realistic plan, you will make it through this…

Being laid off, under employed or just watching your paycheck buy less and less at the store has become a reality in most homes. As businesses are downsizing, more and more work gets sent overseas and energy prices continue to sore, what can you do when you realize your income is not able to comfortably sustain your family?

Here are several practical tips…

Don’t Panic
First, in any survival situation, and trust me, being laid, under employed or broke half way through the month off can be a very real survival situation… Rule #1 is “Don’t panic.” So: step back, take a breath, sleep on it, pray and trust that you are going to make it through this.Store Up Some Food

Plan Ahead and Network
This is where having gone to the ant and observed their lifestyle comes in handy (Proverbs 30:25 & 6:6 – The Good Book).  It is a really wise rule of thumb to be prepared for what you think may never happen.

In our home, we have a decent stock of food that we lay by for the possibility of joblessness – which we actually have lived through multiple times.

Little Blessings From Others…
One winter, at the beginning of our years of wedded bliss, before we had  chance to think through anything wise, we wound up jobless with two little ‘uns.  That winter stands out in my mind as precious because we were fed almost entirely by a friend who was a delivery person for a food supply company…

People would reject a bag of flour that had a tear in it or cans that were dented.  He had a ministry of feeding many needy people like us with surprise deliveries of this food which would otherwise have been thrown away.

So, in our need, God supplied. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of networking and bartering.  Someone else might raise what you need and perhaps you have a skill you can trade for something. Or vice-versa.  Bartering is a great American tradition and it knits people together in a way passively forking over greenbacks can not.

Seek Out Local Resources and Encouragement
We have a wonderful Mennonite community and country store near us through whom we can order bulk foods.  They never look to profit on this, only to serve and it has been such a huge blessing in being able to order large quantities of food to stretch our budget and lay things aside at the same time.  Another place we are extremely fond of is a local surplus food store.

Bulk food is still affordable when you have a good source...

Bulk food is still affordable when you have a good source…

They resell those dented cans and just-expired foods at amazing prices so that we come home with a lot of food for not much output.  I’ve been to a store like ours in another locale and it was a rip-off.  So make sure you’re actually getting a deal.

Roadside Stands Can Be a Fun Surprise

Roadside stands are a great value

Roadside stands are fun and are often a great way to stretch a buck…

Folks who run roadside stand often go to produce markets and then bring their haul to reasonably resell. Roadside stands usually offer a great value when compared to grocery stores…

But better yet, find the wholesale produce market!  But be ready to process all the food you’ll buy there!  It’s an auction-like atmosphere, a lot of fun and a way to get semi-locally grown produce in bulk quantities.  Make sure you have your stamina that day because you may have to wait until the end for what you really want to get.

So search your area for resources like these.  Ask around…people who are thrifty are everywhere, you just have to find them!

I learned about the produce market from one of these folks!

Find Encouraging People in Tough Times
Look around  for people to whom the almighty dollar is in its proper place – at the bottom of their priorities.  These are the people who will keep your spirits from plummeting during hard times because they understand what is really important (people) and will reach out to help others.  This is where churches are supposed to shine, but unfortunately, impersonal, demeaning, mismanaged government programs have  usurped this privilege… and honestly, at times the church has fallen short, some being more occupied with things like “building programs” than building people.

But there are still some great, others-minded churches out there, and some wonderful loving folks who go to them. If you need help, seek them out.

Do It Yourself – Canning, Dehydrating & Freezing
Having a garden and canning, dehydrating and freezing what you grow is also an invaluable way to stretch a food budget.  It also allows you to have things laid up for that rainy day or week or month or year.

Canning
Our traditional way of “putting up” food for the future is a laborious but rewarding venture. However, as I learn more about nutrition (other posts to come), I am realizing that canning will give me food on my shelves, but its nutritional content is minimal, having been processed with heat for long periods.

Canning is a great way to preserve food

Canning is the traditional way to preserve food… but dehydrating is easier.

Dehydrating
Dehydrated foods keep indefinitely if dried properly.  Dehydration uses a very low heat and air circulation to lock in nutrients and enable you to have what is called, “living foods” kept on your shelf.

So dehydrating is MUCH better than canning from a nutritional perspective.

Because you’re not dependent on electricity to preserve your “goodies” after they’re dehydrated, it is better than freezing.

  • Get my article on dehydrating – Coming SOON!
  • Here’s the food dehydrator that I use – Click Here

Freezing
Freezing is also a better way than canning to preserve nutrients, but with freezing, you have a dependency on electric – which can go bye-bye at any time.

Make Your Own Laundry Soap!!!
Did you know that with a few basic very inexpensive ingredients you can make your own laundry soap?  I’ve been making my own for a few years now and it works great!

The Clothing Budget – What?
Well, we’ve been married about a quarter century and we’ve never had the prescribed clothing budget that you see in all the ‘how-to-make-a-budget’ books.  In fact, we’ve never had most of their categories!

Save money on cloths - go to a thrist shop

Going to Thrift Shops can eliminate the need for a clothing budget…

I can count on one hand the times I’ve purchased new clothing (excepting underwear, of course!).

I simply cannot bring myself to drop the amount of hard-earned money called for to buy things new.  Seems like bad stewardship to me for the purpose of vanity.

So, yeah – we shop at the exclusive places like Goodwill and Salvation Army.  I actually find it fun!  You can often find something that appeals to your fancy in a way you’d never imagined and it’s like a scavenger hunt/ surprise party every time you go!

Remember: Always try things on – even at a thrift shop, why waste money on things that don’t fit right?

Sometimes I look longingly at people who have wonderful store-bought clothes in just the right style I wish I could wear, but I really do pretty good at the thrift shops.  And if you’re clever with a needle, you can jazz up a simple second-hand tee shirt quite amazingly!

“My Secret” Resource For Everything!
I cannot write an article such as this without celebrating the age-old yard sale!

My “secret” resource for almost everything…

Oh my, if you look through my house, almost everything in it has come from a yard sale or was a gift.

You simply cannot tell that we have only two pieces of store-bought furniture. I have had many compliments on our eclectic décor and we have never been without what we need- in large part, due to yard sales.

Homeschool your children?  Yard sales offered us a plethora of low cost resources and teaching aids.

We always had a craft table full of fun things to make and do – compliments of other people cleaning out their craft supplies.

I still rely on my $50 23-cubic-foot Montgomery Ward deep freeze I got years and year ago when it was already old.

Outfits can be put together for a couple dollars. And one year I got a whole new wardrobe of brand new shoes that some lady who had a shoe fetish was getting rid of!

All of my canning supplies – yard sales.  Yard tools – yard sales.

Christmas, birthday, baby and bridal shower gifts – yard sales (think ahead!). I’m pretty sure people looked forward to seeing what would be in my shower bags because I always found such unique and wonderful things!

You don’t have to be a skinflint and can, in fact, be very generous, when you learn the art of yard saling.

One Last Tip – Take 21 Days…
Every time you go to spend any amount of money, no matter how small, ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”  If it is a need, ask: “Is there any other way I can meet this need without spending money?”

Resist impulse buys - wait 21 days

Resist impulse buys – wait 21 days

If it is a large purchase – a great rule of thumb is to wait 21 days to a month.  Sit on it.  Train yourself against impulse buying this way.

At the end of the time period, you will likely have moved on and your marriage may even benefit from this frugal, selfless practice!

Okay… Just One More tip: Leverage the Internet for Bargains…

And NEVER, EVER… purchase anything on the Internet without first doing a Google search for the name of the company you are going to buy from, followed by the words, “coupon code.” You’ll be amazed at how much you can save scrounging for a few minutes trying coupon codes.

Oh, and check Amazon before you buy online. We purchase most of our non-food necessities through Amazon because we get free shipping and find that we usually save 10% or more verse other online shops or local retail stores and we save gas and time shopping. Plus our credit card info is in one place and not spread about.

The internet is loaded with resources on how to do all sorts of things like make your own electricity,  find ways to fuel your car cheaper, heat your home for less, decorate on a budget, use simple ingredients like a gourmet, etc.,etc.  (I think my husband has some links to this kind of stuff around this site, too.)  And these are just a few of a plethora of ways to stretch what you have.

Just make sure you get all your info together in hard copies because well, who knows how long the internet will last?

Until next time…

~ Carin

What You Need To Know About Meals Ready To Eat (MREs)

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Meals Ready to eat, or simply MREs, are very popular among preppers and survivalists. Although MREs are primary intended for use in the field by the military, they are now being stockpiled by average Americans. Before you fill your pantry with Meals ready to Eat, there are a few things you should know about these … Read more…

The post What You Need To Know About Meals Ready To Eat (MREs) was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Green Coffee Beans for Long Term Storage

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Green coffee beans are best for long-term storage whereas roasted coffee beans have a limited shelf-life — they comparatively won’t retain their fresh flavor for too long. The shelf life of ground coffee is even less – making both roasted coffee beans and ground coffee poor choices for long term storage. For those who are […]

Can You Refreeze Meat Safely?

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Can you refreeze meat? The minute some of you start reading this, I know what you are thinking.

You can’t DO that, Marie. It’s not safe. It’s not … well, it’s just not ALLOWED. 

Everyone knows this. I asked a half dozen people I know, and they all nodded sagely and agreed – it is absolutely not safe to refreeze meat. But how to preserve large amounts of already frozen meat when you do not have a pressure canner? Is there a safe way to do it? 

Can you refreeze meat? Everyone knows that it's not safe. But does everyone know the facts?

A reader asked me how to deal with an already frozen whole deer leg when she doesn’t have a pressure canner or even any large pots. She figured that she would need to thaw it out in order to cut it up, but

Marie, can you refreeze meat? I don’t think it’s safe!

Is there any solution at all?

Of course there is.

The answer is …. sometimes.

Keep It Frozen

While it’s not a perfect solution – eventually you’re going to have to thaw it and eat it – keeping a large chunk of meat frozen – like a whole, frozen leg of venison – until you have everything gathered and prepped means that it’s safely preserved. For now.

Just leave it as it is until you’re ready, and then you don’t have to worry about refreezing it.

In the winter, that can mean storing it in a plastic bin outside if you don’t have a chest freezer.

Yes – that’s safe, as long as it’s a clean, animal-safe container. When we were living off-grid, we stored meat outside all the time.

Find a Butcher

Butchers have wonderful equipment that allows them to cut right through bone and frozen meat. This lets you deal with that giant cut of deer meat without having to worry about refreezing meat.

If you can find a butcher who will do it for you, have the wide part of the leg cut up into steaks, or cut the leg into two roasts. The top one will be more tender than the lower one. Either pot roast it with low, moist heat, cut it into stew meat, or grind it up.

Or maybe it’s a turkey you’re trying to deal with. They can cut those up, too. No more excuses for not buying the huge turkey that’s on sale!

Cut It Up and Refreeze

Yes, you can refreeze meat. 

I promise I would never lie to you about this. It is perfectly safe to refreeze thawed meat as long as it was thawed properly and recently.

Here’s something to keep in mind. If the meat in question was bought at a grocery store, it has probably already been frozen and thawed between slaughter and purchase. I remember finding that out, many years ago, from a butcher. It is actually rare to find “never been frozen” meat at the grocery.

Therefore most people who take meat home and freeze it are actually re-freezing it.

If the meat in question is game, or has been slaughtered locally, you can likely find out if it has been frozen and thawed. If it hasn’t, then you are only thawing/refreezing once.

Defrost the meat in the refrigerator – NOT in cold water or in a microwave – and cut it off the bone as soon as it is thawed enough. Meat is easier to cut if it is still partially frozen, which is best if you plan to refreeze the meat. If you have a pot big enough for the bone, definitely make broth. Otherwise, make someone’s dog very happy.

Repackage the meat in smaller amounts and wrap carefully for freezer storage. The lower on the leg you go, the tougher the meat will be.

I find that stew beef chunks are very versatile. This is a great opportunity to add marinades to the bags.

Gimme Some Marinades

Okay, here are three good ones. Just mix up enough to gently coat your meat, toss it back into the bag and pop it in the freezer. When you want to cook, don’t even thaw – just dump it into the crockpot or roasting pan and cook it low until done.

Once you have the idea of how this works, have fun. Barbecue sauce is good on its own, as is Italian salad dressing.

Lemon and Garlic – mix 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and some pepper.

Mustard and Garlic – mix 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 3 tablespoons mustard (Dijon is nice!), 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Rosy Sauce – This is really easy. Mix 1 part cranberry sauce and 2 parts tomato sauce. It tastes amazingly good for such simple ingredients. And yes, I’ve frozen it, so I know first hand that it works. If you want more details on this particular sauce, head on over and read about all the variations.

Cut It Up, Cook and Refreeze

Can you refreeze cooked meat that was previously frozen? 

YES!

That is, once you thaw and cook meat, you CAN safely freeze it again.

In fact, if you have thawed it in cold water or in the microwave, you really must cook it before freezing it again. 

And don’t ask about thawing it on the counter because that’s just a recipe for disaster

Don’t do it.

Keep reading for some concerns and questions when you refreeze meat.

Can you refreeze meat? Everyone knows that it's not safe. But does everyone know the facts?

Concerns About Refreezing Meat

There’s actually a valid reason behind the myth that frozen meat can’t be thawed and refrozen. That’s because bacteria can start growing on your meat when you thaw it. And if you thaw and refreeze and thaw again, the theory is that you have even more bacteria.

But the USDA, who always errs on the side of caution, has clearly stated that it is safe as long as you thaw the meat properly.

So don’t thaw your meat on the counter where it can grow bacteria, and don’t let it sit around until it starts to go green.

Do not allow frozen food to become warmer than 40F/4C unless it is being cooked. That’s very important. (And remember, no more than two hours in the danger zone of 41F/5C – 140F/60C .) Do not ever, ever refreeze foods that have developed a bad odor or have become slimy (particularly poultry, pork and lamb).

And if you have any doubts about the safety of the food, toss it. Nothing is worth food poisoning.

Can You Refreeze Fish? For Example, Can You Refreeze Salmon?

Please do not thaw and refreeze seafood. It spoils far too quickly. Really and truly, this is just not safe. 

This past winter, we had a power outage and the temperature in our chest freezer rose slightly. Everything was fine – even the ice cream, which thawed ever-so-slightly and refroze.

The fish, though? When I opened the freezer a few days later, the smell of fish was overwhelming. That was enough of a signal for me – fish that smells that strong goes into the green bin!

Can You Refreeze Cooked Meat Twice?

Honestly, every time you thaw, cook and refreeze meat, the quality is going to suffer and you’re greatly increasing the  bacteria count. This means that refreezing cooked meat is not a good idea.

Once you have cooked the meat and thawed it, it is no longer safe to refreeze again.

How Long Do I Have?

If the frozen meat is properly thawed and then kept at refrigerator temperatures (that is, less than 40F or 4C), you can expect to keep ground red meat, stew meat or poultry for two days, and bigger cuts like roasts, chops and steaks for three to five days after thawing.

After The Second Freeze

Make a note on any refrozen foods “Use as soon as thawed”. When you remove your repackaged meat from the freezer, treat it as extra-perishable. Cook it immediately. Use it up completely within twenty-four hours. This means packaging it in portions that will produce few leftovers.

So the question to “Can you refreeze meat?” is yes, you can, but your next step is to go get a pressure canner. 😀 

The PREPARED Path Online Prepper Course

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The PREPARED Path is an online, self-paced, comprehensive prepper course aimed at educating you on a variety of different self-reliance topics in twelve modules.

Here is an overview of each module:

The PREPARED Path Contents

  1. Water – Water procurement, storage, and treatment.
  2. Food Storage – A variety of food storage techniques including: using a vacuum food saver, dehydration, preserving meats, canning, bulk foods, and more.
  3. Sanitation and Hygiene – Sanitation, garbage, showering, laundry, dishes, and plenty more are dealt with.
  4. First Aid and Medical – From basic first aid (wounds and burns), pandemics, and medical kits, to using herbs, essential oils, and more.
  5. Safety and Security – General home safety is covered (e.g., fire safety, CO poisoning, etc), self-defense options, firearms, caches, NBC and EMP, etc.
  6. Heating and Cooling – An assortment of portable heaters and permanent heating are covered as well as some considerations for cooling.
  7. Cooking and Hot Water – Learn about camping stoves, makeshift stoves, Dutch oven cooking, and even solar cooking.
  8. Lighting – Candles, lanterns, flashlights, and solar-powered options.
  9. Communications – Learn about radios (weather alert, AM/FM, shortwave), CB radios, two-way radios, and even HAM radio.
  10. Power and Fuel – Batteries, the usual fuels (propane, gasoline, diesel), generators, solar, and more.
  11. Shelter and Clothing – You still need to know how to keep yourself warm and dry, both with clothing and how to care for your home.
  12. Everything Else – This is the rest of it, including money, precious metals, assorted tools, dependents, special needs individuals, and skills/knowledge preservation.

As an added bonus there are dozens of really nice documents that you can download.

  • 5 Evacuation Planning tools (e.g., design bug out kit, evacuation procedures, priority checklists, bug out)
  • 4 Disaster Readiness tools (e.g., disaster action planning, task tracking, fire escape plan)
  • 12 Best Practices tools (e.g., firearms, water and food, wildfires, communications, etc.)
  • 4 Food Planning tools (e.g., food storage calculator, food storage recipes database)

The amount of information in this course is really impressive. Damian over at reThinkSurvival.com spent a lot of time creating it. You can compile this information from a dozen different locations on the web, but I haven’t found another singularly comprehensive online resource like this anywhere. Well worth the cost of the course.

Below is image you can click to get to sign up for the course. It is an affiliate link, but know that I don’t promote a product that I don’t believe in. Please take a closer look at this course.

The PREPARED Path

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Preserving fish for long-term survival

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Living in a world where supermarkets are out of business is certainly no easy task. In order to survive in such world, you will be forced to hunt or fish for your food. Fishing for long-term sustenance requires for you to know various methods of preserving fish. Of all flesh foods, fish is the most … Read more…

The post Preserving fish for long-term survival was written by David Andrew Brown and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Get a freezer for food storage – you’ll be glad you did

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Using a freezer for food storage is a somewhat controversial topic – and I get it.  The main concern – what happens when the power goes out – is a valid one.  So, let’s talk about it today! I love when I get a lot of questions that all center around the same topic!  It […]

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Homestead Meat Curing

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Homestead Meat Curing If you’re off the grid, it could seem that your options for storing meat are limited. There’s always canning and dehydrating, but that can get monotonous after a while, especially if you have a few mouths to feed. Curing can seem intimidating, but it’s actually an ideal way to preserve meat whether …

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13 Survival Foods that will outlast you

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Let’s say that disaster hits tomorrow, do you have the basics like food and water covered? Stockpiling food and water shouldn’t be a prepping trend and every sane person should do it. We live in a world where natural and man-made disasters are no longer far-fetched scenarios and people have no excuse for being unprepared. … Read more…

The post 13 Survival Foods that will outlast you was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Food to Stock for Emergencies

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canned_food_featured

canned_miscellaneous_prepFor experienced preppers or survivalists, this is a no brainer, but for those just getting started down the road of preparing for worst case scenarios, this may be all new stuff.  Really, it is not rocket science, but for some it could be overwhelming or intimidating.  Let’s try to simplify things for you. I am amazed though at the frequency that inquiries come in about what foods to stock up for a bug in situation plan or to larder up a pantry at a secondary bug out location.  Emergency foods are important. It is crucial to stock up on these materials. How long are you going to be able to sustain yourself from gathered materials? 

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

There are plenty of choices and considerations to make with emergency foods. This is part of the challenge in prepping. If you have limited space at a bug out site, then sheer volume limitations might dictate to have these foods as a primary option instead of canned goods.  You decide what works best for you.

Stock What You’ll Eat

snack_shtf_prepRight now if I go through my own bug in pantry, I am going to find some items in there that either we decided we did not like or they just got shoved to the back of the drawer for one reason or the other.  I see three cans of black beans.  Black beans are OK, but not a favorite.  If I were hungry or starving that would be different.  I probably will not buy any more any time soon.

Related: Mountain House Review

So, look through your cabinets and take a poll of the family likes to decide what you eat most regularly.  That is a starting place.  Common sense then tells you to stock up on items that the family will consume without picky issues.  Things will be stressful enough without hearing, “yuk, I don’t want that junk.”  Do yourself a favor ahead of time and avoid those arguments.  

