First, what is stockpiling? The dictionary definition is “to acquire and store something for future use”. There are many reasons for stockpiling: emergency preparedness in the event of a disaster being the most obvious. Disasters aren’t just something that happens to other people on TV. Inclement weather, earthquakes, floods, power outages, terrorist strikes, union strikes, civil unrest and epidemics are just some of the reasons you may not be able to go to the store or, if you do go, the shelves have already been emptied.
You don’t need to be a Survivalist or a Millennialist to stockpile (no disrespect to either group). Emergency, health authorities and Mormons recommend it. Or, as Ben Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Another reason is to avoid future inflation by buying something now before the price goes up later. Considering the economic turmoil and governments printing money to stimulate the economy plus their reluctance to raise interest rates for fear of stifling the economy further, it’s quite likely we’ll have more inflation in future.
Expect taxes to go up. And, if you don’t yet have a VAT (Value Added Tax) then it’s only a matter of time before desperate governments enact one. In Canada it’s called the GST (Goods & Service Tax). Buying now avoids future tax increases.
It’s also a matter of convenience. If you have it now you won’t waste time getting some later. Plus, you reduce impulse trips to the store and it’s a buffer in case you have unexpected expenses.
It’s also a matter of availability. I learned long ago; when I find something good, buy several because either the price goes up; the quality goes down or they stop making it altogether.
Also, it can be cheaper. Buy ‘em in bulk at Costco or Wal-Mart when they’re on sale.
Another reason is for investment. What? Did he say, “investment”? Yes indeed, consider this viewpoint; not everyone is wealthy and can afford gold coins but a low income household can invest in consumables by buying extra. You can’t eat gold coins but you can eat a can of beans.
Still another reason is an alternative to savings. With savings interest rates near zero; why bother putting money in the bank when you can buy useful things you’ll need someday. As Doug Casey says, “I’m not sure exactly how bad the Greater Depression will be or how long it will last, but it makes all the sense in the world to stockpile usable things, in lieu of monetary savings.”
What to Stockpile?
First you need to figure out what you need. The best way to do this is take inventory of what you already have by making a list of what you have at home. This will give you an idea what to buy.
Then, start keeping a record of what stuff you buy regularly and how much you use. This will give you an idea how much to buy. If you typically replace 4 light bulbs in a year, there’s not much sense buying 200 light bulbs (that’s a 50 year supply) unless you plan to use some for barter (that would be in a worst case, complete breakdown situation.)
Then go through the list and divide it into three categories 1) long term, durable stuff and then 2) medium term stuff and then 3) short term like milk, eggs and bread that spoils if not used shortly. Here are some ideas but these lists are not meant to cover every possibility. Inventory your own home and track your buying habits and you’ll find stuff that’s not on the lists below. These are just some items to demonstrate the difference between long, medium and short term. Emphasize buying long term, then medium term. Further down this article is a list of 100 items that will disappear first.
Long term stuff – towels, soap holders, shoe laces, cling wrap, aluminum foil, Zip-lock bags, duct tape, sewing supplies, mirror, scissors, sponge, dishes, canisters, containers, utensils, nail files, tools, clocks, instant coffee (lasts almost forever) sugar, salt, garbage bags, extension cords, paper towels, toilet paper, tissue paper, napkins, coffee filters, vacuum bags, brooms, dust pans, writing pads, sleeping bags, candles, books, card games, playing cards, light bulbs, ammunition, etc. etc.
Medium term stuff – dish wash gloves, disposable gloves, hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, cleaners, vitamins, liquor, clothing, bleach, bandages, batteries, pens, pencils, WD-40, motor oil, etc. etc.
Instead of buying one box of something, buy two and put one away in the stockpile pantry. Better yet, buy stuff when it’s on sale.
Short term stuff – this is stuff that spoils if not used within days or weeks like fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk and bread. However, even here you can freeze just about anything (except potatoes don’t freeze well and cheese gets crumbly) or you can dehydrate, you can pickle, you can preserve or make jerky.
