Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stocking the Best Emergency Food Supplies for Your Family

A solid emergency preparedness plan relies on having a sensible food strategy. Our food chain supply is incredibly fragile and should a disaster hit, you will need to have an alternative method for feeding your family. My Patriot Supply recommends a four tiered strategy for preparing for the worst.
Immediate Nourishment
When disaster strikes it is important to have food immediately available for consumption. The simplest way to do it is by purchasing long term storage meals from a reputable manufacturer. It is important to look at three major considerations when choosing a long term emergency food.  Taste, quality of ingredients and finally term of safe storage.  Our team has created our exclusive Patriot Pantry brand of Emergency Foods to be consistently superior in taste, offering the healthiest ingredients available and features storability for a full 25 years... so this is something worth considering when making your selection.  In addition, we are the first and only company to offer our foods in space saving, streamlined storage totes. If you are concerned about the food quality, there are excellent “72 Hour Packages” of emergency food that will allow you to test out the meals. If you find that you enjoy certain meals more than others, you can always customize your long term storage food package.
Be sure to:
  • Have 6 month to a year’s supply of meals for each member of the family.
  • Store food in a dry, safe place.
  • If possible, store batches of food in several different locations in case one area gets compromised / flooded / contaminated.
Canning - The Hobby that Can Help You Survive
Canning food at home is a great way to complement your long term storage supply. Canned foods will allow you to vary meals and further diversify nutrients. It is important, however, to stress that canning must be done correctly to ensure the food is edible. Poorly canned food can make a human ill or even prove fatal… not a risk you want to take with your emergency food strategy!
So, in order to ensure a solid collection of reliable canned food stuff, now is the time to start educating yourself. Invest in a quality “how to” guide and home canning equipment and start canning now. If you are just starting out, check out our Start Canning at Home Blog. Be sure to:
  • Use steam under pressure to heat jar contents to 240 degrees in order to destroy botulism spores.
  • Avoid canning anything that is moist, low acid, and airless – the fundamentals of a hearty botulism host.
  • Avoid canning foods like refried beans and pumpkin puree as they are too dense to truly safely pickle at home. Rather can beans and pumpkin chunks whole, then mash when they are opened.
  • Avoid canning high fat foods like butter, bacon, and lard as these foods are more apt to harbor botulism.
  • Pickled eggs should always be stored in the fridge and thus do not make great additions to your survival food vault.
  • And remember... when in doubt, throw it out.

Regenerative Food Supply
Now that you have an immediate food source in place, it is time to think about a regenerative food source, the best form of which is a survival garden. Start your garden now; so that you get a solid understand of planting and harvesting techniques. Also invest in several survival seed vaults to have on hand in case your existing garden is contaminated or you are forced to relocate at the time of the disaster. Check out our Start a survival garden blog for easy tips for initiating your garden.
Without it, everything else is pointless!
Water is the essential building block of life. If you do not have a clean water supply, everything stated above is for naught. Our team recommends having a large scale water purification system on hand that processes several gallons at a time, but there are also more compact options such as water treatment tablets and personal straw filters. Just be sure to keep enough on hand to support every family member.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Start Canning at Home

In step with the local food movement, home canning has experienced a popularity surge in America. As recent as 5 years ago, many Americans dismissed canning as a relic of the past, but today it is a thriving pastime and home canning enthusiasts can be found in urban, suburban and rural communities alike. Folks can for all sorts of reasons, including canning for profit, canning for food storage, canning to preserve a bountiful backyard harvest, canning to save money, and canning for pleasure. There are even canning communities who swap their recipes and wares, making canning both practical and social.

If you are interested in trying your hand at canning, chances are you already have a lot of the necessary equipment in your kitchen. Some of these tools will vary depending on what you are canning, but to help you get started, here is a quick list of the most popular home canning equipment you might need:

The Basics: Most Kitchens Have These Essentials

  • Large stock pot (MUST be deeper than the jars you plan to fill)
  • Tongs
  • Vegetable brush
  • A chopstick and/or spatula
  • Knife / knives
  • Kitchen funnel (there are also special, inexpensive canning funnels available that make things a bit easier)
  • Cutting board
  • Peeler
  • Large saucepan
  • Spoons
  • Ladle
  • Measuring cups
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Strainer
  • Jelly thermometer
  • Timer
  • Lots of kitchen towels or rags

Specialty Items: You Probably Don’t Have These on Hand

  • Jars with replacement rubber rings
  • Jar lifter (safely lifts jars from boiling water)
  • Reusable canning jar lids
  • Jar canner and rack
  • Water bath canner – these are good for high acidity canning such as jams, fruit chutney and tomatoes based recipes
  • Pressure canner – these are good for low acidity foods, such as pickles, corn and green beans

A good home canning student also arms themselves with a solid “how to” and canning recipe book. My Patriot Supply recommends The Art of Canning DVD from the Homestead Blessings series and The BIg Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W Costenbader.

A couple helpful tips to get you started:

  • Canned foods make great gifts so start canning today for an inexpensive holiday season!
  • Keep jars warm until you fill them to avoid cracking.
  • Keep the lid on your water bath while working up to a boil; the room with be so much more comfortable and the water won’t evaporate.
  • Remove air bubbles with a chopstick in the center, and a spatula or knife around the can’s edges.
  • After capping the jar, ensure the “dimple” on the lid is concave.
  • Take the rings off the jars after they have cooled to prevent rusting.
  • You can reuse jars and lids as long as they are in perfect condition; less than perfect jars may lead to spoiled food.
  • Avoid “antique” jars as they will be imperfect and will likely break or spoil the food.
  • Always keep extra lids on hand as they seem to be the first canning supplies to wear out.

While it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, home canning is an engaging activity that is both practical and fun. Whether you are looking to store food for emergencies or sell preserves at a local farmer’s market, home canning is a skill that every family can embrace.