Monday, May 31, 2010
Storing Foods for Emergencies
For many years I have kept a goodly amount of foods in my pantry in case of an emergency. (I have been through too many hurricanes and ice storms not to!) However, with my change in diet, the bulk of what I have on hand isn't what I now eat... although in a crisis, it's better than nothing. I have enough cereal grains, pasta and legumes to feed a family of four for 3+ months but I don't eat those anymore.
I do have many jars of home-canned meats and soup stocks, and now a small freezer full of meats. If there's no power for a few days the freezer contents will spoil unless it's below freezing outside and I can secure those foods in a shed, so that's iffy storage. I also have plenty of home-canned vegetables, but the starchy ones like corn are not on my "good for me" list.
I've been looking into what I can store in my pantry at cool room temperatures which will meet my current nutritional needs. One thing for sure, is to can more meat, fish and fowl. I can also make pemmican; it isn't difficult at all, and lasts up to 20 years on the shelf. I can convert some butter into ghee, another easy-to-do task. Properly stored ghee is good up to 10 years. I need to increase my store of saturated fats... coconut oil, lard and tallow. And more olive oil in light-proof tins.
One biggie I want to try is storing eggs. A common method was storing eggs in water-glass. Other methods were eggs stored in a combination of salt and bran, eggs dipped in tallow or wax and covered with flour or bran, and eggs stored in lard.
Eggs will keep in water-glass for about 6-9 months. Even when I have my own chickens for eggs, there will be a period of non-production every year when they moult, so I'd be without eggs even if there is no crisis. I have read many procedures for storing eggs, and water-glass looks like something for me to try. Eggs have been as successfully stored in lard but that takes a LOT of lard. I may try it anyway with maybe a dozen or so eggs just to see. Actually, it may be just as cheap to use lard; water-glass (silicate of soda) costs around $40 a gallon I think, and you dilute it with water 10:1.
None of those measures will work if the eggs are not fresh, and if they have been washed. Eggs fresh from the chicken are coated in a substance that seals the egg air-tight, which is why farmers can store a few eggs (to be used in a week or so) in a basket on a kitchen counter.
I know you can scramble eggs, dehydrate them, then grind them into a powder. I think that would be good to have on hand as a nutritional supplement to add protein to other foods in a crisis, but doesn't appeal to me for breakfast!
Confit preparation is something else I want to try. We all are familiar with fruit confit (stored in sugar), better known as candied fruit. Meat confit (stored in fat) originated as a means of preserving meats without refrigeration. Traditional meat for a confit included waterfowl such as goose and duck, plus turkey and pork, but other meats are also used.
Curing meats, and smoking meat, fish and cheese is something else I want to learn. Plus, I intend to try a greater variety iof naturally fermented foods this fall.
As I play around with each of these methods of storing foods, I will post them, with photos.