Outdoor Ice Cache for Frozen Food Storage in Winter

The cold winter air has a remarkable power–the power to freeze things. This can be our nemesis if we are stuck out in the cold, but it can also be used to our advantage. Winter is nature’s fridge and freezer, and if you get caught without power, you can allow the cold to preserve your food through freezing. A simple way to do this is to place your frozen food in a cooler full of ice and set the cooler outside in a shady area or an unheated shed.

Or you can do what our ancestors did to store their food by freezing it in an outdoor ice cache. Here’s how.

1. Pick the Best Spot
The ideal spot for an ice cache is someplace near your dwelling, on the north side of a large structure. This northern orientation will keep the southerly sun from warming up that spot during the day, and in the shade. As a result, your ice will last much longer. The paleo Indians made their ice caches in pits dug on the north side of boulder outcroppings. This provided both shade to preserve the ice and a marker to find the spot again, even in a snow covered landscape.

2. Build Your Box
Once your site is picked, lay out some ice blocks to create a small ice platform. Your food will sit on top of this, rather than the bare ground. Then, using blocks of uniform thickness, build a wall around the foundation. Carve or saw the ice to make each block fit tightly. If you need something to act as “chinking” to fill any gaps, apply slush while the air is sub-freezing. The slush will freeze and fill the gap. Finally, make a slab of ice that will cover the entire structure like a lid. Check the lid for fit, load in your food, and seal the lid on there like some kind of frosty sarcophagus.

3. Have A Security Plan
The hungry scavengers of winter will be very interested in the “abandoned” food they’ve found. Yes, some critters can smell it through the ice. And while most creatures won’t be able to scratch or bite through your icy storage locker, it’s still a possibility. For extra security, bury the ice box in slushy snow and allow it to freeze into one solid block. Then, only humans with tools can break the ice and retrieve the food. If you find that certain creatures keep visiting the box, you could also set up traps to take advantage to the draw.

How you ever tried anything like this?

Electricity-free Groundfridge Lets You Store Produce Without Traditional Refrigeration

Meet the GroundFridge. Modern day technology combined with a traditional root cellar to create a practical and beautiful well designed way to keep food fresh. Temperatures in the GroundFridge remain a cool 50 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit, year round. The design is so simple, all you need is to dig a hole, place the unit in the ground and recover with earth. You can even plant a garden on the top and around the sides if you like the decorative landscape, and double the use by planting fruits and veggies.

“The Groundfridge is an innovative take on the traditional root cellar. It meets the requirements of people with their own vegetable garden, who choose to live in a modern and self-sustaining way. Floris Schoonderbeek (founder of Weltevree) is continuously discovering and exploring new angles, chances and materials that he puts to good use in improving and enriching our habitat. With the Groundfridge, he presents a means for new world citizens who want to handle their food in an autonomous, independent way. ~ GroundFridge

“20 refrigerators, zero electricity – The Groundfridge has a storage capacity of 3,000 litres. This equals the contents of 20 refrigerators, that store 500 kg of food (the harvest of a 250 m2 vegetable garden) to prepare 350 meals – enough to feed a family of 5.
On average, 20 A grade EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) Refrigerators combined, use 6,620 kWh per year, whereas the Groundfridge performs the same feat completely without any electricity.~ GroundFridge

This is one of the first real-world design improvements on the old fashioned root cellar traditional farms used.

So… Who wants one!?

How to Prepare Dry Goods for Long Term Storage

Thanks to Michael Bush for this contribution.

dry-foods See Food Wise Options for purchase

If you are flush with cash and worried about a pending apocalypse there are plenty of options available for you purchase. Wise Company is an excellent choice for quality, long-lasting emergency food stores. Be prepared to pay a premium for these and other store bought freeze dried foods though.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have the available resources to pay thousands of dollars for food that will hopefully never be needed. Instead, we buy rice, beans and other dry staples a few pounds at a time. The problem with this approach is that the packaging these foods come in is not suitable for long term storage. Flimsy bags and boxes cannot seal out oxygen, water and pests. Instead we need to do a little work in order to project our food. Our weapons of choice in this exercise are 5 gallon buckets, heavy mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

In the post, i will walk you through the steps needed to help preserve your dry foods. Always remember to use care and caution before consuming anything. No matter how careful you are in your preparations, nothing last forever. Not even the Pyramids. Always treat stored food and water as if it is contaminated and prepare it accordingly.

