If the #1 rule to purchasing a home is, “Location, Location, Location,” then the #1 rule of food storage is, “rotation, rotation, rotation.” I mention it because some thirty-year-old brown sugar and chocolate chips recently came into my possession, and it probably would have been good if it had been rotated out a few decades […]
Tall, fluffy and light- not usually words you associate with whole wheat right? Well, these rolls are all of those things and more! They are made with 100% whole wheat, get a little sweetness from honey and richness from eggs and milk. All in all, the perfect roll.
To start making these, I milled some white wheat berries in my grain mill and creamed some milk. Such a hard life I live with all of this good food around me! I looked the recipe over and although it originally called for being made in a stand mixer, I decided to try it out in my bread machine. Success!! My Kitchen Aid is on the fritz so being able to make these in the bread machine was an especially good thing.
I found the recipe on An Oregon Cottage and it’s a keeper. I can’t wait to serve these up with our tomato soup tonight! My family loves them and I am confident that you family will too.
100% Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
- 2 Tablespoons yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk or buttermilk
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups whole wheat flour* (hard white wheat or hard red wheat both work great)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
You’ve likely heard the term “gluten-free” a lot in the last few years. For the millions who are allergic to modern hybrid wheat, gluten-free is not a fad, but a godsend.
Whole wheat is a good alternative, right? It could be, but it’s not the same thing. If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you already know the difference. Whole wheat isn’t the answer, since it’s also hybridized.
You may be thinking, “But my grandmother ate wheat all the time. I grew up eating wheat, so what’s the problem?” The wheat we have now isn’t the same wheat our ancestors grew and ate. Modern dwarf wheat is hybridized — cross-bred and altered at the cellular level to grow faster, bigger and stronger. Modern wheat is also frequently sprayed with toxic chemicals, adding to allergy problems.
Enter einkorn, the original ancient grain.
Einkorn is the primitive “ancestor” to the commonly used modern dwarf wheat. The term “einkorn” refers to either the wild grass version (Triticum boeoticum) or the domesticated version (Triticum monococcum.)
Einkorn was one of the first grains planted and harvested by humans, dating back 10,000 years. It’s the “wheat from the Bible,” grown in countries with agriculture until science began hybridizing wheat. The modernization of wheat increases harvest size, resistance to disease and hardiness against weather and pests. Modernization has been successful, but there have been consequences. Cases of gluten intolerance and other ills from modern dwarf wheat have skyrocketed, with no other obvious explanation. Einkorn’s 14 chromosomes to modern wheat’s 42 chromosomes increases the gluten content exponentially, making it harder to digest.
Einkorn is not entirely gluten-free, but is considerably lower in gluten than our modern hybridized wheat. It contains a different type of gluten, and many gluten-sensitive people can consume it without a reaction. Einkorn has the highest amount of protein of all currently available grains, boasting 15 percent less starch and 30 percent more protein than modern wheat.
Most commercial breads contain bromides as well as added starch for lighter, fluffier bread. These two substances can cause increased digestive issues. The blood sugar “spike” that occurs after eating commercial wheat (including whole wheat) is absent in foods with einkorn. Einkorn is also more nutritious than whole wheat, and tastes better.
In 2009, Carla discovered that her daughter had wheat allergies, and she went looking for answers. She found einkorn in Italy and began growing and using it. Her daughter’s health quickly improved, and she immediately began research and development.
Carla, with her husband Rodolfo, founded the company Jovial Foods, and even wrote a cookbook (Einkorn: Recipes For Nature’s Original Wheat.) Today, einkorn is available as bagged flour or berries, which can be ground into a flour as needed for baking or other uses.
Einkorn can’t replace regular wheat flour on a cup-for-cup with einkorn. Jovial Foods’ website offers tips for using it.
If you’re interested in trying einkorn, then have a small amount of something made with it before digging into three or four slices of homemade einkorn bread. There’s no guarantee you won’t have an allergic reaction, so be cautious. (Einkorn isn’t safe for people with celiac disease.) A quick search online, or on Pinterest, will give you hundreds of einkorn recipes for breads, pancakes, rolls, cookies, pizza dough and even a chocolate cake.
If you’ve given up wheat but miss your favorite things, consider trying einkorn. Better breads, pizzas, muffins, cakes and other treats could be on your table again soon.
Have you ever eaten einkorn? Share your tips in the section below:
Is Einkorn Gluten Free? Einkorn.com
How To Make Einkorn Bread, LiveSimply.me, 8/30/2016
11 Charts That Show Everything That’s Wrong With Our Diet, Mercola.com, 02/24/2014
5 Ways Einkorn is different than wheat flour, Katie Kimball, Kitchenstewardship.com
The 4 Reasons Why I’m Switching To Einkorn Wheat, The Healthy Home Economist, 3/22/2017
Baking with Einkorn, Jovial Foods website
Einkorn Chocolate Cake, A Modern Homestead
Einkorn Wheat, Wikipedia.org
Have you tried baking with oat flour? Oat flour is a great alternative to wheat flour – especially for homesteaders, survivalists and preppers.
Why? Oats are inexpensive and have a very long shelf life. When packaged in unopened #10 cans or sealed in Mylar bags and placed in a five-gallon food-grade bucket, oats can last 30 years or more.
When most Americans think of flour, they think of all-purpose flour or whole-wheat flour because those are the types most readily available on supermarket shelves. However, oat flour usually is there in a less conspicuous spot, and in fewer quantities.
