No Excuse for Starving

A Colorful History

There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. They have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana, plantain, sugarcane, avocado, acorn, dandelion, purslane, podocarpus, papaya, lychee, lemon grass, garlic grass, hickory, chestnut, coconut, cattail, coontie, cactus, cassava, Jimaca, and cabbage palm. They are all edible, all delicious, and each can be found growing throughout much of the Sunshine State, if you just know where to look. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Florida has been home to many colorful characters throughout its history, from the pre-Columbian Chatot, Timucua, Tocobaga, Tequesta, Ocali, Apalachee, Asi-Jeaga, and fierce Calusa tribes to formidable Spanish Conquistadores like Hernando de Soto and Ponce de León to blood thirsty pirates like Jose Gaspar and Caesaro Negro to the wily Seminole and Miccosukee warriors like Osceola and Holatta Micco to Confederate blockade runners like Captain Archibald McNeill.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Florida’s history has always been the Seminole Indian Wars, partly because the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes are the only Native American tribes to never lay down their arms in abject surrender to over whelming Federal forces. Even the indomitable Comanche and Apache ultimately surrendered, but not so the Florida tribes who melted into the Everglades where Federal troops dare not follow. These two tribes were part of the Civilized Nations; they wore spun calico shirts, smoked clay pipes and were fond of their smooth bore muskets. They survived forty years of warfare (1817-1819, 1835-1842, 1855-1858)1 against a modern and well equipped army, not because of any technological superiority—although the Seminole and Miccosukee were excellent marksmen with bow and musket—but because they were adaptable and were able to live off the land in the wilds of Florida’s untamed swamps, wetlands, mangroves, and hammocks. As it was for the Seminole and Miccosukee, living off-grid in a SHTF scenario means having to live off the land.

Long-Term Scenario

We all pray that SHTF events never happens in our lifetime, but we prepare for them anyway. The Seminole and Miccosukee survived their own SHTF; will we survive ours? Our SHTF, when it comes, may come upon us slowly or suddenly. Regardless of the cause, we owe it to our children to survive, so we pray for the best and prepare for the worst.
I don’t have a cabin in the mountains. I don’t own a cattle ranch. I don’t have a fortified bunker with motion sensors and early warning systems. I am forbidden by our home owners association from installing claymores in my yard. Heck, I don’t even own any night vision optics. I just a private citizen who wants to see his family to survive. Faced with a SHTF event, I know that the acquisition of Water, Food, Shelter, and Security will be imperative to ensuring my family’s survival.

Most coastal Floridians have already faced SHTF scenarios—we call them hurricanes, and we take our hurricane preparedness seriously. Since Hurricane Andrew destroyed the southern tip of Florida in 1992, many households have maintained a family sized “hurricane box” containing enough gear and supplies for the home team to survive for at least a few of days. That may not seem like a lot by Prepper standards, but the hurricane box is not part of our Prepper provisions. It’s just a seasonal precaution. We stock the hurricane box in spring, watch the Weather Channel from May (Caribbean hurricane season) through October (Atlantic hurricane season), consume our hurricane supplies through winter, and restock the following spring. This rotation keeps stock fresh and it beats having to run to Publix for a last-minute can of green beans so my wife can whip up one of her tasty casseroles.
Preparing for the future requires forethought; the more you accomplish before an emergency event, the less you’ll need to accomplish during or after one. Stockpiling alone, however, can only carry you so far. You must be able to find renewable food sources. Once the SHTF, it will be too late to harvest Ramen at Walmart. Even if you could get your hands on that last brick of tasty noodles, fighting a gang of thugs for looting privileges is not sound tactical advice. If the gangs control your local Walmart, what then? Wouldn’t you rather be able to safely feed you’re your family from home than having to wander the means streets of some post-apocalyptic city scavenging for a nice clean dumpster? So, let’s assume you’ve already taken care of your short-term physical needs. You’ve got plenty of Evian and MRE’s on hand, your storm shutters are up, and everyone on your team who’s tall enough to ride the bog roller-coaster is strapped. No gun fight at the OK Walmart for you, but what about long-term survival? What about replenishment provisions? Have you considered that once your MRE’s run out, you will need to restock your larder with what you can hunt, fish, or grow?

Florida waters are teeming with fish, crabs, shrimp, crawdads, and turtles, not to mention the abundant squirrels, and various fowl that populate our area—with the notable exceptions of birds of prey and carrion eaters, pretty much most fowl are edible. For deer and hogs, we would need to go further afield. Barring a catastrophic decimation of wildlife, protein will most likely not be a problem for Floridians, especially for those of us living along the Coast. Carbs, however, will be much harder to come by.

The average healthy adult requires approximately 200-300 grams of carbohydrates daily.1 My favorite carb is rice, but what we’ve stored won’t last forever. We could try growing our own, but growing rice is a complete mystery involving paddies and some kind of water buffalo. We could try going native by harvesting acorns—a good source of carbs: 1 oz dried acorn (2-3 acorns) contains 14.6 gr. of carbs—but the acorns in South Florida tend to be rather small, and harvesting them is labor intensive, requiring patience and lots of water for blanching out the tannic acid. Acorns are a great supplement—make acorn-raisin cookie—but they are not a staple food.

The Lowly Sweet Potato

To resolve to the how-to-get-enough-carbs-so-I-don’t-starve dilemma, I would recommend the same carbohydrate-rich staple that was grown by the Seminole and Miccosukee and helped them survive as a people while they waged a forty-year long guerilla war.
Even if you’re able to fight off the first wave of spam-starved zombies, a single-family dwelling can suffer an extensive amount of damage from a break-in, let alone a firefight. During a SHTF event, we must be able to survive off-grid inconspicuously. This means living under-the-radar. It’s your choice; you can hang a “Welcome” sign over your green house door, or you can hide your food source in plain sight. Because they are so well camouflaged, the only true enemies of these delicious uber tubers are mice, floods, and weed whackers. It grows wild in many parts of the South, not just in Florida. The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous. A store-bought sweet potato weighing approximately 7 oz. contains about 3 gr. of carbs while the same amount of rice has almost three times as many carbs (11 gr.), rice is labor intensive. Have you ever tried hitching a water buffalo to a rice plow? Though it lacks the carbs of rice, an average-sized sweet potato does possess many other essential nutrients including: potassium (48 gr), Vitamin A (2,026 IU), and Beta-carotene (1,215 mcg).3

The Growing Process

When germinating sweet potatoes, I employ the “science project” method. It is the skin that produces the buds or “eyes” that become roots, so all you will need is the outer portion of the potato. Slice out one-inch wide slips of skin from the potato. Make them about as half as thick as a pencil (1/8 inch) to lend support to the skin. Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down. Each slip should have its own container; too many slips in a confined space can cause the delicate sprouting roots to tangle. Direct sunlight can quickly bake young sprouts, so store them in indirect sunlight.

In about two weeks, you should see several healthy root tendrils sprouting downward from the slips into the water. When the tendrils grow to about six inches in length, it’s time for planting. Gently remove the sprouted slips from their containers and plant them about 4-6 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.4 Much of the soil in South Florida tends to be sandy and poor, so you may need to prep your soil before planting. My property is sandy and wonderful for growing sandspurs—they are the reason Floridians don’t walk around bare-footed. I do not prepare my soil before planting sweet potatoes. The whole point of the exercise is to establish a renewable food source that will grow well without any help from me. After about three to four months—depending on the variety of sweet potato, rainfall, soil, soil prep, pests, etc.—the crop will be ready to harvest. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow on the vine, and the growing tubers cause the ground to bulge as though there were moles tunneling beneath the soil. I live in Hardiness Zone 10 (South Florida); your results will definitely vary.

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length. The potatoes grow close to the surface and can be harvested easily with bare hands. I don’t use my bare hands because Florida is home to the dreaded Brazilian Fire Ant, six different venomous serpents, and an ever-growing population of pythons. This is a genuine concern when weeding or harvesting because sweet potatoes attract rodents which in turn attract snakes, and the ground cover from the leaves can be so dense that you would never notice a coiled pygmy rattler until too late. All the prepping in the world won’t save you from a coral snake bite either—they are part of cobra family—with no way to refrigerate rare anti-venom serum during a SHTF scenario. “Don’t stick your hand in there!” is a good rule to live by in Florida, so use a little common sense and employ a small cultivator rake carefully to avoid damaging your crop.

For my first attempt at sweet potato gardening, I cut eight slips, but two failed to germinate. I planted the remaining six slips in a three-foot by five-foot patch of well-drained sandy soil. My little garden yielded 14 medium-to-large sweet taters. These were germinated from one store-bought potato. Not too bad for a first attempt considering the small size of the plot and the fact that I did not water at all. The Florida August monsoons did the watering for me. The rains come so regularly in late summer, between 3:00PM and 5:00PM, that you can practically set your watch by them. That particular crop of even survived a record-breaking three-day freeze just prior to harvest. A three-day freeze might not impress most Northerners, but it is big news in South Florida.

After my first crop, I let the vines continue to grow on their own, hoping for a second picking from the same planting. Unfortunately, the potatoes did not survive my wife’s attempt to clean up the back yard with the weed whacker. The best sweet potatoes are the large ones near the original slip planting. The further away from the original plant that the nodes take root and become potatoes, the smaller the tuber will be. The stunted golf ball-sized sweet potatoes, though still technically edible, are rough and not very tasty. These became seed crop for the next planting.

Another nice thing about the sweet potato is that it can be grown almost anywhere: apartment window boxes, small backyard gardens, empty lots downtown, power line easements, around the edges of county parks, or the woods behind your house. With their dramatic purple blossoms, the attractive broad-leafed vines are used as an ornamental plant. They make such great ground cover that they are regularly incorporated into landscaping around buildings, mailboxes, lakes, canals, trees, and other shrubbery.

There is a storm canal easement behind our property. Like Johnny Apple Seed, I’ve started planting germinated slips on this property. Several plantings have taken root and are growing well. When the summer rains begin, they should really take off. The early success of this off-property experiment has encouraged me to try other locations. I’ve germinated and planted sweet potatoes at my mom’s house, my brother’s house, and at a friend’s house. They’re going to enjoy the attractive ground cover around their shrubs, and I will enjoy helping them establish a prolific and renewable emergency food source.

I’ve started scouting other areas as well for strategic planting locations that will be self-sustaining. Anticipating future fuel shortages, I’ve kept my scouting to within bicycling distance from my property. There is a long tract of scrub woods along the river near our home which will make a good planting zone as the average non-agricultural zombie wouldn’t know the difference between potato vines and kudzu. My plan is to hide a strategic and productive potato pantry in plain sight. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Back to Basics: How to Stockpile Food for Emergencies

Today I wanted to share tips for how to stockpile food for emergencies that anyone can use. I will focus on preppers who are just starting out, but I think some ideas in the topics below could be useful to anyone looking to ensure their family has food and does not go hungry. This article will also have dozens of links to other content on the subject for additional reading.

I believe there are 5 main components to survival that everyone needs to consider. They are simply Water, Food, Shelter, Security and Hygiene.  The need for water and how you can easily store water for emergencies that render your traditional methods of obtaining water impossible. Water is more important to life than food or at least you can live longer without food than you can water, but they are both important.

Why do you need to stockpile food for emergencies?

If you are new to prepping, you may have something that triggered your awareness of the subject. Preppers have many reasons for doing what they do and no two preppers are alike. Some are preparing for the end of the world, but most see situations in our daily lives that give a perfect reason to stock up supplies. You have only to look at the recent winter storm that affected large swaths of the Eastern Seaboard to have a perfect example of why you don’t want to be left without a means to feed your family.

It seems almost cliché at this point, but invariably it always happens when a winter storm is forecast. Everyone rushes out to the store and certain food supplies are wiped out. Images of empty shelves are shown on practically every newscast and eventually prepper websites. Food shortages during simple storms are common if not expected. We don’t really even blink anymore because we are so used to this practice of waiting until the last-minute and then hitting the local grocery store on the way home from work to grab some basic necessities or comfort food.

If you can’t live for more than 3 days without going to the store, it’s time to reevaluate your family’s readiness. The statistic we hear most of the time is that the average home has only 3 days’ worth of food in it. If this is true, where would you be on day three if you had not been able to make it to the grocery store before the storm? What if instead of a snow storm, a virus outbreak had occurred and everyone was told to stay indoors to prevent infection? Each of us should have more food on hand that our families and friends will eat than is absolutely necessary to prevent surprises from leaving you hungry.

How much food do you need to store?

In the example above I used a virus outbreak as the condition that would prevent you from getting to the store. There are others though and weather could certainly be one of them. Some storms where I live have left roads impassable for upwards of a week. Could we walk to the store? Sure, but what if the stores having already been cleared of just about all of the food were closed? What if power outages prevented them from conducting any transactions? These are things you should consider.

