5 Backyard Meat Animal This is just a great article. When I see an article like this I often think it will be a short list of 5 animals and a short paragraph on each. Even then you wind up getting some great incite on a subject. This article is much more. The author really …
We are talking pigs Austin Martin “Homesteady Live“ Audio in player below! Raising pastured pigs can be a fantastic way to put some meat on the table, and even have some product to sell your local community. But raising pigs isn’t right for every homestead. Should you raise pastured pigs on your homestead? What will … Continue reading We are talking pigs!
It was a food invented by the Native Americans, who depended on it when traveling on long and adventurous journeys when food was scarce, or when there simply wasn’t time to hunt and gather enough to eat. That was a lesson well-learned by many early European settlers, explorers and fur traders in North America.
It was pemmican, which was the ultimate survival food for centuries and quickly became a staple food for fur traders, voyageurs and Arctic and Antarctic explorers. The reason was simple. It was high in protein and calories, and high in fat. Fat offers the best calories for cold weather and the most calories for people who were subject to brutally physical work, temperatures and conditions.
The word “pemmican” is a derivative of a Cree Indian word “pimihkan.” Curiously, the word “pimi” is the Cree word for “greasy fat.” On a fundamental level, pemmican is a mixture of dried and powdered meat, animal fat, wild berries and salt. The fat to meat ratio was typically 1:1, or 50 percent powdered meat and 50 percent fat. Some recipes vary that ratio, and typically less fat was used in warmer climates.
Prepared properly, pemmican can last for years and years, although adding anything to it besides meat and fat will reduce the shelf life. There are reports of some pemmican lasting 50 or more years. According to a popular social studies book used in Canadian schools, “Pemmican was high in calories and protein, and could be stored in leather bags for years at a time. It was also portable, much like protein bars available today.”
A curious side note on animal fat is that it has food preservative properties. Pioneer women would pack a crock with cooked meats and pour a layer of fat over the top, allowing it to cool and congeal to preserve the meat.
The recipe by the old Hudson Bay Company – which was founded in 1670 and was key to the fur trade — used buffalo meat and buffalo fat in addition to the marrow from the buffalo bones. We’ll get into the specifics of that type of recipe in a bit. I’ve experimented with various pemmican recipes and ways to prepare and enjoy this very rustic and primitive food.
At the outset, the recipe used game animals from moose to elk and venison as the primary ingredients. Eventually, beef emerged as the primary meat ingredient and it was most commonly used by Arctic and Antarctic explorers including Admiral Peary, Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, Fridtjof Nansen, and Sir Ernest Shackleton. In many cases both the men and their sled dogs subsisted on pemmican.
An important consideration for any recipe in the last century up to today is the type of fat used in pemmican recipes. Beef tallow and beef marrow are the fats of choice, in addition to suet. Suet is the hard, beef fat found around the kidneys and loins of cattle. Avoid lard in your pemmican recipes. Lard is pork fat and I have found few recipes that recommend it going back 200 years.
The meat is just as important and should be trimmed of all fat and sliced into thin strips. Reserve the fat for rendering, but you don’t want any fat on the meat because of a critical step in the recipe process. That step involves drying the meat.
There are varying drying approaches that we’ll cover, but the critical success factor is that the strips of meat are hard and brittle. The goal is to dry the strips of meat to a hardness that will allow you to break it and crush it into something approaching a dust.
As time went on, varying dried fruits were added to the recipe. Native Americans used dried choke cherries and cranberries. Later recipes used by adventurers and explorers added dried cherries, blueberries and currants, all of which were also pounded into bits.
The dried berries add a vitamin component, including vitamin C. The amounts vary by recipe, but you always can adjust to your taste.
Classic Pemmican Recipe
The following recipe was used during the 1700s.
Hudson Bay pemmican was made from buffalo meat. The lean meat was cut into strips and dried in the sun for two to three days or over a fire until it was hard and brittle. The strips of hardened meat were then pounded into a powder, either with a wooden mallet on a stump or between two stones.
The fat and marrow of the buffalo was then melted and mixed into the powdered meat to make a paste (using a 50/50 mixture). This was then allowed to harden and was wrapped and rolled into a rectangular piece of buffalo hide. The cold temperatures of the Arctic and far north kept it from spoiling, although pemmican stores very well.
Admiral Peary’s expedition to the North Pole subsisted on a pemmican made from dried beef ground into a powder, beef tallow or beef fat and dried fruit.
You don’t have to crush the meat between two stones; you can use more contemporary approaches. These include:
- A hand-turned meat grinder. This gets the dried meat into small bits and you can continue to run it through in a series of batches to get it as fine as you want.
- A blender. Just make sure to do it in batches until you get the consistency you want.
- A food processor. But if there is any moisture at all, the speed of the processor will turn the meat into a paste, so grind the dried meat in bursts.
The size and consistency of your pulverized, dried beef can range from small bits to the dusty powder used by pioneers. That’s up to you. I prefer the small bits, but make sure they’re very small or you’ll spend the rest of the day trying to get bits of dried beef out of your teeth.
I use a food dehydrator. It’s the same one I use to make jerky; I just extend the drying time. To test a piece, take it out of the dehydrator and tape it on the counter. It should make a hard sound rather than the dull thud you’d get from a piece of jerky. Next, snap a piece. If it breaks like peanut brittle, you’re done. If it bends, it needs more time.
You also could hang the strips over a fire for two or three days. I tend to prefer the dehydrator but in the field, I’d use the fire method in a heartbeat.
This is a slow process. You should start by cutting the tallow and/or suet into chunks. If you’re also adding marrow, slice that up into one-inch pieces. Add all to a cast-iron frying pan over low to medium heat and toss often. Eventually, the fat will pool into the bottom of the pan, leaving some brown chunks behind. Filter the fat to remove the chunks. If there are smaller bits and pieces of brown bits left in the pan, I’ll even run it through some cheese cloth to clarify the fat. Don’t let it smoke or burn. That will give the fat and the resulting pemmican an off taste.
Dried Fruit Tips
Whether I’m using fresh fruit or dried fruit bought at the store, I’ll put the fruits into a dehydrator. Even dried, packaged fruit has some residual moisture. Once the fruit is dried, I’ll pulverize it in the food processor or the blender to break it into bits.
Putting it All Together
I like a 1:1 mix of beef and fat. It’s easier to measure that way. For every cup of dried, pulverized beef, add a cup of fat. The fat should be warm, not hot and not congealed. Mix the fat and meat together with your hands or two spoons. I put it into a tabletop mix-master and use the dough hook to blend everything. If you’re off the grid you may have to use your hands.
Add the dried berries to your taste. I usually add a half-cup and mix it all together again. If you want, you can add some salt to suit your taste. For a cup of meat and a cup of fat plus a half-cup of fruit, I’ll add a half teaspoon of salt when I add the fruit so the salt gets blended into the mixture, as well.
If you want to make more, just double or triple the amounts. That’s the other thing I like about a 50/50 ratio of meat to fat. It makes the multiplication easier.
When done, I’ll spoon the pemmican into a cupcake pan and flatten the tops with the back of a knife. I then refrigerate it for about three hours and turn the tray over onto the counter. Each pemmican cake will be greasy to the touch, so place each one in a plastic sandwich bag unless you want to wrap it in a piece of rawhide. I tend to favor the plastic bags. You can store them in a cool, dark place, but mine usually ends up in the fridge.
Tips on Eating Pemmican
Three recipes for eating pemmican have emerged over the years. The first is my favorite.
- Fried pemmican rechaud. This recipe involves frying the pemmican in its own fat. Wild onions like ramps and potatoes were often added until browned, followed by two or three tablespoons of flour and salt to taste. This can be spread on bread or crackers and eaten like a sandwich. I offered some to my wife at the counter once and she walked away shaking her head with disgust. I guess pemmican is kind of a guy thing.
- Rubaboo. This recipe was a favorite of fur traders. A chunk of pemmican about the size of your fist was dropped into a quart of boiling water. Flour is supposed to be added next, and I usually mix the flour with a little pemmican first so I don’t get lumps. Onions, potatoes and carrots can be added and some salt for seasoning. Fur traders also would add a little sugar and chopped salt pork. It will have a soup-like consistency and was eaten that way. I like it with sourdough bread.
- Raw. This was the eating method of choice for Arctic and Antarctic explorers and Canadian voyageurs. A chunk of pemmican was held in one hand and sliced with a knife and chewed. I’ve tried it and it’s not bad. In France, there is a delicacy known as “lardo.” It’s sliced lard and is eaten like a slice of cheese. Suffice it to say, I tried it once and that was enough. Maybe I’ll appreciate it more if I ever go to the Arctic.
Give it a Try
This is a good survival food as a last resort and it has been shown to have a good shelf-life if prepared properly. You can use any game animal, but I would start with beef and make a small batch to start. Five pounds of raw beef will give you one pound of dried beef, and that should be enough for a trial run. Grab some suet while you’re at it so you have enough fat for a 50/50 mix. Enjoy!
How do you make pemmican? Share your tips in the section below:
Raising Meat Chickens Host: Austin Martin “Homesteady Live“ Audio in player below! Should you raise meat chickens on your homestead? Chickens are commonly called the “Gateway Animal”, and so it makes sense that Chickens are a great way to get started with raising your own meat. But raising meat birds is not the same as … Continue reading Raising Meat Chickens
Potting Meat is a “if everything else fails” method. Potting meat is an ancient food storage technique that worked for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the USDA recommends against this process because of the potential for botulism. Personally, I would rather pressure can meat – it is a much safer, however crocking meat is still used as […]
The struggle to keep and store enough food is not a new problem, and as far back as 12,000 B.C., there is evidence of food preservation. The greatest tools to the ancients would have been sun and wind. Of course, we also can look to the Native Americans to learn how food was preserved. They smoked and salted meat to make it last longer.
Or we can look to the classically trained chefs of the 1800s. Their stories may not be as exciting or as fraught with peril as the American pioneers, but under certain kings they could be one bad meal away from the gallows!
1. Fat cap
Fat has an astounding ability to preserve. This is especially true when it rises to the top and seals in food. When fat cools and seals food in, it also keeps oxygen out. Without that precious oxygen, it takes much longer for the food to spoil. That is because bacteria need oxygen to proliferate.
One of the best ways to take advantage of this fat or fat cap is to create a stock or broth. Bone broth has become very popular and would work here, as well. As you simmer the bones in your stock or broth, try not to skim off the fat. (Although you do need to skim off the foam and impurities.)
As this mixture cools, you will see the fat cap begin to rise, form and solidify. Store this somewhere cool. A refrigerator is ideal for the modern homesteader, but a cool basement will work, as well, particularly in colder temperatures. In the fridge, you will get up to a month if you leave the fat cap undisturbed; you could get up to two weeks in a nice cool area.
2. Salt cure and hang
This is a combination of techniques and is one of my very favorite preparations. The best method comes from the world-famous chef, Jacques Pepin.
Traditionally it is to be used on the pork picnic or hind quarters. You will first have to salt this piece of meat for 30 days. Place it in a large container or odorless trash bag. Cover it completely with salt and leave it in a cool place for a month.
After the month is up, wipe off the salt, but do not rinse it because we are in the business of dehydration with this preparation; rub it with some whiskey or bourbon. In France, they would tell us to use cognac but we are in America so I use what we make here.
Next, wrap this beauty in some cheesecloth or a breathable chef’s coat.
The timing is critical, as it will take six months to hang and dry. You must be aware of your climate and the time of the year. To do this right, you need a nice cool, dry environment that will stay that way for most of the six months. On the East Coast, that means hanging your pork around September or October and pulling it down in March or April.
After about three months, unwrap your meat and give it a look. Make sure it hasn’t fallen prey to bugs or something bigger! Also, there may be some mold growing on this meat and you will need to trim that off, as well. Rewrap and hang for the remainder of time.
Once you have reached the six-month mark, drop your meat and bring it inside. Touch the meat; is it springy in the center or solid? Cut it in half and look it over. If it’s not completely dry, it will still be gummy in the middle. Wrap it again and hang it for another month. If it’s dry, shave off any mold and unsightly pieces.
Eat it raw or use it to flavor soups, pastas and stews.
In today’s world, this might sound like a lot of work for something you cannot eat for six months, but if you killed an animal in September and you could have access to the meat six months later, that would be a huge benefit to the people who are storing food.
I have used this on the following cuts of meat as well:
- Beef shoulder — same prep as pork
- Deer hind quarter — same prep as pork
- Duck breast — salt one week; hang 1 month
- Goose breast — salt two weeks; hang 2 months.
The rillette is a preparation that also takes advantage of the powerful preserving qualities of fat. This preparation is traditionally used for rabbit and is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a good hare.
The meat of a rabbit should be roasted slow and low in an oven until it gets tender. It is then minced or processed in a food processor with a mix of herbs. (Chefs of the 1800s, of course, would have used cleavers.) For this flavor, use lavender, thyme and oregano. Chill the meat at this point.
Add fat to this mixture, as that is what makes it a rillette. Traditionally duck fat is used for this and you want the mix to be pretty creamy. In other words, add chilled fat slowly into your food processor until you achieve a good balance. Season it if you wish with salt and pepper.
Divide your rillette into smaller containers and top each with some warmed duck fat that will harden like the fat cap we mentioned earlier.
I am not positive on shelf life of the rillette because they get eaten fast. I bet if you had tops to cover them and buried this in the ground during winter, they would last at least a month.
I have saved my very favorite chef prep method for last. To “confit” is to cook on extremely low heat, submerged in fat. It is basically deep fat baking instead of frying. The results are totally different from that of deep fat frying, though. Meat is transformed into something incredible at these low temps.
We will focus on duck legs, as that is the classic meat used. Salt the duck legs for 24 hours and cover them with a little fresh thyme. After 24 hours, rinse and place the legs in a nice deep baking dish. Next, cover with duck fat and bake at about 200 degrees for six hours.
The legs become juicy, tender and incredibly succulent. They are also covered in fat. I am sure you know where this is going. Once cooled, the fat will harden and prevent spoilage. Shelf life: one month.
What are your favorite old-time meat preservation methods? Share your tips in the section below:
Every Thanksgiving that we’re cooking our own meal, I get the biggest turkey I can find because we love the leftovers. Some years, there’s so much left on the turkey that we won’t be able to eat it all before it goes bad in the fridge, so we can it to use it later. Canned […]
Pemmican has been called the ultimate survival food. It is nutrient dense and fits right in with the paleo diet. It was originally produced in the 18th century by native Americans and French Voyageurs. Pemmican is made traditionally from buffalo meat, although deer, elk, or moose could also be used. None of those available to you? Beef works fine, too. Because it is packable, and ready to eat without cooking, pemmican makes a great savory food for camping, hiking, or survival. Plus it’s pretty straightforward to make. Ready to get started?
Here’s what you need.
- Lean red meat. You can use wild game like bison, elk, or deer, or domestic meat like beef. This is a ratio by weight recipe, so the amount of meat you use can vary.
- Suet or tallow. Suet is the raw flaky fat usually found around the loins and kidneys of beef or mutton, and tallow has been rendered from suet. Making your pemmican with tallow will give it a longer shelf life. You can get your own suet or tallow from harvesting an animal, or purchase it in a container all ready to use. I used this.
- Dry berries. Theses are optional! Traditionally choke berries, but you can add whatever you like. I used freeze dried raspberries.
You’ll also need some type of mold to press the finished product into. Line a small pan with waxed paper. You could also roll it into balls or I’ve seen it rolled flat between two layers of waxed paper and then cut it into squares. It sets up flexible-solid, but breaks apart easily, so a thin pemmican might be a little more difficult to work with.
Step 1: Cut and dry your meat. Cut your meat thinly ACROSS the grain. If you’re not sure what across the grain is, watch this quick tip:
The meat was traditionally laid out in the open air or dried by the fire. A dehydrator speeds the process up and keeps the flies off your meat. Dry it (at 145 degrees for variable heat dehydrators) until it’s brittle and breaks when you bend it. You could also dry it on low temperature in your oven with the door cracked open, or by using a solar oven following your oven’s manufacturer’s directions for drying foods.
Step 2: Pulverize the meat. You’re welcome to use a mortar and pestle, but a food processor makes quick work of this step. You want your meat in small pieces and powder.
Step 3: Weigh the meat and tallow. Once your meat is pulverized, weigh it. Then measure out the same amount BY WEIGHT of tallow into a pan to heat. So it’s a 1 meat to 1 tallow ratio by weight.
Step 4: Weigh the berries. If you are using the optional berries, go with a ratio by weight that is about 8 meat to 1 berries. So for every 8 ounces of meat, you’ll add about 1 ounce of dry berries. I crushed mine a bit.
Step 5: Combine the dry meat and berries in large bowl. Just stir them together.
Step 6: Melt the tallow. Low heat or a double boiler so it doesn’t scorch.