Unlike wheat flour, oat flour is gluten-free, so you may find it in your store’s healthy foods section, as well. (You also can make it at home – keep reading.)
That lack of gluten in oat flour gives baked goods a different texture than those made with wheat flour. However, for people who are cutting back or avoiding gluten for dietary or health reasons, oat flour is a welcome choice. As a general rule, however, oat flour is lighter and less coarse than whole-wheat flour.
The flavors of oat and wheat flour are similar, although you may discover that oat flour has a heartier and somewhat sweeter taste than all-purpose wheat flour.
How the texture of oat flour compares with wheat flour really depends on the type of wheat flour you have been using. Whole-wheat flour has a thicker, grainier texture than all-purpose wheat flour, for example. Similarly, home-ground oat flour usually has a coarser texture than mill-ground oat flour.
Oat flour is easy to make, and you do not need a special grinder. You can make your own oat flour by putting dried oats into your blender and using the pulse setting to chop the oats into a fine powder. One and one-fourth cups of rolled oats makes about one cup of oat flour.
Grind small one- to two-cup batches at a time. Store unused flour in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
If you’ve never used oat flour, a good place to start is with quick bread and muffin recipes. Experiment with the ratio, perhaps using one-fourth oat flour and three-fourths wheat flour to start. Then you can slowly increase the ratio of oat flour the next time you bake that item until you are using only oat flour.
Since oat flour does not contain gluten, you may need to adjust your rising ingredients slightly. For example, if your recipe calls for them, you may need to add extra yeast and/or extra baking powder with oat flour than with wheat flour. You also may need to add more or less moisture to get the right consistency.
You can try adding a tablespoon of tapioca starch or potato starch per cup of oat flour used to help lighten the mixture if you like.
Oat flour, which has 120 calories per one-third cup, also works well as a thickener for sauces and gravies.
Oat flour is higher in fiber than wheat flour, and your oat-based baked items will be more nutrient-dense. Oats are a significant source of protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, iron and other minerals.
Have you ever baked with oat flour? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
The internet is full of websites that give information on survival topics, including food storage. There are dozens and dozens of books that will teach you “the right way” to store food and YouTube videos galore. Most contain valid, trustworthy information, but mixed in with that are a number of food storage myths that many people accept without question.
Here are 10 that I take issue with, and I explain why.
By the way, following Myth #10 are 2 short videos that review these myths.
Myth #1: You should stock up on lots of wheat.
When I was researching foods typically eaten during the Great Depression, I noticed that many of them included sandwiches of every variety. So it makes sense to stock up on wheat, which, when ground, becomes flour, the main ingredient to every bread recipe.
There are a couple of problems with the focus on wheat in virtually all food storage plans, however. First, since the time of the Great Depression millions of people now have various health issues when they consume wheat. From causing gluten intolerance to celiac disease our hybridized wheat is a whole ‘nother animal that our great-grandparents never consumed.
The second issue is that wheat isn’t the simplest food to prepare, unless you simply cook the wheat berries in water and eat them as a hot cereal or add them to other dishes. In order to make a loaf of bread, you have to grind the wheat, which requires the purchase of at least one grain mill. Electric mills are much easier to use and, within just seconds, you have freshly ground flour. However, you’ll probably want to add a hand-crank mill to have on hand for power outages. All together, 2 mills will end up costing a pretty penny, depending on the brands you purchase.
Then there’s the process of making the bread itself, which is time consuming.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t store wheat, and, in fact, I have several hundred pounds of it myself. The emphasis on wheat as a major component in food storage is what I have a problem with. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased far more rice and less wheat. Rice is incredibly simple to prepare and is very versatile. It, too, has a very long shelf life.
Myth #2: Beans last forever.
While it’s true that beans have a long shelf life, they have been known to become virtually inedible over time. Old-timers have reported using every cooking method imaginable in order to soften the beans. A pressure cooker is one option but, again, some have told me that doesn’t even work!
Another option is to grind the beans and add the powdered beans to various recipes. They will still contain some nutrients and fiber.
Over the years, I’ve stocked up on cans of beans — beans of all kinds. They retain their nutrients in the canning process and are already cooked, so there’s no need to soak, boil, pressure cook, etc. You can always home can dried beans, and if you have beans that have been around for more than 10 years or so, canning them is a super simple process and insures they won’t become inedible.
Myth #3: If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it!
Have you ever fallen in love with a recipe that was easy to make, inexpensive, and your family loved it? You probably thought you’d finally found The Dream Recipe. And then you made it a second time, then a third, then a fourth. About the 8th or 9th time, however, you may have discovered that you had developed a mild form of food fatigue. Suddenly, it didn’t taste all that great and your family wasn’t giving it rave reviews anymore.
When it comes to food storage, don’t assume that someone will eat a certain item they currently hate, just because they’re hungry. If you stock up on dozens of #10 cans of Turkey Tetrazzini, sooner or later the family will revolt, no matter how hungry they are.
Myth #4. All I need is lots and lots of canned food.
There’s nothing wrong with canned food. In fact, that’s how I got started with food storage. However, canned food has its limitations. A can of ravioli is a can of ravioli. You can’t exactly transform it into a completely different dish. As well, canned food may have additives that you don’t care to eat and, in the case of my own kids, tastes change over time. I had to eventually give away the last few cans of ravioli and Spaghetti-O’s because my kids suddenly didn’t like them anymore.
