Tag Archive: food storage


chicken
Protein is an invaluable source of long term energy in a survival situation or in any situation in which we are called upon to exert more energy than usual (camping, running, etc.) and/or a time when you can’t really cook or want to keep it simple during and emergency…prepackaged dehydrated food is great if you can find it cheaply, but knowing how to properly dehydrate protein NOW, yourself, before something happens is something to learn how to do and after the initial expense of buying a good dehydrator you will wind up saving yourself tons of money, not mention YOU get to control what goes in your food.

Previously I had dehydrated chicken breasts using one of those smaller, cheaper food dehydrators and honestly, after rehydrating and trying to eat it on the go, I thought that perhaps there could be a better, more flavorful way of doing this.

I wound up buying last year an excellent Excalibur Food dehydrator at a good discount from ebay simply because I was becoming frustrated with the limited amount drying space I had with my old round one. It wasn’t very efficient at drying, the middle ring took forever to dry, with the bottom and top ones drying very quickly and uneven drying on all rings so I was constantly moving the food I was drying around and the large slots meant a lot of food fell through as it was drying…nope…I bit the bullet and bought a good, solid Excalibur and I highly recommend that if you are serious about drying foods for storage or use during camping that you get one…well worth the money!

So here we go again on how to dehydrate chicken, while the first article I wrote on dehydrating chicken is a great and simple start to doing so, I have tweaked my technique and have learned a few tips to add to dehydrating your chicken to make your chicken turn out so much more better.

What you will need:
Dehydrator
Chicken (whatever you can lay your hands on cheaply)
Large pot for boiling your chicken
Powdered Seasonings for infusing flavor into the chicken

One thing I have learned since last writing about dehydrating chicken is that DARK MEAT is the best when dehydrating chicken. When you go to rehydrate or eat it like jerky, it rehydrates much more readily which can be important if you are carrying it with you to eat on the run.

I also like to use thigh or leg meat verses the breast…again, just easier to rehydrate. But use what you have, white meat, thigh, breast, leg, whatever, the process drying is the same. My only note on chicken breast is that it rehydrates more slowly and is tougher after rehydrating (not to mention it COSTS more money unless you can get a real deal on it). And don’t forget you can use bone in or bone out.

So, I found on clearance boneless chicken thighs (mostly dark meat) at the local market…spent maybe $2 for the package. If you are using chicken with bones in it, you will just need to spend the time taking the meat off the bone before putting in the dehydrator.

In one large pot I put 12 cups of water, seasonings to taste (I like to use garlic and onion powder with a touch of salt) and put about 1/3 of cup of each into the water. Then in goes the chicken.

At this point I bring the water, seasonings and chicken to a roiling boil and allow it boil itself until done. You will have to gauge for yourself when it is done cooking as boiling/cooking time will depend upon what you are using. To speed up the process of cooking and if you are using chicken breasts, I have found that by cutting up the breast into chunks FIRST (raw) and then cooking saves time and you don’t over cook the thinner chicken.

When the chicken is done cooking you will then need to do one of two things at this point…if you are using chicken that has a bone in it, you will need to get the meat of the bone place the meat on a plate covered with a couple layers of towels.
If you are using boneless meat you may just place the meat on a plate covered with a couple layers of towels.
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FYI: That water you just added spices to and boiled your chicken in? Excellent stock/soup base…don’t throw it away! Extend your money! Can it, freeze it, etc. IF you find yourself without power you have ‘instant’ soup base to rehydrate your chicken in!

Next, you will want to take two more towels, lay them over your meat and press the ‘juice’ out of the meat…this helps to speed up the drying time and keeps the meat from becoming too tough from ‘over dehydrating’ which can easily be done since everything you dehydrate is from the outside in and meat likes to retain its moisture! It wouldn’t to ‘burn’ (over cook so to speak) your meat!

Then allow to cool to room temperature, to speed this up you may place in the refrigerator. I am not sure WHY this helps, but by accident and then by design I have found that this really helps with retaining texture, taste and helps prevent the meat from being tough after rehydration (even with chicken breasts).

After your chicken meat cools off you will need to pull or cut into bite size pieces or whatever size you want. I just like bite size because its faster to dry and easier to rehydrate in your mouth if you want to eat it like that and if using in soups or casseroles you require less water/time to rehydrate (which is important especially if using with noodles or dehydrated veggies which rehydrate faster).

Very lightly spray your trays with an oil (not a lot, just a very, very light coat). This will prevent sticking which is very important if you are using one of the dehydrators that cheaper ones with the big slots. Not so important with an Excalibur as the screen is flexible, but I still spray, makes clean up easier!

Now you are ready to put your chicken pieces on the drying racks…
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At this point, close up your dehydrator…if you have one that allows you to set a temperature on it, you will use 155 degrees temperature setting, if not, just turn it on.
Leave the dehydrator be for at least 3 hours before opening and checking on the chicken. After 3 hours I found mine almost done. You may or may not have the same experience. But if not almost done at this point (and there are many factors that control this) close back up and check again in a couple of hours.

For those with the smaller, cheap dehydrators you may find yourself having to move trays and chicken around to get more even drying. If I am dehydrating A LOT of meat in my Excalibur I wind up moving the racks around once, the top one and bottom one go into the middle and the middle racks go on the top/bottom. But with only 2 racks in I did not have to do this.