A little further below is a list of Food Shelf Life Recommendations. I think the list is conservative and, in some cases, can be exceeded especially if food is kept cool or cold. However, just because you buy it today doesn’t mean it will last as long as the list indicates if the food doesn’t have a Best Before date. You don’t know how long it’s been in a warehouse or grocery store shelf. Also, be careful when buying on sale. Food is often on sale when it is approaching its Best Before date so always check dates when buying for your stockpile.
Always examine an old can before using it. If it’s bulging, it’s no good. Also, avoid buying dented cans. The dent may compromise the plastic lining and the food may contact bare metal. If you dent a can at home, you don’t need to use it immediately but move it to the front and use it next.
The important thing is to buy useful stuff that you WILL use. There’s no sense buying something on sale if you’re never going to use it. There’s a gender joke about this. Men will pay extra for something they need but women will buy something they don’t need if it’s on sale. Be unisex, get the best of both and buy useful stuff on sale.
When shopping, always bring a calculator or Smartphone or cell phone with a calculator function so you can calculate unit price. Just because something is supposedly on sale doesn’t mean you always save money. Here’s an example: vitamins (premium Omega-3) were on sale for $12 (“regular” price $18) for quantity of 60 capsules. Dividing $12 by 60 capsules, the so-called “sale” price works out to 20 cents per capsule. Right next to them was a larger bottle of 300 capsules (same brand) NOT on sale for $27 regular price. Divide $27 by 300 capsules and the unit price works out to 9 cents per capsule. In other words the so-called “sale” 20 cents unit price is more than twice the regular 9 cents per unit price.
Also, this is an example of saving money by bulk buying (disregard the so-called “sale”). At the regular price of $18 for the small bottle of 60 capsules, the unit price is 30 cents per capsule. The larger $27 bottle of 300 with a unit price of 9 cents per capsule demonstrates the saving of buying in bulk. However, you don’t know unless you do the math.
In Latin, we say “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware. I checked the Best Before dates and I wasn’t surprised to see the so-called sale item had about 6 months left whereas the regular (cheaper) bulk bottles had more than 2 years. Buyer beware, indeed!
Rotate and Donate
Always put the newest stuff at the back and the oldest at the front so you use the oldest first. If it’s food and doesn’t have a “Best Before” date, I use a strip of duct tape and permanent marker to mark the month and year of purchase. Hint: fold one small corner of the tape in on itself to make it easy to remove later either for recycling or donation.
When canned food gets within a couple months of its due date and there are no plans to use it immediately, I remove the dated duct tape, box the stuff and donate it to the local food bank. Never let food go to waste.
Hoarding VS Stockpiling?
What’s the difference between stockpiling and hoarding? Stockpiling takes place over a long period of time and allows distribution channels time to adjust to the increase in demand by replenishing inventory. Hoarders rush out and buy everything in sight all at once, thus depriving others of groceries and stuff. DO NOT hoard. Build your stockpile gradually.
Also, be aware that when the time for shortages comes, the government and politicians will blame those evil hoarders for the shortages rather than admit their own complicity. In this case, they will not make the above distinction between hoarders and stock-pilers. When the SHTF and there’s shortages or hyper-inflation hits, the government will point the finger at “hoarders”. EVERONE with a stockpile will be classified as a hoarder. So, don’t advertise your stockpile; not only for security reasons (teach the kids too) but, If people know you have a stockpile, they may rat you out so keep it a secret.
Water Over Food
Water is more important than food. You can last a month without food before you start doing bodily damage but you can last only 2 or 3 days without water. Get some camping water containers. They’re usually about 25 litre or 5 to 6 gallon capacity. Wash and rinse them first. Then fill them with tap water and drain and refill every 3 to 6 months depending on temperature. The higher the temperature, the sooner you want to replenish them.
A short-term, bare drinking subsistence level (no washing or cooking) is I litre (I quart) per person per day. Two a day allows for cooking but still no washing. If you can’t bathe or shower consider cleaning with a sponge (another long term item).
