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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Don't Throw Away Those Scraps

If you own your own home as I do, then you understand the importance of having a selection of building materials on hand at all times.  Whenever you take on a project, order a couple more of everything you get such as lumber, concrete mix, bricks, you name it.  Also, you want to keep all the end cuts and leftovers you can.  These come in handy later on for the weekend-fix-it-upper stuff that we all have to take care of.  More often than not, these small projects require small bits of lumber, or 3 bricks, or even a small mix of concrete.  So find a place in the shed or workshop to keep all those odds & ends.  You never know when they will come in handy....even if you just want to build a birdhouse with the kids.

Friday, February 18, 2011

High Acid Food Home Canning

In my last post, I briefly touched on some of the ways we can store our food supplies.
My favorite preservation methods would have to be home canning.
The reason for this is simple, all supplies with the exception of lids, can be reused over and over again. I would recommend searching for jars at thrift shops, garage sales, and whenever they go on sale at your favorite retailer. The USDA guide to home canning is an absolute necessity before attempting any home canning. There is a link at the end of this post to download the guide in PDF format.
For today's post I am going to stick a with a method known as water bath canning. Water bath canning can be used for any high acid food such as fruits, pickles, and tomatoes. The reason for this is that the high acid content helps destroy any bacteria in the food. Do not attempt to can any low acid food such as vegetables, meats, or dairy using this method. The temperatures in the water bath canner simply do not reach a high enough level to destroy bacteria without the high acid content present in the higher acid foods!
The number one consideration for any canning activity is cleanliness. Be sure to disinfect all working surfaces as well as utensils and don't forget to disinfect your self also. Always keep your hands, utensils and working surfaces clean throughout the process. To sterilize your jars and a screw bands, and lids, soak them in boiling, not hot, but boiling water. Keep them there until you are ready to use them.
Prepare your produce using the hotpack method outlined in the guide. I only use this method because it helps ensure that all bacteria will be killed in the process. Fill your jars, leaving the recommended head space. Using a non metallic spatula, remove all air bubbles from the jar. Using a clean cloth, wipe their rims of the jars removing any food particles that may be present. Place a hot lid on the jar and firmly screw a band on finger tight.
Place the jars on the rack in the canner. Be sure that the water level completely covers the jars. Cover the canner with its lid, and bring to a boil. Process the jars according to the recommended times in the guide. Once processing is complete, carefully remove the jars from the canner and place them on towel to cool, undisturbed, away from draft for about 24 hours. During this time, you will hear the lids seal with the distinct ping. This is normal and is a sign of a proper seal being made. Once the jars have completely cooled, label them and store them in a cool, dark place for storage. Your home canned food will remain good for years to come, but please remember to use your food on a regular basis and rotate it has new cans are added to your storage.
This is only a brief overview of home canning for high acid foods. You'll find a more detailed information in the USDA guide to home canning. Please download the guide and read it end to end before attempting any home canning process. Here is the link I promised you.
http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/cesnutrition/food_preserve/usda_home_canning.htm

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Number One Prep Item

Although this is just my opinion, I think that most preppers would agree with me on this one.  Our food
The number one item for preppers is........
You guessed it....
FOOD!
Our food storage can take many forms...

Store bought items including:
canned meat, vegies, etc
dry goods such as rice, pasta, beans etc

Home canned items including:
meat, veggies, sauces, soups, stews, etc

Home packed dry goods including:
Wheat berries, beans, lentils, herbs etc

Dehydrated bulk items including, well, almost everything under the sun from butter powder to freeze dried meats and everything in between.

If you think you have 3 or 4 months worth of meat packed into a deep freezer, think again.  Without electricity your fozen storage will be gone in just a couple of days.  I do actually have a good stock of frozen food, but also a generator and stored fuel to keep it going for about two weeks.  This of course won't be an issue in winter, given my northern climate.  But in any case, my frozen will be the first to be eaten.

Personally, my favorite food storage system is home canning for a number of reasons.
1) you can home can almost anything you would normally freeze.
2)every piece of equipment is reusable with the exception of very inexpensive lids
3)meals can be ready to heat or individual ingredients

Another good home system is dry pack.  Get yourself some food grade buckets, mylar bags as liners and some oxygen absorbers and you're set.  All sorts of dry foods can be stored this way.  From dried beans & lentils to grains like wheat beries & oats. 

One thing is for sure, you won't be able to do all your prepping from one system or the other.  You may home can your fruits & veggies, get store bought pasta & grains, and bulk #10 cans of milk & butter powder.  Just be sure you have a variety of foods so you don't get fed up with rice & beans every day and cover your 4 food groups for propper nutrition.

Suppliments may be a good idea too, in the form of vitamins to make up for shortcomings in your diet such as vitamin C as an example.

I will be covering the many food storage systems in detail in later posts, but for now, just try to buy a couple of extra items with each groccery order you make.  You would be surprised how fast it will add up to something substantial. Remember, even if you don't experience a disaster of some kind, food prices are going up every day.  Stocking up now is not only getting yourself preppared just in case, but actually an investment.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Prepper Groups

WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE !!!

Let me say that again...

WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE !!!

No one could possibly get everythiing together to survive what is likely just around the corner.

Food Preps
Water Preps
Medical Preps
Fuel Preps
Communications Preps

The list goes on and on.  If you tried to go at it without help, you would inevitably be severly laking in more than one area of preps.  This is why we need PREPPER GROUPS.  We all need to have a network of local fellow preppers that we can rely on for different areas of expertise.  Medic, Mechanic, Hunter, you name it. 

Now, we need a way to get in touch with fellow preppers to get these groups organized.  Try the International Preppers Network.  You will find a post urging you to introduce yourself.  Now, I know you may not want to give out your address right away, and actually I advise you not to, but at least you can get in touch with people by giving your approxamate geographical location.  Once you feel comfortable, you an start meeting your new found friends face to face and start organizing your groups.