IF almost done, shut it down and allow to cool again. I left mine overnight.
The point being is that you will want to shut the dehydrator off when the meat is almost completely dry and allow to cool off.

After cooling off, restart your dehydrator to finish dehydrating. Be careful at this point to check about every half hour so you do not over dehydrate and potentially burn your chicken.

You will know its completely dehydrated when it is no ‘spongy’. I like to ‘sample’ a piece. It will be ‘dry’ and crunchy but easy to chew. Don’t worry if it’s ‘hard’ that happens, but the more you dehydrate meat the better you will get at gauging when its ‘perfect’.

Allow to cool again before packaging by the method you want to do so. If you will be using within the week, ziplock baggies are great…anything longer than a week and you will want to vacuum seal the chicken some how, in a jar or a food saver, though the old timers never did this! For long term storage you will want to remove all the oxygen for best results and longest shelf life. Will store this way for AT LEAST a year, depending upon storage conditions.

Dehydrated properly, chicken (or any meat) is a great way to save money on food storage, make ‘fast food’ meals with little to no mess (one pot! Ever tried cooking after a hurricane? The less ‘pots’ the better!) or it’s a cheap way to make your own camping/bug out food.

My end result:
About 4 cups of protein and weighs in at just over 2 ounces.

To use:
Pretty simple, you can either just munch on it using your own spit to rehydrate it or you can add to water, soups, and so much more! Put together with veggies and noodles in water for a fast meal. Takes about 15 minutes in boiling water to completely rehydrate and heat depending upon the size you make the ‘bites’.

Dehydrating Tomatoes!

Dehydrating Tomatoes

This is the year that I decided to become ambitious in my gardening, well, new raised beds were built, great soil mix put in, plants carefully selected (will say that after a disastrous year previously with heirlooms I went half with hybrids and half heirlooms) and put into the ground. But that is another story for another time. Last year was extremely hot and dry, bad crops…this year we were blessed with too much rain and cooler temps. My mother had mixed results with her tomotoes but she planted about 12 of them and its just her eating them, so she has some for dehydrating. Me, I only planted 4 and they took off great, then the rain came and came some more…got one good round of smaller tomatos which took forever to ripen and now the plants look like drowned cats…seriously, but that story and some ideas are for another post. I only mention this because I broke down and went to the store looking for some decent deals on tomatoes for dehydrating for use this winter. Got lucky and found different ones for between .99 and 1.39 a pound (yes, that much even though I live in the heart of tomato country the rain has caused massive crop failure of a lot of plants). So biting the bullet I purchased about 11 lbs of tomatoes, average cost of about 1.05 a pound.

In years past I have thinly sliced my tomatoes and then placed them on racks (I had an old round dehydrator that was labor intensive and not very good) stacked 5 high and plugged in to let it work. It was constant checking, moving tomato slices or chunks around, they stuck, broke…lets just say it was a nightmare and not fun at all. Some burned, some fell to pieces…arghh…what is the point in dehydrating if you have to do so much work and still wind up with something that is not good? Cheap is not necessarily the best way to go…so last summer at the end of the summer I broke down and purchased an Excalibur Food Dehydrator. Did my research on which one to get as some are really fancy and large and others are very plain jane. I settled on one with temperature control (mostly due to the fact that the little cheap round dehydrators dry at one temp causing more work than I wanted to put in) and 5 racks. More research into this I also purchased some solid drying sheets and while not the ones that Excalibur makes (thin silicone that supposedly lasts for ever but apparently don’t and are hard to clean, etc.) but an off brand that is much cheaper…harder to wash without crimping the sheet, but cheap…Made all sorts of things last fall including fruit roll ups that lasted about two seconds in my house. I was very happy with the purchase and Excalibur lives up to its reputation, so if you can, do get one, and no, Excalibur is NOT paying me, I just like it for its ease of use, clean up and the fact that I can easily control the temperature with ease. Cut, place and walk away basically…

This year I decided to try something different with the tomatoes on the advice of my mother who has dehydrated for years…first off, to prevent your tomatoes from sticking (and they will!) lightly spray or coat your racks with olive oil or something other oil that will not go rancid in a high temperature setting for a short period of time…olive oil is your best bet. And YES, I know ‘they say’ not to use ‘fats’ when dehydrating because they go rancid or someother goobly gook…I will put it this way to you, I know quite a few people who have dehydrated in my family and NO ONE HAS HAD AN ISSUE with using oil on their sheets or trays to date and my family has been dehydrating and preserving for generations. My own ‘need’ to ‘follow the rules’ resulted in a lot of wasted time, effort and energy, so, BREAK THE RULES!!!

Get your tomatoes ready by thoroughly cleaning them and then slicing THICK…about ½ inch thick. Now what size or shape you choose to finish cutting them up…sliced, diced…your choice, I chose to ‘dice’ them in about 1 inch chunks or so since my primary purpose will be adding to soups and such later on. Dehydrated sliced tomatoes would be best suited to casseroles, pizza or eaten like ‘tomato candy’ (dried tomatoes are VERY SWEET).

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11 lbs of tomatoes took up every inch of the 5 racks I have available to me once diced up in 1 inch by ½ inch cubes/pieces. I layer one rack and then put it in the dehydrator (not running at this point). Keep doing this until you have filled your racks. By the way, I suggest NOT cutting everything up but cutting as you fill the racks, this way you do not have produce leftover that is cut up and no place to put it to dry.