Step 1: Find your bucket and lid. I have a whole separate post of whether or not you need a food grade bucket. Please feel free to read that post at your leisure. Suffice to say, if possible find a new food grade bucket with a secure, tight fitting lid. If you like, opt for a gamma lid – which is essentially a fancy, high quality lid. I don’t personally use them due to the added expense though.

Step 2: Ensure your bucket and lid are clean and dry.

Step 3: Line your bucket with a large, thick mylar bag. Mylar bags are a mixture of metal and plastic layers, and are specifically designed to prevent gas from passing through. Ensure your back fills as much of the bucket as possible, and is free of any and all tears. the Mylar bag is really what is going to be protecting and preserving your food. the bucket is mostly to provide projection from tears, but also does help with the preservation.

Step 4: Ensure your food is clean, free from debris, pests etc.

Step 5: Fill the bag as much as possible with your food. Make sure it will fit in the bucket when closed.

Step 6: Shake and stir the food to ensure any potential air pockets are removed and the product settles. If necessary, top off with additional food.

Step 7: Add a fresh Oxygen Absorber or two (or three) to the bag. Oxygen absorbers do exactly that. They suck up excess oxygen. Without oxygen, most organisms that would rot the food cannot survive. All pest cannot survive without oxygen. I have been told that simple hand warmers will work as well, but I have yet to try it.

Step 8: Manually try to fold over the lid of the mylar bag in such a way that as much air as possible is forced out of the bag.

Step 9: Seal the mylar bag. This is relatively easy to do, and a fancy bag sealer is really not needed. Fold the bag over a broom handle and apply an iron across the whole width of the bag. Do this two or three time to ensure the seal is tight. I suggest practicing first – not because this is especially difficult to do, but because iron temperatures will vary. You want your iron to sort of weld the two sides of the bag together, not melt a hole straight through it.

Step 10: Secure your lid and make sure to put a label on it with the date and contents.

That’s about it. With a few minutes time and the right supplies, you can set aside beans, rice, pasta, flour and other dry goods for a considerable amount of time. Again, always be cautious before eating or drinking anything that has been stored for a long period. No process is perfect, and we all make mistakes.


dry-foods2
 

DIY Do It Yourself Emergency Food Storage Kit including (5) 20×30 Real USA Mylar Bags, 2000cc Oxygen Absorbers, (5) 5 Gallon Life Latch FDA Containers, Vacuum Seal Tool Adaptor by SHTFandGO

SHTFandGO

Freezer Bag Cooking – Cooking On The Go

Freezer Bag Cooking

I’m always looking for ways to crossover my knowledge, skills and equipment between both backpacking and prepping. There are many similarities and pieces of gear that are suitable for both activities, however one stands apart as a great idea if your plan is to bug out and head for the hills, forest or a destination that requires travelling on foot.

Freezer Bag Cooking

I’m always looking for ways to crossover my knowledge, skills and equipment between both backpacking and prepping. There are many similarities and pieces of gear that are suitable for both activities, however one stands apart as a great idea if your plan is to bug out and head for the hills, forest or a destination that requires travelling on foot.

What is freezer bag cooking?

Simply put, we are taking the humble freezer bag, adding your own pre-made dried food and turning it into a vessel that will allow us to re-hydrate our meals quickly and easily whilst on the move.

There are many benefits to this method of cooking, but first lets take a look at how it’s done.

Plan Your Meals

First up for any trip or bug out, you need to know roughly how long you will be hiking and how many meals you need. If your aim is to get to your destination in the quickest amount of time, I suggest eating something quick for breakfast, that doesn’t need cooking. Things like granola bars are great for this.

So that leaves lunch and dinner, and my plan is to use a bunch of trail mix, nuts and seeds for lunch. A small back will pack around 2,000 calories and is plenty for snaking throughout the day.

So that simply leaves us with dinner.

What To Pack

My first tip is to pack what you eat. There’s nothing worse than arriving at camp cold, wet, tired and hungry and eating crap you would never eat in a non-shtf situation.

If you’re just staring out, I also suggest packing store bought dried good. Things like instant rice, instant mash potato, couscous etc are all great staples that will allow you to go light and pack some good calories.

How To Pack

Now you’ve decide on your meals you need to get them prepared. This is often as simple as dumping it all into a freezer bag (the actual freezer grade bags, do not use the thinner/cheaper bags).

If you have ingredients that won’t mix well together, you can store them separately, but I have never had a problem mixing all of my dried ingredients into a single freezer bag.