Prepping is not something I ever consider you can accomplish. By that I mean, you are never going to be fully prepared. You may be much better prepared than some or all of the people around you, but you will never be 100% self-sufficient. Prepping should be done incrementally even if you have more money than you know what to do with because as you start to stock up food you learn lessons.

A good rule of thumb for me is to start small when you are beginning to stockpile food for emergencies. You don’t need a year of freeze-dried foods to start with. Try just having a week or two of extra groceries that your family already eats. This is accomplished without any exotic storage needs usually or 5 gallon buckets of grains you have to figure out how to prepare.

What are the best types of food to stockpile?

My wife purchases the groceries and I started out by giving her extra money to simply buy more food. I did this in the beginning because she is a much better shopper than I am and will always save more money than me. This worked great because she was easily able to fill our pantry and had plenty of meals planned to last us well over 30 days. Sure, at the end of that 30 days of food we would be getting into more exotic cans of mushrooms and soups that are better left as part of a recipe as opposed to your entire meal, but we wouldn’t starve.

Once we had a month worth of food and water stored up, I started looking at other options. I think each person should have a layered approach to food storage. This gives you flexibility and more importantly variety that as you go out to 6 months or 1 year or 2 will be important. My own personal goal is 2 years’ worth of food stockpiled for my family but that isn’t made up of only food from our grocery store. That can certainly be done though with a very good rotation plan.

Food storage should ideally cover the following:

Short Term Food Storage – The best and simplest foods are like I said above, what your family eats every day. One thing to consider is that the bulk of this food should be non-perishable in case you lose power. Canned foods are great as well as pastas, drink mixes and staples. These usually last at least a year.

Medium Term Food Storage – For the 5 – 10 year range MRE’s are a great option although they are heavier and their convenience comes at a higher price. I have several boxes of these and I like MRE’s because they are self-contained and don’t really need any water. Freeze dried camping foods like Mountain House are another great option to just add hot water to. Rice and beans make great additions to this category because you don’t really have to do anything crazy to store them as long as they are kept cool and dry.

Long Term Food Storage – When you start to look at foods that will keep for many years you get into stored grains like Hard Red Winter Wheat that you store in sealed 5 gallon buckets. Freeze dried food from any one of many suppliers out there keep for 20 years usually and are individually wrapped Mylar packets. They require water to re-hydrate but the taste can be surprisingly good. Make sure you have seasonings though….

Renewable Food Storage – This is when you have to get your inner farmer working. Renewable foods are an intensive garden, small livestock like chickens or rabbits and the occasional wild game caught either through hunting or snares. In the worst disasters, your food will run out so having a plan for that ahead of time will help you prepare.

How do you plan for your food eventually running out?

I have a mix of the food storage options above. We eat on our grocery store items every day, but I also have MRE’s and a pretty large amount of freeze-dried foods stored. We also have the grains I mentioned and the all-important grain mill to grind them into flour. Several hundred pounds of rice and beans round out the equation.

Stockpiling food is only the start. We have a garden and small flock of chickens. The stored food is just to get us through the worst of the disaster. Hopefully before our food runs out whatever disaster has happened will be mitigated and life will have returned to some sense of normality. If not, we have a huge leg up that will allow us to further harvest our garden to put away food like the pioneers had to do. It is an approach that gives us some sense of security and prepares us to come out on the other side still alive.

What is your plan to stockpile food for emergencies?

Winter SHTF Planning and Preparation

Currently enjoying the first real Winter storm of the season up here in Canada and I must say I really like it. Got me thinking about those things relating to Winter survival that are either not really talked about or, worse yet, ignored. I am assuming you do not have a massive solar array and geothermal power. I am also assuming you live in the snow belt meaning two to five months of Winter and arctic temperatures.

It is Snowing. A lot!

Here at work I just opened our Storm accommodation plan so staff can sleep overnight rather than risk life, limb, and fenders trying to get home as 20cm of snow falls (8 inches). They have the option to sleep in warm, dry, secure location and get a free meal voucher. Awesome deal but in SHTF when it snows hard it gets complex. Stay or go? I’d stay put until the obvious storm front has passed me by as I really will have no idea if the snow is stopping in an hour or going to keep dropping the next three days.

This means in the Winter season you always need to have a Winter bug in kit on you at all times you know you cannot easily get back to home base. You should always have a compass on you in SHTF as fog, rain, and snow can easily get you lost real fast even close to home base. This is my minimum gear I’d have on me if venturing any distance in the Winter season in Southern Ontario away from the home base.

  • Emergency bivvy bag. Many makes of these are available. Get an expensive one you can reuse. In SHTF you cannot reorder from Amazon easily.
  • Emergency stove and fuel. The goal here is to boil water for hot drinks and food and to get a bit of heat. I’d use my BioLite but a basic rocket stove made from an old number 10 tin can would work great. Carry fuel and ignition. Snow means getting a new supply might be impossible. The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is expensive and heavy but really awesome on fuel usage and heat. It also charges a good light source (get the orange one not the blue version)
  • The clothes I’d be wearing would be Winter proofed. Look up and learn how to dress for Arctic temperatures. I’d have extra gloves, hat, socks, and leg/arm thermal wrapped in the pack as well.
  • Metal water container that can be used to boil water. Some emergency filters won’t work so well in minus temperatures however hard you suck on the ice!
  • Emergency shovel. Dig a hole and then a ditch around the base so water will run away from you. Consider covering it to make a snow cave. Know how to do this safely.
  • Those high calorie life boat rations, MREs, and wise food would also be great in this situation. I’d want 5000 Cal minimum but 10000 Cal would be safer. Candies and a couple of boil in the bag meals will help with variety.
  • A couple of Mylar survival blankets and a 6 by 10 piece of transparent plastic sheet. The better the survival shelter, the warmer you will be.
  • 50 feet of paracord.
  • Decent amount of duct tape
  • Folding saw and a knife in case fuel is available
  • Flash light that works without solar or batteries. Hand crank or squeeze (I use the BioLite for this one).
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun screen. I never use it except in the Winter. So easy to burn your face

At this point you are probably rolling your eyes but this kit is for my local conditions not for yours! Deep snow is a killer up here and will be much worse in SHTF. Mostly I won’t venture more than 2 miles from home base and this is my minimum carry is for extend trips beyond 10 miles in December through March. It would be a lot smaller for local sojourns. If you can safely get back to home base then get back to it. If unsure bug in and make camp until it is safe to walk home. What did I miss? What should I not carry? Let me know in the comments and why of course.  I excluded snow shoes as I’d have them on if it had already snowed but would not carry them if it had not. I can make a pair using the folding saw, knife, and paracord if I had to.

Winter Storm in SHTF from your cozy bug in or bug out location

If you have prepped right and have been lucky then you should have adequate calories and comfort to survive the storm. If not then you are SOL. However these are some of my ideas that might be overlooked by some in SHTF.

Toilet Paper

I have loads of it but it will run out. The supply I have will be withdrawn from circulation after the first four weeks of SHTF. I will tell my girlfriend she has to let go of the past and embrace the now. Likely she will leave me at this point and I will have doubled my supply of white rice! The paper toilet paper will be strictly only for use if sick or in deep Winter (and her birthday. I’m not heartless). I have pre-cut a large supply of linen toilet ‘paper’ from old jeans and shirts. In the warmer months that is what is used to wipe and polish. In deep Winter the ability not to have to wash the toilet rags will be an awesome asset (pun intended) and avoid a real problem in arctic temperatures.

Fuel

For me this will be wood. I plan worse case and SHTF forever. You need about 5 cords of wood to get through the Winter here but around my bug in home I can collect wood for sure 10 months of the year so this can be reduced. At my bug out cottage that drops to about 8-9 months of the year. Sure I can hack down standing dead trees but realistically how many of them will be close to me abode after a few months? Wood gathering and storing will be a continual endeavor all year-long. Collect birch and ignition materials will also be a yearlong activity. However if I can avoid chopping and processing wood when it is below minus 10C then I absolutely will. Sure that makes for great looking prepper videos but to me it means they did not prep smart.

Exercise in SHTF should be avoided and exercise in arctic temperatures should only be done in a life or death situation. Like the bears your plan should be to basically sleep through the worst of the Winter. Using wood from one or two years ago that has been stacked properly is a great idea but think for a moment. In SHTF you will probably use your entire stock of wood in the first year if you neglect to add to the supply each and every day. Like toilet paper you never, ever can store enough wood but try.

Fuel Storage

Fuel for me means wood. I do not expect gasoline or propane to be widely available in SHTF and do not construct my preps around anything that cannot be found or used 5 years down from the SHTF event(s). Wet wood needs to dry before use. Cold wood needs to be warmed before use as does kindling. You can, with effort, work around this but why even try? Your bug in or bug out place needs to be able to accommodate a large supply of wood and ignition material inside the place. Going outside in a storm is the last thing you will want to do and having an ample inside store means not opening the door and pre-warmed and dry wood. Have lots of mouse and rat traps as the critters love wood piles. In the Spring store wood at least 30 feet from your shelter. Have a wheelbarrow to help move wood and water around when there is no snow.

Water

If safe to drink then snow can easily be melted provided you have lots of wood available. Remember to add unfrozen water to the pan and add snow slowly in small amounts and stir. If can and will burn if you just dump it into the hot pan. You need to use a window or an additional chimney to direct the steam outside your shelter. Water vapor gets everywhere and moisture can kill you in SHTF. Bang a few empty cans together and use aluminum foil to funnel the rising steam into the cans. Have it open through a window and use bubble wrap and duct tape to seal. Block the inside end with cloth when not creating steam.

You should have a lot of treated water stored year round but remember to move it inside the warm room before freezing starts to occur.

Home is where the hearth is

One room is your home in the deep Winter. Heat that one room and use plastic sheets and Mylar to reflect heat back into the room and trap heat in the room. Bubble wrap should have been hoarded for all the windows before SHTF. Hand plastic sheets on both sides of all the doors and avoid using them as much as possible. Stack soil and wood around the outsides of that inner room to add insulation but make sure it is in trash bags and is dry.

Set up a tent inside this room to sleep in but, as with the plastic sheets make sure there is zero risk of a fire or a melting happening. Have several fire extinguishers and a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inside this room as well. If you cannot set up adequate ventilation do not use anything other than the fireplace to cook in. I’m using the BioLite as well as the fireplace but with the additional ventilation system for steam described above.

Plan how to gather more fuel and food in the warmer months. Figure out how to preserve that food for the next Winter. Keep mentally busy as Winter is not a great time to wander around outside when snow is on the ground. It takes far too much energy to do so and has a lot of risks.

The Roof

Have a suitably angled roof for your worst case snow fall activity. Sure you can go up a ladder and sweep it off but I can tell you a lot of elderly males get spinal injuries each and every year in Ontario from doing that. Have your roof renewed more frequently than you need as roofers will be in short supply in SHTF.

Winter SHTF is not all suffering, eh?

Can you skate and do you have frozen rivers and lakes near you? For most of Ontario’s history travel in the Winter was easier than in the Summer and this will happen again a few years into SHTF as the bridges fall and the roads fail. Good time to go out and meet the neighbors. Winter is a wonderland and a great time to think about ice fishing.

Keep a supply of pre SHTF goodies hidden away and some tinsel. December 25th or as near as you guess the date to be wrap up some presents using newspaper and eat some decent food. Sing carols and make merry. This birthday and special day celebration is what makes suffering through SHTF worth while. Never neglect to think about how to make yourself happy in SHTF even if most days it will be as awful as the weather is right now.

By Huples

 

Dehydrated Food versus Freeze Dried Food

dehydrated-or-freeze-dried

Are you curious to know the basic differences between dehydrated food and freeze dried food?

Lots of preparedness-minded people who have a so called ‘deep pantry’ and will often have a variety of foods for longer term storage including dehydrated foods and freeze dried foods.

Here are the basics regarding each process:

 

DEHYDRATED FOOD

Dehydration is the process of removing water from a substance, in this case – food. Dehydrated foods have much of their water content removed.

Many preparedness food-storage vendors sell dehydrated foods, however it also a process that you can do right in your own home with either a low-temperature oven or a purpose-built food dehydrator, similar to this one… Excalibur.

During the process, moisture is removed from the food by slowly heating it at temperatures which may range from 115-F to 155-F depending on the recommendations for the food type itself. Typically a fan circulates the air within the food dehydrator to evenly distribute the heat. The process time may range from 8 hours to 12 hours or more, depending on the moisture content of the food and other factors.

When finished, typical ‘dehydrated food’ moisture levels are reduced to levels in a range from 10 to 20 percent – depending.

Home dehydrated foods may have a ‘typical’ shelf life ranging from six months to a year, however it is fairly easy to obtain much longer shelf life for many dehydrated foods by drying them longer, keeping them in a cool-dry storage environment, and properly packaging the food (vacuum sealer).

Dehydrating at home is a great way to store extra food from your garden, or vegetables and fruits you have purchased at the market at a great ‘sale’ price.