Be sure to rotate whatever canned food you have, since age takes a toll on all foods, but, as I’ve discovered, on certain canned items in particular. My experience with old canned tuna hasn’t been all that positive, and certain high-acid foods, such as canned tomato products, are known to have issues with can corrosion. Double check the seams of canned food and look for any sign of bulging, leaks, or rust.
Lightly rusted cans, meaning you can rub the rust off with a cloth or your fingertip, are safe to continue storing. However, when a can is badly rusted, there’s a very good chance that the rust has corroded the can, allowing bacteria to enter. Those cans should be thrown away.
Worried about the “expiration” date on canned food? Well, those dates are set by the food production company and don’t have any bearing on how the food will taste, its nutrients, or safety after that date. If the food was canned correctly and you’ve been storing it in a dry and cool location, theoretically, the food will be safe to consume for years after that stamped date.
Myth #5: I can store my food anywhere that I have extra space.
Yikes! Not if you want to extend its shelf life beyond just a few months! Know the enemies of food storage and do your best to store food in the best conditions possible.
TIP: Learn more about the enemies of food storage: heat, humidity, light, oxygen, pests, and time.
I emphasize home organization and decluttering on this blog, mainly because it frees up space that is currently occupied by things you don’t need or use. Start decluttering and then storing your food in places that are cool, dark, and dry.
Myth #6: My food will last X-number of years because that’s what the food storage company said.
I have purchased a lot of food from very reputable companies over the years: Augason Farms, Thrive Life, Honeyville, and Emergency Essentials. They all do a great job of processing food for storage and then packaging it in containers that will help prolong its shelf life.
However, once the food gets to your house, only you are in control of how that food is stored. Yes, under proper conditions, food can easily have a shelf life of 20 years or more, but when it’s stored in heat, fluctuating temperatures, and isn’t protected from light, oxygen, and pests, and never rotated, it will deteriorate quickly.
NOTE: When food is old, it doesn’t become poisonous or evaporate in its container. Rather, it loses nutrients, flavor, texture, and color. In a word, it becomes unappetizing.
Myth #7: Just-add-hot-water meals are all I need.
There are many companies who make and sell only add-hot-water meals. In general, I’m not a big fan of these. They contain numerous additives that I don’t care for, in some cases the flavors and textures and truly awful, but the main reason why I don’t personally store a lot of these meals is because they get boring.
Try eating pre-made chicken teriyaki every day for 2 weeks, and you’ll see what I mean. Some people don’t require a lot of variety in their food, but most of us tire quickly when we eat the same things over and over.
These meals have a couple of advantages, though. They are lightweight and come in handy during evacuation time and power outages. If you can boil a couple of cups of water over a rocket stove, propane grill, or some other cooking device, then you’ll have a meal in a few minutes.
TIP: Store a few days worth of just-add-water meals with your emergency kits and be ready to grab them for a quick emergency evacuation. Be sure to also pack a spoon or fork for each person and a metal pot for meals that require cooking over a heat source.
However, for a well-balanced food storage pantry, stock up on individual ingredients and fewer just-add-hot-water meals.
Myth #8: I can stock up on a year’s worth and won’t need to worry about food anymore.
That is probably the fantasy of many a prepper. Buy the food, stash it away, and don’t give it a thought until the S hits the fan. There’s a big problem with that plan, however. When everything does hit the fan and it’s just you and all that food:
- Will you know how to prepare it?
- Will you have the proper supplies and tools to prepare the food?
- Did you store enough extra water to rehydrate all those cans of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?
- Do you have recipes you’re familiar with, that your family enjoys, and that use whatever you’ve purchased?
- What if there’s an ingredient a family member is allergic to?
- Does everyone even like what you’ve purchased?
- Have any of the containers been damaged? How do you know if you haven’t inspected them and checked them occasionally for bulges and/or pest damage?
If you’ve purchased a pre-packaged food storage supply, the contents of that package were determined by just a small handful of people who do not know your family, your health issues, or other pertinent details. These packages aren’t a bad thing to have on hand. Just don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
Myth #9: Freeze dried foods are too expensive.
Yes, there is a bit of sticker shock initially when you begin to shop online at sites like Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials. If you’ve been used to paying a few dollars for a block of cheddar cheese and then see a price of $35 for a can of freeze-dried cheddar, it can be alarming.
However, take a look at how many servings are in each container and consider how much it would cost to either grow or purchase that same food item and preserve it in one way or another, on your own.
The 3 companies I mentioned all have monthly specials on their food and other survival supplies — that’s how I ended up with 2 cases of granola from Emergency Essentials!
Myth #10: This expert’s food storage plan will fit my family.
The very best food storage plan is the one that you have customized yourself. By all means, use advice given by a number of experts. Take a look at online food calculators, but when it’s time to make purchases, buy what suits your family best. What one person thinks is ideal for food storage may leave your kids retching.
Lots of resources to help you with your food storage pantry
- “A Round-Up of Food Storage Resources“
- Food Saver — vacuum system for storing food long-term
- Food Saver Mason jar sealer
- Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett
- Oxygen absorbers, 100 cc
- Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage by Gaye Levy
- The Preparedness Planner (Print this out and prepare a customized planner!)
- The Prepper’s Cookbook by Tess Pennington
- Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Emergencies and Worst Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford
Want this info on video? Here you go!