Make sure you mark out the meal on the front of the bag so you know what’s inside and how many portions.

How To Cook

When you get to camp, you should try to get your water on the boil as soon as possible. Depending on what you’ve packed in your freezer bags, it could take 30+ minutes sometimes to rehydrate you meal. I use this time to set up my camp, collect wood, water and make shelter.

So you warm up your water, if using fresh water that doesn’t need boiling then it also doesn’t need to reach a rolling boil, just hot water is fine and will do the job.

Once the water is hot, add your bag of food to your pot or cozy and add the water. Often it is 1 cup of food to 1-1.5 cups of water, however you should add the water a little at a time to gauge the correct amount.

Then zip up the bag, add the lid to your cozy and allow to rehydrate, checking at 5-10 minute intervals and mixing the food and water with your hands by squishing the outside of the bag.

How To Eat

Now for the best bit! I like to unzip my freezer bag once the food is ready and fold over the edges of the bag around my pot so I don’t have to hold the hot bag.

Some people opt for a long handled spoon to save them from getting food onto their hands, however I prefer a normal sized spoon and to just roll the bag down a bit at a time to raise the food up towards the top of the pot.

So what are the benefits?

As I mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to this freezer bag cooking method, such as:

  • Control what goes into your food
  • Control portion size
  • You dictate the meals, not a manufacturer
  • Easy to dehydrate home cooked leftovers
  • Super lightweight and great for a bug out bag
  • East to prepare on the trail
  • Eat right out of the bag
  • No mess and not pot cleaning
  • Left over water can be used for a hot drink
  • Uses less fuel as water only needs to be warmed and food is cooked inside the cozy
  • Many of the dry ingredients you will already have in your home

How To Make A Cozy

In this video by a well know ultralight backpacker, you will learn how to make your own freezer bag cozy to rehydrate and cook your lightweight food.

 

When Shit Hits the Fan literally, Will you be prepared and ready to Go?

What to do to plan, prepare, and protect during an Extreme and Mild Survival Scenario!

When you’re hiking while on a camping trip and happen to get turned around in the woods or waking up to the aftermath of a terrible storm that hit, you’ll be dealing with the lack of resources in those specific scenarios. As a result, you will need to remain calm and be smart about what your surroundings are and think what could be of use to you? In order to have these survival smarts, you need to take sometime to plan, prepare, and then protect if needed.

The first step is going to be the planning part and learning what you need to have in order for this step to work. Next, you will need to prepare for it if something disastrous such as a terrible outbreak which causes humans to turn to zombies or something as simple as a tornado stripping your town to nothing. The last step is having the equipment to protect yourself, which can be something as simple as a kitchen knife or you could have the mother load of weaponry that’s secretly kept in your basement that even your best friends don’t know about.

The gear, supplies, tools, weapons, food, water, and even the physical energy should be conserved.

wd

Let’s take this to the top of  the scale of survival situations, of 1 being mild and 10 being extreme. As they always say go big or go home, we are going to go big! So, with 10 being the highest on the scale we are going to say that a Zombie Apocalypse just broke out and your neighbors are turning as we speak. You still have time to react but not much because they are starting to break the glass of your windows to your house. You and your family immediately run down to your basement where you can regroup and make a plan. You then grab everything you can think of that’s in your SHTFandGo pack! Your dad yells at your brother to go grab the sleeping bags upstairs which are in the front closet but you stop him and say “Here, take this.” Your brother looks down and sees the Zombie Apocalypse Machete 101. Now while he does that, you’re running around with your mom and sister shoving bags full of supplies, tools, weapons, and anything that can fit. You don’t need to make too much food in the rucksacks, as they are already prepared in the Food Storage containers containing black beans, rice, noodles, and all other vacuum sealed food items. As for the water you just need to remember to grab the H2O 2.0 or H2O 3.0, depending on how much water you want to have on hand. We also stocked up on the H2O 1.0 just in case we get separated from one another at times we have a way to consume water. Your brother gets back and has the sleeping bags and rest of the gear your dad asked him to get and seems to have survived the neighbors! Our family also stocked up on some gasoline for the vehicles and we separate into vehicles and head out of town to someplace south. Just remember to not get bit!

wd2

I know that was a very extreme scenario but you never know when Shit will hit the Fan!