Remember, too, the power grid may be down.  You may lose everything in the fridge and freezer.  Cook what you can of meats and such, but plan on not having fresh or frozen foods for a while.

Proteins, Proteins

One of the more common food stocks mistakes is going heavy on carbohydrates.  You need some, but balance the pasta and such with foods high in energy sustainable proteins.  These can be meats, fish, and even protein bars for in between meals or snacks.  

protein_prep_food_shtfSome or many of the prepared canned meat products are very high in fats and salt.  Try to avoid those if these give you other troubles.  It just goes with the territory of most canned foods these days.  If you can find more healthy alternatives, then go for it. Try to balance any SHTF diet with fish such as canned tuna or salmon.  These are good sources of nutrients and would be easy to prepare or easily eat in a hurry.  I know there are many other options, so shop around.

I am not a nutritionist, but I know what my family and I will eat.  My plan is to not add on extra stress by having to eat some foods we simply don’t like or may avoid.  That would be a waste of time and money, both crucial during a SHTF event.  

Veggies

vegetables_prep_shtfBy all means plan to add a whole selection of vegetables to your SHTF diet.  Mostly these will be canned items.  If you have access to a fresh garden, then great.  Variety is indeed the spice of life.  Nobody wants green beans five days in a row and there is no need to do that.  Selection at the grocery is wide.  Beans of endless kinds, greens, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, beets, mushrooms, hominy, and so much more.  It would be cheaper of course to buy by the case, but be sure to monitor the expiration dates carefully on all foods.  

Fruits and Desserts

fruit_prep_shtfBe sure to add canned or dried fruits to your stores.  Fruit can add a tremendous variety food and can be eaten almost like a dessert or snack.  Select a wide variety from peaches, pineapple, apple sauce, fruit cocktail, pears, strawberries, and cherries for example.  Fruits are a bonus. Think about some snacks too that have some shelf life.  We like puddings and the little fruit cups as well.  Some candy bars might be OK, but also have a selection of snack bars with nuts, chocolate, and caramel or whatever.  Bags of hard candy make occasional special treats. Boxed crackers and cheese sandwiches can last for a while.

Quick and Easy

Sure, I like my share of the easy to pop open items that can be quickly heated or eaten right out of the can.  There is a wide selection here, too.  Such items include all types of pasta with or without some kind of meat, along with a tomato sauce.  There is canned mac’n’cheese and other cheese concoctions.  Then there are hordes of canned soups, and chili.  Just shop the grocery aisles to supplement other foods with these items knowing their nutritional value is dubious, but then you likely already eat some of these items anyway now.  

Canned or Pouch

If you have the space at either your bug in or out locations, then canned goods are long lasting, durable to handle, and easy to utilize.  Ironically, the empty cans have many other uses as well, and the paper labels can be removed and used as fire starter materials.  Make sure you have a manual can opener.

Read Also: Choosing the Best Survival Food for Your Bug Out Bag

pouch_food_prep_shtfOf course the down side on cans is the weight and volume, so they are not easily transportable in an emergency.  That is why pre-event stocking is good planning at home or at an alternative evacuation site.  Clearly it is best to have these tasks done ahead of time for the most part.  Keep rotating and resupplying as time goes on. Pouches, foil bags, and other such food containers have many advantages for storage and long term use.  Rip off the top, and eat or pour into a pan for heating if you want.  They are simple and most of the packaging can be consumed in a fire and not a waste dump.  The overall food variety is not that great with items in this type of packaging compared to conventional cans.  

Now, if you are lucky enough to have electric power that can change a lot of things, but don’t plan to count on it.  That is why I skipped baking, breads, and such on purpose, but there are other cooking options, too.  Again, variety is best, maximize shelf life, and buy items that could be eaten without adding water or having to cook or heat it.  Stock up enough for at least a month at a bare minimum.  More is better.  

30 Tips and Facts About Dehydrating and Drying Food

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30 Tips and Facts About Dehydrating and Drying Food Food dehydration and drying has been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. Canning and freezing foods retain more nutrition than dehydrated foods, however dehydrated foods are space efficient, and are an excellent way to preserve foods. It is also …

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7 Ways The Pioneers Preserved Food Without Electricity

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Artist:  Joachim Beuckelaer

Artist: Joachim Beuckelaer

The pioneers knew more than a few tricks to preserve food for the long-term. Any form of food preservation was designed to kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungus and other micro-organisms. It also was designed to prevent the oxidation of fats which could lead to rancidity.

Our pioneer ancestors needed to master these skills for two reasons:

1. The seasons. Summer and fall were times of plenty, but winter and early spring were not. The ability to preserve food to over-winter in many environments was vital to survival.

2. Long journeys. They were traveling across open prairies in a wagon train, traveling on sailing ships to distant shores, traversing mountains with little or no vegetation or wildlife. Long journeys required stores of food that would keep well and not cause sickness due to foodborne illnesses.

Plan Ahead – or Else

You may have heard of the Donner Party. They were pioneers traveling to California who were trapped in the Rocky Mountains during relentless blizzards and cold temperatures. Many slowly starved to death while others resorted to cannibalism. That’s poor planning.

We’re not going to cover the obvious, like canning in mason jars (our pioneer ancestors didn’t have a lot of access to glass or finely crafted metal lids). And they certainly didn’t irradiate foods or use electric dehydrators.

Here are seven ways the pioneers preserved food:

1. Salt. Any civilization living next to a saline or salty body of water had the ability to dehydrate the water and gather salt. In ancient times, it was a valuable commodity and for a while, Roman soldiers were paid their wages with salt.

Get Free Electricity — And Never Be Without Power!

While we tend to think of salt as a standard seasoning, the value of salt in ancient times was more related to the preservative power of salt. Salt reduces moisture, inhibits bacterial growth and leaves a flavor that’s easy to eat, depending on the salt level. Ships at sea often carried small barrels of pork embedded in a cask of salt or a salt brine. This “salted pork” was standard fare for many people traveling across oceans for long journeys.

Salt is often used in brines to enhance the preservation of fish, fowl and game before drying or smoking, and it’s a standard addition to most pickling recipes and those casks of salted pork.

2. Fat. This may come as a bit of a surprise but fat, especially beef feet or tallow and suet, has exceptional preservative properties. It’s a standard addition to pemmican recipes, which usually involves a 50 percent mix of dried and powdered beef or buffalo and an equal amount of fat plus some raisins or black cherries.

Also, pioneer women would often take cuts of meat and place them into a crock or small barrel and top it with tallow or suet due to its preservative properties. On a fundamental level, the congealed fat is preventing oxygen and airborne microbes from reaching the meat.

It was important to keep any container with these combinations sealed from air.

7 Ways The Pioneers Preserved Food Without Electricity

Artist: Pieter Aertsen

3. Honey. Good news and bad news about honey. The bad news is that it’s hard to harvest a lot of it, and buying it is expensive. The good news is that it has remarkable preservative properties. In fact, a jar of honey more than 3,000 years old was discovered in an Egyptian tomb, and clinical tests found it to be safe to eat.

Many of our pioneers preserved their most valued cuts of meat in honey and like salt, it added a pleasant taste to the food when eaten.

4. Vinegar. This is perhaps the most potent, natural antiseptic you can safely consume. It’s actually acetic acid and is usually a 4 to 5 percent solution in water. It was also easy to make from various fruits like apples. It was used to preserve everything from vegetables to fruits to meats, fish and fowl.

The typical process involved immersing the food in vinegar in a cask or container, and sometimes salt was added for flavor and additional preservative qualities.

5. Drying or dehydration. This is probably the oldest food preservation technique. It was used to preserve everything from vegetables to fruits and of course meats, fish and fowl.

The critical success factor with drying foods is to remove as much moisture as possible.

  • Beans or legumes were often strung on sticks and hung in the rafter of a cabin or tepee to air dry.
  • Fish were filleted and often salted before being hung in the sun on racks or over smoldering fires.
  • Strips of meat from game were sliced thin, salted if possible and also hung in the sun or over a fire to dry.
  • Fruits were sliced thin and left to dry in the sun and taken indoors at night to continue the drying. They were turned often and sometimes smoked. They, too, were hung on sticks in the rafters at times.

6. Root cellar. This is all about preserving vegetables such as carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, potatoes and parsnips. This approach provides multiple benefits:

  • Fairly consistent temperatures in winter and summer.
  • Consistent humidity, which is beneficial to root vegetables.
  • Protection from insects and animals, to some degree.
  • Protection from sunlight.
  • Easy access to a variety of vegetables
  1. Smoking fish, fowl and game over a low and slow draft of smoke in an enclosed space not only dried out the food, but the smoke and moderate heat both killed and inhibited bacterial and fungal growth.

7. Smoking. Smoking over a period of a month or more also allowed larger cuts of meat and whole fish to be successfully dried and preserved, rather than the thin strips usually cut for traditional drying methods.

The meat or fish were sometimes cured with either a dry cure of salt crystals or in a brine.

Even after removal from the smoke house, large pieces of smoked meats would last a long time if kept in a well-ventilated and cool and dark place. Parma hams in Italy hang for months and months in the cool towers of buildings after careful brining and smoking.

Conclusion

Do more research about food preservation and if in doubt, throw it out. Our pioneer ancestors learned the hard way about what worked and didn’t work.

What is your favorite old-time food preservation method? Share your tips in the section below:

Are You Prepared For A Downed Grid? Read More Here.

Learn And Master These Skills For SHTF

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Learn And Master These Skills For SHTF When it comes to survival, there are so many skills that will be important to have that no one person could know them all. There are, however, a particular set of skills that will increase your chances of actually making it through a disaster. These skills, while not …

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Top 10 Off Grid Food Preservation Methods

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food preservation

Long before the advent of electricity, mankind has always found creative food preservation methods in order to get through the barren times. Some of these storage methods added only a few weeks to the life of the food. Some were meant to last through a few months of winter. And yet other preservation methods were intended for much longer-term. I’m reminded of Joseph storing grain through the seven good years in order to get his people through the seven years of famine.

There’s a lot we can learn from our ancestors on food preservation without electricity. If the grid ever goes down for a long period of time, it would be nice to know how to put-up the food we have so that it doesn’t spoil, as well as how to store a future harvest.

Here are 10 ways to preserve food off grid, in no particular order. Some are drying techniques, some are non-electric refrigeration alternatives, and some use liquid to keep food in jars long term.

 

1. Solar Dehydration

There are plenty of DIY solar dehydrator plans that you can find online. These air-tight boxes use warm air flow generated from the sun to dehydrate large amounts of fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts, and even meat without using any electricity. A solar All American Sun Oven is another great option if you’d rather just buy a small unit. It’ll cook food in the sun, but will also dehydrate as well.

When dried completely and stored in an airtight container, dehydrated foods will generally last for 6-12 months.

2. Canning

Although typically canning is done over an electric stove, it can just as easily be done on a propane stove or even over an open flame. Knowing the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning, as well as having jars and reusable canning lids is a must if you plan on using canning as a long term method of food preservation. The great thing about home canned foods is that they don’t require any electricity to keep them stored, and they’ll be good for several years. Almost anything you buy at the store in a can can be canned at home (say that last bit five times fast), with the exception of really thick products like cream of – soups and refried beans, which are too thick to get heated adequately at home.

Meats, beans, soup, stew, chili, vegetables, fruits, and anything pickled can be canned and stored long term. Home canned goods are best when used within the first year for taste and nutritional value, but even five or ten years down the road they’ll still be safe to eat as long as the seal is still intact.

  3. Fermentation

Fermentation has been used since the beginning of time as a safe method of food preservation. Chopped veggies packed in glass jars or ceramic crocks in a salty brine will keep for several weeks. Jars stored in cooler temps will last even longer. An added bonus of eating fermented foods is that they are a fantastic source of probiotics, and will help build good gut health giving your immune system a welcomed boost.

4. Smoking

All kinds of meat and even some cheeses can be smoked for short term preservation. Food can be smoked in a homemade or store-bought smokehouse, on a grill, or even hung over a fire in a more primitive manner. The key is to keep the meat away from the heat of the flame so that it doesn’t cook, and allowing it to dry for several days in the cooled-off rising smoke.

I’m definitely no expert on smoking meat. It’s something I’ve yet to try, so I can’t offer too much commentary from experience. From what I’ve read smoked meats will only last for a few days without refrigeration, but perhaps there’s another step to making this a longer-term solution. It’s definitely worth researching more. I welcome any additional advice from you experienced smokers out there!

food preservation

N.C. (Newell Convers) Wyeth [American Golden Age Illustrator, 1882-1945]

5. Spring House Refrigeration

Frontier men and women used spring houses, or sometimes well houses, for natural refrigeration. A stone building was usually built over a natural spring, allowing the water to flow through the building via troughs. Jugs of milk, crocks of fermented foods, and other items were stored in the troughs and kept cold as the water flowed around them. Hanging meat, fruits and vegetables were also kept on shelves in spring houses year round. You can read more interesting information about spring house refrigeration HERE. Spring houses were used to keep foods cool for short term food preservation.

  6. Salt Curing

A really cool way to preserve meat long term without the use of electricity is to salt cure it. This was widely used in the old days by settlers and ship crews as a way to preserve butchered meats through the year. By thoroughly covering raw meat with salt and draining it off for about two weeks before hanging it to age you are able to prevent bacteria from growing, enabling the meat to be stored at room temperature for several months at a time.

7. Stringing ‘Em Up To Dry

Some foods can be hung up on a string to dry and preserved like that for several months. The pioneers oftentimes hung foods next to the fireplace to help them dry out more quickly. Apples, green beans, peppers, and many herbs are a few examples of foods which can be hung in this way.

8. Root Cellaring

Root cellars are a great way to preserve foods for months longer than they would normally last. These underground rooms stay cool in the summertime and above freezing in the wintertime, making them a great year-round food storage option. Fruits, vegetables, and canned goods do well when stored in a root cellar.

 

9. Zeer Pot

Zeer pots are a popular method of off-grid refrigeration used in Africa. Two terra cotta pots can be put together with a layer of moist sand between them to create a small mini fridge using evaporative cooling. This won’t get cool enough to keep meat, but it will add a little more time to produce that would have otherwise spoiled more quickly.

10. An Old Fashioned Ice Box

If you have a way to make or harvest ice, an old fashioned style ice box might be a great off-grid refrigeration option for you. It’s basically like a glorified cooler, with one side for food storage and the other side for ice. Ice can be stored in an ice house between layers of sawdust, and used to restock the ice box in the kitchen.

 

These are just a few ways I’ve discovered to preserve food in the event of a grid down situation. Tell us if you know of another way to keep food without the use of electricity.

We may never have to go back to the old ways of doing things, but don’t you think it’s wise to have the knowledge to do so… just in case? It never hurts to be prepared!

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Fall Food Preservation!

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Fall Food Preservation James Walton “I Am Liberty” Listen to this show in player below! That smell is in the Its also getting colder, bacteria, flies and the like are getting slower and less prolific. On the East coast Fall is an incredible time of the year with apples to be picked, cider to be had … Continue reading Fall Food Preservation!

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How To Buy Meat Only Twice a Year

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How To Buy Meat Only Twice a Year No matter what part of the country you live in, food prices are going up. Even on items where the price hasn’t gone up much, the size of the packages has gotten smaller and that means you have to buy more. Across the whole store, all departments, …

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Dehydrated Food versus Freeze Dried Food

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Are you curious to know the basic differences between dehydrated food and freeze dried food? Lots of preparedness-minded people who have a so called ‘deep pantry’ and will often have a variety of foods for longer term storage including dehydrated foods and freeze dried foods. Here are the basics regarding each process:   DEHYDRATED FOOD […]

Food Preservation – Preserving Your Harvest     

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It’s that time of year in Vermont… apple season.  We live near several family owned orchards that have a plethora of apple options – pre-picked, pick your own, utility apples, fresh pressed cider, and mouth-watering apple cider donuts.  It’s also the season for some wonderful wild mushrooms such as Black Trumpets – a relative of chanterelles.  Of course, it’s time for my herb garden to end the season – if I actually plant an herb garden.  Obviously I can’t keep all of this bounty in its current form for the winter, so now I’m in the process of preserving what I’ve grown, gathered, picked, and purchased.  Here’s an overview of my favorite food preservation options:

Food Preservation – Canning

seal-test
I love canning; but I truly believe it’s the messiest food preservation option out there.  It also requires the most specialized equipment.  You’ll need a pressure canner or water bath canner and jars and lids.  Canning also requires the most preparation; but this includes preparing jams, jellies, applesauce, fruit butters, tomatoes, etc.

There are two types of canning – water bath and pressure canning.  High acidity foods like fruits and tomatoes can be canned using the water bath method.  The Ball Kerr website has a great step-by-step guide to water bath canning.  Water bath canning can be done using a special water bath canner, a pressure canner or a large stockpot with a lid.

Pressure canning is necessary for low acid foods to ensure there won’t be spoilage.  Pressure canners are not cheap and I recommend that you buy the best one you can afford.  Remember, a pressure canner can become a bomb if used improperly.  Don’t let this scare you; using a pressure canner correctly can store your entire harvest.  Again, the Ball Kerr website has a wonderful step-by-step guide to pressure canning.

Be sure that the jars seal.  You can hear them seal when they pop as they cool and the lids will be slightly concaved.  Never eat any foods from a jar with an unsealed lid or a broken seal.  Never reuse a lid; they are made for single use only.  Jars and rings can be reused again and again.

Canned foods take up more storage space than dehydrated and frozen foods.

Food Preservation – Dehydrating

diy dehydrator
Dehydrating is probably the easiest food preservation method with the least amount of preparation and special equipment.   Dehydrating is simply removing the majority of the moisture from the food.

Before you actually start the process you need to prepare the items.  Most often you need only to cut or slice the produce; think commercial apple chips or sun-dried tomatoes.  There is no hard, fast rule for this.  Simply reduce the size of the item and expose the “wetter” interior of the item.  Smaller, thinner pieces are going to dehydrate faster, but may not be what you want your final product to be.  Most fruits benefit from a short soak in water with a bit of lemon juice.  This keeps the fruits from browning.  Note – this doesn’t change the fruits, but keeps them from browning too much.

Fruit leathers and jerky take more preparation.  Fruits must be pureed for fruit leathers and spread thinly on a baking sheet or fruit leather tray for your dehydrator.  For jerky, the meat must be sliced thinly with the grain then marinated.  There are lots of recipes, suggestions and even premade marinades available.  Select very lean meat, as the fat increases the possibility of spoilage.

The actual dehydrating can be done in your oven, in a counter top – or larger – dehydrator or out in the sun.  A dehydrater can be counter top or larger.  There are so many options than run from <$50 to several hundred.  I have this Nesco model and love it.  What I like about my dehydrator is that it doesn’t tie up my oven and my baking sheets.  To use your oven, simply spread your prepared produce in a single layer on a baking sheet and put into your oven heated to 150F-200F.

If you want to dehydrate in the sun, all you actually need is something on which to spread your prepared produce.  Of course, this leaves it exposed not only to the sun, but also to the wildlife.  A quick, inexpensive trip to the hardware store or a browse about the garage, and you can make a dehydrating frame.  Make a square frame with wood- 2x4s work well because they allow some space for the items.  Tack wire hardware cloth or small gauge chicken wire to one side.  You can spread you prepared items on a flat surface and cover with the screen or you can make two screens and stack them.  Use clamps or something heavy to weigh down and make it harder for furry thieves.  Using the sun will take longer than using a dehydrator or your oven, but it adds a little something extra that’s difficult to define.

Be sure to remove as much of the moisture as possible before storage.  Once your items are dehydrated, they need to be stored in a sealed container – a vacuum sealer is great for this.

Food Preservation – Freezing

foodsaver gamesaver
Freezing produce retains more of the items “integrity” than other options.  Freezing requires very little preparation of the items, usually just washing then cutting or chopping the item.  The only equipment you need is a freezer (duh) and freezer-safe containers.  Reusable containers are great, but require more space in your freezer and initial investment.  Zipper bags are also good options.  The biggest issue with these options is freezer burn, be careful that you remove as much air as possible from your containers.  This is where a vacuum sealer is worth the investment.  Seriously, why spend the effort of growing, harvesting and gathering or spending the money on produce if it’s going to be ruined with freezer burn?

