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Prepping Series Part 1: Food

One of the places we store our food. This shelf has dry canned goods as well as wet canned foods, seed, and the recipe box.

*Welcome! When I began this series the tragic fire at Tyson foods and the closure of four Del Monte factories had not been on my radar. We (as in this nation) have suffered a large loss of produce and meat this year. The floods, fires and other factors have resulted in a shortage of grains, corn, soy and cattle. Right now, this series is necessary. It’s time to truly think of what the future may hold and how to deal with it.*

First off, what is prepping and why should I care? Well, prepping is taking an organized approach to plan and ensure that certain supplies are available should a disaster occur. How long you prep for and what you prep for may depend on your region or beliefs. Some recommend that you always keep three week supply of necessities for an average 4 family home. If you choose to go beyond that or have more is entirely up to you. There are diehard preppers and there are those who may believe by preparing we are ensuring disaster will strike. Refusing to see what is coming is cognitive dissonance. The belief that because nothing bad has happened yet, it won’t. Please, take a moment and remember Murphey’s law. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. It is absolutely true. Just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. Historically, this law has been proven over and over. Regardless of a large eminent doom scenario, many preppers have come to accept that being prepared is just smart. Plain and simple, the world doesn’t have to end for YOUR world to end. Jobs can be lost, finances ruined and a major health crisis can occur and affect only one family group. God forbid, but all three could happen at once.

I spent three months living off the food supplies in my home because it was the only thing I could do. Thankfully, I had three months of food saved up. I had canned all our tomatoes into salsas and sauces and juice. We had pickles, rice, beans, meats, and some apple butter. Because of our prepping, I had plenty of food and good food. It was essential. It’s just wisdom to prepare. When the job is gone, you’ve wrecked your car and it’s winter, have something put by for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t live beyond your means, don’t be wasteful, learn to do everything from scratch and always, save more food than you need today for tomorrow.

This series will start off with food because this is the first place most people begin. It is the first thing that will come up in an emergency and it is the first phase of what will become a life change. Once you start saving food, you will naturally want to begin to be wiser about other things, not food related. You will begin to calculate and scale back waste versus save. Start with a list of things you absolutely need, then scale up as you can. Begin slowly and surely. Don’t try and eat the whole elephant in one bite.

First things first. How to save and store food. You have a variety of options. I would choose all of them. If one method is ruined you have a backup. Floods, fire and spoilage can happen to the best of us. Have alternatives to your storage options. People do not realize the amount of food they need until it’s too late.

  1. Canning is becoming more popular because it’s a skill that gives results. Learning to can food is liberating and kind of addicting once you know how to do it. It is very satisfying to see all your food in nice jars ready to be eaten. Canning food requires some investment. You will need a canner, jars, jar funnel, bands and rings, water bath canner and a great recipe book. Here is a link to buy a great starter kit. Ball caning recipe books are the most popular even among veteran canners. There are a number of learning DIY video series on YouTube, my favorite is Living Traditions Homestead. They break it down to the simplest steps, why and how. Perfect if you want to learn to can. With this method you can store meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, stews, jellies and jams.
  2. Freezing is much easier because you don’t have to water bath or can the food, simply place the food items in freezer safe packaging and fit it into your freezer. The key to this is moisture control. To much moisture will cause the water to crystalize and spoil your food. When freezing foods get as much air as possible out of the bag or container. Vacuumed sealing is a great way to guarantee a longer storage life for your food. I will say that this method is great, so long as there is power and space. Investing in deep freezers or additional appliances, (which can include a generator and as much gas as is legal to store on your property) can have a large upfront cost and continual running cost. If it is your only means to store extra food, you will be trapped by your ability to run power to a fridge or freezer. I do not advise making this your primary method!
  3. Dehydrating. Dehydrated foods can be stored for a long period of time, don’t require a lot of equipment and can be a space saver. You can purchase dehydrated meals, supplies and ingredients like those from Thrive featured by The Big Family Homestead. Or you can learn to do it at home. It requires a dehydrator and containers, also some gel moisture absorbers. You can get a lot of food stored this way. Make sure that everything is bug and rodent proof and the area you store the food is not in danger of flooding. Water must be stored as well to rehydrate the foods for cooking. We will get into water storage in the next part of the series.
  4. Cold Storage. Ahhh, the good ol’ root cellar. It is good because it works. A root cellar is a wonderful place that is usually built under ground so that, like a cave, it maintains a steady temperature seasonally. It won’t matter how cold or hot it is outside, your root cellar can maintain 35-40 degrees year round. Root cellars do require ventilation, usually a pipe near the floor to keep the cool air flowing and a pipe near the ceiling to allow hot air out. You can store root vegetables, canned foods, dehydrated foods, hang smoked meats and even seeds. Make sure you understand the layout of your property if you plan on building a root cellar. If the water table is high in your area, you may need to build the root cellar above ground first and then pile dirt around it to further insulate it. There are a number or resources you can find regarding the proper construction and use of a root cellar. For example, Kevin Robinson has a great root cellar video describing his build.
  5. Dry Canning. Yes, you may not know about dry canning, I didn’t until last year. It is wonderful. Dry canning is a wonderful way to store any dry goods without any oils. Like what, you may ask? Oh, let me share, please! You can dry can flour, rice, dry pastas, dry oats, any grain except barley, beans, lentils, salt, baking soda, baking powder, baking mixes that have no nuts, and spices. You need to sterilize your jars first. Wash them as you would, then place them in the oven at 225 degrees until they are completely dry. This takes around 30 minutes. Let the jars cool on the counter, never set hot jars directly on a tile or cold surface, use a towel or cutting board. Sterilize your lids. Fill your jars leaving a 1/2 each of head space between the food and the lid. Dry cook (heat) at 220 degrees, 2 hours for half gallon jars and 90 minutes for quarts. Place the lids on and leave in a safe place for 24 hours. This method is amazing because although you can vacuum seal these foods, the jar is darn near impenetrable to moisture, rodents, and anything else really. Just don’t drop them!
Freezing foods for the season.

All in all there are a variety of methods to store food and all should be utilized. It is important to get over our fears of the unknown and learn all we can about food preservation. People have been storing and keeping food since the beginning. Remember that dependence on electricity is only been a part of this process in this last century. Before that, it was absolutely possible to keep foods without refrigeration. Besides the job of just learning about these practices and using them, they are very interesting. It will offer you a feeling of security and fulfillment knowing that you can do something without modern convenience if you must. Liberate your food, think outside the box and keep growing. The following series piece will be water. This is just as important if not equally important to food. You can go without food longer than you can without water. Water is necessary to prepare and make food. We will cover that in our next portion. Thank you for following and reading. Look us up on Facebook.

Dry Canned goods. Beans and Rice.

As always,

Love Bluegrass Homestead

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