Advantages of Dehydrated Food

No waste
Lightweight
Low moisture
Do it yourself
Long shelf life
Not easily spoiled
Costs less than freeze dried food

 

 

FREEZE DRIED FOOD

Freeze drying is also a dehydration process – with some differences which enable the food to become MUCH DRIER than dehydrated food.

The freeze-dry process is a professional process which is very expensive to reproduce at home.

The foods are processed / frozen, and during the freezing process the surrounding air pressure is reduced in a vacuum chamber to enable the (frozen) water in the food to change from a ‘solid phase’ to a ‘gas phase’ in order to remove even more moisture.

Freeze drying removes more water from foods than dehydrating (down to just a few percent!), so it lengthens the shelf life. Many vendors of freeze dried foods claim shelf life as long as 25 years.

Freeze-dried foods can taste amazingly delicious due to the unique process which retains even more flavor and nutrients.

Advantages of Freeze-dried Food

Very long shelf life
Very lightweight
Very low moisture
Reconstitutes quickly
Best way to dry meat items
Generally tastes better than dehydrated
Retains original shape, texture, color after reconstitution
Both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods have a place in one’s diversified food storage. Freeze-dried foods are more expensive although very light weight with a long shelf life. Dehydrated foods can be processed at home, albeit with a shorter shelf life.

Linked from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/survival-kitchen/dehydrated-vs-freeze-dried-foods/

4 Ways To Preserve Food In A Solar Oven

survivopedia-4-ways-for-a-solar-oven

There are many ways to preserve food, but how many of those methods transfer to your solar cooker? I decided to check things out and see whether or not you can even use it for food preservation; after all, the temperatures can be a bit erratic and heat is dependent on the sun.

It turns out that you can use your solar oven for more than just one way to preserve your food. It’s possible to can your food and dehydrate it using your solar oven. If you don’t have one, we can take care of it, just read this article to the end to find an offer you can’t miss!

Before we get into that, I’m going to quickly explain how a solar oven works. There are a variety of different ways to trap the heat, but the general idea is that you trap the heat of the sun in order to heat up your “oven” enough to cook foods.

Most solar ovens only reach 325 degrees F, maximum, on a sunny day so you do have some limitations. Also, since it’s tough to maintain a consistently high temperature, you can’t really pressure can in your solar oven.

You can cook in it, you can roast in it, you can dehydrate in it, you can even can high-acid foods in your solar oven, but it’s not safe to can low-acid foods in it. There’s no way to guarantee that the temperature will stay high enough long enough to kill the botulinum toxin that causes botulism.

Canning High-Acid Foods in a Solar Oven

Now that we’ve established that you can’t pressure can, that narrows down the list of foods that you can preserve in your solar oven. High-acid foods such as most fruits and tomatoes are safe to can in your solar oven, but you can’t can most vegetables or any meats. Unless of course you’re willing to die for it! Trust me, botulism is no fun.

If you’re canning tomatoes, it’s still a good idea to add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice just to boost the acid content. Fruits that are low-acid include:

  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Papaya
  • Ripe pineapple (I know – this one surprised me, too!)
  • Persimmons

These fruits shouldn’t be canned in your solar cooker because there’s not enough acid in them to kill the bad bacteria.

acid-foods

To use your solar oven to can, it’s important that you start in the morning on a clear day so that you have plenty of time to get it warmed up and give your cans plenty of time to process.

Start by sterilizing your jars and equipment so that you reduce the risk of contaminating your canned goods with bacteria. Prepare your fruit just as you would for regular canning.

Just as you do when canning in a water bath, fill your jars with fruit, sugar (if you want) and water or juice. Slide your spatula down the sides to get as much air as possible out. Leave the head room at the top of the jar as recommended by the instructions for your particular fruit. You may want to leave a quarter of an inch or so more than recommended.

Place your jars in your solar oven and close the lid. Once the proper temperature has been reached, the fruits will begin to boil in the jars. Process according to the recommended time for what you’re canning, starting at the time that it boils.

Remove your jars carefully as they will be hot. Not only are you in danger of burning yourself, but the jars are also more fragile because they’re hot and pressurized. Set them somewhere where there won’t be a draft, cover them with a towel, and let them cool naturally.

To test if they sealed after the jars are cool, gently press down on the center of the seal. If it pops back up, your jars didn’t seal. You need to re-can them, or eat that jar within the next few days. I hate re-canning fruit because it gets soggy, so unless I’m making jam or jelly, I usually just eat it or give it to family or friends.

Personally, I would recommend starting with a small batch so that if things go wrong, you don’t lose a whole batch of fruit. I do this any time I try something new with canning because, even if I grow my own, it’s still labor-intensive and I don’t want to waste all my hard work. In this case, the heat source isn’t costing you anything, so what do you have to lose.

Note: I’ve seen some instructions on the internet that say it’s OK to allow your food to boil out of the jars, but as a long-time canner, that goes against what I’ve always been taught. Follow that advice at your own discretion, but I wouldn’t do it.

Dry Canning

I haven’t seen anything yet about dry canning in a solar oven, but it seems to me as if it would work, if you’re a person that dry cans in the oven.

Personally, I’ve used the oven method and it worked just fine, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in a solar oven. Just keep the temp low – below 250 degrees or so.

Dehydrating Food in a Solar Oven

A solar oven is excellent for dehydrating food – the only trick is to keep the temperature low enough that you don’t cook it instead of dehydrating it. Prepare your meat, fruits, or vegetables just as you would for the dehydrator and place them on a sheet or, even better, on a drying wrack.

Put the pan or drying rack in the solar oven and leave it in there at a low temp of no more than 150 degrees until it reaches the crisp phase. Remember that your meat or produce needs to be sliced thinly before dehydrating. Flip your product from side to side every couple of hours so that it dehydrates evenly. Turn your dehydrator accordingly, too.

After you dehydrate your food, you could also dry can them in order to extend the shelf life.

Fruit Leather

Your solar oven would be a good way to make fruit leather, too. Prepare your fruit by creating a smooth paste. Add sugar to the mix if you’d like, but if you’re using super-ripe fruit, which is the best type to use for fruit leather, you probably won’t need any.

Again, you don’t want to cook the fruit; you want to dehydrate it, so you don’t want to let your solar cooker get too hot. Spread parchment paper on a cookie sheet, or whatever type of pan will fit in your cooker, then spread the fruit puree in a thin layer on the paper. Dry as long as needed to make it like leather. It will still be flexible and slightly sticky, but should stay together in a sheet.

The only downside to making fruit leather in a solar oven is that you can only make a small amount at a time unless you have a way to stack the racks. Since we’re preppers and homesteaders, that shouldn’t be a problem, though!

You can only use your solar oven for a couple of food preservation methods, but even if you only can your jellies in it, you’ll be saving a ton of wood if you’re canning openly in a SHTF situation.

Linked from: http://www.survivopedia.com/how-to-use-a-solar-oven-for-preserving-foods/

7 Mouth-Watering Recipes To Cook In The Sun

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Cooking with a solar oven is a great alternative when you don’t have (or don’t want to use) electricity. Just remember there are some big differences between the different types of solar ovens available on the market.

With just a little practice, cooking on a solar oven is a piece of cake, and these seven recipes are exactly what you’ll need to prepare a good meal.

And if you’re wondering how could I proceed all these mouth-watering recipes without a proper oven, keep reading the article below, because we have a great offer up for grabs!

Follow These 10 Advice for the Best Solar Oven Cooking!

Since there are so many variations of solar ovens, it’s hard to set any hard and fast rules but there are some dos and don’ts that are applicable to pretty much all of them.

Don’t Assume you’re Invisible

One of the reasons that solar ovens are good is because they’re smokeless; they operate solely off the power of the sun. However, most ovens depend on a shiny surface to reflect the sun to cook the food (think 80s-style tanning with the silver tray under your face).

This means that you have a reflective surface that is easily seen from up to miles away depending upon how flat your geography is. Though there won’t be smoke, there will be shiny, so make sure that if you’re using your oven and trying to hide that you are completely surrounded in such a manner that it can’t be seen from a hilltop or anywhere else.

You won’t be able to do much about planes and you can’t (generally) use it in the dark, but you may be able to position it in such a way that you can use it without giving away your location. Just plan carefully.

Don’t be in a Hurry and Start Early

Many solar ovens don’t get super-hot, so you’re going to need to allow plenty of time to warm it up and then more extra time to cook. Food will likely take longer to cook in a solar oven, though that won’t always be the case.

If you’re planning a meal such as beans or stew that takes hours to cook, you need to start the meal early. Remember that you can’t typically use your solar oven after dusk because, well, it’s powered by the sun.

weather

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

Remember, you’re counting on the sun. If it’s raining, you better have back-up rations if solar cooking is your only heat source. As a matter of fact, let’s make that a subsection here: Always have a backup cooking method.

If it’s smoggy or hazy, your food won’t cook as quickly and you’ll have to pay closer attention to make sure that your oven is pointed in the right direction.

Don’t Waste Food or Heat

Don’t waste food scraps or that precious heat – if you’re cooking supper tonight and planning a soup for tomorrow, use the leftover veggie and meat scraps to make a stock for tomorrow’s soups.

Put them in a jar or two, add salt or some vinegar or wine to pull the calcium out of the bones and into your stock, season it and toss it on the cooker

Don’t Forget to Level Your Oven

You’ve bought a super fancy oven, and you’re all excited to give it a shot. It’s set up and ready to go and you’re going to try something quick and easy – cookies.

You warm up your oven, you mix up your dough, you place the cookies on the sheet and slide it into the oven. Now all you have to do is wait, and you’re going to have ooey, gooey, deliciously crispy cookies.

You come back 20 minutes later and you have long, oval, thin cookies, which are crispy and delicious, but ugly as a mud fence in a rain storm because you forgot to level your oven. Now, the end result here is just ugly cookies, but if you were cooking cornbread or a pie, you would have had a mess on your hands.

So, the moral of the crooked cookie story is this: Level your solar oven!

Do Turn Your Cooker

Especially if you’re using a box cooker, it’s important that you turn it as you cook in order to increase efficiency. This isn’t as important if you’re cooking something quickly but if you’re cooking for longer periods of times (more than an hour), you definitely want to turn your solar oven in order to get the most out of it.

If you have to be away from your cooker for more than an hour or so and your food is going to take a few hours, point it to where it the sun will be directly on it in an hour and a half or so. As with all things survival and homesteading related, use your head and adapt to how long you’re going to be away.

Do Cook in Black Pans

Because you’re using reflection to direct your heat, it only makes sense that you use a non-reflective, heat-absorbing cooking vessel. A thin, black metal is best because it’s lightweight and dark colored. Cast iron is also good for a couple of reasons. First, it’s black and absorbs heat. Second, the iron holds heat for a long time.

As a matter of fact, even when I’m making cakes or cornbread in my iron skillet in a regular oven, I take it out a few minutes before it’s completely done because it holds so much heat that it keeps cooking for several minutes after the heat source is eliminated. The downside to iron skillets is that they’re heavy.

If you can’t use black cookware, use glass. Using aluminum or stainless steel is counterproductive. Never cover your food with foil.

Add Reflective Panels to Cook While You Bake

If you really want to crank up the temperature to fry foods, add additional reflectors that reflect the sun directly onto the food as well as the ones used to heat the oven. Elevate a shallow pan so that it touches the glass, then attach the three-panel reflector to aim the extra light onto your food. You can even do this while baking other products inside the rest of the oven.

Build Your Oven According to Your Needs

If you’re still experimenting with solar cooking, get the function down before you worry about a solid, permanent form. Also, if you just want to cook for yourself, you won’t need a full-sized cooker.

Do you want it to be portable? Do you want to cook for a large family? What size pans will you be using? Your cooker needs to have at least an inch headspace above your pot, including the lid. Build according to what you need.

Do Build in Security

If you’re building your own solar oven and it’s going to be substantial (not made from a pizza box) build in a way to padlock it to something larger. For example, you could build a place to attach a padlock to the hinges of a box cooker.

Time Your Cooking Accordingly

Just like when you’re cooking inside, don’t add carrots and spinach to a soup at the same time and expect them to cook evenly. Add hard vegetables first, and if you’re cooking more than one dish, start the one that takes longest to cook before you start the faster-cooking one.

dos-and-donts-of-cooking-on-solar-oven

Just use your cooking common sense that you use in the kitchen. If you don’t have any yet, you quickly will, as we help you cook your first meal on a solar oven with these 7 recipes.

And Finally, 7 Survival Recipes to Cook on Your Solar Oven

Though you can convert many of your own personal favorites and use them with your solar oven, these recipes are written specifically for that cooking method. Some of these recipes for solar ovens are basics, and some are for more luxurious dishes, but even in a survival situation, tasty treats can go a long way toward boosting morale.

After all, who doesn’t feel a little better after eating a good brownie?

