by James Nelson
While in many ways we prep just like everyone else. We are well armed with guns, the related skills and ammo. The Big Berkey is backed up with 40 gallons of stored water. We have various methods of cooking and heat, everything from home made stoves burning wood, rocket and wood gasification types with stored fuel, alcohol stoves of various types, and commercial stoves burning butane and propane. The 6 hour chafing dish alcohol burners work really well and cases prices at Sam’s run a little over a dollar each, and we have a lot of those stored also, There are led flashlights everywhere with extra batteries and solar and crank lanterns.
The only area that most of the prepper advice available does not apply to us is food, We are both carbohydrate, and especially wheat, intolerant. What this means is that all of the store grains and beans and sugar/honey plans are of no use to us, though we have stored an amount of rice and beans for others who may end up in need.
With the epidemic of blood sugar problems in this country, there are a lot of people out there in the same boat. If someone has type 2 diabetes and is dependent on insulin or other medications that are not available, changing to a very low carbohydrate diet can be a life saver. Peoples such as the Inuit (Eskimo) and the Masai have a traditional diet that contains little or no carbohydrate ad they live long and healthy lives. I’m not going to get into a log screed about this, but I have been doing low carb for about 9 years and have never felt better.
Food preps for us have to consist of proteins, fats and vegetables and by and large they require home preparation. We dry a great deal of vegetables, growing a small amount and buying bulk and in season. Food dryers are economical to run and are readily available. We started with used ones we found on Craig’s list and moved on to larger models bought new. Excaliber is the industry standard ours has been a workhorse. We also have a very large one from Cabelas that allows really large amount of food to be processed at a time.
Home dried foods can be stored for many years using proper storage techniques. Food saver machines can be used with canning jars and lids for long term storage, or just putting oxygen absorbers in the jars and tightening down the lids will give you long term storage. Mylar bags regular food saver bags, 5 gallon buckets all have a useful place in home storage of dried food. The best source of information we have found is http://www.dehydrate2store.com/. This lady’s you tube videos will give you a complete home course n dehydrating and storing vegetables and fruits. One thing we do that she doesn’t cover is the use of paint cans for storage, we get the food quality ones and just add oxygen absorbers.
Meats can be dried for long term storage. The big secret is to cook the meat thoroughly first, cube it up defat it and then dry it. We have done beef, turkey and chicken, pork is not recommended. We have made soups and stews and spaghetti sauces with the dried meats and vegetables with excellent results. Our “pasta” comes from squash or from shirataki noodles, no grains there. The other way we do long term storage of meat is to make the South African favorite, biltong. This stuff keeps for a very long time and id relatively easy to make. There are many different recipes for biltong, what we do is cut up beef or venison into 1” by 1” strips, lightly coat with salt and let set for a time in a container in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. As above, the meat should be as lean as possible. Fat does not dry well cooked or uncooked. Then rinse the meat vinegar, traditionally brown vinegar, we use apple cider vinegar. Coat the meat with a mixture of coriander and black pepper and dry it. We dry it in a dehydrator but there are many other methods, google is your friend as there are many different youtube videos of people’s favorite methods. We store ours in the vacuum sealed canning jars just like the vegetables.
Jerky, though good, is not a long term storage item, as it tends to mold if it isn’t refrigerated. We store some in the freezer, but of course no power, no freezer. The meat should also be of low fat content and sliced thin, 1/4” or so. The marinades are many, a basic one is ½ cup soy sauce, ½ cup Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and garlic and onion powder to taste. Since it is raw meat without salt curing, it should be dehydrated at 165 degrees to kill bacteria, It might be possible to dry it hard and store it under vacuum or with oxygen absorbers in air tight jars, but it isn’t recommended and we mostly prefer biltong.
You can dry almost any vegetables, some work best in stews or soups. But some make good snacks just as they are. Red bell pepper is almost like a chewy candy as the drying really concentrates the sugar and zucchini slices make very good chips. We dry cabbage, celery, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, turnips, tomatoes, ucumbers green and red peppers, and others. Herbs dry well to make spices also.
The largest amount of our food preps is canned items. Commercially canned meats, everything from chicken and tuna to spam are in our storage. When canned tomatoes are on sale, we load up and Hunt’s makes a no sugar added spaghetti sauce that we are very fond of. The carb content is pretty low on that sauce,
Most of our canned food is home prepared, I farmed for a lot of years and we canned a lot of meat. It keeps for many years, provided it is protected from heat and light. That is what basements are for. Any meat can be canned via raw pack, just chunk up the meat, put it in the clean jars, add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart, and a little water and process for 90 minutes at the appropriate pressure for your altitude. We have canned chicken pieces on the bone after removing the skin. I don’t like the looks of the chicken with the skin on in the jar, but it shouldn’t affect the quality of the meat either way. A plus for canning meat is that there will be fat in the jars. Animal fats are important and most drying removes the fat.
We also can a lot of meals, soup, stew, chili, etc. The only limit is your imagination. Any one pot meal can be put in a jar and canned.
We don’t home can much in the way of vegetables, On sale, I can buy canned tomatoes for about what it costs me to can them, and with less work. When the goal is a years storage, jars of canned vegetables take up far more room than the dried ones.