Benefits of Storing Food

None

Nov
05

It is a known fact that storing food is a necessity for any emergency situation.  Food is needed to live.  There are several reasons to store food such as natural disasters, inflations, or not having access to food suppliers for several days.  When going to buy food, it is wise to always buy a little extra.

 

For natural disasters, it is advised to have enough food to last three to seven days or more.  The more diverse of foods, the better to meet nutritional needs.  The main foods to store are nonperishable items such as canned goods and freeze-dried foods.  Make sure that the food kept is healthy and not expired.  This will have positive results when food access is cut off or appliances are not able to work.

 

The food supply shouldn’t just be limited to your needs.  It needs to also cover needs of anyone who has special needs who are with you.  Babies need formula.  Children may need special foods and vitamins.  Elderly may need softer foods or nutrition drinks.  Anyone with special medical conditions that restrict the foods they can eat also need to be considered.  This kind of food storage will have the health, safety and welfare for everyone met.

 

If there are any pets, having a good supply is needed as well.  If there are any emergencies or issues with large-scale pet food contamination, keep a three to seven day supply of food and water for them.  It will keep them healthy, clam, and happy.

 

The benefits of food storage are not limited to just natural disasters.  It can help when there are issues of food contamination in your area.  Food-borne illness has taken several lives in history, so it can be avoided if there is an abundant storage.  The food stored can be trusted to be safe, ready to eat, and healthy.

 

There are other events that are wise to store food for.  One of which is inflation.  In the early twentieth century, financial and natural events caused the price of food to go very high at times.  The lesson learned was that food storage wasn’t just for natural disasters, but economic as well.   The price of gold and other precious metals going up is usually a sign the price of food will go up as well.  Having a food supply in an inflation situation is more valuable than gold.  Inflation can also happen after natural disasters, so having supplies prepared for the disaster and a little more will go a long way.  You will survive and thrive and so will all your loved ones.

 

It is always a good idea to prepare for anything to happen.  Food is one of the most important things to have ready.  It will keep you and everyone else alive and healthy.  It will help assure survival whether the need for the stored food is a result of natural or economic reserves.

Be Prepared for Natural Disasters

None

Oct
05

Over the past few years, it is clear that being ready for a natural disaster of any kind is a must.  There are several kinds of natural disasters around the world from floods to hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis among several others.  There are steps that need to be taken in case one hits your area.  There need to be preparations ready in case your area is affected and an evacuation is possible.  Know the kinds of natural disasters that can hit your area and how to watch for them.

 

One of the main items to have ready is a food kit.  The foods need to be nonperishable and enough to last at least three to seven days.  Have any utensils and tools needed for the food ready such as can openers, cutlery, plates and heaters with the food.  Use canned and freeze-dried foods.  The key is to have a large variety and as much as possible.

 

Water is important as well.  Have at least three gallons per person per day for at least three to seven days.  The water needs to be kept in a sterile, sealed container.  Plastic bottles are always a good idea.  Keep the water supply fresh by changing them out every six months.

 

Along with food and water, there are several items that need to be in the emergency kit.  Have a first aid kit and any prescription drugs in your kit.  Have all medical documents ready that cover important matters such as immunizations or health conditions.  Have personal documents on everyone such as bank records, identification, and contact information.  Keep a supply of blankets, clothes, pillows and other similar supplies ready.  Having money and financial records are a must.  Have plenty of cash in small bills and credit cards.  Keep communication devices such as battery operated radios and fully charged cell phones in your kit.  Have flashlights and heaters in case there is no power.  If you have any babies, children or elderly, have any special supplies they may need in the kit that are sufficient for three to seven days.  If there are any pets, follow the same rules as well.  Have fuel for cars ready in case of an evacuation.  Have keys to the car, home, and other places such as bank boxes in your kit.  A toolkit is essential in the kit so any emergency fixes can be done.

 

Having a plan on what to do in each emergency is a priority.  The plan needs to be known to everyone and kept as a written record in your emergency kit.

 

The best thing to do in any emergency situation is to be prepared for anything to happen.  Make sure the building is secured so everyone inside is safe has shelter.  Listen to any official source on the event and what to do and expect.  Make sure to stay calm and alert at all times.  Natural disasters are unavoidable, but preparing for them keeps everyone alive and their assets safe.