Remember that times are going to be different depending upon how hot your oven gets. Some can get as hot as 425 degrees while some can barely break 325. Because of that, take the times with a grain of salt and start checking your food 5 minutes of so before the time listed to see if it’s done.

Fresh Baked Bread

This recipe will yield two loaves of bread or about 24 rolls. Remember that, unlike biscuits, the more you knead bread, the better it will be because kneading activates the gluten, which provides the elasticity.

  • oven-bread6 c bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 2 1/2 c very warm water (not hot!)
  • 2 packets quick rise yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Stir the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and set aside so that it can activate.

Sift together the flour, salt and sugar, than add the butter or oil and the yeasty water. Stir together, then mix in the remaining water 1/2 cup at a time until your bread is kneadable but not sticky. You can do this in a bowl or on a lightly floured surface.

Continue to knead by folding the dough in half on itself and pushing together until your dough is elastic and shapes easily into a loaf. If you need to add a bit more flour or water to reach a good consistency, do so. Count on kneading for at least 5 minutes, and maybe even 10.

Place in a warm place, rub a tsp of oil over the top, and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise until it doubles in size, then punch in down, knead it just a bit more, then divide your loaves or rolls, place in bread pans, and allow to rise again. Place in your sun oven, which is hopefully around 300 to 325 degrees F, and bake for about 45 minutes.

Tap on your bread and if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

Pot Roast

  • 3 pound rump roast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 carrots, cut into 2 inch chucks
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c beef broth (or 2 cups water with 2 bouillon cubes)

Put the roast in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add the veggies around the roast and then pour the bouillon in. Place in your solar oven and bake for 3 hours or until tender.

Meatloaf

  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¾ c rolled oats or breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl thoroughly then place in a loaf pan. Bake in solar oven at 350 for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until meat reaches 160 degrees inside.

Barbeque Chicken

Great served with fresh vegetables, corn on the cob and cornbread. You can also serve it with rice to feed more people. However you want to serve it, it’s delicious!

  • 6 chicken quarters or breasts, or a dozen legs
  • 1/2 c vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for chicken. Just FYI, this is a good sauce to make ahead and can! Place chicken on a baking sheet and paint the sauce onto the chicken. You could marinate it in it for an hour if you’d like.

Place the chicken in the solar oven at about 325 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, saucing again about half way through. Chicken should be 165 degrees F in the center, not on the bone. A good tip is that the chicken will pull easily away from the bone.

Solar Brownies

Brownies are one of those comfort foods that will definitely boost morale with very little work, time, or special ingredients. Makes 1 8×8 pan or 4 pint jars.

  • 2 c sugarbrownies
  • 2 c white all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c dark cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts, optional

Cream sugar, shortening and vanilla together in a bowl, then beat in the eggs.

Add dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth – about 2 minutes.

Fold in nuts if you’re using them. Feel free to toss in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, or whatever else you like in your brownies. Batter will be thick.

Pour into a greased and floured 8×8 pan and bake in solar oven at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.

Note: If you’d like to make these ahead in pint jars, simply combine dry ingredients well and add to jars. Write complete recipe on an index card and attach to the jar. To extend shelf-life, dry-can.

Apple Crisp

Apple trees grow naturally and prolifically in every state in America, so this is a dessert that will barely touch your food supplies in the fall. It’s also extremely easy to make and, except for the peeling process, it’s not difficult to make enough to feed many people. You can also rehydrate dried apples to make it.

Filling:

  • 6 c apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/3 in slices
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 c water
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

I always keep apple pie seasoning on hand and use this in replace of the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Topping:

  • 1 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c cold butter

Place apples in a large bowl and sprinkle in the lemon juice. Toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to coat the apples. Pour into an 8×12 pan and cover with a lid. Bake in solar oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until apples are almost tender.

Combine topping ingredients by cutting together into pea-sized pieces with a fork or pastry cutter. Remove the lid from the apples and sprinkle the topping evenly over them. Put it back in the solar oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping is brown and crispy and the apples are tender. Warm, homey, nutritious (for a dessert) and comforting.

To make peach crisp, simply substitute the same amount of peaches for the apples.

You can also make this by using your canned apple pie filling and skipping the first stage of cooking.

Cornbread

This is a dish that every survivalist and homesteader should know. It can be used as a bread or as a dessert – serve it with butter as a savory side for meals, or slather it with jam as a delicious dessert.

  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c milk or buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients thoroughly then add butter, eggs, and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake in solar oven at the highest temperature for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If your oven doesn’t get that hot, just extend cooking time until it’s done. The top should be a good indicator of when it’s done as it will brown fairly evenly as it cooks.

Buttermilk adds tenderness and lightness to batter because the acids chemically interact with the baking powder or baking soda. If you want the tang of buttermilk but only have 2 percent or whole milk, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to it and let it set for a few minutes before adding to the mix. It won’t have the thick creaminess of buttermilk, but will function the same.

Remember that for all of these recipes, you can use dry milk, canned or dried meat, fruit, or vegetables, and powdered butter and eggs. Just reconstitute according to directions and you’re good to go!

For the most part, cooking with a solar oven is extremely similar to cooking with a regular oven, except you may have to cook things longer. Nearly all of your favorite recipes, especially crock pot recipes, will translate right over.

Linked from: http://www.survivopedia.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-solar-oven-cooking-plus-7-recipes/

Wilderness Survival food

It is essential to understand where to find survival food, even food is the least pressing wilderness survival need. With plenty of water and a comfortable resting place, most of us can live many weeks without food.

However, food is important for your mental and emotional state, as well as a source of energy and to maintain a normal body temperature.

Natural food

natural food

In a survival situation, you have to take advantage of everything available to eat. Most wilderness areas are full of natural food, ranging from plants to insects. The food sources you can exploit are determined by the habitat you are in. Vary your diet to make sure you get the appropriate proportions of fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

Meat and fish are good sources of protein and fat and provide virtually everything a long-term survivor would need. However, at the first stage of a survival situation, plants are the most appropriate diet as plants are easily accessible and contain the necessary carbohydrates.

Wild edible plants

Depending of the time of the year you will almost always find edible plants, unless you are in the middle of an arid desert. Knowledge of only one or two wild edible plants can be of great help in your search for survival food. Learn more about eating wild plants.

Edible insects

Your most vital nutritional needs in a survival situation are protein and fat. Most insects are rich in both. Turn off your cultural bias against eating insects. Edible bugs are good “survival food“.

Fishing

Fish are a valuable food source. Therefore, if you are near a river or stream, fishing is an important alternative to obtain food. Learn different simple methods of catching fish.

Trapping

Unless you are an experienced hunter, hunting animals for meat is inadvisable in a survival situation. Hunting is difficult and you will expend a lot of energy to get your food. Instead of hunting consider trapping. Trapping requires less skill and leaves you free to spend time searching for other food sources. The wilderness survivor needs simple traps that are easy to remember and easy to construct.

Bird eggs

Eggs offer high nutritional value, are convenient and safe. They can be boiled, baked or fried. The first obvious place to look for them is a bird nest. However, not all birds build a nest, but instead lay their eggs directly on the ground or in a hole.

Reminder: Collecting wild bird eggs are not allowed in most countries. Eating wild bird eggs should only be considered in a wilderness survival situation.

Methods of cooking

Cooking is a skill of great importance for all wilderness travelers. Cooking not only makes many foods more appetizing to taste, but also ensure that parasites and bacteria are killed. You don’t want to get sick from food poisoning.

A compact camping stove is very convenient in the wilderness. However, in many situations, a cooking fire is more practical and allows a wider variety of cooking opportunities. As a survival skill, you should also be able to prepare your food without any cooking utensils.

Natural food sources

When you learn more about how to find food in the wilderness you also learn more about the nature itself. The more you learn, the more you will love and enjoy the great nature we have.

Hunting and Getting Food When SHTF

The first thing many think they will do to feed themselves when SHTF is grab ole Betsy and head to the woods to kill a bar’.

While this isn’t a bad idea in and of itself, but if you live near any kind of population center, you will be in direct competition with every Tom, Dick and Harry that owns a gun.

So how do we get food during SHTF?

Hunting
Yes, hunting will be viable in some cases, either where there are fewer people for competition, or when done in conjunction with other food gathering activities and taking targets of opportunity when they present themselves. 
Out in the wilderness, in many cases you will spend more calories hunting than you eat from actually getting something. Best to hunt while gathering food in other manners.
Trapping
Trapping will usually put more meat on your table than any other activity, with the possible exception of fishing. You set the trap and it works for you 24/7 until it connects. 
You only have to glance at it once it is set, to see if you need to pick up your food and reset it , or move along to the next one. 

Foraging
A vegetarian would have a hard time keeping themselves fed in the wild. While wild foods are not too difficult to come by, it is hard to get enough calories to maintain yourself if you are going to do anything besides gather food. A good field guide and time spent online familiarizing yourself with the local flora will help immensely. No one wants a diet of exclusively dandelion greens; because that is all you know how to identify.

If you have edible nuts in your area gather as many as you can find, since they are high in calories and fat, things you need to eat a lot of to keep going in the wild.

foraging
Fishing
If you have good fishing waters, you can feed yourself for a long time on the fish they will provide. A well stocked fishing kit (hooks and line) should be in everyone’s kit. If you are planning on only hunting for your food, you have a faulty plan. 
But if you plan for diversifying our gathering capabilities, you have a much better chance of feeding yourself and your family no matter what happens.

How To Choose The ‘Perfect’ Location For Your Off Grid Homestead or Community

What exactly is “the perfect off the grid location to build your cabin? Well, ideally there are some things to look for in a piece of property that make it a good off the grid location. This is not a comprehensive guide, but only meant to give a good general point of reference to start from

In our quest for the perfect off grid location we’ve literally searched all over the United States from the East to the West. We know what we want, and we know what we need, but finding a good balance between the necessities and comforts and balancing that with budget and location sometimes is difficult. Like most folks, we can’t afford a huge piece of land, nor can we be too picky about the land we buy.

First determine your needs. What do you really need?

Do you need power hungry appliances, central heat and air, and all the luxuries of a tradition suburban home? Not really. So you make a list of things you “need” to survive in the wilderness in order of importance.

Going into this with an open minds is important, but also with a realistic point of view. It’s not going to be easy, it will probably take longer than you think, it will probably be more expensive than you think, but it’s probably going to be a lot better than how you’re living now.

cabon

“The perfect off the grid location” doesn’t exist in a one-size-fits-all package. The point being it’s all about personal preference and what you feel you need, versus what you want balanced by your goals.

Goals are relatively simple; to become 100% self sufficient, spend more quality time together with family, and experience to good things in life without having to worry about the mortgage, bills, and whether you’ll have a job next month.

Like most folks, you probably want to be independent, yet, you may want to keep the social aspect of living in a community of like minded individuals with similar goals.

So, you ask yourself what you really truly need.

NEEDS: The “Holy Trinity” of survival.

  • #1 – Water: No animal on Earth can live without water, and we’re no different; this is why it’s #1 on my list instead of shelter. You’ll need a local water source, river, stream, lake, pond, spring, etc. Or you’ll need a machine to produce water, and a large plastic container for water storage.
  • #2 – Shelter: Technically in a milder climate you don’t even really need shelter, maybe a wind break or lean-to would be sufficient for survival. But in most areas, a shelter is needed for protection from the environment.
  • #3 – Food: We have to eat to live, so look for an area that in an emergency situation wild game and/or local plants can be harvested for food. Also choose an area the lends itself to growing your own food either in the ground, or in a greenhouse. I personally like a hydroponic/aquaponic system myself. It’s efficient and you can grow food almost in any climate with current technology.

That’s really it. The property you choose must have these 3 resources available to produce them from the land without importing them. There are very few place on Earth where this is NOT a possibility. So what does that mean?

With current technology, and the knowledge of traditional building and survival techniques, you can live almost anywhere on the planet except maybe the North and South poles. There are even people in South America (and other parts of the world) who build their homes on the water! Talk about off the grid… WOW!

OK, since you can pretty much build anywhere on Earth, the question is not whether it can be done, but what you personally prefer. Some people love cold weather and the snow, others prefer the desert heat, while still others like milder tropical zones.

Once you figure your “needs”, you then list your “wants”. This of course varies widely.

WANTS:

  • Amenities & Luxury: Electricity, hot and cold running water, major appliances, TV, internet, cable, satellite,  comfortable furniture, etc.

  • Large Land: A nice big parcel of land to expand and build. You don’t “need” a big parcel, but we’d like one large enough to experiment with different building techniques, and grow our ranch.

  • Affordability: Anyone can go crazy and buy an outrageously expensive piece of property, but the point of living off the grid for us means not having a massive mortgage payment each month and being completely self-sufficient. We’d like a piece of property that’s affordable which we can pay off within a couple few years, this way we can concentrate on the important things like FAMILY for example. This limits the land selection somewhat, but, it also opens doors to things that might normally be overlooked for a good off grid location to build on.