Vacuum sealers are available at most big box home stores and department stores as well as my favorite vendor, Amazon.  I have a FoodSaver GameSaver model.  This gives me the option of using the film as well as special reusable containers.  I’ve learned that wider, flatter bags store better and defrost faster.  Unless your seal breaks or the film is punctured, you won’t lose any food to freezer burn.

Before you prepare stacks and stacks of containers for your freezer, be sure you have the freezer space.  Refrigerator freezers have extremely limited space and should really only be used for short term storage since the door is opened so often giving fluctuations in the temperature.  Chest or stand freezers are available everywhere – Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon, Walmart, Craigslist, etc.  Get one that works with your space and lifestyle.  Remember, bigger is not always better, especially with a chest style.  Things tend to get lost at the bottom and you may find something you put in there 10 years ago.  It’s good to keep an inventory of your frozen foods to keep things from getting “lost”.

Food Preservation – Root Cellar

root cellar
When I was growing up, I was a little afraid of my grandparents’ root cellar.  It was built into the side of a hill and had a damp, mustiness about it that was in comforting in a way.  I wish I had one just like it. Traditionally, root cellars were below ground but that really isn’t necessary.  Root cellars are basically below-ground rooms to store food with a consistent temperature around 35F-40F with high humidity of 90%-95%.  Ventilation is also very important; good circulation inhibits mold growth.  Potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas and even apples can be stored for the winter in a root cellar.  I found this great article to help you set up your root cellar.  My husband and I keep trying to figure out where we can put one.

Don’t let all of the effort and expense you spent over the summer go to waste. Start small and within your budget, space and resources.  Enjoying these foods throughout the year is why we do this, right?

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The post Food Preservation – Preserving Your Harvest      appeared first on Surviving Prepper.

How To Preserve Meat By Curing It

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Curing meat is the product of cultures dealing with the problem of extending shelf life of meat by making it inhospitable to microbes. Evidence of meat curing can be found as early as 40,000 BC in Europe in the form of cave paintings in Sicily. The earliest preservation techniques would have utilized the sun, wind, rock salt, or salt from partially reduced seawater as well as ash from certain salt rich plants to dry meat. Partially drying meat allows the survival of only certain microbes with anti-pathogenic qualities whereas removing all water makes it impossible for the survival of any micro flora. Originally most products were made with mineral salts. The nitrous compounds contained in mineral salts help with preservation. Sea Salt (which is iodized) and in modern use is frequently mixed with nitrates to assist the process. Legally, one must have salt checked for impurities. Salt (NaCl) does not kill microorganisms but a change it’s surrounding’s osmotic properties. This change in the osmotic relation to the environment leads to less available water leaving less for the microorganisms to metabolize. This leads to an overall lower count of microorganisms.

In cooked products heat must reach a level, which kills pathogens. Curing process must contain a fermentation stage, which leads to the competitive expulsion of pathogenic organisms, for example the spread of preferable lactobacilli over salmonella or E. coli.

Salting consists of two steps, firstly the physical addition of the salt and secondly the absorption of the salt into the meat. As the meat absorbs the salt its osmotic and ionic properties of the meat are altered which kills a lot of the microorganisms. Appropriate salting is useful for selection of microorganisms to assist fermentation but also for the prevention of enzymatic action within the muscle tissue.

The decrease in aw value is crucial for the creation of successful preserves. Aw is the system of measurement for water molecules available for action, i.e. a count of the unbound water molecules available for reaction. It is the measurement of vapor tension, i.e. the ability of water to transfer into steam within a cell.

The aw value of a glass of water at normal pressure is always 1

At: 0.82 to 0.83 -bacterial growths inhibited but not mould.

0.7 -(jam) water bound but on surface can form moulds.

0.63 -no development of microorganisms possible (or at least nothing relevant).

Proscuitto has an aw of 0.9 and salami of 0.85.

Salting can be done in four different ways: – By massaging the salt into the meat, by placing the meat into a large quantity of salt, by placing meat into a salt solution (brine) or also through the injection of the meat which happens through numbers of needles going into the meat then injecting solution as they are taken out. Needles can also be used by injecting arteries, which then distribute the salt through the meat.

In Northern Europe the ancient meat preservation techniques have used smoke to create a physical layer on the salted meat which keeps it from spoiling. in the photo above is a shoulder of venison which we have put to salt, making our version of the Norwegian Fenalaar. Normally the meat used for this process is Lamb, we’ve chosen to experiment with different meats, this example being Red Deer, we started it yesterday, we’ll keep you updated with the progress! We’re looking forward to setting up the cold smoker and smoking this baby with some beech wood, or perhaps some wood from old whiskey barrels.

Products which are designed to age for a long time are traditionally made during the cold months November or December. This allows the drying process to happen in cool temperatures, the aging process, a slow enzymatic process can then occur over the summer months to then have your cured product ready to eat thinly sliced the following winter. Now is the season, get experimenting!

so… a couple of ideas to get your mind and hands working,

Culatello Di Zibello – collected Zibello 2008 by B.R.

  • 8Kg Rump Side of Hind Leg of fat Pig
  • Tie into neat bundle
  • Big Sea Salt (as much as will stick to the meat) with some black pepper in it
  • Douse with 100ml of white wine macerated with garlic
  • 1.5°C for 1 week
  • wash off salt with a cloth
  • Clean and rehydrate pigs bladder
  • Sew meat into Bladder
  • Bind in traditional style
  • Puncture well with pins
  • Hang in cellar for 1 year
  • Remove from bladder – if dry put in water for 1 hour, if very dry put in white wine soaked towel until ready.
  • Slice thinly and eat immediately with bread and, especially in winter, butter.

Lucanian Sausage – provided by Apicus (2 4)

  • Pound together cumin, savory, rue, parsley, mixed herbs, laurel berries and liquamen.
  • The berries need to be roasted and ground to release more flavor.
  • The spices were pounded next into well beaten meat.
  • Then Liquamen, peppercorns and plenty of fat and pine kernels were added.
  • The mixture was inserted into a sausage skin, drawn out very thinly and hung in the smoke to dry

Or, the big time classic, Parma style:

  • Firstly the hind leg is trimmed and salted, as much salt as will stick on it really, the leg is then left flesh side up 1-3C for 1 week. some producers are more calculated, putting an exact amount of salt per kg of meat. 20/30g per Kg on lean parts and 10-20g wet salt on the skin is massaged in. The ham can then be left to absorb the salt – 14-21 days – after this period can be brushed down and the leg is left in the same temperature for 3 weeks.
  • Next the leg is hung for around 60 days in cool ambient temperature during this time the outer layer of exposed fat and flesh is removed with particular attention being paid to the area directly surrounding the bone .
  • After these 60 days the meat is washed using a pressure washer then dried thoroughly, the open side of meat and fat is covered in a layer of fat mixed with salt, salt and pepper.
  • This must be then hung for a further 9 months and checked for its quality before being eaten/sold.
  • For a more visually appealing ham, the peppery fat is removed and replaced with pure white fat that gives the ham a cleaner feel. Some flour can be mixed into the lard to firm it.
  • For a more visually appealing ham, the peppery fat is removed and replaced with pure white fat that gives the ham a cleaner feel. Some flour can be mixed into the lard to firm it.

Originally published here.

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Skills Needed in a Survival Group

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Do you know what skill sets you have accumulated within your survival family? Think about it for a minute. What does each person bring to the survival group that is beneficial and needed in some way or another?

These are thoughts that have been in my mind for a few weeks now. So I sat down and did some research and put together a list of skill sets that are almost a must have for any group. One of the great things about this list is you can mark off what you have mastered and pick something else to work on. In doing this you become multi-beneficial to the group which is fantastic. Not only would you have the skill sets but you can teach the children.

Below are a few things to consider adding to your group or personal skills:

  1. Perimeter Security
  2. Plant Identification
  3. Gardening Skills (includes winter gardening, herbs)
  4. Butchering Skills (includes salting, smoking and curing meat)
  5. Food Preservation (canning, drying, dehydrating, smoking, grains)
  6. Raising Livestock (Chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, pigs)
  7. Hunting/Fishing
  8. Medical Skills/Dental Skills
  9. Electrical Knowledge
  10. Carpentry
  11. Plumbing
  12. Welding
  13. Sign Language
  14. Mechanical Skills (cars, appliances, lawn equipment etc.)
  15. HAM Radio Skills
  16. Bee Keeping
  17. Candle Making
  18. Sewing Skills (Clothes & Blankets)
  19. Soap Making
  20. Shoe Making
  21. Baking Bread
  22. Churning Butter
  23. Charcoal Making
  24. Martial Arts
  25. Marksmanship/Weapons
  26. Brick Making
  27. Tool Making

These are the things I can think of and some I found doing research. I hope this helps you out and please feel free to comment on what you would add.

 

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Long Term Protein: Do You Have Enough?

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Long Term Protein: Do You Have Enough? Protein is one of those things that everyone needs. No matter what you believe, where you live, or what culture you grew up in, you need it. When it comes to survival situations, you need even more than you do right now. Protein is what makes up muscle …

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10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

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10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

There is no doubt that the world wide web contains a wealth of information. How-to videos are easy to find for just about everything, and articles full of clever hints and hacks are all over the place.

But this article is not just another list of cute-but-impractical ideas. Most of these tricks are ones which I actually use myself on a regular basis to make my food preservation projects easier and more efficient. (I will explain the two exceptions at the end.)

Although I have embraced the arts of home food preservation for less than 10 years and have spent much of that time on a steep learning curve, I have been fully immersed in everything homesteading and surrounded by others who share the lifestyle. As a result, I have been able to pack plenty of great ideas into my bag of food preservation tricks, and have compiled a few of my favorites to share with others on the same journey.

1. Store onions in nylon hose. Aside from temperature and humidity control, one of the other important factors in keeping onions fresh is preventing them from touching each other. The key to accomplishing this is easy: Just store them in nylon stockings with knots tied between them. Any sort of hose will do; if you have tights or panty hose, just cut off the legs for use and throw out the top. Make sure they are clean, of course, since you will be storing your food in them. Place an onion into the clean hose, push it all the way to the toe, tie a knot in the hose, and repeat with another onion and another knot. Leave enough hose at the top to tie a loop, and hang the loop from a nail on the rafters of your cellar or a hook on the ceiling of your food storage area.

2. Keep apples separate during storage. Many people do not realize that apples give off a gas which causes other fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly. While this is a great way to treat unripe fruit in a mixed fruit bowl, it creates unfavorable conditions for root cellars and can cause loss of produce. If at all possible, keep your apples stored apart from your squash and root vegetables.

10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

Image source: Pixabay.com

3. Use a scoop for pesto. After years of doing it the way everyone else does, I finally came up with a better way. The conventional method for freezing pesto is to put it in ice cube trays, freeze it, and then pop it out and store it in zip-top bags. Nice, unless you are the one who has the tedious job of cleaning out all of those oily little individual ice cube cups. This year, I tried using a small ice-cream style scoop—specifically, a size 40 disher, for those who use restaurant equipment—instead. My freshly processed pesto was too soft immediately, so I chilled it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, it was the perfect consistency for using a disher to make little balls of pesto. I scooped it out onto waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Once frozen that way, it was an easy task to toss the perfectly shaped and portioned pesto balls into a zip-top bag for storage, and cleanup was a breeze.

4. Use whatever fruits you have on hand for fruit leather. I am a great believer in adhering to food preservation recipes, with one exception. Fruit leather projects around my place turn into a fruit free-for-all. If I happen to be making peach leather, but there are a couple of bananas that are a little too soft for fresh eating lying on my countertop, I throw them into the food processor with the peaches.

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On the other hand, if my apple leather project happens when there are once-frozen peaches now thawed and unappealingly discolored in the refrigerator, they end up in the leather as well. Mixing fruits for leather is safe and generally rewarding.

5. Use a salad spinner when blanching vegetables. This is a fantastic tip I learned from my Master Food Preserving Program instructor. After processing your broccoli or green beans in boiling water and then plunging them into an ice bath, the next step is to remove as much water as you can before packing them into freezer containers. You can spin almost all vegetables dry using a salad spinner, even the bulky ones like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts—just cut the vegetables into reasonably sized chunks and be sure not to overload the spinner.

6. Use a regular drinking straw to remove the air from freezer bags. The more air you can remove when packaging vegetables into zip-top bags, the better quality the frozen result will be. You can buy a vacuum seal machine if you want to, but that means greater expense, additional storage space and hassle, higher cost for bags, and less ability for reuse. Alternatively, you can manually suck the air out with a straw and pinch the seal around it as you withdraw the straw. It is an easy process and takes only a few seconds per bag.

10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

Image source: Pixabay.com

7. Keep jars warm in the canner. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many experienced home canners do not know about this. When I prepare for a canning project, I first place my clean jars into whatever canner I am using, cover them with water, and set them on the stove to heat. By the time my product is prepared and I am ready for jars, I simply lift them out a few at a time for filling, and return them afterwards for processing. You will have too much water for pressure canning this way and will have to pour some out before processing, because you need just a few inches instead of enough to cover the jars. If you heat your lids, you can drop them into the canner with the jars as well.

8. Mouse-proof plastic totes with hardware cloth. Large plastic storage totes make perfect storage for root cellaring, except for the problem of what to do about the lid. If you leave it on, the vegetables cannot breathe and the air in the container will become too humid. But if you take it off, rodents get into your bounty. The solution is to cut out a piece in the center of the lid and cover the hole with hardware cloth using heavy-duty glue or duct tape. You can adjust the size of the mesh according to the particular pests that threaten your produce, and may even need to use window screen if insects are an issue.

9. Keep raw tomatoes in the freezer until you have enough for processing. There is a lot of space between having just enough to eat fresh and having enough to can a whole batch of sauce. In the interim, many wise home food processors simply toss them into the freezer. When there is enough—or when you have time to do the work—simply take them out and cook them as usual, remove the skins in a food mill, and continue the sauce work.

10. Store berries in the freezer for making jam later. There is a lot of living to be crammed into short northern summers, and sometimes there is not time for jamming when the berries are ripe. And besides, standing over a pot of boiling fruit is far more appealing in November than it is in August. Using frozen and then thawed berries for jam can be the answer to short, hot busy summers.

The last two items are those which I do not do personally. The reason is simple—freezer space. I begin every summer with an empty 15-cubic-foot freezer, and by early October every square inch is full. I have a second freezer which I use for meats and other miscellanea, but space is at a premium in that one, as well. By the time my long-season paste tomatoes start ripening, there is no room for them in either freezer.

By incorporating some of these simple tips into your regular routine, you can benefit from the tried-and-true wisdom of the homestead community and begin to build your own bag of food processing tricks.

What food storage advice would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Learn More Here.

Smoking meat for long-term storage – Smoking secrets

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My family has been smoking meat ever since I can remember and their teachings have been passed on from one generation to another. If you are the type of person that hunts or have a small homestead which provides you with all the meat your family needs, smoking meat may be a useful hobby for … Read more…

The post Smoking meat for long-term storage – Smoking secrets was written by Rhonda Owen and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Wood for Food: a Primer on Pyrolysis

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Smoking is valued nowadays not only for preserving food, but also as a distinct set of flavours that can reflect the landscape of the region. Pyrolysis, the thermochemical decomposition of organic matter, breaks apart the three main components of wood: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.

Each influences the colour, flavour, preservation and surface texture of the food – this information is summarized in Figure 4 below. Controlling pyrolysis is the key know-how involved in good smoking. Overall, for best results the wood moisture should be lower then 25% and its combustion temperature around 400°C.

“Smoking is one of the oldest food preservation methods, probably having arisen shortly after the development of cooking with fire.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica)

Most articles I have read for this research have started with the same statement. Humanity has used this technique for so long, it seems rather strange to try to explain it – but that is our job. All chefs know one has to understand a product or technique in order to make the most out of it. We use some scientific knowledge to enhance the desired, latent characteristics of a product, with the goal of better understanding how traditional knowledge could have been cultivated in a geographic area. And smoking is a great example.

The food history of the Nordic countries is particularly characterised by a ‘storage economy’ – a concept applicable to most parts of the world with seasons, here emphasised by the extreme climate. Most processes that we study -– drying, salting, smoking, fermenting, and others – were indispensable in these conditions. By increasing heat and lowering humidity, smoking enabled food to dry up more quickly, preserving it for long periods of time.

Nordic forest

In the past decades, the taste for salted, dried and fermented food has shifted toward fresher food, gravlax being a good example. The taste for smoked products, however, has remained. Smoking is now not only important for preserving food, it is a valued flavor that can reflect the landscape of the region. Smoking in time and place depends on many things: the seasonal fish available, the smoking technique and temperature used – for cold smoking, the temperature drops the further north you go – and most importantly, the type of wood.

Trees are part of the landscape before they become an essential component of the product’s taste. Alder trees growing in humid areas have been used along the west coastline of Norway and on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic; birch is a typical flavor from mountainous zones; dried manure is still used in the windy and harsh Icelandic land since trees and shrubs are in short supply; this list could go on. Understanding these traditions allows us to think of other flavors that could emerge from a specific land as we come to know it. Gaining a deeper understanding of wood pyrolysis and the science of smoke will also help us in our choices.

Smoke is not a simple gas. It is a mixture of three state of matter: an aerosol of solid particles, liquid drops and vaporized chemicals. These vaporized chemicals only count for 10% of the volume but do more then 90% of the job. And as you might have guessed, the composition of the smoke depends on the nature of the burning fuel and the conditions of combustion.

Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic matter brought about by high temperatures. To produce quality smoke the wood should undergo an incomplete combustion of organic materials in the presence of limited oxygen and medium temperature.

Wood consists of three primary materials. The wood’s cell wall is composed of micro-fibrils of cellulose (40 to 50%) and hemicellulose (15 to 25%) impregnated with lignin (15 to 30%).

Figure 1 – Wood composition
Figure 1 – Wood composition

Cellulose is a carbohydrate polymer – a linear chain of D-glucose (between 15 to 15000) which forms the framework and the substance of all plant cell walls.

Figure 2 - Cellulose
Figure 2 – Cellulose

Hemicellulose is a matrix of polysaccharides present along cellulose is almost all plant walls. It differs from cellulose in that hemicellulose is a shorter chain branched polymer with low molecular weight. While cellulose is composed only of glucose, hemicellulose can include other sugars like xylose, mannose (both found predominantly in hardwood trees), galactose (in softwood trees), rhamnose and arabinose. Though both aggregates of different sugars, cellulose and hemicellulose break down into similar molecules during the incomplete combustion.

Figure 3 – Hemicellulose
Figure 3 – Hemicellulose

Lignin provides compressional strength to the cell wall, unlike the flexible strength conferred by cellulose. Without lignin, terrestrial plants probably could not have reached the sizes they do today, as cellulose by itself does not provide enough resistance to gravity. It is made of intricately interlocked phenolic molecules – essentially rings of carbon atoms with various additional chemical group attached – and its one of the most complex known natural substances. The higher the lignin content of wood, the harder it is and the hotter it burns: its combustion releases 50% more heat than cellulose.

The sugar in cellulose and hemicellulose breaks apart into many of the same molecules found in caramel. They are carbonyl molecules that react with amino acids and sugars to create a Maillard-type reaction that generates new flavours and yellow to dark brown color. During pyrolysis, sweet maltitols, bread-like aroma from furans, nutty lactones, and other volatile molecules are produced. All together they soften the heavy phenolic compounds.

The interlocked phenolic rings of lignin break apart from each other into smaller, volatile phenols and other molecules which most often have specific aromas. The most distinctive ones are isoeugenols, one of the main flavour component of clove, creosols that bring peat notes, vanillin that smells as it sounds, guaiacols contributing to the general spiciness.

The smoke has many other effects due to many different chemicals broken apart during the pyrolysis. The following table tries to summarise them.

Figure 4 – Effects and mechanisms of pyrolysis
Figure 4 – Effects and mechanisms of pyrolysis

As you might have noticed in the ‘notes’ column, capturing the desired smoking effects depends mainly on the wood humidity and the smouldering temperature. Controlling the pyrolysis is the key know-how of a good smoker. Freshly-cut wood contains 40-60% moisture which is not suitable for smoking. A good wood containing less than 25% moisture is preferred.

Professionals agree that the combustion temperature is best around 400°C. Higher than this, the flavour molecules are broken down into simpler, harsh, or flavourless molecules. Lower pyrolysis – under 200°C – degrades cellulose and hemicellulose into acetic, formic and other acids. These acids play an important preservative role but they also make the food taste acrid at high levels. High lignin woods require special attention since they burn too hot unless their combustion is slowed by restricted airflow or higher moisture.