Strawberries – storing a bountiful harvest

None

Aug
31

Pick-you-own strawberry farms and farmers markets are really loaded with lovey red berries, but how can you extend the season beyond its few short weeks. There are a number of ways to add strawberries to your food storage no matter what your skill level or storage space.

Freeze

Strawberries are easy to freeze. Simply cut off the leaves and set out on a tray. Make sure the berries are not touching each other and freeze overnight. Once the berries are frozen, they can be put in a freezer bag. Be sure to label the bag with the contents and date. Lay the bags flat in your freezer so you can store more in the same space.

This method gives you the maximum flexibility for using the fruit. You can measure them while frozen if needed.

If you are going to use the berries exclusively for things like strawberry short cake or as a sauce over cake, you can just toss the berries in to a container and let them freeze together. This is a good way to use berries that are less than perfect. You can cut away the less perfect spots and keep the bounty.

Dry

This isn’t something most people thing about with strawberries but they should!  Strawberries dry beautifully. Simply slice the berries and place in a dehydrator. You need to make the slices about the same thickness so they dry evenly. This works well with very large berries. These are best sliced by hand or with an adjustable mandolin.

Strawberries don’t need to be treated before drying. They will shrink but will retain their lovely color.

You can use the berries in granola, trail mix, oatmeal, quick bread or any recipe that calls for dried fruit like raisins. If you like, you can chop them after drying to make them quicker to use in recipes. 

Preserve

Making jam is a classic method to extend the harvest and strawberry jam is a simple and nearly fool-proof way to learn to can. All you need is strawberries, sugar, and pectin. You can pick up the jars at garage sales and most large department stores. Use fresh lids each and every time you can.  This is the only way to be sure that your jam is safe to store.

Check out the Ball website for exact directions and help on making jam. They are a great resource for products and equipment to start canning. The basic steps are boil the jars and lids, crush and measure berries, boil them adding pectin and sugar, and the put the jam in the hot jars. Clean the threads of the jar and seal with a lid. You can invert the jars over night or process them in a water bath. Make sure that the lids are on correctly before storing.

Bake

Bake up a few of your favorite goodies using strawberries and you can easily freeze them for later enjoyment. Strawberry pie and  crisps freeze well and can go from freezer to oven without defrosting.

Herbs – easy ways to grow and store your own

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None

Jun
27

With any food storage system, you need to think about seasoning food. No mater what you have set aside, put up or tucked under the bed, you want it to be tasty. Herbs are a great way to add a ton of flavor to foods and they are super easy to grow and store.

No mater what amount of space you have, you have room for an herb garden. Herbs grow really well in a pot. If you are short on space, you can turn any porch or window box into a thriving herb garden. Planting a variety of different textures and heights of plants will make a window box that is both functional and beautiful to look at.

Where to plant

Generally herbs love full sun. Plant them where they will get at least six hours or more of sunlight. Consider how you are going to use the herbs as well. Kitchen herbs should be planted near the kitchen so they are easy to access and you will use them often.

Care

Herbs need just a general fertilizer to do well. They love compost. Be sure to add more fertilizer if the plants flower or the leaves start to look yellowed. When keeping the plants in a pot, fertilizing is especially important.

What to plant

Basil – if your family loves pesto or caprese salad, this is the herb to start with. Basil grows quickly from seed and is fun to grow with kids. The leaves are very fragrant and quite tasty eaten right off the plant. If you want to make pesto, plan on growing a dozen or so plants.

Oregano – this is a great herb to grow for making pizza sauce. Oregano likes to spread out so it can be especially lovely in a container as it will drape over the sides. When this flowers, it is popular with butterflies.

Mint – there are lots of different kinds of mint so have fun and experiment. All mint likes to spread and can get aggressive about  it. Be sure to plant mint in an area that is bordered or you can cut the bottom of a pot out, bury the  pot and plant the mint in the confines. Mint is a huge favorite of honeybees.

Chives – chives are very easy to grow from transplant. Ask around and usually you can find someone with a chive plant that needs to be split. Chives will reseed themselves easily and their purple flowers are a favorite of local pollinators. The flowers are also edible.

Thyme – is delicious with fish and chicken. The tiny leaves really pack a big flavor punch and are beautiful to look at.

Rosemary – in many parts of the continent this plant can be grown year-round as a shrub. In harsher climates this herb is an annual. It is wonderful with potatoes and chicken.