With all 5 FULL (and again, I am breaking the rules, ‘they say’ NOT to allow things to touch, make sure you have enough space around your material that you are drying to allow ‘proper air flow’…ugh…time for the real world please!) and yes, they are close or touching…I put the door onto the dehydrator, set the temperature dial to 125 degrees (which is what is recommended for veggies and yes, I have found this to be ‘right’ otherwise they will ‘burn’) and walk away for the next 12 hours. Did not open the door or check on things until I woke up the next morning and this is what I found….

At this point I did switch the racks around taking the top and bottom racks to the middle rack area and the middle racks to the top/bottom. This does help with the dehydrating process especially if your dehydrator is full like mine was. Put the door back on and walked away again until after dinner (about another 12 hours) and found this…

NOW they are really starting to dry and I simply took my fingers and moved them around flipping them in a general way (not all were flipped…this not an exact science). Walked away until I was ready for bead and came back to the dehydrator. At this point, drying was well on its way and I took two racks out, put them on the counter top and added the remaining racks of the tomatoes still in the dehydrator to the two on the counter top leaving me only TWO racks to put back in, one near the top and one near the bottom. Yes, I combined the racks! With the tomatoes half dried and much smaller than originally started with you can do this and it really helps with finishing up the drying. Racks back in and off to bed I went.

Next morning I was pleased to find that my thickly diced tomatoes were done!

Nice and sweet, ready to cool off. Now that is important to make note of…allow your freshly dehydrated items to thoroughly cool off BEFORE packing, if not, you will wind up with condensation and the resulting mold and spoilage due to moisture!

With 11 lbs of tomatoes I wound up with less than half a quart zip lock baggie of dried diced tomatoes, ready to be sealed up and used at a later date.

It seemed to take a really long time (36 hrs) to dry these tomatoes, but keep in mind times for dehydrating will vary depending up the fruit/veggie used, thickness and humidity in the air (very humid in my house right now with all the rain). So, if you are thinking checking only every 12 is a long time, then check every 4 or 6 if you wish until you get comfortable with the process and learn to trust the process. But keep in the mind, the more you open the dehydrator, the longer it will take.

Enjoy trying out making your own dehydrated tomatoes this year!

Hi all! Been away for a while dealing with one of the worst migraines I have had in over a decade…ugh…yuck…they are muscular from stress and lack of sleep and I finally broke down and went to the doctor and am on the mend now, thank goodness.

But as always, this was a learning experience for me…be prepared and don’t rely on one way to take care of yourself and family if TSHTF. Built in redundancy is another way to think about it…either food, medicine, self-defense measures, water or what have you.

Having one way is a good place to start when becoming prepared for what may come, but having a back-up just in case is even better and a ‘last resort’ is the best.

Food wise for me this means a good mix of can goods, MRE’s, freezed dried foods, dry goods and of course, keeping my frig full (not to mention keeping your refrigerator full saves you money because, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, it has to work less as food stays cold longer than air does). Under food I including cooking methods too…electric stove, wood stove, gas grill, gas camping cooker and eventually I want charcoal too and perhaps a solar cooker. And then don’t forget can openers (I have two in the house and 2 stashed away), plates (paper and/or extra regular dishes). Paper/plastic cups are good too.

Medicine– its no secret that I am a practicing herbalist so I have one aspect covered, but I do stock Tylenol, ibuprophen, aspirin, Excedrin, cough syrups (both OTC and herbal) and my own supply of needed pharmaceuticals. I also have a good stock of essential oils and homeopathics. But as I found out this past week, sometimes I will need other types of prescriptions and I am now on the march to find a few more common ones ‘just in case’ all else fails. I have what seems like a zillion and one bandages of all sorts and types, but you know, I have also stocked up on female sanitary pads too as part of ‘medical’…these make GREAT wound absorbers in a pinch.

Self-defense– While I don’t personally know karate or anything like that (though I am not afraid to use my hands if need be) I do have dogs, weapons of various sorts and have been thinking about adding pepper spray to my personal protection plans…but this area also covers escape routes and knowing them (do you know several ways out of your area if need be?) and what about where you frequently shop or go to work? How many ways do you know how to get home from there without using GPS? Knowing the roads around you is important. And what about home security which is ‘self-defense’ also? I can’t maintain OPSEC (operational security) and tell you what I have done personally, but suffice to say things are moving along nicely…some ideas for home security are nice rose bushes under your windows (or even the medicinal plant Oregon Graperoot, which is similar to Goldenseal in its uses), a home security alarm system, motion detector lights, nice tall wooden fences, a gate at the end of your driveway. If you have a large piece of land, barbwire all the way around your property at three different heights could slow someone or something down a bit, high tinsel wire fences that are electrified…the list goes on and on, but the point being is that you use more than one way to protect your home, some seen, some not seen.

Water– having more than one source or way to get water is important too…bottled water, both by the gallon and small drinking water bottles…ways to purify water, chemical, boiling, filtration, and where would you get it? Know at 3 places in your area if possible that you can get water. You can also collect rain water in most areas of the US (check first please, I know some places out west it is illegal to collect rain water). This is a just a basic start to building in redundancy into your preparedness plans, there are other aspects such as ‘money’ or things to barter with, jobs- have multiple sources of income is a good thing, computer files too (how many of you have lost files because your computer crashed? Well, having no electricity is about the samething, what are different ways you can access the information without your main computer? The Kindle accepts PDF files, thumb drives for small laptops, most smart phones take those micro-cards which you can put files onto…and as my recent health issue showed me, I need a few other ‘just in case’ things in case my original plan of taking care of myself doesn’t work.

