The fear of hunger is frightening, no matter how full your pantry may be. Finding enough food has been a problem since the dawn of humanity – and storing it efficiently was one of the earliest skills our ancestors learned. Storing food not only prolongs our ability to survive, but also puts our minds at ease.
The best part about long-term food storage is that it’s not expensive or difficult.
In the modern world, most of us don’t have to worry about how we will store food throughout the winter to survive until spring. However, food storage can wind up being the difference between life and death in an emergency. And the ability to store food properly is a must-have skill for anyone living off the grid or worried about a potential disaster or apocalypse.
Start small and start today. Purchase a few extra cans of veggies or bags of rice next time you go to the store. Figure out the best place in which to store extra food and water and start stockpiling. Stay organized: use cardboard boxes for easy storage and mark all items with date of purchase.
Did you know that nearly 50% of Americans don’t have enough food or water to last more than three days?? There’s really no excuse not to be prepared to survive for at least a few weeks. Nearly every grocery store offers a big variety of foods at decent prices that can be easily stored.
First in, First out
Remember: you don’t have all this extra food for nothing. When you face a disaster, whether it’s a simple power outage, short-term unemployment, or natural disaster, don’t hesitate to dig in. However, it’s very important that you eat the oldest foods first. This is why it’s important to date every item in your stockpile.
It’s not a good idea to depend on power or the Internet to manage your food stores. If all of your information is stored on a computer, make sure to print it out so you have a hard copy.
Items like beans and grains are at the top of most food storage lists. Keeping these items dry must be a priority. You may have purchased enough food to last 10 years, but if your stores get wet, you’re back at square one. Many people think of the garage as the best place to store food – but since a garage lacks insulation, your food is at the mercy of dampness, insects, and rodents.
When storing bulk beans, grains, and legumes, it’s not a bad idea to invest in some metal food grade cans (with lids) along with oxygen absorbers and desiccants. Make sure all lids are secure and when bagging food use two bags instead of one.
Nearly any food can be dried – think vegetables, fruits, and meats. Yeast and molds are far less likely to occur when foods are stored this way. And you won’t have to worry about spoilage. You can even make dried food in your own home with a food dehydrator.
Methods of Storage
If you don’t have a food dehydrator or if you want to diversify the foods in your store, there are several other techniques you can use to prepare food for long-term storage.
#1 Canning and Blanching
You may have seen your grandparents using these two old methods to store food. The process of canning, in which food is sealed while still hot, kills bacteria. Store canned foods away from direct sunlight and at room temperature. When you’ve used up your canned foods, you can reuse the canning jars. In other words, nothing is wasted.
Blanching, on the other hand, is when you start the cooking process by submerging food in boiling water. The food is then removed and submerged in cold water. The items are then bagged and frozen. Blanching preserves freshness as well as the food’s aroma. Blanching is best used with vegetables.
While often used as a way to flavor meat, smoking is also a great way to prepare food for long-term storage. Smoking is best used with fish and meat, but can also be used to prepare vegetables. Smoked meat is hung above a fire (fueled by hardwood) of which the temperature is kept between 43 and 159 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat kills bacteria. Smoked foods are best kept in vacuum sealed bags.
#3 Pickling, Brining, and Salting
Stick with natural preservatives like salt, vinegar, and spices. When the modern world is a distant memory, people will no longer have use of artificial preservatives like liquid or powdered chemicals. The process of pickling involves vinegar and salt to preserve veggies, fruits, and meat. Brining is similar to marinating and is used mainly for poultry and other meat. Brining involves soaking the meat in a combination of sugar, salt, and cold water for 6-12 hours. This prevents microbes from growing.
Salt has been used as a preservative for hundreds of years and works by sucking the moisture out of meat. This prevents bacteria from growing. Salted meats must be kept away from open air. Meats prepared this way, however, will taste extremely salty and might not be appropriate for everyone.
#4 Oil and Honey
An ancient technique of food storage that is no longer common today involves the use of oil or honey to prevent bacteria from growing. Veggies, fruits, and meat can be stored this way. Honey draws moisture from food with sugar and osmotic value. Oil, on the other hand, kills pathogens and microbes by preventing the flow of oxygen.
#5 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
If you don’t want to prepare food yourself, you can always purchase MREs. While this may save you time, MREs are more expensive and won’t taste as good as food prepared using the methods described above. It’s not a bad idea to use MREs as a small portion of your food stores, however, as they have a very long shelf life and are already packaged for storage.
No matter where you live, it’s always a good idea to have backup food and water! When disaster strikes, you don’t want your family to have to fight or barter for food. A stockpile of food and water is the best way to ensure survival when emergency strikes. Start stockpiling today. You won’t regret it!