How Do You Handle Emergency Food Storage?

by Moira M

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest

As I write this, we are in the middle of Winter Storm Jonas. There is 13″ of snow in the yard and the closest paved road is five miles away. I haven’t been off the property in five days and did not make a trip to the store to stock up for this storm. Doom and gloom time? Not really. The power was out for about 12 hours this morning. We had coffee, bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast courtesy of the propane camp stove. If necessary, we could wait here happily for the next week or two eating a variety of foods with or without electricity. I always wonder how it would be if we ever had to put our preps to actual use. So far I’m pretty pleased with how we have handled the little mini-crises we have had.

What is the best way to handle emergency food storage? The answer is different based on your situation. Your budget, your family size, your storage area, your special dietary needs, and your location all affect how you handle emergency food storage. But there are some common ideas that everyone can use.

The first rule is that anything is better than nothing. If you don’t have any food in the house, you are completely unprepared for emergencies. While some people may not believe there are people with no food in the house, consider college students (especially in dorms with meal plans for the cafeteria) and singles living in large cities. Everyone needs to have at least a three-day supply of food for something as simple as a hurricane or blizzard. Even a case of the flu could keep you stranded at your house for a few days.

Four Factors of Food Storage

It is important to consider four factors with food storage: shelf-life, calories, nutrition and morale. All four play a vital role in emergency food storage.

Commercially prepared food is usually marked with an expiration or best by date. Many people consider it safe to eat foods after the actual expiration date as long as the packaging is secure, and the food looks and smells good. If you were starving after a disaster, I’m sure you would agree. However, that would be one of the worst times to get food poisoning. Obviously the food doesn’t instantly go bad at midnight on the date stamped on the package, but how long after is questionable and likely varies from can to can. Home processed foods may be even more in question due to the many factors that can influence the process of canning, dehydrating, sealing, etc. Choosing foods with the longest shelf life and using the oldest food, while replacing it with newer food is a good plan.

The current suggested diet in America is 2,000 calories per day for an adult. Many diets, designed to help lose weight, recommend that you not dip below 1,200 calories per day. You could possibly aim for 1,500 calories per day as long as the adults were not performing a lot of physical activity, such as waiting for a storm to subside. Those performing physical activity such as clearing debris from roads, cutting and splitting firewood, and hiking may require in excess of 2,000 calories per day. If the disaster was very short-termed then the calorie deficit would likely not matter much, but over the long-term physical problems would appear.

Everyone should be familiar with the effects malnutrition has on the body. Like calorie intake, nutrition probably doesn’t matter very much over a short-term disaster. In long-term disasters, it may matter very much. Proper nutrition is important to good health. Likely if you were unable to resupply with good food due to a long-term emergency, you would also not have access to good medical care either.

Morale is often overlooked in food storage discussions. Remember that mental health is important as well, so be sure to include items that your family likes as well as some treats as part of the supply.

How Do You Decide What to Store?

The simplest method to start storing food is to simply pick up a few extra items each time you shop. Choose items you use regularly that have a shelf life of at least one year. When you buy another of that item, you put the newest one in storage and move the older one into the cabinet for use. This has the advantage of being easy to do and allows you to take advantage of items you find on sale. However, it may result in a bunch of assorted ingredients that may not make a normal meal. Gummy bears, green beans and a tin of sardines is better than nothing, though.

Another fairly simple method is to choose one meal your family likes and on each shopping trip, purchase the ingredients to make it three times (or six, or twelve, etc.). This allows you to build a stock of complete meals that your family enjoys. It is flexible in that you can purchase as many sets of the meal as you can afford at the time. Over the course of a year, you would have several days’ worth of a variety of meals that your family likes. You may not be able to take advantage of sales as easily, but it is a pretty solid plan.

An easy, but more expensive way to amass food storage is to purchase commercially prepared freeze-dried/dehydrated meals. You’ve seen these meals in your sidebar advertising if you do an internet search for anything related to prepping. They can be found in catalogs and in the camping section of Wal-mart and sporting goods stores. You can purchase one meal or a sealed container with a multi-day, multi-person supply depending on your needs and budget. Most of these allow you to open the bag, add hot water and wait a few minutes. Those who like these meals note that they are easy, relatively light-weight, very long-term storage, and delicious. Doubters point out that they are expensive and may contain questionable ingredients for preservation.

The final food storage method I’ll address here is what I’ll call the basic ingredient method. You purchase items like flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, powdered milk, and so on. Even more basic would be hard wheat berries, dried corn or popcorn, and other grains which must be ground with a mill before use. The original items generally have a much longer storage life than a commercially prepared mix. They are versatile because you can make many things with these ingredients. The downside is that if you must store recipes unless you and everyone with you can cook from scratch without them. These items generally require more preparation, longer cooking time and perhaps more equipment compared to the simplicity of opening a can of prepared soup or adding hot water to the camper meal noted above. If you choose this method (and I recommend it as part of your plan), remember to have a trial run of the recipes from time to time. You need to make sure you have what you need. In a disaster, you can’t run to the store for milk and butter, or anything else.

My recommendation is to do all of these together and monitor your supplies to make sure you can make a variety of meals in various circumstances. A friend of ours approached food storage simply. He bought several month’s worth of rice and bouillon cubes. I will admit that this will keep bellies full. However, after a few days, I’m guessing they’ll want something other than rice and bouillon. It is great that he did something – which is again better than nothing! Now that he has taken that step, he can add more items bit by bit. Canned or dehydrated meats and vegetables, plus some sort of bread would be great additions and allow for a bit of variety in his meals.

At first, I looked down on the fancy freeze-dried meals for prepping. Who really needs easy beef stroganoff in a disaster? I can make bread from scratch, thank you very much. Then I realized that these meals are the take-out/frozen pizza night solution for an emergency. If you’ve had a busy day clearing a giant tree that fell in your yard, do you really want to make a meal from scratch? Instead, you can do something simpler and quicker, whether it is boiling pasta to serve with canned sauce or adding the boiling water to the easy beef stroganoff. I’ve tried several of these meals now, and they really are quite delicious. Say what you want about powdered eggs. These people add meat and other flavoring, and they are wonderful. It doesn’t line up with my plan to eat fewer processed foods, but there is a place for that convenience in my food storage. Using all of the methods together gives you the greatest flexibility. You get complete meals, variety and flexibility, and convenience all in your food storage.

How Is Your Food Packaged?

