So you finally got another freezer to store all that great food you’ve gathered from your garden, with plenty of space for some fine venison roasts, chicken, and that terrific sausage you made. You can store quite a good amount of food in a freezer and it is very handy. You can easily have hundreds of dollars of food in your freezer that will sustain your family in times of economic hardship, or an unforeseen food shortage, for example, if your garden doesn’t fare well or the hunter missed his mark. It feels good to have all that food stored up and ready to feed your family. I freeze breads, casseroles, meatloaf, vegetables, fruits, cheese, hamburger and chicken to name a few. I love that I can go to my freezer and there are all sorts of delectable delights just waiting to be thawed and eaten.
But what if the power goes out? What if there is a power grid failure, severe storm, tornado, or other natural disaster, or even martial law? How soon will the power be back on and how will you cope without food to feed your family? Well, of course you have dried goods and canned goods on your shelf (and a manual can opener). But the thought of losing all that food knowing you have 6 months to a year of food in your freezer to supplement your other goods is not consoling when you could lose it all. Ideally, food can last up to 3 days in the freezer if it is not opened and it is not too terribly hot outside. Ice cream? Well, maybe it can be dairy night for dinner.
Have a backup plan. Own and know how to use a pressure canner safely, and have an up-to-date Ball Blue Book. I never use up all my canning jars and lids just in case I am fortunate to have a windfall of produce or other goods, or if we lose power for an extended period. I also keep pectin, salt, sugar, lemon juice and vinegar handy. I have an alternate source of cooking because our stove is propane, although our oven is electric. You can always use a Coleman stove, so be sure to store up enough propane bottles. Our BBQ also has a single burner on it, but may need extra support to hold a canner load on it. Own an extra propane tank (full), or don’t let yours become less than ½ full. Owning a generator, if you can afford it, to power an electric stove or dehydrator, is another option. Of course, the sound of a generator announces that you have power and may invite unwanted guests. Use your best judgment. Is it possible to obtain dry ice? That is another source to consider for extending the freezer life of your foods.
Vegetables can hold for a day or 3 if needed in a cool area, such as the north side of the house, or in a root cellar. But meat and seafood will not wait. If power is out for 24-36 hours, you’d better start canning. Food will have already started thawing. Pull out your meat and seafood first. Keep the other goods in there with the door closed. If you live in Alaska or somewhere where you have a lot of frozen fish, can that first. Next, can up your meat. It is imperative that the food be canned before it thaws and is ruined.
While you have a load of meat in the canner, and if it is feasible, you could prep food for dehydrating. For example, frozen vegetables have already been blanched so you don’t need to worry about heating up water to blanch them, just throw them on your dehydrator trays and set in the sun, covered with cheese cloth, or use your generator powered dehydrator to get them dried. Store your dehydrated food in canning jars, Ziploc bags, or Mylar bags.
If you have a lot of fruits, make some jam with that pectin you have on hand, instead of dehydrating or canning them. Do you have a lot of corn in your freezer? Make corn salsa and can it in a water bath.
What about those other foods in your freezer such as casseroles, cheese, soups, and meatballs? I wouldn’t can most casseroles, especially if they have pasta or rice in them. But meatballs can up well and so do most soups. It would be best to dispose of food of questionable canning ability, or to eat it right away. Don’t forget to label and date your food.
The bottom line with food is to have a plan with how to cope with loss of power. You will want to be able to heat water and food. Of course, you don’t want to lose your harvest, all your hard work and money spent. So invest in a pressure canner and practice using it. My All American 921 will hold 16 pints. Get comfortable with it so when times are stressful, you can sail through and preserve your frozen cache. Knowing how to properly can foods in both a pressure canner and water bath is a valuable skill to have. Canned foods are terrific for food storage, economical, and a great way to preserve food when the unexpected happens.
Submitted by Rose –
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