Figure 5 – Smouldering temperatures
Figure 5 – Smouldering temperatures

Controlling the smouldering temperature is not only important for flavours, it influences the PAH concentration. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed in incomplete combustion processes, which occur whenever wood, coal or oil are burnt. Particular attention has been paid to the highly carcinogenic benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). A number of studies on smoked foods reveals that the highest levels of PAHs are found in products from traditional kilns that use smouldering wood or sawdust. In such kilns the combustion temperature is difficult to control and is usually very high. Toth and Blaas (1972) found that there is a linear rise in the concentrations of BaP and other PAHs in the smoke phase between smoke production temperatures of 400 – 1000 °C.

These traditional techniques are often considered synonymous with ‘quality’ and ‘authenticity’…. so what should we do then? Eat industrially-smoked products because they are ‘more healthy’? My personal choice will always go toward taste but this does not mean we cannot adapt traditions to make the best of both kinds of knowledge.

It has for example been proven that both cold-smoked and hot-smoked fish by an external smoke generator had lower PAH content. Moreover a Danish study reported that a cold-smoked fish has a lower BaP concentration then hot-smoked ones. In order to diminish the contamination of smoked products by PAH, the clear recommendation is to use indirect smoking, preferably cold smoke, and to maintain your smouldering temperature around 400°C.

These conclusions stimulated me to experiment a little.

Hot-smoked fishes are nowadays more popular in Scandinavia then cold-smoked ones, mackerel being the most consumed. How could we achieve this same taste without hot-smoking the fish and keeping the PAH low? Hot-smoking occurs within the range of 52°C to 80°C.  At this temperature food cooks while smoking. I therefore decided to cook the fish first in our combi oven and then cold-smoke it.

Cold-smoked mackerel

After a few experiments trying to find the best cooking temperature and humidity, here is the recipe:

Cold-smoked mackerel

For very fresh mackerel of around 400 g.

  • Gut them and brine them 8 h at 4°C in a solution of 20% salt of the total.

    The aim is to reach a salt content of 3% in the fish … like the salinity of seawater in the Atlantic ocean…

  • Remove fish from the brine and place on a perforated tray.
  • Cook them in the oven at 70°C with 60% humidity.
  • Program your combi oven so when the core temperature reach 59°C the oven stops.
  • Take them out of the oven and cool them down in the blast freezer until they reach 4°C.
  • Cold smoke them for about 24h. We used beech wood but many other options are possible.

One of the great thing about this technique is that you can accurately control cooking temperature and humidity, things that are difficult with a hot-smoker. This control ensures the smoke flavours stay light and delicate, a taste certainly more suited to a contemporary palate.

Cold-smoked mackerel recipe

Bibliography

Duedahl-Olesen, L.; White, S.; Binderup, M.L. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) in Danish Smoked Fish and Meat Products, Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds, Vol. 26, 3, 2006, p. 163-184

Knockeart, C., (1990), Le fumage du poisson, IFREMER

http://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00004/11490/8046.pdf

Mc Gee, H. (2004), Food & Cooking: an encyclopedia of kitchen science, history and culture, Hodder and Stoughton.

Myhrvold, N. and al. (2011), The modernist cuisine: the art and science of cooking, The cooking Lab, Vol 2, p 134 – 149.

Siesby Birgit, (1997), Scandinavian ways with fish, Fish: Food from Waters, Oxford Symposium, p 280 – 282

Toth, L., Blaas, W., (1972). The effect of smoking technology on the content of carcinogenic hydrocarbons in smoked meat products. Fleischwirtschaft, 52, 1419-1422.

www.thegoodsensecompany.com

Originally published on Nordic Food Lab

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Which Preservation Method Is Best For Which Foods? (Here’s How To Know)

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Which Preservation Method Is Best For What Foods? (Here's How To Know)

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I am frequently asked what is the best preservation method for various foods, and the answer is almost always the same: It depends.

The best bet is to be ready and able to do a combination of canning, freezing, dehydrating and root cellaring in order to maximize your efficiency and to end up with the best possible end result for the least effort and cost.

There are pros and cons to each type of food preservation, and which one you choose depends upon the food you are preserving, your own particular needs, your facilities and equipment, and the time you are willing and able to put into it.

The general rule of thumb in food preservation is to shoot for the shortest distance between two points. That is to say, choose the easiest and cheapest way to get the job done in a satisfactory manner. However, there are often additional factors which must be considered.

Let us first look at a few basic facts about each preservation method.

Canning

What Is The Best Food Preservation Method? (Here's How To Know)

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The upside of canned food is that it can be stored without the use of electricity, making it versatile for off-grid situations and worry-free for possible power outages. In addition, jars of food can be stored just about anywhere, making storage space less of an issue than with other options. The contents of canned foods are ready immediately without waiting for thawing or rehydrating. Also, many people prefer the taste and texture of canned foods, especially that of meats.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

On the other hand, canning is generally the most labor-intensive method of food preservation. It also presents a certain level of risk that is less prevalent with other methods—although the likelihood of botulism in properly canned foods is miniscule. Many canned vegetables have a less desirable texture than their frozen counterparts, and some are even said to contain less nutrients when canned.

Freezing

The best part about freezing foods is minimal preparation. Another great plus is the increased flavor, texture and color of many foods.

The downside of freezing is that it costs more. Purchasing a freezer is a big investment, and running it continuously year-round adds up. Using a freezer to preserve food is a real challenge without a steady reliable source of electricity. Freezer space can be a problem, too. It takes up floor space in your home, and when it’s full, it’s full. Unlike other methods, the space is finite—16 cubic feet of food is not going to fit into 15 cubic feet of freezer.

Dehydrating

Not all foods can be dried safely and effectively, but those that can are able to be stored easily, using minimal space and no power, for a long period of time. Taste and texture can be an issue with dried foods, which somewhat restricts their usage. The cost of dehydrating equipment covers a wide range, from a simple homemade screen which is adequate in some climates to high-end electric models that do offer a certain appeal. There is a learning curve to dehydrating, as well, with it being arguably the most subjective of methods—unlike canning instructions that give specific processing times and freezing directions with blanch times. Dehydrating the same food can range from four to 12 hours.

Root cellaring

Root cellaring is easy and no-fuss. One of the older preservation methods, it involves at its most rudimentary level simply finding a cool place to store a vegetable and placing it there. But like most skills, it requires a little judgement and experience to know what goes where, how long it can be expected to last, and what not to pair with it. It can be as inexpensive and no-frills as a shelf alongside the cellar stairs or under the guest room bed, or as elaborate as an intentional structure out of stone and mortar.

This Cool-To-The-Touch Lantern Provides 100,000 Hours Of Emergency Backup Lighting

A word about smoking: Although recognized as an excellent option for food preservation, it probably involves more skills and equipment than everyday gardeners may have access to in their backyards and kitchens and pantries. For that reason, I have chosen to omit it from this discussion. But if it is your preservation method of choice, thumbs up to you!

What Is The Best Food Preservation Method? (Here's How To Know)

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My personal food preservation plan looks something like this: I reserve freezer space for foods which do not generally can well—if at all—such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, green peppers, pureed squash and most berries. If there is space beyond that, I add in foods which I prefer frozen, such as green beans.

If I have an abundance of beans—which I almost always do—I will can some. I like to can a few batches of blueberries to eat with yogurt, in addition to many pounds I freeze for use in baking. I always can my jams and pickles because I prefer the texture and cannot afford the freezer space.

I dry some fruits and like to make fruit leather. I also dehydrate vegetables when they are so abundant that I still have some left over after other methods, for use in soups and casseroles.

My root cellaring depends upon the weather. If it gets cold early in fall without too much of an Indian summer, so that the temperature in my house cellar drops and stays down, it is a prime opportunity for storing a bounty of food. I set apples in screened crates on the stone steps of my exterior bulkhead, where it gets very cold and stays damp, and keeps my apples separate from other foods. I place carrots and rutabagas and leeks in bins of sand in the main part of the cellar, and stash winter squashes in the closet in my utility room.

Make ‘Off-The-Grid’ Super Foods Just Like Grandma Made!

If I have time, I prepare some convenience foods—those which I am glad to reach for when I need something instant, such as canned potatoes, canned stew and canned pork-and-beans.

Your personal preservation plan might look different than mine. To sort it out, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I realistically have time to can it?
  2. Can I afford the purchase price for a freezer, do I have room to store it, and do I have an adequate source of reliable electricity?
  3. Will I be satisfied with the end product of dehydrating foods?
  4. Do I have, or can I create, a place to store root crops as-is or in sand?
  5. Do I enjoy the taste and texture of my chosen method?

Certain foods ought not be canned, due to either quality or safety reasons. Brassicas, eggplants, summer squash, pureed vegetables and untested recipes are among these.

Other foods are able to be canned but often yield a disappointing result. Strawberries lose flavor and texture. Greens such as spinach and Swiss chard are a lot of work.

Conversely, tomatoes are generally better canned than frozen, but cherry types can be popped whole into freezer bags for use in soups and casseroles, and leftover batches that did not seal in the canner freeze fine, too.

Some foods have many options. Potatoes are great root cellared, canned, frozen or dehydrated. Most cuts of beef are, too, as well as many other meats and vegetables.

Sometimes, you can even use more than one method on the same food. For example, I hang my onions from cellar rafters, inside the legs of pantyhose with knots tied between them to keep them from touching, and they store well that way for months. But when they start to get soft—or when it gets cold enough for me to fire up my cellar stove—I peel them and freeze them in bags of slices or chunks. This two-phase method minimizes my processing efforts to only that which is absolutely necessary and still allows me to use onions at my convenience throughout the year.

There are many factors to consider when preserving food. Cost, space, effort and end result are all important considerations to be balanced. As long as you follow safety guidelines, there are plenty of options that can be tailored to a food preservation plan that works just right for you.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Establishing how much food and water to store

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Storing food and water is one of the basics of emergency preparedness and you have to go through this step if you want to survive during an emergency. Deciding how much food and water to store may become a daunting task for some, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow some simple rules. … Read more…

The post Establishing how much food and water to store was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

DIY Beef Jerky Without A Dehydrator

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DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

Learning how to preserve meat by drying it out and making jerky will enable you to enjoy a harvest of meat for several weeks without the need to refrigerate it. If you were to ever find yourself in a survival situation, or if the grid were to fail for a long period of time, the skill to preserve meat without the use of electricity could keep you sustained until the crisis is over.

The instructional video I’m gonna show you uses an electric oven to make beef jerky. The technique demonstrated can EASILY be converted to non-electric alternatives, such as using a solar oven or a wood cook stove instead. The method stays the same no matter what kind of oven you use, with slight adjustments according to what you’re using for heat. See notes below for further details.

Interested In Using A Sun Oven As Your DIY Beef Jerky Dehydrator?

Register for our upcoming Sun Oven Training where you can learn how to make a Sun Oven a critical part of your disaster preparedness plan.  The training is completely free if you register using the link below

Click here to REGISTER for our FREE Sun Oven Training

Making beef jerky at home is a whole lot cheaper than buying the store bought stuff. It’s also much healthier as you can control what goes into the meat, avoiding preservatives and other additives.

Jerky can be made from any type of meat, even wild game and fish. Today we’ll stick to beef jerky. Here’s how it’s done…

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

1. Make a marinade.

You can find all kinds of different beef jerky marinade recipes online. Choose one that sounds good to you and whisk it all together in a container large enough to hold all of the meat you plan to work with. A pan or even a gallon size ziploc bag work great. If you decide to marinate your meat in a bag, squeeze all of the air out so that every inch of the meat is soaking in the juices of the marinade.

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

2. Prepare the meat.

When making jerky, it’s important that you select only the leanest cuts of meat, and remove as much fat as possible. Fat will go rancid quickly, causing your jerky to spoil. Top round, flank steak, and London broil are all excellent choices.

You can buy meat already sliced thinly from the butcher, or you can buy a roast and slice it yourself. Freeze fresh meat for a couple hours before slicing to make it easier to cut. You want the slices to be about 1/4″ thick.

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

3. Marinate overnight.

Place the sliced meat in the marinade, making sure to completely cover the meat with the liquid. Cover the pan with a lid or plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge overnight, or at least 6-8 hours. The longer it soaks, the better the flavor will be.

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

4. Pat the meat dry.

DIY Beef Jerky Without ElectricityOnce you’ve finished marinating the meat, you’ll need to soak up as much of the liquid from the meat as possible.

The best way to do this is to layer the meat between sheets of paper towels, and press on it until you’ve absorbed as much as you can. This will help the meat dry out more quickly.

 

 

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

5. Place meat on drying rack.

The next step is to place the meat on a drying rack placed in a pan to catch the drips. Any kind of oven safe rack will work. The idea is that air needs to circulate all around the meat, drying from all sides. Make sure none of the meat overlaps, and try to keep the pieces from touching each other as much as possible.

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

6. Dry meat in a low oven.

Set your oven to the lowest setting possible. The “warm” setting might be the lowest you can go. This guy set his convection oven to 170*F. You don’t want to cook the meat, otherwise it will turn to leather. You just want to dry it out with very low heat. I’ve even seen a guy set his raw marinated meat out on racks in front of a table fan for several hours without using any additional heat at all, and it seemed to work nicely for him- although the USDA recommends heating beef to 160*F before drying to kill any remaining bacteria.  Low heat and air circulation are key here.

The length of drying time will depend on how thick the cuts of meat are. You’ll just have to keep checking it to make sure it’s thoroughly dry. Plan on allowing the meat to dry for about 7 hours or so. The guy in this video was flipping his meat every couple hours, but if you have good air circulation you shouldn’t need to mess with it at all.

When dehydrating in a sun oven do not close the glass on the unit, instead rest the glass on top of the latch in order to allow air to circulate freely throughout the oven. This will help keep the temperature from getting too hot in the oven and it will allow the moist air to escape. You’ll want to keep the temperature in the sun oven somewhere around or just under 150*F. It takes about a day or two to completely dry meat in a solar oven. Do latch the glass overnight to prevent bugs from getting into the food until the sun comes out the following day to continue the dehydration process. Don’t follow the sun as you would when cooking, and keep an eye on the temperature to keep it low. Place jerky on parchment paper to make it easier to remove from the racks once dried.

And again, if you’re interested in using a Sun Oven as your own DIY Beef Jerky dehydrator, click here to attend our free Sun Oven Training this next wednesday.

When dehydrating in a wood cook stove, build a low fire and rotate the tray of meat in the oven every hour or two so that the meat dries evenly. The heat will be stronger on the firebox side of the oven, make sure the meat is evenly dried by turning regularly.

When finished drying, take the jerky out of the oven and allow it to cool for about an hour at room temp. You should be able to bend the jerky without it snapping.

DIY Beef Jerky Without Electricity

7. Storing your jerky.

When the jerky is finished you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for 2-3 months, or at room temperature for a shorter amount of time. Be careful not to allow moisture to get to the jerky or it’ll begin to spoil.

Remember… in a Survival Situation if you need to preserve meat for longer then 2-3 months, canning your deer meat is always an option as well.

Want Another Method For Making Beef Jerky Without Electricty?

Solar Dehydrators are another safe method for making Beef Jerky that dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt.  And after some experimentation, we have created the plans for how to build one that performs better then those others you can buy off the shelf (plus its cheaper).

Click here to download our Solar Dehydrator blueprints

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11 Beef Jerky Recipes You Can Still Make In A Solar Dehydrator When The SHTF

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11 Beef Jerky Recipes You Can Still Make When The SHTF

Dehydrating meat is going to be one of the absolute best ways to preserve the hunt when society collapses. Equally as important as knowing how to make jerky is having the equipment to make it without electricity, such as using a solar dehydrator like this one.

If you like jerky and you plan on making it when the SHTF, it’s a good idea to start experimenting with different recipes now to figure out which you like best. This way you can stock up on the ingredients you’ll need to make the jerky you love most when the time comes.

Here’s a list of a few recipes I’m gonna play around with to see which ones my family likes best…

teriyaki_beef_jerky_recipe

1. Very Teriyaki Beef Jerky Recipe

A combination of soy sauce, Worcestershire, blackstrap molasses, liquid smoke and spices make up this delicious jerky marinade.

hot and spicy beef jerky

2. Hot & Spicy Home Made Beef Jerky

If you like a little bit of a kick to your jerky, this flaming chili and chipotle marinade sounds like a great base recipe to experiment with. Add more or less spices to taste!

spicy teriyaki jerky

3. Spicy Teriyaki Beef Jerky

Want a combination of Teriyaki and a little heat? We’ve got you covered.

korean-beef-jerky-recipe

4. Korean Beef Jerky

If you prefer a milder jerky without strong spices or heat (especially for the kiddos), this blend of Asian sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and a few seasonings looks simple and delicious.

Chile-Lime-Lager-jerky

5. Chili Lime and Lager Jerky

It’s no secret that beer makes an excellent addition to marinades. It might not have a terribly long shelf life, but if you know how to brew your own lager at home you’ll be rockin’ and rollin’ with this tasty jerky when the hard times come!

spicy garlic jerky

6. Spicy Bold Garlic Jerky

This jerky recipe also includes your favorite beer, with the addition of plenty of fresh garlic and hot sauce.

Viking beef jerky

7. Montreal Beef Jerky

I like this recipe for its simplicity of ingredients. Everything necessary to make this blend is shelf stable and can be stored long term.

Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky

8. Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky

The addition of brown sugar to peppered jerky marinades makes a really nice blend of sweet and spicy.

 

ground-beef-jerky

9. Budget Friendly Ground Beef Jerky

Round roast and flank steak out of your budget? Here’s a recipe showing you how to make jerky strips from good ol’ inexpensive ground beef.

Paleo beef jerky

10. Grain-Free Paleo Beef Jerky

This simple and healthy jerky marinade uses coconut aminos or fermented tamari instead of soy sauce, and includes a touch of raw honey and seasonings.

Spicy honey and brown sugar jerky

11. Spicy Honey and Brown Sugar Jerky

This jerky marinade blends lots of sweetness with a bit of spice to make a delicious combination of flavors.

As you build your preps, you might consider adding a few of these herbs and peppers to your garden to dry and use in your jerky spice blends.  Plus, don’t forget … while Jerkies are one of the tastiest things you can dehydrate, you can dehydrate lots of different kinds of foods for long term storage too.

Do you have a favorite beef jerky recipe to share? Comment below!

Want To STILL Be Able To Make All These Jerkies If The SHTF?

Then download our detailed blueprints for how to build a kick-butt Solar Dehydrator yourself.  So you too can still safely preserve meats for storage even without electricity.

Click here to DOWNLOAD the Blueprints

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Dehydrated Onions For My Food Storage

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some of my Vidalia onions During the time of the year when the harvest is plenty, it’s time to preserve the bounty. I have preserved batches of (Vidalia) onions with my dehydrator for my food storage, and here’s why and how I do it…   (UPDATED and re-posted for your interest, since we recently processed […]

Pros & Cons of various Survival Foods

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Stockpiling food is one of the basics of emergency preparedness and it requires careful planning. Choosing the right survival foods for your pantry becomes an important preparedness stage as you will rely on those supplies to survive when it hits the fan. Your survival pantry should be well-equipped and diversity is the key word if … Read more…

The post Pros & Cons of various Survival Foods was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

How Many Canning Jars Do You Need?

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

When we work our way toward a goal of self-sufficiency, a lot of times producing and preserving food comes up. There are lots of methods, and there are thankfully things like dry meats, grains and legumes, and fruits and veggies that can go straight into cellars and other cold storage. However, for most of us, […]

The post How Many Canning Jars Do You Need? appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

DIY Bog Butter: A Gastronomic Perspective

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This paper was first published in ‘Wrapped and Stuffed: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2012′. The complete Proceedings is available from Prospect Books; a video recording of the presentation of this paper can be found here (starting at 33 minutes), and a podcast about it here.

People dig for peat. Once dry, this peat burns hot and lets off an evocative smoke that brings to mind the cooking and heating methods of yesteryear.

The peat-cutters harvest their quarry from dark brown, water-logged quagmires. Occasionally, these accidental archeologists discover artifacts left by people long gone. One such artifact, among the most commonly unearthed items from the watery, misty bogs of Ireland and Scotland, is known as ‘bog butter’. Due to the frequency of these findings and its mysterious nature, it has been fairly well studied from an archaeological perspective, perhaps the most thorough investigation being that by Caroline Earwood (1).

