Though this article from Kitchen Stewardship is rather long, it has good ideas and comments on how to preserve food; some of which could be considered for your 72hour kit if you need to evacuate or for longer term emergency supplies if you are unable to leave home due to road closures, etc. So, sincemany people in this area preserve food in various ways, it isn't a big leap to see the benefit of preparing your own food for your own emergency kit.

 

When we hear reports about the potential for $25 loaves of bread, whether that’s “out there” and a knee-jerk, fearful reaction to some of the economic stress we’ve seen over the past few years, or a completely rational and possible prediction, my husband and I raise our eyebrows at each other.

We’re in the market for a house upgrade, and every few weeks my husband, who is neither a gardener nor someone with an interest in homesteading, animals, or anything “back to nature” other than an annual camping trip, tosses out, “Maybe we do need to have some acreage in case we have to grow our own grain, have a garden and a cow someday.”

It’s something that the current world political and social climate makes you think about, whereas a few years ago that would have been an obvious joke coming from him.

Even still, I’m not ready to spend hours per month checking my food stores, rotating supplies or making sure I’m ready for anything.

I just want to feel a little more ready for something.

My goal in the preparedness series is to explore the basic idea, give you some baby steps to getting started with some stored food, and maybe see if I can get a few simple actions on my own to-do list.

I want to reconcile the need for long-term storage with the “real food” philosophy that eschews things like dried milk, canned vegetables, and soy products. Today we’ll discuss pros and cons of various sorts of food preservation through that lens, and over the next 2-3 weeks, separate posts will cover different food groups and how to keep some extras on hand.

The best real food preparedness planning, in my opinion, happens naturally in your week and doesn’t take a bunch of extra time, energy, or too much information. The philosophy should be:

Store what you eat, eat what you store.

Therefore, it’s important to figure out how to store foods you naturally embrace eating anyway.

Methods of Food Preservation and Storage

  • Canned foods
  • Canning at home
  • Dehydrating
  • Freezing
  • Lacto-fermentation
  • Dry bulk storage
  • (freeze-dried foods are another great option, but not one I do myself, so it will pop in later)

Let’s briefly walk through the pros and cons and how-to for each method.

Canned Goods

One of our earliest Monday Missions around here was to make a simple switch from eating canned vegetables to fresh or frozen. Canned goods aren’t something that make a very regular appearance in our house, but they may have their place in disaster/emergency preparedness. Just don’t forget to make sure you have a manual can opener!

Advantages:

  • Long-term storage without electricity
  • Can eat without needing water or a heat source
  • Generally inexpensive
  • Simple

Disadvantages:

  • Lots of nutrient loss (except in tomatoes, legumes)
  • BPA in can linings (except in the rare brand or glass jars, but pricey)
  • Added salt
  • Can have other preservatives, MSG, sugar or chemical additives, especially if you try something beyond the basics like soup or meals
  • Waste generated by the cans themselves

Do you keep purchased canned goods in your house? Which ones?

We’ll talk more about how I prioritize cans when we get into fruits and veggies, and meats/proteins. You might be interested in the question Are Canned Foods Necessary for Emergencies? where I talk about the various canned foods that I use and don’t use, and on Facebook there was an excellent discussion last week about the same question. Find it HERE.

Home Canning

I haven’t done a lot of canning myself, but I’ve dabbled a bit. Here’s my canning story. Many people swear by home canning for everything, others prioritize those things that won’t result in a lot of nutrient loss. Instead of fruits and vegetables, they can beans, tomatoes, and homemade stock (note: beans and stock require a pressure canner!).

Advantages:

  • Saves money
  • Can preserve garden produce
  • Can eat without water or a heat source
  • No electricity needed to store
  • Avoid BPA of store-canned foods
  • You know exactly what’s in there – no weird additives

Disadvantages:

  • Takes time and know-how
  • Loss of nutrients in fruits and vegetables (except tomatoes)

Have you canned before? What foods do you prefer to home can and why?

How to:

Dehydrating

 

I’ve been learning to use my Excalibur dehydrator for just about a year now, and it becomes more of a staple all the time. Dehydrating food is one of the older methods of preservation, and one worth fiddling with if you can. Consider borrowing from a friend or learning to dehydrate with your oven if you don’t have the funds (or storage space) for a dehydrator.

Advantages:

  • Little to no nutrient loss
  • Takes very little space to store
  • No electricity needed for storage
  • Can preserve garden produce
  • Can eat without water or heat (fruits and meats)
  • Can purchase dehydrated foods, but pricey
  • Portable food

Disadvantages:

  • Special equipment and know-how required
  • Some things can’t be dehydrated
  • Taste loss with some items
  • Needs water and heat to cook (vegetables)

How to:

What am I missing? Do you have any unique real food dehydration “recipes?”

Freezing

 

I have often admitted on KS that I dearly love my freezer. It helps me save lots of money so I can Eat Well, Spend Less, but there are some issues to consider when thinking about an emergency.

Advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Can freeze entire meals
  • Meat tastes like kids and husband expect
  • Little to no nutrient loss
  • No loss of flavor
  • Can preserve garden produce
  • Can eat some items without heat or electricity

Disadvantages:

  • Requires electricity, therefore cost, every second of the day
  • May lose food if power is out more than a day or so
  • Limited storage space
  • May need heat to cook some items
  • Cannot take food with you

How to

Great comparison of the cost-effectiveness of preservation by canning, dehydrating, or freezing from Whole New Mom.

Lacto-Fermentation

 

If I ever feel bored and make a new “healthy eating” goal, it will be to learn to make (and enjoy!) and incorporate more lacto-fermented foods in our diet. I’m a big-time rookie at this one, having only tried lacto-fermented pickles and salsa, neither of which my family liked very much.

Advantages:

  • Increases nutrition of whatever you’re preserving
  • Can preserve garden bounty
  • Doesn’t require electricity or much cost to accomplish

Disadvantages:

  • May need to get used to the flavor
  • Doesn’t last very long
  • Requires some cold storage, either refrigeration or a really good root cellar (therefore electricity)

What am I missing on these two lists? Are there any lacto-fermentation techniques more fitted for long-term storage or preparedness?

How to:

Dry Storage

Buying foods in bulk not only saves money but ensures that you’re not running to the store before a snowstorm, right? Yesterday’s post was about the unique ways I store pantry items.

Advantages:

  • Simple
  • Requires no electricity
  • Long-term
  • Food is ready to use
  • Some foods (nuts, dried fruits) can be eaten without heat
  • Portable

Disadvantages:

  • Space limitations
  • Vermin issues
  • Grains and legumes require water and heat source to cook

How to:

 

See what a real life year’s supply of real food looks like with GNOWFGLIN’s Thank You Video: A Year’s Worth of Real Food Storage.


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