Step 7: Mix it all together and press in molds. Get it in the forms quickly as the tallow will want to be solid at room temperature and you’re mixing it in with cool ingredients.
Let it cool, and it’s done! Pemmican has a mild, meaty flavor. The texture is a bit greasy. You can eat it raw or fry it or put it in soup. To keep it, wrap it in airtight packaging and keep cool and dry. This should keep for months pretty easily if stored properly. Happy eating!
Visual learner? Watch this:
Subscribe to my email newsletter for updates and special deals.
Please be sure to follow Food Storage and Survival on Facebook which is updated every time there is a new article. You can also find me on Pinterest, and purchase my book, Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival on Amazon.
It doesn’t take much to get a rumor started. Rumors can twist and turn and evolve into myths that are passed along between friends, family and even complete strangers. The rumor gains fuel and before you know it, it is taken as gospel.
In the homesteading and survivalist world, this happens often. Some of the myths have scared newbies away from stockpiling – and some of the myths are even held by experts.
We are here to debunk some of the most common myths surrounding stockpiling. Here are eight myths that simply are not true:
1. It costs a lot of money to stockpile. It does cost some money, but you can spend $10 to $20 a week and build up a pretty nice stockpile. It is all about shopping smart. Take advantage of sale prices and don’t be afraid to buy generic. You don’t have to only use commercially prepared food. You can save a ton of money by growing a garden and preserving what you have grown. If you are a hunter, then you have another option in finding meat.
2. Buying in bulk is best. Absolutely one of the worst myths out there. Who can use a five-gallon can of ketchup or sit down and eat a five-gallon can of chili in a single sitting? If you are stockpiling food for just you and your small family, you need to think in those terms. You are not feeding an army. During a crisis, you may not have a working refrigerator to store the unused portions. When you open that can of whatever, it needs to be eaten within a few hours to ensure it is safe and isn’t going to make anyone ill. Buying in bulk is OK if it includes individual servings, but don’t waste your money on bulk cans of foods that will require refrigeration after opening.
3. You need a lot of space to stockpile. This isn’t entirely true. People who live in small apartments or tiny homes can still build up a stockpile. It will just take a little creativity and ingenuity. It is all about maximizing the spaces we all have. You can stockpile food in the back of the closet, under the bed, in the voids in your furniture and in the space between your ceiling and roof. Adding shelves around the top one foot or so of your bedroom will also give you plenty of room to store supplies.
4. You will end up wasting a lot of food. Stockpiling means you will be constantly rotating your stock. When you go grocery shopping, pull out the food that has been on the shelf for a while in your stockpile, eat it and add the fresh food to the back of the pile. Constantly freshening your supply means you will never waste anything.
5. It takes a lot of time and energy to stockpile food. It takes about as much time and energy as it does to put away the groceries after grocery shopping. You will want to check on your stock occasionally and maybe do a little organizing, but it doesn’t take hours every week. If you have a system built in that allows you to add fresh supplies without moving everything around, that time will be cut in half.
6. Freeze-dried foods are the only option. Absolutely untrue. Freeze-dried foods certainly offer some benefits, but few people can afford only to stockpile freeze-dried foods. Other foods, like dried grains and beans, can last just as long as freeze-dried foods when stored right. They are about a fraction of the cost and provide more flexibility. There are certainly some perks to the huge buckets of freeze-dried meals, but you can use dried foods and still achieve the same variety. Ideally, you will want to aim for a nice combination of freeze-dried, canned and dried foods. This way you will always have an option for dinner that offers a little variety from the night before.
7. Your stockpile means you never have to worry about food again. Your stockpile of food is only going to last so long. If you are dealing with an event that completely upsets the world, it could take weeks or months (or longer) before commerce is built up again. You need to learn hunting and gardening skills. The longer you can stretch that stockpile of food, the better off you will be. Being able to add fresh fruits, veggies and meat to your diet is also going to be healthier for you and you will appreciate the flavors of the fresh food.
What advice would you add? Share it in the section now:
Owning a smoker gives you the ability to preserve and attribute a wonderful flavor to your meat and other foods. Smokers are simple to construct and can be built from a variety of materials. The basic necessities, regardless of your custom set-up, consist of:
- A way to hang your food.
- A place to enclose the smoke.
- A place to burn your wood.
I’ve built many smokers using materials from 55-gallon drums, wood boxes and even tepees. Currently, I use the best smoker I could build under $75. It’s made of corrugated tin roofing for the roof and outside walls. The structure itself is made from 4-feet by 4-feet wood pallets, and I have a firebox attached to the side by using a 4-inch pipe.
I started my build by leveling an area of ground 5 feet by 5 feet. This will provide you the area you need for the smokehouse. Use wood pallets to make a “U” shape on the ground – the top of the “U” is the back of the smokehouse — and use 3-inch deck screws to fasten them together. Fasten the two side pallets on the open area of the bottom with a 1-inch x 4-inch board from the inside of the pallet (any 1-inch board will work). This is the body of the smoker.
It’s time to get the roof on. Place another pallet on top of the body. Have someone help hold the front up to a 30-degree angle while you screw in the back. Use a couple of 1-inch x 4-inch boards on each side of the front and screw them in. This will keep the angle of your roof secure.
I bought a couple sheets of corrugated roofing for the walls and roof. Start by cutting the correct angles for the side walls and back. Just get some measurements off your frame to know how to cut the metal. Take care while cutting, and use the proper safety equipment so you don’t get cut up on the sharp metal. Once you cut the sides, screw them on and screw some panels on top for the roof.
Making the door is fairly easy. Get the measurement of the opening of the smoker. Build a rectangular door with 1-inch x 4-inch boards and mount with hinges to the smoker. Then, just fasten some more corrugated roofing to the door. This completes the smokehouse!
The last part is the fire box. This can be done in a few ways. Using a small drum turned into a fireplace is about the easiest way. Connect it to the smokehouse using some 4-inch pipe. I chose to use cinderblocks to make a stove and connect them via the 4-inch pipe.
Using cinderblocks, make a box with four of them. Put a second staggered set on top, but chip out a section so the 4-inch pipe can attach to the smokehouse. Now, we need one last course of block for the firebox. Using a sheet of metal for a baffle on the firebox opening will control the heat.
This is a quick project and fairly inexpensive. Homesteaders and hunters will get tons of use from a smoker — smoking meats, fish and cheese. I know I get really popular with friends and family when I get smoking! It’s also a great way to take things like bland fish (trout) and turn them into a real treat by brining and smoking.
What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
A recent egg customer noted the thick stack of bills in the worn red canvas pencil case I use for egg money, and remarked that sales must be going well these days.
I replied that they were indeed doing nicely. The pullets are all up and running, and the older hens have bounced back from their molts and resumed laying again.
“The girls ought to be getting their own wi-fi and spa treatments,” my friend said, laughing.
It is true that my backyard chickens deserve to be treated well, and they are. The great thing about raising laying hens is that a few egg sales can pay for not only all the birds’ needs but can pad the pockets of farmers a bit, too.
I have raised a variety of other livestock, and each animal was rewarding in its own way. However, none have been so consistently self-supporting as chickens. Following are some ways my backyard birds pay for themselves.
1. Eggs. I have an endless supply of fresh organic free-range eggs, which are said to be lower in cholesterol than factory-farmed eggs. Around my house, there is no shortage of omelets, fried egg sandwiches, frittatas and egg-rich baked goods — made with eggs that go for premium prices if I were to buy them retail.
2. Sales. My surplus eggs sell for a reasonable amount, often the same price as weeks-old factory-farmed eggs in the grocery store. Even though they could easily fetch far more, I choose to keep mine affordable. Even so, my egg income easily covers the cost of everything the birds need.
3. Inexpensive to feed. My hens get top-of-the-line all-organic grain and scratch, and there is still plenty of egg money left over after I buy them food and supplies. In my particular situation, it helps that the birds have access to ample pasture and woods where they can scratch for their food of choice. Grain is always their last choice. But even in wintertime when they eat mostly grain and are not able to forage, I break even on feed costs.
4. Easy to house. My chickens have a cozy coop which is well-insulated against the winter cold, in addition to optional shelters from sun and rain where they can spend time during the day. According to my calculations, they paid for their own Taj Mahal in three or four years of egg-laying.
5. Can be treated humanely with minimal effort and costs. Chickens have few needs — food, clean water, shelter and protection from predation — and thrive well on very little. Homesteaders who are concerned with compassionate care for animals can easily attain such a goal.
6. Help with kitchen and garden cleanup. My chickens love all manner of food nobody else wants to eat. They will gladly snap up vegetable trimmings, past-prime produce, home-canned jellies and chutneys that have been sitting on the larder shelf too long, and stale bread, all of which saves space in the compost bin and saves on chicken feed costs. Chickens are omnivores, too, so they will eat by-products from meat and dairy which would otherwise go into the trash.
7. They love bugs and other pests. Mine eat ticks, flying insects, beetles and other garden menaces. It is good for them, provides them ample entertainment, and reduces my pest population. This results in better vegetable yields and less need for pesticides.
8. Meat and stock. My laying hens stay around the henhouse until they die of natural causes. Even when they stop laying, or when what few eggs they lay have paper-thin shells and break when they land in the nest box, the old girls stay. That is not the way everyone does it, but homesteaders need to do what feels right to them.
However, my homestead does sometimes raise chickens specifically for meat. The result is clean organic meat and stock at a significant savings over the same product purchased elsewhere, and is yet another example of how keeping chickens is an endeavor which pays for itself.
There is not much that can be had for free in today’s world, and there are not many endeavors which truly pay for themselves. In many cases, chickens are one of those rarities. By laying eggs, paying for their own upkeep, keeping other homestead costs down by taking care of scraps and bugs, and providing affordable high-quality meat, keeping chickens is very much a worthwhile activity.
Do you agree that chickens pay for themselves? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Meat production should be taxed to save the environment and prevent global warming, a United Nations report is recommending.
Professor Maarten Hajer of Utrecht University in the Netherlands authored the report, released by the UN’s International Research Panel (IRP), which is comprised of 34 scientists and 30 governments
“All of the harmful effects on the environment and on health needs to be priced into food products,” Hajer told The Washington Post. “I think it is extremely urgent.”
Meat, he argued, should be taxed at the wholesale level to raise the price and deter consumption. He and other members of the IRP assert that livestock creates 14.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that the panel says contribute to climate change.
Taxes are needed to deter increases in meat consumption in nations like China, he said.
“We think it’s better to price meats earlier in the chain,” Hajer told The Guardian. “It’s sexier to tax it at the consumer level, but not as effective.”
“If we were all to copycat the way in which we feed ourselves in North America or Europe [with meat], the planet would be in deep trouble,” Hajer added.
Nations should discourage their citizens from eating meat, the report says.
“This report shows our current food system has to change because it’s not sustainable,” Hajer said.
Chicken and dairy consumption is expected to increase by 20 percent in the next decade, and beef and pork consumption by 14 percent over that time span, according to the report.
“Dealing with consumer choices is an extremely touchy issue, but you have to deal with it, because there will consequences,” former European Union environment commissioner Janez Potocnik told The Guardian. Potocnik is co-chairman of the IRP. “The time is coming when we will not be able to sweep it any more under the carpet.”
Rachel Premack, a columnist for The Washington Post’s Wongblog, said the UN’s report deserves serious consideration in the United States.
“It may be delicious, but the evidence is accumulating that meat, particularly red meat, is just a disaster for the environment — and not so great for human beings, either,” she wrote, asserting that agriculture consumes 80 percent of water in the US – most of that being for meat. “… For a kilogram of red meat, you need considerably more water than for plant products.”
Premack added, “Along with a tax, a meat cutback could be achieved by making plant-based diets more appealing and less expensive.”
What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:
One thing that native people are well known for is that they not only believed, but practiced the old “waste not, want not” theory. Indigenous people had a tremendous respect for life and did not believe in killing for sport. This means that when they killed animals, they took great care to use as much as possible.
Of course, this wasn’t always possible. If a buffalo kill was large, such as several dozen buffalo that were run off a cliff, there would be far more bones and internal organs than could be used. In general, however, native people made sure that very little went to waste. This ensured survival of indigenous people because it ensured the survival of the species they hunted.
Start From the Outside In
The most obvious items taken and used were the skins or hides. In cold months these could be frozen and tanned later; otherwise, they were quickly skinned and tanned for clothing, shoes, blankets, teepee covers, you name it. Rawhide (the hair removed) was even more versatile as it could be used for making belts, snowshoes, moccasin soles, water troughs for horses or hide tanning, quivers, shields, buckets, drums and even rafts!
The skin on the head of male buffalos was extremely hard. Native people often used it as a bowl. Even animals that appeared to have no “hide” to use, such as birds or porcupines, were still found to have a use. The quills of porcupines were saved and flattened to make decorations. Bird feathers could be used as decoration, to add balance to arrows, and to stuff pillows or line moccasins for extra insulation.
Hooves were, depending on the animal, sometimes saved and used as bowls or scoops, as well as wind chimes or rattles when they were not boiled down to make a type of sausage. The same with horns. Buffalo horns could be made into a type of whistle, used as a “bag” to carry or store items (such as embers from a fire), and sometimes served as ladles or serving dishes.
On average, a male buffalo could provide up to 400 pounds of meat if nothing spoiled. This does not include organ meat, which was usually consumed first. Brains could be eaten, but were usually saved for tanning the hide. The tongue, liver and heart were considered choice meats. The lungs were often cut into pieces and dried. They would later be used in soups or stews. Blood was also used for stews or as paint. Even teeth were used for decorations.
Fat was often used for cooking, frying, tanning hides and for beauty purposes. Once rendered, fat was used for pemmican, body “lotion,” and hair dressing. Some tribes tell how, in extremely cold weather, they would put a layer of fat (bear fat was especially prized for this) on their skin before dressing, to act as another level of protection and warmth.
Tails from buffalo were used for knife sheaths, decorations, whips, fly swatters, or even made into toys for children.
Digging a Bit Deeper
Once the outside parts were removed, the native people could remove and use other parts as needed.
The stomachs of buffalo and deer, especially if they were full or nearly full of grass, were often boiled with some water, eyes, and some meat to make a stew. Sometimes the Shaman of the tribe would keep some of the stomach contents to use as medicine. Other times, stomachs were cleaned, dried and used to store or carry water. The scrotum of bull buffalo were also used as containers or made into rattles.
Bladders were very useful items to indigenous people. They were used as medicine, and made into bags for food, water or medicine bags.
Last but not Least
After everything else was stripped away, there were still items that could be used.
Tendons and sinew were used to make thread, strings for bows and ties for arrows. When rendered, sinew made excellent stitches for wounds.
The skull from buffalos had many uses. These were used in ceremonies, such as The Sun Dance, by the Lakota, used in trade, painted for decoration, or if they had been broken, they could be used as tools to remove the hair from hides.
Shoulder bones from deer, moose, elk and buffalo were also excellent tools. These were used as cooking spoons and as scrapers when preparing hides for tanning.
Foot bones were used to make toy buffalos, or teething objects for infants. Various bones were used for just about anything you can imagine: combs, paint brushes, necklaces, wind chimes, spoons, stirring tools, knives, spears, breast plates, flutes and digging tools, to name a few.
Rib bones made terrific arrow shafts or runners for “sleds.” Even bone slivers were valuable, as they were used for making needles to sew clothing, bags, quivers and moccasins together using sinew or tendons for “thread.”
Bones from other animals, such as hawks or eagles, were too hollow and weak for other purposes, but they made excellent whistles.
There appears to be no end to the uses that native people found in animal parts.
Turtle shells were used to make rattles, pots, bowls, calendars and bags.
Deer or elk antlers were often carved into buttons and beads, or used as awls.
The castor oil from beavers was prized for making things waterproof. Castor oil was used for moccasins, teepee coverings, and to seal rafts or other items that are used in water.
Even some parts that you wouldn’t normally even consider, including buffalo “chips,” were put to use. Dried dung from herbivores, such as deer and buffalo, was collected and used as fuel for fires. Contrary to what you might think, there really is no smell — just the scent of burning grass.
Whether it was for clothing, shelter, food or decoration, native people considered their animals as a rich harvest that provided them with everything they could need and more.
Do you know of other uses for animal remains? Share your tips in the section below:
People have been canning at home for years … decades actually. With all of this experience, you would think we all would know what can be canned in pressure cookers. We don’t.
In fact, many people are under the very wrong assumption that fruits, vegetables and things like jam and soup are the only things they can home can.
The reality is that you can home can just about anything you serve your family today. You aren’t limited to eating mushy veggies and fruits if you are relying on your food storage.
You are in for a real treat when you see the following list of foods that can be canned and stored for years. Check out nine things you can preserve in your pressure canner so your family will be eating like kings for years down the road.