    Practicality becomes the determining factor at that point.  Most people will need a job to live and pay for their normal bills, but for us, the goal is 100% self-sufficiency.

    To do that, we must have a home based business, and be able to make our living off the land, literally. Some folks will opt into working a 9-5 until they can become self sufficient.

    It helps that we’re experienced and have owned our own successful company before. It’s imperative that we are able to make a living from home to be completely off grid. This doesn’t mean if you live off grid that you wouldn’t be contributing to society mind you. Creating products and providing services for the local economy is part of the plan.

    The Internet:

    The advent of the internet and high technology is enabling people to rethink the way we live as a society, and is bringing with it major cultural change. It’s now possible to not just survive off grid, but to thrive and live very well. The internet allow one to reach literally hundreds of millions of people all over the world. This expands everyone’s horizons and provides opportunity such that has never been seen before in the history of humankind.

    Hi-Tech Off Grid Living

    Combining high technology with an internet based business, means you can literally live just about anywhere on the planet. Now that people can do this I believe it will contribute greatly to the overall economic stability of the entire populace, including the local and world community, especially if one is contributing to society with their valuable products and services.

    Start a Home Based Business

    Living off the grid, and owning your own business (becoming self sufficient) isn’t just the American Dream, it’s the dream of millions of people. People want their independence, but they also need the social aspect of life. Having the internet provides this social connection, while allowing one to keep their private lives private.

    Our world is much smaller now that technology has made it possible to travel anywhere on the globe, and communicate with anyone, anywhere with the click of a mouse, or dialing a cell phone number.

    We’re quickly becoming a mobile society, and there are those of us who see this as an opportunity unlike anything that’s ever presented itself. to make our living while still providing for and spending valuable time with our families.

    Energy is crucial, and most off-gridders will generate their own power, so pick a place that has good wind and/or solar energy potential. This, is the most important thing next to your water source.

    So, how do you pick that perfect off the grid location?

    For example, northern Arizona has everything a person would need…except easily accessible sources of water. It has tons of Sun, trees, good cheap land, and mild winters.

    • TEMP: 22 – 91 degrees (MILD CLIMATE)
    • SUN: 77%-90% Sun (HIGH POTENTIAL)
    • WIND: 6.5 – 9 mph (HIGH POTENTIAL)
    • RAIN: .5″ – 2″ (LOW)
    • HUMIDITY (LOW to AVERAGE)

    This is just an example. Are there better places for an off grid homestead than this? Sure… But price and affordability is most probably an issue for most folks.

    • Pick an area where the property is very affordable, and not that many people have figured it out yet. If you play your cards right, perhaps you could bring business and more homesteaders and off grid people to the area and that might actually create a land rush and make our land even more valuable; we can dream right?
    • Pick a property where the potential for wind and solar energy production is great.
    • Picking a place where the climate is mild and the winters aren’t that bad, and/or  have low snowfall levels; which means you won’t have to shovel snow all day everyday just to drive around your property or go into town.
    • Pick a location is relatively near multiple popular major national parks, tourist attractions, and has LOTS of outdoor adventure activities which can be a BIG income opportunity year round if you’re creating a community. It will become a draw for people, and a source of income for your off grid community.
    • Pick a location isn’t that populated, but where cities nearby are growing, and the potential for expansion in the area is great.
    • Pick a location is close enough to major shopping destinations to resupply weekly, or if you wanted to cruise into town for dinner and a movie it’s practical.
    • Pick a place where the land is beautiful. Where it’s not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter, and there are lots of TREES and GRASS.

    To really do this, you’re going to have to change the way you live. Family is more important than paying the banks for 20 years only lose your job and your home you’ve paid on for decades. Having your property paid for so you can concentrate on enjoying your family life and making good memories is by far the most important thing.

    Going off the grid is how to do it. Living small is how to do it.

    You can do it.

Survival Gear For The Avid Hiker

So you want to go hiking…what do you do?

Just pack up a bag with some water and food, then you’re good to go?
Completely wrong!

Survival gear is necessary to go on a safe and fun backpacking adventure.

Can you imagine going out on a trail or even off trail, something terrible happening, and you don’t have any survival gear with you?

More than likely you will not have cell phone service, so there won’t be a way to contact anyone for help!

This is where that essential gear comes into play. You want to be prepared in all situations.

The typical hiker pretty much has the same list of items that are important to have on you first and foremost.

Stay with me and I’ll guide you through the most important items to pack up in that backpack!

 

Food:

Always bring along plenty of food with you.

Most experienced hikers recommend bringing at least an extra day’s worth of food.
This can be in the form of dehydrated foods, freeze dried foods, protein bars, canned foods, etc.

Keep in mind that you do have to carry everything that you bring, so be mindful of how heavy the food is.
This is why most backpackers bring the freeze dried and dehydrated foods; it is very light weight.

 

Water:

Bring your water bottles full of water, but not too much!
Water is heavy but essential.

More than likely, you’ll start out with a couple bottles of water and then you’ll have some way to filter water along the way.

This can be in the form of boiling water to drink, using specific tablets to make the water safe, or even purchasing a small pump water filter that way you can filter any water along the way and bring it along with you!

 

Shelter:

There are a number of ways to create your own shelter while hiking.

The most popular is a small tent.
(Remember, you’ll be carrying this, so don’t go out and get a huge tent. There are small hiking specific tents that are light weight)

Another option is a tarp that you will be able to hang over some cording and just do a makeshift shelter to protect you from any rain.

Lastly, a newly popular option are the camping hammocks that roll up to be small and fit right in your bag.

Most of these camping hammocks come with a rain guard or you can get one, that goes over the top of the hammock to protect you from rain and other elements.

Clothing:

You may not think is very important, but the type of clothing you bring or pack is extremely important.

NO COTTONS!

It is important to wear/bring synthetic clothing. Not only does it breathe and wick away moisture, but it has a quick drying time.

If you’re sweating during the day and your clothes do not have enough time to dry, when nighttime comes and it gets cool outside, it is dangerous for your survival to be cold and wet.

The different types and pieces of clothing that are good for hiking could be a whole write up in itself.

If you’re really serious about hiking, you’ll want to research more on the weather you’ll be dealing with and what clothes should be worn.

 

Light:

There are no streetlights in the mountains, desert, or wherever you’ll be hiking.

Bring flashlights, headlamps or any light source you prefer!

Just be sure to bring extra batteries to power up your source of light!

 

First Aid:


Bring a thorough first aid kit and don’t skimp on this!

You never know when this may come in handy.

A Way to Navigate:
The best forms of navigation to have and to learn are a compass and a map.

This could also be in the form of a handheld GPS (Don’t rely on your phone)

Heat Source:

Have a way to build a fire!

Bring along matches and/or a lighter. (I’d recommend bringing both, just in case)


For those who are really into survival, you can get a fire starter for those emergency moments.

Not only is fire essential for nighttime, but it can also deter animals, be used to cook your food, boil water, and provide warmth for cooler nights.

Tools:

The type of tools you bring are really your preference, but I’d recommend a multi tool and definitely a knife of some sort.
Having a repair kit for your gear could be handy too in case something breaks, you get a tear in your tent, etc.

Protection From The Sun:

Can’t stress this one enough! Bring your sunscreen!

Getting completely burnt on the first day of a hike can ruin the whole trip!

You’ll also want to bring your sunglasses or a hat for extra protection.

As you can see, packing up for a big or small hiking trip is not as simple as bringing some food and water.
It is my hope that this list of survival gear sheds some light on what all you should be packing up in that bag.

Maybe you thought of some of these or maybe some of these were a complete shock to you, but we urge you to get all of these before you set foot on the trails.

Keep in mind, there are SO many other different items that are very important to bring along with you on a hike, but we wanted to cover the items that you definitely can’t go without!

Survival gear is not just for crazy natural disaster emergencies…even a fun activity such as hiking requires gear to ensure your safety!

Pack up and hit the trails now that you’ve got your top essentials!
Safe is fun!

How to Make Your Own Compost

Compost-facebook

How to Make Your Own Compost

Well, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy drying herbs for the winter as well as getting my yard in general ready for winter. But I have time right now, so I figured I would write about How to Make Your Own Compost. Here is the information on that, in outline form (as a teacher and eternal student, I can’t help it).

 

1) Structures:

*There are many different ways to keep your compost, including the following:

A) Wire, Wood, or Cinder block structures:

Wire Structure for Compost

*use one of these products to form a square or circular shape, but leave an opening (ex: 3 sided square with 4th side open for easy access)

*with this structure, you turn compost ingredients with a garden fork to help the decomposition process

*this is a clean-looking way and yet also traditional-ish way to keep compost (compared to the other options)

Cinder Block Structure for Compost

B) Pit or Pile composting:

*dig a hole 2-3 feet deep and unlined. Add compost ingredients until the pit is filled. Cover the compost with soil and allow it to decompose. When ready, unearth the compost and use.

*piles work only if you are diligent about turning your pile and keeping it moist. This is not an attractive option but it is the cheapest.

C) Buy a ready-made compost bin from a garden supply shop

*be careful to buy a proper product (organic, etc.).

*Here are a few ideas for you: (1) Tumbling Composter (2) Gallon-Sized Compost Bucket

 

2) Creating the Compost:

A) Place several small twigs in the bottom of your chosen structure. This provides air pockets at the bottom for proper decomposition.

B) Add a layer of soil, about 8-10 inches deep.

C) Cover the soil with 4-6 inches of manure. Use whatever type of livestock manure is available to you, but make sure it is from a good organic source. Do NOT use dog or cat manure. The more aged the manure, the faster it will compost.

D) Add additional items such as:
*vegetable scraps
*fruit trimmings/scraps
*grains
*egg shells
*tea/tea leaves
*leaves
*garden trimmings
*grass clippings

E) Do NOT add the following items to your compost:
*meat scraps
*excessive dairy products (a little bit is okay)
*trimmings from diseased plants

F) Add a 6 inch layer of soil and a 2-4 inch layer of manure every 24 inches to ensure a healthy compost. It should look like this:



3) Activating the Compost:

*To help speed up the process, you can activate your compost in the following ways:

A) You can buy compost activator products from garden shops (like this one).

B) Make your own activator:

Make a compost tea and add to your compost once every 3 months. Wear gloves while doing this. Also, this recipe makes enough for a 64 cubic foot compost pile.
*6 cups dried or 12 cups fresh nettles (find good quality dried nettles here)
*6 cups dried or 12 cups fresh comfrey leaves (find good quality dried comfrey here)
*2 cups flaked or powdered kelp
*1 cup liquid fish emulsion
Put all ingredients into a 5 gallon bucket and fill the bucket with water. Allow the mixture to sit in a warm place for 4-8 hours. Pour all contents of buck into the compost pile.

4) Working the Compost:

A) Turning the compost:
*Turn your compost once a month in warm and hot weather. In colder months, turning is less crucial. Turn with a shovel or a garden fork. The goal is to flip the pile. As you turn the pile, you may find a small amount of rich, dark brown soil at the bottom. This pile of compost is ready to use but may also be mixed into the pile for later use.

B) Water the compost:
*This is an important part of the compost’s quality. The compost should stay evenly moist, NOT soaking wet or dried out. Simply water with a hose as evenly as possible.

5) Using Your Compost:

*Once the material is ready for use, apply 1-3 inches to the top of your garden soil. Work it into the soil until it is well mixed. It is ideal to add the compost in the spring, but you can really add it at any time. After mixing it into the soil, water the garden thoroughly.

