Parts of this blog is being moved/combined to http://www.survival-cooking.com. Some entries are deleted as they are moved. Check out:

"Backyard Grocery Gardening": Info to provide healthy, nutritious and untainted produce
"Special Cooking & Food Prep": Canning, storing, cooking stored-food or money-saving meals
"Homesteading Basics": Becoming self-reliant, inventory checks, water, emergencies, etc.
"School-At-Home": Discussions, quizzes, assignments and other schoolwork
"What Would U Do If...": A fun way to spend 5 minutes of your day!

Dehydrating Apples

Whether you grow the apples yourself, harvest them from your (sharing) neighbor, or you buy at the local farmer's market, apples are so easy to dry.
  • Choose the apples that look the best. Cut out any bad parts.
  • Wash, core and peel. Slice into 1/4 inch slices, placing each in lemon juice mixed with water to prevent browning. Soak for 5 minutes.
  • Note: Sometimes we add ground cinnamon to the lemon water. The cinnamon sticks when you arrange the slices on the drying tray. The smell and resulting taste is heavenly.
  • When all the apple are sliced, soaked and ready, arrange in single layers on trays. They can touch because they will shrink some.
  • Dry 6-12 hours until piable - Temp: 135 degrees F.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie for 2 days to kill any bug eggs that may have been laid while dehydrating. If you're 100% sure there aren't any, you can skip this step.
  • Store in moisture-proof jar with a moisture absorber. Seal. Cover with dark paper to keep light out. Label with contents and date. Store in cool, dry, dark area.
You can rehydrate the apples to use in a recipe, or eat dried as a snack. Either way, this is a great way to store apples.



Shop at Salvage Grocery Stores

We recently discovered this link: http://www.ehow.com/how_2276932_shop-salvage-grocery-store.html - it discusses how people on a budget can find good deals for food. It may be a little dented, or the label might be a little crooked or off-color, but if the government had a problem, the food wouldn't be allowed to be sold.

So, we used the following link: http://save-a-lot.com/ to find a Sav-A-Lot nearby us. We checked it out. They have some great deals, and some are perfect for storing.... like canned hams, and so forth. They also had toiletries, paper products, pet food, etc. Just about anything you'd get at a grocery store. We found a few decent deals, but not a lot that our particular weird family likes to eat. The Vienna Sausages and corn meal are actually cheaper at Sam's Club.

Here's the link for "grocery outlet" stores: http://www.groceryoutlets.com/ but they don't have stores but in a few states. Check it out - you might be luckier than we are.


Dehydrating/Drying Basics

Everyone's heard of dried food. Have you ever opened a package of onion soup mix to make onion dip with sour cream? Ever eaten a raisin? A prune? Beef jerkey?

Dehydrating is the oldest way to preserve food. A long time ago, people would use salt to dry food, or place the food on rooftops any other way to be in the sun. They took the chance with insect bugs, or scavening critters, or a sudden rain that would prompt starting the drying process all over again.

These days, we have machines built specifically for dehydrating food. Food dehydrators are safe because they were created to gently pull out the water from the food. Once water is removed, it won't spoil because bacteria and mold won't grow where there isn't water. There is, however, a slight loss of some vitamins, like A and C, and it takes time to dry (anywhere from 6 to 48 hours). Besides drying fruit and vegetables, your can also dry meat, stews, cassaroles, jerky, fruit leathers, herbs and more.

Keeping the temperture below 200 degrees F is essential to drying versus cooking your food. Most electric dehydrators have regulators on them.

There are several ways to dehydrate your food.

  1. SUN: To use this method, you need 3-4 sunny days of about 100 degrees each day, with no moisture. Plus you need a screen or netting to keep bugs away from your food. This process is inconsistent because you can't really assume the sun will stay hot, and you have to bring them in every evening.
  2. CAR: As we all know, cars left in the hot sun can get quite hot. We have a friend who placed trays of netting-covered food in her non-working car. She left the windows down a crack to let out the moisture. This worked very well.
  3. OVEN: Some people have succces with gas ovens, placing trays of food inside with only the pilot light on. You could also use an electric oven turned the lowest it can go, but you'd still need to keep the door open to circulate air and to not over-cook the food. However, the food doesn't end up tasting the best, and it's not energy efficient.
  4. HOMEMADE: Some people make their own. Another friend built his house to have a "drying room" - on the South side of his greenhouse. It was enclosed, with fans that circulated filtered out from outside. There were many spaces for trays (like baking racks). This is a good thing for people with the need to dehydrate huge harvests.
  5. ELECTRIC DEHYDRATORS: There are so many of these on the market, ranging in price from $40 to well over $800 each. Some are circular, some rectagular. Some can add additional layers, some have fruit leather trays, and some have temperature control. Some even rotate the trays so you won't have to. They are all energy efficient and operate at the low temperatures needed to keep nutrition in the food. Make sure the one you choose has a fan to circulate the air which will aid the drying process.
How To Dry:

  • Keep the temperatures steady. Under 110 degrees will not dry it properly and will cause the food to spoil sooner. Temps around 110 to 115 degrees F will dehydrate it enough to prevent bacteria growing on the food as it dries, while keeping it RAW. Most electric dehydrators have a set temp of around 120-140 degrees F, which is fine. Going a little higher, up to 200 degrees, will dry the food between RAW and COOK. Over 200 degrees F and the food is not only cooked, but also will cause the food to lose its nutrition and flavor.
  • Most instructions recommend turning the food about halfway or 3/4-the-way through the drying process to help get both sides.
  • Slice your vegetables, fruit, etc to be even in size. If you have a very thin slice of zucchini, and a thick chunk, they will dry at different rates. It will be easier to gauge drying times if the sizes are consistent.
  • Your food is dry when it's crisp or leathery to the touch, with no moisture. Tear it in half - if there are moisture beads at the tear, or if it just bent, it's not dry enough. Meat is a little different; it should NOT snap apart but should be leathery.