1. Hamburger patties. Imagine being able to have a juicy burger, perfectly seasoned, after a blackout. The next time ground beef goes on sale or you get a great deal on a side of beef, you don’t have to put it all in the freezer. It isn’t just patties you can preserve. Ground beef, in general, can be stored for years on your pantry shelf – as can meatballs.
2. Chicken legs and thighs. Eating your favorite cut of chicken cooked the way you like is a pretty common comfort food. You can bake it, fry it or put it on the barbecue with your favorite sauce. Your family will love the idea of their favorite meal, just like they used to eat, when things were normal. You can buy packs of chicken legs and thighs for just a few dollars. This is an excellent, inexpensive way to stock your food storage shelves. Chicken breasts are also an option.
3. Fish. Going fishing is a fun activity and instead of wrapping up your catch and popping it in the freezer, can it instead! Salmon, steelhead, halibut and trout are all excellent tasting after the canning process. You can fillet the fish or dice it up. You don’t need to add any salt or preservatives to the water in the jar. Let the fish do the flavoring. Add a little vegetable oil if you like.
4. Pot roast. It often goes on sale and the next time it does, buy a bunch and home can it. Cutting the roast into small chunks, adding a little salt and then processing it in the pressure cooker is all you need to do to add some nice red meat to your food storage.
5. Bacon. This is something few people want to live without. Canning it and adding it to your food storage means that, during a blackout or crisis, you will be able to make Sunday breakfast like you used to, bacon included.
6. Hot dogs. OK, it may not be the healthiest food, but imagine being able to grill up some hot dogs or whip up a batch of corn dogs for your little ones, even if the food in the freezer is spoiled. Hot dogs are cheap and often go on sale during the summer months, which is a perfect time to load up.
7. Butter. This is another staple you won’t want to live without. Load up on butter when it goes on sale and melt it down to put into your canning jars. It is important to note that the USDA does not have any approved methods for canning dairy products, and actually discourages it. However, any seasoned homesteader or canner will probably tell you many stories about eating canned butter without getting sick. Ghee, which is basically canned butter — regularly used in foreign countries.
8. Cheese. Cheese, glorious cheese in all styles like mozzarella, cheddar and even cream cheese. Again, this is another one of those items that people have been home canning for decades, but there is no official approved method. There is always some concern about bacteria growth, but if you go through the canning process the right way and store the jars in cool areas, you reduce the risk of bacteria growing and making anybody ill.
9. Cake. This is something nobody wants to live without, but baking a cake during a blackout or emergency could be difficult. Having jars filled with your favorite flavor of cake ready to eat when you get that craving will be an appreciated luxury. Cake mixes are easy to make or buy in bulk and you can fill your shelves with lots of cooked cakes to make any occasion a little more special.
What foods would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:
Traditional food preservation and storage methods have seen an uptick in popularity in the past decade, as people show an interest in learning how the native people of America preserved food and kept it safe for later consumption without refrigeration.
Of course, in winter months, storing food to prevent spoilage wasn’t such a huge concern, but in some parts of the country, indigenous people lived in areas that did not freeze or had a small number of freezing incidents.
Let’s take a look at how the native people dried and stored fruits, vegetables, and meat for consumption during the winter months or for times when food was scarce.
The 5 Types of Food Typically Preserved
- Foods above ground: berries, fruit, nuts, corn, squash
- Foods below ground: roots, onions, wild potatoes
- Animals with 4 legs: buffalo, deer, elk
One of the factors that was critical to nomadic tribes, such as the Lakota, was that food needed to be portable. Nomadic tribes generally moved every few weeks (or months, depending on the size of the tribe) so that they did not strip the area of food and firewood, as well as to keep their horses fed. This means that food needed to be dried and made into the smallest, lightest form possible.
For example, while Southwestern tribes, such as the Hopi, could afford to simply dry corn on the cob and store the entire cob in sealed-off rooms, other tribes would strip the corn kernels off for storage. Keep in mind that the corn native people used was not the same corn we see in our supermarkets today.
Corn was typically dried on the cob, laid out on flat rocks, grass mats or hides. Children and the elderly would typically be in charge of drying food, turning it regularly and removing flies, ants or scaring away birds and raccoons.
Other types of fruit were picked and dried in the same manner. While each tribe had their own way of dealing with vegetables, the methods were the same: to dry out the vegetable so that it could be preserved for later consumption. Many tribes would cut the vegetable, such as squash, into strips, flatten it out using a bone or rock, and then dry these thinned-out pieces in the sun.
Preserving Meat and Fish
Although the native people had no scientific evidence to fall back on, they learned over thousands of years that some foods would not store well and would go rancid quickly unless cooked, dried or somehow preserved.
Fish was often smoked to preserve it for later consumption. Once gutted, the entire fish was often placed over a low fire that included a great many green branches, so that the heat and smoke would dry out the fish meat. Salmon, due to their size, were often cut into strips, and then smoked and dried.
Most other types of meat were cut into long strips and the fat removed. The fat was placed in cooking “pots.” If it was the beginning of the hot, dry season, meat would then be placed on rocks or racks made from tree branches so that it would dry in the sunlight. Again, children and the elderly did their share of work by fanning away flies, insects and marauding animals such as dogs or raccoons. If time was short, the meat was sometimes dried and/or smoked under a very low fire. This dried meat is typically referred to as “jerky.” It could be made soft again by cooking it in a soup and was often served along with other vegetables.
The fat from large animals, such as buffalo or elk, was collected and then put through a process called rendering. Animal fat is very dense in calories, but it goes rancid quickly. Indigenous people learned to render fat by cooking it, along with small amounts of water, under a low heat. All pieces of meat or other tissue will come to the surface and are removed. Rendered fat will last about one year without refrigeration if kept out of direct sunlight.
Pemmican: The Fast Food of Native Tribes
Pemmican was made by many tribes of the north and northeast, including the Cree, Chippewa and Lakota. While the “recipe” varied, the basic pemmican is dried, pulverized meat and dried berries, held together by rendered fat. This mixture was often made into golf-ball sized pieces. The meat could be whatever was handy or what was plentiful at the time, including moose, elk or bison. The fruit used was often dried chokecherries, blueberries or cranberries. Dried meat would be pulverized into almost a powder, the dried fruit also broken down into smaller pieces, and then mixed with the rendered fat. These balls of pemmican were then placed in rawhide bags for storage and transportation.
Pemmican is a nutrient- and calorie-dense food that would last for at least one year. Most tribes, as well as hunting parties, relied on pemmican to get them through the lean winter months. Most Canadian fur traders used pemmican, as well. If a person were traveling, a piece of pemmican was bitten off and then slowly chewed to soften it. If you have ever eaten jerky, you know it takes some time to break down the meat! However, pemmican could also be cooked. Some tribes would put a few balls of pemmican in a pot of water, along with some vegetables, while others would fry it with some onions or wild potatoes.
There were a great many other foods that were dried for later use or used as seasoning, including sage, dandelions, wild rice (which is actually a grass, but grows in wetlands much like rice), pumpkins, beans, azafran, sunflower seeds, acorns, mustard seeds, cactus, tomatoes and plantain (the greens, not the bananas!). What was collected and dried varied a great deal, depending on the climate and what was in season.
While most of us rely on our dehydrators or ovens for drying meat or fruit, the native people of America did it all by hand, relying only on their skill and the power of the sun or fire.
What advice would add on preserving food without refrigeration? Share it in the section below:
We tend to think that stockpiling food and supplies for an emergency is a modern invention. But it’s not. It actually started thousands of years ago, with people stockpiling food for a snowy day. Those ancestors of ours knew something that most of us today have forgotten: the fact that winter comes every year and you can’t grow crops or hunt game very effectively when the freeze hits.
In fact, the earliest recorded instance of stockpiling is in Chapter 41 of Genesis, in the Bible. Joseph, a son of Abraham, correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and instituted a system of stockpiling grain in preparation for the seven years of famine.
To the pioneers, stockpiling had to be a way of life. When Old Man Winter came to call, the only thing that would keep them alive was the food and fuel they had stored. If they were not ready, chances were that they wouldn’t make it through the winter.
Those who stockpile are returning back to the roots that our pioneering ancestors established, taking matters into their own hands.
So what sorts of things did the pioneers stockpile — and why did they stockpile them?
We can really break down the pioneer’s stockpiling into two categories — things that they bought and things that they raised, hunted, preserved or prepared themselves. The things from the store were precious to many of these people, as they didn’t have much cash money to spend. It was only when they sold a cash crop that they were actually able to pay off their account at the local general store and buy themselves a few new items.
Things the Pioneers Bought and Stockpiled
A trip to the general store was a big deal in those days and something that a pioneer might only do once a month, or less. It might be an all-day affair, which took time away from working the farm. Nevertheless, they had to make it to town once in a while for supplies, or they were stuck with living solely off the land.
1. Wheat flour and other grains
While many farmers raised grain, they usually didn’t eat their own. Their grain would be sold and then they’d turn around and buy flour and other ground grains from the general store. A few people would have their own hand-operated mills for grinding grains, but those were for grinding cornmeal, rather than flour.
Going back in history, we find that grinding grain was a major part of a woman’s housework. In Medieval times, a woman might spend as many as six hours per day grinding grain so that she could make the bread of the day. Being able to buy ground wheat was one of the first true kitchen conveniences.
Bread was an important staple in the diet. It was a great source of carbohydrates, giving them the energy they needed to burn during the day. Of course, the breads they ate back then were very different than today’s, being much harder and heartier than our modern bread.
2. Baking soda
You couldn’t bake bread without baking soda, unless you happened to have yeast. Of course, many people made sourdough bread, always saving a bit of the dough to act as a starter for the next batch. But sourdough starter doesn’t work for biscuits, pies or bear sign (what they called donuts). So a stock of baking soda gave them much more variety in their diet.
Salt has always been highly valued. In fact, in the Roman Empire part of a soldier’s pay was given in salt. That became the root of the word “salary.” We need salt in our diets to survive, as well as to preserve meats. While some pioneers would harvest it themselves from salt licks, that only worked for those who had a natural salt lick on their property.
While not an absolute necessity, sugar was an important item to stockpile. Not only is it used as part of the process of canning fruit, but even the toughest of cowboys and miners wanted a sweet treat every now and then.
Like grains, rice was an important staple for many people. But it wasn’t grown in many parts of the country, making it an item pioneers picked up at the general store.
Bacon managed to become the default travel meat of choice in pioneering days. Cowboys would carry a chunk of bacon in their saddlebags, wagon trains carried it, and most families had a few slabs on hand. If you had bacon, you had meat to eat.
7. Coffee and tea
Who doesn’t like a good cup of coffee? Actually, coffee drinking in this country started with the Revolutionary War, in response to the Stamp Tax. Rather than pay the tax for British imported teas, many people switched over to coffee. Whereas before the revolution most people drank tea, after it the nation switched to coffee. By the time of the revolution, tea was mostly drunk only by the wealthy.
8. Dried beans
Just as it is for the average homesteader today, dried beans were a favorite staple for the pioneers. Chili con carne became a popular dish, starting in Texas and then moving north along the cow trails. Eventually, it was eaten all across the west.
Beans also could be eaten alone, or with tortillas. The Southwest culture had a strong Mexican influence, including the eating of refried beans as a staple. Many a meal was beans and biscuits or beans and bread. Even when they had meat, beans were often served on the side.
9. Dried and canned fruit
Some people grew fruit. When they did, they’d can it or dry it. But not all kinds of fruit can be grown in all parts of the country. Besides that, not everyone was a farmer. The general store would stock dried and canned fruit, making it possible for people to buy these foods.
Since it kept well, dried fruit was another popular trail food, both for wagon trains and for drifting cowboys. It helped give variety to an otherwise dull diet, as well as providing them something sweet to eat.
Things the Pioneers Grew, Hunted, Preserved and Prepared
Many pioneers were involved in farming and ranching. Those who were grew as much of what they ate as they could. Since cash money was so rare, being able to hunt, gather or grow your own food was a real advantage. Even townspeople would have a garden patch behind their homes, growing their own vegetables and herbs.
10. Smoked meats
One of the signs that you’d “made it” was to have a smokehouse on your property. While the ability to smoke your own meats was incredibly useful, not everyone could afford the time or expense to build one. Those who could were usually well-established families who already had their homes and barns built. By then, they were producing enough that it was worthwhile to be able to smoke meats when it was time to slaughter a cow or pig.
The pioneers learned how to make jerky from the Native Americans. While smoking was great, not everyone had a smokehouse. Plus, jerky lasts longer than smoked meats and is much more portable. Drifting cowboys and other travelers would often take jerky along just to ensure they had some meat to eat. A few strips of jerky and a couple of campfire biscuits made a pretty good lunch in the saddle.
Many pioneers grew their own corn, even if it was just enough for their family. They might grow wheat or some other grain for sale, but they’d put in a small patch of corn, as well. That corn was usually dried and kept for making cornmeal.
A vegetable garden alongside or behind the house was almost a requirement for pioneer families. Without it, their food would be bland and repetitive. Not only did they grow their own veggies, but their own herbs, as well.
Most vegetables were harvested and kept in a root cellar, not canned. Canning required owning a goodly supply of canning jars, something that most people didn’t have. It wasn’t until later, when towns were well-established and trade was more regular, that canning jars became common in the west.
14. Feed for the animals
Anyone who had animals had to consider their needs. Whether horses, cows or chickens, they were a valuable part of the homestead and needed to eat. Just like the family would stockpile food to get themselves through the winter, they’d stack hay and other feed for their farm animals.
Most hay was cut from wild grass growing near the farm. It would be cut by hand with a scythe and stacked in towering haystacks for the winter months. Some farmers who had larger barns with lofts would stack the hay in the loft. But that required hay bales, which meant having the equipment for baling hay. So that only happened in well-established areas on well-established farms.
The only heat that most homes had was from the fireplace or wood-burning stove. That created the need for a wood pile, which was started in the spring so the wood could dry through the hot summer. In some places, they would stack their wood to act as a defensive breastwork for the home, giving themselves a good firing position for any attacks from Native Americans.
What items would you add to our list of what the pioneers stockpiled? Share what you know in the section below:
It happens in households across the United States every day. A trip to the grocery store is unpacked at home with the goal of simply getting things put away and the chore completed.
Fresh, shiny new cans of fruits and vegetables are placed in the front of the pantry shelves, pushing to the rear their more senior shelf mates. Perishables like pickles, butter and produce likely get the same treatment, smothering into obscurity the current “close to expiration” refrigerator residents.
The result? A lot of nutritious and nourishing food ending up spoiled and relegated to the wastebasket or compost bin.
And although this example of poor inventory control and rotation is unfortunate, when this same scenario plays out in your rather expansive stockpile, the results can be devastating to your preparedness and your wallet.
A scattered approach to your inventory organization can also lead to missing essentials or considerable overstocks of certain items.
To help you avoid such an avoidable catastrophe, we have compiled a list of mistakes often made — mistakes that could lead to disaster when you most need your stockpile.
1. Not keeping inventory.
This does not have to be an elaborate system which consumes a considerable amount of your time and effort. A simple legal pad strategically hung from the door of your storage area or pantry will suffice.
The end-game here is to simply be able to tell, at a glance, what exactly you have and what you are missing.
Divide the sheet into columns which represent major categories of food. Then simply list what you have, the quantity that was stocked and the date. If you are feeling particularly ambitious and want to refine your document, a straightforward spreadsheet or graph paper document could include details like expiration date and shelving location.
The keys here are to keep the process simple and be diligent in using it. All the planning and design effort in the world will be useless if it simply hangs there unused.
2. Not making it visible.
Out of sight, out of mind, right? There is a tendency for people to forget that which they cannot see. This means that if you have a case of canned green beans stuffed in a plastic tote and shoved back to the rear of your bottom pantry shelf, more likely than not you will forget it is there.
Whenever possible, keep your stocked inventory items visible. There are a ton of ready-to-install options available in the marketplace, but a touch of ingenuity and some handiwork can produce some great solutions for things like vertical can storage and the like.
Keeping things visible makes future stock checks prior to the grocery run much easier.
3. Not using it.
It often surprises me when I learn of stockpilers who do not regularly use their own inventory. In these cases, the stockpile inventory is seen as an “emergency only” resource and hence, is locked up and off-limits.
While we are not saying to eat up your stock to the point that your inventory dwindles, we are recommending that the food you put away into stockpiles be used and replenished on a regular basis.
No matter how well canned or preserved, food in any of its forms has a viable shelf life. Before going to the grocery store, draw from your stockpile inventory and replace it with a fresh purchase that has a more advanced expiration date.
Don’t forget to put that new stock in the back of the rotation and note the addition to your inventory sheet.
4. Not protecting it.
The locations and conditions of your stockpile are every bit as important as the inventory levels or organization. Food that has been damaged by a leaking ceiling or wall or chewed on by a winter-hungry rodent is of little use to the human inhabitants of the home.
