You need to eat to stay alive. In a disruptive event, food will be scarce. This is why you need to stock up on food to prepare for this scenario.
Although the fridge or freezer are handy and are a staple to any modern home, there are various other methods to keep the taste, appearance and the nutrients of food items. We all know how important food is, even more so in SHTF situations.
When things go wrong, you will not regret that you learned how to preserve your food in ways other than refrigeration. In instances of power loss or breakdown and others, this skill will surely come in handy.
So for now, let us keep our minds refrigeration. While there is a way to keep meat longer (through drying and salting them), most of these methods are more applicable to fruits and vegetables.
Still, they would be very useful as these products tend to spoil or wilt quickly. At the same time, valuable nutrients might be lost if storage is not done properly. Here are the different ways on how to preserve your food.
1. Cold Storage
People back then had their own electricity-free version of a refrigerator – the cellar. It is easy to take advantage of the cool weather of winter to preserve food. Apart from being useful, cellars made preserving food quite easy. However, this method is not for all vegetables and fruits.
The main thing is that the fresh produce has to be both cool and dry, with ideal temperature between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The cellar itself should be kept at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and with about 80% humidity. In these conditions, almost all root crops can be stored, unwashed and placed carefully in a bin or a box. As much as possible, air should be able to circulate. Non-root crops and fruits can be stored but never stacked on top of each other. Some vegetables will be good for about a month in storage, but root crops may last even more than a year.
2. Drying Fruits and Vegetables
This is another popular way of keeping your favorite produce for longer periods of time. So long as they remain dry, they may last indefinitely. Beyond root vegetables and fruits, bread grains, herbs, and even beans can be kept this way. It requires a bit more work, but because of the longer shelf life of dried vegetables and fruits, the work is more than worth it.
First, the food should be prepared either by mashing, cutting into smaller pieces or even strung on a piece of string before being dried. Afterward, they should be placed in any warm and dry place to preserve them. This way, their nutrients remain in the produce, much more than other methods. The dried food may last for several years provided they stay dry the entire time.
3. Drying and Salting Meat and Fish
When it comes to meat and fish, drying and salting are the best ways to preserve them. Salt is added to so that moisture comes out. There will be fewer bacteria and they will also be stored for later consumption.
With some salt and vinegar, vegetables can be preserved through the process of fermentation. This method increases the levels of vitamins like vitamin B6, which is not normally achieved through other ways of preservation. It is also quite easy, as the produce is normally soaked in a brine that contains salt. Once they have pickled for a certain amount of time, they can be transferred to a jar with vinegar. Using the canning method, the food can then be sealed for a longer shelf life.
Freeze-drying makes the food last for a long, long time. However, the process can be tedious and requires special equipment that are on the expensive side. Some folks recommend dry ice as the cheaper and easier option. Whichever you choose, be sure to do your homework to ensure successful preservation.
Though this requires a bit more work than other methods, canning is highly recommended because of its ability to preserve the nutrients in produce and to kill microorganisms that normally contribute to food decay. Done correctly, it also keeps out such bacteria from entering the container due to the air-tight seal.
There are two types of canning: water-bath canning and pressure canning. The first involves a large pot of boiling water where filled cans are submerged and heated to 212°F. The second method also uses a big pot to produce steam, increasing the temperature and preserving the vegetables. Both ways allow for the filling to be heated (and the bacteria killed), and sealed inside the tin can or jar container.
Food preservation options vary from very easy to a bit more complicated, with each method having its own benefits and challenges. However, as these ways have been done for a significantly longer time than refrigeration, they may also be good based on certain circumstances and more capable of keeping the taste, the nutrients, and texture of fruits or vegetables. Having this knowledge can help sustain you and your loved ones in post-SHTF scenarios.