Food Storage Myths, Part 1: Myths 1-5
Food Storage Myths, Part 2: Myths 6-10
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If you’re stocking up on healthy foods in your food storage pantry, millet should be included. More and more, popular food storage companies, such as Thrive Life, are offering foods that have become more popular as Americans have turned from overly processed foods to foods more nutritious and natural.
In addition to things like freeze-dried kale, organic amaranth, and gluten-free flour, millet is also available. I first came across it in real life several years ago when I was browsing Thrive Life’s website to make a purchase. I bought a can of millet and ended up liking it quite a lot. Millet is one of those things that we just don’t encounter very often in the modern Western world. Before this, my only exposure to millet was a line from an old TV show where someone proclaimed, “I will put a snake in her millet!”
What is Millet?
What is millet, where does it come from? What kind of recipes is it good for? It’s often an ingredient of birdseed, which automatically makes it quite a bit less interesting than its trendy cousin, quinoa, even though it is just as versatile. Like quinoa, for best results millet should be toasted before cooking. Millet has a mild, wholesome flavor that is a little bit like corn.
Millet originally comes from the Far East and India, where it was one of the first grains to be domesticated in those regions. It is high in minerals like copper, phosphorous, and manganese, as well as being a good source of protein and B vitamins. It can be cooked like other hot grain cereals, or made to be fluffy like rice. Today most couscous is made from semolina flour, but in days past it was made from millet.
Millet is a good addition to any food storage plan because it stores just as well as white rice (under ideal conditions, millet will stay fresh for 20 years when kept in an unopened #10 can), but is more nutritious (people who eat only white rice are at risk of developing a nutrient deficiency called beriberi).
Store millet in a tightly closed container and in a cool, dark, dry location. If you’re planning on storing millet long-term, it would be wise to put the containers of millet in the freezer for at least a week. This will kill off any microscopic insect eggs that might hatch later on. To be on the extra safe side, add an oxygen absorber to the millet once its time in the freezer ends. The oxygen absorber will deprive any remaining, live insect eggs of oxygen, thus killing them. Oxygen absorbers are inexpensive and easy to use. They will also remove oxygen in the container, which leads to a longer shelf life.
Another way to store millet is to use canning jars, a Food Saver vacuum sealer, and a jar sealer attachment. I explain the easy process in this video. This depletes the jar of oxygen and no additional oxygen absorber needs to be used.
How to use millet in recipes
Even though this is a Middle Eastern/ Far Eastern food, what could make it more American than putting it into a casserole? This recipe is written for use with freeze-dried food-storage items but you can easily substitute fresh ingredients. After all, the whole point of food storage is not to supplant fresh ingredients, but to have them available for use when fresh ingredients are not available.
You’ll notice that this recipe is 100% shelf stable and food storage friendly. None of the ingredients need to be refrigerated and can be stored long-term. For extra protein, you could always add chopped chicken, even the freeze-dried kind.
- 8 cups freeze-dried broccoli florets, reconstituted (You could also substitute FD kale or FD green beans)
- 1½ Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 ½ cups millet
- 3 cloves garlic (or 1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 c milk (fresh or reconstituted from powdered milk)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 1/3 c Freeze-Dried Cheddar cheese, reconstituted
Chinese Millet Porridge
For something a little more traditional, you could try millet as a breakfast cereal, as it is often eaten in China.
- 1/2 C millet
- 1 3/4 C water
Toast millet in bottom of small saucepan over medium-high heat for about five minutes, until it gives off a toasted aroma. Set aside as you bring the water to boil in a second saucepan. If you want a thicker porridge, you could use less water.
Add your toasted millet to boiling water and simmer over medium-low heat for 15-25 minutes, or until done. Grains will be translucent and will release starch into the water when it is fully cooked. Eat warm, adding sugar or honey to taste. Honey Crystals from Thrive Life are a nice, non-sticky option for a hot cereal like this one.
For many of us, buying food specifically for food storage is an additional expense that can, sometimes, become too burdensome. When money is tight, it’s hard enough to cover the groceries for our main meals, much less add another few day’s worth of food to the grocery cart.
One solution to this dilemma is to stock up on meal stretchers. Foods like rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, and other grains have always formed the core of most food storage plans. First, they are inexpensive foods, like these potato dices. Purchased either from the grocery store or in large multi-pound packages, it’s a lot of food that will go a long way in your meals. If you add just 1 cup of rice to a pot of soup, the expense is just a few cents. This is probably why some of my Nana’s recipes contained elbow macaroni. Just cook up a little ground beef, add some onion, a can of tomatoes, seasonings — and then double the amount of food in the pot with macaroni! During the Great Depression days, as I wrote about here, this was a common and necessary practice. Most of the macaroni in my pantry is in large #10 cans. The larger size provides lots of servings and the metal can provides an optimal storage container.
These meal stretchers also add a lot of calories. Now, for many of us, calories are something to be avoided but consider what life is like during a long-term power outage. Folks who have lived for days and weeks following a hurricane or Superstorm Sandy had to do without modern electrical conveniences that typically make our lives easier. We burn far fewer calories when machines do our laundry, wash our dishes, and help us in so many other ways. Without them, there’s more physical labor and stress. Thus the need for more calories.