Cool, dry and dark are the three precepts to follow when at all possible. Certain produce such as potatoes and onions do well in root cellars but, depending on humidity levels, can root prematurely.
Lastly, if your pantry or stockpile area is vulnerable to rodent visitors, consider using quality, tight-sealing plastic totes to protect your bags of grains, pasta and the like from visiting diners.
What stockpiling advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
These days, most people associate the word ‘inflammation’ with ‘unhealthy.’ Truth be told though, inflammation can be a very good thing. It’s your body’s way of healing. When you’re sick or injured, your body flushes the effected area with blood, immune cells, and nutrients, in an effort to combat pathogens and heal what is damaged. Obviously, this results in pain and discomfort, but in the big scheme of things it is exactly what you need to survive and live a healthy life.
When someone says that inflammation is bad, what they’re really talking about is chronic inflammation, which is a bit more insidious. It doesn’t always make you feel like you’re sick or in pain, but it is highly damaging to your body. Chronic inflammation has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even cancer. It can be caused by a lack of sleep, stress, pollution, certain allergies, or a poor diet; and it can add more damage on top of whatever is causing the inflammation.
However, diet is often associated with inflammation more than any other cause. Certain foods and can do a number on your body, and if you’re eating them every day, you may be on the path to an early grave. Foods that you should either eliminate from your diet or consume in moderation include:
You’ll find that most foods that are “refined” typically have a higher glycemic index, which causes inflammation. White bread is one of the worst examples. It causes your insulin levels to spike, creating the perfect environment for inflammation to run rampant. Whole grain foods however, can reduce inflammation.
Of all the inflammatory foods that you eat, sweeteners are the most notorious. The human body simply did not evolve to process straight sugar. Rather, our digestive systems were made to take sugar in small amounts, preferably bound in whole foods like fruit, which take much longer to digest. The consumption of white sugar gives your body a massive spike in blood sugar, which is highly damaging and inflammatory. Not only that, but refined sugar leads to weight gain, which is also inflammatory. Artificial sugars can also create an immune response, since your body does not recognize them.
Foods like french fries, potato chips, and donuts are cooked at a high temperature, which creates advanced glycation end products, or AGES. Your body doesn’t recognize these compounds, so they are treated to an immune response upon ingestion. Not only that, but fried foods are also often cooked in vegetable oils, which typically contain very high levels of omega-6 fats. Normally these fats are good for you, but if they’re not balanced with omega-3 fats they are inflammatory.
Not only does alcohol often contain inflammatory gluten and sugar, but by itself it can initiate your body’s immune system. The way your liver breaks down alcohol produces toxins, and alcohol can make your intestines more porous, which allows bacteria to spread throughout the body. On top of that, alcohol can have a devastating effect on the good bacteria in your digestive tract, which plays a significant role in your immune system. Overall, alcohol is pretty hard on your immune system. It weakens your immune response while simultaneously giving your immune system more to fight, both of which can be inflammatory.
Meat and Dairy
While meat and dairy products provide an excellent source of nutrition, they should be consumed in reasonable portions. They both contain saturated fats, which while essential to a healthy diet, are also inflammatory. They contain arachidonic acid, which your body produces naturally when it needs to create inflammation. Meat is especially inflammatory, since like fried foods, it is often cooked at a high temperature which produces AGES. Again, these foods can be quite good for you, and their pros typically outweigh the cons, but only when you don’t go overboard on them.
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
Joshua’s website is Strange Danger
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition
Our world seems to be in a violent tailspin and its occupants are watching and waiting, hoping for the best, but expecting the worse. The uncertainty has prompted many families to create stockpiles of food and water, along with some basic necessities just in case things take a turn for the worse.
A stockpile of food is a lot like having an insurance policy for any and all disasters, whether they are huge or just minor hiccups on the road of life.
Of course, stockpiles cost money. If you are a typical family, a stockpile of food that you won’t eat right away seems like a pipe dream. But what if you could build up a stockpile of food for your family to use after a devastating disaster without going broke?
You can. With these tips, you can build your stockpile of food on $20 a week. It will last at least three months – perhaps more depending on the size of your family. Pick a line item each week and buy it. Soon, your food storage will be overflowing, and you will still have plenty of money for your living expenses.
Week 1: A 25-pound bag of steel cut oats will cost you about $15. This will give you enough oats to serve your family of four one cup of cooked oatmeal every morning for approximately two months. Add a $5 bag of dried berries to the cart for a little extra flavor.
Week 2: A 20-pound bag of long grain white rice is around $10. One pound of rice equals approximately six cups of cooked rice. Buy two bags one week and you will have enough rice to serve your family one cup of cooked rice for 60 days.
Week 3: One 20-pound bag of dried pinto beans is about $15. One cup of dried beans equals three cups of cooked beans. That one bag is enough for about 40 servings, or 40 meals of pinto beans for the family.
Week 4: Canned vegetables can be purchased by the case for around 50 cents a can. Unfortunately, those deals are often reserved for certain times of the year. Let’s assume you are shopping for singles; you can expect to pay about 75 cents a can for generic brands. With your weekly allowance, you can get 25 cans of veggies. Mix it up. Don’t go for all corn one week. Do 12 corn and 13 peas (if your family will eat them). That is about a month’s worth of veggies bought in a single week!
Week 5: A single 25-pound bag of flour will cost you about $10 if you go with generic. Buy two, pop them in the freezer for a week to kill the weevil eggs before storing, and you have enough flour to last several months, depending on your meal plan.
Week 6: Canned meat is a bit more expensive, but you will want the protein. For things like canned chicken and Spam, you will only be able to buy 10 cans for the week. Tuna is a great option, and you can get about 40 cans with your $20 allowance for the week.
Week 7: Peanut butter will be a big deal in your stockpile. This week, buy five jars of peanut butter in the standard size—don’t go for the bulk.
Week 8: Baking ingredients; 25 pounds of sugar, 1 can of baking powder, 1 box of baking soda. You will want to cook meals from scratch.
Week 9: Instant dry milk can be bought by the box or can be freeze dried. Expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $20 for a large 64 ounce box of instant milk that has about 80 servings.
Week 10: Canned fruit will cost you about a dollar a can. Pick up 20 cans of your family’s favorite fruits.
In just 10 weeks, spending $20 a week, you can have a stockpile of food that will last your family several months. Once you complete the list, then start over or add additional items like pasta noodles, jerky and various soups. That extra 20 bucks can be saved by skipping your favorite coffee drinks and making your own at home, not going out to eat one night or using less electricity to save on your electric bill. If you are truly serious about building a food stockpile, then you will find ways to save a few dollars everyday to make it happen.
Food has long been a focus of society. While our modern way of life includes regular trips to the grocery store, where there is more variety than we know what to do with, our ancestors didn’t have it quite that easy. We are literally only a few generations away from a time in which people hoarded their food, both on the westward trail and in their root cellars, just to make sure they would make it through winter.
Other than the last century or so, the need to stockpile food has been the main effort of people the world over. With harvest times coming only once a year, the size of the harvest and how well it was preserved determined whether the next year would be one of lack or plenty. When drought occurred, it would be a serious enough event to destroy villages, major cities and even entire cultures.
Going west, a Conestoga wagon or a converted farm wagon made into a prairie schooner was mostly filled with food, as well as other necessities. While some families started out with expensive furniture in their wagons, that was soon left by the wayside, lightening the load, so they could keep their all-important food. A typical load of food would consist of the following for each adult in the family. Similar provisions for children would be brought along, with the quantities adjusted for their size.
- 200 pounds of flour (could be any type of flour, not just wheat flour)
- 30 pounds of pilot bread (otherwise known as hardtack)
- 2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
- 10 pounds of salt
- Half a bushel of corn meal
- Half a bushel of parched and ground corn
- 25 pounds of sugar
- 10 pounds of rice
- 75 pounds of bacon
- 5 pounds of coffee
- 2 pounds of tea
- Half a bushel of dried beans
- 1 bushel of dried fruit
- A small keg of vinegar
Once leaving Independence, Missouri, there would be little chance of resupply. That food would have to last them, augmented by whatever they could hunt and any berries they could find. While there were a few military posts with Sutler’s stores (general stores that provided the military), they were few and far between.
So, what did our ancestors do with this and what did they really eat? Well, a lot of it would seem rather normal to us, but there was also a lot that was not normal. Some things that we wouldn’t even recognize. However, it all had one thing in common: Food that the pioneers ate had to be non-perishable, as they had no way of refrigerating it.
1. Buffalo, bear, cougar and squirrel
One of the easiest ways for pioneers to restock or stretch their food supplies was to hunt. Hunting provided them with fresh meat, something they had no chance of bringing with them. But that meant they ate whatever they could find. Crossing the Great Plains, buffalo were common, so they were eaten. When they got into the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming and points west, the buffalo were replaced by bear, cougar and deer. They would even eat squirrels, if they couldn’t find anything else.
Jim Bridger, the mountain man, claimed that cougar meat was the best there was. While cougars weren’t anywhere near as common as deer, when one came along, it was often eat or be eaten. You’d better be quick with your rifle, or you just might end up as dinner.
Shooting a squirrel was difficult, as the size of the bullet would destroy much of the usable meat. They didn’t have .22 caliber rifles back then. So instead of shooting the squirrel, they’d “bark it” by shooting the bark of the tree, just beneath it. This would knock the squirrel off the tree, unconscious, saving the meat.
2. The insides of the animals, too
They couldn’t afford to let anything go to waste. So, it wasn’t unusual for pioneers to eat parts of the animal which we would turn our noses up at. Brain, heart, tongue, liver and even intestines were eaten, often cut up and put in something.
This practice is still common in much of the world today. While we don’t eat much other than the muscles of the animals, in Mexico they eat the tongue, cheek meat, heart, liver, intestines and stomach. Some of these are used for special recipes, which are considered near delicacies by the Mexicans.
3. Frying pan bread
Baking bread on the trail was nearly impossible, so instead, they made frying pan bread. This was basically biscuits, cooked in a frying pan, rather than in an oven. Biscuits and bacon were one of the staples of the trail.
While you might think that breads are breads, breads were much different back then. You might not recognize them for what they were. First of all, most flour was whole grain, not our white pastry flour. While white flour did exist, it wasn’t common, except in the larger cities.
They also didn’t have the same types of leaven that we have today. Most women “made” their own yeast, by leaving a container of “sourdough starter” open for bacteria to invade it. This would then be saved, allowing them to make bread every day.
But these breads were much heavier and heartier than the breads we know today. A loaf of bread on the frontier probably weighed two to three pounds, even though it was smaller than our common one pound loaf. But that bread stuck with you longer, providing more nutrition and calories than our modern breads do.
4. Salt pork
While bacon was the most common preserved meat they’d eat, those in the military usually had to make do with salt pork. This is much like bacon, but without as much meat. Essentially, a piece of salt pork is a chunk of fat, with a little pork meat running through it. Soldiers would be issued salt pork as their version of combat rations, whenever they were on the move. They’d slice it and fry it, eating it with pan bread.
5. Yucca root
The root of the yucca plant is something like a potato. As the southwest was settled, this became a staple for many of the people, as the land was already littered with yucca plants. Tougher than our potato, and more fibrous, it was nevertheless a good source of carbohydrates. Cut up and boiled in water, it would soften up and make a great filler for soups and stews.
6. Pine nuts
The pine cone we know so well really isn’t the seed of the pine tree, but rather the husk for that seed. Hidden deep within its many scales are pine nuts, which are the seeds. These can be removed by simply banging the pine cone upside-down on a hard surface.
Pine nuts can be eaten raw, or toasted, much like many other nuts. They have a distinct, but pleasant flavor. Like many nuts, they are an excellent source of fats, which they needed. Little of what they ate had much in the way of fats in it. Wild animals don’t grow anywhere near the amount of fat that our domesticated animals do, and they couldn’t go to the store for a bottle of cooking oil.
7. Acorn bread
Acorns, the seeds of the oak tree, are plentiful in some parts of the country. A seed, they are much like many other nuts. Gathered, they can be roasted to dry them and then ground, making flour out of it. Like the flour of any other grain, this can then be turned into bread. For some pioneers who didn’t have access to resupplies of wheat flour, acorn bread and cornbread were the only breads they had available.
What would you add to our list? Share your knowledge in the section below:
Well, it seems that spring is finally here. I can see it in my fruit trees as they blossom, and hear it in the night sounds of frogs and insects that are slowly coming back after many months of silence. With the change of season, there always comes a chore list on a homestead.
Around my place, one of the things spring means is that it’s time to gear up for raising meat chickens. That is, it is time to get the chicken tractors in order, the brooders ready, and the feed and chicks ordered.
When I first started raising meat chickens, I envisioned it as being an income source in addition to a means of providing good wholesome food for my family. I started the venture with the notion of producing a free-range, GMO-free product. It didn’t go as I had hoped. Free-range works well for my egg-producing chickens, but what we found out through experience is that free-range slows the growth rate and produces an ultimately smaller and inferior bird for eating purposes. Modern meat-producing breeds are generally poor foragers, and are designed to grow and put on weight quickly with a steady supply of easily obtained feed. Thus, I opted for raising the chickens in the pasture, and to this end constructed several 10 by 12 chicken tractors.
The chicken tractors house 40 chickens each. By moving these tractors once or twice each day, we achieve two things. First, our chickens get some supplemental feed in the form of available grasses and greens. Second, our chickens are always in a clean environment. The daily moving of the tractors is something that my young twin boys have enjoyed helping with since they were three.
I stuck to my guns on the GMO-free part of the original equation. However, finding GMO-free feed proved difficult, as we had to travel some distance to get it in bulk — and it was ridiculously expensive. Feed expense becomes a big issue when each bird requires 14 pounds of feed to grow out and you are raising 120 of them.
Ultimately, the chicken venture proved to be untenable from a commercial standpoint. Between the cost of chicks and feed, the time and diesel fuel required to move the tractors, the cost of certified commercial butchering and labeling, and the expense of getting the product to the farmers’ market, we had to sell chicken at more than $3 a pound to even eke out a minimal profit. Our area is not conducive to selling chicken at that price; it isn’t that people don’t care about that kind of product, but rather they can’t afford it.
But it wasn’t a fruitless endeavor. I inspired others to raise their own chicken, and taught them how to do it if they were interested. So, from that standpoint it was an excellent feel-good activity! I still believe that in the right area it could be profitable, but you need a more urban setting with a high concentration of well-employed and health-conscious customers. For me, it has become just a way to provide good food for my family.
The tractors themselves are fairly easy to build. You will need:
- 3 12-feet 2x4s
- 2 10-feet 2x4s
- Scrap 2 by 4
- 3 4-feet-by-12 feet cattle panels
- 1 12-feet-by-12-feet tarp (I often go to 10-feet-by-10-feet to save a few bucks, and they are easier to find)
- 1 50-feet roll of chicken wire, 4-feet wide
- A box of deck screws
- A box of fence staples
- Cable ties
- 25 feet of good rope
To start, you will build your 10-by-12 base using your 12-feet and 10-feet 2x4s — use two 12-feet sides, two 10-feet ends, and a 12 footer trimmed by about 3 ½ inches to fit in the center. These are attached with 3-inch deck screws, and scraps of 2 by 4 are used to make corner braces.
Next, the cattle panels are arched over this frame, secured by fence staples. The result looks like a wire hoop house.
Using more scrap lumber, build end frames and a door for one end; my design is always dictated by what scraps I have on hand.
The tarp is stretched over the cattle panels and secured with cable ties. The final step is to cover the tarp with the chicken wire, and cover the ends with chicken wire as well. Your rope is used to make a tow harness for the completed tractor.
Additionally, you will need feeders and waterers for your birds. Old rain gutter makes a great feeder, and if you don’t want to buy commercially produced waterers, your imagination is the only constraint. (I have uses 3-inch PVC and poultry nipples from a farm supply store to construct large watering apparatus.)
We grow Cornish cross chickens for their meatiness and rapid growth. They spend about two weeks in the brooder before going onto pasture in the tractors. Once they are in the tractors, I take them feed, and I fill the waterers twice a day when I move them; I move them one tractor length each time to keep the birds on fresh ground.
Chicken tractors are a great way to raise meat chickens, and a fun way to get the family involved in your homesteading activities. It is also a great way to have total control over what goes into the food you eat. And, let’s face it, everything tastes better when you grew it yourself.
Have you ever used chicken tractors? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Stockpiling food and other supplies is central to being prepared for an emergency, but there are some foods – such as meat — that are harder to pack for long-term storage than others.
I’m sure there are some people out there who think that they can live off of rice and beans, getting all the protein they need from the beans. While that may be technically true, I, for one, don’t want to try it. Not only am I not a huge fan of beans, but I also am a huge fan of meat. So, I need to have ways of preserving that meat and ensuring that I’ll have it available when a disaster strikes. Fortunately, there are actually a number of ways of preserving meat which work quite well — ways our ancestors used.
