The Big Prep! Selection and organization, Part II
Writing an article for Dear Reader concerning Prepping for previous discussed emergencies becomes a difficult task, as the perceptions of an emergency interruption in your life and resources to meet that emergency are all different. However, we all have to eat, therefore this article is directed towards selection in stockpiling foods.
Briefly I want to discuss “resources”. This includes actual cash outlay, storage space shelving and processing equipment.
When we go to the grocery store which offers an extra can or two of food, we buy two. Over a period of time these “extras” add up and fill the larder. Considering that all store bought cans of food (Jars too) have a shelf life; we can use the one of older cans from the shelf and restock as we go along. Generally store bought cans of food have a recommended shelf life of two years, and in small print on the label you will see the end date. Use a marking pen to date the cans for end use vs.: just dating the cans when you buy them.
With adequate shelving- store bought, or home made-there is always a back corner of neglected and forgotten cans. We have to dig deep but we forget. You could organize the shelving to place all the beans in one section and all the corn in another section with a number of quantities for a check off. Yes, I know this sounds like a lot of work but this is a real life venture and what you do now will make an emergency much easier because you are organized.
Case lots of foods are easier to manage and often one can get a discount on bulk foods. In some localities you can collectively purchase bulk foods and eliminate the food sales tax. If you are a business you can avoid the food tax in most places. Some business just deal with restaurants and sell wholesale, but the key is that they deal in bulk and could care less about you being a restaurant.
You can save considerable amounts of money by buying bulk in this way. When you look at emergency ” Prepper on line stores” that sell as a specialty store their prices are high but they offer a specific service. Unfortunately they may not be offering you what you need in the line of nutrition. Instead of buying a package deal of a year supply of their choice you have to select individual cans to meet your needs. I mention this as you may have children, with specific dietary needs, elderly folks, all requiring over a long period of time a certain quality of foods.
Not everything is sold at Wal*Mart © stores. Do shop at “Oriental Trading Stores” for rice, noodles and such basics. They are mostly inner city stores, some are small Mom and Pop businesses that do not speak English but the prices are well marked. Generally “Health Food Stores” are over priced, but bear investigating for unique items.
Amazon, BulkFoods.com, Sam’s Club, and a host of others on line can be of good service to you for dry stores. However as a caution in an emergency, dry stores require water. This implies you must have stored water for cooking. If you have a well, or a back up springhouse you may need a reliable pump and a generator to supply electricity. This implies fuel. Previous articles on this topic are available in the archives of Back2theLand.com. Honeybee supply businesses offer heavy-duty 5-gallon pour ”pails” which are ideal for storing water. If you are filling your own water vessels-even water cooler bottles, which are commonly sold everywhere, add 15 drops of bleach per gallon for storage.
Home canning your own garden produce, can be more expensive if you are not already set up for major production-namely equipment in the field, fencing for deer, cleared acreage, water supply for draughts, greenhouses and the lists goes on. Lest we forget, all this fieldwork requires labor, and that means time. Even if you buy all your produce, say from a farmer or farmer’s market you will still have to make an investment in pressure cookers, canning jars, and most important: ”Lids”. You can only use a lid once and when you open that jar the lids are NOT reusable. So, there is the need to purchase at least several seasons worth of lids-which are inexpensive- but necessary. You can only use approved heat safe non-cracking canning jars. I suggest the wide mouth type, as it is easier to get food in and out of the jar. Keep in mind that the liquids in the jar are food and added to soups, or drunk as a thirst quencher.
Home canning techniques and safety is paramount. What your mother taught you is out of date. Always consult a NEW Kerr©, or Ball© canning book each year. The USDA also offers free on line, or from a local Extension Office, canning and food preparation tips. Over the years we have accumulated bigger pressure cookers, which make the work go faster. But lifting heavy jars and pressure cookers may well require help from the men- put them to work as they eat too.
Tomatoes that are sold today, including seeds for grow your own are mostly hybridized and produce less acid. If you use a hot water bath system, you may have to add vinegar to acidify your tomatoes. See an up to date canning book for details.
Home canning is hot. Very hot temperature work and if you want air-conditioning in your kitchen plan on a 22,000BTU window cooler for comfort. However this must not be blowing on your work area. Propane-natural gas stoves are more efficient than electric stoves, and wood stoves in the August kitchen will just cook you too. As an alternative, for years it was popular to can foods outside the house in a canning house, or a large tent covered area. Flies are problem-hence use flypaper, not bug sprays.
I would NOT buy someone else’s canned foods as I have seen cans that were years old and already bugling tops with botulism. If you buy canning jars-empty- from a yard sale be sure to sterilize them just as you would sterilize your canning jars before you start any endeavor with foods.
Most of Dear Readers are in apartments or home settings with limited space-certainly little opportunity for gardens. We are now going to look at commercial prepared “survival-prepper” food stocks sold under that heading.
