If you do a little research on pre-packaged survival meals, you may experience a bit of sticker shock. The options are not cheap. If you have the means and the budget to spend thousands on pre-packaged, sustainable food, good for you. However, if you’re looking to stock up on sustainable food resources without breaking the bank, there are plenty of options you can make in your own kitchen. Here are 4 tried and true survival foods that you can make at home.
(photo credit: instructables.com)
This is probably the easiest option on the list. For short term options, it’s as simple as grabbing a gallon sized Ziploc bag and stuffing it with energy bars, dried fruits and nuts, some packaged jerky and instant coffee.
But you can also put a little extra work in and build some long-term MRE bags that will have the same shelf life as the military grade stuff. First, you’ll want to dehydrate your food. Do a little research on what types of foods you can actually dehydrate–you’ll be surprised at the options! You can make soups, noodle dishes, veggies, rice and stews. One you’ve got your survival food dehydrated, stick it in some smaller Mylar bags, along with an energy bar or two and a drink mix. The next step is to pop in an oxygen absorber, which is readily available from online retailers, and then seal the whole thing up using a vacuum sealer. Use a sharpie to label the contents, along with the date you stored it and you’re all set.
Homemade Beef Jerky
Beef Jerky is a fascinating thing. There’s a misconception that you need really high heat and fancy equipment to make it, and that’s simply not the case. A dehydrator certainly makes it easy, but you can still make great tasting, long lasting jerky using nothing more than your oven.
The truth is that you don’t need high heat, you need low humidity, so you can mix up your favorite jerky recipe using lean meat and spices, and then pop the meat right into the oven. Set the heat to the lowest setting and crack the oven door so that there’s plenty of air circulation. Once the meat cracks when you bend it you’re all set. Once you’ve cooked up a batch you can stuff your Mylar bags full of it, add an oxygen absorber and seal it up for long term preservation.
(photo credit: Flickr.com user: oaktree_b)
Pemmican is very similar to beef jerky, but it’s a little more primitive, and I believe it has a longer shelf life, too. Pemmican has been around as a survival food for a long time and it was a staple among Native American cultures. That means that you can make it using the most primitive of tools.
What makes Pemmican different from jerky, and what gives a longer shelf life, is the process of removing the fat from the meat. The process starts by trimming all of the fat from the meat and reserving it (you’ll use it later). The remaining meat is dried by whatever method is available and then it’s salted. The meat is then ground down to powder form. Machines like food processors and blenders make this process easy, but the Native Americans used nothing but stones to achieve the same effect. Next, the reserved fat is rendered by heating it over low heat and straining. Additional dry ingredients are added to the meat mixture, the rendered fat is added back at a ratio of one part fat to two parts dry mix and you’re essentially done. Then it’s just a matter of forming the Pemmican into balls and storing it in an airtight container. If done correctly, a batch of Pemmican can last many, many years.
Jarred Survival Foods
Jarring (often referred to as “Canning”) survival foods is actually pretty simple to do. There are plenty of canning machines and accessories on the market to make the job easier, but all you really need are jars, lids, food and your stovetop.
The process starts by sterilizing your jars and lids. That’s accomplished by simply boiling everything in water on the stove. Once you’ve sterilized your supplies you simply follow your favorite recipe. If you have your own garden you can make everything from pasta sauces to pickles, and everything in between, for very little cost. Once you’ve added your ingredients to the jars, you simply add the lids and reheat everything in the boiling water until the jars are sealed. Label your jars with the ingredients and the date and you’re all set.
There’s plenty of equipment out there on the market, from freeze dryers to canning machines and everything in between. Again, if it’s in your budget and you have the room, take advantage of the technology and pick some of these items up. But, don’t let the lack of gadgets keep you from making and storing your own food. The Native Americans did it long before survival preparation was as prevalent as it is today. So start searching for those recipes and have fun making your own survival food!