I’ve heard stories of financially strapped moms learning that company is coming over and quickly adding a meal stretcher or two to their dinners. A scoop of homemade chili over a cup or two of white rice, stretches the pot of chili at least another few servings. One Facebook reader recently told me how she cooked bulgur wheat with beef bouillon until it was tender and then added it to some of her soups and chili. She said it had a similar consistency to ground beef. Classic meal stretcher!
One other advantage to most meal stretchers is that they are easy to store and have long shelf lives, with the exception of pasta. Grains, rice, dehydrated or freeze dried potatoes, and beans all have exceptionally long shelf lives, which means they retain most, if not all, of their flavor, nutrients, texture, and color over a long period of time. Stored in a cool, dark, and dry location, they will last for 20 or more years. Pasta, on the other hand, is a little more finicky when it comes to long term storage, but still, we’re talking about a good 8-10 years or more shelf life and worthy of including in your food storage pantry.
Not just for homemade recipes
Although I use meal stretchers primarily in my from-scratchrecipes, they can also be helpful with just-add-water meals. This Hearty Vegetable Chicken Soup mix could easily be stretched with the addition of rice or small pasta. Augason Farm’s Southwest Chili Mix can be stretched with any number of stretchers — more beans, bulgar wheat, or macaroni for Chili Mac.
This is also a good strategy for increasing the number of calories. One complaint many of us have with “survival food” meals is that they usually don’t contain enough calories per serving. That is easilysolved, again, with the magic of meal stretchers.
If you have pouches, cans, or buckets of instant meals, give some thought as to how you might stretch them if you ever really needed to make a 3-months-supply of food last 4 months or longer.
Some downsides to meal stretchers
There are just a few negative points about storing meal stretchers. First, they can attract insects. If you’re planning on storing them for many years, you’ll want to protect them by adding food safe diatomaceous earth to the container. Here’s some information about diatomaceous earth, if you haven’t heard of it before, and these instructions will help you know exactly how to add it to your food for pest control.
One other method for pest control is to put tightly sealed containers of food in the freezer for several days. This kills any microscopic insect eggs that could be present. I do this and also add the appropriate size of oxygen absorber, which deprives insects and their eggs of oxygen, insuring their doom.
Most store-bought packages of things like rice, beans, and pasta are made from very flimsy plastic or cardboard. In both cases,the foods will have to be repackaged to extend their shelf lives. Here are instructions for doing that. It isn’t a complicated process. It just takes a little time.
A reality of modern American life is the prevalence of gluten sensitivities and other food allergies. If this applies to you or anyone in your family, then wheat and anything made from wheat will be on the “Do Not Buy!” list. Instead, stock up on varieties of beans and rice. Stocking up on large quantities of gluten-free pasta is probably not going to be practical.
Wheat and beans, in particular, can be rough on digestive systems that aren’t used to them, so in a crisis, be prepared to deal with tummy troubles for a few days.
Stocking up on meal stretchers is a very smart strategy for any family’s food storage pantry.
Are you ready to feed your family by what you grow and raise? If you want to reduce your dependency on the commercial food supply, you better start now. It is important to develop a functional homestead capable of producing enough food to live on before you need it.
Establishing crops, building infrastructure, raising animals and working out the kinks all takes time, and you may have a few less successful years before you can really eat off the grid.
Assuming you have a house on cleared land, with at least one usable outbuilding already constructed, then you will be able to focus on growing food. With long working days, attention to seasonal change and weather, efficient work practices, and regular routines, two adults can work the land for food within a few years. Figuring in planting time, growing time, daily chores, pest and weed control, soil maintenance and construction, it would be reasonable to expect a partially self-sufficient homestead within three years, and a fully sustaining one in around five years. In addition to a milk source (cows or goats), you should plan on having:
1. Beans – Reliable and easy to grow, beans are a nutritional staple for the homesteading family. Prepare the soil early, and plan on 2-3 months of growing before harvest to get a yield in your first year, and you can expect more in year two.
2. Poultry – If starting with chicks, expect 2-3 years of successful rearing, selection, brooding and culling before you will have your flock established. In the meantime, you will collect eggs and eat birds you choose not to keep in the flock. Start with 10-12 chicks, and plan for them to be around 3-4 months old before butchering.
3. Rabbits – Rabbits are quick producers of meat for your family. It is not unreasonable to expect 20 or more rabbits per year from a single breeding pair. Allow for 1-2 years for your rabbits to become established. Select for breeding performance, health and size, and introduce new genetics regularly.
4. Corn – Corn is a prolific grain crop needing much nutrition from the soil and up to four months of heat for production. In your first year of growing corn, it is not unusual to have a lot of losses due to weather, pests or soil issues. However, once you have worked out the issues corn can be an important staple grain. Plan on about two years of learning before cultivating a substantial harvest.
5. Wheat – One of the most common grains in the American diet, wheat is reasonably easy to grow and hard to harvest. Wheat is ready after around two months of hot weather. When planning to start wheat, figure in threshing and grinding time.
Fruits & Vegetables
6. Winter Squash – Grow winter squash to supply your family with important vitamins and provide you with an easy keeper crop. Winter squash takes up to 4 months to mature, but you should be able to get a good yield in your first year with appropriate pest management and watering.
7. Apples – Although apples can be extremely useful, you need to plan on 6 – 10 years with your trees before they will bear fruit. Your patience will pay off, however, and planting apple trees is well worth the wait.