Food Shelf Life Recommendations
Food Product Storage Life In Months
Baking Powder 18 or exp. date
Baking Soda 24
Bisquick Exp. date
Semi Sweet 18
Chocolate Syrup 24
Cocoa Mixes 8
Cocoa Mix 24
Coffee Lighteners (dry) 9
Argo Cornstarch - Indefinite
Country Time Lemonade Drink Mix 24
Crystal Light Drink Mix 24
Tang Drink Mix 24
Kool Aid Drink Mix 18-24
White Flour 6-8
Whole wheat 6-8
Gelatin, all types 18
Jellies, Jams 12
Marshmallow Cream 3-4
Milk, Condensed 12
White Rice 24+
Minute Rice 18
Bottled Salad Dressings 10-12
Salad Oils 6
Oil – Crisco or Puritan 24
Corn Oil, 18mo
Crisco Shortening – Indef.
Vinegar – Container With Plastic Lid – Indef.
Salt - Indef.
Sugar – Indef
MIXES AND PACKAGED FOODS
Biscuit, Brownie, Muffin Mix 9
Cake Mixes 9
Casseroles, complete or add own meat 9-12
Cookies 2-3 wks
Krusteaz Mixes 24
Pillsbury Mixes 18
Betty Crocker Mixes 8-12+
Jiffy Mixes 24
Stove Top Dressing Mix - Exp. Date
Hot-Roll Mix 18
Pancake Mix 6-9
Pie Crust Mix 8
Pies and Pastries 2-3 days
Potatoes, Instant 6-12
Pudding Mixes 12
Rice Mixes 6
Rice-a-Roni - Exp. Date
Pasta-Roni - Exp. Date
Rice & Sauce 10-15
Noodles & Sauce 12-24
Pasta & Sauce 9-12
Sauce/Gravy Mix 6-12
Soup Mix 12
Soup Base 120 mos
Country Kitchen Soup 36
Toaster Pastries 2-3
CANNED AND DRIED FOODS
Canned Baby foods 12
Canned Tomato Sauce 12
Canned Cheese Sauce 24-36
Canned Tuna, Fish & Seafood 5 years
Canned Cranberry Sauce – Exp. Date
Canned Fruits 36+
Canned Fruit Pie Fillings 24-36
Dinty Moore – Indefinite
Spam – Indefinite
Ham Chunks – Indefinite
Chili – Indefinite
Dried Beef – Indefinite
Black Label Ham - Exp. Date
Canned Meat 36
Canned Chicken 36
Canned Soup - Exp. Date
Canned Tomatoes 36+
Canned Vegetables 24-48
Canned Baked Beans 24-36
Canned Black Beans 24
Canned French Fried Onions 24
Canned Ragu Spaghetti Sauce – Use By Date
Canned Five Brothers Pasta Sauce 24
Canned Fruit Juices 6
Dried Fruits 6
Dried Vegetables 12
Dried Peas & Beans 12
SPICES, HERBS, CONDIMENTS, AND EXTRACTS
Chili Sauce 24
Mustard, Yellow Prepared 24
Jar Pickles 12-24
Steak Sauce 24
Tabasco Sauce 60
Vegetables, dehydrated flakes 6
Cheese, Parmesan grated 10
Coconut, Shredded canned or pkg. 12
Meat Substitutes TVP; imitation bacon bits 12
Metered-Caloric Products, instant breakfast 6
In shell pkg 24
Nutmeats pkg. 3
Peanut Butter 6-9
Jif Peanut Butter 24
Freeze Dried Mushrooms 24
Whipped Topping (dry) 12
Yeast (dry) - Exp. date
Some Useful Information
White rice lasts longer than brown rice because of higher oil content in brown rice.
Weevils and other wee beasties can be avoided in grain by using desiccant. However, desiccants are hard to find but Lee Valley http://www.leevalley.com/ carries it and they call it Silica Gel Dehumidifiers. When it becomes saturated, it can be re-activated by drying in the oven.
Desiccant is also useful for long-term ammunition storage but make sure you’re storing the ammo in an airtight, waterproof container.