This is also a good time to consider how your survival food is packaged. We’ve all seen the massive containers of food in bunkers on movies. A number ten can is contains about 110 ounces of food. If you don’t have access to refrigeration, you have to eat it all before it spoils. That may be possible if there are a lot of you, but not as easy if you are a couple or small family. The small amount of money you save by buying one larger can instead of eight smaller cans really isn’t worth it at that point. Also, you can more easily transport, share or trade your supplies if they are in smaller containers. (Some of you may be thinking that you’d never share in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Remember that it may be a blizzard and your elderly neighbors ask to borrow a can or two of soup to tide them over a few days. It is probably a better idea to build neighborhood goodwill by helping and a small can says you had a little extra where a bigger can may identify you as a prepper, and thus a target, in a real disaster).

The food must be securely packaged against air, humidity and pests. If the original packaging isn’t secure, repackage the food. This allows you to break up bulk purchases into smaller portions. I love to use my FoodSaver to seal food in mason jars or in plastic bags. The sealed bags can be placed in food safe buckets to deter pests. I’ve seen a tip recently to pour salt into the bottom of the bucket before adding the sealed bags. The salt absorbs moisture and is food safe in case of ingestion. Depending on the storage condition, the salt could be used for food preservation in the future. Many people use mylar bags with vacuum sealers and/or oxygen absorbers to store food in various quantities. These mylar bags are often stored in food safe buckets as well. We’ve stored rice and other such food in clean, dry two liter bottles. There are many options. Consider what you are storing, where you are storing it, and how you’ll be using it. Do your research and actually test your methods now while you can go back to the grocery store if your plan fails.

How Do You Track Food Storage?

I prefer to use a spreadsheet. I have columns for quantity, category, description, expiration date, size, calories and total calories (quantity times calories). I have tabs for home canning, professional canning and other goods. This allows me to see how much I have of each item and calculate how many day’s worth of calories I have. I’m able to sort by expiration date and know what I need to work into the menu over the next week or so. I can review the list and see what I need to restock on the next store trip. You can use the spreadsheet to re-inventory the food storage.

You can place a printout of the inventory in your food storage area so that you can update it as you add or use items. You can also put a white board or chalk board up to note added or used items and update your spreadsheets when you have the time. If other people in the household will be getting items from your food storage, then you should make it as simple as possible for them to record updates.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you do track your food storage in some way. Be sure to use items or donate them to charity before they expire. Be able to calculate how long your food storage will stretch. You may be unhappily surprised at how fast it will go!

What Do You Need Other Than Food In Food Storage?

There are many things other than food that you may need for food storage that isn’t food:

  • Vitamins – Vitamins may be a good option in an emergency when you may not be getting the proper nutrition on a regular basis. This might be even more important for children and expecting mothers.
  • Meds – Everyone should have a good first aid kit plus medicines to treat the usual illnesses, and the best place to keep it may be with food storage. It may be helpful to at least store medicines to treat acid reflux, indigestion, and other food related problems with your food storage. Plus, burns and cuts are known to happen in normal kitchen tasks, and may be more frequent when cooking with alternative fuels and light sources.
  • Grain Mill – If you store wheat berries or corn kernels, you would use this to grind them into flour or corn meal. The wheat berries and corn kernels have a longer shelf life than flour and corn meal but naturally require more work on your part. Electric models are easier when you have power, manual are useful in power failures.
  • Meat Grinder – If you want to process meat into ground meat or sausage, this is the tool. Again, electric models are easier when you have power, manual are useful in power failures.
  • Canning Jars and Equipment – If the power fails, you may be able to salvage perishables in your refrigerator and freezer by canning them. You can use a pressure canner or water bath canner with alternative fuel sources like propane and wood fires. For really long-term disasters you would need canning jars to preserve food to last all year.
  • Dehydrator – If you have a dehydrator that you can run on alternative power, you may be able to use it to salvage refrigerator and freezer items as well. In the right weather conditions, you can dehydrate food on screens in the sunshine. Note – laying the thinly sliced food on one screen will work, but if you get a little fancier, you can hinge two framed screens together. This way bugs don’t start a conga line on your dried tomatoes.
  • Seeds – If something interrupts the supply chain you may need to grow your own food. Make sure that they are heirloom seeds so that you can use the seeds from this year’s crop to grow next year.
  • Livestock – This isn’t a possibility for some, due to where they live. I suggest starting with a few hens, which make great gateway livestock. Hens can provide fresh eggs, which is a great ongoing, fresh and nutritious food. Goats, sheep and cows can provide milk and meat. Remember that a dairy animal is a big commitment, because they must be milked once or twice a day without fail.
    Note – you do not need a rooster to get eggs. Hens lay eggs with or without a rooster. If a rooster is present, you may get fertilized eggs. This is great if you want to make more chickens, but traumatizing if your child is making brownies (maybe scarred-for-life traumatizing – I know someone who won’t eat eggs after this sort of thing and it has been thirty years). I’ve heard it said that if you refrigerate fertilized eggs on day one, nothing develops and you’ll never know the difference. It is a matter of personal preference whether to get a rooster (can make more chickens to resupply meat and eggs), or not (no additional chickens, but also no “half baby chick/half egg” and no crowing). A compromise would be two coops or a divided coop.
  • Pet food – my dogs would be ecstatic if I ran out of dog food and had to feed them people food. Other people’s dogs have allergies that would cause trouble. Lay in a supply for any household pets and livestock you have.
  • Lanterns, Oil Lamps, or Candles – If you want to cook early or late in the day, you’ll need to be able to see to cook, eat, and clean up after!
  • Paper goods – I generally avoid the waste of disposable plates, napkins, cutlery and cups. However, in an extended power outage there are times you need a break from the dishes. This is especially true if you are on a well, and have to use a generator or hand pump to get water (perhaps more so if you have to carry it from a river and filter/boil it first).

Random Tips

Practice cooking, especially with foods you store for emergencies, but really any practice is better than none. An emergency is really not the best time to learn. You may waste food you need to last through the emergency. Also, you will identify things you need to add to your food storage, such as spices, water supply, alternative cooking methods and so on.

Plan meals to reduce waste. If you don’t have access to refrigeration, only cook enough for one meal. If you can refrigerate foods (like outdoors in winter, in a sealed container in a spring or river) then plan to have vegetables, with or without meat that can be combined into a soup or stew the next day. This is good advice generally. Check your perishable food once or twice a week and plan a meal to use up produce, dairy, and leftovers before they spoil.

Include foods that don’t require cooking. If you go camping and rely on a campfire for cooking, you understand the need to have food that won’t require you to keep a fire going all day long. You may want to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, along with fruit (fresh or dried) and other such foods. This is also great for if you’ve had a long day working and just need to eat as quickly and simply as you can.

When camping, I like to keep cleanup simple. After dishing up the food, I fill an empty pot with water. This can be the cast iron Dutch oven you just made dinner in or a spare pot. When you’re finished eating, you have hot water ready to wash dishes!

What Do I Make With Food Storage?

I suggest everyone make a folder of recipes to keep with the food storage. That way you will have a custom set of recipes that you have everything to prepare (because you have been storing it, right?) and that your family likes.

Old cookbooks are great as well. They assume that you will cook with original ingredients instead of mixes. They are also less likely to include modern electrical appliances like microwaves and food processors.

How to bake over a camp fire: I use a cast iron Dutch oven. The edges of the lid are curved upwards so that coals can be added to the top for baking. Using a lid-lifter (a cast iron stick with a hook on the end) the lid can be carefully removed and replaced so that food can be checked without coals falling onto the food. Mine came with a small rack that fits inside the Dutch oven. A metal pie plate can be placed on top of the rack to create a baking atmosphere in the Dutch oven and prevent the bottom from scorching before the food has baked through. If you don’t have a rack, you can improvise  With a little practice it works very well.

Here are some recipes from my collection. Dehydrated or canned versions of various ingredients may be substituted.

Survival Bread

2 cups oats
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 cup sugar
3 Tbl honey
3 Tbl water
1 pkg. lemon or orange Jell-O (3oz)

Combine oats, powdered milk and sugar. In a medium pan, mix water, Jell-O and honey. Bring to a boil. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. (If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of water a teaspoon at a time.) Shape dough into a loaf. (About the size of a brick.) Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Wrap in aluminum foil to store. This bread will keep indefinitely and each loaf is the daily nutrients for one adult. To prepare this over a fire, place the loaf in a pie pan on a rack inside a Dutch oven. Place over coals and move coals to the lid of the oven to bake.

Recipe Note – I had to add quite a bit of water to make this into a dough – I’d say about a half cup. Also, this could be made in a Dutch Oven over the fire if desired.

Cornbread

1/2 cup butter (1 stick – divided)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbs. White Vinegar, let stand a few minutes; or just use the milk as-is)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
Optional – 1/3 cup sugar (I don’t put sugar in my cornbread, but some people do)

Begin by preheating the cast iron skillet over the fire while you get the cornbread mixed. Melt 6 Tbs. butter in the skillet. Keep an eye on the butter so it doesn’t scorch.

In a bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt. Pour in the melted 6 Tbs. butter from the skillet. Stir to combine thoroughly, but don’t beat.

Put the remaining 2 Tbs. butter in the skillet. Slide it around with a spoon or rotate the skillet to coat the entire bottom and about an inch up the sides. Don’t burn yourself. Once the butter is melted and the skillet coated, pour in the cornbread mixture. Put the skillet over the low coals and put the lid on. Add coals to the top. Check it after about 15 minutes. It may take up to twenty, but you don’t want to let it burn.

You may have to turn the skillet during cooking or move it to warmer/cooler spots of the coals as it cooks to maintain an even temperature. Using a lid lifter, carefully check for doneness and remove from heat when ready. See my earlier posts for a more thorough explanation of baking with cast iron.

To bake this cornbread in the oven, you follow the same recipe. Place the cast iron skillet with 2 Tbs. butter in the cold oven and preheat to 375. Mix the remaining ingredients and carefully pour into preheated skillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is lightly browned (and usually cracks will appear in the crust). You don’t use a lid on the skillet when baking in the oven.

Basic Bread

5-6 cups all purpose flour
2 packages of active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp. yeast from a jar)
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)
Cornmeal
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 Tbs. water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, the yeast, the salt and the warm water (the water is a little warmer because you are compensating for room temperature flour).Stir thoroughly to combine ingredients, scraping the edge of the bowl as you go. Continue to stir until thoroughly mixed and the gooey dough begins to pull apart in strands when you pull the spoon away. Mix in another 1-2 cups flour. You want to use as little flour as necessary to get the dough ready for kneading. You’ll add more flour as you knead and too much flour causes all kinds of problems in baking bread – tough crust, too dense bread, etc.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Add remaining flour a little at a time when the dough gets sticky as you knead.  Shape dough into a ball. Place dough ball in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a cloth and put in a warm place to rise.

After the dough has roughly doubled in size, punch it down (push it down with your hands) and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it in half and cover with a cloth. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.

If you are able to bake this bread in a Dutch oven with the pie pan on a rack arrangement, that may work best. If not, put it directly in the Dutch oven and bake it – you’ll just need to flip it half way through cooking. Bake over the fire for about 30 minutes and add more time as needed.

Chicken Corn Chowder

3-4 medium potatoes or can of potatoes
1 onion or dehydrated onion flakes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can corn
1 can chicken (can be omitted if desired)

For fresh potatoes, boil potatoes and onion in just enough water to cover potatoes. When potatoes are tender, reduce heat to simmer and add remaining ingredients. Drain corn and chicken first, if desired to have a thicker soup. A bit of cornstarch may be added to thicken soup if desired.

If you use canned potatoes, simply add all ingredients along with all liquid from cans and simmer until warm and flavors mingle. Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken if desired.

For either recipe, add salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.

Note that other ingredients may be substituted, depending on what is available. Also, this recipe may be placed in a pie crust for a delicious pot pie. Use what you have and try to mix flavors that sound compatible to you.

Chili

1.5 pounds ground beef (venison, pork sausage, or a combination would work too)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (or sweet peppers, or add hot peppers too if you like them)
2 qt. diced tomatoes
1 pt. tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans, drained (completely optional for those who don’t put beans in chili!)
3 T chili powder (you can use a chili seasoning packet if you prefer)
1 T garlic salt
a few fresh chopped tomatoes from the garden

Get a good bed of coals. Place a sturdy grill over the coals or set up a tripod or other cooking ensemble. Suspend a cast iron Dutch Oven over the coals and start cooking.

Sauté the onions, garlic and peppers. Brown the ground beef or other meats. Then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and spices. Stir together. Let the chili simmer, stirring occasionally

Let the chili simmer slowly, stirring occasionally. Make sure it is over a good, warm spot on the fire, but not boiling violently or sticking. Let it cook down until it thickens and the flavors merge. You can eat it after a half hour, or let it simmer for hours. This makes great leftovers if properly refrigerated.

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason Farms.com and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

Comments

  1. Hmmm I see no mention of storing water. Maybe I just missed it.

    • Papa Prep says:

      The author of the post only mentions water supply in the first paragraph after the “Random Tips” heading.

    • TexasScout says:

      You didn’t miss it, this is a FOOD storage article…. 🙂

      • poorman says:

        true it is a food storage article but the author also mentions wheat grinders,paper plates,dehydrator’s , pet food ect. They also recommend dehydrated foods and beans and rice which all take water to cook. Not being an ass but water is the first thing that should be stored.

        • Jay in Kansas says:

          Sorry Poorman, but I think you’re being an ass. Read the title of the article. It’s not about water, it’s about FOOD, and how she handles THAT aspect of her prepping. It goes without saying that there is more to prepping and storage than what is outlined here. Why don’t you just complain about how she doesn’t mention storing ammo to hunt for her storage food. I swear, this is why I avoid the blog comments more and more. There is always someone who feels it is their calling to correct, criticize or complain about the work someone else out in. And go ahead and call me a jerk and whatnot, I’m not the one trolling the writer who took her own time to compose and submit this article just so you could sit behind your keyboard desperately search for some fault in it.

          • Thanks for your feedback jay. I won’t bother to call you a jerk or anything else as unlike you I am not going to lower myself to a name calling status. The purpose of the article’s IMHO is to open discussion on certain subjects and feedback is expected or it wouldn’t be an open forum. Maybe since you aren’t happy with the blog comments you should choose another site to visit. I know the Rawles site doesn’t allow commenting on their articles so that might be a better one for you.

            • poorman,
              it is always important to mention water. always.
              there are newbies here and reinforcing basics is good.
              it was an excellent article and i enjoyed reading it, especially about dutch oven use as i have never been camping. seems like a dutch oven would be good to store along with manual grain grinder.

    • poorman. You are absolutely right. Water is the most important item. Before you start talking about food preparation and storage you must address water. Stored water is only a short term solution. I think you must choose a place to survive that has good water.
      It always comes back to the same questions. How bad will it get? How long will it last? And when will the SHTF? We don’t know.
      Here is what I do. I have plenty of freeze dried Mountain House freeze dried food. And many other long shelf life foods. I especially rely on hard red wheat. I have a small greenhouse and vegetable garden that provides enough fresh food for my wife and myself. I spend less than 20 minutes a day on the garden, but it is designed so that I can increase my production if I want to spend the time. I have located reliable sources of rabbits and other wild food within walking distance.
      So, in other words, I am prepared. Or rather, I am prepared for any trouble I can predict.
      Now, in the meantime, I am going to enjoy life. Right now life is good for me and I am not going to let things that I have no control over get me down in the dumps.
      This article is very good. It is full of useful advise.

    • You’re right that I don’t really discuss water storage in this article. I’ve written a separate article of comparable length just about water. I like a multi-pronged approach there as well. I buy commercially packaged water. I store water in large food grade containers treated with bleach and rotate biannually. I fill clean 2 liter bottles with water and place them in the bottom of the chest freezer (good water, keeps freezer cold longer in power outage, they work well in a cooler, and the stuff stored on top in the chest freezer is easier to reach. If I need room thanks to a successful hunt, I can just take them out). And finally, I always use the liquid in canned goods in place of water in a recipe.
      Additionally I keep plain bleach on hand to purify water, have life straws, and a nice filter that sits between two five gallon buckets with extra filters on hand.
      Water storage and resupply is vital.

      • I was not condemning your article as I thought it was well written and informative just mentioning that water seemed to be missing from the equation.

        • My guess is the author assumed that everyone bothering to read the article knew water was important/necessary.

          The “What Do I Make With Food Storage?” was a nice touch to the article. Not only did the article give you storage ideas it also gave you ideas about what to do with your stores.

  2. PatrickM says:

    Good article! Enduring power outages and or weather is something I actually look forward too anymore. It gives us a chance to test our preps and (adjust) plan for the missing or rough spots.

  3. In our house every meal is cooked from scratch, we have a nice library of cook books and box’s of spices. Just plain flower can made into all sorts of things as long as the seasoning stores are kept up to date.

    • WxNW: I’d love to read your article about making things out of just flour.

      Moira: Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I know it takes a lot of time and energy. I can’t wait to try your Survival Bread!

      • When I started prepping I got a deal on hard red wheat. I got a Wonder Mill Jr and ground my own flower.
        Now every week I hand grind two pounds of hare red wheat flour and bake bread. I use the whole wheat bread recipe that came with the bread machine. I love it, and no longer buy bread at the store.

      • Moira M says:

        akaGaGa – The Survival Bread is wonderful! It keeps for months just wrapped up in waxed paper or aluminum foil. I’ve made a few batches of this to test it out. The first loaf went pretty quickly as it is very tasty. The second loaf was intentionally kept for a month. Then another loaf for six months. The two loaves not eaten right out of the oven were still tasty and somewhat moist. They were firmer and drier than the initial loaf but still easily chewable, filling and satisfying.
        Some websites that carry this recipe or a version of it will say that it provides all the calories and nutrition for an adult for one day. I’d say it has 2500 – 3000 calories so it fits the bill there. While it does not provide 100% of the daily nutrition for an adult, it is highly nutritious and definitely hits the highlights.
        This recipe is definitely part of my food storage plan.

        • moira
          interested in the oat bread as daughter nor i can digest gluten.
          many thanks!

  4. TexasScout says:

    Everything you read says “store what you eat” and “rotate what you store”, well, there are NO food storage items (that keep for any length of time (years) that we would eat on a daily basis. Processed foods just don’t enter the picture for us. We eat fresh or not at all. So, what to do? I went freeze dried. It’s the only solution for us. If we are forced to that point, it doesn’t mater if it has too much salt or carbs, or MSG, we would have to eat it. And besides, I don’t have to fret over rotating them. I only need to do it once ever 20 years and I’ll be dead before that.

    • TexasScout,

      Try growing and preserving your own.

      • I am at the front end of my learning curve for preserving food. I just put my first 10 Dutch buckets in my new greenhouse. I have 10 tomato plants of different verities. Some are for sauces. I have also planted onions and garlic and I am looking forward to making my own salsa and Italian sauces in a couple of months.
        I have a lot to learn, though.

    • Moira M says:

      Hi TexasScout – I know what you mean about processed foods! I try to avoid them whenever possible. Reading articles just about the dangers of store-bought canned tomatoes (metal cans) is terrifying, not to mention additives and preservatives. Like MD suggested, we grow and preserve our own. I can a lot of food (especially tomatoes-only eat home canned), dehydrate some and plan to experiment with fermenting this summer. This way, we hope to have a renewable food supply that is preservable and contains only ingredients we add. Who wouldn’t want a homemade biscuit topped with your own strawberry jam in the middle of a winter storm?
      As you said, it is always good to have a supply of freeze dried commercially sealed food on hand. I’d consider that the take-out solution of an emergency situation. And it certainly would see you through the lean times.

      • Kulafarmer says:

        Yeaaaa, store bought, you can find nightmare stories about anything these days,,,
        Millions of people eat canned good every day, 99.999% are fine after,
        The reality is that if its a SHTF event its better to have anything rather than nothing,
        Personally i save anything we didnt eat before expiration, figure thats the stuff to hand out when things go awry, most people will just turn up their nose, good i say, buh bye,,,,,

        • Moira M says:

          That is too true. It is easy to let the sensational news stories get to you. I try to filter down to what I can control and act on. I started by canning tomatoes long ago and since I am able to can enough tomatoes and tomato sauce to last a year in 2-3 days, I do it. Once I master a skill, I try something else. So I moved on to jams, preserves and pie fillings. Now I do that too, and tried canning assorted vegetables, pickling, and canning meats. This has been an enjoyable learning process, added to the food stores, and is great for mini-crisis or even camping.

          Instead of being scared by the sensational news, try to learn a new skill that is empowering. Prepare as you can and do your best not to worry too much about those things that are completely out of your control.

          I love your idea about handing out expired food to anyone looking for a handout – that will show their true need and maybe make it look like you aren’t all that well prepared either so hopefully they will move along. Thanks for the comment!

          • moira,
            you have a lot of common sense and a calm and a diplomatic approach.
            a pleasure it is to read your writings.

      • mom of three says:

        I just opened a homemade can of Spaghetti Sauce, it tasted terrible because I used a # 10 can of S&W tomatoes, that was the flavor I was tasting a tin flavor. I always make SSauce homemade buy using fresh tomatoes, only. I just dumped 5 jars due to the tin flavor, never again will I take a short cut again it’s not worth it.

        • I grow and preserve my own food for the most part. The taste is incredibly good and it is hard to go back to store bought nasty stuff.
          tomatoes are easy to can in glass jars. My only limitations are weather and garden space! I always want more more more.

        • I hear you…I have recently started only buying spaghetti sauce in glass jars. I have a hard time growing tomatoes in the desert, just can’t seem to be successful with it…so I plan to start getting them at farmers markets and canning my own this year. I’m just thinking it might get a little pricey. But I read about the cans not being healthy for tomatoes too, and I am concerned about that.

          • I am going to work a lot more lacto-fermentation this year. Also trying sun dried tomatoes, delicious. Sun dried raisins by next year. I like dehydrated carrots in soups and stews. One of these days… a root cellar!

          • As for growing tomatoes in the desert… Do you have a shade tree? Grow tomatoes underneath. In Dallas’ hot summers, my best tomato spit was under a Redbird tree. Tomatoes do not set fruit over 95°F. I got a little less fruit in spring so I planted another tomato plant. But during the dog days of summer I had production when no one else did.

    • Hi TexasScout, “we eat fresh” We had the same problem when we started storing food: Nearly everything we used was fresh, and that makes storage pretty tough.

      How about rice, beans, and flour? All those can be gotten from LDS and other places, packed for 25 year shelf life.

      We use all three in everyday life. Not the ones packed for LT, but the regular store varieties. That way we don’t spend money we don’t need to, but we are using the same things which we store.

      Add whole wheat and you can also produce sprouts. We tried sprouting the LDS pinto beans. They did sprout, but not so successfully as the wheat.

      We tried a lot of different packets of freeze dried entrees on camping trips, and bought #10 cans of the ones we liked. They are expensive enough, and most of them salty enough, that we think of them as convenience food, and good for adding variety while going through the rice and beans..

    • Mountain House freeze dried food keeps for 30 years or so, but the flavor gets old. Its not bad. It just the same day after day. I now have a garden and small greenhouse. If the SHTF I plan on mixing fresh vegetables from the garden with the freeze dried.

  5. Adam Selene says:

    Just a clarification. Food expiration dates are food quality dates, that is, taste and texture dates. In a properly canned or jarred food the bacteria either is or isn’t present from the start.
    Virtually all food poisoning in the US is caused by unsanitary practices or fresh infected foods. The CDC does not even list avoiding “expired” food on their list of things to do to prevent food poisoning.

    I do not advise keeping food much beyond the expiration dates because the taste, texture and nutritional value of canned or jarred food does deteriorate over time, but even though it can happen, you are much more likely to get food poisoning from fresh food or from how you handle canned food than from the canned food itself.

    I remember people warning about botulism from home canned food when I was a kid. It turns out that according to the CDC there are about 22 cases of botulism from food, all sources fresh or canned, in the US in a year. So be careful and check your cans for bulges, make sure your jars are sealed and that there are no odd odors and you should not have many problems.

    • Hi AdamSelene, I agree about the Best By dates. In the last month I have used CostCo Kirkland brand chicken broth, which comes in cardboard cartons similar to milk cartons, which were fourteen or 15 months past Best By dates, and they were fine. I was a little dubious, but the cartons weren’t swollen, and the broth smelled fine, and when tasted was also fine, so into the pot. No problems at all.

    • Encourager says:

      Oh gosh! You brought back some memories! When we were cleaning out my mil home when she was moving into assisted living, we came across quite a few expired cans – and I am talking 10-15 years past the eat-by date. There were some green bean cans that were actually round – they were that bulged out. We handled them like they were bombs.

      BTW Penrod – stuff does not last as long in those newish cardboard wax coated boxes. Nor do cans with pop tops last as long as the older open-with-a-can opener cans.

  6. JP in MT says:

    In the early 60’s we lived in an all electric house outside Portland, OR. Because of the storm we lost power, and with the luck of the draw we were last to get it back.

    I don’t remember whether we still had water or Dad had to go get some, but we did have a fireplace and a small camping trailer. Mom and Grandma cooked in the trailer, and we ate in the house. For me, it was like camping at home.

    My mother canned; my Dad was in commissioned sales so his income could vary greatly from month to month.

    I do remember how happy everyone was with the trailer being there. It’s one of the reasons I have one.

    • JP, back in the 50s and 60s we lived in the boonies on a farm, the power was as reliable as the weather forecast so we had propane appliances, no freezer all our meat was canned, I can’t really remember any difficulties when the power went out. Now days everyone relies on those power lines and life goes upside down for most people when the power fails.

      • I’ve not had a freezer in over ten years and rarely miss it. I eat tons of fresh veggies though and not a fan of really cold foods. I dehydrate a lot too.

  7. Moira, These “Mini Crises” are a blessing in disguise! We had a 2 day blizzard here in February. I work at the regional radio station so we HAVE to be on the air to let people know what is going on. I had made many preps at the station and it was a great test, which we passed! Generator came on when the power went out and kept the entire building running. 4WD station vehicles were able to pick up many who could not make it in. Biggest problem was lunch. Power outage shut down the local pizza places (this is a traditional meal in emergency situations) and we almost had to break out the freeze dried food, but on the other end of town one place was still open! VERY good article which I enjoyed greatly.

  8. ladyhawthorne says:

    I would trust my home canned food a lot more and for longer periods than anything in a can or a package. Just sayin’.

    • Moira M says:

      I completely agree!

    • Yup…me too!

    • I was saddened recently to have to toss out my home canned apricot jam. I found two jars that had been misplaced behind other goods in the back of a dark closet. They were 4 years old and had turned brown and yucky looking. I hated that they went to waste. I opened a different jam that was two years old and the flavor just wasn’t there anymore. So, for me, home canned jams will be eaten by a year and a half past the date they were made. I plan to just do more, smaller batches from now on. That will work for me. Good article, by the way!

      • mom of three says:

        I agree with you I keep my home made jams for 14 months, than I compost them. I with you on making smaller batches and I share with my parent’s, jam, salsa, and dill pickles, my mom does not can any longer and sharing with them is a WONDERFUL pay back for the many decade’s she canned for us kid’s.

        • I love PAY BACK. Most people think in terms of hurt for hurt, but my favorite is pay back to the best ones. My favorite pay back for my dad was home baked bread. For my mom, Friday pizza and movies, remember Blockbuster? She loved it. Thursday I am taking beautiful edible wild daylilies to a friend who saves compost for me, and we’re going out for Mexican food and catch up time.
          Pay Back is the best.

  9. The best way to start or look at being prepared IS for the “mini emergencies”. If more people thought about prepping in this way rather than the doom and gloom zombie senario they would be better able to handle life’s little situations that ALWAYS come up.

    It’s just so short sighted to think you can just run to the store or a restaurant for food in an emergency situation. What if the store has a power outage too? What if the restaurant isn’t open either. Then what?

    The last thing I want to do in an emergency situation is run all over town tracking down food. It’s much better to hunker down at home with a full pantry, a fire in the fireplace and something yummy bubbling on the stove (camp stove, BBQ or open fire).

    Makes the situation much less stressful.

    • This is actually getting more important daily. A lot of us are finding that an item that has been in the store for weeks is suddenly gone. I am not talking about specialty or certain brand items, I am talking about what we would consider staples. They are generally restocked within a week or so, but until that time you go without if you cannot find another source. Just because it is sunny where you are does not mean the supply chain somewhere else hasn’t broken down!

      • JP in MT says:

        There are 2 factors involved here IMO.

        First is “just in time delivery”. Cuts overhead costs for the store to stock items, but causes problems with stockage issues if there is a “burp” in the transportation, weather, or demand.

        The second works with the 1st; a tax on end-of-year stock. You can no longer store things for the next season without incurring an additional cost.

        If we truly experience an shut or slow-down in the financial or transportation sectors we experience shortages. My “solution” is to be my own warehouse; then shop from sale to sale. Saves us 30-40% off just out food bill.

        • I believe you may be absolutely correct in the supply chain and taxation issues. We do a lot of our own warehousing too, but have run into this on occasion. I seem to remember that one was baking powder, and another was something as ubiquitous as green beans or some such. Left us both shaking our heads. We go through a lot of green beans as a weight control technique for our special needs Huskies and Malamute.

      • Our local store was out of a sale item a few months ago and I asked why they didn’t have more. I was told the store only buys a few cases of each item (like 3-4) so they don’t have to store a lot in the back and manage the inventory.

        That makes no sense to me. If a case is 12 units that’s 45 to 60 units until the next time they order. If an item is on sale they could go through that in hours depending on the sale price and the size of the town. Depending on the price I usually buy 10 or 20 each of sale item, so I could wipe out 1/3 of the stock in minutes.

        And, you’re right Rod, if the distribution center is not near you they could fall victim to situations in their area. I know during the really bad weather storms last year some of my mail going east didn’t show up for quite a while. Same thing could happen to trucks and trains coming west.

        Stocking is especially true for important items. I can’t seem to get my mom to understand that she should buy a few cases of my dad’s nutritional supplement instead of waiting until there are just a few cans left because if the store is out she (or he) is out of luck.

        Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. Pray for the times in between.

        • JP in MT says:

          JenMar:

          “Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.” That’s the way things work here. And it is never as bad as I can imagine, so, to date, things have always been better than planned.

  10. I plan to try the survival bread, but suggest replacing 1/2 cup of oatmeal with bean flour. Otherwise, a few fresh handmade tortillas are easy to make.
    I don’t fret anymore about short term emergencies, I can eat drink and be merry. Working on longer term now… even permanent life shifts. I am not ready for a bug out exactly, but I have enough in my truck for emergencies. If I had to walk across country, I would want a good dog, good shoes, walking stick, a couple mylar blankets, and a water purifier. I’d rather stay home with a garden.

  11. Owl Creek Observer says:

    Excellent article with lots of areas for me to explore further. But it also brought up a question that I’ve been unable to get answered. I bought my first Augason Farms 30-day emergency food bucket two or three years ago and immediately opened it up to sort through. It wasn’t until later that I realized I had probably considerably shortened the 20 year shelf life of that bucket. So now I’m wondering if the contents are safe to eat even now. I contacted Augason Farms but they never responded. Any thoughts on this?

    • JP in MT says:

      OCO:

      I don’t think it is the outside container that gives you the shelf life, but the way the contents are packaged. Look on the web site and see if you can determine the shelf life of the components.

  12. cgbascom says:

    Great article. It gave me confirmation that I have been doing the right things for food storage. I spent this week going through all the stored goods and found that I had stored at least 6 months of most items, except for fruit (my husband and I cannot stand canned fruit). We will be researching another alternative for our fruit. Alright, now on to rotating my water stock. Bye.

    • JP in MT says:

      I REALLY like freeze dried fruit. Good rehydrated or right out of the package. More expensive than canned, but lasts longer and weighs less.

    • Anonamo Also says:

      fruit= raisins ,prunes, pineapple,mango, coconut all are avail dried. can dry more if needed for LTS.cheaper to pack own variety pack.

  13. Hi Moira M, Good article. Thank you.

    There are already over thirty comments, and I noticed that a fair number of people don’t care for commercially canned food.

    However, for those who do cook with canned stuff regularly, we found a pretty good cookbook for short term emergency cooking using canned goods, spices, potatoes, rice, and pasta many people keep around anyway.

    It’s apparently out of print, but Amazon has dozens of used copies starting at 1 cent plus shipping: “Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out” by Jon Robertson. It got a lot of negative feedback, mostly from people complaining that the recipes are vegetarian and that wasn’t advertised.

    We have used a number of recipes while camping, and like several enough to use in everyday life. It’s easy to add canned or fresh chicken or beef to them, as well as any fresh ingredient you have around when the power goes out.

    One nice thing about this approach is that we use the canned goods etc which we keep anyway, and are familiar with the recipes in the book. That way there is no wondering which might be good: we already know. Familiar food in an emergency is great for keeping stress levels down.

    As far as canned goods go, if you use them in everyday life, they are an excellent way to prepare for short to medium term emergencies. Hardly any of them have a Best By shelf life under a year, so by rotating stock you could put together a pantry good for that long without ever going to the expense of long term canned goods like LDS provides, or the greater expense of freeze dried.

    That also means no transition shock from daily food to storage food: it’s the same stuff.

    Most of our cooking is with fresh ingredients -plus rice, beans, and pasta- but I have no compunctions about using canned tomatoes, corn, black olives, sliced potatoes (we usually use fresh), chicken, tuna, chili, soup, and bottled cranberry juice. They are convenient, cheap, and store well.

    It’s clear from the comments that they aren’t for everybody, but if you use them, I think they can be a great foundation for a food storage program. 1st: Normal everyday canned goods,plus rice, beans, and pasta. 2nd: Long term storage ingredients like rice, beans, flour. 3rd: Freeze dried.

    We have all three, but if one is prepping for emergencies less than a year long, there really is little need to go beyond the 1st group except for specialized purposes like Bug Out Bags and Get Home Bags. For those, you might try Amazon keywords ‘lifeboat rations’ as one possibility.

  14. Willard Aztec says:

    We ran a rural food bank for 12 years where we picked up “expired” foods. We received and gave away an estimated $3 million worth of expired foods and NEVER had a complaint about spoiled food. By the way, my family ate out of the food bank almost exclusively during that time and never encountered spoiled canned food.

    • Willard, a lot of people would think I was trying to poison them if they saw the dates on our food, I am baking bread this month with a date of July of 2013, oatmeal with the same date, home canned ham 2012, if the lid isn’t spoofed up its good. My opinion of the expectation dates is they get people to throw away food and buy more.

      • Encourager says:

        Exactly WxNW!! Went grocery shopping today. I found a brand of cottage cheese (Daisy) and the ingredient list was milk, cream, salt. The expiration date was mid-June. A store brand had the same ingredients plus a 1″ list of added ingredients and it expired in one week. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t buy it, is my policy.

        We just ate canned pineapple that expired two years ago. Other than tasting a bit metallic, it was fine. No bulges in the can. Didn’t bother our guts either.

  15. Encourager says:

    Moira, good article; you put a lot of work into it! Thank you!
    But water should be addressed as most important. Without it, no life.

  16. Hummingbird says:

    Great article for newbies and those who have been prepping for awhile.
    Tomorrow I’m crewing at an endurance ride, so decided to take some survival bread and see if it holds up in a saddle pack. It’s in the oven now. No lemon or orange jello, so it’s cherry.
    Lessons learned…. I decided on 4 smaller loaves, and it was starting to set up when shaping the third. Must work the dough quickly. As it could be messy, I wore gloves. The dough really likes gloves. There’s still about a lot of dough on them.

  17. Jersey Drifter says:

    Good article. Got me thinking again that my food storage might be, no IS, weighted too heavily on canned goods, along with some dry beans, rice and pasta. And almost no freeze dried anything. I do have some home dehydrated items. Time to look into expanding more for the long term of 10+ years, because there are too many things out there ( EMP, financial collapse, ect. ) that could last a lot longer than a few days to a few weeks. Only thing I feel good about is my 1 yr.+ supply of coffee, and I drink a lot of that.

  18. IdahoBob says:

    Awhile back I read a plan for 10,000 meals with just 40 ingredients. The idea is you make 4 lists of 10 ingredients each. one list if protein such as meat or beans, etc. The next is a starch/carb such as rice or potato, third is a vegetable canned or freeze dried and last a sauce/gravy such a bouillon. To make a tasty and complete meal select one item from each list and cook. For example rice and beans with a tasty chicken gravy and corn. Or chicken and dumplings in a chicken broth made from a chicken bouillon powder and green beans.

    I have made the list myself and it is fairly easy to list 20 items on each list for an even great variety of meals.

  19. David Campbell says:

    One of the better articles and supporting comments I’ve read. And thanks for the recipes and commenter lead to”Apocalypse Chow”.

  20. JustCallMeAnn says:

    Read in a blog a few years ago the advice to try it before storing a lot of it. So a couple years ago I bought variety packs of freeze-dried meat, veg, and fruit (initially through Costco) and figured out what we liked. Lightly reconstituted freeze dried organic peas tasted like they just came out of the pod! Tried a variety of f/d egg products, and liked none of them as scrambled, but one was better than the others in baked/casseroled dishes. Figured out which instant milk product we preferred. Only found one source for f/d sweet potatoes, but texture with skin on was not to our liking. We just love sweet potatoes – anyone know of other sources?

    Due to cost consideration, we haven’t yet tried the f/d meal pouches.

    • Encourager says:

      Have you tried the Ova Easy Egg Crystals? You can buy the smaller packages on Amazon to try, without getting stuck with the #10 can if you hate them. But they taste pretty good as scrambled.

  21. Right now I don’t can or put up any food. This is a part of prepping that I have never addressed and feel I should. Can anyone recommend good Kindle books on preparing long shelf life food at home? I need to learn more about this subject.

    • Any publication by Ball Canning is great, but the Complete Book of Home Preservation stands out. It includes a lot of information for people new to the process. I suggest you look into multiple sources. This site has many articles at http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/canning-preserving/. The most important thing is to get started and try your hand at it. You will have successes and failures. It is much better to get the failures out of the way when you can still get to a grocery store!

    • Encourager says:

      I just bought a book called The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. I found it at, of all places, Joann Fabrics and used a 50% off coupon. It says $19.95 on the back. I have not used any recipes yet but many look dang good! And many times, I do not have enough veggies to do a regular full recipe. This book will fill a gap.

      • Encourager
        I bought a small pressure cooker at the thrift store for $5. It cans 4 pints at a time. For me, that is perfect… the closest I come to marathon canning is 24 pints of chicken broth, 24 pints of beef broth, and 24 pints of pork broth. My garden has such variety I don’t get huge flushes of one thing. I can jelly in 1 cup containers now!
        Unless the family moves back in… I am past that stage… hallelujah.

  22. Wow, thanks to everyone for sharing their opinions and experiences. I have canned since the 1970’s. Learned from my mom and neighbors in the 1950’s. I canned, froze, and made jams, jellies and apple butter for years. I was worried this art would be lost and now it is coming back. I have not canned meat and should give it a try. I have had apple butter from 1999 and it just went bad due to rust in lid. I also had nuts in the freezer for 20 years. Baked with them and no one died. Smile.
    When you have all of your supplies for canning and the kitchen is ready, it is not so hard. Harvest one day, refrigerate if needed and can the next day. I don’t suggest turning jams and jelly jars upside down. I used to use paraffin and it can work in covering the jams and jellies if needed.
    I have not baked with the cast iron on a fire. I’m curious about the pie pan and how it prevents burning. Would like more info on that.

    • I have developed 30 recipes for using a Dutch oven in a fireplace. You can find them on my website http://www.fawnskin.com . All my recipes are for a 10 inch Dutch oven. Once or twice a year I bake bread or cake in the fireplace during the winter for practice. A 10 inch Dutch oven is an great survival tool. It can make the difference between surviving or surviving with some class and style. It can be the difference between feeding on glop or dining like an gourmet.

      • I’ll have to try out some of your recipes! I love cooking in cast iron (no Teflon at this house). I wholeheartedly agree with wanting to do a bit more than just survive!

    • I’ll write up an article with photos and submit it to MD to see if he wants to post it here. I love cooking in my cast iron and use it all the time in and out of the house. In fair weather we cook over a fire about once a week including entrée, sides, bread and dessert.
      The closest analogy I have for using the pie pan in the Dutch oven is this: If you put a pot of food on the stove top and don’t stir it, the bottom will scorch where the burner touches the pot. If you put a casserole in the oven, the whole thing cooks fairly evenly and generally doesn’t scorch. Likewise, if you put a cake or bread (which you wouldn’t stir) in cast iron without lifting it from the bottom, it can scorch. If you put the bread in a pie pan that is lifted from the bottom with a rack or even balled up aluminum foil, it works more like a regular oven with even heat all around. You can accomplish a similar result by putting the cast iron on a cooler part of the fire and flipping the bread once or twice while cooking. That is how I bake pineapple upside down cake – just put it in a cast iron skillet with a lid and put it over a cooler part of the fire.

      Like food preservation, cooking over a fire is something best learned when you aren’t risking a limited food supply. It’s nice knowing that if dinner is a complete flop there is always a frozen pizza or PB&J in the house. (Note – pizza is something else that cooks fabulously in cast iron and gets a really nice crust.

      • I am inspired to buy some cast iron, I love my heavy stainless steel, but mom cooked on cast iron and so did I when young. She traded hers in on Teflon and I have stainless… and one cast iron griddle I could not live without.
        Cast iron is great and I look forward to your article.

        • Back in 1904 Lewis and Clark carried several Dutch ovens with them. Cooking and gourmet baking in cast iron is a high skill. The most difficult part of it is temperature control. I now use an infa red scanning thermometer. I scan the outside of the Dutch oven and get a good idea of the temperature inside. Now the temperature of the outside surface is not the exact temperature that would be in the recipe. But it is close. I am working on a Boston cream pie recipe, but it has been too warm to have a fire in the fireplace so I will finish it next winter. Boston cream pie is better in the winter, anyhow.

          • Potato Cacher,
            Never heard of an infrared thermometer. Went to Amazon and added it to my list. I appreciate your sharing knowledge.

            • You can also use a trivet and a 9 inch cake pan. The trick is to build a fire and let it die down to hot coals. Use the coals on the top and bottom of the Dutch oven. It takes way less than you might think.
              The way you prevent burning the bottom of your bread or cake is to only have a few coals on the bottom and put most of the hot coals on top of the flat lid.
              As I said. It is a high skill.

              • Encourager says:

                The very first time I ever tried to bake in a Dutch Oven was a big disaster. Not knowing what I was doing, I made a blueberry coffeecake mix, loaded the top up with coals, heaping, and had so many coals underneath the DO was raised up 4″. We went for a short walk and on the way back my oldest ds said “I smell something burning!” Less than 10 minutes and I had charcoal cake with little black pebbles (the blueberries). My fam has NEVER let me forget that, close t0 30 years since; the last time we camped together (September 2015) one of the ds said “You gonna make us some blueberry coffeecake for breakfast??” and they all laughed till they cried. Sigh…

        • Encourager says:

          Instead of buying Lodge or other new brand ware, look for the brands Griswold and Wagner. They are old, old brands. We find them on the 127 World’s Longest Yard Sale and in antique stores. One year we really scored! We ended up with the following: a #6, #8, #10 skillets, two Dutch Ovens, two breakfast pans (divided in three cook areas, the long one for bacon, the other two for eggs), and two flat pans for pancakes etc. Some were rusty but sound; some were very encrusted with old grease and even food (yuck!)

          When we got home, dh sandblasted all of them and I re-seasoned them in the oven…which I should have done outdoors over a fire, phew! I use them nearly every day.

          • Encourager,
            Thanks! I found an old fashioned cast iron teapot, reminds me of a Japanese pot used over an open fire. It is yucky inside and I haven’t got up the nerve to tackle cleaning it. Sandblasting????
            Now if I can find more used stuff!

            • Encourager says:

              Most times those old cast iron kettles can only be used to humidify a room. You can try sandblasting it, but then you need to season it immediately or it starts to rust. I think I would use flax oil as it forms a better, harder seal.

            • I got a cast iron tea pot too. In the winter I leave it on my gas heater to humidify the room. I make tea with it too.

      • If you go on Kindle and put in “cookbook” there are hundreds of out of print un copyrighted old cookbooks. Some of them are from the early 1700s. You can download most of them for free or only 99 cents. I found old Quaker and British recipes. In those days cast iron was all they had. You would be surprised how elaborate some of the dishes were. Many times you can substitute freeze dried food for the old salted and smoked

      • Encourager says:

        I use old canning jar rings to lift the pan of whatever off the bottom of the Dutch Oven. Never had a burned bottom and undone top. It took me many tries to get the amount of coals right when cooking outside in the fire pit!!

        • I love baking breads and cakes in the 10 inch Dutch oven. No matter how careful I am, and how hard I try to keep everything the same, each end product is different. Part of the fun is not knowing exactly how it will turn out.

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