In this study I will attempt an exploration of the substance through the eye of a chef and gastronome, combining available literary evidence with our own practical research. We made our own bog butter and subsequent gastronomic analysis with the hope that a new gastronomic perspective on the topic would give us access to a more pragmatic understanding of how and why ancient peoples buried their butter.

The house of the Butter Vikings Patrik and Zandra

The house of the Butter Vikings Patrik and Zandra

Bog butter is butter that has been buried in a peat bog (2). It has occasionally been confused with animal adipose tissue (most commonly sheep tallow), which has been preserved in the same manner. Over 430 instances of bog butter have been recorded (3). Of these, 274 have been found in Scotland and Ireland since 1817. These samples are well catalogued by Caroline Earwood.

The earliest discoveries are thought to come from the Middle Iron Age (400-350 BC), though this does not exclude the possibility of much more ancient roots. More recently one firsthand account tells of butter being buried for preservation in Co. Donegal 1850-60 (4).

In 1892, Rev. James O’Laverty, an advocate of the argument that the butter was buried for gastronomic reasons, dug some butter into a ‘bog bank’ and left it for eight months. His experiment was carried out in much the same spirit as ours – for analytical purposes and not for a cultural or preserving motive (5).

This paper aims, by making bog butter using appropriately basic technology, to explore why the boutyrophagoi, or ‘butter-eaters’, across Scotland, Ireland, the Faeroe Islands, Finland and Norway, as well as Kashmir, Assam and Morocco have buried their butter, with special focus on the Irish, Scottish and Scandinavian traditions (6). The aim of this paper also extends to a discussion of whether or not butter preserved by this method can have a hedonic value for today’s palates, and possibly some use in contemporary cuisine.

Buried foods around the world

  • banana bread (Ethiopia, banana dough),
  • buried eggs (China, eggs),
  • davuke (Fiji, bread fruit);
  • formaggio di Fossa (Italy, cheese);
  • ghee (India, clarified butter);
  • gravadlax (Scandinavia, salmon);
  • gubenkraut (Austria, cabbage);
  • hákarl (Greenland, Greenland shark);
  • igunaq (Inuit Arctic, walrus);
  • kiviak (Greenland, auks in a seal skin):
  • lutefisk (Scandinavia, white fish);
  • muktuk (Alaska, seal flipper);
  • reindeer’s stomach (Sápmi, Sweden, stomach with contents);
  • rue tallow (Faroe Islands & Iceland, sheep’s tallow);
  • sealskin poke (Alaska, meat/dried fish with seal fat);
  • smen (Morocco, clarified butter);
  • surmjølk/myrmjølk (Norway, milk);

Many fermented foods are prepared in fully or partially buried amphoras, including wine in Armenia and soya sauce in Korea.

Peat bogs are, by their nature, cold, wet places; almost no oxygen circulates in the millennia-old build-up of plant material, which creates highly acidic conditions (our site had a pH of 3.5). Sphagnum moss bogs have remarkable preservation properties, the mechanisms of which are poorly understood (7). Early food preservation methods have been researched extensively by Daniel C. Fisher, in relation to the preservation of meat. In an attempt to recreate techniques used by paleoamericans in North America, Fisher sunk various meats into a frozen pond and a peat bog. A key finding from his research is that after one year, bacterial counts on the submerged meats were comparable to control samples which had been left in a freezer for the same amount of time (8). In fact, suitable foods can probably be aged in many types of soil: salt-rich that will provide dehydration, very cold/freezing that will freeze foods or slow degradation, or, as in our case, anaerobic and acidic conditions to prevent microbial action and oxidation. To our canny ancestors, this preserving characteristic provided an ideal place to bury foods (9).

Around two thirds of the bog butter that has been discovered has come in a container or wrapping of some description. These containers are varied; during the spring and summer months when butter was abundant, dairymaids probably used almost anything they could for storage. The most common containers are wooden. These can be described under the broad classifications of kegs, churns, bowls, dishes, boxes, troughs, methers, firkins and piggins (10). The slowly evolving techniques of the artisan can be seen in these containers and until recently, dates were ascribed to archeological examples of bog butter in part on account of the workmanship of the container. Willow baskets, staved tubs, or bark wrappings have been used, as have bladders, intestines, and skins or woolen cloth (11).

IMG_2394

Sometimes a combination of materials has been used, such as bark with a bladder, or with a willow basket. One example used a barrel bound in a deerskin to stow the butter into its peaty hiding place (12). One particularly interesting find, discovered in Rosmoylan (Co. Roscommon, Ireland) dates from the late Iron Age. Within a two piece barrel, the butter was surrounded with plant fibers from sedge (Eriophphorum vaginatum), bent grass (Agrostis sp.) and the soft-textured moss, hypnum (Hypnum cupressiforme) (13). All three of these plants have a long history of being used by people in mattresses and bedding; the latter takes its name from the Greek ‘hypnos’ meaning ‘sleep’. It is rather poetic that dairymaids had thought of these plants as appropriate for protecting their butter. The butter was wrapped up and made comfortable before being laid down for a long sleep in the bog.

Butter and other dairy products were frequently used as a form of taxation and rent (14). At Naas Castle in Sweden where we conducted our experiment, butter was a form of tax from the construction of the castle in 1500 until the end of the nineteenth century. One early fifteenth-century manuscript from Scotland, by the Rev. Dr. Archibald Clerk, reports sixteen horse-loads of butter and cheese being found hidden or ‘laid-up’ near a tenant’s house (15). Butter is valuable: for that reason alone worth hiding, even more so in lawless times. One author gives testimony that treasures were buried inside fats, so when bog butter was discovered it was pierced from all directions to check for valuables (16).

Butter had many uses. It could be used for waterproofing fabric and also a dwelling – one bog house has been discovered where butter and sand have been mixed together to make watertight cement (17). It might also have been used as a light source. Angus Grant’s 1904 report tells that the found butter was converted into candles but as ‘the candles spluttered and crackled, sending sparks of boiling tallow all round…they were voted uncanny, and promptly got rid of’ (18). So while there are many suggestions as to why butter was buried, I propose it was buried not only for its obvious value as a commodity but also for some gastronomic purpose.

While being buried during times of plenty to keep for leaner times, the butter may also have increased its gastronomic value during its time underground. The fact that bog butter never contains salt suggests that it may have been buried to preserve it in times when salt was scarce (19). During the warmer summers, when rancidity would quickly take hold, burying may have not only been a convenient way of preserving butter but also of creating a luxury food (20). As the Danish priest and topographer L.J. Debes said of the Faroese hoards of buried tallow, ‘the longer it is kept being so much the better’ (21). O’Laverty wrote that the Irish buried their butter to ‘sweeten it’ (22). He also suggests that it was put into peat to mature it and render it more nutritive (23). This increased nutrition may be some kind of representation in popular memory of how stored butter could provide for lean times, though it may also refer to a palatable flavour or some biochemical change within the butter itself which renders it more nutritive. Testimonies of bog butter tasting tend not to describe it as rancid, but many liken the altered fat to cheese. I had to make some to see for myself.

Patrik and Zandra. warlords.

Patrik and Zandra. warlords.

The Experiment

From: The Irish Hiudibras (24)

But let his faith be good or bad,

In his house great plenty had,

Of burnt oat-bread, and butter found,

With Garlick mixt, in boggy ground,

So strong, a dog, with help of wind,

By scenting out, with ease might find:

And this they call the bravest meat,

That hungry mortals e’er did eat.

So it happened I was introduced to Patrick Johansen, an artisanal butter producer from Sweden. When I heard of his interest in aged butters and experimental butter with wild bacteria, we got to talking. Soon afterward we set to work creating some bog butter of our own. Patrick lives surrounded by great swaths of Swedish forest where elegant birches and enormous oaks grow, interrupted only by the occasional lake and, conveniently, peat bog. His house is a long way from anyone or anything; the water supply is a well in the garden and the only light from paraffin lamps. Patrick learned to make world-class butter from his grandmother, who in turn had learned from the matriarchal line before her. My approach dictated that he decide how everything should be done with the only limitation being that no technology should be used that was not available before the industrial revolution.

TIMBER!!!!!!!

TIMBER!!!!!!!

On the snow-sprinkled morning of 8 April 2012 we embarked on making our twenty-first-century bog butter. We decided that birch bark was to be our material of choice for crafting containers in which to bury the butter. Using an old iron axe we brought down a smooth, tall, straight birch, the bark from which we swiftly peeled. Birch bark unwraps from the trunk with remarkable ease at this time of year; it is soft and pliable yet firm and strong. We peeled the bark and sliced sections out of slightly smaller parts of the tree to make tops and bottoms to our ‘barrels’.

The birch is 'unwrapped'

The birch is ‘unwrapped’

We had decided we should make some smaller samples which could be dug up sooner, and then a larger one which will sit underground for some years. The Irish Hudibras (1689) asserts that in Ireland, ‘butter to eat with their hog, was seven years buried in a bog’ (25). Seven years seems an appropriate length of time for our butter to age.

Although the technology of butter making has changed through the years, the principles remain roughly the same. Butter is made by souring cream, which is then churned until it splits into its fat (butter) and aqueous (butter-milk) phases. The solid butter is removed from the liquid buttermilk, clumped together and washed by kneading it in clean cold water – this removes excess milk solids and buttermilk, thereby increasing the butter’s longevity. After washing until the water runs clear, the butter is thrown. This is a process of subjecting the butter to some high impact (literally throwing it against the table), which expels excess water. Now you have butter. The whole process with the latest technology takes about fifteen seconds – for us, it took a little longer.

In earlier times, after milk had been left to stand to allow the cream to rise, it would need to be filtered to remove insects and dirt. Patrick tells me this was often done through grass which, as well as filtering, also supplied the cream with ample lactic acid bacteria. The cow’s teat, dairymaid’s hands, wooden containers and tools would have also provided plentiful souring bacteria. Filtering could also have been done with a piece of cloth, the advantage being that at the end of the diary season the cloth could be dried out, preserving spore forming lactic acid bacteria to be rehydrated and used to inoculate the new batches the following dairy season (non-spore forming bacteria would be lost). For our experiment, in the absence of a cloth from the previous season, we chose to use a ‘nest’ of grass for filtering. Then the cream was left to sour in a small stone-walled hovel, sunken into the hillside; the kind of dwelling that early pastoralists might have used while in summer pastures.

cream is filtered trough a grass 'nest'

cream is filtered trough a grass ‘nest’

the souring 'hovel'

the souring ‘hovel’

After souring, the cream must be churned. Traditionally this might have been done by filling a calf’s skin with the soured cream and hanging it from a wooden tripod or tree. The skin could then be swung back and forth until the cream split. Many bog butter samples contain large quantities of cow hair, suggesting that perhaps this method of swinging and shaking in a cow skin was often used (26). To avoid problems of cow hair and in the absence of a calf’s skin, we churned our cream by shaking it in a large jar.

Fresh water drawn from the well.

Fresh water drawn from the well.

The butter was then washed to remove the majority of butter milk. We did this with fresh cold water from the well in the garden – this is quite a simple process of allowing water-soluble parts to be washed out of the butter. Then we removed a large amount of the water by repeatedly picking up the lump of churned and washed butter and throwing it down onto the table. Throwing is an important step in the production of butter to be preserved, so we made sure to do it thoroughly.

Butter is swaddled in hypnum moss before being put to rest underground

Butter is swaddled in hypnum moss before being put to rest underground

We had made four small containers from birch bark and one from pine bark, and we also adapted a large old willow basket to hold a larger sample. In echo of the Rosmoylan bog butter discovery mentioned above we wrapped the butter in hypnum moss, before stuffing these moss-swaddled cylinders into our birch bark barrels – a comfortable bed in which our butter could sleep. Our willow basket held a half-firkin (approx. 12.5 kg) of butter, which was wrapped in a linen apron before being placed in the basket. It was important, as with historical bog butter finds, that the upper surface of the butter be entirely convex, in order that no water collect and stagnate on the top.

Downey et al. note that a large percentage of bog butter discoveries have been made along historic boundary lines (27). In 1892, James O’Laverty wrote that the butter was dug into ‘bog-banks’, perhaps another type of territorial confine (28). Debes’s 1673 description of the Faroe Islands describes how the preserved tallow or ‘rue tallow’ was buried in a ‘dike’ which certainly hints at a wall or embankment of some kind (29). There are many reasons why this should be the case, though it has largely been attributed to ritualistic motivations. I would suggest it may also have been to leave the food in a spot where people were unlikely to dig, and where there was a clear landmark. After looking for an appropriate bog to dig in we found a spot in a sphagnum and birch tree bog. The ground was soft enough to dig easily, and the holes slowly filled up with acidic bog water. We divided our containers between two holes and buried them at around 100cm below the surface. One of these stashes was unearthed and tasted three months after its burial (some notes on these tastings are found below). The second hoard will be allowed to age for a longer time, for seven years in echo of The Irish Hudibras, or perhaps left forever as some confusing archeology for the future: ‘It may, therefore, be termed a hidden treasure, which rust doth not consume, nor thieves steel away’, as Debes wrote in 1673 (30).

IMG_2460

Finally, after counting our steps back to the path, we took a corner off a large rock with the back of our axe. This palm-of-your-hand-sized chunk of rock will now serve as a key. For whoever returns to dig up the butter, the stone key will fit into the rock and the butter will rise up from the bog.

The Results

At this point in time, five of our buried containers have been unearthed and tasted, and one remains in its peaty wallow. Tastings of three-month-aged bog butter have been made at both Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, Denmark and at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2012 in Oxford, England. Various conclusions can be drawn from these tastings.

In its time underground the butter did not go rancid, as one would expect butter of the same quality to do in a fridge over the same time. The organoleptic qualities of this product were too many surprising, causing disgust in some and enjoyment in others. The fat absorbs a considerable amount of flavor from its surroundings, gaining flavor notes which were described primarily as ‘animal’ or ‘gamey’, ‘moss’, ‘funky’, ‘pungent’, and ‘salami’. These characteristics are certainly far-flung from the creamy acidity of a freshly made cultured butter, but have been found useful in the kitchen especially with strong and pungent dishes, in a similar manner to aged ghee.

As I worked with Patrick to make this bog-butter I noticed that all he ate all day was the butter itself. This, he said, is common among butter makers. A walnut sized lump will keep one sustained all day. If we consider ancient dairy based economies, many people may have gone all day eating only butter quite frequently. Occasionally it would be consumed on an oatcake, or with a piece of meat or fish, but often on its own. In times where transhumance brought people to relatively isolated and exposed locations, time spent inside with a fire to keep warm, along with infrequent washing and living space shared with their animals, may well have meant that stronger foods became more desirable, as they had some character that stood out from the already ripe surroundings.

Taste is to a large extent culturally defined, and modern tastes have been shaped by myriad modern factors that cannot be removed from the equation. When we taste this altered butter a the 2012 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, we had to use some imagination. As O’Laverty wrote of his own bog butter experiment in the late nineteenth century, ‘for my own taste I would prefer butter cured in the modern way, but I have no doubt that usage would confer an acquired taste’ (31).

Proud boutyrophagoi

Proud boutyrophagoi

[update by Josh 29.10.13] – This past weekend, Guillemette and I took a trip up to Floda to visit Patrik and Zandra and make some butter together. We also used it as an opportunity to check up with the bog butter. The rainy Saturday afternoon saw us following the same path through the woods, finding the rock with the missing corner, and descending off the road down into the bog. Once we located the clearing with the buried treasure, we dug up the main deposit for a taste. It is still mossy, green, and earthy – maybe it was the fact that we were also wet, a little smelly, and surrounded by the moss like the thing itself, but the butter, eaten with muddy hands in the clearing in the bog, tasted really good.

The butter is now 1 year, 6 months, 3 weeks old, and counting.

Bog butter

Notes

1 Caroline Earwood, ‘Bog Butter: A Two Thousand Year History’, The Journal of Irish Archaeology, 8 (1997), 25-42.

2 Robert Berstan et al., ‘Characterization of Bog Butter Using a Combination of Molecular and Isotropic Techniques’, Analyst, 129 (2004), 3-8.

3 L. Downey et al., ‘Bog Butter: Dating Profile and Location’, Archaeology Ireland, 75 (2006), 32-34.

4 Earwood.

5 James O’Laverty, ‘The True Reason Why the Irish Buried Their Butter in Bog Banks’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquities of Ireland, 2 (1892), 356-337.

6 Berstan; David MacRitchie, ‘Wooden Dish Found Lately in the Hebrides’, Archaeological Notes, Reliquary, N.S II (1896); E. Estyn Evans, ‘Bog Butter: Another Explanation’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology 3rd. ser, 10 (1947), 59-62; PRIA, vi (1858), 369-72; personal email exchange with Anders Strinnholm of Stavanger Museum of Archaeology regarding collection item S9457 – three lumps of big butter from the Stavanger area of Norway; James Williams, ‘A Sample of Bog Butter from Lachar Moss, Dunfriesshire’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquities Society, 3rd ser., 43 (1966), O’Laverty, ‘True Reason’. In Norway a similar practice of burying milk in peat bogs still exists as can be seen here: http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/distrikt/rogaland/jaeren/1.8061809. In Morocco butter is still preserved for long periods of time, sometimes underground, where it is known as smen.

7 ‘Terence J. Painter’, Carbohydrate Research, 338 (21 November 2003): 2777-2778.

8 Sally Pobojewski, ‘Underwater Storage Techniques Preserved Meat for Early Hunters’, The University Record, May 8 1995; retrieved 1/11/2012 from http://www.ur.umich.edu/9495/May08_95/storage.htm.

9 Traditional foods for which burying is a part of the preparation/preservation process, or for which there is evidence that this may have been the case, include: banana bread (Ethiopia, banana dough), buried eggs (China, eggs); davuke (Fiji, bread fruit); formaggio di Fossa (Italy, cheese); ghee (India, clarified butter); gravadlax (Scandinavia, salmon); gubenkraut (Austria, cabbage); hákarl (Greenland, Greenland shark); igunaq (Inuit Arctic, walrus); kiviak (Greenland, auks in a seal skin): lutefisk (Scandinavia, white fish); muktuk (Alaska, seal flipper); reindeer’s stomach (Sápmi, Sweden, stomach with contents); rue tallow (Faroe Islands & Iceland, sheep’s tallow); sealskin poke (Alaska, meat/dried fish with seal fat); smen (Morocco, clarified butter); and surmjølk/myrmjølk (Norway, milk); Many fermented foods are prepared in fully or partially buried amphoras, including wine in Armenia and soya sauce in Korea.

10 Earwood; F. J. Hunter, ‘Iron Age Hoarding in Scotland and Northern England’, Reconstructing Iron Age Societies, eds. A. Gwilt and C. Hasselgrove, Oxbow Monographs in Archaeology, Oxford: Oxbow, 1997, 71.

11 James O’Laverty, ‘Bog-butter’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1st ser., 7 (1859), 288-294.

12 Williams; Earwood.

13 Earwood.

14 O’Laverty, ‘Bog-butter’; personal communications between Professor E.C Synnott, Process Engineering Department, University College Cork, Ireland and Dr Alison Sheridon FSA Scot FSA AIFA, Head of Early Prehistory, National Museums Scotland.

15 Rev. Dr. Archibald Clerk, ‘Notes on Everything’, accessed via Dr. Alison Sheridon FSA Scot FSA AIFA, National Museum of Scotland.

16 Angus Grant, PSAS, 39 (1904-5), 246-247.

17 Niall Ó Dubhthaigh, ‘Summer Pasture in Donegal’, Folk Life, 22 (1984), 42-54.

18 Grant.

19 Earwood; Hunter; O’Laverty, ‘True Reason’.

20 Ó Dubhthaigh.

21 James Ritchie, ‘A Keg of Bog-butter from Skye’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 75 (1941), 5-22.

22 O’Laverty, ‘Bog-butter’.

23 O’Laverty, ‘Bog-butter’; O’Laverty, ‘Ture Reason’

24 Some doubts exist over the author(s) of The Irish Hudibras. O’Laverty attributes it to William Moffet in 1855 (‘True Reason’). James Farewell (1689) is written in the copy held by the British Library. www.amazon.co.uk attributes the text to ‘Multiple Contributors’.