How to harvest

Most herbs you simply need to snip off what you need with sharp scissors. Basil and mint can be harvested by pinching off the leaves you need. The others merely take the snip of scissors to trim off a stem. Chives you can cut with scissors right into your meal. With Rosemary and Thyme, just hold the stem in one hand and pull the small leaves off with one tug by the other hand.

Storing

At the end of the season, you can dry any of these herbs easily. Use a dehydrator or a screen in the sun. You can also cut the plant, or a few stems, tie them together and dry them upside down in a cool dry location away from the sun. Once dry, take the leaves from the stems (or just the leaves) and store in air tight container.

Life is sweet – what sweeteners to store

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2

Jun
12

No matter what the reason you are storing food – rising prices, fears of unemployment, or disaster preparedness, having something sweet in your food storage is a must. In times of stress, everyone turns to comfort foods to ease some of the tension. Most people find some comfort in sweets from dried fruit to grandma’s apple pie.

There are a number of good options for adding something sweet to you food storage supplies. Some are prepared mixes and others are single ingredient products.

If you prefer to store pre-made mixes, think about your family. Are they seriously into chocolate? If so then something like brownies would be good: http://freezedriedfoods.shelfreliance.com/fudge-brownies.html. If they are more into comfort foods like banana bread, be sure you have all the ingredients on hand and include baby food bananas so you are sure you have everything. Remember nuts need to be kept in the freezer for longer storage.

Keeping a variety of plain sweeteners is good idea no matter what you family sees as soul-comforting foods. Be sure to keep a variety on hand to cover all sorts of tastes and needs.

Sugar

White sugar is a good all around sweetener. It can be stored in large buckets and used for just about everything from your dessert to coffee. As anyone who has ever lived in a tropical environment will tell you, sugar stored with high humidity will clump up so be sure to store it in a very dry environment.

Brown sugar has a touch of the processing syrup still in it, or remixed in later. Brown sugar will stay softer longer and has a richer flavor than white sugar. If you are adding this instead of white sugar to a recipe, expect to decrease the liquids a bit.

Syrup is slightly altered sugar that is formed into a liquid that resists crystallization. Only store this if you are used to baking or cooking with it already.

Molasses

Molasses is produced from both sugar beets and sugar cane. The benefit of using molasses over sugar in baking or cooking is the extra nutrients molasses contains. Although most bakers will be most familiar with molasses in gingerbread cookies, you can substitute it anywhere honey or maple syrup is used.

Agave

Agave nectar or syrup is made from the agave plant native to northern Mexico and southwest US. Agave has many nutrients and a very mild flavor. It resists crystallization well and can be used in place of honey in baking.

Honey

Honey is produced by honeybees and has been used as a sweetener since early Egyptian times. Honey has many nutrients and has very distinctive flavors based on what flowers the bees visited to create the honey. Honey can crystallize especially if the honey was harvested in fall or in a dry climate. It is easy to re-liquefy by placing the bottle in warm water though it is perfectly usable in crystallized form.  Honey can also be used for first aid purposes.

Maple Syrup

Like honey, maple syrup can vary in flavor and color depending on the source plants. Maple syrup is graded on color and flavor and the darker syrup is stronger in flavor and color. Maple syrup can be used where ever honey or agave are used but it will impart a distinct flavor.

Food Storage with Special Needs

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None

Jun
08

When you have a person with food allergies in your family, food storage takes on a whole new look. Current food allergies are also a known quantity – for the most part people develop food allergies early in life. But what about the unexpected? Special food needs can be as simple as a visiting grand-parent when the power goes out or a pregnant friend staying long term. Exploring some of the special food storage needs  can help you better prepare your food stash for the unexpected.

Allergies

Most food allergies are to eight different kinds of foods:  tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. While most allergies are found in kids, kids generally out grow the allergies especially those to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Fish, shellfish and nuts are more likely to be life-long food allergies.  These allergies will affect your food storage.

People who suffer from Celiacs Disease cannot have gluten. Be sure to check labels carefully as many food storage staples such as oatmeal can contain gluten. Non-wheat flours have different storage lengths and you will need to check the expiration dates carefully. Many non-gluten grains and beans can be turned into flour with a grain mill.

Pregnancy

Women who are nursing or pregnant need more calories, protein and calcium than at other times in their lives. If you are nursing or pregnant, be sure to store extra calcium rich foods such as dried milk, soy beans, spinach, and almonds.  Just adding a spoonful of dried milk to your tea can be a tasty way to increase your calcium intake.