The Key to Preserving Meat – Salt
If there’s any one key ingredient for preserving meat, it’s salt. Salt is one of the few natural preservatives, and it works ideally with meat. Salt draws the moisture out of the cells in the meat in a process known as osmosis. Essentially, osmosis is trying to equalize the salinity on both sides of the cell wall (which is a membrane). So, water leaves the cell and salt enters it. When enough water leaves the cell, the cell dies.
This happens with bacteria, as well. Any bacteria that are on the surface of the meat go through the same osmosis process that the cells of the meat do. This dehydrates the bacteria to the point of death. Unfortunately, the salt won’t travel all the way through the meat quickly, killing off the bacteria, so salt is usually used in conjunction with other means of preserving.
Probably the least complex form of preserving meat is canning it. Canning preserves any wet food well through a combination of killing off existing bacteria in the food and container, while providing a container that prevents any further bacteria from entering.
Canning uses heat to kill off bacteria. All you have to do is raise the temperature of the bacteria to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and it dies. This is called “pasteurizing,” so named for Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist who discovered the process in the mid-1800s. To kill viruses, you raise the temperature a bit more, to 174 degrees Fahrenheit.
The only problem with canning meat is that it has to be canned at a higher temperature than fruits and vegetables. This is accomplished by canning it in a pressure canner, essentially a large pressure cooker. The higher atmospheric pressure inside the pressure canner causes the water to boil at a higher temperature, thus cooking the meat.
Meats that are canned tend to be very well-cooked. You have to at least partially cook them before canning, and then the 90 minutes they spend in the canner cooks them further. That makes for very soft meats, but they do lose some of their texture.
Dehydrating takes over where salt leaves off, removing much more moisture from the meat than just salting it will. However, dehydrating of meats is usually combined with salting the meat with a rub or marinating it with a salty marinade. The salt on the outside of the meat attacks any bacteria that approach the meat once it is dehydrated. Meat that is dehydrated without salt won’t last, as the bacteria can attack it.
The American Indians used dehydrating as a means of preserving meat, making jerky. While a very popular snack food today, jerky is excellent survival food. Not only will it keep without refrigeration, but it can be rehydrated for use in soups and stews. That takes it beyond being a snack and makes it possible to use jerky for part of your meals.
Dehydrating can either be done in the sun, in an electric dehydrator or in a solar dehydrator. The American Indians used the sun, hanging strips of meat on poles. However, there is a risk in dehydrating meat as they did, in that the meat may start to spoil before it dries. All fat should be removed from the meat, as the fat can turn rancid.
3. Salt fish
Salt fish is another means of dehydrating meat, something like making fish jerky. It has been done for centuries and is still a popular dish in some countries. Salt fish uses the concept that the salt draws the water out of the fish, starting the drying process. This is accomplished by packing the fish fillets in alternating layers of salt and fish. Then, the fish is sun dried to complete the process.
Smoking is another method that combines salt with a secondary method of preservation. For preserving, one must use hot smoking, which cooks the meat, and not just cold smoking, which is used to flavor the meat. Typically, the process consists of three major steps: soaking the meat in brine (salt water), cold smoking and then hot smoking.
When meat is smoked, the proteins on the outer layer of the meat form a skin, called a pellicle. This is basically impervious to any bacteria, protecting the meat. However, if the meat is cut, such as to cut off a steak from a chunk of smoked meat, the open surface can be attacked by bacteria.
In olden times, this problem was solved by hanging the meat in the smokehouse once again. In some homes, the kitchen chimney was large enough to be used as a smokehouse, and meat was hung in it, where the constant smoke helped to protect it. Most of the fat was usually trimmed off the meat, so that it would not turn rancid.
One nice thing about smoking meats, besides that it adds that lovely smoke flavor, is that the smoking process is a slow-cooking process, much like cooking meat in a crockpot. This helps to break down the fiber in the meat, turning otherwise tough cuts of meat tender.
The deli meats we pay top dollar for today are actually cured meats. Curing is a process that combines smoking, with salt, sugar and nitrites. Together, these act as an almost perfect preservative, protecting the meat from decay-causing bacteria. Technically, smoking is a type of curing, but normally when we talk about curing, we’re referring to what is known as “sausage curing,” which is the method used for making most sausage and lunch meat.
The curing process is all about killing the bacteria and is done mostly by the addition of salt to the meat. For sausage curing, the meat is ground and then mixed with fat, spices salt and whatever else is going to be used (some sausage includes cheese). It is then allowed to sit, in order for the salt to permeate all the meat and kill the bacteria. Cooking or smoking is accomplished once the curing is done.
Curing meats, like smoking, tenderizes it. So, traditionally, the tougher, lower grade cuts of meat were usually used for the making of most of what we know today as lunch meats. One nice thing about properly cured meats is that they can be left out, with no risk of decay, even when they have been cut. That is, if it is properly cured. I wouldn’t try that with commercially prepared lunchmeats, as they are not cured with the idea of leaving them out.
What meat-preserving methods would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:
The pioneers’ recipes were not ones that came from being able to shop at a large grocery store, where you can buy virtually anything.
Their recipes – or “receipts” as they were called back then — were born out of necessity, having one pot and one skillet plus the need to use ALL of the leftovers from previous meals.
You see, when they set out in a wagon to cross the seemingly endless prairie, it was decision time. They had to decide what they were going to take with them and what they were going to leave behind.
They had to take all the tools to build a log cabin. They had to take all the hardware to build their cabins as well. They had to take nails, hinges, screws, wire and everything else. There was nowhere to just stop and buy it.
So, the wagon was packed to the brim. Every square inch was accounted for, and then some.
Many had one or two cast iron pots and one or two skillets or frying pans — and that was it.
The recipes that were their favorites were ones that fed everyone, and were easy to make even if you were short a couple of different ingredients each time you made it.
Most of the time, they were cooking over an open flame. So, things that had gravy or liquids such as soups and stews were a favorite. The reason: the heat of open flame cooking is unpredictable. You had to be sure you didn’t burn the food. Oils were scarce. So, liquids, soups and gravies were far more tolerant of erratic heat sources, and they burned a lot less.
Ready to learn how to look like the pioneers? Here are a few of their favorite recipes that you can make in your cabin or modern-day homestead:
(Do remember, these recipes were their optimal recipe. Most of the time they were lacking one or more ingredients and therefore had to substitute or leave it out.)
1. Creamy Chicken Soup
- 4 pounds of chicken (can be made with three pounds if need be).
- 3 quarts of creek or well-temperature water (room temperature is find if you’re in a modern home).
- 1 tablespoon salt.
- 6 peppercorns (or 1/4 teaspoon of black or white pepper).
- 1 medium onion finely chopped.
- 2 cups whole milk (can be substituted with cream).
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon of butter (not needed if using cream).
- 2 eggs beaten well.
Cut the cleaned, deboned chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Remove the chicken bones and use them for bone meal, dog food, compost and other uses.
Add in your peppercorns and onions. Let it slow boil for 10 minutes.
Put your milk or cream and cornstarch into another pot or skillet. Let it come to a slow boil and stir until it’s nice and thick. Add your butter if you’re using it, and season it to taste with whatever you have (that’s really how they did it).
Slowly add your well-beaten eggs into the milk and cornstarch. Stir until mixed and smooth.
Pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup kettle and stir until it’s well-mixed. Then, stir and cook for two more minutes and serve.
2. Fat Pork and Mormon Gravy
The settlers very often made what’s called Mormon gravy, named after Mormon missionaries who made it as a staple.
It’s simple and yes, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. But, man, oh man, does it taste good.
- 8-10 thick slices of fatty pork or thick cut bacon strips.
- 6 tablespoons of meat drippings.
- 4 tablespoons of flour.
- 2 cups of whole milk.
- Salt and pepper.
Cook your meat in a cast iron (preferably) frying pan until crisp on both sides.
Measure out your six tablespoons of drippings from the drippings in the pan, and pour the rest in your drippings saver container for other foods later.
With your measured drippings, stir in your flour and milk, and keep stirring until it’s thick and smooth.
Serve your meat with the gravy poured over it or over the top of biscuits or bread.
3. English Whirligig
This was traditionally made with black currents. However, it can be made with nearly any tart berries or even fruit such as cranberries or sour apples.
- 2/3 cup of honey.
- 2 tablespoons of flour.
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- 1 cup of hot water.
- 3 cups of black currants (you may substitute other tart berries or fruits).
Add your honey, flour, spices and your salt into your hot water. Stir until they are all well dissolved. Then cook this mixture until thick. Be sure to stir often.
Put your currents in a frying pan and cover it with the thick mixture. Cook it on a rack above the coals for 20 minutes.
Let cool so that it is nice and firm. Then dish it up.
4. Potato Pancakes
There are a number of recipes around for these. But this is the true settlers/pioneers recipe as it was brought over by a settler from Austria who became rather famous for them in what would later become Kansas City, Missouri.
- 6 large potatoes.
- 2 teaspoons salt.
- 3/4 cups of whole milk.
- 2 eggs.
- 1 cup of flour.
- Lard that has been pre-strained of any pieces.
If you want them with the skins on the potatoes as most pioneers ate them, then wash them and grate them to a medium-sized shredding. If you want them skinless, peel them and grate them.
Mix them with your salt, eggs, milk and flour.
Spoon the mix into the hot lard in a frying pan. They will flatten out by themselves. If not, flatten them a bit.
Fry until they are golden brown on both sides.
Much of the time, the pioneers didn’t have the luxury of eating what they wanted when they wanted it. They ate what they had.
If a family had a ton of blackberries nearby, then they would have several blackberry recipes they would use all the time. The same would go with any food that was plentiful, whether it was deer, carrots or cherries.
Each of the above recipes were favorites that the pioneers brought over with them from their old countries. They had to adapt them to what was available. But, they stayed as true to them as possible.
We certainly hope you enjoy them.
Have you ever cooked any survival recipes? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Stockpiling food can be expensive. But there is some good news for those of us on a tight budget – you don’t have to spend a fortune to be prepared.
You may not have all the food you want, but you’ll have food to keep your family alive. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
The most expensive part of any food stockpile is meat. While I’m a carnivore, I do recognize that I can survive without it. I also recognize that of all the types of food in our diet, meat might be the easiest to come up with in the wake of a disaster. You can hunt for meat, but last I checked, you can’t hunt for a loaf of bread.
With that in mind, here are my top foods for stockpiling, based on the nutritional bang you get for your buck:
1. Dry beans
On a worldwide basis, beans are one of the most common sources of protein. If you spend any time in Mexico, you’ll find that you get beans with pretty much every meal. That’s because beans pack a lot of nutrition into a small space, and there are a lot of different types of beans. They also store very well, if you can keep moisture and bugs away.
Maybe beans aren’t your family favorite; that’s OK. A lot can be done to doctor up the flavor of them, especially by using spices. Chili con carne and soup are both excellent places to hide your beans and actually get your family to eat them.
Rice is also a staple in many parts of the world. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Colombia, and rice is also typically served with every meal. Beans and rice are a common dish in many countries and territories, such as Puerto Rico.
As with any food, the more processed rice is, the more nutrition is lost. Brown rice can be mixed with just about anything and fried, making your own version of fried rice. But many survivalists prefer white rice because it stores longer.
3. Whole grains
We normally think of wheat when we think of grains, mostly because that’s what we usually use to make bread here in the U.S. But just about any type of grain can be used. When you buy some specialty breads, such as rye bread, you’re buying a bread that is made of a mixture of rye flour and wheat flour. When you buy “seven-grain bread,” it’s literally a mixture of seven different types of grains.
Having a stock of grains, especially a mixed stock, will allow you to experiment and break up the monotony of your diet. You’ll also have more nutritious bread, as wheat flour isn’t the most nutritious grain you can use.
You’re better off buying whole grain, rather than flour, as it will keep longer. Keep in mind, however, that if you buy whole grain you will need a mill to prepare it.
4. Cooking oil
In order to use those grains, you’re going to need to have cooking oil. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive unless you buy pure olive oil or something similar. Oil keeps well for prolonged periods of time as long as it is sealed. There is little risk of insects or bacterial forming in it.
5. Peanut butter
As an inexpensive source of protein, it’s hard to beat peanut butter. Besides, what American child hasn’t grown up eating peanut butter sandwiches? That makes it a good comfort food as well. Peanut butter keeps well, is inexpensive and provides a lot of nutrition – so stock up.
Pasta, like rice, is a good source of carbohydrates. The nice thing about it is that there are so many different things you can do with it. Besides throwing some sauce on it and having spaghetti, pasta forms a good base ingredient for many types of soups and casseroles. You can mix pretty much anything with it and turn it into a tasty dish.
Bouillon is your basic dehydrated or freeze-dried soup stock. If you buy it in the grocery store, it’s rather expensive. But if you buy it packaged for use in restaurants, it’s very cheap. With bouillon and pasta to start, you can turn most any food into a flavorful pot of soup.
Salt is necessary for your health. While doctors talk about not eating too much salt (to avoid high blood pressure and other health issues), a lack of salt prevents your body from retaining enough water.
More than that, salt is the main preservative used for meat. If you happen to kill a deer or even a cow, you’re going to need to preserve a lot of the meat. Whether you decide to smoke it or dehydrate it, you’re going to need salt … and lots of it.
Don’t buy your salt in the one-pound containers you see in the grocery store. Instead, buy it in 25-pound bags. You’ll get it for about one-eighth the cost per pound. Considering that you want to have a couple of hundred pounds of it on hand, that’s a nice savings.
Sugar is more than a sweet treat. For example, it works as a preservative for fruits and helps bread dough rise so you can bake a nice, fluffy loaf.
Like salt, sugar will keep forever. The only problem is keeping moisture and ants out of it. Store it in a five-gallon, food-grade bucket and you should be able to keep it without any problem.
10. Powdered milk
Milk is one of nature’s most complete foods. It’s also needed for most baking. Unfortunately, in liquid form it doesn’t keep well and that’s why stockpiling powdered milk is wise. While powdered milk might not taste as good as regular milk, you’ll get used it and be glad to have it. Plus, powdered milk is very inexpensive.
Admittedly, seeds really aren’t food. But they grow into food, and that makes them the best single food item you can stockpile. Eventually – no matter how many bags of beans, rice and other foods you stockpile – you are going to run out and will need to grow your own food. Stocking up on seeds is a great way to ensure your long-term survival.
What low-cost foods would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:
Of all the different means we have at our disposal to preserve meats, the most common is freezing. In our modern society, we either cook our meat fresh or put it in the freezer until we are ready to use it. This makes sense in an industrialized society, where normal utility service can be counted on and the electricity only goes down when there is an emergency.
For those of us who are stockpiling food and preparing for the unknown, what’s considered “normal” isn’t our norm. The fact of the matter is that our electrical supply is very unreliable in times of crisis or disaster. Even a brief storm is often enough to blow power lines down. Something more serious, like a hurricane, can leave us without power for weeks.
Considering that a freezer can’t keep frozen meat frozen for more than two days without electricity, keeping more than three or four days worth of frozen meat on hand means that there’s a good chance you’ll lose it in a power outage. (Yes, there actually are survivalists who never freeze meat.)
The only way to prevent that meat from going bad in a survival situation would be to take it out of the freezer and preserve it by some alternate means. The big problem with that is that being thrown into a survival situation is going to overwhelm us — and we’ll likely have other, more urgent tasks. The last thing any of us will need at that moment is to have to deal with a freezer full of meat.
Alternate Means of Preserving Meat
What are some alternatives? I’d say that canned meats are safe. The canning process itself, if done properly, will ensure that the bacteria contained in the meat has died, making the meat safe for storage and eating. What about smoked meats? Most smoked meats are only cold-smoked for flavor, and not hot-smoked to keep for a prolonged period of time. Unless you’ve smoked it yourself and know that it was thoroughly hot-smoked, I wouldn’t count on it.
Commercially processed jerky isn’t even all that reliable. I’ve bought jerky at my local supermarket that has developed mold. That either means that the meat wasn’t properly marinated or that the salt concentration in the marinade was too low. If the salt concentration is high enough and the meat is properly marinated before dehydrating, there’s no way that it should go bad.
The fact of the matter is that meats are the hardest thing to preserve, especially for long-term storage. Canning is the most reliable, but canning will affect the taste and texture of the meat. If you’ve ever eaten canned beef, it is usually so overcooked that it will fall apart easily. If it isn’t cooked that well, you can’t be sure that the bacteria is killed.
I’ve had problems with both smoked and cured meats going bad. If you are planning on using either method for preserving meat, then you should use it in conjunction with refrigeration. But that puts us right back in the place we were with freezing.
What About Drying?