25 O’Laverty, ‘True Reason’.

26 O’Laverty, ‘Bog-butter’; Ritchie.

27 Downey.

28 O’Laverty, ‘True Reason’.

29 PRIA, 6 (1858), 369-72.

30 PRIA, 6 (1858), 369-72.

31 O’Laverty, ‘True Reason’.

Via Nordic Food Lab – CC BY SA license.

The post DIY Bog Butter: A Gastronomic Perspective appeared first on Walden Labs.

Lessons From History – Eating Well Off Home Food Preservation

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Growing and storing foods is commonly a goal we strive for as we seek self-sufficiency. The easiest and fastest way to store foods is, of course, just dumping it into a root cellar or grain bin or barn, although not everything does so hot with that treatment.

The post Lessons From History – Eating Well Off Home Food Preservation appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

How to handle refrigerated food when the power goes out

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A massive blackout is not a far-fetched scenario and these events occur almost every year. When your home is left without power you need to know how to handle all your refrigerated food and there are some strict rules that everyone should follow. Once the power goes out, guessing when it will be back on … Read more…

The post How to handle refrigerated food when the power goes out was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

How to use a vacuum sealer for your preps

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When it comes to emergency preparedness, a vacuum sealer is a truly useful tool and its applications are limited only by your imagination. While many people will use it just for bagging food, this ingenious device can be exploited to accomplish a multitude of preparedness tasks. Exposure to air can cause food to spoil and … Read more…

The post How to use a vacuum sealer for your preps was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Expiration management – Is your food still safe to eat?

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Some things last longer than others, but eventually everything comes to an end. If you are one of the people concerned about the future, you probably have a well-equipped pantry waiting for you at home. Unfortunately, some of us take for granted our supplies and even more, there are those who have no idea how … Read more…

The post Expiration management – Is your food still safe to eat? was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

How to live without refrigeration

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There are lots of reasons that could force us to live without refrigeration and this would create a lot of life changes. People will have hard time preserving food without using a freezer and many of them will stick to eating dry goods. If your fridge will stop working due to a community-wide power outage, … Read more…

The post How to live without refrigeration was written by Bob Rodgers and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

Civil War Household Tips Worth Knowing

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The United States civil war was a difficult time for our country and people back then didn’t have the luxuries we enjoy today. Even tough times were harsh and they couldn’t run to the corner market to get simple things such as cough syrup, they had the knowledge to make their own. Some of their … Read more…

The post Civil War Household Tips Worth Knowing was written by Dan Mowinski and appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

5 More Dehydrator Recipes for Home Growers

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Dehydrator Recipes for Healthy Snacking

Buying a dehydrator can be an investment.  But if you’re someone who likes to eat healthy snacks, it’s an investment that can pay for itself quickly.  There are lots of healthy snacks that you can make easily, at home, with simple dehydrator recipes.

If you missed my first article on this subject, you can read it here: 5 Dehydrator Recipes for Home Grown Fruits and Vegetables.  I covered DIY smoothie powders, drying herbs, fruit leathers (the kind you can ‘roll up’), drying things for salad dressings, fruit chips, popsicles, and even more.

Dried Nuts, Seeds & Trail Mixes

Soaking nuts and seeds overnight is a good practice to follow to release their enzyme inhibitors, making them much more digestible. Once you’ve drained and rinsed them, now what? Sure, you might want to use some right away in a recipe or two, but maybe you want to save some for later.

This is where your trusty dehydrator comes in handy: simply spread a layer of nuts or seeds on mesh sheets and dry, then store in vacuum sealed bags or in containers with tight fitting lids. Your dried nuts and seeds can then be used in any future recipe or ground to make “flour.”

You can also marinate your nuts or seeds (such as with tamari) or add spices (such as curry) before drying to give them some kick. Another idea is to make your own trail mix, which is a lot cheaper than buying from health food stores. You avoid the added sugar and oil, plus you can customize them to make them sweet or savory. Here’s a spicy recipe to keep you going while you’re out on the trail:

Spiced Up Trail Mix Recipe

• 1 cup nuts, soaked 4-8 hours (could be one nut like just almond or a mix like cashew, pecan, walnut, etc.)
• 1/2 cup pumpkin seed, soaked 4-8 hours
• 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 4-8 hours
• 1 1/2 TBsp tamari (gluten-free if need be) OR coconut aminos
• 2- 3 pinches chili spice OR cumin OR curry
• 1 tsp melted coconut or olive oil (optional)
• 2-3 pinches sea salt (optional)

Instructions: After soaking nuts and seeds for several hours, drain and rinse well. Whisk the tamari/coco aminos, spices and oil (if using) together. Taste test marinade first to see if it’s to your liking and add more spice or salt as you prefer. Add marinade to nuts and seeds to coat well and let marinate at least 30 minutes. Drain any excess marinade from nuts and seeds, and dry  at 115F on mesh sheets until dry. Let cool 30 minutes before storing.

Nori Trail Food Wraps

Now you know seaweed is good for you, with all those minerals! Pair that nori with your fave pate (could be a bean pate, a veggie pate, a green pesto, etc.) and you have some DIY yummy-licious trail food nori wraps that are much healthier and cheaper than the pricey store-bought ones.

Instructions: Place 4 sheets of nori on 1 dehydrator mesh tray. Spread the pate rather thinly onto a sheet of nori (a basting brush can help with this task), leaving a tiny space (about 1/8th inch) bare at the end of one of the shorter sides. Repeat with rest of nori and pate. Dehydrate at 115F until almost dry, but the nori is still tacky (4-6 hours). Roll one of the nori, applying a bit of water onto the edge you left bare, and seal the nori. Repeat with rest of wraps. Continue to dehydrate until completely dry, several hours more.

Notes: 1- If the nori is somewhat tacky and it won’t be good to use as trail food – don’t worry – it’s still completely delish! Store the tacky ones in the fridge. 2- You can use a somewhat thicker layer of pate, but note that the more you use, the longer it’ll take to dry. Also note that if you use too much pate, they’ll be too hard to roll, but you could still eat them as open-faced wraps. 3- No need to make just 4 at a time, feel free to double or triple the recipe!

Sprouted Grain & Bean Flours

Some folks like to sprout their grains and beans. Whatever for? They make for easier digestion and some say they are superior in terms of nutrition.

Once sprouted, you can use your reliable dehydrator to dry them, then use a high speed blender or grain mill to render them into a powder. If you’re wondering what kinds of grains and beans, most can be sprouted, with each having their own germination rate: quinoa, hulled buckwheat groats, spelt, rye, mung bean, black bean, adzuki bean, chickpea and lentil are but a few that make for tasty flours. You can buy an automatic sprouting machine that does all the work for you or DIY cheaply using an old glass cookie jar, a mason jar with a wide mouth or a colander.

Instructions: Place enough grains to cover the bottom of the glass jar and fill to the top with water. Place a piece of cheesecloth or cut a square of mosquito netting (yes, the kind that you use on your door, purchasable at hardware stores) and secure with an elastic band. Soak 8 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse well. Rinse the grains with water 2x a day until they develop small tails. Quinoa takes 1-2 days while most grains average 3-5 days. Keep in mind that heat and humidity are factors affecting germination time. For beans, simply add to a bowl with 2-3 times the amount of water to cover and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse well and leave in a colander to sprout. Rinse 2x a day with water until they develop small tails. Chickpeas take 1-2 days, small beans like lentil and adzuki take 2-3 days while large beans like black beans take 5-6 days.

Once your grains are sprouted, place onto solid sheets to dry in the dehydrator. Sprouted beans are fine on mesh sheets. Once dried, grind into a powder using a high speed blender (you can buy a grain mill attachment for this purpose) or use a grain mill. If you ever find that the powder feels somewhat moist, simply place the powder on a solid sheet and dry again in the dehydrator.

Exceptions: Soak buckwheat groats and chickpeas for 30 minutes maximum (otherwise they tend to ferment). You can also rinse buckwheat groats and chickpeas 3x a day.

Bonus Idea: Did you know that you can marinate those sprouted beans using your favorite marinade before drying, and then use them as a tasty snack or trail food? Yes indeed, you can! In the trail mix recipe above, sub in 2 cups sprouted chickpeas instead of the nuts and seeds, bump up the spice in the marinade to 1 tsp, and you’ve got yourself some spicy “chichers!”

Now that you’ve got your own milled flour, it’s time to get to baking! Isn’t it wonderful to make bean flours that aren’t sold in stores, like navy bean and lima bean flour? What a joy to make quick breads, no-bake bliss balls and other treats with the goodness that you’ve sowed! Plus, sprouted grains like quinoa and buckwheat make for some tasty and crunchy morning cereals! Simply add in some cold or warmed up milk or non-dairy milk, fresh or dried fruit, a bit of stevia or honey to taste, and perhaps a pinch of cinnamon or turmeric, and dig in!

Video – Easy Seed Sprouting: Grow Sprouts and Microgreens Indoors All Winter Long

Flax Crackers & Wraps

Making your own flax crackers and wraps is such a classic yet cheap way to use your dehydrator and get in your omega-3s. Crackers are made using whole flax seeds, often soaked beforehand and left whole or pureed, or they can be made by rendering the flax seeds into a “flour.” Wraps are made using pureed flax seeds (often soaked beforehand) or using flax seed “flour.” Both crackers and wraps can be made with a host of other ingredients, including seeds, nuts, veggies, fruits, herbs, spices, sweeteners, and even liquids such as stock, cooking water and herbal infusions and decoctions; hence they can be a sweet or savory bread or chip! No need to get fancy, however, as simple flax recipes can be mighty tasty:

Simple Flax Wrap or Cracker Recipe

• 1 1/2 cups flax seed
• 1 avocado
• 6 cups carrot water from boiling carrots OR water*

Instructions: Grind the flax in a dry high speed blender. Add in the avocado and water. Blend on low and then increase the speed gradually so all is mixed to a smooth consistency. Pour onto 3 solid sheets and dehydrate at 145F for 2 hours, then reduce to 115F. When the top side is dry, flip, peel off the solid sheets and continue dehydrating on mesh sheets until dry. Using clean scissors, cut into 9 (or more) square shapes for crackers or into 3 long strips to use as wraps.

*Feel free to use 6 cups of your favorite stock or any other leftover cooking water.

Here’s a more elaborate recipe using veggies and spices to make some spicy flax crackers:

Curried Carrot Crackers Recipe

• 3 cups shredded carrots
• 1 cup shredded onion
• 2 TBsp olive oil
• 1-2 tsp cumin
• 1-2 tsp coriander
• 1-2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2-1 tsp ginger
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 cup ground flax seed, soaked in 1 cup water (let flax absorb water)
• Honey or stevia, to sweeten (optional)

Instructions: Puree ingredients except flaxseed in a food processor, adding in a bit of water if needed. Add in flaxseed. Spread evenly to 1/4 inch thick on 2 solid sheets and dehydrate at 145F for 1-2 hours then lower to 115F. Flip and peel away solid sheets. On the wet side of this “dough,” score crackers halfway through using a ceramic or plastic knife into 9 large squares (or smaller, as you prefer). Continue drying on mesh sheets until dry.

Kale Chips

Have you seen those tiny packages of kale chips and the crazy price they go for in health food stores? And have you looked at the ingredients and realized they are plenty fatty and salty? Why bother, when you can make your own for cheap and customize them to your preference: using seeds instead of nuts (less fat), no seeds or nuts (fat-free), dulse or kelp instead of salt, and stevia instead of evaporated cane sugar.

Plus, you can also use cabbage, bok choy and collard instead of kale, and, if you are sensitive to goitrogenous veggies (that interfere with thyroid health, such as the Brassica/mustard family), you can steam them lightly before turning them into chips.

There are many recipes out there that you can adapt to make your own recipe, such as lemon dill, BBQ, and nacho – all healthy, greeny good for you. Here’s a recipe that was taste tested in a natural health food store, much to the customers’ delight! Not only were the chips met with rave reviews, but they are made using freshly ground sesame seeds that beat store-bought tahini any day:

Cat’s Goddess Kale Chips Recipe

• 2 large bunches kale
• 3/4 cup sesame seeds -> grind them in a coffee mill
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar with “mother”
• 1/4 cup tamari (gluten-free if need be) or coconut aminos
• 1/4-1/3 cup water
• 2 bunches green onions, white parts only OR 6-8 shallots
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 2 tsp chopped garlic
• 1/2-3/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions: Remove stems from kale with a knife and tear into bite size pieces or rip kale leaves from stems and then tear into pieces. Whip rest of ingredients in a high speed blender with 1/4 cup water. Add a bit more water, if necessary, to get a thick paste – NOT a watery vinaigrette. Put kale in a large bowl and pour dressing over kale; massage leaves well to ensure all are coated. Let marinate 30 minutes. Spread onto 2 solid trays and dry at 115F for 6-8 hours. Feel free to double or triple the recipe as kale chips are rather addictive!

Note: You’ll find that using heating shallots pays homage to the chip’s goddess name, while using green onions lends a much milder version.

Bonus Idea: Juice and nut pulp “flour.” What do you do with your juice and nut pulp? Do you just throw it in the compost or feed it to your worms? While that’s fine and dandy, another idea is to dry the pulp and grind it into a powder to add a boost of fiber to your smoothies, soups, stews and baked goods. Simply spread a thin layer of pulp onto a solid sheet and dehydrate ’til dry; then grind to a powder in a dry high speed blender and store in a cool, dry place.

Tips: 1-You can keep the pulp frozen in the freezer until you have a good amount, then thaw and spread onto sheets to dry. 2-If the powder feels wet, simply return to the solid sheets and re-dry in the dehydrator.

If you liked these ideas, check out my other article about finding ways to reduce your food waste: 9 Ways to Eat Commonly Wasted Seeds, Stems, Peels & More

The post 5 More Dehydrator Recipes for Home Growers appeared first on The Grow Network.

The Human Element

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Survival Blog

Though we as humans are not listed on the periodic table, everything that combines into our chemical makeup is.  We, you, me, Forge Survival Supplyall of us are at the essential core of the salvation of mankind.  If that sounds redundant or worn out, well, think about it.  We are not only charged with surviving ourselves, but we need to contribute to the preemptive avoidance of any and all catastrophic events to the extent we can influence such.  I assume nobody wants Armageddon.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

This may sound trite, but I am encouraged by the level of grassroots participation in some of the state political caucus events.  People are getting involved.  This is critical even at the local neighborhood and town levels.  Don’t let these local “powers” take your world away from you.  Speak up, get active.  Keep prepping as though your life may well depend on it, but at the same time let’s not give up on avoiding it.

What Will Be Left of Life?

Let’s hope the cockroaches, rats, and the coyotes don’t inherit whatever is left after the final SHTF.  That demise is ultimately left up to us.  Us being the human race.  Wow, that all sounds pretty dramatic even to me.  If you have read my stuff before, you know I enjoy dissecting clips from popular movies depicting the portrayal of the apocalypse(s).   I know it’s fiction, but if you really want to see a taste of reality just look around our world to see what is happening to other populations of people.

Also Read: 4 Step Household Evacuation

ISIS really is terrorizing the world.  They really are beheading people including children.  They are actively recruiting young Top Survival Blogpeople in Europe and America.   We just had two college students from a Mississippi university intercepted trying to reach Turkey to get to ISIS operatives in the Middle East.  This is real stuff.  I often hear preppers discussing their futures after a prolonged SHTF.  It may not be pretty.  Sometimes I think we live in a dream world if we think life would ever be the same if a dirty bomb went off in America.

When something like that arrives on our door steps, we will never be the same.  Just think of how the aftermath of the Twin Towers still lingers especially for the families directly affected.  Such events nearly wipe out the soles of that generation.  Sure, Japan survived Hiroshima, “we” survived Katrina, the town survived Sandy Hook, San Bernardino has recovered, the country will survive the present administration, we hope.  What will be left of life after a SHTF may be in big part dependent on what we do now to shape it before the next SHTF.

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Avivi
Orangeboken

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5 Dehydrator Recipes for Home Grown Fruits and Vegetables

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Is Buying a Dehydrator Worth the Cost?

Buying a dehydrator can be an investment, although they do come in several different sizes. The smallest dehydrators are typically the cheapest. Often times, the only difference between a “big” dehydrator and a “small” dehydrator is the number of stacking trays that are included – and some brands are modular, so that you can buy more stacking trays as you need them.

Sure a dehydrator is used to dry food, but what about using an oven? And what kinds of things can you dry exactly? While you can dry food on a silicone non-stick baking mat (or parchment paper) at the lowest temperature in an oven, usually around 170F, it takes a long time for the food to dry and there is often a risk of burning. That’s because the function of an oven is to bake, broil and roast food, not to dry it. In comparison, a dehydrator comes equipped with a fan for ventilation and has a temperature range of 95F to 160F. It uses very little electricity and makes about the same amount of noise as a stove. As for what kinds of uses a dehydrator can have, check out the following ideas and recipes. It may just be worth your while to own one if you fancy making these tasty dehydrated treats.

Dried Herbs & Wild Edibles

Growing your own herbs just makes sense: they’re cheap and easy; they make your garden look beautiful and attract pollinators to the garden; and most importantly they enrich your body with local, organic, and sustainable goodness. Leaves such as rosemary, parsley, and oregano; seeds such as celery, dill, and coriander; edible flowers like rose, chamomile, and calendula; and medicinal herbs like lemon balm, feverfew, and mint – all can be easily dried on mesh or solid sheets in your dehydrator.

While you can dry at the lowest recommended setting of 95F, you can also let them air dry before storing them in paper bags or glass containers. If you happen to be growing a lot of herbs, a larger model of dehydrator will come in mighty handy, especially if you also enjoy foraging for wild edibles and wildcrafting with medicinal herbs. Dandelions, violets, plantains, and yarrow come lilting and dancing in spritely spring; wood sorrels, sow thistles, mallows and day lilies beckon forth enticingly in the passionate euphoria of summer; while dandy burdock roots, plantain seeds, rose hips and elderberries lie still waiting in the cool cornucopia of fall. All of these, and so many others, can be made useful by being dried on the many stacked trays of your trusty dehydrator, whatever the season! Drying red clover blossoms is a really great example of how handy a dehydrator can be: since each flower shouldn’t to touch another, a dehydrator with multiple trays is an excellent way to dry a bunch at once, instead of having them spread out all over your kitchen table. Indeed, instead of spreading things out on your table and having your kitchen look a little bit more homely than usual, a dehydrator keeps things looking nice and tidy!

If you want to get started right away, but you don’t own a dehydrator yet – check out this simple trick to dry your herbs with nothing other than a mesh bag: Drying Herbs the Easy Way

Fruit Leathers

You know those fruit leathers, or “roll ups” they sell at the supermarket? They are simply fruits that have been pureed and then dried. You can DIY for cheap, they are easy-peasy to make and oh-so healthy. How to? Blend fresh fruits in a blender to a puree and spread to 1/4 inch thick on a solid sheet. Dehydrate ’til dry, flip the other side, peel off the solid sheet, then continue drying until completely dry. That’s it. You can use just one fruit, like only raspberries, only blueberries, only apples; or do a mix of fruit, such as apples and berries together. Any combination will do, they all pretty much tasty. You can also mix veggies and fruits together, like half carrots and half apples, or half carrots and half peaches.

The bonus is that you can make your own flavors that aren’t sold in stores, like kiwi, plum and strawberry-beet. Don’t care for the seeds? Simply use a food mill after pureeing, then spread thinly on a solid sheet. Not sweet enough? Add in a bit of stevia and dehydrate away! Not only do fruit leathers make healthy snacks, but they make great trail food too. And did I mention that making fruit leathers is a great way to use up fruits and veggies that are starting to rot? Or that your favorite green smoothie can be turned into a fruit leather? While there are plenty of recipes out there, here’s an easy one to get you inspired right away:

Berry Green Fruit Leather Recipe

• 2 cups berries (any kind)
• 1 cup peeled and chopped beets
• 1-2 handfuls chopped greens (e.g. kale, spinach, lettuce, etc.)
• Stevia, to sweeten
• 1/2 cup water, for consistency

Instructions: Puree berries, beets, and greens with enough water to make a smooth puree. Add in stevia to sweeten. Pour onto solid sheets and use a spoon or spatula to spread evenly to 1/4 inch thick. Dehydrate at 115F until dry. Flip, carefully peel away solid sheets and continue drying on mesh sheets, about 6-8 hours total. Using clean scissors, cut fruit leather into long strips or squares.

