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Another thread, related to ammo shortages, delved briefly into potential food shortages. A regular here mentioned getting a stand alone freezer, and I shared some tips based on my own experiences... rather than hijack the existing thread, I thought it may be worthy of one of its own.

I don't consider myself a "prepper" per se, but I do like the idea of being relatively self sufficient for a period of time if necessary. I'm also somewhat cheap, simple, and have space available. So this is more of a larger than normal scale food storage as a "lifestyle" rather than a prepping thread.... its it's also predicated on the assumption that one doesn't want to live on $10 per head per meal commercial "survival" food loaded with chemical crap and that one can actually cook a little...

I have a large chest freezer. Its moderately full, and its contents are rotated through. The tricks Ive found to long tearm meat storage are:

- Invest in a decent vacuum sealer. $150 from Walmart or Costco. This allows for 2 things- storing food in usage- size portions, and increases freezer life. Meat in a ziploc freezer bag is good for about 6 months. Vacuum packed (and prepared) its a year or better.

- Prep meat before freezing. Dry it for a day or 2 in the refrigerator, wrapped in cheese, on a rack over a tray of rock salt. This removes much of the water added to meat, prevents freezer burn and texture damage from ice buildup.

- Buy in bulk or sale/ "yellow tag" when possible. I get pork loins at Sams for <$2 a pound. I cut them into 1-1.5" chops, pack and freeze them. Same thing with boneless chicken thighs. I catch ribeye or roasts on sale, and prep and freeze them. Most of my lamb is "yellow tag", discounted a day or 2 before the sell by date. Loin chops that retail for $10 a pound for $3.50, legs for $3 a pound.... I still have 50lbs of pork butt at $0.70/lb that will become sausage when I get around to it...

- Be organized. Label and date everything. Come up with a way to ensure good rotation. Live off the top layer, and re stock below.

Dry goods- rice, beans, flour, sugar, salt pasta etc... 3 and 5 gallon, food grade buckets, available at Lowe's or Home Depot, are your best friend. Most of these things have an almost indefinite shelf life, when kept in a cool place out of the sun... I usually have 2 buckets of each, using one and rotating as one becomes empty.

Cooking oils- again bought in bulk, kept cool and in the dark. Long life.

Herbs and spices. What good is eating if its bland and boring? Bought in quanty on line, divided into usable portion, vacuum sealed and frozen...

These are just a few of the things I've done over the years... what are your tips and tricks?
 

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Good info WC, even though I acknowledged this in the other thread, want to listen n on this one also.

As far as what I can add, make sure one has a back-up power source, I have a Generic which runs on natural gas...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good info WC, even though I acknowledged this in the other thread, want to listen n on this one also.

As far as what I can add, make sure one has a back-up power source, I have a Generic which runs on natural gas...
The concept is electricity driven.... I use gas generators. More efficient, and not dependent upon a utility service. During Matthew a few years back, NG service was deliberately shut off. The ground saturation created a risk of pipeline breakage. At one point, I had to go 30 miles to get gasoline, but it was available off the X.
I use a little 3.5k generator for the freezer and refrigerator. 3-4 hours a day, and its good enough. My 7k runs the house as needed...
 

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I have a good generator but don't count on keeping it going. The comments on canned goods, etc. are spot on. I had a partner and employees caught in the post Katrina mess in Louisiana and fuel became a real issue.

Here is a good one. Peanut butter and jelly do not require refrigeration and peanut butter has key essentials oils that your body needs. We have quite a stock of many items including peanut butter.
 

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The concept is electricity driven.... I use gas generators. More efficient, and not dependent upon a utility service. During Matthew a few years back, NG service was deliberately shut off. The ground saturation created a risk of pipeline breakage. At one point, I had to go 30 miles to get gasoline, but it was available off the X.
I use a little 3.5k generator for the freezer and refrigerator. 3-4 hours a day, and its good enough. My 7k runs the house as needed...
One has to do a risk harassment for their individual situation.

Where I live, I have never had a natural gas outage in over the 30 years I've lived here. That is good odds...Even during the Super-Storm Sandy, when the Jersey Shore was overwhelmed with water, and my property was about 1/2 under water, the pilot lights remained lit. And for a several days, folks were having a hard time getting gasoline because they couldn't get out of their homes due to flooding and gas stations were closed. Also, we didn't get much of any commercial trucking to supply gas stations or food stores for several days.

I suppose folks can store many gallons of gas on their property in a shed or something but that has its own challenges. There were some parts of the East-Coast, not far from where I live, who were without electric-utility power for a month or so during SS-Sandy. What if there was a 6 month outage, that is a lot of gasoline, weather you store it or have to find it.

Other areas, where you live for example, may lead to different conclusions, especially if their natural gas facilities aren't as robust like say in a rural area.

BTW, how long does 1 gallon of gasoline fuel your home on average considering day and night consumption, especially with the AC on. Or in another way to ask this question, how many gallons a day or week do you consume during the Summer months to run/cool your house, etc.? (The AC is a big use of energy).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
One has to do a risk harassment for their individual situation.

Where I live, I have never had a natural gas outage in over the 30 years I've lived here. That is good odds...Even during the Super-Storm Sandy, when the Jersey Shore was overwhelmed with water, and my property was about 1/2 under water, the pilot lights remained lit. And for a several days, folks were having a hard time getting gasoline because they couldn't get out of their homes due to flooding and gas stations were closed. Also, we didn't get much of any commercial trucking to supply gas stations or food stores for several days.

I suppose folks can store many gallons of gas on their property in a shed or something but that has its own challenges. There were some parts of the East-Coast, not far from where I live, who were without electric-utility power for a month or so during SS-Sandy. What if there was a 6 month outage, that is a lot of gasoline, weather you store it or have to find it.

Other areas, where you live for example, may lead to different conclusions, especially if their natural gas facilities aren't as robust like say in a rural area.

BTW, how long does 1 gallon of gasoline fuel your home on average considering day and night consumption, especially with the AC on. Or in another way to ask this question, how many gallons a day or week do you consume during the Summer months to run/cool your house, etc.? (The AC is a big use of energy).
I don't run my generators 24/7. They're for emergency power and sustainment, not trying to live life as normal. It only takes about 3-4 hours a day, from a little 3.5k to keep the freezers good. So perhaps half a gallon there... my 7k needs 5 gallons a day at 80% load- however, I don't need to run it that hard.

During Matthew, the NG was cut off to because the sand clay soil that is the Sandhills was saturated. 28 inches of rain in about 12 hours if memorial serves. Followed by major flooding. The ground was liquefied to a point. This caused strain on the pipes...
14 days without power. I had tk travel up to 30 miles for fuel- but it was available. Just had to get off the X. Yeah, it was a PITA. But it worked....
You brought up a good point- power is needed for freezers. Choose the power source that suits you ...
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I was always told a tightly packed un opened freezer would last for a few days?
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I was always told a tightly packed un opened freezer would last for a few days?
This is true. Thermal inertia is your friend when you can absorb heat at a much slower rate. Solid frozen meat thaws much more slowly then air absorbs heat.
 

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Pressure canning! Make larger (or normal size) batches of your favorite soups, chilis, stews, salsas, spagh sauces and pressure can the leftovers for easier future meals. Rotate through them... Shelf life can easily exceed 3 years, no refridgeration required until opening.
 

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Canning is another method- i wasn't sure whether to go down that rabbit hole here.. .

I can soups and stocks- haven't really explored much beyond that... one thin that I do for soups to be canned is make the broth at about a 2x strength. This allows 1pt of soup to be cut with 1pt of water, and the addition of a handful of pasta, or a bit of roux for a stew- you can't home can flour and pasta "safely", and I shy away from home experiments which may result i botulism. I really should live a little, try a batch, and see what happens.... In all seriousness, home canning can kill you. Stick to proven and validated recipes (from Ball or a university testing program) , without deviation. This isn't the time to be "creative"...

Chicken works well. Beef seems to come apart during reheating, instead of chunks, I wind up with shredded beef soup. The broths are made from bone stock, beef, chicken, lamb goat. I'll even use scrape bones from a meal- the ribs from a roast or Tbone, toss them in the freezer until I have enoough. I also prefer pints to the quarts that commercial broth comes in, its a more usable quantity for making sauces and such.

I haven't tried canning straight meat yet... I make dried meat products, vacuum pack and freeze them. Same with fruit- pineapple, apples, peaches, and such. I probably should try a few different things... When I was a kid, we'd make pickles every year, it was a big family event, 3 generations deep... need to dust off that recipe.
 

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Curious about the food grade buckets you were talking about. Are these the 5 gallon paint buckets I see with lids or something else?
 

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Curious about the food grade buckets you were talking about. Are these the 5 gallon paint buckets I see with lids or something else?
They are similar, but should be advertised or marked as "food grade". The lids on mine are very tight, need a rubber mallet to tap them on. They're a bit heavier that paint buckets, and I'm assuming that they're made of a material that is food safe. They're not crazy expensive, $5 or so, and another $2 for the lid, if memory serves.
 

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Canning is another method- i wasn't sure whether to go down that rabbit hole here.. .

I can soups and stocks- haven't really explored much beyond that... one thin that I do for soups to be canned is make the broth at about a 2x strength. This allows 1pt of soup to be cut with 1pt of water, and the addition of a handful of pasta, or a bit of roux for a stew- you can't home can flour and pasta "safely", and I shy away from home experiments which may result i botulism. I really should live a little, try a batch, and see what happens.... In all seriousness, home canning can kill you. Stick to proven and validated recipes (from Ball or a university testing program) , without deviation. This isn't the time to be "creative"...

Chicken works well. Beef seems to come apart during reheating, instead of chunks, I wind up with shredded beef soup. The broths are made from bone stock, beef, chicken, lamb goat. I'll even use scrape bones from a meal- the ribs from a roast or Tbone, toss them in the freezer until I have enoough. I also prefer pints to the quarts that commercial broth comes in, its a more usable quantity for making sauces and such.

I haven't tried canning straight meat yet... I make dried meat products, vacuum pack and freeze them. Same with fruit- pineapple, apples, peaches, and such. I probably should try a few different things... When I was a kid, we'd make pickles every year, it was a big family event, 3 generations deep... need to dust off that recipe.
RED FLAG!
good advice above, but great grandma's recipe might not being FDA-safe! Like you've said, good to pressure-can non acid foods according to the advertised recipes (which if not FDA-safe -- they'd get shut down toot sweet)!

Anyway, the "red flag" is of both of your "3-generation's" old recipe AND your statement about drying meats.

Seriously, though, anything like our Jerky (without the use of Sodium Nitrate, et-al) will likely NOT be FDA safe. An advertised recipe requires a bit of butt-covering, especially meats, one having to make an assumption that the least intelligent among us might not be able to read that warning label in only 3 or 4 languages...or realize that Jerky won't be lasting around around my household for more than a couple of days! If I happened to make a big batch, I'll still keep it refrigerated for the extra 2 days it might last! Although I love the end products of my canned foods, I've yet to produce an excellent, for-sure-safe FDA approved jerky recipe.

YMMV!
 

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RED FLAG!
good advice above, but great grandma's recipe might not being FDA-safe! Like you've said, good to pressure-can non acid foods according to the advertised recipes (which if not FDA-safe -- they'd get shut down toot sweet)!

Anyway, the "red flag" is of both of your "3-generation's" old recipe AND your statement about drying meats.

Seriously, though, anything like our Jerky (without the use of Sodium Nitrate, et-al) will likely NOT be FDA safe. An advertised recipe requires a bit of butt-covering, especially meats, one having to make an assumption that the least intelligent among us might not be able to read that warning label in only 3 or 4 languages...or realize that Jerky won't be lasting around around my household for more than a couple of days! If I happened to make a big batch, I'll still keep it refrigerated for the extra 2 days it might last! Although I love the end products of my canned foods, I've yet to produce an excellent, for-sure-safe FDA approved jerky recipe.

YMMV!
I don't know the source of the picking recipe, probably from the 1930s...and such things were starting to be looked at then. However, acidics don't require pressure canning, a hot water bath will do. Its just pushing out air and sealing a container. The foods are not conducive to botulism.
Pressure caning of non acidics is another matter.... these are things in which botulism will thrive. This is where strict adherence to accepted recipes is critical.

Jerky- though I make biltong and drowors- may not be FDA "approved"- I've never seen such a thing. Drying meat is only part of the process. Storing it long term is the other. I vacuum pack it daily ration quantities, toss it in the freezer. Same with the drowors.

I also DO use sodium nitrate and nitrite as appropriate. I know its trendy to think of these minerals as the devil incarnate, however, its just not true . A single serving of a spinach salad has more of these evil substances in it that 8 ounce of cured salami... they only become problematic when exposed to high heat...

I don't think you'll find an FDA approved jerky recipe... the best I can offer is trim as much fat as possible, use appropriate amounts of curing agents- vinegar, salt, and nitrates/nitrites . Vaccum pack the product. This will give you months of shelf stability. Freezing it turns months into years....
 

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I grew up in the Central Valley of California. Fresh fruits were abundant and cheap. Mom and Dad always had a garden. All summer we would can fruit & veggies make salsa jams and jellies. My wives parents owned a dairy and her childhood was much the same. Great thread and so appropriate to the current times. Being confined at home is perfect time to break out the pressure cooker. Thanks for some of the ideas.
 

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I grew up in the Central Valley of California. Fresh fruits were abundant and cheap. Mom and Dad always had a garden. All summer we would can fruit & veggies make salsa jams and jellies. My wives parents owned a dairy and her childhood was much the same. Great thread and so appropriate to the current times. Being confined at home is perfect time to break out the pressure cooker. Thanks for some of the ideas.
Well, I intentionally left at least a quart's worth left of the chili for my wonderful wife -- she might eat more than a pint!

Anyway, 6 pints are going into "medium" term storage; jars sealed great! Besides the Tupperware storage for the wife's dinner, I have TWO pints that ain't right. They are in fridge for earlier usage. Don't like it spicy? I'd recommend mixing 50/50 with the wife's chili that I canned and labeled, "Bland Chili".
 

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. . . oops meant Potassium Nitrate (Saltpeder). Wouldn't recommend it for the Peter. . .
In the interest of full disclosure, the pictures show how my cure jars are labeled. Eat a tablespoon of either, and you're in for a bad day.... but I'm using about 1/8th teaspoon per 10 pounds of meat....
 

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in the interest of full disclosure, the pictures show how my cure jars are labeled. Eat a tablespoon of either, and you're in for a bad day.... But i'm using about 1/8th teaspoon per 10 pounds of meat....
nice!

. . . but about those labels, only one language! Don't you care for those trespassers with perhaps 278 other languages that we have been accommodating for "general welfare" expenditures like, forever! From those among us who are regularly FLEECED, but not haters, please design a better label!
 

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nice!

. . . but about those labels, only one language! Don't you care for those trespassers with perhaps 278 other languages that we have been accommodating for "general welfare" expenditures like, forever! From those among us who are regularly FLEECED, but not haters, please design a better label!
I care not a wit. Those welcome in my home are either unable to reach these horrid poisons, or capable of reading and understanding English- as well as reasonably disciplined and obedient. Add to that that nobody can stomach a full teaspoon of essentially salt.....
Perhaps some of the "MR Yuck!' stickers that were popular in the 70s, when I was a kid. Rather than put toxins out of reach, they were kept under the kitchen sink- but they had stickers on them!
 
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