Get to know your neighbors. In times of trouble they can be your eyes and ears and you theirs. Also, it’s a good idea to make a skills inventory of your neighbors so in an emergency you know who has skills such as doctor, dentist, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, bootlegger :) etc.
Not many people have wood stoves so how are you going to cook when the electricity goes off? If you’re a camper and have a stove that runs on propane, kerosene or Coleman camp fuel, then buy extra. If you have a propane barbeque, store an extra full tank or two. Again, rotate.
11 Foods That Can Last a Lifetime by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition
Did you know that with proper storage techniques, you can have a lifetime supply of certain foods? Certain foods can stand the test of time, and continue being a lifeline to the families that stored it. Knowing which foods last indefinitely and how to store them are you keys to success.
The best way to store food for the long term is by using a multi-barrier system. This system protects the food from natural elements such as moisture and sunlight, as well as from insect infestations.
Typically, those who store bulk foods look for inexpensive items that have multi-purposes and will last long term. Listed below are 11 food items that are not only multi-purpose preps, but they can last a lifetime!
Honey never really goes bad. In a tomb in Egypt 3,000 years ago, honey was found and was still edible. If there are temperature fluctuations and sunlight, then the consistency and color can change. Many honey harvesters say that when honey crystallizes, then it can be re-heated and used just like fresh honey. Because of honey’s low water content, microorganisms do not like the environment.
Uses: curing, baking, medicinal, wine (mead)
Although salt is prone to absorbing moisture, its shelf life is indefinite. This indispensable mineral will be a valuable commodity in a long term disaster and will be a essential bartering item.
Uses: curing, preservative, cooking, cleaning, medicinal, tanning hides
Life would be so boring without sugar. Much like salt, sugar is also prone to absorbing moisture, but this problem can be eradicated by adding some rice granules into the storage container.
Uses: sweetener for beverages, breads, cakes, preservative, curing, gardening, insecticide (equal parts of sugar and baking powder will kill cockroaches).
Wheat is a major part of the diet for over 1/3 of the world. This popular staple supplies 20% of daily calories to a majority of the world population. Besides being a high carbohydrate food, wheat contains valuable protein, minerals, and vita¬mins. Wheat protein, when balanced by other foods that supply certain amino acids such as lysine, is an efficient source of protein.
Uses: baking, making alcohol, livestock feed, leavening agent
Essentially, dried corn can be substituted for any recipe that calls for fresh corn. Our ancestors began drying corn because of its short lived season. To extend the shelf life of corn, it has to be preserved by drying it out so it can be used later in the year.
Uses: soups, cornmeal, livestock feed, hominy and grits, heating source (do a search for corn burning fireplaces).
This multi-purpose prep is a must have for long term storage
Uses: teeth cleaner, household cleaner, dish cleaner, laundry detergent booster, leavening agent for baked goods, tarnish remover
Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa
Adding these to your long term storage will not only add a variety to just drinking water, but will also lift morale. Instant coffee is high vacuum freeze dried. So, as long as it is not introduced to moisture, then it will last. Storage life for all teas and cocoas can be extended by using desiccant packets or oxygen absorbing packets, and by repackaging the items with a vacuum sealing
Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods
Non-carbonated soft drinks
Although many of us prefer carbonated beverages, over time the sugars break down and the drink flavor is altered. Non-carbonated beverages stand a longer test of time. And, as long as the bottles are stored in optimum conditions, they will last. Non-carbonated beverages include: vitamin water, Gatorade, juices, bottled water.
Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods
White rice is a major staple item that preppers like to put away because it’s a great source for calories, cheap and has a long shelf life. If properly stored this popular food staple can last 30 years or more.
Uses: breakfast meal, addition to soups, side dishes, alternative to wheat flour
Because bouillon products contain large amounts of salt, the product is preserved. However, over time, the taste of the bouillon could be altered. If storing bouillon cubes, it would be best repackage them using a food sealer or sealed in mylar bags.
Uses: flavoring dishes
Powdered milk – in nitrogen packed cans
Powdered milk can last indefinitely, however, it is advised to prolong it’s shelf life by either repackaging it for longer term storage, or placing it in the freezer. If the powdered milk develops an odor or has turned a yellowish tint, it’s time to discard.