Notes: 1) You can use 1 cup leftover cooked beets instead. 2) You can pass the puree through a food mill first to remove any seeds, then pour and spread onto solid sheets. 3) Note that the type of green used and how much will affect the taste. 4) You can use 1-2 cups steamed or cooked greens instead. 5) Feel free to double or triple this recipe!

Variation: Apple ‘n’ Cinnamon Fruit Leather: Replace berries with 4-5 peeled, cored and chopped apples. Puree with the rest of the ingredients and add in 1-2 tsp cinnamon to taste. Add in 1-2 bananas for extra sweetness, if desired.

Dried Fruit, Fruit Powders & Chips

If you’re growing your own fruit trees, then besides making jellies, jams and fruit leathers, drying your own fruits is an excellent way to preserve them. Simply slice the fruit 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick and place on mesh sheets to dry. How long it will take for the fruit to dry will depend on moisture content of the fruit and humidity in the air. Once dried, wait 20-30 minutes and evaluate their crispness: can you break them in half? If yes, you can then store the dried pieces in vacuum sealed bags or in glass containers with tight fitting lids. If you are worried about mold, however, you can go one step further and fill a mason jar 3/4 of the way with the dried fruit. Put on the lid and shake twice a day for one week. If you see any condensation, the fruit isn’t dry enough and you should put it back in the dehydrator to dry for longer. If there isn’t any condensation, then you can keep the fruit in the mason jar or store it any way you like.

Interested in growing your own fruit trees? Check out these helpful articles: Create an Inexpensive Orchard with Bare Root Fruit Trees and Prune Your Fruit Trees Now for a Great Harvest Later

Sometimes these dried fruit slices are called chips, and they fetch a high price in health food stores. DIY couldn’t be easier. Sprinkle on your fave spices and sweeteners – for instance, rub apple slices in lemon juice and cinnamon, or top strawberry slices with powdered stevia. You can even dip blueberries in melted chocolate before drying them! In fact, making your own is not only cheaper, it also means you can make fruit chips that you can’t find in stores, like carambola and prickly pear.

dehydrated-apple-chips

Dehydrated apple chips

After your fruit is dried, you can use a high speed blender to grind it into a powder, and you will have made your own smoothie powder! You can use 1/2 – 1 tsp arrowroot powder to help with clumping, if you like. The fruit powder you make can be added to smoothies, sprinkled over porridge and cereal; reconstituted with juice to make popsicles; whisked with vinegar and oil to make fruity salad dressings; added to baked goods like cookies, muffins, waffles, and pancakes; and used to add flavoring to meringues, yogurt, and sorbets.

Here are 2 fun recipes using powdered strawberries for you to try:

Simple Strawberry Dressing Recipe

• 3 TBsp olive oil
• 1 TBsp apple cider vinegar (or your fave herbal vinegar)
• 1 tsp strawberry powder
• Stevia to sweeten

Instructions: Blend all ingredients together, adding additional strawberry powder for flavor, and additional stevia for sweetness, if desired. Feel free to add as much strawberry powder as you like.

Simple Strawberry Popsicles Recipe

• 1/2 cup apple juice
• 3-4 TBsp hot water
• 2 tsp or more strawberry powder
• Stevia to sweeten

Instructions: In a bowl, dissolve the strawberry powder in the hot water. Stir in the apple juice and sweeten with stevia. You can add in more powder, dissolved with hot water, for a stronger taste. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Enjoy!

Veggie Leathers as “Bread”

Instead of going the carb (e.g. grain) or fat (e.g. flax or chia) route to make breads, buns, and wraps; why not make “bread” using just veggies? Veggie leathers have the same texture as fruit leathers and you can add tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, herbs like Italian seasoning, and spices like curry to make them taste savory. The secret to making veggie leathers? Psyllium husk! Psyllium husk has a mucilaginous quality that acts as a binder to keep the veggie puree sticking together and then drying into a nice leather. You can also use ground chia or flax seed instead, and, if you want your leather to have more texture, you can always up the amount of flax or chia, or add in other seeds and nuts. Think of the possibilities: carrot leather, beet leather, or a red cabbage and chard “bread”! No more worrying about going for another slice of bread, plus you’ll be sure to be getting in your RDA of veggies! Here’s a recipe to help you out with this idea, using psyllium as a binder:

Carrot Leather “Bread” Recipe

• 5 lbs carrots, peeled, chopped & cooked
• 1 1/2 – 2 TBsp psyllium husk powder

Instructions: After cooking or steaming carrots until tender, puree carrots with just enough water for consistency in a high speed blender. Add in the psyllium and whip to blend. Spread onto 2 solid sheets to 1/4 inch thick, ensuring the batter is uniform. Dehydrate at 115F until dry. Flip the sheets over and peel off the solid sheets. Continue drying on mesh sheets until dry. Using clean scissors, cut each leather into 9 medium or 6 large squares. Use as buns for burgers or as sandwich “bread.”

Variation: You can also puree the carrots in a food processor, transfer to a bowl and add in psyllium husk flakes. Add in 4-6 TBsp, let sit 5 minutes to gel, then spread onto solid sheets.

Variation: Don’t care for the leathery texture? Instead of using the psyllium, do this: soak 1 cup flax seed in 2 cups water for 4-8 hours. Puree the flax seed with 1 cup additional water in a high speed blender ’til smooth. Puree the carrots in a food processor, then add them to the blender with the flax puree and blend ’til smooth. Spread onto solid sheets to 1/4 inch thick, then dry. You can also use 1 cup ground flax seed instead of the soaked whole flax.

If you like this, there are some other ways to substitute vegetables for bread in my article, 8 Ways to Replace Carbs with Home Grown Veggies.

Dried Veggies, Veggie Flours & Chips

Just as with fruit, slicing veggies thinly (or dicing them small) and then dehydrating them on mesh sheets is a great way to preserve them for future use. As with fruit, let cool for 30 minutes before snapping a piece in half to check for dryness, then store in vacuum sealed bags or in glass containers with tightly fitting lids. Nothing could be easier than to rehydrate these dried veggies by adding them to the soup or stew pot!

Again, as with dried fruit, you can grind these dried veggies into a powder and add them to smoothies, baked goods and pasta sauce (e.g. tomato powder) for extra nutrition. Indeed, some folks have gotten the idea to use veggie powders as flour, and you can purchase parsnip, beet and carrot flours for a pretty penny. Is it cheaper to DIY? Absolutely!

It’s cheaper to make your own veggie chips too. Just like those root veggie chips sold in health food stores, which are oh-so tasty, but liberally baked in oil and salt. While there are recipes to make root veggie chips on the lowest setting in your oven, they seem more baked than dried and there’s always that risk of burning. It’s much easier to use that good ol’ dehydrator, and there’s no need for oil at all!

Instructions: Slice root veggies such as carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas and squash very thinly (3/16 of an inch thick) using a mandoline or peeler, place on mesh sheets and dehydrate away! If you like, you can marinate the slices in your fave marinade overnight or toss the slices with some lemon or lime juice and some herbs or spices to taste before drying. Be sure to fill up all the sheets you have, because once these chips are ready, they’re gone!

Here’s a sweet recipe using zucchini and cinnamon:

Simple Cinnamon Zucchini Chips Recipe

• 4-6 large zucchini
• Cinnamon
• Powdered stevia or a stevia blend

Instructions: Peel the zucchini if you like, then use a mandoline to slice zucchini thinly crosswise. Place slices on a mesh tray and sprinkle stevia and cinnamon on top. If you’d like, you can brush the slices with water or a bit of lemon juice to help the powders to stick. Dry at 115F for several hours and devour! Note that you can apply cinnamon and stevia to both sides of the chips, if you like.

Variation: To make these chips savory, you can brush both sides with a thin layer of
• pasta sauce, then sprinkle on Italian seasoning
• BBQ sauce, then sprinkle on cumin and smoked paprika
• lemon juice, then sprinkle on ground dill leaf (ground parsley or coriander leaf are nice too)
• lime juice or water, then sprinkle on rosemary and thyme

Oh, and speaking of zucchini, if you ever find yourself with a surplus of zucchini or squash, be sure to read my article 12 Ways to Make a Zucchini Surplus Disappear.

Believe it or not, these 5 recipes are just the beginning of the great uses I’ve found for my dehydrator. I’m working on another list of 5 more easy dehydrator recipes, and I’ll share it with you soon.

 

What Is Your Thin Red Line?

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Survival SHTF

“The closer you are to Caesar the greater the fear” is a famous line from the timeless movie “The Thin Red Line.”  The movie Doomsday Preppersdepicted the horrific battle for Guadalcanal in WWII against the Japanese Army.  The fighting conditions shown were beyond inhumane requiring the American soldiers to fight for hours or even days without basic supplies including water.  If you ever want to see on film what real war looks like then rent this movie. Listen closely especially to the narrations as these comments are philosophically overwhelming.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Translating to today’s world we all face the potential of our own thin red line though hopefully nothing like the one our soldiers encountered in Guadalcanal.  Our red lines can occur during SHTF events, personal threats to our safety, active shooter incidents, natural disasters of many kinds, industrial accidents, economic peril, investment declines, oppressive laws or regulations, job insecurities, and a myriad of other circumstances.

As the narrator in the movie asked, “What is this thin red line?  Who is doing this?  Who is killing us, robbing us of life and might?” In many cases there are situations or circumstances that we can control or manipulate to some level of survival. In other cases there are external factors that impact our lives over which we have little domain or sway.  How we react or prepare to react is paramount.  This is the essence of prepping and thus, survival.

Age Old Adages

How do you get better at golf or shooting that concealed weapon you bought last year, but still languishes in the nightstand drawer with the owner’s manual pages unturned?  You meant to rework that section of the garage installing shelving to provide much needed space to store prepping equipment.  But that was last summer.  That new reloading bench is still in the shipping carton. No, you never did put up the new tent in the backyard did you?

That adult education course flyer from the local community college came again.  You saw the programs offered for first aid classes, active shooter response, making homemade jerky, simple car mechanics, welding, beginner carpentry skills, homeowner electricity, and several more.  Where did I put that brochure? Is it too late to sign up I wonder?

Remember these? “Practice makes perfect, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, time is of the essence, an inch is as good as a mile, there is no time like the present, don’t get caught with your pants down?”  If you really are a prepper, then get with the program.

Organize, Prioritize, Initiate

You have to get started somewhere.  You sit and you ponder what to do, what to do, wringing your hands and constantly SHTF Blogdebating the same questions over and over.  But still you sit.  What will it take to get you off center? How much reality do you need to shock you into action?  What if the bank closes, what happens during a riot and the grocery store on the corner is burned down, what do I do if a truck load of despicable characters pulls up in my driveway, what if I lose my job tomorrow, hey, the power is out and there is no water?

None of these incident examples are that farfetched given the turmoil in today’s world.  You may have already experienced some of them.  What did you do?  How did you react?  Did you react?   Getting started is not all that complicated. Just push yourself off center and do something.  It is easy to sit in your comfy lounger chair with a notepad in your lap. Heck, you can still watch the game and write notes during the beer commercials.

Begin to craft a plan.  Write it down.  Fill in the blanks as you think of action items to accomplish your goals.  Such as?  Buy more water to store in the laundry room, get several cases of canned foods the whole family will eat, buy that first aid kit, pick up a couple bug out bags at that war surplus store, shop the pharmacy for OTC meds and other supplies.  Put some cash in a zip bag and hide it in a book on the shelf that you hollowed out.  Shop for that new pistol and maybe you should add a shotgun and/or an AR rifle.  How much ammo should I put back?  I need to call Bob and get out to the shooting range.

As the lists develop, number the items in terms of priority. You can’t do everything at once, or this week, but you can certainly begin to whittle the list down. Put the most important things first. Water and food are tops. Security is a high priority. Go from there.  Then don’t catch yourself lounging in that chair staring at the list and never doing anything about it. Get off your duff and do it. Baby steps first, then congratulate yourself for milestones achieved. Build your confidence as you build your skills.

With every step you take, you learn to better deal with those thin red lines. As you approach Caesar, your fear retreats, because you have prepared for it and learned how to deal with it. With cause and determination you have become a survivalist. All it takes is that first step. Take it now.

Photos By:
Dr. John J. Woods
The Thin Red Line

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5 Homestead Probiotics You Can Make at Home!

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Making Your Own Low Cost Probiotics

Well the science is in folks, and has been for some time! Probiotics are essential to maintaining a healthy gut, and a strong immune system. A properly functioning digestive system is the key to good health. You can grow, purchase, and eat all of the organic, mineral dense, beyond awesome food you want, but if you are not digesting and absorbing those nutrients then it is all for naught.

The same can be said for all of the fancy vitamin supplements, and even many of the probiotic supplements that are out there. There’s an old saying that goes something like: “garbage in, garbage out.” Anyway, there’s good news. You can grow your own probiotic nutritional supplements right in your homestead kitchen, or barn, or hallway closet… The point is you can be in control of your health and not have to depend on high dollar supplements grown in some lab someplace hundreds of miles away!

The Top 5 Probiotic Foods on Our Homestead

I put together a list of the top five probiotic-rich foods that we are currently or have in the past made and consumed here on the Traditional Catholic Homestead (www.traditionalcatholichomestead.com):

#1 – Kefir: We make both dairy and water kefir at home. It’s super simple, and easy to keep the process going perpetually. We usually go through about a gallon and a half of kefir per week in our household.

#2 – Kombucha: Another super simple and easily propagated probiotic beverage. The Traditional Catholic Homestead family consumes anywhere from 3 to 6 gallons of continuously brewed kombucha per week. Here’s how we brew ours: Brewing Kombucha. I really like experimenting with different herbs and teas in our brews. I’ve even heard of someone making Mountain Dew-flavored kombucha (though I wouldn’t recommend it)!

Note: Kefir grains and kombucha SCOBY will grow and reproduce so you can propagate the cultures and give away or sell the surplus.

#3 – Sauerkraut: The old homestead standby! There are a million different recipes for fermented kraut that you can make at home. As long as you don’t can the finished product it will be a probiotic-rich powerhouse. The beauty of sauerkraut is that it doesn’t require any fancy inoculants or cultures to get going. A true kraut is like a sourdough bread starter… made from wild cultures that occur all around us! Other than cabbage (or seed), no start up costs!

home-made-sauerkraut

Home made sauerkraut

#4 – Other Fermented Veggies: The same process and bacteria used to make sauerkraut can be used to ferment any number of other veggies. Just use what you like or what you have in abundance. We’ve fermented carrot sticks, salsa, shredded beets with carrots, garlic… you name it. The possibilities are literally limited by your imagination and tastes!

#5 – Homebrew!!! Most people wouldn’t think of homemade beer, hard ciders, mead, or wine as a probiotic food, but if you think about it, they are. Any of your homebrews will have living yeasts present throughout the beverage (as long as you don’t pasteurize it, but who does that, right!). I know there is a big push in some circles to eliminate yeast from our diets, but they are an essential part of our digestive process. They just need to be kept in balance. Plus, homebrew is awesome!!!

Honorable mention goes to homemade vinegars. These are the living vinegars with the “mother” culture still in them. We haven’t made any yet, so I didn’t include them in this list, but homemade apple cider vinegar is coming soon to the repertoire of fermented foods on The Traditional Catholic Homestead.


Thanks to Dave Dahlsrud for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We’re still getting the list of prizes lined up for the Spring 2016 Writing Contest. We awarded over $2,097 in prizes for the Fall Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

 

Winter Trail Survival Food

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    During the winter season, the human body’s resistance is affected and outdoor activities take a toll on your energy levels. Cold weather slows the body’s heat production and makes survival a difficult task. When you are moving through heavy snow, proper intake of trail survival food is needed to maintain the optimal body temperature … Read more…

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Are You Prepared? Do the Obvious!

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Here in Oklahoma, and many parts of the Midwest, we had a glorious warm fall. Temperatures reached into the 70s each week and dipped only to lows in the mid 30s for the most part.

We celebrated Christmas on Monday the 27th, waiting for my grandson to come be with us. It was a delightful family gathering, presents aplenty. I made ham, mac and cheese, and scalloped corn, each in separate crock pots. My daughter brought a salad and a pecan pie. We feasted and enjoyed the day. We were too tired (or lazy) to wash the crock pots and do the final kitchen cleanup.

It was raining as it had been for a couple of days. The basement was doing its usual leak from the east wall. The wind was picking up and really whipped up in the night as the temps began to drop. It turned to sleet, ice, and then snow. The wind was really putting up some strong gales. The electricity was still on and the heater was running. All was good.

This morning, my husband noted that we were out of dry dog food for our dogs. So, bundling up, we planned to go to the grocery store. We went out to start the car; the car doors were frozen shut. The gate to the chicken pen was frozen shut. I had to hammer the door on the coop it to loosen it up and let the chickens out. Their water was slushy, but drinkable. There was snow on the ground, only about 2 inches, but the roads looked questionably icy. Within the hour I saw 2 tow trucks pass by. Well, maybe we will postpone the trip to the store. We usually mix wet food in with the dry food, and we have some canned dog food the dogs can eat for now.

The point of this article is this: Do the obvious! Stay organized and prepared!

What if the electricity had gone off? I don’t want those icky sticky crock pots sitting in the kitchen, or a dishwasher full of dirty dishes. I have a small kitchen and the counters were cluttered and full. What about the laundry? It was thankfully caught up. The house is still cluttered from all of the Christmas wrappings and festivities. The garage is so cluttered that we cannot get the cars in out of the weather. The chicken waterer is not heated. My freezers are way too full. Again, what if the electricity had gone off? Things would turn out very differently, very quickly. We don’t have back up heat, or a generator. I have been wanting to make one of those cute clay pots you heat with tea lights, and a rocket stove, and a solar oven.

canned-foods

I have my freezers full of food and my shelves are lined with canned foods. I review my food storage log every couple of months and make sure it is up to date. Besides I can look at my shelves and see what is getting low. I watch for bargains at the grocery store. Right now, 12 oz. bags of fresh cranberries are 50 cents each. I bought 10 and I will can some cranberry juice.

But what if the power did not come back on for a couple of days or even weeks? I would not want to lose the food in the freezer. I need to start canning more of the freezer items. I have several canning jars holding non-food items and none more available for canning. I need to make sure canning supplies are available. I wish I had a supply of food for my pets – but I have neglected to incorporate pet food and supplies in my storage inventory.

This scenario is relatively minor. But, I can’t help but wonder, what if…

I am retired, so there’s no excuse not to get these things in order. I have the time and skills. Meanwhile, this served as a good practice run for a bigger storm, calamity, or misfortune. There would be plenty of gaps in my preparedness if a real catastrophe were to occur. Why not take care of the obvious ones that I know about?

Oh, and that leaky basement wall… Better check the gutters. And the cartridges need to be replaced on my printer, I am out of black, so I am printing this in red.

My #1 resolution for 2016: No more putting off the obvious tasks to keep my house in order.


Thanks to “Connie’s Musings” for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We’re still getting the list of prizes lined up for the Spring 2016 Writing Contest. We awarded over $2,097 in prizes for the Fall Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

 

The Dumbest Mistake Even Experts Make In Food Preservation

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The Surprising Mistake Even Experts Make In Food Preservation

Image source: Pixabay.com

My mother tried to teach me about food. She did it all — gardening, canning, jellying, freezing, drying, cheesing. She knew all about the so-called “Hundred Mile Diet” that has become so popular in recent years, the now-trendy notion of trying to make all or most of your diet consist of food that was produced within a hundred miles of your home. She had eaten that way most of her life. She was a trendsetter, decades ahead of her time.

Too bad I had no interest whatsoever in such things. It was the 1970s, when chic modern women bought their food in boxes at the grocery store — none of that old-fashioned “raise-your-own” nonsense for someone as cool as I was.

By the time I managed to rise above my ignorance, I was middle aged and my mother was deceased. Thanks to books and the Internet, as well as wonderful personal mentors and formal training through my state’s Master Food Preserver program, I have been able to pick up much of what I missed out on learning from my mother.

Except for the most important thing of all — the one thing that is so simple and ridiculously obvious that most people don’t even see it as something to learn.

I had to learn to eat my food.

Make ‘Off-The-Grid’ Fermented Foods Just Like Grandma Made!

That’s right. All that growing and harvesting and blanching and pressure-canning does no one any good, unless we eat the fruits of our labors.