Storing Dehydrated Food:

  • When your food is appropriately dried, we place it in a baggy and place that baggy in the freezer to kill any bugs that might be on the food. After 2-3 days, we take it from the freezer, let defrost, check it for moisture, dehydrate it additionally if needed, and store the baggy in a container.
  • You need your final storage to be containers that will not allow any moisture in. Mason jar, empty-clean-dry mayonnaise or mustard jar, plastic freezer "tupperware", etc. You could also use a sealing machine or plastic freezer baggies.
  • Store fruit leather by laying the leather on plastic wrap and rolling it up. Cut to fit your storage container.
  • We place oxygen and moisture absorbers in our containers before we seal them. Never allow moisture to get into the container.
  • Store your containers in a cool, dark, dry place. Under 60 degrees F is best. If your storage container is glass or see-through, wrap it with dark construction paper. That is also a good place to put your label.
  • Label each with contents and date dehydrated/stored. Very important. Use the oldest first.
Coming soon: we'll post dehydrating information for fruits, veggies, stews, meats, fruit leathers, and more - each with it's separate post.

Come back soon!


Canned Food Labels and Dates

We found the following information at: http://www.foodreference.com/html/tcannedfoodshelflife.html
In a well-run supermarket, foods on the shelf will be rotated on a regular basis, so there is continuous turnover. Each canned food manufacturer has a unique coding system. Some manufacturers list day, month and year of production, while other companies reference only the year. These codes are usually imprinted on the top or bottom of the can. Other numbers may appear and reference the specific plant manufacturing or product information and are not useful to consumers. Below is a sampling of how some manufacturers code their products so consumers know when the product was packaged. If you have specific questions about a company's product, contact a customer service representative at the phone number listed.

Note: For month coding, if a number is used, numbers 1 through 9 represent January through September, and letters O for October, N for November and D for
December. If letters are used, A=Jan. and L=Dec., unless otherwise noted.

Note: For year coding, 8=1998; 9=1999; 0=2000; 1=2001; 2=2002, etc.

Bush Brothers & Company (voice: 865/509-2361)
Four digits
Position 1: Month
Position 2 and 3: Day
Position 4: Year
Example: 2061 (February 6, 2001)

Chiquita Processed Foods (voice: 800/872-1110)
Ten digits (only 6-8 are pertinent to consumers)
Position 6: Year (A=1999, B=2000, C=2001, etc.)
Position 7 and 8: Julian Date
Example: A195 (July 14, 1999-July 14 is the 195th day of the year)

Del Monte Foods (voice: 800/543-3090)
First line, four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
Example: 9045 (February 14, 1999)

Faribault Foods
Consumers can send inquiries and product coding numbers via an online contact form, and a company representative will help them understand the coding.
www.faribaultfoods.com

Furman Foods (voice: 877/877-6032)
Second line, first four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
Example: 9045 (February 14, 1999)

Hirzel Canning (voice: 800/837-1631)
First line, four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
Example: 0195 (July 14, 2000- July 14th is the 195th day of the year)

Hormel Foods Corporation (voice: 800/523-4635)
Five digits on the top line
Position 1-4: Information about plant and manufacturing
Position 5: Year
Example: XXXX0 (2000)

Lakeside Foods (voice: 920/684-3356)
Second line, second through fifth digits
Position 2: Month (Jan=1, Sept.=9, Oct.=A, Nov.=B, Dec.=C)
Position 3 and 4: Date
Position 5: Year
Example: 4A198 (October 19, 1998)

Maple Leaf Consumer Foods (voice: 800/268-3708)
Top of can, grouping of last four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3, and 4: Julian Date
Example: 9130 (May 9, 1999)

Mid-Atlantic Foods (voice: 410/957-4100)
Second through fourth digits
Position 2: Month (letter)
Position 3: Date (A=1, Z=26)
Position 4: Year
Example: MDE0 (April 5, 2000)

Pillsbury/Green Giant and Progresso (voice: 800/998-9996)
Five digits
Position 1: Month (letter)
Position 2: Year
Position 3: Plant information
Position 4 and 5: Date
Example: G8A08 (July 8, 1998)

Seneca Foods (voice: 315/926-6710)
Two digits on the first line
Position 1: Month (letter)
Position 2: Year
Example: L1 (December 2001)

Stagg Chili (voice: 800/611-9778)
Second through sixth digits
Position 2 and 3: Month
Position 4 and 5: Day
Position 6: Year
Example: S02050 (February 5, 2000)

"Information provided by the Canned Food Alliance."

A huge thanks to the people at http://www.foodreference.com/ for doing all of this research. Very helpful!

Info: China's Honey is Tainted

A good friend sent the following link: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/4453. That article has the title "China Honey Latest Food Safety Worry". It discusses how, in an effort to rid a disease in Chinese bee hives, they used a highly toxic chemical. In turn, it poisoned the honey, and that same honey has been exported from China.

I immediately checked our supply of honey: all was harvested here in Colorado.

Please, read the article, then check your honey. Thank you.