Uses: beverage, dessert, ingredient for certain breads, addition to soup and baked goods.
100’s of Items to Disappear First & Fast
You may not need every item on this list but there are some interesting ideas here.
1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers (Katadyne is the best but expensive at + $300. But, how long can you live without clean water?)
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps, (first choice: buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey (lasts forever & is antiseptic)/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Brown rice, multi-grain & whole-wheat pasta, dried beans, peas, lentils – wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small, food-grade if for drinking.
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.)
17. Survival Guide Books.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cook stoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins (watch best-before dates)
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Hair care/Shampoo/ Men’s Hygiene, razor blades, nail clippers, etc.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms) wool socks, mitts, warm hats
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil regular & Heavy Duty (great cooking/barter item, lasts forever)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (impossible to have too many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels (Toilet paper is a MUST.)
31. Milk – Powdered (keep in freezer to extend life) & Condensed (shake liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
35. Canned sardines, herring, salmon, tuna fish last a long time and now is a good time to stockpile before the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster contaminates sea food.
36. Fire Extinguishers (or a large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First Aid kits, First Aid books
38. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for expiration dates & store in fridge to extend life)
39. Garlic, spices, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, baking supplies, pepper-corns (last a long time) & grinder, bullion
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, both all-propose white & whole-wheat (turn every 3 months), yeast & salt
42. Matches. (“Strike Anywhere” preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing or keep frozen in Wintertime.)
45. Work boots, belts, jeans & durable shirts & hats
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans, plastic (great for storage, water, transporting – if with wheels)
49. Hand lotion, lip balm, Vaseline petroleum jelly (great for skin in dry cold winters)
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct tape, aluminum tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes/copper & braided wire
55. Candles & holders
56. Bath soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, cleansers, sponges for sponge bath when water is scarce
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags (both good for “bug-out bag” for travelling with small essentials)
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc. (watch best-before dates)
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles…Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice for when the power goes off
68. Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils for when there’s no washing water (they last forever )
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubber boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Reading material, books, novels, manuals
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. Vehicle tow rope, jumper cables, flares, 12 V trouble light (at least while gas for vehicles is available)
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/toques/mitts
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix, Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts in summer, toboggans in winter (for transport)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress’s
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts, twist-ties, tie wraps
91. Zip-Lock bags, various sizes (you can never have enough)
92. Coffee, Tea
93. Cigarettes (great for barter & bribes)
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/hard candy
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Pellet (air) pistol/rifle & lots of pellets–teach yourself & kids marksmanship, also good for small game
101. Particle/surgical masks
102. Antiseptics, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol
103. Toothpaste, tooth brushes, floss, mouthwash, dental supplies
104. Onion flakes, cheese powder, bay leaves
105. Allergy medicine, asthma inhalers
106. Light bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, extension cords (while electricity lasts)
107. Deodorants, antiperspirants (no need to smell uncivilized)
108. hand-cranked lanterns, lights, radio
109. Ketchup, HP sauce, mustard
110. Tomato sauce (jars or cans) worth its weight in gold to spice up pasta & bland food
112. Granola bars
113. Dried soup mix, gravy mix
114. Dirt shovels, snow shovels (pile snow on side of house for insulation)
115. Solar panel, accessories & battery charger
116. Learn how to use a gun safely and effectively. With luck this is a skill you may never have to use.
117. Don’t tell anyone about your stock pile. Neighbors can become enemies & governments prosecute “hoarders.”
118. Learn how to secure your home, motion detector lights, identify and bar windows hidden from sight
119. Don’t antagonize friends, relatives, neighbors. Your life may depend on them & you may have to live with them.
120. Attitude, attitude & attitude (the 3 most important survival traits)
121. Goats/chickens (funny … well, maybe not so funny long term)
From a Sarajevo War Survivor:
Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war – death of parents and friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.
1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After a while, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold’s.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity – it’s the easiest to do without (if you’re in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy – it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to “warm”, not to cook. It’s cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.