The Surprising Mistake Even Experts Make In Food Preservation

Image source: Pixabay.com

There are a lot of barriers to this. Home cooks in today’s society are accustomed to deciding what they want to eat, finding the recipes they like best, and heading for the grocery store with a shopping list. Doing it that way is so ingrained in a lot of people that they forget to take into account the cellar full of food that they worked so hard to put up.

Homesteaders need to do it the other way around — see what we have on hand, look for recipes that utilize those things, and put those on the menu. There might still be shopping to do, but only for that which we cannot raise ourselves and cannot substitute.

Another obstacle to cooking my own food was that as a child of the 70s, I may have since rejected the idea of opening boxes and cans and freezer bags for my main ingredients, but I was still programmed to follow the directions. Recipes don’t call for a jar of my homemade spicy pickled carrots or rhubarb sauce or green tomato mincemeat pie filling. I have found that if I want to use what I have in my larder instead of adding on to the grocery list, I need to learn to actually create flavors on my own. Using my home-grown foods requires me to actually cook, not just follow recipes.

Without A Doubt The Best Kept Secret In Indoor Self-Reliance Gardening…

On the other hand, real cooks don’t always use foods out of their home-preserved collection, either. Or at least, the rock-star chefs on television don’t. When I watch the celebrity chefs using all fresh out-of-season vegetables and only the best cuts of meat, I always wonder how they would do on a homestead.

Neglecting to use home-processed food is a common affliction. Most home canners have been known to lament the efficacy of canning this season’s green beans or applesauce when their shelves are still loaded with jars of last year’s.

People mean well. All those frozen bags of eggplant, lovingly peeled and chopped and blanched in lemon water, with visions of winter ratatouille dancing in my head — how can they still be leftover come spring?

Home food preservation is a wonderful thing, for a lot of reasons. It is a great way to control what goes into your food, be self-sufficient, eat healthy, minimize waste and petroleum use in food production, and practice skills in preparation for hard times.

However, if you leave out that essential last step, it is all for naught. Shop in your larder before you head for the grocery store, and alter your recipes if needed. Whatever it takes, make sure you do the one most important thing when it comes to food preservation. Make sure you eat it.

Do you agree? What would you add to this story? Share your advice in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Blanching Vegetables for Long-term Storage

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Being able to store vegetables for a long period of time will provide you with a diverse diet and it will save your from eating the same food over and over again. Blanching vegetables is a skill easy to master and everyone can do it. Blanching is a cooking process wherein the foods (usually vegetables … Read more…

The post Blanching Vegetables for Long-term Storage appeared first on Prepper’s Will.

7 Alternative Ways To Preserve Food

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When preppers talk about preserving their own food, they’re usually talking about canning and dehydrating. While these are excellent food storage methods, there are many other great options to consider. In fact, you could make your emergency food diet a lot more interesting by using some less common food preservation […]

The post 7 Alternative Ways To Preserve Food appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Turn Your Apple Harvest into Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

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fresh-ripe-apples-on-the-treeFall is abundant with many opportunities of harvest. One such opportunity for us in the Mitten State is the bountiful apple harvest. If you live in Michigan, it’s no secret that apples are very prolific here!

Even without your own orchard or even your own tree, there are apples to be had alongside country roads and often people will give them away for free! Apples can be found in virtually every part of Michigan, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of at this time of year. For us, we’ve had the good fortune of buying a piece of property with a well established orchard. The last couple of years, we barely scratched the surface of the bounty, even though we made apple pies, apple sauce, and ate apples to our heart’s content.

This year is a different story. I decided I wasn’t going to let those beautiful red, green and yellow orbs of goodness go to waste. Along with collecting as many as we could for pies and sauce, we also collected for cider, and apple cider vinegar! The inspiration came to me while I was fermenting grain with whey. If grain and vegetables benefit from fermentation, so can apples, and it’s an age old process that preserves the apple harvest for months or even years.

Hard apple cider is made simply by allowing raw apple cider from freshly pressed apples to ferment. Don’t let the simplicity of the thing fool you, however. Good hard apple cider is difficult to get right. The cider is traditionally fermented in oak barrels, but it has been problematic due to the inherent leakiness of wooden barrels, and our current divorce from using wood anything. We’ve used glass fermenting jars. The fermentation process will occur regardless of any added culture. Wild cultures that are naturally present in the apple will ferment the cider just as well as the purified strains from the store. The only problem with wild cultures is, you’re not sure what you’re getting! If you’re not much of a gambler, you can always add a yeast killer, wait a few days (the appropriate length of time should be described in the directions), and add a known culture. If vinegar is your end goal, the wild cultures will do just fine. A cider maker may also choose to add sugar or honey or some other sweetener to boost the end alcohol content. For vinegar, adding sugar will make a more acidic end product.

The cider will go through two stages; aerobic and anaerobic fermentation. During the first aerobic stage, the cider will froth and foam – it is casting off impurities, and the cider maker should be sure to keep the fermentation vessel clean during this time. He should also take care to keep the top covered. Even though this is is an aerobic process, the cider maker will not want wild yeasts and dust to prematurely spoil the cider. When the foaming subsides, an air lock can be placed over the opening so that the anaerobic process can begin. You will notice that during this stage, there will be lots of bubbles from the yeast fermentation process. You know that the cider is near finished when the bubbles slow or completely stop. The actual amount of time it takes completely depends on the blend of apples, their ripeness, sweetness, and if any sugar or sweetener was added.

Apple cider vinegar is easy to make. First you have to make hard apple cider, described above. If you aren’t interested in drinking the hard cider, it doesn’t really matter how well it turns out, because either way it will turn to acid vinegar. The hard cider is simply allowed to remain in open air, so that the alcohol can be converted to acetic acid. The cider maker may add a bit of previous apple cider vinegar to the mix to speed the process. Raw apple cider vinegar will grow a ‘mother’- a cloudy yeast complex that floats around in your cider. This is normal. Stir it twice daily, and test your vinegar after about a week. If it has reached a desirable acidity level, simply pour it into clean storage containers such as glass canning jars, seal it, and keep it in a cool, dark place. Vinegar will last indefinitely, but it may get stronger over time. If your vinegar turns too strong, dilute it with water to taste.

The amount of apples needed to make cider is not very large. This depends on the type of apples and also their ripeness. The taste of the cider and vinegar will also depend on the type of apples. Optimally, one would want some sweet, some tangy, and some bitter apples to round out the flavor. For our first try, we were able to obtain a few different varieties. The process is still underway, as fermentation takes time. But our liquid gold is bubbling away, and we’re eager to try it!


Thanks to Michelle Maier for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We have over $2,097 in prizes lined up for the Fall 2015 Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

 

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

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Homemade Pumpkin Butter
I got this nifty, little book in the mail the other day called Fiercely D.I.Y. Guide to Jams, Jellies, & Fruit Butters by Kathie N. Lapcevic.
 
I’m always on the hunt for good food preservation resources and when I saw this book here on HomespunSeasonalLiving.com, I knew I had to get me a copy. 
 
Kathie’s booklet is filled with 13 yummy recipes, plus how-to instructions for water bath canning. It’s a handy guide to have—especially if you’re new to canning.
 
Today, I thought I’d share one of Kathie’s recipes with you. Homemade pumpkin butter. It’s one way to use pumpkins from your garden or the local farm stand. And it’s so delicious. You can eat it on toast, muffins, waffles, and pancakes. It also tastes great in oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and on sandwiches. Which ever way you choose, you’re gonna love it. It’s like pumpkin pie in a jar! 
 
Before we get started, there’s one thing to note. As Kathie points out in her book, the USDA canning guidelines say that winter squash (Yes, pumpkins are winter squash.) puree is not safe to process in a home canner.  So, this isn’t a canning recipe. You’ll want to refrigerate or freeze the pumpkin butter after you make it.  
 
Okay, ready to start?
 

How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Butter 

You’ll Need:
  • 9 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Now about the pumpkin…Jack-’o-lantern pumpkins are not the best ones to use because they have stringy flesh.  “Pie pumpkins”, the small ones measuring 6 to 8 inches in diameter, are a better choice. If you haven’t cooked pumpkin before, read How to Make Pumpkin Puree + 10 Pumpkin Recipes You Need to Try for a quick how-to.  
 
Gather up your ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well.  
 
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes until the mixture is smooth and thickened. 
 
I added a step to Kathie’s recipe. I transferred the mixture to my food processor and processed it for a minute or two. This removed any lumpy pumpkin bits hiding in the butter. It won’t hurt to leave them if that’s your thing but I prefer my butters to be super smooth.
 
Once you have the butter to the consistency you desire, pour it into your storage containers and refrigerate or freeze.
 
Enjoy!
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Storage Guidelines for Fruits & Vegetables

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crate-of-peppers-for-storageIt’s harvest time for many [Grow] Network members – and hopefully there is more food coming in than you know what to do with!

Marjory sent me this handy guide from Cornell, and I thought that it would be useful to share it with everybody – to help make decisions about how you’re going to put up your harvest.

This is a PDF from the extension service at Cornell University, with a ton of information about how to properly harvest and store a variety of crops. It’s got recommendations for about 50 fruits and veggies, along with some good information about storage options – different places around the homestead where it’s safe to store a surplus, and some creative ideas for packing materials and containers you can use.

One especially helpful little tidbit that’s in here is to always store your fruits and vegetables separately – fruits release ethylene which can cause your vegetables to ripen more quickly. And stored fruits can take on the taste of nearby vegetables… Who knew?

You can read or download the original PDF here: Storage Guidelines for Fruits & Vegetables


Many thanks to Eric de Long and S. Reiners of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Chemung County

 

How to Dehydrate Garlic

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How to dehydrate garlic yourself

What does one do with this much garlic? How do you dehydrate garlic?

Love me some garlic!

I recently purchased garlic at Costco. Very affordable, but there was way more than I would use in a couple of weeks.
I decided to dehydrate it.

opening garlic

It was a team effort to do this.
First we had to break open the garlic cloves.

Garlic peeler
A great purchase. Just roll the garlic clove around and it peels it for you!

dehydrating your own garlic

Then you slice it on this mini mandolin.

lay it out on the dehydrator tray
Spread it out on the dehydrator tray.
Did you know garlic was sticky?
I lost track of how long it was on there. I put my Excalibur on the vegetable setting. I know it was at least 12 hours though.

results of 5 trays
Finished product.

Seems like there isn’t much there. I always feel that way with my dehydrated veggies too.

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3 Long-Term Food Storage Tips for Survivalists

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3 Long-Term Food Storage Tips for Survivalists Most of you have seen McDonald’s food experiments in which hamburgers and fries look exactly the same years after sitting around at room temperature. Even insects and fungus won’t eat these “frankenfoods,” so they last seemingly forever regardless of environmental conditions. But to survive a societal breakdown, it’s … Continue reading 3 Long-Term Food Storage Tips for Survivalists

The post 3 Long-Term Food Storage Tips for Survivalists appeared first on The Prepared Ninja.

Best Five Books For Living Off The Grid Or With A Prepper Mindset

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One thing that can definitely be accurately said about those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture is that we are all voracious learners. Often this education is achieved through reading, probably because that’s a very economical way of gaining new information, and we are also notoriously frugal when it comes to financial matters. To that end, I thought it would be pertinent to list what I consider to be the five best books for living off grid and/or with a Prepper mindset with a couple of additions as honorable mentions.

What do you think of the list below? Feel free to let me know…

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How Long Does Home Canned Food Last?

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How Long Does Home Canned Food Last?Is this safe to eat?

That thought crossed my mind as I grabbed one of the remaining jars of last year’s tomatoes off the pantry shelf to use for dinner this week. 

I know the deal with store-bought food and their expiration dates, but I wasn’t quite sure about home canned foods. How long does home canned food last?

So, I did some research for us and here’s what I discovered:

According to the National Center for Home Preservation

Properly canned food stored in a cool, dry place will retain optimum eating quality for at least 1 year. Canned food stored in a warm place near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, or in indirect sunlight may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Dampness may corrode cans or metal lids and cause leakage so the food will spoil.

Does that mean you need to junk your jars’ contents starting month 13?

No, not necessarily. Just like store-bought foods, your properly stored, home canned foods don’t automatically go bad on the 365th day. What it means is that after a year, natural chemical changes can occur which can alter the taste, texture and/or nutritional value of the food. 

After the one year mark (and honestly, it’s not a bad idea to do it before then, too!), you should inspect the canned food before you eat it.

Here are some signs your home canned food has spoiled:

  • The jar’s lid is not completely sealed.
  • There are dried food streaks on the outside of the jar that originate from the top.
  • There’s mold in the jar and/or on the inside of the lid.
  • The contents smell off.
  • The food has changed color.
  • The brine or syrup in the jar is opaque or muddy.
  • The contents are bubbly.
  • The food spurts out of the jar when you open it. 

The bottom line:

It’s best to eat all your home canned goodies before the one year mark, but know that there’s a good chance they will be safe longer than their first year.

And remember, when in doubt, throw it out!

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This article may contain affiliate links. For more information, read the Disclaimers & Disclosures here. Thank you for your support!

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Episode 58 Food Preservation

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James and Mike A Day In THe Woods Autoimmune Diseases

James and Mike

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This week we discuss Food preservation methods. We go down the list of different ways to preserve food both on grid and off. Canning and pressure canning are brought up. James talks about only how he has only ever canned ground beef and tried butter once. The butter method is not recommended. We talk about salt curing and how it makes everything on a pig taste better. James mentions how proscuitto taste like gym socks.

Smoking meats is another great way to preserve food. It is both easy and can be done off grid. Larding meat or potted meat is an ancient way. It is nothing like it’s modern day counterpart.

 

Links

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Using Bulk Stored Goods – Taco Seasoning and Corn Bread

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Recently, I made it home from work before my wife did. Since she’s such a trooper in dealing with all the things that make most folks look at me in a strange manner (at least living here in town), I thought it would be nice to make something for dinner. Doing a quick poll on […]

What Makes You a Prepper?

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I recently went back to my roots in West Virginia, visiting there for the first time since I started FloridaHillbilly.com. I stayed with friends from high school, folks that have consistently proven themselves to be worthy of that short list of folks that you know you can call at 3am when you need bailed out, […]

Major Change in Canning Procedure!

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There has been a major change in the procedure for canning in Mason jars.  I’ve been pondering hard on why I’m having too many jars not seal when canning lately.  I’m very careful with my process, so I’ve been very upset to have jars not seal.  As it turns out, there was a change in process that wasn’t widely publicized.

I’ve always trusted my grandmother as the expert on all things canning.  I’ve followed her recipes and advice to the letter.  The same thing goes for my mom.  These ladies have me on experience by decades.  I’d be a fool not to listen.  This new change has taken us all by surprise.  I guess we learn to adapt and overcome!

This change involves the lids we use on our jars.  For 100 years, the process has included simmering the lids in a saucepan of hot water on the stove.  We do this to sterilize the lids, and until recently, to soften the rubber so the lid would seal.  This is now WRONG!  100  years of tradition is gone now.  If you simmer new lids, there is a decent chance they will not seal.  I’ve experienced this a lot lately.  I’ve had a ton of jars not seal while following the process I grew up with.

After all the failures, and researching online to get the new information, we’ve just been washing the lids with warm water and putting them on jars.  We’ve processed a couple dozen jars this weekend and have had no seal failures.  This is a big change, since we’ve had a lot of failures to seal this summer.  I was really getting concerned about my abilities to can.  I’m happy to report, it wasn’t anything I was doing wrong, just a change I wasn’t aware of.

I wish the lid manufacturers would have made a better attempt to inform us of the change, but at least I know now and can pass the information along.  If you are having issues with lids not sealing, stop simmering.  We have, and it has made all the difference.

It is rare that I post two articles in the same day, but I thought this was worth sharing immediately.  If I can spare one of my readers the hassle I’ve been experiencing with canning and having failures, then I will feel a lot better.

Here are a couple of links explaining the change.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/waterbath-canning

http://livinghomegrown.com/2014/08/changes-in-canning-lid-procedures.html

 

Fire Roasted Green Chiles

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At the end of every summer, the state of New Mexico shares its bounty with the rest of the world.  The famous Hatch Green Chile is in season!  During this season, all the stores in Texas offer these peppers for a great price.  Usually they can be had for less than a dollar a pound.  Since it is a short window on Hatch season, a lot of us like to stock up for the year.  There are several ways to preserve them for year-round use.

The most popular methods are freezing, drying, and canning.  For our yearly stockpile, we bought a 25 pound case, so we have a lot of peppers to work with.  More than half will be frozen, which is a lot more work than it sounds like.  The rest will end up getting dried.  Drying these peppers will use the same process I covered a few weeks ago, so I won’t go into any detail.

Before peppers can be frozen, it helps to remove the skin.  Most peppers have a very tough skin that will not come off the flesh of the pepper without some help.  This is where the roasting comes in.  Once the peppers are roasted, the skins will slip off.  At this point, the peppers go into small freezer bags and into the freezer.  Be sure to use small, serving size bags because once thawed, the peppers will only last a week or two in the refrigerator.

I planned on roasting the whole batch over hardwood coals in the fire pit.  It works well but was very time consuming.  It also involves working directly over an open fire in August in Texas.  Needless to say, it was hot work. To roast these peppers, pierce each pepper with a fork several times.  Put them over the heat until the skin blisters.  Once it is blistered completely, remove from heat and place them in freezer bag or a bowl covered with a towel to allow them to “sweat”.  Once they are cool the skins should slip off.

About halfway through, some friends showed up to help.  They were born and raised in the Mesilla Valley in New Mexico.   We were quickly onto a different method.  We built the fire up to really increase the heat and procured a large pot.  In this pot, we poured enough vegetable oil to completely cover a few peppers.  Once this oil was hot, we started tossing peppers in and letting them blister.  As they finished, they were laid out on cardboard to drain.  This process took 2 or 3 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes it took over the fire.

There is a method that uses an oven to roast the peppers, but we decided against it.  It works well but makes the house smell of chile peppers and can turn the air in the kitchen into pepper spray.  Even with 3 peppers in the oven, the odor was strong.  We will continue to do all of our roasting outside.

A few things I discovered that will help out…  When handling peppers, don’t touch your eyes or face (or private parts!).  You can wear gloves to help out with this.  When working over a fire, the longer your tongs, the better.  I lost some hair on my hands turning peppers.  The friends from New Mexico said that a gas or charcoal grill works very well.

 

Photo courtesy of Sarah’s Musical Kitchen.

Preserving Peppers!

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This year my pepper plants aren’t doing well.  I’m not sure if it was the weird spring weather that stayed cold longer than normal or something I’m doing wrong.  Whatever it is, the plants are stunted.  They look healthy, but small.  I’ve managed to harvest a couple of Jalapenos and a handful of small Cayenne peppers.

Luckily, my dad’s pepper plants are doing great this season, so he sent me home with a ton of peppers this weekend.  I ended up with a dining room table full of Jalapeno, Cayenne, and Banana peppers.  Now it’s time to move to get them preserved before they can go bad.

Dehydrating is the easiest way of preserving peppers, but it limits their uses later.  They can be used for cooking or as a seasoning, but not really enjoyed by themselves.  I always like to keep a good stock on hand for uses in chili and stew recipes, so several pounds of this batch are getting dried.   Dehydrating peppers is a pretty simple and straightforward process.

Peppers have a pretty tough skin that seals moisture in, so each pepper needs to be pierced or sliced so they can dry evenly.  For thin peppers like the Cayennes I make a slit along the length of each pepper.  For thicker peppers like the Jalapenos, I simply slice them in half along the length.   Once all the peppers are sliced, they get loaded on the trays of the dehydrator.  Unless you have a very well ventilated spot inside, I recommend running the dehydrator outside.  As peppers heat up and start to dry, they turn the area around them into a pepper spray gas chamber.  Usually in 10 to 12 hours, everything is dried out well and ready to store.  I use Mason jars to keep them moisture free.  That allows them to keep for years.

Some basic tips for dehydrating:

1. Thin items dry much faster than thick pieces.

2. Peppers, onions, and other foods can put off very strong odors while drying.

3. If you dehydrate outside, make sure the dehydrator is protected from animals and birds.

4. Some items can impart their flavor to others if dehydrated at the same time.  Don’t dry onions or peppers with your apple chips!

5. Check your food every couple of hours.  You can’t really over dry most items, but no sense in running a dehydrator longer than needed.