Drying meats – whether by dehydration or freeze-drying – is fairly secure as long as the salt concentration is high enough and the moisture content of the meat has been brought down low enough. Properly salted and dried meats provide a very hostile environment for bacteria to grow in. The salt alone is enough to dehydrate the bacteria and kill it.
So, how much salt is enough? From my personal experience, not all jerky recipes have enough salt in them for good preservation. I generally dehydrate five pounds of thinly sliced beef at a time. Regardless of the recipe I use for the marinade, I always add an additional heaping teaspoon of salt. Doing it that way makes the jerky rather salty, but I have yet to have any jerky go bad when I add the extra salt.
To keep jerky for a prolonged period of time, it needs to be sealed in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. I also add a silica gel pack. One pound bags are good for a survival stockpile and a number of them can be put together in a five-gallon bucket for storage.
There’s another problem with freezing meat that I want to mention. And that’s the problem of re-freezing meat. Freezing meat doesn’t necessarily kill the bacteria in it. In many cases, the bacteria just become dormant. Then, when the meat is thawed, it becomes active again. As long as the meat is cooked to a high enough internal temperature, that bacteria is killed and any problem is eliminated.
But if the internal temperature of the meat isn’t high enough to kill the bacteria – for example, cooking a medium-rare steak – then you have live bacteria in the meat.
Not only is that bacteria alive, but the metabolism of the bacteria increases as the temperature rises. So, the bacteria will multiply faster, infecting the meat even more. If the meat has been properly refrigerated or frozen, this usually isn’t an issue. But it can be if the meat is heated and cooled repeatedly.
The other issue is that some bacteria put off toxins as waste. The higher temperature and higher metabolism increase the amount of these toxins that are released. Thawing out meat and then re-freezing it provides an excellent opportunity for the bacteria to produce these toxins, making the meat dangerous to eat. For this reason, meat that has thawed should never be re-frozen and then eaten.
What advice would you add on preserving meat? Share it in the section below:
Native American traditions in food consumption varied greatly, owing much to the diversity of habitats.
For example, the Alaskan Athabascans had very different diets than the Brazilian tribes in the Amazon rainforest. There were also a variety of lifestyles for different tribes as well. Some tribes settled into one place year round, farming the land and being very agricultural, while others were semi-nomadic, following the herds and moving with the seasons as they hunted and gathered their foods. But one constant in both tribal lifestyles was a need for meat accumulation and preservation for use in the winter months and during long hunting and trading expeditions.
In the days before supermarkets, Native Americans in these ancient societies found food for their families in four basic ways: hunting and fishing, gathering, farming, and raising domesticated animals.
So, what types of meat did the Native Americans eat? It varied, depending on the tribe. Buffalo, deer, caribou, elk and rabbit were popular. Raising domesticated animals in North America before Europeans arrived was limited primarily to turkeys, ducks and dogs. Most tribes did not eat dog meat, although there are cases of some who did. In the documented travels of famous explorers Lewis & Clark in their 1803-06 expedition, they spoke of consumption of dog meat all across the continent (although Clark abstained). When their own supply of dog meat ran low they acquired more from the Paiutes, Clatsop, Teton Sioux, Nez Perce and the Hidatsas. The Kickapoo (in present day Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Mexico) still consume puppy meat in their ceremonies and festivals to honor their chief deity.
Here are four ways Native Americans preserved meat:
Smoking it – Northwest tribes and those in the extreme north relied heavily on fish to carry them throughout the year, making use of annual salmon spawning to capture massive amounts of fish. They would then dry and preserve the fish for use throughout the winter. Ancient methods of preserving fish included drying, salting, pickling and smoking, but in the absence of large quantities of salt and other preservatives, smoking alone was sufficient.
The smoking process involves exposing salmon or other fish fillets directly to smoke from smoldering wood for anywhere from several hours to two to three days.
Smoking can be done in both open and enclosed structures. Traditional smoking structures include smoke sheds and tipis large enough to smoke entire hides, many salmon, or large quantities of game.
Enclosed structures contain a smoke source in the bottom, and raw foods to be smoked are arranged on racks or on hanging lines inside the shed or tipi.
Jerky — The term “jerky” derives from the Peruvian Quechua tribe’s word “ch’arki” meaning “dried” or “burned” meat. Jerky is a form of meat preservation in which fresh meat from large game is carefully defatted, cut into slices, sometimes pounded flat, and dried in the sun or smoked over a fire to prevent it from spoiling. Salt was not usually used in the preservation process due to its inland scarcity. Small game meat was primarily consumed immediately, but larger game was preserved and utilized as a long-term source of protein.
Pemmican – A high-energy concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious “shelf stable” traveling food, pemmican is made from the lean meat of large game such as buffalo, moose, elk or deer. The meat is cut in thin slices and dried over a slow fire, or in the hot sun, until it is hard and brittle. The picture below is a demonstration of traditional meat-drying techniques at the annual Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Roughly five pounds of fresh meat is required to make one pound of dried meat suitable for preparing into pemmican. Once the meat is dried, it is pounded into very small powder-like pieces. The pounded meat is then mixed with fat in an approximate 1:1 ratio. In some cases, depending on availability and geography, native dried fruits such as Saskatoon berries, cranberries, blueberries, or choke cherries, were pounded into powder and then added into the meat and fat mixture.
Some preparations also included bone marrow. Cranberries and choke cherries are both indigenous to North America, and both have acids that help to naturally preserve buffalo meat. The resulting mixture was then packed into rawhide bags for storage and even shipped and stored at the major fur posts.
Wasna – This is the Lakota version of pemmican, although the meat is specifically buffalo. One modern-day Lakota told the Native American company Tanka Bar that the “best wasna comes from choke cherries beaten with a special stone, which gives them a special flavor, and made into dried patties. The patties are then mixed with bapa, or dried buffalo, and a small amount of buffalo kidney fat.” That “special stone” is found in a local river. The Lakota discourage people from using beef fat, as it would make the wasna spoil quicker. The Tanka Bar in South Dakota actually sells wasna and other Native Americans foods.
Learning and practicing these traditional techniques is a great idea for homesteaders and survivalists. While carbohydrate-rich energy food may be great to have on hand for short-term use, it’s better to both familiarize yourself with the flavors of protein-rich native foods and gain the valuable food preparation skills needed.
Have you ever made pemmican or other types of Native American foods? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
There’s a pioneer cooking tradition in the United States that stretched from cook camps on cattle drives to lumber camps. It’s “perpetual soup,” known in some regions as the Skillagalee kettle.
Back in 1910, Horace Kephart wrote an iconic book titled: The Book of Camping and Woodcraft: A Guidebook for Those who Travel in the Wilderness. He covered just about everything related to living and surviving in the wilderness back then, and had this to say about this type of food: “Into it go all the clean ends of game — heads, tails, wings, feet, giblets, large bones — also the leftovers of fish, flesh, and fowl, of any and all sorts of vegetables, rice or other cereals, macaroni, stale bread, everything edible except fat.”
The post, he said, is “always kept hot” and its “flavors are forever changing, but ever welcome.”
“It is always ready, day or night for the hungry, varlet who missed connections or who wants a bite between meals. No cook who values his peace of mind will fail to have skilly simmering at all hours.”
Let’s look at this food more in detail – and consider its benefits.
The constant simmering and perpetual heat under the pot is actually an old food-preservation technique. By keeping the broth at a steady temperature between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, anyone helping themselves would not suffer the consequences of food contamination. You could almost think of it as the pioneer Crock-Pot which was especially handy in a time with no electricity.
And that’s something to think about. As Kephart noted in his book, you can add just about anything to the pot. Personally, I don’t think I’d toss fish bones in with the chicken and beef bones, but maybe someday I’ll try it. What’s important is that the combination of ingredients are a potent brew of macro and micronutrients.
How to Make it in Your Kitchen
But you don’t have to hang out the cast-iron cookware over the open fire just yet. You can easily make perpetual soup in a Crock-Pot with some traditional recipes and just keep it on a setting that maintains a high-simmer. I’ve often done this on week-long fishing and hunting trips when I found myself sharing a cabin with five or six guys who always seemed to be hungry. I was the cook on all of these trips and appreciated Kephart’s recollection of a recipe for my own sanity when some of the guys came in from the cold.
You may be tempted to assume that making your own perpetual soup is no different than a traditional soup, but it’s the “ongoing additive nature” of this particular dish that makes it unique. We’ll cover a traditional approach that’s a bit less eclectic than the old 1910 version.
There are three basic things you’ll want to keep an eye on with your perpetual soup, whether it’s simmering over the fire or in a Crock-Pot:
- Slow and steady heat that keeps the broth between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a bit easier with a Crock-Pot, and a gently, bubbling simmer should be apparent. Over an open fire you’re probably going to have to improvise and make some more physical adjustments.
- One thing that will definitely affect your simmer is the frequent addition of water. As the soup evaporates and is consumed, the broth needs to be replenished. There’s no precise measurement here. Just do what makes sense without overfilling. You also may need to crank up the heat a bit for a while to get your good simmer back.
- Keep adding ingredients. This is what makes perpetual soup so unique. Every time you add something new, it will impart a new set of flavors and nutrients.
Perpetual Soup Ingredients
The idea is to start with a foundation that you can add to, day to day.
- Water. This amount depends on the size of your pot, but I usually fill the pot 2/3 full whether it’s a Crock-Pot or a kettle on the fire. You’ll want to cover with a lid, but make sure you balance your heat to the proper simmer with the lid in place. A lid over any hot liquid will increase the temperature as heat is added, and you could end up with a rolling boil or boil-over instead of a very gentle boil or robust simmer.
- Vegetables. I like carrots, celery, roughly chopped onions with the skins still on (this will add a nice, caramel color to the broth), other root vegetables and stalk trimmings like radish and turnip stalks. Leave out the beets and trimmings unless you want a very bloody, red color.
- Bones. Beef bones, pork bones, chicken and pheasant carcasses and turkey carcasses. Get them bones in there. They add wonderful flavor and lots of good stuff. At some point you can pull out the big beef bones and make your dog very happy. He might like a sprinkle of the broth on his dry dog food.
- Seasonings. You have to balance this with your group’s sodium tolerance. Seasonings related to broth tend to be defined by salt. You may be pleasantly surprised that as your perpetual soup matures, its flavor grows and diminishes your craving for salt. Just taste as you go and go and go.
Fats are typically not a good idea with a Skillagalee pot, but they’re unavoidable. Also, if your fire went out at camp or you let the broth boil away overnight in your Crock-Pot, toss it and start over.
Add as you go from one day to the next, but think about how certain ingredients can dominate flavors long-term. Once you add fish bones to a stock, it will linger. Same is true for hot peppers and other dominant flavors. I love garlic, but a few trimmings in the pot will last and last.
Lastly, know when to quit. This could become very obvious as the off-flavors just don’t seem to be working. In my case, it’s when my wife complains about those constant smells in the kitchen from “that Crock-Pot.”
It’s easy to start over. After all, you’re just using water, trimmings and some simple seasoning.
The concept is pretty simple and it’s not like it takes a lot of practice. But the next time the lights go out or you find yourself with a large group for a while, give it a try.
Have you ever made perpetual soup? Share your tips in the section below:
Eating the organs of animals is quite popular throughout the world, but many Americans find the idea to be unpleasant. Perhaps that is because of a lack of exposure to organ meats or a memory of a badly cooked meal. Either way, adding organ meats to your regular diet can give you a significant healthy boost.
While some of these following meats aren’t actually organs but muscle, they tend to be lumped into the same category.
One of the most common true organ meats is the liver, and if you were to only eat one type of organ, this should be it. The liver is not only loaded with nutrients, but is a source of certain ones you probably struggle to get through other foods.
You may have already heard that liver is an incredible source of vitamin A. Retinol, a form of vitamin A from animal products, is a major reason for eating liver. Approximately four ounces of beef liver gives you more than 1,600 percent of the daily recommended intake of this vitamin. In addition to vitamin A you also get major doses of B vitamins. Don’t forget about the iron, folate and other nutrients as well!
There is some concern that the liver can be a source of toxins, since one part of the many jobs this organ performs is filtering blood and detoxification of chemicals. This risk of this happening is quite low, but it’s a good idea to eat the highest quality liver possible — meaning livers from livestock that were not factory farmed. (Recommended: “Liver: The Underappreciated Superfood Of Yesteryear.”)
Recipes for cooking liver:
- Easy Beef Liver and Onion Recipe
- Beef Liver with Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onions
- Chicken Livers with Onions and Mushrooms
- Pan Fried Chicken Livers with Garlic and Shallots
Just like the liver, the kidneys are a great source of vitamin A. Kidneys do have less vitamin A compared to liver (close to about half) but are still higher than most foods. Kidneys provide a nice boost of iron, as well — about five grams in a serving. Finally, these organs are a great source of vitamin B12 — at least 300 percent more than the daily recommended intake, depending on the type of kidney.
Recipes for cooking kidney:
Less often consumed is the heart. Of course, the heart is a muscle but it offers nutrients more similar to organ meats than muscle meats. Aside from that, heart is considered offal so it’s often lumped into the category of organs.
Beef heart is high in protein and a very rich meat. It is particularly high in vitamin B12 and iron (notice a pattern here?). A three-ounce portion of beef heart will provide roughly 200 percent of the daily recommend intake of B12. Ironically, B12 is an important vitamin for cardiovascular health. As for iron, you can expect to get about 50 percent of your recommended intake if you are a man or about 22 percent if you are woman.
Most people tend to find that heart has a very strong flavor, particularly beef heart. If you know you don’t like beef heart, then give the milder chicken hearts a try before writing off this meat altogether.
Recipes for cooking heart:
A final muscle that isn’t an organ but often lumped into the same category is the tongue. Beef tongue is quite the delicacy in other parts of the world, such as Japan where you can find beef tongue-flavored savory snacks.
Since the tongue is high in fat it isn’t as tricky to cook and is quite versatile in how it can be prepared. The downside is that tongue isn’t as packed with nutrients as the other organs/meats. In comparison to the other meats mentioned, beef tongue only has 12 percent of the recommended iron daily intake and 22 percent for B12. Despite this, tongue is still a nice addition to add variety to your diet. Plus, it is usually quite cheap!
Recipes for cooking tongue:
If you truly dislike the taste of offal or organ meats, then don’t feel like you have to force yourself to eat them. However, there are many recipes out there that may work for you.
Do you enjoy organ meats or offal meats? Please share your tips for cooking up these meats in the comment section below.
Earning some extra income from your livestock can be easy if you give some thought to it and do a little research. It can be as simple as raising an extra calf to sell, or selling your excess eggs to a neighbor.
Here are some ideas that I have used over the years — as well as observed others using — to earn a few hundred dollars from livestock on the homestead.
As with any business venture, make sure you understand any regulations that may be in place so you don’t end up finding yourself in a bad situation with local agencies, such as the board of the health or township trustees.
For this article, I’ll discuss ways to earn money from selling live animals. This is the easiest way to cash in on livestock without running into a tangled web of regulations. Let’s look at two popular livestock: pigs and chickens.
Money From Pigs
An obvious one here is raising one pig for yourself and one pig for a customer. Pigs are gregarious by nature and will grow and thrive much better with at least one other pig.
Start with friends and family and you’ll quickly find people who would love to have you raise a pig for them to put in the freezer. I usually have more people that want me to raise them a freezer pig than I can handle.
Another great way to earn some extra cash is to purchase a couple of gilts, breed them, and sell feeder pigs. Here in the U.S., small farm feeder pigs are a scarce commodity in many areas. If you don’t want to keep a boar, use artificial insemination. It’s easy to perform and most places that sell semen will give you advice and they have video tutorials on their website.
You can also keep a few piglets and raise them for roaster pigs. A 180-200 pound pig is the optimum size for most pig roasts. Find some companies or individuals who have a hog-roasting business and supply them with a few pigs.
Time your breeding so that the pigs will be about the right size in time for graduations and other summer holidays and celebrations. May and June are huge for weddings. This will ensure you have plenty of demand and can charge premium prices.
A 10-24 pound pig is called a suckling pig. These are largely a product for the ethnic market, although many high-end chefs are now touting the suckling pig as a delicacy not to be missed. I’ve sold 15-20 pound pigs for as much as $150 each for this market.
Cash in on Your Chickens
Selling chicken eggs is one way to help offset the feed bill for your layer flock. In the spring and summer you’ll see an abundance of “eggs for sale” signs along country roads. In the winter, that’s another story. Start a new flock of pullets in the fall and you can be producing a good supply of eggs when customers are having the most trouble getting them. They sell fast and at a premium price.
Have you ever considered purchasing an incubator and selling chicks? Another option is to sell fertile eggs for others to incubate. This works especially well with a rare or specialty breeds.
I’ve sold spent laying hens to an “all-natural feed” dog kennel several times. They come, pick them up, and take them to the processor. I collect the money and wave goodbye!
