MESSAGE FROM TESS
For the last 17 weeks, we have committed ourselves to getting ready for life’s unexpected disasters. This week we are focusing on what steps to take to preserve our food sources when emergencies last longer than intended. We will learn different ways to preserve food by using budget-friendly curing products that are already a part of your preparedness pantry. In addition, I will also share some great products you can buy to expedite the food preserving process.
Hurricane Irene certainly did quite a number on the East coast this week. I hope and pray that those who had to go through the hurricane, came through relatively unscathed. We are all praying for your safety and hope that you are as prepared as possible.
Along those same lines, on Wednesday, I was talking with Jeff Davis from the Ready Nation radio program about hurricane preparedness. He asked me to list my top hurricane preparedness items that I thought people should have. We had a really great time talking about the importance of being prepared. If you have 20 minutes, go check it out!
Remember, if you have missed any of our weekly preparedness newsletters, you can view them at Ready Nutrition.
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PREP OF THE WEEK
Week 18 of 52: Emergency Food Preservation
There are times when disasters will persist longer than intended, and time is of the essence to preserve as much of your food source as you can. Essentially, your short-term disaster is turning into a longer-term situation and you need to be able to fall back on a certain set of skills. These skills are something we will be talking more about in future issues. But it is important to emphasize that preparedness isn’t about how many items you have stored away, it’s really about learning the skills necessary for survival. And the best part of learning this particular skill of food preservation is that it takes you one step closer to being self reliant during a disaster.
Acquiring items to preserve food is a good investment for your short and long-term disaster supplies. However, to start this new skill set out, it is best to begin with collecting various types of food preservation resources. Some of the books that I have in my library are:
- Family Preparedness Handbook
- Little House on the Prairie Cook Book
- The Dehydrating Bible
- Canning and Preserving Your Own Harvest
A great advantage about learning how to preserve food is that you can use just about any type of food. You can even preserve your own fruit juice. All you need is the right tools and your imagination. Further, having knowledge on how long foods last will help you preserve foods when they are at their best. This convenient food storage chart is a great tool to have in your kitchen to ensure your foods are within expiration.
Food preservation can be done in multiple ways:
- Canning – This process destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes that are naturally in food. The heating and later cooling forms a vacuum seal to prevent other microorganisms from decontaminating the food within the jar or can. Acidic foods such as fruits and tomatoes can be processed or “canned” in boiling water (also called the “water bath method”), while low acidic vegetables and meats must be processed in a pressure canner at 240°F (10 pounds pressure at sea level). Because the food is canned at the time of the fruits/vegetables prime nutrient content, they will retain most of their nutritional content if not gain more nutrients from the canning process. Canned food will keep 12 months, if not lot longer, in some cases.
- Freeze – This is by far, the easiest way to preserve your food. Many simply, boil their fruits or vegetables for a minute or two and then throw them in the freezer. I have a vacuum sealer and seal up ready-to-cook dinners have them sitting in my freezer to use for nights when I’m really busy. It’s best to eat frozen food within 6-12 months. This is a very time efficient way of preserving food, however, if the electricity goes out for an extended time, the food will spoil. So my advice is to not put all your “eggs in one basket”, if you know what I mean.
- Drying or Dehydrating – This method is a very low cost approach to use for long term storage is a great way of including needed nutrition into diets with minimal investment. You can purchase a food dehydrator for as low as $40, or you can dehydrate foods in the oven at a very low setting. Some people have even used their cars as a dehydrator during the hot, summer months. This type of preservation method keeps foods for 6 months-12 months. Dehydrating foods is the only long-term storage method for meat (jerky) which is a great food source to add to your 72-hour bag. Here are a few more recipes you may want to try out. To learn more about dehydrating and storing tips, click here.
- Cure & Smoke – This time honored preservation method is very popular due to the intense flavor it adds to meats. Many foods are cured before smoking, especially cold-smoking, to draw out the moisture, which would otherwise promote spoilage. Ensure that you use cure mixtures that contain nitrate. Caution: Nitrites are considered carcinogens and are toxic if used in quantities higher than recommended; therefore caution should be used in their storage and use. Curing is when a mixture of salt, sodium nitrate, nitrites, sometimes sugar, spices, and other seasonings are combined to kill off any bacterial growth and to flavor the meat at the same time. To learn more about curing and smoking meats, click here.
- Fermenting and pickling – This method of food preservation is one of the most common ways to prolong food sources because the acidity level makes it difficult for bacteria to grow. Ensure that you select fresh, firm fruits or vegetables free of spoilage. Distilled vinegar or cider vinegars of 5 percent acidity (50 grain) are recommended. To learn more about this type of preservation, click here.