Throughout history whole populations, even in modern times of today have been reduced to eating grasses and tree bark. That is a whole different subject of foraging on the countryside and we will include it one of these weeks. In the mean time when you are contemplating eating prepared storage foods that entail poor nutrition, MRE’s come to mind. These quasi-military, in the field foods are terrible, and the worst selection you can make. They are designed as expendable rations for the expendable military and I recall in the field most of us would not eat them-less the fruitcake and sugar junk.
You must think of nutrition, as in the long haul health is what will sustain you. If you examine the package deals of nitrogen packed foods for 25-30 year storage you will note that there is a considerable amount of Lasagna, macaroni and cheese, pasta dish, pizza foods which are composed of white flours, fillers, high fructose corn syrups and basic sugars which in modern cooking chemistry can be converted into any replica of non- nourishment. They are cheap to make and the bottom line in any manufacturer is: profit. So instead of buying a packaged years supply you examine the individual options such as meats, potatoes, and vegetables. You will be cooking a lot of stews and soups that are the essences of good nourishing foods.
The Bulk Food market is like going to Wal*Mart © and purchasing BIG bags of food at one time. To encourage long term storage you can repack these large bags of flours, beans, rice, lentils and such in 5 or 6 gallon black plastic buckets, dropping in a tennis ball size block of dry ice at the bottom, pouring the grains over the dry ice and sealing the bucket with a gamma-seal top. More details may be found in the archives of back2theland.com in the stocking up series concerning this approach. This will kill all the insect eggs. Also since prepping has become popular there now exists Mylar bags and de-oxygen tablets to use in the same capacity. De-oxygen tablets are best used as one 100 size tablet per 5 gallon bucket.
Do not forget your rubber hammer to get the gamma seals on the bucket and once you have applied the dry ice and/or de-oxygen tablet tighten the spin -on lid snugly. We recently investigated our old flat lid buckets of 4 to 5 years back before we found gamma-seals. The dry ice method applied to the grains in a black plastic bag and dry ice treatment killed all the potential bugs and none had re-entered. However the new gamma -seals available at Amazon.com are the best way to go. Keep in mind if you have farm space all these beans and grains remain alive and can be planted at considerable saving vs: buying individual small packets from a garden center.
Stock up on water, not soda beverages that are full of phosphorus and bad for your health. Soda beverages are linked to diabetes. If you purchase canned fruit juices you want 100% fruit juices not sugars and coloring. Stimulant drinks are important and that means sealed in the can real coffee and teas. Cocoa also is a stimulant. Other stimulants may be had at health food stores but try a sample first as they might not be to your ethnic liking.
So-called energy beverages are just HYPED Sugar and a big boost of caffeine. Avoid this waste of money.
Salt, sugar (for some canning), beverage alcohol (for trades), condiments to disguise flavors of the soups adds to your list.
Amour lard stores well and makes a great cooking medium especially biscuits. I have been examining propane “Turkey Cookers” lately-primarily for my herb salve extraction concoctions. They certainly offer great cooking potential especially if you are ”Bugging Out”, or camping.
Since you will be buying wheat berries you will need a flourmill. These can be had for a few dollars into the hundreds. I suggest one than can be hand cranked if the electricity is not working as a back up. I might add that a flour sifter is imperative, as you will get weevils in stored ground flour. Although nutritious in their own right they are not desirable. A flour sifter will screen them out.
Soaps, detergents, mouse traps, rat traps-poison, buckets, cooking pans and pots, soup bowls, big spoons, matches (stored in 5 gallon mouse proof mental cans- yes lots of strike anywhere matches) Candles, kerosene lanterns with fuel cans full, personal hygiene needs, and toilet paper will be items needed.
Army Survival manuals, Boy Scout handbook, reading books, school books, pencils, note pads, extra batteries for your cell-phones and portable multi band radios will also be needed. Sewing items of thread, needles, knitting needles and yarns should be included. If you sew and remain in your primary residence an old but still available Singer Peddle sewing machine will make your life easier.
Keep sleeping bags for winter, extra blankets, propane bottle camp stoves, extra stored propane bottles, more water bottles: plan for cold weather. Lay in a stock of sturdy work clothes and boots.
Lastly include a First Aid Box and know how to apply First Aid. There will be dental problems and pain- use clove oil and there are all sorts of dental emergency items at the Drug Store. Take a First Aid Course.
Next week we will address Part III that will focus on “Bugging Out in your automobile. This is for the grimmer scenario concerning natural disasters and the breakdown of law and order. Remember Katrina.
While we are remembering think about your pets and livestock. They eat too. It is better to purchase quality pet food as much of it, as proven by social security recipients, is quite edible for people.
God Bless us all.
COPYRIGHT: 2011, Back2theLand.com, Mark Steel, all rights reserved.