Where You’ll Find Customers
There are two kinds of customers who will purchase your livestock or homestead products — those who will pay premium prices, and those who won’t.
It makes sense, then, to focus your efforts toward the customers who are looking for premium value rather than the cheapest price.
The best prices are obtained from marketing to customers who would like to buy from a small farm or homestead rather than the local giant chain store.
Here’s a list of what these customers may be looking for:
- Locally produced.
- Supporting small or independent producers.
- Transparency – Knowing your methods and procedures for producing your products.
- Health – Products that are free from harmful additives.
- Integrity – Knowing your products are made with integrity, even if it costs more.
- Hard to find – Products that can’t be purchased at the local chain store.
While there are other reasons a customer may decide to purchase your products, these are some of the most common. Weave these messages into your marketing. Notice that this type of customer doesn’t consider price as the first criteria for purchasing.
So, where do you find this type of customer? It’s not as hard as you might think. They are looking for you! If you are remotely close to a major city, why not advertise your products in the newspaper and make sure they include your ad in the online version?
Go the Extra Mile
If you have a product that can be shipped for a reasonable cost, delivery is no problem. If you sell something that can’t be shipped easily, then have customers come and pick up their products or deliver it to them.
If you or a family member works in town, then you can set up deliveries to a central place and have several customers meet you at the same time.
For years, I hauled various products to town every week and delivered them to co-workers. Eventually, I had several other customers meet me at the end of the workday to get their products. I supplemented my income by several hundred dollars every week — which added up to thousands for the year.
Many times the biggest obstacle for potential customers is not knowing how to purchase from you. Go the extra mile with customers who have no experience buying direct from the source. Remember, most people go the store, find what they want, and buy it. They have no idea about your process for purchasing and receiving your products.
Selling products from your small farm or homestead is an education process. Educate them on how your product compares to the mass-produced counterpart they can get anywhere. Give them a sample product, or share with them how to use it, cook it, etc.
Here’s one final tip …
Think about products you can sell around holidays. This can be pumpkins and gourds in the fall, hams and turkeys around Christmas or Thanksgiving, and flowers for Memorial Day, weddings and graduations. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.
With only a few simple advertisements and some word of mouth through friends, family and co-workers, you can earn some significant extra income doing what you love!
How do you make money on the homestead? Share your tips in the section below:
Nick Klein & Raising Rabbits
Karen Lynn “Lil’ Suburban Homestead”
Nick Klein blog owner at Hostile Hare and Podcaster at We Grow Ours.com from Hostile Hare will be on the show this episode talking all about raising rabbits for meat not only for the fact that they are delicious but also to talk in detail about how one goes about beginning to grow rabbits for meat, selecting the correct breed, humanely processing them and much more!
Are you concerned about processing rabbits or your ability to do so?
Do you know how many rabbits to start with?
What breed do I need to purchase?
Where do I find a rabbit to start raising meat at?
Nick will answer these questions and share facts with you that may just surprise you about the quality of the meat you are eating, the expense, and the pros and cons of raising your own meat.
You may soon find yourself on your own rabbit raising adventure. If you are not new to raising rabbits for meat come join us anyway you just may learn something new!
Karen Lynn and the Viking have been thinking about striking out on this next chapter themselves which would turn their little Suburban Homestead into now a homestead that would have two sources of protein; eggs and rabbit meat.
Visit Hostile Hare HERE!
Visit Lil’ Suburban Homestead
Join us for Lil’ Suburban Homestead “LIVE SHOW” every Thursday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat
Listen to this broadcast or download “Nick Klein & Raising Rabbits” in player below!
When it comes to long-lasting survival foods for emergency situations, most pantries are filled with dried or canned foods and emergency meal kits. These foods tend to last for a few years with proper storage, which is impressive. But did you know there are other foods that can last for even longer — even past your lifetime?
In fact, there are a few stories of certain foods remaining safely edible for upwards of 100 years. While the majority of these claims have been merely anecdotal, there is no doubt that some foods can easily last decades or more under the right conditions.
Here are 3 foods that are easy to make or gather that will easily outlast typical canned or dried survival foods.
Pemmican has a long history as a food that seems to never go bad. This food is a mixture of fat and protein made into a paste and then dried. Think of super tough, calorie-packed fruit leather.
This peculiar jerky-like food was developed by North American Native Americans as a high-energy meal that could be taken on long journeys without spoiling. The idea was passed on to Europeans, who found it invaluable as a protein source by explorers and trappers.
Pemmican isn’t difficult to make and there really is no exact recipe, since traditionally the protein and fat sources that were used depended on whatever the people had. Therefore, modern pemmican’s protein component could be anything from store-bought beef to wild game like deer or moose. There are cases of Natives adding fruits for taste and increased nutritious — although this fancier Pemmican was often used in ceremonies and other significant events.
You click this hyperlink to go to a modern-day take on a Pemmican recipe. In short, this food is made by crushing previously dried meat (jerky) and mixing it with crushed dried berries and an equal amount of melted fat. Pemmican can be eaten as-is, added to stews or fried up in a pan with vegetables or other foods you may have on hand.
Another food with an interesting history is hardtack (or, hard tack). This cracker-like bread or biscuit was made popular by sailors and soldiers. The idea of baking a hardened bread or biscuit to take on long voyages or treks originated all the way back in ancient Egypt and Rome. In wasn’t until 1667 that hardtack became part of a standard diet for the Royal Navy.
It wasn’t until 1801 when a baker began producing hard tack (called water crackers) in America. These water crackers became a mainstay and also were eaten by troops. There are even hardtack biscuits in Civil War museums today.
Hardtack isn’t a tasty food since it’s just a mix of flour and water, but it did do a good job of keeping soldiers in condition. There are still some companies in the US that make hardtack for Civil War reenactments, and these biscuits can still be found in supermarkets throughout the world.
There isn’t really an expiration date on hardtack but it’s generally believed that if kept in dry, insect-proof containers out of sunlight these crackers can easily last 50-100 years.
Watch the video below to learn how to make it:
If you want a different recipe, then use this one from Parks Canada, which was used by surveyor Major AB Rogers:
- 4 cups flour, preferably whole wheat
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups water, approximately
- “Preheat the oven to 375°F | 190°C.
- “Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add enough water − possibly less than two cups − to ensure that the dough sticks together without sticking to your hands, the rolling pin or the pan. Mix the dough by hand.
- “Roll the dough out, shaping it roughly into a rectangle. Cut into the dough into 12 squares about 3 x 3 inches and ½-inch thick. After cutting the squares, press a pattern of four rows of four holes into each square, using a nail or other such object. Do not punch through the dough. The appearance you want is similar to that of a modern saltine cracker. Turn each square over and do the same thing to the other side.
- “Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn each piece over and bake for another 30 minutes. The crackers should be slightly brown on both sides.”
And finally …
While not a meal by itself, honey is a great addition to a survival diet for a number of reasons. Not only is raw honey great for the body internally (and the taste buds!) but it also performs double-duty as a natural healing salve. Unfiltered raw honey in its most natural state boosts the immune system, provides antibacterial and antifungal protection, and is loaded with various minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
It cannot be stressed enough that these numerous benefits and longevity apply to only raw honey. Honey that has had additives added or has been heated to a high temperature doesn’t offer the same benefits. Some supermarkets or health stores will sell unprocessed, raw honey, but you can always find an apiary where you can buy your honey straight from the source.
For best results, honey should be stored in a cool, dry place in mason jars with secure lids. Ideally, the honey should be kept at room temperature but this only helps prevent crystallization. Raw honey is one of the only foods, if not the only one, that has no expiration date. A jar of honey was unearthed that was more than 5,000 years old and still deemed fit for human consumption!
Other foods with tremendously long expiration dates include sugar, raw maple syrup, white rice, beans, ghee and bouillon cubes. Even if you have a garden and livestock in the event of an emergency, stocking up on true survival foods will ensure you get plenty of variety during hard times.
What foods or advice would you add to the list? Share it in the section below:
The best way to reduce global warming would be to tax meat so people would consume less of it, a British think says.
The tax proposed by the Chatham House would be part of a broader effort to reduce meat consumption by 14 percent. The tax would be about $1 per pound.
“Meat consumption can no longer be ignored in the climate debate – shifting diets to less meat and more plant proteins will be crucial,” Clare Oxborrow, a spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth, told The Guardian.
Oxborrow’s organization is one of a number of environmental and animal rights groups promoting the tax in the United Kingdom.
“We are not in any way advocating for global vegetarianism,” said Laura Wellesley, the lead author of a research study by Chatham House and Glasgow University. “We can see massive changes [to emissions] from just converging around healthy levels of meat eating.”
Wellesley’s team studied public attitudes in 12 countries in order to determine if there was public support for reducing meat consumption. They found there was some support for reducing government subsidies for meat and even a tax if it was seen to be implemented in the name of the public good.
Why Environmentalists Want a Meat Tax
Environmentalists favor a meat tax because they calculate meat production creates 15 percent of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. According to them, meat production adds more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all the vehicles in the world.
Chatham House tried to see what the public response to such taxes would be by holding focus groups around the world.
The research found that a “carbon tax” on meat would be the most effective means of reducing meat consumption and production, The Telegraph reported. Not surprisingly, they also found it would be among the most unpopular. Some other suggestions such as eliminating government subsidies for meat and livestock were far more popular.
Chatham House does not believe there would be as much opposition to such a tax as some politicians believe.
“Our focus groups show people expect governments to lead action on issues that are for the global good,” Wellesley said. “Our research indicates any backlash to unpopular policies would likely be short-lived as long as the rationale for action was strong.”
The tax would be part of an organized campaign to reduce meat consumption, which would include public education efforts similar to anti-smoking campaigns and the elimination of meat from school lunchroom, military mess halls, hospital cafeterias and other government-run eateries. The money from the tax would be used to finance alternatives to meat such as vegetarian food.
What do you think of the proposal? Leave your thoughts in the section below:
I know I’ve advocated meat consumption many times before; I’ve talked about the benefits of eating meat (in moderation of course). In many cases I have stated that the human omnivorous diet (comprised of both meats and vegetal matter) requires a balanced intake of nutrients, from which meat shouldn’t not be left out, mainly because it’s the best source of protein we get. But I feel that I’ve never treated this subject with the proper respect it actually deserved, so I’ll fix that right now. If you’re a body builder or a fitness enthusiast you probably know much about what proteins are and what they’re good for. But for those of you who don’t, allow me to explain. Proteins are essential to living organism and humans make no exception. It helps build and repair muscle mass, it serves as a building block for body chemicals (enzymes, hormones etc.), skin, blood, bones, helps release carbohydrates into the bloodstream and so on. Every single fully functional cell in the human body needs protein in order to function properly. Some tissues (hair and nails) are comprised mostly of protein. So this macronutrient is one of the building blocks of life, it’s a major part of who and what we are and it’s important to have a balanced diet in which to include rich sources of protein. Let’s have a look at these 4 meats that are packed with protein. And there is no better natural source of protein out there that meat.
Venison (27g of protein / 3 oz)
Venison is an excellent source for protein, even better than the common beef. Not only does it have a higher amount of protein / per oz., but it also has a lower count of saturated fats. Protein is only one of the nutritious compounds venison has to offer. It’s packed with iron, riboflavin, vitamin BS and other minerals that are beneficial to human health. It’s pretty versatile when it comes to cooking methods. You can make mouth-watering stakes and stews from back straps, tenderloins or top hams. The neck the belly and the lower ribs can be easily grinded into sausages or stew meat. The best roasts result from the lower hams, but you’ll have to cook them long and slow to tender the meat. Venison has a specific taste, and if you’re not very keen on it, you can marinate it and tinker with the flavor as much as possible.
Chicken breast (27g of protein / 4 oz)
The chicken breast is a common household name that’s known and loved by everybody. We are all familiar with its tenderness and deliciousness. We all know how easy to prepare it is, in how many dishes and recipes we can include it in and how easy it is to procure (found in all types of stores and markets, big or small). But I don’t know how many of us are actually aware of the chicken breast’s nutritious properties. Apart from proteins, it also has phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and also a small amount of calcium. The healthiest approach to eating chicken breast is to serve it grilled, with a side of fresh, steamed or grilled vegetables. But for those of you who don’t mind adding calories in the mix, you can just fry it and eat it with pretty much everything your heart desires. When it comes to cooking chicken breast, the sky’s the limit.
Ground beef 95% lean (24g of protein / 3 oz)
This is the best type of beef money can buy. The 95% lean ground beef it’s full of beneficial compounds, such as iron, creatine (that do wonders for your muscles), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, zinc, calcium and more. The leaner the beef, the better! Ground beef that starts at 90% lean is lower in fatty acids and calories, which makes it perfect as the main pillar of a healthy diet. Cooking it requires some caution and preparation. Because the meat lacks a high amount of fats, it’s advised to use the right amount for cooling oil before frying. If you’re planning a roast, it’s best if you add sauce and cook it slowly, because it’ll need all the moisture it can get. If you already have your heart on switching to this type of meat product, go for grass-fed beef, as it’s tenderer and even richer in protein and nutrients than regular lean beef.
Anchovies (24g of protein / 3 oz)
The anchovies are a small breed of fish that are extremely delicious and beneficial at the same time. Apart for being a rich source of protein, they’re also a rich resource of omega 3 fats (beneficial non-saturated fats), vitamin D, vitamin B12, niacin and other nutrients and minerals that make for tough blood vessels, strong bones and a healthy heart. Their small size also prevents them from accumulating high amounts of toxins, like bigger fish do. Before eating them, soak them in water for about 30 minutes; they retain high amounts of salt and this will remove the excess salt. They’re not meant for cooking (as they tend to dissolve), so just eat them out of the can with greens and cheeses or add them to salad dressings.
For a while I’ve considering pork chops as well. But I ultimately decided to drop them from the list, because of their high amount of fat: 1.2 g of polyunsaturated fat, 3.3 g of saturated fat and 3.9 g of monounsaturated fat.
These are some of my personal favorite meats, but I’m sure there are plenty more out there to take into consideration. I’m sure there are plenty of you that could successfully add to this list, and make it go for pages on end. But that is not my goal; all I wanted to do is to share with you the importance and joy of eating meat. Stay safe and healthy!
By Alec Deacon
A Survivalist’s Guide to the Lost Art of Meat Grinding
It might not be at the top of your Christmas list, but for the survivalist enthusiast, a meat grinder certainly should be. There’s an elegance to this simple piece of equipment and an air of honesty about it. A meat grinder does one thing: grinds meat.
If you’re a huntsman gunning for self-sufficiency, what else is available to prevent wasting scraps of meat not large enough for cut steaks? Or for blending meats for rationing? Or for processing meats like rabbit, which will be plenty abundant when more traditional meats are gone but are generally too tough for other preparation techniques? Nothing. Nothing else can do what a meat grinder can do, and when the meat gets tough, the tough get a meat grinder. Here are two practical and survival-oriented recipes that will show you what a quality meat grinder is capable of accomplishing.
Meat grinders come in all shapes and sizes. They can be manually or electrically operated and come either as freestanding units or a countertop attachment. If you won’t be grinding massive amounts of meat at one time, a manual grinder is best, and would be ideal for cooking up some rabbit sausage.
Given the often tough texture of rabbit meat, when cooking it in cubes or small steaks, it needs to be tenderized violently. When ground, though, rabbit meat becomes tastier and more versatile. To prepare this rugged delicacy, you will need:
- two pounds of rabbit meat
- one pound of complimentary meat, such as pork butt or shoulder
- half a tablespoon of each: black pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and cumin; one tablespoon of garlic, oregano, and basil
- two tablespoons of salt, thyme, and Parmesan cheese
- three tablespoons of parsley
- half a cup of minced onion
- a full cup of thinly sliced shallots
- one egg
- three-fourth cup chicken stock
- half cup of breadcrumbs
- about seven casings
For preparation, soak the casing in cold water, squeeze the water out, and then lay them flat and refrigerate until time to fill them. The mixture preparation is simple, and easy for the hunter or camper or survivalist. You just throw all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix them up with your hands. Keep the mixture cool for 24 hours and then stuff the casings with it using simple twists in the casings where you want the links to break. Toss the stuffed casings into a pan with an inch of water in it and bake uncovered for an hour at a temperature of 300 degrees.
Blended Meat Burgers
In just three minutes, you can grind enough meat for six burgers. With a grinder, you can mix and match your meats based on availability and desired flavor. At the helm of a grinder, you become a meat alchemist, experimenting and creating with different percentages of blended available meats, consistencies and taste complexities.
To create a perfect, simple ground meat burger, you will need:
- one egg
- half a teaspoon of salt
- half a teaspoon of black pepper
- half a pound of freshly ground sirloin
- half a pound of freshly ground turkey or pork butt
- half a cup of dry
- fine breadcrumbs
This recipe is ideal a survivalist because these burgers can be cooked on an open fire in a pan or grilled on a grate. To prepare the patties, whisk your egg, pepper, and salt together, and then add the bread crumbs and blended meat to the mix. Then use your hands to mold it all together. Separate the meat into about four, three-quarter inch patties and cook for about seven minutes on each side, covered. Then serve and enjoy.