 

Enjoy the healthy plants that this compost will surely help you get! :)

Linked from: http://www.thehomesteadgarden.com/howtomakeyourowncompost/

How to Make Your Own Compost

How To Get Water From A Tree – Survival

 

1- Burdock

If you’ve ever been out in the woods and gathered the little burrs on your socks that annoy the crap out of you, you’ve encountered burdock. Those burrs are the seeds of the burdock plant, and are actually the inspiration behind the invention of velcro! While you wouldn’t want to eat the burrs, the root of the plant is quite edible. Soak the roots in water for 5-10 minutes to remove any muddy, pungent taste, and then boil them for 5-10 minutes (in clean water). They have a mild, sweet flavor. Dried burdock root is also considered a diuretic (increases urine production), diaphoretic (increases sweat production), and a blood purifying agent, and has been used as a holistic detoxifying agent for those reasons.

burdock

2- Chickweed

Also called “chickenwort” or “winterweed,” chickweed is a cool season plant found throughout most parts of North America and Europe. It can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked like spinach. You can eat the leaves, flowers and stems, though you should probably cook the fuzzy stems. Chickweed also contains a chemical compound called saponin, and can be toxic if eaten in large quantities, so eat it sparingly. It has been said that the plant has been used to relieve rheumatic, arthritic and period pains, and a poultice made from chickweed can be used to help heal cuts, burns, bruises and even mange.
chickweed

3- Elderberries

Elderberry plants are members of the honeysuckle family and can grow up to 13 feet tall. Their berries and flowers grow together in clusters. The blue and purple colored berries are edible, but the red berries will make you sick. The white flower petals can also be eaten raw or steeped into a fragrant tea. You can also take the entire flower cluster, dip it in a tempura-style batter, and fry the whole thing. The berries and flowers are also used in herbal cold medicines.

elderberries1

4- Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are quarter-sized green offshoots of the fern plant. They can be found in the wild primarily in the Northeast and around the Great Lakes region of North America. Left alone, they will unfurl as a new shoot from the plant. A word of caution – fiddleheads contain a mild toxin that will cause a severe upset stomach. However, cooking the plant will kill the toxin and make it safe to eat. Boil for 5 minutes or steam for 10, then sautee. Fiddleheads taste like a cross between asparagus and fresh green beans.
fiddleheads

5- Lavender

While it can be found in many planted landscapes, lavender can also be found in the wild. It has a sweet, perfumy flavor with a slight notes of citrus and can be eaten raw or steeped into a fragrant tea. Lavender is often used in cookies, jelly, wine, sauces, and custards. The blossoms are also a sweet addition to champagne. Lavender has also been used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, depression and a variety of digestive issues.

lavender

6- Miner’s Lettuce

Miner’s lettuce got its name from the Gold Rush miners who (after learning the trick from the local Indians) used to eat the wild plant to stave off scurvy. Reminiscent of spinach, the plant is chock full of vitamins, deliciously crunchy, mild-tasting, and remains tender even when in flower. Although pictures usually show miner’s lettuce with a round leaf with a flower stalk in the center, early in the season the leaves are more likely to be spade-shaped. Eat the leaves raw. It’s so delicious, there’s no reason to do it any other way.

miners-lettuce

7- Palm Hearts

Also called “swamp cabbage,” palm hearts are harvested from the inner cores of palm trees. Palm hearts are rich in protein, iron and fiber. They can be eaten chilled in salad, braised,deep-fried, stir-fried, sauteed or boiled. Pale in color, palm hearts have a tender, delicate flavor, similar to a mild artichoke or coconut. Many upscale restaurants around the world serve hearts of palm fresh, crispy and crunchy in mixed salads and also prepared with seafood. To get to the edible palm hearts, simply peel away the outer layers. I say “simply”, but to be quite honest, I’m sure it’s not very easy to do.
palm-hearts

8- Pecans

Most people, especially in the Southern US, know all about pecans. If you’ve ever seen a pecan, even on top of a pie, you’d easily recognize one again. Harvesting pecans that have fallen to the ground is pains-taking, back breaking work, but is so worth it in the end (trust me – I’m speaking from lots of experience). Once found and broken free of their hard outer shell, pecans can be eaten raw. If they have a slight bitter taste, they probably don’t have all of the inner shell removed, but it’s nothing to worry about. You can also roast pecans over a fire to enhance their flavor and bring out some of the natural oils of the nut.
pecans

9- Stinging Nettles

Nettles usually appear in the same places year after year. They are covered with tiny, nearly invisible stinging hairs that produce an intense, stinging pain, followed by redness and continued skin irritation. However, if you find them and can harvest them without getting “stung”, these plants are edible. Once cooked, they lose their sting as the hairs are cooked off of them. They can be steamed, boiled or sauteed. They are full of vitamins and minerals, and are actually a decent source of protein, too! They have a very mild woodsy flavor.

nettles

10- Wild Ginger

Wild ginger grows in colonies on forest floors underneath trees. The leaves grow in pairs, and are heart-shaped and have the appearance of ivy. During the early spring, you may find flowers growing from the crotch of the leaf pairs. These flowers are very unique and have no actual petals, but are burgandy in appearance. The roots of the plant can be eaten as a ginger substitute and the leaves can be steeped into a tea. HOWEVER- eat wild ginger in strict moderation. Do NOT eat it by the handfuls as there is a slight toxic quality when eaten in large quantities. Think of it more as a seasoning for your wild edible salad instead of a main ingredient.

wild-ginger

WARNING: Identification and use of wild plants requires particular care and attention. Never eat any plant unless you are absolutely sure that it is edible! It is a good idea to cross-reference your knowledge with a book written by an expert. The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The author assumes no responsibility whatsoever for any adverse effects encountered by the individual. Please harvest wild edibles at your own risk! As with any foraged food, make sure the plant has not been sprayed with any chemicals and is not growing anywhere that toxic waste is dumped. Try to avoid plants grown too close to the roadways as they tend to contain too much dust and automotive exhaust.

Linked from: http://survivalathome.com/10-more-wild-plants-you-can-eat/

5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DEHYDRATED AND FREEZE-DRIED FOOD

When it comes to storing food long term, the age-old question keeps coming up: freeze-dried or dehydrated?

Both can work as part of your emergency food storage, but there are key differences between the two that could make one better than the other for your particular circumstances. Check out these differences and then choose the option that’s best for you.

 

Shelf Life

IMG_4120 - Dehydrated and Freeze-driedMoisture content plays a huge impact on shelf life. The more moisture, the less amount of time it will last. With that in mind, it’s time to compare the moisture content of dehydrated and freeze-dried food.

Dehydrated food can lose quite a bit of moisture–up to 95 percent! However, do-it-yourself home dehydrators may only remove 70% or a food’s water, leaving it with a shelf life of only one year on average. However, most top end dehydrated food will still maintain a shelf life of even longer, up to 15 years or more.

Freeze-dried food, on the other hand, is much more suitable for long-term storage. Getting rid of 98-99 percent of moisture gives freeze-dried food a much lengthier shelf life. Our freeze-dried food has a shelf life of 25 years or more.

While both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods can have long shelf lives, freeze-dried food is definitely superior when it comes to long-term storage. In both cases, however, cooler temperatures will help lengthen their shelf life. We recommend storing your food in temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Preparation

Water_poured_in_5 - Dehydrated and Freeze-driedFreeze-dried meals prepare easily. Since everything is pre-cooked, all you need to do is add water, wait a few minutes, and your food is ready for eating! Best of all, it tastes just like it did the day it was created (which might very well have been 25 years ago).

Dehydrated food is a touch different in the way it’s prepared. Instead of letting your food soak for a few minutes, it needs to be cook—boiled, even—in order to rehydrate enough to become the food it used to be. This can take upwards to 20 minutes, depending on the food. While it’s not a huge issue, it can make a big difference if you’re in a hurry.

 

Nutrition

According to a food science professor at UC-Davis, freeze-dried food maintains most of its nutrients throughout the process, and once rehydrated, is very similar in nutritional value to its fresh counterpart. This is in contrast to dehydrated food which, although much of the nutrients remain, only around 50% – 60% of the original nutrients are left over. In freeze-dried food, there is about 97% of retained nutrients. In this area, freeze-dried food comes out on top.

 

Taste

Lasagna_image - Dehydrated and Freeze-driedLasagna with Meat Sauce, previously freeze-dried

Flavor is important in your food. If it doesn’t taste good, why would you even want to eat it? Fortunately, both freeze-dried and dehydrated foods taste great, but there is a difference in the way it’s prepared that makes one taste better than the other.

According to the Wild Backpacker, the taste of freeze-dried food is essentially held in the food, as the process involves very little heat. This keeps in the flavor, retains original texture, and secures the natural scents. This is why many believe freeze-dried food tastes better than dehydrated food, which uses heat to lose moisture, thus forfeiting flavor, original texture, and smell.

 

Weight

If your food intends to stay in your pantry or with your emergency food storage until used, then weight won’t really be an issue. However, dehydrated and freeze-dried food are delicious treats and meals to take on camping trips, hikes, and even in your bug-out bag, which in turn makes weight play a crucial role.

Dehydrated food is heavier than freeze-dried food, so if you are planning on taking one of these types of foods with you on a hike, freeze-dried food is your best option in terms of being lightweight. If you’re planning on getting a meal out of your food, you’ll want to make sure you either bring enough water or have access to it so you can rehydrate your meals. Many freeze-dried foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and even meats, can be snacked on without rehydrating them, making them a nice, lightweight option for snacking.

 

There are pros and cons to both dehydrated and freeze-dried food, so in the end it all boils down to what you’re looking for in a food, and how you intend to use it. When it comes to long-term storage and nutrients, however, freeze-dried food reigns supreme. So when you’re looking to invest in an emergency food storage, freeze-dried may very well be the way to go.

Linked from: http://beprepared.com/blog/20659/5-differences-dehydrated-freeze-dried-food/

 

Portable Solar Powered Aquaponics Greenhouse Can Grow Food Year Round

Solar Powered Aquaponics Greenhouse Makes Year Round Growing Possible – Here’s another Off Grid World original design concept.

It’s a modular aquaponics greenhouse made from converted recycled shipping containers. Each of the shipping containers are converted into mini-greenhouses which also makes the whole thing portable.

A large pond (fish tank) is constructed in the ground, or in a large water tank, the repurposed shipping container greenhouse modules are stacked two levels high, and arranged in a hexagon shape around the pond, and a geodesic dome is placed on the top to cover the whole unit sealing it off from the weather outside creating a self sustainable garden biome.

First, take a standard ISBU 40′ “high cube” (extra high at about 9″ tall vs 8 feet tall for the standard 40′ container; this adds approximately 344 cubic feet of space inside) shipping container and cut out the sides and the ends. The square footage remains the same at about 320sft per 40′ container.

Add Reinforced Welded Steel Framing

Since you’re removing the majority of the structural support when removing the sides, the sides and ends must be reinforced welded steel beams.

NO MESS CAMPING OMELETTES IN A BAG

Some of you may have heard about this very novel idea of making omelettes in a freezer ziploc bag. Have you? Well, I had not seen omelettes in a bag done, but after seeing it done last weekend, I am sold on the idea. Who needs a dirty pan when you can just throw baggies away!! Plus no waiting your turn for the pan. You can cook a whole bunch of omelettes at one time in a pan of boiling water.

Start by breaking two eggs into a FREEZER ziploc bag. Add the ingredients of your choice just like a traditional omelette.

Then, zip the bag clothes and moosh it up with your hands. You know scramble it!

Make sure you have written the name of each person’s omelette on the bag.

Then place the omelettes in a bag in boiling water for about 14-15 minutes. The rule of thumb is about six and half to seven minutes per egg. So if you decide you want a three egger, you will need to cook it for more like 20 minutes. However, you can cook as many as you can fit in a pan at a time.

Then just walk a way and wait.

Grab your favorite mug for coffee and rest.

Then, when the eggs in the omelettes in a bag are set up and done cooking, Just dump them onto plates.

Your perfect mess-free omelette!

82 Common Edible Flowers

Now before you run out and start eating the various flowers, you need to do a bit of study.  On many of these plants only parts of the plant are edible.  I suggest that as you plan your garden you research the various flowers and make sure that you know what parts of the plants are edible.  In some it may be the flowers on other the leaves or roots.

edible-flowers

Now before you run out and start eating the various flowers, you need to do a bit of study.  On many of these plants only parts of the plant are edible.  I suggest that as you plan your garden you research the various flowers and make sure that you know what parts of the plants are edible.  In some it may be the flowers on other the leaves or roots.

A list of Edible Flowers

  • Angelica                                                Anise Hyssop
  • Apple Blossom                                       Artichoke
  • Arugula                                                 Bachelor Buttons AKA Cornflower
  • Banana                                                 Basil
  • Borage                                                 Bright Lights chard
  • Calendula                                             Carnation
  • Chamomile                                           Chicory
  • Chives                                                  Chrysanthemum
  • Cilantro / Coriander                               Citrus
  • Clover                                                  Dandelion
  • Daylily                                                  Dianthus
  • Dill                                                       Elderberry
  • English Daisy                                        Fennel
  • Freesia                                                 Fuchsia
  • Geraniums                                           Gladiolas
  • Hibiscus                                               Honeysuckle
  • Hollyhock                                             Hyssop
  • Jasmine                                               Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Johnny Jump Up                                   Lavender
  • Lemon Verbena                                    Lilac
  • Linden                                                 Mallow
  • Marigold                                              Marjoram
  • Mint                                                    Mustard
  • Nasturtium                                           Oregano
  • Okra                                                    Onion
  • Orange Blossom                                    Pansy
  • Passionflower                                        Pea blossoms  NOTE: Flowering ornamental                                                                     sweet peas are poisonous
  • Pineapple Sage                                     Primrose
  • Radish                                                 Red Clover
  • Redbud                                                Roses and rose hips
  • Rosemary                                             Rose of Sharon
  • Runner Bean                                        Safflower
  • Sage                                                   Savory
  • Scarlet Emperor’ runner beans               Scented Geranium
  • Snapdragon                                         Society Garlic
  • Squash Blossom                                   Sunflower
  • Sweet Marigold                                    Sweet William
  • Thyme                                                 Sweet Potato
  • Tuberous Begonia                                 Tulip
  • Viola                                                    Violet
  • Winter Savory                                       Yucca

You should have no problem planning and planting a garden that only consists of food producing plants.  This is a great way to supplement your food storage.  The more you learn about the different flowers, the better your chances of survival are in an emergency.