wd3

A little less milder one would be if a disastrous storm such as a tornado or hurricane wiped out your town. Here you would do the same, plan how you are going to prepare for a disastrous storm, prepare for it, and if you need to protect yourself for whatever reason you will be able to do so. First you’re going to have a plan once you hear the sirens going off, which means to head down to your basement with your family. There you can discuss what will happen if there is damage beyond repair. Then you will gather the things you need to prepare yourself, for instance you will get your rucksacks and fill them with anything and everything such as supplies, tools, weapons (if you feel like you need them), and whatever you think you will need. The food storage should already be prepared as you would have  Food Storage buckets full of black beans, rice, and noodles which are already vacuum sealed and ready to go. Of course you can have any other food stored in those buckets as well. You then will grab the H2O 2.0 or H2O 3.0 water storage depending on how much water you will want once you find a source of water. You will also have each rucksack packed with a couple H2O 1.0 just in case you and your family some how get separated during the chaos. If for whatever reason you need to have weapons on you during this kind of disaster just be careful.

wd4

Just remember to always plan, prepare, and protect.

 

Long Term Food Storage


Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Long Term Food Storage

One never knows when emergency will strike.  Hurricanes, floods, snow storms, and civil unrest all have the potential for disrupting services and food supplies we have all taken for granted.

Put a plan together for what you should do if emergency strikes.  Prepare yourself by gathering water, supplies, and emergency items and consumables you may need.

Emergency items should be stored in a place that has easy access, and can be gathered in a hurry if necessary.  If you have a basement or garage make a shelf or specific area for emergency items.  If you don’t a closet works as long as it is organized and items are easily reached.

Putting Together a Disaster Supply Kit

Items to include in a disaster supply kit:

  • Medical supplies and first aid manual
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights and lanterns with extra batteries
  • Camping cook stove and fuel
  • Sterno cans
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Blankets and extra clothing
  • Shovel and other useful tools
  • Money in a waterproof container
  • Infant and small children’s needs (if appropriate)
  • Can opener, utensils, cookware

Some items have expiration dates so be sure to check periodically. In a crisis, it will be most important that you maintain your strength. Eating a well balanced meals can help you do this. Here are some important nutrition tips.

  • Plan meals to include as much balance nutrition as possible.
  • Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
  • Drink at least two quarts of water a day. You will need more in warm climates.
  • Take in enough calories to meet the demand.  Vigorous work will require more calories.
  • Vitamins and minerals in your stockpile will assure adequate nutrition.

When deciding what foods to stock, use common sense. Consider what you could use and how you could prepare it. Storing foods that are difficult to prepare and are unlikely to be eaten could be a costly mistake.

unapprovedfoodcontainer UN Approved Food Storage Container

One approach to long term food storage is to store bulk staples along with fast preparation food sources.  A variety of canned and dried foods also make it easy for preparation.

Bulk Staples and dried sources such as wheat, corn, beans and salt can be purchased in bulk quantities inexpensively and have nearly unlimited shelf life. If necessary, you could survive for years on small daily amounts of these staples. Pre-prepared meals such as (MRE) can cost more per calorie delivered but make preparation much easier.

The following amounts are suggested per adult, per year:

Item                    Amount*

  • Wheat                        240 pounds
  • Powdered Milk            75 pounds
  • Corn                            240 pounds
  • Iodized Salt                    5 pounds
  • Soybeans                    120 pounds
  • Fats and Oil***            20 pounds**
  • Vitamin C***               180 grams

Stocking Foods for Infants

Special attention would need to be paid to stocking supplies of foods for infants. Powdered formula would be the least expensive form of infant formula to stock. Commercially canned liquid formula concentrate and ready-to-feed formula may also be stored. Amounts needed would vary, depending on the age of the infant. Infant formula has expiration dates on the packages and should not be used past the expiration date.

Parents should also plan to have a variety of infant cereals and baby foods on hand. Amounts needed will vary depending on the age of the infant.

Foods to Supplement Your Bulk Staples

You should add pre-packaged foods such as dried foods, mixes, and supermarket foods. Cured and canned meats are a good selection. A variety of rice, beans, and corn are nutritious and long-lasting. Ready-to-eat cereals, pasta mixes, rice mixes, dried fruits, etc. can also be included to add variety to your menus. Packaged mixes that only need water and require short cooking times are good options because they are easy to prepare. The more of these products you include, the more expensive your stockpile will be.

mylarbage Mylar Storage Bag:  Can be vacuum sealed or ironed closed using O2 absorbers

Consider storing the items listed below. Amounts are suggested quantities per adult per year.