Take for example food preps.  No one should rely on someone else nor expect anyone else to feed them post SHTF.  Everyone should have their own stockpile of food.  But perhaps you can get someone into your group that has land available for your group to plant seeds on for future sharing with the group.  Someone else may have a small farm and be able to share milk or eggs, provided the whole group will pitch in with the work involved.

I think you are starting to get the idea...join the forum on the Intenational Preppers Network and make some new friends !

Prepping: Getting Started-Food Pantry

Image
by ReadyMom

(This is a good article and it applies to Canadians too)


Prepping: Getting Started-Food Pantry
(Photo by Suzba, flickr.com;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/barracloug ... 0/sizes/s/ )

Preparing to increase your home food storage is a critical part of preparedness. Read this from the American Trucking Associations:

When Trucks Stop America Stops

Significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable items following a national emergency and a ban on truck traffic. Minor shortages will occur within one to two days. At convenience stores and other small retailers with less inventory, shortages will occur much sooner.


Federal & Emergency agency recommendations are for a minimum of two (2) weeks. Read more HERE. Consider the possible response time of federal response agencies, the type of emergency situation that you are preparing for, your financial situation. Then consider preparing for a minimum of two (2) weeks and increasing your preparations as you are financially able.

The rule of thumb for food stocks is “Stock what you Eat. Eat what you Stock.” This will ensure that you are rotating foods that have a shorter shelf life than other foods in your storage. It will also help you maintain some semblence of ‘normal’ in a stressful situation.

From Food-Getting Started (GetPandemicReady.org):

How can I ever do this? Start NOW, but don’t defeat yourself.
Break the task of stockpiling down into stages. Getting your pantry stocked for two weeks is a good initial goal. Simply write down what you eat over a two-week period. Then add a few extra items on each shopping trip. Look for specials and bulk purchases. Remember to add lunches for children who are normally at school,
as well as infants and toddlers.

Once you’ve reached this goal, go for four weeks of food, then eight, and then twelve. In a few months, you will have a full pantry full of you kind of food.


Remember, the idea is NOT to always have gourmet meals, but to feed your family and keep them sustained as long as you possibly can, using the financial resources that you have available to you during the shopping you will be starting, now. So, where to start?

FIRST, to jump start your Emergency Food Pantry:

    Consider ‘Stretching Staples’ for your first purchase in your basic emergency stockpile for your pantry. Include: rice, beans, noodles and canned soups. When you add these 'stretching staples' together (Rice & Beans, Soup & Noodles) or add them to other food prep items you will get through a longer period of time. Add noodle or rice to your cans of meat. Then:Canned goods store for a long, long time! Manufacture dates stamped on cans are a guide. They are not always set in stone for expiration. You can find out more HERE and HEREBuy a Little at a Time. If you are in a financial bind, purchasing one or two of something each time you shop will help you faster than you think. It builds up quick. • USE Store COUPONS! Take advantage of 10/$10 deals (just get 1 or 2, if the sale allows). Get the 'BOGO' ('Buy One-Get One') specials. Look for specials & bulk dry goods. • Use the Dollar Store! There are a lot of great deals at the dollar store and food discount stores. If you are not familiar with a product. Buy one and try it first. Watch your prices, compare to local grocery prices to insure you’re getting a good deal. • Consider food allergies and dislikes. If your emergency situation is that you are unemployed and financially strapped, and you need to use your food preps, medical costs to treat an allergy may be out of the question. If it's a large scale emergency where getting to a doctor, pharmacy or medical facility is difficult or impossible, you don't want to be sick. When you are stressed you want foods you like, if you can get them. • Some basic guidance for starting your food supply preparations include (from ReadyMoms Alliance, Live Ready; pdf):
      • consider foods with a long shelf life (cooking time remains a consideration). • Experiment with meals that can be made from pantry items. • Buy canned food in sizes that make the most sense. Consider how much you will use at once. Does the leftover product have to be refrigerated? Will food go to waste if the power’s off? • (For Non-Food Items)Buy extra of ordinary items you use from week to week, so that you are not caught short - i.e., paper products, feminine hygiene products, baby needs, shaving cream, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

One document that I have offered at community preparedness events is a guide to getting started over a six-week period of time. You can find it here: Handout-Basics in Six Weeks .

A great source of basic water information can be found on the GetPandemicReady website. Although the info was written for pandemic preparation ... it's good for any disaster preparation! (disclosure: I am a co-founder of the GPR site). Here are the two pages that you will find helpful in organizing your Emergency Food Pantry preparation needs:
Food-Getting Started
Food-Options

Pantry Preparation = Peace of Mind!

Baking Powder

by roger o

Hi Everyone! Most of us who bake, (or want to learn to bake!), realize that one of the staples of baking is the use of baking powder as a leavening agent. Baking powder when mixed with wet ingredients causes a chemical reaction to start that produces CO2 gas bubbles which makes the mix lighter.

What most don't know is that baking powder does not store very well, and loses it's leavening power quickly.

What I have found is that it is very easy to make your own baking powder, and use it as you need it. The 2 ingredients that make it up last indefinitely when stored separately.

For each teaspoon of fresh baking powder, mix 1/4 tsp baking soda (sodium bicarb), and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter (http://spicebarn.com/cream_of_tartar.htm.

Try it, it's easy, less expensive than the commercial product, and you will always have a fresh supply of baking powder!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Canadian Preppers Network now has a forum!

The Canadian Preppers Network now has a forum!  Please come check it out and start some discussions.  Introduce yourself and let us know what you do to prepare.

Click Here:
www.CanadianPreppersNetwork.net