Diabetes

Many diabetics have trouble eating large amounts of carbohydrates such as wheat. Wheat is a staple in many food stashes. People with diabetes should look carefully at their current diet. Many of the regular foods you eat that keep your blood sugar where you want it also store well. Foods like beans and vegetables both store very well. Keeping a good supply of canned goods or commercially prepared foods with nutritional information on the label is also a good idea so it will be easier to track your sugar intake.

While not edible, keeping extra testing supplies and an adequate supply of medications is a prudent part of any food storage system.

Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers have special dietary needs and need to eat more frequently than other children or adults. Very young babies will need to eat as frequently as every two hours. Even if a mother is breast feeding her baby, having formula on hand can help to supplement if need arises. Toddlers will handle stress better if their routines are kept in tact as much as possible. Having extra of their favorite foods is never a bad idea especially if weather or power outages might be an issue at particular times of the year. Keep plenty of snack food on hand as well. While this isn’t usually going to store well for long term storage, having extra on hand during a storm or if you have shelter in your home, can keep everyone a bit happier.

Chocolate

Keep some on hand in at least two forms at all times!  Having brownie mix or chocolate chips or a favorite candy bar for your self or other adults can be a real life line in any stressful situation.

Beans – canned versus dried

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None

Jun
06

Beans are a wonderful addition to any food storage systems. Legumes, which include beans and peas, are a good source of protein and fiber. They are flexible and are super easy to store and cook. Legumes come canned and dried. Both should be part of your food storage plan as they each have their benefits and drawbacks.

Legumes come in many different sizes and colors. Pinto beans, red beans, navy beans, yellow and green split peas, red and green lentils, and lima beans are just a few of the different varieties. If you add a grain or any dairy product to a meal with beans, you have a complete set of amino acids to form a protein.

Beans are a staple for many different cuisines so there are any number of recipes for beans. It won’t be hard to find a handful your family likes.Chili is a great place to start, but don’t  forget about lentil soup, baked beans, red beans and rice, black bean burgers, split pea soup, and hummus. Many vegetarian cookbooks have great recipes using beans. Experiment until you find a few that work well and start stashing those ingredients.

Using Dry Legumes

All legumes need to be checked over and rinsed. They are often stored in large silos and just get dusty, but you should take a look for small rocks too. Beans need to be soaked at least four hours before cooking. This changes the sugars in beans and not only makes them easier to cook but also easier to digest.  In a pinch, you can bring dry beans to a boil and then gently cook for about an hour and 15 minutes, but the taste is not as good and the beans are not as smooth.

Peas and lentils don’t need to be soaked but you should still rinse them. Lentils are very high in protein and cook up to be very smooth. They can be added to almost any soup to thicken it as well. Yellow split peas are very mild in flavor so are a good choice if you are introducing your family to legume based soups and stews. Both of these legumes can be cooked completely in less than an hour and red lentils can be cooked in as little as 15 minutes because they are so small.

Some cookbooks suggest adding baking soda to the cooking or soaking water of beans to decrease their tendency to produce gas. This doesn’t work and can alter the nutritional value of beans significantly. If gas is a concern, eating a high fiber diet will help and the easiest way to do that is to eat beans on a regular basis. Your body will adjust.

Storing Dry Legumes

Dry legumes need to be stored in a cool dry location. If you store large quantities, consider putting them in a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid. The addition of an oxygen absorber will help to extend the storage life of the beans.  As beans age, you might need to increase their soaking time, but don’t soak for more than overnight as you will begin to loose nutritional value.

Canned Legumes

Canned beans are ready right away and don’t need soaking and if you like cold beans, they don’t need cooking either. Be sure to rinse them well before cooking with canned beans to remove the storing liquid. Rinsing the beans also improves the flavor considerably.

There is a smaller variety of canned beans available than dried choices, but visiting ethnic or whole-food markets will afford you more choices. Cans of any type should be rotated through your food storage system and used within two years.

So what should you store?

Store a variety of both dried and canned legumes. Before you invest in 25lbs of dried pinto beans or garbanzo beans, you might try canned varieties to see if you like them or if your recipe works. Usually 2 cups of beans is equivalent  to 1 can. If you are short on time or an unexpected guest arrives, having a few cans of beans to add to a soup or stew can easily stretch a meal to accommodate another mouth or get dinner on the table super fast. However, for longer term storage dried legumes should be a cornerstone of any food storage system.

 


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