The lost art of meat grinding can be rediscovered in modern camping, hunting, or survival situations. It just takes a little ingenuity, a decent grinder, and a hearty appetite.
The post A Survivalist’s Guide to the Lost Art of Meat Grinding appeared first on American Preppers Network.
When you hunt and use every part of a deer, you respect and honor not only just nature but age-old hunting traditions that we seem to have forgotten in our busy digital life.
Hunting as a means to feed and provide for your family is a natural act, but knowledge about it is beginning to fade from our society. So, below we will discuss how to hunt a deer and use every single part of the animal for a benefit to yourself and the land.
There are two general types of hunting — bow and rifle – and we will discuss both interchangeably.
How to Find the Best Spots
First, you’ll have to find public or private land to hunt on in your area. Public lands generally will require hiking in, because they will have vehicle restrictions. Private lands may allow vehicles, which will make getting to your spot easier and hauling out a whole lot easier, once you’ve bagged your game.
Either way, make sure you park at least a mile out, because even if you’re going to overnight so the noise won’t be an issue, the smell of the vehicles could scare aware deer.
There are several types of terrain that you need to use to give you an edge. Get a TOPO (topography) map of your area. This will allow you to see the following terrain shapes so you can use them in your successful hunt.
Learn the Terrain
Cover Funnels. This is where the cover that they are using to hide necks down to a narrow spot. If you took two beer bottles and laid them in the ground with both of their opening perfectly facing each other and touching, you would have an hourglass shape.
This is the perfect shape of a cover funnel. There are open areas all around, but the cover area necks down and gets narrow at some point. This is going to be a prime spot to hunt or put up a tree stand. The deer will basically be funneled into that narrow area.
Saddles. Here you have two hills with a valley in between. This is called a saddle. The deer will come through here because they don’t like to walk the ridge line. Plus, like most creatures, they, too, take the path of least resistance.
If two large habitats are on either side of your saddle or cover funnel above, then you have a great bottle neck they have to come through.
Points. If you have a great big long point that covers a large area, then the deer will follow the hill and make their turn at the base of that point. Just like you, they have no interest in going over the top of it. So, as they go around it, they turn at the base of it. So, that base point is a good spot to hunt.
Ridge Lines. Deer for the most part won’t travel ridge lines. They are not under cover if they do, and more dangerous. If you have a long ridge line they will generally be 3/4 of the way down it or more.
I’m not saying that this is a good place to hunt — just saying that ridge lines are typically not.
Food And Droppings
There is a great deer hunter saying that is so obvious that it’s painful. The saying is: Hunt where the deer live.
So, use the TOPO features but also start looking for their favorite foods. As an example: If you find an acorn pile under some oak trees, look for droppings and hoof prints as sign.
Deer love acorns, and they can put on weight with them faster than other foods.
If you see an area of natural browse where there is a lot of twigs, seeds, berries and leaves that make up the bulk of their diet, look for signs nearby. If it’s pre-rut season, then look for tree rubbings along with your other sign markings. They will be rubbing the velvet from their antlers. You may see dried velvet at the base of the tree with rub marks.
These are all really good signs that you’re hunting at a good location.
How to Use Every Part of the Deer
To follow the tradition of the old hunting ways, learn how to use every part of the deer. We won’t cover the meat, because we will presume you’re going to eat it. So, we’ll just cover the rest.
Antlers. They make wonderful silverware and knife handles. Cut them into ¼-inch thick slices or less to make great buttons. Drill holes through the centers, run wiring and make lamps, sconces, and chandeliers when putting several together. They also make great handles for cupboards, doors, drawers and more.
Cut a good piece off and drill a hole through it. Run the pull cord of your lawn mower through it and you have a cool pull cord handle. Get creative and you will find hundreds of uses. You even can make handles for your fireplace poker, brush and shovel.
Bones. Cut them into lengths, freeze them and pull one a week out for your dog(s). You’ll save on food bills and Fido will be in heaven. Grind the bones and mix a teaspoon into your dog’s food each day for the natural bone calcium. Grind them up and till them into your garden area. By spring when you go to plant, the soil will be rich with nutrients and minerals, so you can grow nutritious foods.
Entrails And Scraps. Cut them into pieces and freeze. Many people enjoy eating organs. Or, you can thaw them all year long and feed your dog(s) and cat(s). Or, put the pieces beneath the seeds you’re planting in the spring for your garden. As they decompose it provides great nutrients for your vegetables and fruits.
Hide. Tan the hide as shown in our article: The Easiest Way To Preserve And Tan Hide. You can make anything — clothing, blankets, tools, shoes and even wall decorations.
We sincerely hope that this information helps you in your deer hunting and game usage. And we wish you a successful hunt.
What advice would you add? Share your own tips in the section below:
Freezing is an easy and convenient way to save time and money when it comes to feeding your family. You can make meals ahead and freeze them for future use. You can freeze seasonal fruits and vegetables for the winter. You can even freeze random leftovers for what my kids know as our no-cook “leftover surprise” night.
But freezing does present two possible problems. First, how can you know how long a frozen food item is safe to eat? And, secondly, what will happen to all that frozen food if the power goes out?
Most frozen foods remain safe to eat almost indefinitely. Therefore, most storage “times” for frozen foods are merely suggested times for best taste and quality only.
Keeping in mind that the federal government is conservative with its estimates, here are some general guidelines from FoodSafety.gov and nchfp.uga.edu.
- Ground meat: 3 to 4 months
- Fresh meat: 6 to 12 months
- Poultry: 12 months
- Fish: 3 to 6 months
- Pork: 6 to 8 months
- Processed meat (hot dogs, sausage lunch meat, bacon): 1 to 2 months
- Leftovers (cooked meat): 2 to 6 months
- Butter: 5 to 6 months
- Hard cheese: 6 to 12 months
- Soft cheese: 4 months
- Eggs (removed from shell): 12 months
- Milk: 1 month
- Fruits: 12 months
- Cooked vegetables: 1 month
- Raw vegetables: 12 months
- Onions (raw): 3 to 6 months
- Baked goods: 6 months
The best place for long-term storage is the back of your stand-up freezer or the bottom of your chest freezer. Use the freezer door for times you use up frequently, since door items are subjected to more temperature fluctuation.
Packaging matters. Resist the urge to place an item in the freezer in its store-bought package unless the packaging is intended for the freezer. Be sure to let cooked foods cool before packaging them to help speed up the freezing process and to help them retain their natural color, flavor and texture.
Then use containers that are moisture-vapor resistant, durable, leak-proof and easy to seal. When placing foods in the package, allow enough room for some expansion during the freezing process. Mark your packages with pens and labels designed for freezer use.
Although you may think you’ll never forget what is in that big Tupperware container, you just might in a couple of months. Label the food with its contents and the date you are freezing it. That way, you can try to follow the same first-in, first-out rule for your freezer that you follow with your pantry foods.
But What If You Lose Electricity?
But what if the power goes out? How long will frozen food last then?
Although you can invest in fuel-powered generators to keep your freezer running for a time, in a long-term emergency, you may not be able to consume all your frozen food before you run out of fuel. As a result, no emergency food storage plan should rely on frozen food.
What if you do not use a generator? To maximize your freezing time during a power outage, try to keep your freezer as full as possible. A full freezer operates more efficiently than an empty or sparsely used freezer. Consider freezing plastic bottles that are filled about two-thirds full with water as a way to keep your freezer fuller. The water may come in handy during an emergency as well.
In a power outage, the food in a full free-standing freezer will keep for about 48 hours if its door remains shut. Food in a full chest-type freezer may last as much as 24 hours longer – again, if cold air is not lost through an opened door.
During a power outage, you can quickly take out items that you will use in the short term and place them in coolers. This planning ahead process will help you keep the freezer door shut and help keep your frozen foods colder longer.
Here are some other tips:
- Breads will defrost more quickly than meats and vegetables.
- Most thawed or partially thawed foods may be safely refrozen if they still contain visible ice crystals or if the appliance has a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- If the color of an item has changed, if an unusual odor is present, or if the item feels warm, discard it.
- Covering the freezer with blankets will help it retain its temperature. (Avoid covering vents.)
Additionally, it is worth it to invest in a quality freezer thermometer. Most frozen food storage guidelines are based on a maintained freezer temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degree Celsius) or colder.
What freezer tips would you add? Do you eat frozen foods that are many years old? Share your advice in the section below:
Considering that in the near future energy will no longer be a modern day commodity, but a luxury hard to come by, learning how to preserve meat and store your own food is crucial for your very own existence. Your fridge will probably become just another shelf, useless without a power source. But there are ways to still keep your balanced diet, ways that help you preserve and store even the most important food group: meat!
Even if you survived the “fall of mankind”, doesn’t mean you have to give up on eating healthy. And by smoking and curing your meats, you’ll still be able to enjoy roast beef or bacon. I’ll walk you through the easy steps of keeping your meats fresh and tasty without a fridge.
How to smoke your meat
The process of smoking food is defined by exposing the meat (of almost any sort) to the smoke produced by burning plants, smoldering wood or other spices or organic materials. In the U.S. the most commonly used smoking woods are apple, cherry, oak and mesquite. The meat is smoked for long periods of time at low temperatures (180° – 225°F), reliant on indirect heat. Grilling is a similar process, but it’s based direct heat and high temperatures. The practice of smoking began purely out of necessity. Before modern day appliances, smoking was an excellent means of preserving meat because the smoke covers the surface like an acidic coating, a very inhospitable surface for bacterial agents. Furthermore, it also dehydrates the meat, furthering even more its resistance. Today, meat is smoked or cured purely for flavouring reasons, as modern means of conservation are preferred. But the way things are looking, we’re about to go back to old habits rather sooner than later.
Smokers today use all sorts of devices, based on different types of energy: propane, electricity, charcoal, and pretty much everything else capable of generating smoke. Some backyard kettle grills can be easily modified to become instant smoking apparatuses. But there are also professional smoking machines available on the market. Just make sure you have enough space for such an appliance before purchasing one.
There are 2 basic ways in which you can smoke your meats:
Cold smoking is used for flavouring rather than cooking. The process involves temperatures of less than 100°F and longer periods of exposure to smoke. It’s an excellent method of adding taste to already cured fish without actually cooking it. The same goes salami and other sorts of meat.
Hot smoking is different; it should be done in a closed appliance (be it grill or any sort for cooking gadget), so that the meat is not only being flavoured by the smoke, but also cooked by the generated heat. The temperatures in this case are considerably higher (140°F – 160°F). For safety, the meat should be cooked at first at 160°F for 45 minutes straight, to ensure the annihilation of any sort of parasites or bacterial agents.
Different types of wood give different results when it comes to smoking meat. Hard wood and fruit wood make for excellent savoury smoke, mesquite smoke gives an earthy flavour, fresh apple wood smoke is sweet and goes great with poultry and pork and hickory wood gives the meat a sharp and rich flavour. If you plan on gathering smoking wood, make sure not to gather any sort of toxic or poisonous plants.
How to cure your meat
Curing basically means preserving meat and fish in salt. Back in the days when refrigerators or refrigeration techniques hadn’t been discovered yet, curing with salt was the only way to maintain freshness. The abundance of salt created a more than inhospitable place for bacteria that, if left alone, would spoil and rot the meat in no time. But because due to modern day technological advances, curing (like smoking), it’s not longer used for preservation purposes, but only for flavoring. The process of curing doesn’t normally rely on salt alone. It’s more than common to use other ingredients to contrast the salt. Sugar (brown sugar, honey, maple syrup) it’s the best counter for salt, and adds unique flavor. There other frequently used herbs or spices as well: black pepper, coriander, bay leaves and more.
There is another important ingredient which you can’t do without, and it’s more than add flavor. Sodium nitrite (commonly found in spinach, lettuce and celery) it’s very important to the mix, because it inhibits the growth of the Botulism bacteria, which can be fatal.
Sodium nitrite will also give a specific savor and a unique color (bright red). This ingredient however, can be toxic in high dosage, so respect the following mixture recommendations: 6.25% sodium nitrite to 93.75% table salt (regardless if you’re using pink salt or fresh vegetable extracts as a source of nitrites).
Once you have everything ready, you can cut your meat into slabs. Afterwards cover each slab heavily with the salt mixture. After you’re done, pack the meat slabs tightly in jars and place them in storage space of your choice, where the temperature should ideally be around 36°F. Let the meat sit for a month, and afterwards take it out and wrap each slab in paper or plastic, making sure each one is air tight, so moisture doesn’t get in. The meat slabs can be stored again or consumed at your own will.
How to brine your meat
The process of meat brining is also known as “wet curing”. It goes by the same principle of meat preservation with salt. But rather than relying on dry salt, brining is about keeping the meat submerged in a saline solution. The meat needs to be cut in slabs and placed into jars or containers that have been previously washed and sanitized. One way of preparing the saltwater is by adding 1 pond salt + 1 cup sugar / 3 quarters of water. Spices and herbs can be added as well, according to taste. The meat should stay completely submerged in the saline solution. Once the meat is placed in storage you’ll have to check on it once a week, stir the brine or replace it if it thickens. The process will last a month.
These are some of the cheapest, easiest and most practical methods of naturally preserving meat. Each one is different and comes with its own unique flavor, so you should try them all out before deciding what works best for you. So get practicing while it’s still all in good fun rather than for survival reasons.
By Alec Deacon
Raising goats for meat can be a fun and even profitable enterprise. Determining what breed is best suited to your homestead should be based on the amount of land available, goals, and the breeds that are available in your region.
Goats require a lot of browsing area; they are not grazers like cows. If you observe a goat you’ll notice that it is mostly looking up for browse – leaves of trees, shrubs and vines — versus looking down for grass.
Many health issues with goats are related to not enough browsing vegetation and high stocking density.
Start out slow with goats until you determine what your land base will support.
If your goal simply is to supply your family with chevon (the proper term for goat meat), then you may find crossbred dairy goats could fit the bill.
If your plan is to help supply the market with chevon, then you will want to find a breed that is bred for its meat-producing qualities.
Some of the more popular goat breeds for meat are:
1. Boer – Originating in South Africa, these white with reddish brown goats are the most popular goat for meat in the United States. In fact, goats showing the Boer coloring and traits often bring a premium price at auctions, much like a Black Angus steer.
2. Kiko – This goat originated in New Zealand from feral goats. A group of ranchers collected and bred thousands of goats and selected the best ones for meat qualities and hardiness. These goats are tougher than Boers and will typically require less management.
3. Tennessee Meat Goat – These myotonic goats have been developed at Onion Creek Ranch in Texas for the past 20-plus years. Myotonia is the inherited neuro-muscular condition that causes these goats to stiffen and sometimes fall over when startled. These goats reportedly yield lots of meat and posses good hardiness.
4. Savanna – The Savanna goat, much like the Boer, originated in South Africa. Their appearance is strikingly Boer with the exception of their all-white color. These goats were developed for hardiness and ease of kidding while maintaining a good meat yield.
5. Spanish — Having been in the United States since the 1500s, the Spanish goat is a landrace breed that is hardy and able to take care of itself. These goats come in all shapes and sizes, so you may want to find a herd that has been developed with more meat yield as a goal. The Spanish has become very desirable to cross with Boer and Kiko bucks to produce the self-sufficient vigor needed in these more modern breeds.
In conclusion, remember that just because a goat breed possesses certain characteristics it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have the same experience.
When considering a goat purchase, always make onsite visits when possible and ask lots of questions. Observe the animals and the livestock practices of the farmer or rancher.
If they look similar to how you plan to raise goats, you just might go home with some new additions to the homestead.
Do you raise goats for meat? If so, what breed? Share your tips in the section below:
Survival Food Ordering Made Easy
If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have ordered wheat germade at all and would have ordered far more #2.5 cans of cocoa! Yes, we prefer brownies to hot cereal!
From years of experience, I pass on to you a few simple ways to determine what to order from survival food companies, such as Augason Farms, Thrive Life, and Emergency Essentials.
My 8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order
Another great one by Chaya Foedus:
This is the most self-deprecating thing I have ever posted online. But you know what they say: If you can laugh at yourself, you will never cease to be amused. My interest in this topic started with one of only a handful of regrets I have obtained through life. I’m just not prone to regrets,…
The post Tastes Like Lemon: The Time I Ate Ants (& more about eating insects) appeared first on Pantry Paratus.
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 […]
I’ve had a bit of interest over the last few weeks regarding quail as a backyard meat source. I thought I’d dust off the topic and put another article together covering the ins and outs of raising Coturnix quail, particularly in an urban setting. It is a rather long article, but still not as detailed […]