Things have a way of not working out when you least expect it (which is part of SHFT) and knowing what to do just in case plan A doesn’t work out or runs out having plan B and C will make life easier and give you the breathing room you need…just in case and you never know…it just may save your life.

I grew up in a family where we kept months of basic food stuffs on hand and only went ‘shopping’ 2 or 3 times a year and yes, this included toilet paper, dog food and laundry detergent. My father was a Reservist and we didn’t have access to the commissary all the time, so we just ‘stocked’ up when he was ‘on’. At the time, I didn’t think anything about it, but my mother tells me that this was drilled into their heads by the military during the ‘60’s ‘just in case’… so it was natural for me to carry this behavior into my adult life, even when I was living on the edge as a young mother and wife in my early 20’s. You just kept food in the house beyond your immediate needs. You only went to the grocery store to get bread, milk and eggs twice a month. I was just what I did and I was very happy to have that mindset in me as I started my own businesses…I always had at least a month’s worth of food on hand and tried my best to have more, but never let it fall below that level…you never knew or know when or if ‘pay-day’ would come and you have to eat right? So I was quite comfortable with my food storage even though I wasn’t a prepper, it was just the prudent thing to do given the circumstances of my life. But over the past few years, and especially this year, it has really come to my attention that our way of life here in this country is in a very precarious position and looking at my ‘storage’ which seemed so smart to me just even a year ago, I now realize just how unprepared I am/was when it cames to food storage and even I must do something to ‘fix’ that to be prepared for more than what I am now.

For those needing help in getting started, I have made some suggestions below to get you started:

Getting Started:

First, check your mindset: If you are not running to the grocery store every other day then you are probably already ‘storing’ food! Perhaps only for a week at a time, or even for just a few days, but you can take that and turn it into a solid food storage mindset and easily start extending that time out of what you already do to ‘store’ food. Instead of 6 cans of green beans that week, get 8. Instead of just 1 package of rice, get two and so on and so forth. Start looking into bulk storage items such as ‘staple’ dry goods or cases of canned goods that you use regularly this if you can afford it. Sam’s Club and Costco are great places to buy in bulk (just be aware that sometimes they aren’t the cheapest).

However, if you don’t already keep more food in the house than is needed on any given day then you need to ask yourself why you don’t keep a bit of food beyond the cheese-its on hand.

Ask yourself this:

What would happen if a storm hit and you couldn’t get out? Being a part of the stampede at the market before a storm hits isn’t too smart is it? Long lines, not enough food available and can be dangerous in the wrong conditions.

What would happen if you lost your job? Having a bit of food on hand for this emergency can save you money and give you a peace of mind that is priceless.

What would happen if your sole source of transportation (car) broke down or you couldn’t get gas?

Next I want you to think about these things:

Remember Katrina? There were people who DID all the right things, had extra food, water, basic first aid and STILL had problems surviving after a week.

Look at what is and what did happen inJapanin the aftermath of the earthquake and resulting tsunami…the shelves CLEARED in less than 6 hours and this country was considered ‘prepared’.

Then look at the list below:

Natural Disasters
Terrorism
Labor Strike

Economic Depression/Collapse
Drought
Crop Failure
Personal Tragedy
Civil Unrest

Unemployment

Inflation/Hyperinflation

What would you do if any of this happened to YOU? Do you really want to be apart of the horde that descends upon the Walmart or local grocery store? Or have to ‘get in line’ just to eat? I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but these things DO happen and they happen almost everyday somewhere in the world. You buy auto insurance, medical insurance and all sorts of ‘insurance’…just think of storing extra food as ‘insurance’…after all, without food you can’t live! So next time you are out, just pick up an extra meal or two. Get in the HABIT. Its pretty easy once you get going.

Now that you are getting the mindset…

Get a plan!

With pen in hand and paper in front of you (or your keyboard)…figure out what it is that your family LIKES TO EAT on a regular basis. Fresh fruit and veggies? Heavy meat eaters? Rice and pastas? I am not referring to fast food or convenience foods (though they do have a place in your food storage plan), but what I am referring to is this: what does your family eat if you MAKE the food yourself?

Staple items such as cereal, milk, rice, beans (or not), pasta, vegetables and meat will make the ‘core’ of your food storage preparations and you need to know what they are…my family doesn’t do beans that much so I won’t be ‘stocking’ up too much on these, but we do eat meat, so I spend my money ensuring meat and the occasional beans.

If you don’t cook yourself and rely upon convenience foods, take out and such that is okay! There is a solution for you too! Just figure out what types of foods you like to order  or pick up to eat at home (or microwave at home).

Make the LIST of your most common foods, from this list will come all your food storage items. List the drinks, the bread (if your family does sandwiches or eats rolls), the types of veggies and fruits, diary products, etc. You want a list that would show your dietary habits.

After the ‘LIST’ is made you then need to sit down and make another list…this time I want you to write down all the condiments that you use daily and even occasionally…ketchup? Salt? Vinegar? Spices? Mixes? The little things in your food life that often times we overlook as ‘using’ and being a part of our diet.

With both lists in hand you can then move onto the next stage of planning…just how much do you use and of what in any given week? (you can then plan from there on how much to buy and of what). This might seem challenging at first to figure out, but a simple way to figure this out is take the time to think about what your meals over the past week have been…this will give you a good idea of ‘how much’ you use in any given week, if need be, write a family food diary for a week, noting the ‘what and how much’. This even works for those of you who eat out a lot or use a lot of prepared food items.

For instance, if you eat cereal for breakfast each morning…how long does a box last for you or your family…1 week? A few days? A month? And don’t forget the milk! If you eat sandwiches and soup for lunch each day (lets say on the weekends) then how much do you use for you or your family? 1 can? 3 cans? For dinner, lets say you eat a steak, rice and salad with a veggie on the side or baked potato. How many steaks? How much rice? How many potatoes? You get the idea now…even if you eat out a lot or bring home meals that are ready made from the grocery store or buy those TV dinners you still know what is in them and you know what you like to eat. Just write it down. What is in your normal meal?

If you are into meal planning then figuring out what you will need should be easy. If not, make the lists to figure out what you need to get started. We can worry about drilling down to the details later.

Put your list into action!

With both lists in hand now you are ready to get going on your preparedness food storage…you know the basic ‘what’ and about how much without too much effort exerted. An extra box of mashpotatos, a few extra cans of green beans, an extra bag of rice, canned meat if you are meat eater. If you are a shopper who makes ‘lists’ when you go shopping, pick up an ‘extra’ of each of the basics you buy each time you go out. If you coupon or shop sales, more the better! Saving money is a great way to go and get prepared at the sametime.

For those who don’t know how to cook from scratch or don’t cook at all, go with can goods and MRE’s or other prepackaged meals that all you have to do is add water, like the ready made meals that many campers use. You can google MRE’s or camping food to find out where to get these. Walmart sometimes carry them in their sporting goods section. Ebay and Amazon are good places to look also as well as Dick’s Sporting Goods. But only buy what you KNOW you will eat. Or maybe its time for a change in your habits…learn now how to cook and prepare food yourself, only you can make that judgment call. But don’t let the fact that you can’t or don’t cook stop you from storing food.

Don’t try to do it over night, each time you go to the store add to your storage. Make a goal of having 3 extra days worth at first, then a weeks worth, then a months worth. Just keep at it. I understand that for many it may be hard to find the extra money to be able to store food…use coupons, shop sales, buy in bulk, cut back on fast food, eat a ‘cheap’ meal. Examine your expenses to find the extra money. It is there if you look. Do what you can when and where you can. If you find meat at a reduced price then buy all that you can afford and either dehydrate it or freeze it for food storage use. But make the commitment to have your food storage ‘just in case’. It will give you peace of mind by taking one less worry out of your life if something were to ever happen.

There are lots of ways to prepare your preparedness pantry…some people buy in bulk and store large quantities of ‘raw’ food stuff such as wheat, powdered milk, rice and beans and gather freeze dried foods in #10 cans. Others pick and choose between store bought items (can goods) and ‘raw’ food stuffs, #10 cans and canning and dehydration (this is what I personally do). Others go with can goods only. Others still go the MRE route entirely and there are a whole host of in betweens. No one ‘way’ or ‘type’ of food is perfect for everyone. That is why I ask you to make a list of what you normally eat and then buy that for your food storage.

 

REMEMBER the GOLDEN RULE OF FOOD STORAGE!!

 

Get what you will use!  people have this funny habit of NOT eating when they aren’t used to eating it. In fact, children will starve themselves rather than eat something unfamiliar. If you don’t eat beans, don’t get beans, if you don’t eat pineapple then I don’t care how good of a deal it is, it will go to waste and don’t fall prey to the ‘this is what is recommended’ food storage guidelines that are found everywhere. Store what you use and eat ONLY…it can’t be repeated enough…if you won’t it eat or use it, then you are wasting your time and money. As a by-product of getting what you will eat and use, you will also gain a sense of comfort and stability when things aren’t so good. Familiarity gives a sense of well-being that is priceless, and this includes food too!

At this point I should address something. If you like to eat bread or like ‘fresh’ veggies or fruit and want to incorporate pressure cooking or baking into your food preparedness plan, I will offer this caution. Learn to do it now and stock up while you are learning how to make your own basics. I can tell you that making breads and canning is more difficult than it seems and I applaud those who can do it with the grace and ease that escapes me at the moment. So for right now, I am buying a bit of the ‘from scratch’ basics and putting more money and effort into getting what I know I can cook with with ease until I am sure that I know what I am doing with the ‘basics’. This goes back to the ‘get what you will use’. If you can’t or don’t know how to use it then it will not be used.

General Guidelines for Food Storage

Once you are getting into the swing of the food storage mindset and acting upon it you will need to use the following guidelines:

If you decide to buy in bulk such items as wheat, dry milk, rice or other such items (dry goods) then be sure you have containers and packaging ready when you get home to put them into storage. There are a few ways to store dry good long-term such as bucket, mylar bags, air tight plastic containers, mason jars etc. You will need these items if you store in bulk. Do your research to select what will work best for you, your needs and what you will be storing.

Learn proper storage techniques: general rule of thumb, no extreme temperatures, no moisture. Food lasts longer the cooler and dryer it is.Think about where you can store your food storage. Your cabinets and pantry will get full. Think about the garage, under beds, in closets…I know some people who even put can goods behind books on the book case! Get creative.

LABEL your storage with what it is and date you put it into storage. This is especially important for bulk storage.

Rotate your food storage! The MOST IMPORTANT thing I can tell you about food storage is that it is necessary to ROTATE your food. Use the container (or can or package) that’s been stored the longest and replace it with newer stored containers behind the older ones. Food storage that spoils or lies untouched is garbage. This is especially important if you are freezing any items such as meat or buying frozen veggies. Don’t waste your time, effort and money by forgetting to ROTATE YOUR FOOD! Develop a method to rotate your food that works for you. Use what you store…this helps to rotate the food so you don’t waste your time and money.

So that is the ‘get you started’ basics in food storage. It is really just about recognizing the need, figuring out what you do eat and then getting a little more than you normally do. If you can afford to do so, do it quickly and if you are like me, do it one trip at a time, one item at a time as you can afford to do so. Just get started.

Here’s a good one that is rather telling: Yesterday in my mail I received a ‘renewal’ notice for my ‘new’ car tags. The tags which I just got at the end of May are good until May of 2013…and the DMV sent me a renewal notice that noted my tags were due for renewal (but clearly stated they were set to expire in 5/13)…now, I can understand a glitch that would send this out…but I am not the only who got something like that this week…Me thinks that the State is getting creative in finding money, after all, how many people get something like that and unthinkingly pay for it without a second thought? It is ‘just one of those things’ that you do, that you are trained to do. Of course I am not paying it and actually sent it back to them pointing out that I am not paying forward on a vehicle that I may not even have then (not exactly those words, I was a bit more creative).

Now, what does this have to do with surviving SHTF? It is part of the preparedness mind set. Understand, we have been taught to, more or less, as good little sheeple, to pay things like this on demand, without looking at it, simply because we get it from the state or the Feds or whatever ‘authority’ (including telephone companies, credit lenders, etc.) sends it to us. Many people get it and pay it without taking the time to look at the ‘bill’ to see if it is indeed valid. It is called ‘questioning’ what is the ‘truth’ or appears to be ‘true’ just because an ‘authority’ says it is true. Those who will survive turmoil in whatever manner it may come, will have the ability to openly question and spot BS or something that is not true. This is a survival skill folks, it is a mindset. And that mindset starts with LOOKING at what is being said to be ‘true’ and either confirming or denying it instead of just ‘assuming’ it is true. This means that you think for yourself and not follow the crowd or authority unthinkingly and without question. And yes, we are taught from birth to unquestioningly ‘follow’ authority even when everything inside us says that it is not right. We are taught, in this society that still holds to ‘conformity’ (and there is nothing inherently wrong with ‘conformity’ as long as it serves the good of both the individual and the whole), that to break away from the ‘herd’ means becoming an outcast and way back when, this meant death. People were cast out (literally) for not conforming to ‘community’ standards and group think. Think the Inquisition, Salem Witch Trials and even NOW, a woman faces jail time for going against ‘normal’ in growing her own food in the front yard. Yes, we are taught that to go against ‘norms’ and not conforming can get us in trouble.

In the media, the ‘survivalist’ movement and mindset is continually attacked with labels as ‘extremists’, fear mongers, and even the word crazy…uhuh. But what is really going on, underneath the surface in most cases, is that the people who live the preparedness lifestyle and have that mindset are going against ‘norms’ and groupthink. You are strange if you don’t have a college degree (or lazy or not smart) and the slavery known as student loan debt (and I have this puppy myself, but not a big one). You are strange if you put food up ‘just in case’ and don’t run to the grocery store every other day or don’t have a 401k plan and horrors…you are even stranger if you work for yourself or attempt to provide for yourself and have a weapon! You are going against the grain, against the group, against what ‘they’ are trying to say is ‘normal’. You think for yourself in most cases and this makes you QUESTION almost everything that you come across, simply because you don’t just ‘go along’ with the standard program and for someone who has the preparedness mindset, this is just ‘normal’ and becomes automatic. I like to think of this as the BS detector.

The powers that be know and understand that people are growing aware and asking questions, that their BS detectors are starting to go BEEP! They are just beginning to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, that they won’t survive if they don’t start questioning. But many people are still just going with the flow, ignoring their early warning BS detector beeps, which is just enough to encourage the ‘authorities’ to try things like sending out renewal notices or adding strange charges and such because they are playing the odds that you will ‘just do it’. Many people, who are questioning ‘the truth’ and just beginning to get prepared because they hear the faint beep, beep, go with the flow because they are afraid that if they don’t they will be labeled, cast out or thought of as ‘not being a good citizen’…they are afraid that if they are ‘found out’ they will get into trouble somehow. But as someone who is firmly set on her path of surviving SHTF in whatever manner it may come, I see it, I see what they are up to and call a spade a spade…yep, caught ya!  All because I question what the ‘truth’ is and am prepared to think for myself instead of just handing over my money, my property and liberty all for the illusion of safety and being ‘safe’. Does this make me or you a ‘radical’ or ‘unusual’ because of going against the ‘norms’? Hmm, seems to me the ‘norm’ goes against the natural order of things…

In my mind, one day, this non-sheeple mindset might just might save my home, my business or my life and that of those I love, but at the very least, yesterday it  saved me a nice chunk of change which I can put to better use right now. I am not going with the crowd, I am not giving up my liberties and I am definitely not being quite, but I am not an extremist and certainly not ‘unpatriotic’ nor ‘not a good citizen’…in fact, the exact opposite is true. But my mindset is preparedness oriented, on the look out and ready for whatever may come. I think and question and take action based on what I see to be the truth instead of being a part of the sheeple crowd…I can’t afford to be otherwise and neither can you…get your BS detector out folks…the beeps are coming hard and fast.

Water is essential to human life…heck, all ‘life’. It is needed for even the most mundane things that we do in life..cooking, cleaning, brush our teeth, flushing the toliet. We use water all the time and it is extremely important to have on hand for emergency or SHTF use…Where I live in the woods of Virginia it seems like everytime a storm comes through the power goes out…no joke…no power, no water (I have a well and electric pump and haven’t gotten around to solving this situation since its expensive to do so)…and this means no bathing, no drinking, no flushing of toliets…not to mention no coffee in the morning, but that’s for another time, either way its not fun and this happens even with no emergency. But it has brought to my attention just how much my family depends upon water and how much we use it…

While I know there is a ton of information out there on water and how much to store it is so important that I feel it necessary to repeat it here for your ready pleasure or perhaps, this ‘getting ready’ for what ever may come is all new to you, either way…it bears repeating:

A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need even more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day. You should store at least a one month supply of water for each member of your family.

If supplies run low, never ration drinking water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool. However, do reduce the using of water for other things in order to conserve.

Amount of Emergency Water to Store

Whereas a quart of water or other fluid daily will sustain life, according to the Department of Defense and the Office of Civil Defense, it is recommended that a gallon of water per day per person be stored for food preparation and drinking. A gallon provides added comfort and accommodates increased fluid needs at higher altitudes or warm climates. An additional one-half to 1 gallon per day is recommended for bathing and hygiene, and to wash dishes.

So this brings us to almost 2 gallons of water per day per person in order to be ‘comfortable’. Bathing is ‘wash pan’ bathing, not a shower or bath.

How much water should I store?

 The rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days (for earthquake preparedness). That’s 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. A family of four should store a minimum of 12 gallons of water.

Personally, I recommend at least a 30 day supply to fit all of your needs…drinking, cooking, cleaning, hygienic purposes. So, that is about 60 gallons per person to get you to 30 days.

Use the following guidelines when storing water:

1. Store drinking water in carefully cleaned, non-corrosive, tightly covered containers.

2. Store containers in a cool dark place. DO NOT store in direct sunlight. Polyethylene plastics (prepackaged milk and water bottles) are somewhat permeable to hydrocarbon vapors. Keep away from stored gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, or similar substances.

3. Stored tap water should be rotated every 6 months. Prepackaged bottled water should be rotated once a year. Check the pull date on the container. Be sure it didn’t sit on the store’s shelf for a year before you purchased it. Self Serve Bottled Water should be rotated once a year, as long as the water treatment process includes ozonation.

4. Rotate your stored water with the water you use on a regular basis. This practice helps insure you don’t have water stored longer than one year.

Containers That Can be Used for Water Storage

Food-grade plastic or glass containers are suitable for storing water. One-, three- and five-gallon water containers can be purchased from most outdoor or hardware stores. Any plastic or glass container that previously held food or beverages such as 2-liter soda bottles or water, juice, punch or milk jugs, also may be used. Stainless steel can be used to store water which has not been or will not be treated with chlorine; chlorine is corrosive to most metals.

55 gal drums, designed specifically for water storage can be difficult to transport, if the need arises, but are of a tremendous value in an emergency .When looking for additional food grade containers, the bottom will be stamped with HDPE (High Density PolyEthylene) and coded with the recycle symbol and a “2″ inside. HDPE containers are FDA-approved for food. Containers without these designations aren’t OK because of possible chemical interactions between the water and the plastic.

Clean used containers and lids with hot soapy water. Once the containers have been thoroughly cleaned, rinse them with water and sanitize the containers and lids by rinsing them with a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Leave the containers wet for two minutes, then rinse them again with water. Remember to remove the paper or plastic lid liners before washing the lids. It is very difficult to effectively remove all residue from many containers, so carefully clean hard-to-reach places like the handles of milk jugs. To sanitize stainless steel containers, place the container in boiling water for 10 minutes. Never use containers that previously held chemicals.

Do I Need to Treat Water?

Once you properly clean containers, fill them with potable, or safe, drinking water. All public water supplies are already treated and should be free of harmful bacteria. However, as an additional precaution, it is recommended that you add 5-7 drops, about 1/8 teaspoon, of chlorine bleach per gallon of water stored. This precaution protects you against any lingering organisms in storage containers that may have been inadvertently missed during the cleaning process. For a quart of water use only 2 drops.

 NOTE: Bleach has an expiration DATE! Be sure to rotate it OR keep pool shock on hand for disinfecting your water.

Where to Store Water

Clearly label all water containers “drinking water” with the current date. Store the water in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Do not store it near gasoline, kerosene, pesticides or similar substances.