If you do a search of this blog under the category edible plants, you will find information on a number of these flowers.  In the future, I intend to write more on edible flowers.  As with any plants take the time to study and learn about them so that you can make a positive identification, this may save your life, some plants are poisonous.

10 Foods You Need To Survive

10 Foods You Need To Survive

The end of the world is something that has been a topic of debate for as long as anyone can remember. Some claim to know exactly when it will happen while others claim to know how it will happen. One thing is however certain; that disaster and the end of the world are unpredictable and unstoppable events. The best thing you can do is make sure that you are prepared in case anything like it happens when you are alive.

If you happened to survive a major catastrophic disaster such as a nuclear bomb, a major earthquake or something of the sort, the most important thing you will need is food. Getting food to grow after a disaster is tricky and you could die before your first harvest. Below is a list of foods that you can get now and store for long and food that grows fast and well under poor conditions.

1. Maize/Corn

This is one of the best food types you can have if you hope to survive after a disaster of apocalyptic proportions. The reason is because it is one of the few on this list that can both be stored for long and can grow under harsh conditions. The practice of storing corn for emergency dates back centuries and was practiced as a way to survive draught. Corn can stay for up to eight months when boiled and frozen. When freezing is not an option, drying allows you to have your corn for up to four months. The other reason that lands corn on the survival for end times food list is its resilience in harsh conditions. All it needs to grow is good soil and water. This is the reason why you can find it growing well in any climate and region on earth. Maize is important as it is a carbohydrate which is the main source of energy for humans. And you better believe that if you end up alive during the end times, you will need as much energy as you can get.

2. Beans

Beans share corn’s resilient nature. Storing beans for long term purposes can be done in three ways. The first is by drying. Sun drying beans removes moisture from them making them safe from pest, bacterial and fungal infestation. In this state you can have beans safe for human consumption for up to three years according to food scientists. The second way in which beans are stored is through nitrogen treatment and hermetical sealing. This means that the beans are cleaned, treated with nitrogen to remove oil and sealed in the absence of oxygen (hermetically). This allowed them to last for a whopping8 years. Finally, beans are stored by canning. They are cooked and put in sealed cans with preserving chemicals. Depending on the brand and the bean species, canned beans can last between 3 and 5 years. They are popular in the army and are a great source of protein.

3. Radishes

Radishes are the fastest growing crops known by man. They take a mere two weeks to mature and be ready for harvest. If you were a survivor of a major disaster or a world ending catastrophe, a fast growing crop would be the equivalent of gold. The entire plant is edible but the root has the most uses. It can be used to make soups, stews and in salads. Radish roots are rich in carbohydrate sugars, fat and proteins. The leaves are rich in vitamins especially the vitamin B group and vitamin C. Its growth speed and nutritional value make it ideal for survival.

4. Tomatoes

Tomatoes have a spot on this list due to the fact that they are multi-nutritional, require little space to grow and ripen really fast. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and D, carbohydrate sugars, fats, minerals, fiber and water. They can be eaten raw as fruits or used as vegetables to make rich stews and soups. Tomatoes take between 20 and 25 days to ripen and be ready to eat. This short growth time makes it a great crop for surviving in case of disasters where food stores are destroyed or used up.

5. Flour

Flour is a great food to have in store in case of emergency. What is super awesome about it is the fact that it can be stored for a very long time without going bad. When stored in a cool dry place brown flour can stay for up to five years while white flour can stay up to seven years. The difference is due to the fact that brown flour has more oil which tends to speed up the process of food going bad. Flour from wheat, corn and oats is useful in making filling pastries that should see you through your until you figure out another way of finding food. Sorghum and millet flour are good for porridge.

6. Tea and coffee

Ground tea leaves and coffee beans can stay for up to four years depending on the brand. They belong on this list due to the ability to stay for long without getting spoilt. Tea and coffee will come in handy on cold nights after disasters helping to warm you and calm you down.

7. Canned meat and fish

This is a great source of protein. Canned meat can be anything from chicken and beef to turkey and lamb. The meat is cooked or dried, treated with preservatives and sealed in cans that have air suctioned from them. Cooked meats can last for up to six years canned whereas the free-dried variety of canned food can last for up to twelve years. So if you believe that there is a chance that you might survive an upcoming disaster, stock up on canned meats. They are real life-savers.

8. Rice

Brown rice can stay for up to five years when dried and kept away from moisture. This makes them a great food option in case of disaster. The other great thing about rice is that the grains are small and light making them easier to store and if need be, carry around. Rice also makes nice filling meals full of energy giving carbohydrates.

9. Salt and sugar and honey

These three food items can last indefinitely and therefore deserve their spot on this list. Salt is a rich source of iodine which is good for your blood. It also has medical advantages being used as an antiseptic and a stomach relief remedy. Sugar is a carbohydrate and is a great source of energy. It can be used when baking bread and when mixed with water make an energy drink.

10. Powdered milk

Finally, having powdered milk is useful for survival in the end times. An unopened can of powdered milk can last from between two and ten years. Milk is a great source of proteins, vitamin D as well as minerals.

These foods are awesome for the end times because of their ease of availability, speed of growth and resilience in bad conditions. If you chose to set up an emergency store of food remember to include water and medical supplies. Whether or not you believe that you might be caught up in the end times and disasters, it wouldn’t hurt to have a back-up stash.

If you happened to survive a major catastrophic disaster such as a nuclear bomb, a major earthquake or something of the sort, the most important thing you will need is food. Getting food to grow after a disaster is tricky and you could die before your first harvest. Below is a list of foods that you can get now and store for long and food that grows fast and well under poor conditions.

1. Maize/Corn

This is one of the best food types you can have if you hope to survive after a disaster of apocalyptic proportions. The reason is because it is one of the few on this list that can both be stored for long and can grow under harsh conditions. The practice of storing corn for emergency dates back centuries and was practiced as a way to survive draught. Corn can stay for up to eight months when boiled and frozen. When freezing is not an option, drying allows you to have your corn for up to four months. The other reason that lands corn on the survival for end times food list is its resilience in harsh conditions. All it needs to grow is good soil and water. This is the reason why you can find it growing well in any climate and region on earth. Maize is important as it is a carbohydrate which is the main source of energy for humans. And you better believe that if you end up alive during the end times, you will need as much energy as you can get.

2. Beans

Beans share corn’s resilient nature. Storing beans for long term purposes can be done in three ways. The first is by drying. Sun drying beans removes moisture from them making them safe from pest, bacterial and fungal infestation. In this state you can have beans safe for human consumption for up to three years according to food scientists. The second way in which beans are stored is through nitrogen treatment and hermetical sealing. This means that the beans are cleaned, treated with nitrogen to remove oil and sealed in the absence of oxygen (hermetically). This allowed them to last for a whopping8 years. Finally, beans are stored by canning. They are cooked and put in sealed cans with preserving chemicals. Depending on the brand and the bean species, canned beans can last between 3 and 5 years. They are popular in the army and are a great source of protein.

3. Radishes

Radishes are the fastest growing crops known by man. They take a mere two weeks to mature and be ready for harvest. If you were a survivor of a major disaster or a world ending catastrophe, a fast growing crop would be the equivalent of gold. The entire plant is edible but the root has the most uses. It can be used to make soups, stews and in salads. Radish roots are rich in carbohydrate sugars, fat and proteins. The leaves are rich in vitamins especially the vitamin B group and vitamin C. Its growth speed and nutritional value make it ideal for survival.

4. Tomatoes

Tomatoes have a spot on this list due to the fact that they are multi-nutritional, require little space to grow and ripen really fast. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and D, carbohydrate sugars, fats, minerals, fiber and water. They can be eaten raw as fruits or used as vegetables to make rich stews and soups. Tomatoes take between 20 and 25 days to ripen and be ready to eat. This short growth time makes it a great crop for surviving in case of disasters where food stores are destroyed or used up.

5. Flour

Flour is a great food to have in store in case of emergency. What is super awesome about it is the fact that it can be stored for a very long time without going bad. When stored in a cool dry place brown flour can stay for up to five years while white flour can stay up to seven years. The difference is due to the fact that brown flour has more oil which tends to speed up the process of food going bad. Flour from wheat, corn and oats is useful in making filling pastries that should see you through your until you figure out another way of finding food. Sorghum and millet flour are good for porridge.

6. Tea and coffee

Ground tea leaves and coffee beans can stay for up to four years depending on the brand. They belong on this list due to the ability to stay for long without getting spoilt. Tea and coffee will come in handy on cold nights after disasters helping to warm you and calm you down.

7. Canned meat and fish

This is a great source of protein. Canned meat can be anything from chicken and beef to turkey and lamb. The meat is cooked or dried, treated with preservatives and sealed in cans that have air suctioned from them. Cooked meats can last for up to six years canned whereas the free-dried variety of canned food can last for up to twelve years. So if you believe that there is a chance that you might survive an upcoming disaster, stock up on canned meats. They are real life-savers.

8. Rice

Brown rice can stay for up to five years when dried and kept away from moisture. This makes them a great food option in case of disaster. The other great thing about rice is that the grains are small and light making them easier to store and if need be, carry around. Rice also makes nice filling meals full of energy giving carbohydrates.

9. Salt and sugar and honey

These three food items can last indefinitely and therefore deserve their spot on this list. Salt is a rich source of iodine which is good for your blood. It also has medical advantages being used as an antiseptic and a stomach relief remedy. Sugar is a carbohydrate and is a great source of energy. It can be used when baking bread and when mixed with water make an energy drink.

10. Powdered milk

Finally, having powdered milk is useful for survival in the end times. An unopened can of powdered milk can last from between two and ten years. Milk is a great source of proteins, vitamin D as well as minerals.

These foods are awesome for the end times because of their ease of availability, speed of growth and resilience in bad conditions. If you chose to set up an emergency store of food remember to include water and medical supplies. Whether or not you believe that you might be caught up in the end times and disasters, it wouldn’t hurt to have a back-up stash.

How To Recognize And Treat Food Poisoning

Food poisoning in an everyday situation is bad enough but at least you have access to hospitals if you need medical treatment. In a post SHTF situation, it can be deadly.

Recognizing the symptoms can be crucial too, because a case of food poisoning may present similarly to other, contagious diseases such as the flu or malaria that would cause you to isolate the person or forbid them entry into your home, compound, etc.

How To Recognize And Treat Food Poisoning

poison-food

Food poisoning in an everyday situation is bad enough but at least you have access to hospitals if you need medical treatment. In a post SHTF situation, it can be deadly.

Recognizing the symptoms can be crucial too, because a case of food poisoning may present similarly to other, contagious diseases such as the flu or malaria that would cause you to isolate the person or forbid them entry into your home, compound, etc.

The first thing that you should probably know is the different types of food poisoning, because if you know the types, you know how to avoid contracting (or causing) food poisoning. Here we go.

Norovirus

Norovirus is the most common cause of food poisoning; as a matter of fact, it accounts for over half the cases reported annually. Typically, Norovirus is contacted due to poor hygiene and improper food handling. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, chills, headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

It’s rare for Norovirus to be severe enough to cause death, but it could happen. Also, care must be taken with hygiene because the Norovirus because it IS contagious through contact with bodily fluids.

The only real treatment for it is maintaining hydration while waiting it out. Symptoms should subside within a couple of days or sooner.

To avoid contracting it (or spreading it) wash your hands and all cooking areas and prep tools thoroughly. If somebody has it, clean everything that they come into contact with thoroughly or discard it in a hygienic manner. Somebody who’s had Norovirus shouldn’t prepare food for others for at least 2-3 days after symptoms go away.

Norovirus survives extremes in temperature so you have to kill it chemically. Bleach is a good bet. Wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly and cook all shellfish before you eat them. Don’t eat or drink after people and avoid handshaking. If you do, don’t touch your face before you wash your hands.

poison-food-1

Botulism

The next on our list of fabulous things not to get is botulism. Caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, this type of food poisoning is rare but extremely serious. The botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous biological substances known to man.

It’s a neurotoxin that causes central nervous system impairment. Botulism is most frequently contracted from improperly prepared or damaged canned goods, whether they’re home-canned or store-bought.

Symptoms include drooping eyelids, facial paralysis on one or both sides, muscle weakness, dry mouth, blurry vision, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing or speaking, nausea, vomiting and paralysis.

In babies, you may see constipation, flopping around, a weak cry, drooling drooping eyelids, paralysis or difficulty sucking.

Treating botulism in a SHTF situation is going to suck because the only treatments are to induce vomiting and bowel movements in order to get the toxin out of the body as quickly as possible. Antibiotics aren’t recommended for foodborne botulism because it actually speeds up the release of the toxin. There is an anti-toxin, but that’s only available at the hospital.

