What Preppers do With Their Extra Food

What Preppers do With Their Extra Food

As food prices rise it seems even more important to learn how to preserve what we can’t eat. There are many ways to do that as we learned in a recent Meetup on “Canning and Food Preservation”. You don’t have to know how to do them all but the more you know the better off you will be. If you’re a prepper there are other considerations to take into account also.

Don’t throw out food you can’t eat, preserve it for later.

You can read how to can and preserve from books but the doing is really the best way to master these skills. Look here for which way is best for you.

Dehydrating – This is the process of removing water from the food.  There are several methods to do this. You can use an electric dehydrator, conventional oven, sun oven or simply place food outside to air dry on a screen. With all the methods food is placed on trays or screens so that air can circulate around the food. An electric dehydrator has a fan that blows air across the food to increase the drying time. This can take several hours but it’s simple and you can walk away and let the unit do the work for you. Many food dehydrators are on the market but Excalibur is the top of the line in this food preservation area. We use the All American Sun Oven for our cooking and preserving.

You need to slice the food in consistent sized slices so the food all dehydrates at the same time. But this is really the only problem you may have starting out.

Prepper note: Great method for prepping. It’s easily transportable, shelf stable and takes up little space.

Freeze Drying – Food is placed on trays in a freeze drying unit in the same ways as dehydrating. But this process uses cold temperatures to form crystals that then evaporate. All water is removed from the food just like dehydrating but is very expensive for home use. Units are around $2000. Which makes it pricey for most.

You will need consistent food slices on this method as well for the food to dry evenly.

Prepper note: Great method for prepping. It’s easily transportable, shelf stable and takes up little space.

Water Bath Canning – In this method you are either cold packing or hot packing food into glass jars. You place them into boiling water, in a water bath canner, for a specific amount of time to kill bacteria and let them cool to seal. Ball is the leader in this field. The Ball Blue book should be your bible in this area.

This method is simpler than pressure canning and less “scary” for most people than pressure canning. Use this method for high acid foods such as tomatoes, pickles and jellies.

Prepper note: Great flavor but harder to transport if you have to leave your location. Jars are easily broken.

Pressure Canning – To pressure can the method is the same as water bath canning but the food is brought up to a certain pressure within the canner to kill bacteria. You can use this method to can all foods including low acid foods such as meats and vegetables. Ball is the leader in this field. The Ball Blue book should be your bible in this area.

Prepper note: Great flavor but harder to transport if you have to leave your location. Jars are easily broken.

Freezing – This is probably the easiest of the methods if you’re just getting started. Most foods you can simply put in a freezer bag and throw it in the freezer.

Vegetables are controversial on whether to blanch or not to blanch. Some people do and some don’t. Blanching is a method of putting vegetables in boiling water for a few seconds and then plunging them into cold water. This stops an enzyme action that causes loss of flavor, color and texture. This happens after about nine months without blanching.

Fruit can go directly into a freezer bag and into the freezer. To prevent the fruit from sticking together you can freeze the pieces on a cookie sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag.

Prepper note: This method is not recommended as a preservation method for preppers in case of a grid down situation.

Fermenting – This is the process of growing good bacteria. If you’ve had sauerkraut you’ve eaten fermented foods. In this method you put vegetables in a jar with salt and weigh the contents down. You leave the jar sit for several days for the fermentation to take place and then enjoy. If you don’t have a cool place to put the fermented foods like a root cellar the contents will need to be refrigerated.

Prepper note: For obvious reasons this is not an ideal preservation method unless you have a cool location besides the refrigerator to keep the fermented jars.

Smoking – If you’re planning on smoking meat to store in your go bag. You will need to use a curing mixture that you treat the meat with and the meat will need to have a specific internal temperature to be safe to store outside of a refrigerator. If you’re going to smoke the meat and then store in the refrigerator you do not need the curing mixture.

Your smokehouse or smoker will need to have a specific amount of heat, airflow, and moisture to create the right environment for smoking. It must maintain a minimum of 140 degrees to safely preserve your meat.

Prepper note: Great method for prepping. It’s easily transportable, shelf stable and takes up little space.

Salting – With this method meat is covered in salt, a lot of salt or in a water/salt combination called a brine. It is left in a cool place, no more than 36 degrees for a month. You have to make sure it doesn’t freeze or get too hot.

Prepper note: This requires a lot of salt which may be more valuable kept in the pantry for the iodine source. Unless you have a cellar to keep the meat cool this is not a great option for modern times.

There is a great satisfaction in knowing how to preserve your own food. It is also a very valuable prepper skill. As with all things you need to practice to be proficient and with food preservation if not done properly it could make you very sick or kill you. Food could easily spoil if you don’t follow directions correctly or try to cut corners.

Ball has several great books that show you step by step how to preserve your food safely from beginning to end. I’ve used their books for over forty-five years canning and preserving with my grandmother and mother. Don’t be afraid to get started. The easiest way is to choose a method and go for it. Get a good beginner book, pick out a recipe to try, read the recipe from beginning to end, setup your prepper kitchen with the supplies you need and pick a day to get started.

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