Flour, White Enriched 17 lbs
Corn Meal 42 lbs
Pasta (Spaghetti/Macaroni) 42 lbs
Beans (dry) 25 lbs
Beans, Lima (dry) 1 lb
Peas, Split (dry) 1 lb
Lentils (dry) 1 lb
Dry Soup Mix 5 lbs
Peanut Butter 4 lbs
Dry Yeast 1/2 lb
Sugar, White Granulated 40 lbs
Soda 1 lb
Baking Powder 1 lb
Vinegar 1/2 gal

Approach long-term food storage as follows:

1. Buy bulk staples as previously listed.

2. Buy your everyday stock of canned goods until you have a two-week to one-month surplus. Rotate it periodically to maintain a supply of common foods that will not require special preparation, water or cooking.

3. Find dried meat sources. Although costly, this is an excellent form of stored meat, so buy accordingly. (Canned meats are also options.) Another option is to purchase dry, packaged mixes from the supermarket. Consider stocking some of the items listed as examples below. Amounts are suggested quantities for an adult for one year.

All dry ingredients or supplies should be stored off the floor in clean, dry, dark places away from any source of moisture. Foods will maintain quality longer if extreme changes in temperature and exposure to light are avoided.

Grains

Bulk wheat, dark hard winter or dark hard spring wheat are good selections for storage. Wheat should be at least #2 grade with a protein content of at least 12% and moisture content less than 10%. The best option for all dried grains is to be stored in 5 gallon food grade containers with air tight lids and mylar liners with O2 absorbers. If the wheat has not already been treated to prevent insects from hatching, wheat may be treated at the time of storage by placing one-fourth pound of dry ice per 5 gallon container in the bottom and then filling with wheat. Cover the wheat with the lid, but not tightly, for five or six hours before transferring the grain to a mylar lined and sealed container. Other grains to consider storing include rye, rice, oats, triticale, barley and millet. Pasta products can also be stored in 5 or 6 gallon containers with mylar liners. Milled rice will maintain its quality longer in storage than will brown rice. Many of the grains may require grinding before use. Many health food stores sell hand-cranked grain mills or can tell you where you can get one. Make sure you buy one that can grind corn. If you are caught without a mill, you can grind your grain fairly well by using a blender.

Dairy Products

Store dry milk in an air-tight container with mylar liner. Dry milk may be stored at 70oF for 12 – 24 months. If purchased in nitrogen packed cans, storage time for best quality will be 24 months. Other dairy products for long term storage may include canned evaporated milk, pasteurized cheese spreads, powdered cheese, and ghee (purified butter).

Other Foods or Ingredients

Iodized salt can be stored in its original package since moisture is the only detrimental thing for salt. Dried beans, peas, lentils, etc. provide an inexpensive alternative protein source and are easy to store in plastic containers with mylar liners and oxygen absorbers . Unused open food boxes, cookies and crackers can be placed in plastic bags, and keep them in air-tight storage containers for use in the near term. Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into airtight food storage containers to protect them from pests. Inspect all food containers for signs of spoilage before use. Commercially canned foods are safe to eat long after the “use by date” provided the containers are not bulging, leaking or badly rusted. Quality may diminish with long term storage and be aware of changes in flavor, color and texture.   For best quality rotate canned goods at least every two to four years.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Possible deficiencies in the diet in emergency situations can lead to long term health issues. Families should store and use in rotation 365 multi-vitamin/mineral tablets per person. Careful attention should be paid to expiration dates on packages.

Shelf Life of Foods for Storage (Unopened)

Here are some general guidelines for rotating common emergency foods to ensure the best quality of the products.

Use within 1 year:

  • Powdered milk (boxed)
  • Dried fruit (in metal container)
  • Dry, crisp crackers (in metal container)
  • Dried Potatoes

Use within 2 years

  • Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
  • Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables
  • Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Hard candy, chocolate bars and canned nuts
  • Vegetable oils

May be stored 5+ years* (in proper containers and conditions):

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Baking powder
  • Soybeans
  • Instant coffee, tea
  • Cocoa
  • Salt
  • Noncarbonated soft drinks
  • White rice
  • Bouillon products
  • Dry pasta
  • Vitamin C
  • Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)

References:

1. Federal Emergency Management Agency. June 16, 1998 Update. Emergency Food and Water Supplies (FEMA-215). Washington, DC.

2. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1998. Emergency Preparedness Manual.

3: Preparing an emergency food supply, long term food storage: University of Georgia

Judy Harrison, Ph.D.:Associate Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist

Elizabeth Andress, Ph.D.:Associate Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist