Food is essential to survival. In a disaster situation, the power may go out, leaving your refrigerator or freezer virtually useless. Grocery store shelves will be emptied, and restaurants won’t be serving meals. Food will, no doubt, be a hot commodity in a worst-case situation.
Similarly, if you’re in the wilderness, you won’t have access tourban or suburban conveniences. You’ll have to fend for yourself using what’s in your pack along with nature’s resources.
You and your family will need access to food, and dried items are among the easiest to prepare, store and transport. Here’s a quick rundown of some dried, portable edibles to keep in your cellar or go-bag and how to best store them.
Shell Beans, Legumes
Dried shell beans and legumes—such as black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, split peas and soybeans—are a staple in most pantries thanks to their long shelf life and versatility.
These little protein-, starch- and fiber-rich morsels also travel well. Plus, some beans and legumes can be sprouted and grown (or eaten). They’re a perfect item to have on hand—just in case.
You can purchase dried beans and legumes from your grocer, or you can grow and dry your own. When you grow your own, let the beans partially dry on the plant. Harvest them when the pod turns light brown and the seeds are mature.
Place the pods in a cloth sack and hang it in a warm place for up to two weeks to finish drying. When completely dry, shake or hit the sack to break the pods and release the seeds. Remove the pods and pour off the beans. Store them as you would purchased beans.
Storing and Shelf Life
When properly dried and stored in an airtight, moisture- roof container in a cool, dry place, shell beans and legumes can be kept indefinitely.
They will take some effort to cook, as you’ll need a heat source, water and a pot in which to cook them. But if you have access to those essentials, the beans will provide a ready source of nutrition for you and your family.
Dried Meats, Jerky
Who doesn’t love a good jerky? The salted, seasoned, sometimes smoked raw meat dried in an oven was a favorite among pioneers—and it’s still a popular snack today.
Because most of the moisture is removed from the meat during the drying process, jerky can be stored without refrigeration, making it ideal for survival situations. The addition of salt and sodium nitrate extends the shelf life of jerky even more.
Just about any lean fish or meat, including beef, game and lamb, can be turned into jerky. You can purchase ready-made jerky in your local market, or you can make your own.
If you make your own, be sure to follow tested recipes that use proper temperature and drying time, as certain dis ease-causing microorganisms, like salmonella and E. coli, may be present in raw meats and survive the drying process if not heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Storing and Shelf Life
If you live in a humid area (greater than 30 percent), jerky can be stored at room temperature for one to two months in an airtight container; if you’re in a dryer area, the jerky can be kept in a container with a loose-fitting lid or one with several holes punched in the lid.
Basil, mint, parsley, ginger—they’re some of the spices of life. Though herbs and spices don’t have much nutritive value and aren’t essential to survival, they make food taste good.
Plus, some herbs, like mint and ginger, can be made into tea to ease maladies like stomach upset and anxiety. If you have room in your storage area, herbs and spices are nice to have around.
As with other pantry staples, herbs and spices—dried and fresh—may be sourced from your local market. If you have the time and resources, however, consider growing and drying your own. Either way, select herbs and spices you use regularly. There’s no sense in storing a jar full of marjoram if you can’t stand its taste!
Storing And Shelf Life
You can dry or dehydrate your herbs in an electric dehydrator, paper bags, a warm room or even an oven. When the leaves are sufficiently dry and crumble easily, or when seeds are brittle, they’re ready for storage. Ideally, they should be vacuum sealed in a jar or plastic bag; if one isn’t available, an air-tight container will suffice.
With proper packaging and storage, herbs and spices should keep well for six months to one year.
Prepare your pantry
Dry and dehydrated foods should be a part of everyone’s pantry and emergency supply. As with other food items, be sure to label and rotate them regularly to ensure their freshness and maximum nutrition. In an emergency situation—whether hurricane, tor nado, flood, fire or otherwise—you’ll be ready to feed yourself and your family.