When potable water is properly stored, it should have an indefinite shelf life; however, it’s a good idea to use and replace the stored water every 6 – 12 months. Rotating water this way provides you with an opportunity to experiment and check the amount of stored water against what you require. It also serves as an additional precaution against bacteria or viruses growing in containers which may not have been thoroughly or properly cleaned and sanitized.

If you have freezer space, storing some water in the freezer is a good idea. If you lose electricity, the frozen water will help keep foods in your freezer frozen until the power is restored. Make sure you leave 2 to 3 inches of space in containers because water expands as it freezes.

Emergency Sources of Water

In an emergency, if you have not previously stored water and commercial or public sources of water are not available, drain water from your plumbing system. Unless you are advised that the public water supply has been contaminated and is not safe, open the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and salvage the water stored in the heater. A typical water heater holds 30-60 gallons of water. Discard the first few gallons if they contain rust or sediment. Let the water heater cool before draining it from the heater so it does not scald you. Turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater to prevent the heater from operating without water. Once water has been drained into clean, sanitized containers, add 5-7 drops of chlorine bleach* per gallon of water, and stir or shake the solution to mix it. Let it set 30 minutes before use.

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources

If you need to find water outside your home, you can use these sources. Be sure to treat the water first. Additional sources include:

Rainwater Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water Ponds and lakes Natural springs Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first. You should not drink flood water.

Hidden Water Sources in Your Home

If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).

Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? You’ll need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines.

To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the house.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.

Using Swimming Pool Water

You should always view your pool as “backup” water; keep the water treated; you never know when it will be needed! The maintenance of the free chlorine residual will prevent establishment of any microorganisms. The maintenance level should be kept about 3-5ppm free chlorine. If other stored water stocks are not available, remove the necessary pool water and boil it or just treat with chlorine to the normal 5ppm. It is best to err on the side of caution.

Covering the pool at all times when not in use is a very good idea. Try to keep the cover clean and wash the area you put it on when removing it from the pool.

I personally do have a pool but don’t count it in my ‘drinkable’ water, category, but do include in my water storage program simply because it can be used for other things such as washing clothes, flushing toilets (septic only), and other uses of water that don’t involve consuming it after cleaning it (but for flushing who cares what is in it!)

If you MUST use pool water for drinking then purify it first, which may mean filtering, boiling and then adding a disinfectant depending on the condition of the pool water.

When and How to Treat Water for Storage

In an emergency, if you do not have water that you know is safe, it’s possible to purify water for drinking. Start with the cleanest water you can find and treat with one of the following methods:

Boiling and chlorinating: Water can be purified by boiling. Boiling times may vary from state to state, depending on altitude. InColorado, the water is safe to use once after it has been boiled for three to five minutes and has cooled. If you plan to store boiled water, pour it into clean, sanitized containers and let it cool to room temperature. Then add 5-7 drops, or 1/8 teaspoon, of chlorine bleach* per gallon of water (1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons). Stir or shake the solution to mix it. Cap the containers and store them in a cool, dry place.

Filtering and chlorinating: You can filter water if you have a commercial or backpack filter that filters to 1 micron. These are available in sporting good stores and are recommended for use when back-packing. They are not recommended to clean large volumes of water. Filtering eliminates parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium, but it may not eliminate all bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it’s recommended that 5-7 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach* be added per gallon of filtered water (1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons). Stir or shake the solution to mix it. Wait 30 minutes before using the water, or cap the containers and store them in a cool, dry place.

How to Disinfect Water Using Calcium Hypochlorite (or pool shock)

Using granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water is a two step process.

To make a stock of chlorine solution (do not drink this!) dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon (about one-quarter of an ounce) of high-test (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite for each two gallons (eight liters) of water.

To disinfect water add one part of the chlorine solution to 100 parts water to be treated.

Let the mixture sit for at least one-half hour before drinking.

Be sure to obtain the dry granular calcium hypochlorite since once it is made into a liquid solution it will begin to degrade and eventually become useless as a disinfecting agent. This also means you should make your treated drinking water in small batches, for example enough for a few weeks at a time at most.

Calcium hypochlorite will store for a long period of time and remain effective as a chemical drinking water treatment.

*Use liquid household bleach that contains 5.25 percent hypochlorite. Do not use bleaches with fresheners or scents as they may not be safe to consume. The above treatment methods use a two-step approach so less bleach is needed, yet giardia and cryptosporidium are destroyed through boiling or eliminated by filtering. Chlorine may not be effective against these parasites. Since adding too much chlorine to water can be harmful, it’s important to be as accurate as possible when measuring.

Distillation Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

Most water filtration devices are designed for use on microbiologically safe water. Don’t assume they are safe to use on contaminated water. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. If you are truly concerned about the ability to have safe water for extended periods of time be sure to get a water purifier and filtration system that will treat for microbes and other undesirable items.

Water is important!! and while it may seem ‘bulky’ to store, especially for a month per person, you can find inventative ways to do so…under the beds, in closets, garages, etc. I am lucky in that I have a pool to draw upon if things get really bad and we are looking at a long-term grid down situation so that I don’t have to store a lot of potable drinking water, but for those of you who don’t have this luxury, start storing it. Start small and managable, say enough water per person for 3 days, and then go to 7 days and keep going from there, you can do it and you will sleep better at night, I promise!

For more information on Water Storage and Purification visit:

http://www.captaindaves.com/guide/water.htm#Purification

The above was taken in whole or partially from http://www.nationalterroralert.com/safewater/