The best way to deal with botulism is to avoid it. Don’t eat canned goods, especially low-acid produce, meats and fish that you even suspect may be bad, or that are stored in a jar or can that’s been damaged or isn’t sealed properly.

E Coli

This is another bad boy in the food poisoning category. Avoid it at all costs because it sucks. It’s caused by exposure to contaminated products including meat (usually hamburger), unpasteurized milk or juice, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, or alfalfa sprouts. It can also be contracted via contaminated water or by coming into contact with contaminated animals.

There are a couple of reasons that e Coli is bad. First, even if you have the lesser strain, symptoms can last 5-10 days. Symptoms include severe diarrhea that is frequently bloody, vomiting and severe abdominal pain. The other, more critical reason, to avoid e Coli is the risk of HUS, or hemolytic uremic syndrome which is an infection that releases a toxin that can damage red blood cells, thus causing kidney injury. This is rare, though and will manifest after the first week if it’s going to. Symptoms will include facial pallor, decreased urination and dark, tea-colored urine. There’s really nothing you can do to treat HUS at home.

Treat e Coli by remaining hydrated and resting. Do not take antibiotics for e Coli.

E Coli can be spread from person to person by contact with contaminated feces so, again, hygiene is imperative.

poison-food-2

Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that affects the intestinal tract and is found in the intestinal tract of poultry and seafood. It’s caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat, seafood or eggs. The food is contaminated by coming into contact with the feces of the infected animal. Fruits and vegetables treated with fertilizer made from the feces of infected animals can carry the bacteria, too.

Contamination can also occur if you don’t keep your work surfaces and utensils/tools clean. If you cut bread with a knife that you cut contaminated chicken with, your bread is now contaminated. Wash your counters, cutting boards and tools with an antibacterial such as a product with bleach.

This can be spread by people infected with salmonella by coming into contact with their feces.

The good thing about salmonella is that it’s easy to kill by cooking the product thoroughly. Wash all of your produce well before eating it and don’t think that just because an egg is clean with no apparent breaks in the shell that it’s safe; some chickens can spread salmonella to the egg before the shell forms. To sum it up, cook poultry, eggs and seafood well and wash your produce.

Symptoms of salmonella will show up anywhere from several hours to two days after contact. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, chills and bloody stool. Symptoms typically last four to seven days but it can take several months for your bowels to get back to normal.

Treatment includes maintaining hydration, taking anti-diarrheals and antibiotics. Antibiotics are typically only used when the bacteria has spread to your bloodstream, which isn’t typical.

As you can see, the common thread here is hygiene and proper cooking methods. The best way to avoid food poisoning is to wash your hands, make sure that all of your food is properly prepared and fully cooked, and take precautionary measures when treating a person with food poisoning as all types are contagious if you come into contact with certain bodily fluids; typically feces. In a post-SHTF situation, some of these illnesses can be lethal so the best cure is prevention.

Cattails – A Survival Dinner

Cattails: Swamp Supermarket

The United States almost won WWII with cattails.

No green plant produces more edible starch per acre than the Cat O’ Nine Tails; not potatoes, rice, taros or yams. Plans were underway to feed American soldiers with that starch when WWII stopped. Lichen, not a green plant, might produce more carbs per acre. One acre of cattails can produce 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average (Harrington 1972).

cattails

Cattails: Swamp Supermarket

The United States almost won WWII with cattails.

No green plant produces more edible starch per acre than the Cat O’ Nine Tails; not potatoes, rice, taros or yams. Plans were underway to feed American soldiers with that starch when WWII stopped. Lichen, not a green plant, might produce more carbs per acre. One acre of cattails can produce 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average (Harrington 1972).

Cattail pollen

cattails1

Two species of cattails are common in North America today. One is Typha latifolia (TYE-fuh   lat-ih-FOH-lee-uh)  the otherTypha angustifolia (an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-uh.)Typha is from Greek and means “marsh” — now you how “typhoid” got its name and Typhoid Mary.Latifolia mean wide leaf,angustifolia means skinny leaf.  Besides that difference, the T. latifolialikes shallower water, theT. angustifolia deeper water, but it is not unusual to find them living side by side and also crossbreeding —L’angustifolia perhaps. Cattails get their name from their mature brown cylindrical flower spikes. When I was a kid we used to used the dried spikes as torches while skating in the winter time. The end of season fluffy “tails” make excellent tinder and the Indians used them insulation, mattresses and absorption.

There is so much to know about cattails that a book could be written just about them. First, no other plants in their mature stage look like the cattail, so it is difficult to misidentify. Younger plants can be misidentified with three toxic ones so always look for last year’s classic growth to confirm you have found cattails. Cattail are oval at the base, not flatish. They are also very mild tasting and without much aroma meaning if what you think you’ve got is a cattail and it is strongly flavored and or aromatic — not counting the smell of mud — you’ve got the wrong plant.

Flower spikes when green

cattails2

It is said that if a lost person has found cattails, they have four of the five things they need to survive: Water, food, shelter and a source of fuel for heat—the dry old stalks. The one item missing is companionship.  Of course, the other thing to point out is that no matter where the water flows, down stream is civilization in North, Central and South America. Remember that when you are lost in the Americas. This does not hold true in Africa or Siberia. Many rivers in Africa are largest near their source then dry up as the water is used or evaporates. In Siberia rivers flow north towards the uninhabited arctic.

One Boy Scout motto is “You name it and we’ll make it from cattails!” Cattails are the supermarket of the wilds. The young cob-like tips of the plant are edible as is the white bottom of the stalk, spurs off the main roots and spaghetti like rootlets off the main roots. They have vitamins A, B,

Cattail lower stalks

cattails3

and C, potassium and phosphorus. The pollen can be used like flour.  I like their convenience as a trail nibble, or canoe nibble as it were. Just pull on one and where it pulls from the stalk there’s usually a tasty bite or two. I think the best part, though, are the new shoots off the main root. They’re start out looking like an alligator’s tooth then a pointed hook three or four inches long. The roots themselves need some processing and I’ll get to them in a moment.

The “Listronotus” grub grows larger

cattails4

Cattails have a surprising function and history. The spread of cattails in a body of water is an important part of the process of open water being converted to marsh then dry land. They are native to both North America and Europe. In Europe cattails are called bulrushes or greater reed mace. They’re first mentioned — meaning mentioned in writing — in the United States in the 1830s and at that time were only found along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico excluding Texas. They weren’t even reported in places like Wisconsin until after World War I. They weren’t a significant plant in the Dakotas until the 1960s. The native cattail, Typha gracilis, seems to have all but disappeared, hybridizing with the European version to form the two species mentioned here. Eastern Indians used cattails extensively, not only for food, but for hemp and stuffing. In fact, one Indian word for cattails means “fruit for papoose’s bed.” The fluff was used in diapers and for menstruation.

Like most aquatic plants in the area the cattail is also home to a beetle grub that fish like. On a green cattail look for aon outer leaf that is go brown at the bottom of the leaf and main stalk. You will find a grub, actually the larval form of an Arrowhead Beetle, of the Listronotus genus. The size will vary but they do grow big enough for a small hook and fish love them. As a weevil the grub is also probably edible by humans but I haven’t got around to trying one. You can find the same grub in the tops of bulrushes and wapato.

As mentioned earlier, cattails are the champion of starch production. The way you get the starch is to clean the exterior of the roots and then crush them in clean water and let them sit. The starch settles to the bottom then one pours off the water.  It may take several drain and settle sessions get rid of the fiber. I sampled the starch raw once and got a bit of a stomach ache.  Once you have just the starch it is excellent for cooking as you would any flour. Getting starch that way is quite labor intensive. Here are three other ways to get to the root starch:

 

Clean cattail roots

Dry the peeled roots (peel roots while they are wet–they are difficult to peel when dry). Chop roots into small pieces, and then pound them wtih a little water. When the long fibers are removed, the resultant goup powder can be dried and used as flour.   The roots also can be boiled like potatoes then the starch chewed out (spitting away the fibers) or you can also roast the root in a fire until the outer spongy core is completely black. Then chew the starch off of the fiber.  Don’t eat the fiber. It will give you a stomach ache. I know from personal experience. The advantage of the latter method is no pots or pans are needed. If you have fire and a pond you have a nutritious meal.  You can also put the roots on the barbecue.

Lastly, cattails, Typha latifolia, is suspeced in the fatal poisoning of several horses in Indiana, one case over 80 years ago. Symptoms included stiffness, disinclination to move, profuse perspiration, and muscular trembling.

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: Cattails grow to 9 feet; leaves are strap-like, stiff, spongy inside, rounded on back, sheathed together at base to appear “flattened” but oval; the cigar-looking “blossom” is very densely packed with tiny flowers, male flowers in top cluster, female flowers in bottom cluster. Roots grow horizontally. If there is a gap between the male and female parts of the plant it is T. angustifolia, or the narrow leaf cattail. If the male and female parts of the plant meet, it is T. latifolia, the common cattail.

TIME OF YEAR: Spikes, pollen and flowers in the spring, bottoms of stalks and root year best in fall and spring.

ENVIRONMENT: Grows where it is wet, rivers, ponds, ditches, lakes, close to shore or farther out.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Numerous, boiled immature and mature flowers, pollen in bread, stalks as a trail nibble, root starch for sustenance, root stems shoots as vegetables.   The roots can be boiled and the starch stripped or sucked off the fibers. They can be dried, the starch grated off the fibers and the starch used as flour. You can crush the roots in water, let the starch settle, pour off the water, then use the starch. Or you can but the roots on embers and roast until black, then peel the black layer off and chew or such the starch off the fibers. Also the core of the roots can be roasted until dry and used as a coffee substitute.

Scalloped Cattails

Take two cups of chpooed cattail tops and put them into a bowl with two beaten eggs, one-half cup melted butter, one-half teaspoon each sugar and nutmeg and black pepper. Blend well and add slowly one cup of scalded milk to the cattail mixture and blended. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole and top with grated Swiss cheese —optional — and add a dab of butter. Bake 275 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cattail Pollen Biscuits

The green bloom spikes turn a bright yellow as they become covered with pollen. Put a large plastic bag over the head (or tail) and shake. The pollen is very fine, resembling a curry-colored talc powder. Pancakes, muffins and cookies are excellent by substituting pollen for the wheat flour in any recipe. Cattail Pollen Biscuits: Mix a quarter cup of cattail pollen, one and three-quarters cup of flour, three teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon salt, four tablespoons shortening, and three quarters a cup of milk. Bake, after cutting out biscuits, in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. For an even more golden tone, you may add an additional quarter cup of pollen.

Cattail Pollen Pancakes

Mix one-half cup pollen, one-half cup flour, two tablespoons baking powder, one teaspoon salt, one egg, one cup of milk, three tablespoon bacon drippings. Pour into a hot skillet or griddle in dollar, four-inch pancake amounts.

Cattail Casserole

Two cups scrapped spikes, one cup bread crumbs, one egg, beaten, one-half cup milk, salt and pepper, one onion diced, one-half cup shredded cheddar cheese. Combine all ingredients in a casseroles dish and place in an oven set to 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve when hot.

5 morale boosting foods for when the SHTF

boosting-foods

We all have a favorite food that we eat either out of pure enjoyment or for the “comfort” it provides.  Me? Kellogg’s Blueberry unfrosted Pop Tarts. Ever since I was a kid regardless of what was happening around me sitting back with a pair of hot Pop Tarts and a tall glass of milk = paradise.

In high stress situations these comfort foods can provide some level of stress release and a calming effect. This would be very welcome. Let’s face it – when the SHTF and people are freaking out and you are trying to calm them down anything that helps could be a lifesaver.

Here is my list for the top 5 Morale Boosting Foods For After The SHTF:

1.  Coffee – One of the most popular drinks in the United States, coffee is legendary as a MUST HAVE morning drink or functionality for the entire day just may suffer. Coffee can be stored ground with a limited lifespan or in bean form for longer life.

2. Hard Candy – Ever ate a candy cane in the middle of summer? For many it will bring back memories of past Christmas holidays and found memories. Hard candy has an excellent shelf life.

3. Chocolate – Chocolate has a limited life expectancy. Storing in the fridge helps and freezing makes it last for years. Chocolate bars can be vacuum sealed to help extend life as well.

4. Bacon – Imagine the smell of bacon several weeks after the SHTF. Would that not provide some sense of normalcy and lift spirits? Canned bacon with a shelf life of 2+ years.

5. Alcohol – This may be controversial but for many people a comfort “food” would certainly include alcohol. I am not recommending getting sloshed to drown stresses, rather a glass of wine here or there could be very welcome. Some common sense needs to be used with this one.

If there are kids in the group consider special accommodations for them. A few Pez dispensers and Tic Tacs would be good. Finding out some of their favorite snacks or foods that could be stored for at least the medium-term.

Many of us prepare for an uncertain future and want to do at least a little better than just survive it. While thriving may be too much to ask have some sense of normalcy would certainly reduce the burden on the nerves at least a bit.

Rourke