6. Bring some books – escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of survival guides, but you’ll figure most of that out on your own anyway – trust me, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you’re human can fade pretty fast. I can’t tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches
Tips for long term meat freezing
Fresh meat is cheap right now because high feed cost is forcing producers to bring animals to market. Once inventory is depleted, meat prices will go up.
Freezer “burn” is caused by dehydration. In addition to freezing wrapped or bagged meat (make sure to remove as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn,) you can use a vacuum sealer for long term freezing or you can freeze in ice for extremely long periods of time. The technique below is for ice freezing.
Water molecules migrate off solids into the air (that’s the “snow” that forms on frozen products in your freezer.) This is a process Physicists call sublimation just as water molecules migrate off liquids (evaporation.) Water molecules remain active until Absolute Zero (minus 273 C) but nobody’s freezer gets that cold. By freezing meat in ice, water molecules then migrate both ways – from the meat to the ice and vice versa, so there is no freezer burn unless the ice cracks and exposes the meat to air.
1. Meat frozen in a sufficient quantity of ice can last an indefinite period of time. Wooly Mammoths have been found encased in ice and, once thawed, are still edible and quite tasty, too. They’re more than 10,000 years old.
2. If you’re going to trim fat before cooking then trim it before freezing. It uses less energy (less water to freeze) and takes up less space.
3. Rinse meat in cold clear water before freezing. This is mostly for sake of appearance but murky water/ice doesn’t look appetizing and meat is easier to see in clear ice if you’re trying to see size, thickness, boned, etc.
4. Use an appropriate size container. In the old days, people froze fish in waxed milk cartons filled with water. However, when they thawed, ALL the fish in the carton thawed. Remember to freeze an appropriate amount of meat. No sense putting 6 pieces of meat in one container for a family of four unless you plan on eating all 6 portions. Single people, or for greater flexibility in meal preparation, consider freezing single portions. Single portions freeze faster. For instance, Ziplock freezer bags or their equivalent (I swear by ‘em) come in small, medium and large. Do not use sandwich bags even if you double them because freezing will crack them. For individual servings I put small pork chops in small bags and steaks in medium size bags. The bags can be washed for re-use.
5. Squeeze air out of the bag before sealing. If meat is boned like pork loin chops, put the bone at the bottom of the bag to make it easier to squeeze air out of the top. I’ve never done this without spilling a lot of water and making a mess so I do it on a thick towel and ring out the towel as necessary.
6. If necessary fold the top and/or sides of the bag to avoid too much water. Better yet, use an appropriate size bag or container. Make sure to leave enough room so the meat doesn’t touch the sides of the bag. You want at least 1 CM or slightly more than ¼ inch of water/ice around the meat. If in doubt, a bit too much water is better than too little for long term storage.
7. Use only food-grade containers. Do not re-use #7 plastic containers (cottage cheese tubs, sour cream, etc.) If placing individual food-grade bags in a larger container, the larger container does not have to be food grade.
8. Consider putting small portion bags into one larger bag or container AFTER individual bags are frozen. Don’t forget to mark it.
9. If you freeze on top of small thin pieces of plywood or planks or cardboard, the bags will be flatter and will take up less room if you plan on placing them in larger containers. Also, less chance of meat contacting the side of the bag. Also, less chance of the water partially thawing the frozen food they are placed upon. If you do this, the top will freeze first, so after the meat is partially frozen (partly gelled), flip it over to speed up freezing the other side. This will help to “center” the meat in the container so all sides are surrounded by ice. It will also speed up the freezing process.
10. Smaller portions freeze faster. The faster the freeze – the tastier the food.
11. Before freezing, mark the container with both a description and date. Use the oldest first. It’s a good idea to keep a chart or list of what’s in your freezer to prevent the freezer becoming impenetrable. Marking prevents “mystery meat.”
12. Periodically check to ensure the ice has not cracked. Meat exposed to air will suffer freezer burn so use meat in cracked ice first.
I’ll continue to add to this list and post new ones as I do more research.
June 5, 2011
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