8. Potatoes – Potatoes are easy to start. You can expect a good yield in your first year of potatoes. Short season varieties will grow in as little as 2 months, but longer season varieties can take 3 months or more.
9. Honey – Honey is a fantastic sweetener on the homestead and comes with lots of nutritional benefit. Plus, bees pollinate your crops. However, bees take a while to get production ramped up. Your first year harvest will be very small, but in the second year you can harvest up to 30 pounds of surplus honey from one hive (leaving the bees something to eat over the winter).
If self-sufficiency is your goal, then don’t wait to start on projects like these. Even if you’re still buying most of your food, developing your homestead so you can begin slowly weaning yourself away from doing so, means you won’t have to spend your early years of self-sufficiency struggling to find food.
What advice would you add? What would you add to this list? Share it in the section below:
Have you ever wondered how much wheat (wheat berries) you can fit in a 5 gallon bucket? Have you ever wondered how many loaves of bread from a 5 gallon bucket of wheat? Have you ever wondered how much wheat to store in your long term food storage? Here are the answers: How […]
Most people in Food Storage Land are all about wheat. We all know why: if you’ve been reading this blog – or any prepper blog, for that matter – for any length of time you might be sick of hearing all about wheat. “It stores well, you can make a ton of stuff with it, bread, wheat, wheat, wheat, blah blah blah.”
It’s all very nice if you like that sort of thing. But for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, or if you just plain old don’t like bread, all this stuff about wheat will make you want to scream. But what else is there? It’s not like there are a ton of options when it comes to grains stored in #10 cans.
That’s where you would be wrong. There are many food storage companies who were only too happy to branch out. Thrive Life, as an example, has on offer a variety of non-wheat grains, including quinoa, millet, and amaranth. Quinoa is quite popular right now, due to its high protein content, but not many people know much about millet or amaranth. I, myself, had heard very little about amaranth (isn’t it some kind of flower?) until I saw some on the Thrive Life website and decided to try it out. It’s also available on Amazon.
THRIVE LIFE TIP: Thrive Life is a top-notch food storage company and one of Survival Mom’s favorites. If you place an order, be sure to place it on the Thrive Life website of a consultant. The company has different prices, according to where their products are purchased, and those on the sites of consultants are always lowest. If you’re not ordering through any other Thrive Life consultant, here’s the link to Lisa Bedford’s page.
What is Amaranth, Anyway?
Amaranth has a fairly interesting history. It’s indigenous to Mesoamerica, and was extensively used by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish Conquest. Even though it was widely grown and eaten, amaranth production fell to practically nothing when the Conquistadors outlawed is cultivation. Amaranth plants can be either very tall or very short, depending on the variety, with full, bushy leaves and feathery flowers that form seed heads. The flower love-lies-bleeding is actually a variety of amaranth, albeit not one that was developed for its seeds. The grains are extremely tiny, about the size of poppy seeds.
What Can You Do With it?
Amaranth may not enjoy the lofty status occupied by wheat, but there are plenty of ways it can be eaten. The grain can be popped like popcorn (for instructions click here or here), or made into a hearty porridge by cooking it similar to oatmeal. Popped amaranth can be used as an add-in to homemade granola or as a crunchy topping for salads. The leaves can also be cooked and eaten like spinach or kale.
In India and Sri Lanka, amaranth greens are added to stir-fry dishes and curries. I particularly enjoy amaranth in soups and stews, where it gives the meal a nutty, earthy flavor. Just add 1/8 – 1/4 cup to any soup recipe. It can be stored just like any other grain such as wheat, corn, or rice, and should last several decades if kept in an airtight container at cooleer temperatures. According to the Whole Grain Council, amaranth has a slightly shorter shelf life than other grains when kept in an open container in your pantry – just four months compared to six months for wheat.
Amaranth is high in protein and is a good source of calcium, iron, and magnesium. It must be cooked, whether by popping or by another method, before being eaten, or else the nutrients will not be available to your body.
If you enjoy hot cereals, but feel bored with plain old oatmeal or cracked wheat, try some amaranth for a change. The texture is similar to cream of wheat, but with a nuttier taste.
Amaranth Hot Cereal
- 1 cup amaranth
- 2 cup water
- pinch salt
- brown sugar, maple syrup, fruit, or other add-ins to taste
Combine amaranth and water with salt in a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat. The amaranth will float on top of the water at first. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes. When it is fully cooked through, the amaranth will become translucent and will have absorbed most of the water. Remove from heat, add flavorings of your choice. Serve with milk.
You can even grow amaranth in your backyard if you so desire. Baker Creek Seeds carries multiple varieties of amaranth. It is easy to grow, and enjoyable, too. Bright and colorful foliage makes it a good choice for edible landscaping. Most commercial amaranth has tan seeds, but some cultivars have red or black seeds. Imagine how cool it would be to serve red amaranth cereal for breakfast that you have grown and harvested yourself!
I hope you’re inspired to give amaranth a try. Let us know how you liked it in the comments.
We’re accustomed to wheat as the gold standard for making flour. And while we often think of whole wheat flour as different than white bleached flour, the source for both is still wheat.
The challenge with producing your own flour is the amount of acreage needed to plant sufficient wheat, which is also a high-maintenance crop. Growing wheat may distract from more important work, but that doesn’t mean flour has to be off the menu.