Like with all foods in our food storage pantry, ensure that food is stored away properly in a cool, dark place away from natural elements (sunlight, moisture and insects). Natural elements and insects are your food’s worst enemies and should be avoided at all costs.
Food preservation is one of the oldest technologies known to man. Civilizations and even armies depended on preserved foods. And for centuries, this skill has been seen as a survival necessity. It is time that we took a second look at the skills from our ancestors and re-learn them to use for our future suvival situations.
Preps To Buy:
- Kosher Salt (10 lbs.)
- Sugar (20 lbs.)
- Morton’s Sure Curing Salt (10 lbs.)
- Pickling Salt (5-10 lbs.)
- White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar (5-10 gallons)
- Molasses (5-10 lbs)
- Powdered Fruit Pectin
- Canning Jars (in an assortment of sizes), lids and rings
- Food Drying Racks
- Pressure Canner
- Food strainer
- Canning rack
1. Begin researching and finding resources to have on hand for the different food preservation methods discussed. There are some great resources for preserving food on different homesteading websites and even homesteading magazines.
2. Practice makes perfect! So, start practicing using these methods in order for it to become a skill.
3. Start a garden to that you can grow food to preserve for later use.
WHAT WE’RE UP TO
In Our Home:
I have been blessed with herbs! Thanks to the intense heat and drought like conditions, my herbs have gone into overdrive! I cut some of my lavender and lemon balm and am experimenting with making essential oils. Apparently, not only do these lovely herbs smell nice they also have medicinal properties. I plan on writing an article about this next week or so for you guys to check out. I am also dehydrating some basil, oregano and rosemary to use in my Italian herb seasoning that I use for cooking.
I have been in a homemaking/homesteading mood this week too. Since I am on a low-budget this month, I’ve been making homemade breads and rolls for my kids to eat. They have also enjoyed some of my homemade noodles (they cant get enough of these) that I made last week.
It’s nice when you meet fellow preppers isn’t it? Conversations ensue, discussions of plans and talks of future usually happen as well. Not to mention, being able to bounce ideas off someone who is in the same mindset as you. This week, I ran into a fellow prepper, who was taught survival and homesteading skills at an early age. He and I talked about buying some food items in bulk together and I was invited over this weekend to help him can some food and preserves. I want to take every opportunity that I have to practice the skills that I’ve been preaching. Not to mention, this is my idea of a good time!
In the Garden:
I admit that I’m a little behind on starting my Fall garden this year. Although I plan on starting some seeds very soon, I am refraining because I want to see if the weather will cool off in the next week or so. I have already planted some peppers and tomatoes in one garden bed and some pole beans and corn in another bed. I’m making a 3-Sisters garden in one of my garden plots.
The compost pile I started this summer is almost ready to put in the beds. Before I put in my seeds, I will mix the dirt up with the new compost material, and my earthworms are going to be so happy. Have you started your Fall garden yet?
STATS AND FACTS
Before we can even take a breath from Hurricane Irene, a tropical storm is threatening the Gulf Coast states over the weekend. It is important to be prepared before a disaster threatens. Since September is National Preparedness Month, encourage friends and family to start preparing for small scale emergencies in order to lay down a preparedness foundation that they can build upon. This short-term emergency checklist is a great starting place to laying that preparedness foundation down.
Those of you that are preparing for the tropical storm this weekend, have your supplies ready, keep a radio near-by to make sure that you are safe from rising waters and flooding, and keep an eye on your surroundings.
LETTERS TO TESS
One of the perks of my job at Ready Nutrition is to address questions and/or concerns that you may have with your prepping endeavors. Feel free to ask anything that is on your mind because no question is too big or small. You can email questions to: email@example.com
This week’s question addresses oxygen absorbers and wheat berries:
Your weekly series it great! You mentioned using wheat berries for sprouting in your response to Bob about bulk wheat. I’ve stored a year’s worth of wheat for my family in 5 gallon pails lined with sealed mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. I’ve read that the oxygen absorbers prevent the wheat from being used for sprouting. Do you know if this is true? Should I keep some wheat sealed up but without the oxygen absorbers specifically for sprouting?
As far as I know, the oxygen absorbers would only prevent excess oxygen from being inside the container. It should not hinder the wheat from sprouting. I would think that desiccant packets would have more of a effect on wheat berries than O2 absorbers. To be on the safe side, pack some wheat berries with O2 absorbers and some without O2 absorbers to see how to they perform.
I found this forum thread regarding this subject … it should be of help.
I’m so glad that you like my newsletter. My favorite part about it is getting responses from readers. This week we are going to talk about preserving and curing foods for extended emergencies. I hope that is something you’re interested in.
Have a great day!