In this article, we’re going to cover some common plants and trees that produce various types of seeds and roots that can be crushed into flour. We’ll include information on harvesting, processing, and also some basics about baking. The primary sources we’ll explore include grasses like rye grass, weeds like amaranth, nuts like acorns, and roots or tubers like cattails.
One of the reasons wheat has emerged and evolved as our primary source of flour is the ease associated with its processing. Wild sources of flour can get a bit more complicated, and sometimes require crushing the source into a wet mash and dehydrating or straining it before pulverizing it into dusty flour.
Regardless of the source, it takes a lot of raw material to make flour. It’s possible you may only find a small quantity of any one plant, nut or root. That’s why you should consider combining resources to make a blended flour. This could be the roots from cattails plus acorns and amaranth. It essentially creates a multi-grain bread with a nutrient profile that would put it in the category of a superfood.
A Few Words on Technique
The standard approach to making flour from wheat is to harvest the wheat when it has matured and is amber brown, and then cut the stalks and harvest the seeds. Most of us have heard the phrase “separate the wheat from the chaff.” This involves tossing the wheat kernels into a light breeze and allowing the outer coating surrounding the wheat kernels to blow from the heavier wheat seed, which is captured in a wide basket below.
We’ll follow the same technique for rye grass and amaranth, but the approach and technique for cattails and acorns is a bit different and a tad more complicated.
In order to make a flour, you have to pulverize something into what is essentially a dust. You can purchase a hand-cranked flour mill, which resembles a meat grinder. You also can crush the wheat in between a large river rock about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and a rock with a flat surface. Igneous rocks like granite are best, because sedimentary rocks like limestone and sandstone will eventually break down and become part of the flour. (Archaeologists have determined from Egyptian mummies that a common affliction affecting Egyptians was the erosion and loss of tooth enamel because the grains they ate were largely processed with sandstone and limestone mill wheels.)
Mortar and Pestle Techniques
A mortar and pestle involves a hollow, sloping bowl (the mortar) and a rounded, thinner and elongated pestle. These vary in size from a few inches to a few feet in length. The standard mortar and pestle concept used for flour making was often seen in primitive cultures, where a large log is hollowed out to create a deep, sloping bowl and a pestle is shaped from a log 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The log pestle is raised and dropped repeatedly into the grain, root or nut source until it’s pulverized into a powder.
The Food Processor
This is a cheat from an off-the-grid standpoint, but anything can be processed into a flour with a food processor. The key is that the source material must be as dry as possible. Any remaining moisture will result in a mash rather than a flour. If you end up with a mash, it can be dried, but it’s far more time consuming.
The Gluten Factor
If you’re looking for gluten-free alternatives, you’re in luck. These types of natural, wild flour sources are either gluten free or, in the case of rye grass, very low in gluten. On the downside, gluten is the ingredient that helps a bread or baked good rise, as well as have a soft and smooth texture. Yeast and sugar can help to compensate, as can honey and using a sourdough starter. The bottom line is that these types of flours will result in a very rustic style of bread or baked item that will be denser than a store-bought item or a homemade, wheat-based bread.
1. Amaranth – Amaranth is a weed, but I prefer to think of it as an indigenous plant common across North and South America that produces a seed stalk. The seed stalks of the amaranth range in size from 4 to 8 inches in length and are packed with thousands of seeds. The plants grow prolifically and reseed easily as annuals.
An easy way to begin an amaranth planting is to simply buy the seeds in bulk at a grocery store that sells amaranth for cooking. Cast the seeds on the ground in spring, and some plants will grow. Just remember: They spread rapidly and widely over the years.
Harvest the seeds in the fall, and prepare a space where the seeds can dry out, such as in the rafters of an attic or sunny window. They can be processed with any of the techniques we’ve identified.
2. Acorns – Acorns are best harvested in the fall after they’ve fallen to the ground. They need to be dried, and the best way is to roast them. Take the cap off of the acorn and score them on one side with a knife. Place them on a baking sheet in an oven heated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or in a Dutch oven over hot coals. Toss them every 10 minutes up to an hour until you can cut one in half to reveal a dried, acorn nut.
Acorns are bitter due to the tannic acid or “tannins” that permeate them. To get rid of the tannins, you need to coarsely crush the acorns and soak them in water after a short roast. You then need to dry or dehydrate them again. This may take more than one soak, so taste as you go until the bitterness is gone.
3. Rye grass – Rye grass is a tall grass 3 to 4 feet in height. The seeds are long and narrow and distinct from some of the small seed heads on other grasses. Annual rye grass provides larger seed heads than perennial rye grasses, because annuals are so dependent on reseeding for proliferation.
Rye grass should be harvested in the fall when the grasses are browned and mature. The grass is shaken over a large basket and the seed heads are sometimes beaten with a stick to release the seeds. The seeds are then tossed and crushed by hand, and the wind is used to separate the rye seed from the chaff. The heavier rye seeds are captured in a fine mesh basket or container.
4. Cattails – Peel the wet roots and chop them into small pieces and then pound them with a little water to make a mash. There will be some fibers, so strain the mash through a screen. The resulting flour mash should then be left to dry and can be crushed into flour using any of the techniques we’ve identified.
Cattails are actually an excellent flour resource. In the early 1940s, cattails were essentially isolated to marshes on coastal areas of the east and west coast of North America. But during World War II, the government began a widespread program to distribute the seeds in order to jumpstart a new, alternative flour program. While the program was suspended after the war ended in 1945, the cattails you see across the country today are the results of the program.
I usually store any wild flour in a sealed container or plastic bag in a cool, dark place. I use it as a replacement in standard recipes calling for flour, with the understanding that it will result in a denser, coarser baked result. Ultimately, you’ll have to experiment with wild flour blends to see what works best for you.
Have you ever made flour? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
In the 1960’s, a biologist by the name of Norman Borlaug created several strains of high yield, disease resistant wheat. He developed these strains in countries like India, Mexico, and Pakistan, and with the help of modern agricultural techniques, he helped these countries double their wheat yields in less than a decade. Borlaug’s crops were so successful at bringing food security to the third world, that it’s estimated his efforts have since saved over a billion lives.
That should give you a pretty good idea about how important wheat is to the global food supply. There are literally billions of people who are living right now, because modern civilization is so good at growing this stuff. Imagine what would happen if something threatened even a small percentage of the world’s wheat yields.
Unfortunately, that something exists and it goes by the name of Ug99, a strain of stem rust fungus that is known to kill wheat plants.
Since 1998, Ug99 has been sweeping its way across Africa to the Middle East from its origin in Uganda. Altogether, 11 confirmed races in the Ug99 lineage have been detected in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe, showing that the pathogen has evolved and expanded widely, according to recent research by Singh, Hodson and collaborators.
Trans-boundary pathogens blown by the wind, spread by travel and commercial trade, pose an increasing threat to global food security. Emerging strains colonizing new areas can cause significant crop losses. Pathogen changes in one region can quickly migrate with serious consequences to more distant regions.
So just how bad is Ug99? When a single spore lands on a wheat farm, it’s been known to eventually multiply and kill 100% of the crop, before making the leap to neighboring farms. Though there are some breeds of wheat that are resistant to it, less than 10% of the farms in the countries where it has shown up, actually grow them. And many of these wheat strains are of the same variety that Norman Borlaug developed decades ago. Thus, the spread of this stem rust threatens to derail decades of agricultural progress in the third world.
But truth be told, it may not stay in the third world for very long. Much like a virus, stem rust can ‘infect’ people. The spores can cling to clothing and travel anywhere in the world. Each acre of stem rust infected wheat can create billions of spores, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched for someone to brush shoulders with one of these crops, and spread it to anywhere in the world.
In any case, it could still make the leap to the developed world even without human help. It’s widely believed that stem rust spores could conceivably be blown across the ocean and into Australia, one of the world’s largest wheat producers. And if it can make it there by natural forces, it can make it anywhere.
While the scientific community is busy trying to figure out a way to deal with this threat, the Ug99 fungus has always been one step ahead of them. It’s a rapidly evolving organism that has adapted to nearly every strain of wheat that it has come across. Fortunately, dozens of wheat genes that are resistant to it have been discovered, so there is some hope that it can be beaten in much the same way that it was beaten in the past: by breeding resistant strains of wheat with the ones that aren’t resistant.
However, a successful breeding program would take years to develop. In fact, you would probably need separate programs for different regions and climates. And once several highly resistant plants were created, it would take several more years before the world’s farmers could make the switch to the new wheat strains. Until that happens, Ug99 will loom over the global food supply, threatening to eliminate sustenance for millions, or perhaps even billions of people.
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
I get a lot of questions about the types of wheat and grains I use in my own cooking and food storage. Today I have some basic information for you about wheat, but each Friday I’ll be featuring other grains, like oat groats, kamut and quinoa, and how to use them. Subscribe to TheSurvivalMom blog so you don’t miss anything!
There are three types of wheat I use most often around my house.
This is your basic bread flour. You can get both hard red wheat and hard white wheat. Both have a high gluten and protein content that’s necessary to give both elasticity and strength to your bread dough. Hard white wheat is lighter in color and flavor than hard red wheat. Hard red wheat is what most people think of when they think of a hearty loaf of whole wheat bread. It gives bread a strong wheat flavor and is darker in color. Red wheat is a little harder for the body to digest than white wheat. Which one you use is just a matter of preference.
Soft wheat is all-purpose flour. Sometimes it’s called pastry wheat. It’s used to bake everything except bread. Lower in both protein and gluten, it allows for a much lighter baked product than hard wheat. Whether you’re baking cookies, pie crust, or biscuits, soft wheat is the wheat to use. If you’ve been using store bought all-purpose flour, just replace the flour with ground soft white wheat in any recipe.
Durum wheat is also known as semolina. It’s the hardest wheat of all and is used for making pasta. I store durum wheat because of it’s long shelf life of 30+ years versus the shelf life of store bought pasta, two years or so. Large #10 cans of pasta purchased from a company such as Walton Feed will last up to 20 years if properly stored.
I store a larger quantity of whole grains than flour because of shelf life. White, all-purpose flour has a shelf life of 5-10 years, but whole wheat, when stored in air-tight containers, has a shelf life of 30+ years.
For those of you who have been considering storing wheat as part of your long-term food storage, I would suggest starting with small quantities of both soft and hard wheat Before making a big investment in 45 lb. buckets, find a grocery store in your area that sells these wheats in bulk. Buy a couple of pounds of each, grind it, and bake up some goodies to see what you prefer. If you do purchase wheat in those big buckets, 45 lbs. of hard wheat will yield at least 50 loaves of bread. Happy baking!
Helpful resources for you
Hard Red Wheat (non-GMO)
Hard White Wheat (non-GMO)