Category Archives: Food Storage

Survival Basics: 16 Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home

With the recent proliferation of water shortages caused by wonky weather patterns, finding ways to maximize the water we do have has become a focus of preppers near and far.  That said, in addition to knowing how to find, harvest, purify, and store water, it is important to develop a lifelong habit of conserving water.

The bottom line is that careful water conservation methods will allow you to make the most of limited supplies not only following a disruptive event but also day to day as you learn to make do with what you have during a drought.

Today I share 16 ways to conserve water in in your home.  We’ll begin in the bathroom since interestingly enough, that is where 75% of all household water is used.

16 Tips to Help You Conserve Water

1.  Do not keep the bathroom faucet running.

The faucet at the bathroom sink does not need to be running continuously while you brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave.  You will save between three and five gallons of water each minute your faucet is turned off.  That is a lot of water! Instead, use the stopper on the sink and drain the basin when you are done.

2.  Only flush when needed.

The toilet is not a wastepaper basket for tissues, cotton balls, or other bits of trash.  Even better, flush the solids every single time but alternate flushing the liquids.

The prepper’s motto is ‘yellow, let it mellow’, ‘brown, flush it down’.

3.  Flush using less water.

Most toilets installed before 1980 use 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Toilets installed between 1980 and 1993 use 3.5 gallons per flush. Toilets installed since 1994 use 1.6 gallons.

If you happen to have an older toilet, consider filling a used soda bottle or jar with water and small pebbles or marbles and place it upright in the tank.  This will cut down on the amount of water that flows through the tank with each flush.  Just be careful not to place the bottle where it will jam the flushing mechanism.  Also, make sure you don’t displace so much water that you have to double-flush.

Double flushing wastes more water than you would save.

4.  Check for leaky faucets and toilets.

It is easy to replace worn washers and since a small leak can waste many gallons of water a day, it is well worth the effort to test for leaks now.

The way to test for toilet leaks is to put a few drops of food coloring in the tank to see if the colored water appears in the bowl.  This takes about 10 minutes.  If the water color changes, you have a leak.  Not to worry, though.  Most leaks can be repaired with a kit that you can pick up at your local hardware store or on Amazon.

You can find a lot of information on toilets and toilet repairs at the Toiletology 101 website, including a free course on toilet repairs.

Keep in mind that little leaks can add up quickly.  A faucet drip or invisible toilet leak that totals only two tablespoons a minute comes to 15 gallons a day. That’s 105 gallons a week or 5,460 wasted gallons of water a year.

Are you wondering how long the parts in your toilet tank should last?  The answer is: it depends.  Replaceable parts such as flappers and washers or seals inside the refill valve may last several years. However factors such as water treatment processes, toilet bowl cleaners, and high water pressure can cause parts to disintegrate much sooner. If you touch the flapper and get black “goo” on your hands, the flapper needs to be replaced.

5.  Check for hidden water leaks.

Check for hidden water leaks elsewhere in your home by reading your water meter.  What you do is read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

Read more here…

This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

This article was written by Gaye Levy and can be viewed here:

http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/survival-basics-16-ways-to-conserve-water-in-your-home/

 

16 Food Storage Tips for the Space Challenged Prepper

One of the more common prepper challenges is finding room for stored food and water. Lucky you if you have a large home with a basement or cellar – you have plenty of space at just the right temperature. But the rest of us? Not so much. Many people live in apartments, condos, mobile homes, RV’s or, in my case, a one bedroom cottage. This means we are cramped for normal pantry and closet space let alone space for our emergency food and water.

Couple the lack of storage space with the need to be mindful of the six enemies of food storage (temperature, moisture, oxygen, light, pests and time) and the storage problem compounds exponentially.

This does not have to be an impossible situation.  With a bit of creativity, almost everyone can find a bit of extra space for their emergency food storage.  So with that in mind, today I would like to offer some ideas for storing food for the space challenged.  I am going to do this by using my own home as an example.  In the photos below you will see the results of my walk-around assessment of usable storage space in my own home.

As embarrassing as it might seem to expose my messes and disorganization for the world to see, I think it will help give you some ideas where you too can find some extra space in your own home.

16 FOOD STORAGE TIPS FOR THE SPACE CHALLENGED PREPPER

1. Build some shelves under the stairwell

If you are like me, that awkward space under the stairwell is a big mess.  I actually cleaned this area out before taking the photo – that is how bad it was.  If you don’t want to build shelves, consider putting some buckets along the back wall then placing a board on top.  On top of this make-shift shelf you can store #10 tins or canned and packaged foods.  This is going to be the number one makeover in my home.

Read more here…

This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

Canning 101

canning-101-collageLet’s start at the beginning in our Canning Journey with Canning 101. We will look at the different types of canning, canning terms…tools…jars and pectin.

This is just the basics but important information to learn before we continue on to other important things such as choosing our canner (water bath or pressure), walking through the canning process step-by-step and exploring and making some recipes both sweet and sour.  We also have some canning labels in store for you later this week to print out and personalize…so welcome to Canning 101, let’s begin!

Canning Types

Chutney
A combination of vegetables and/or fruits, spices and vinegar cooked for a long period of time to develop favorable flavor and texture. Usually with a sweet-sour flavor.

Conserve
A soft spread similar to jam, that is made with at least 2 kinds of fruit in addition to nuts or raisins.

Jam
A spread made by crushing or chopping whole fruits. Jams are thicker than jellies and tend to contain chunks of fruits.

Jelly
A spread made with only fruit juice rather then the whole fruit to form a smooth gel consistency.

Marmalade
A spread that contains pieces of citrus fruit and peel evenly suspended in transparent jelly.

Pickle
A perserved fruit or vegetable (usually a cucumber) in a vinegar or brine solution

Preserves
A spread in which fruit is cooked with sugar to the point where large chunks of fruit or whole fruit (usually berries) are suspended in a syrup base. The texture of preserves is not as smooth as jelly or jam.

Relish
A pickled product prepared using chopped fruits and/or vegetables cooked in a seasoned vinegar solution.

Fruit Butter
A soft spread made by slowly cooking fruit pulp and sugar to a consistency thick enough to mound on a spoon and spread easily. Spices may be added.

Fruit Curd
A creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter, generally flavored with citrus juice and zest. Curds are often not safe for waterbath canning because of their dairy content, so be sure to use a recipe specifically designed to be canned.

Canning Terms

Citric acid
A powder made from natural acid derived from citrus fruits. Citric acid is often used in recipes to increase the natural acid in the recipe in order to make it safe for canning. Lemon juice or lime juice may also be used for the same function, but each have their own PH level.

Fermentation
A reaction caused by intentional growth of yeast, bacteria, or mold in which natural sugars are turned into lactic acid. Examples of fermented canned foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, and some pickles.

Fingertip-tight
The degree to which screw bands are properly applied to fresh preserving jars. Use your fingers to screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. Do not use a utensil or the full force of your hand to over-tighten bands.

Full rolling boil
A rapid boil. A boil that can not be stirred down. This boil generally occurs at about 220°F (104°C). This stage is essential for attaining a gel when making jams & jellies

Headspace
The unfilled space in the canning jar between the top of the food and the lid. Each recipe will specify the amount of headspace needed. This headspace is needed to allow for expansion when the jars are heated and also to form a strong seal once the jars are cool.

Hermetic seal 
An absolutely airtight container seal which prevents reentry of air or microorganisms into packaged foods.

High-acid food
A food with a pH level of 4.6 or lower. Most tomatoes & fruits (except figs, Asian pears, melons, bananas, dates, papaya, ripe pineapple, persimmons) are naturally high in acid. Citric acid, lemon juice, or vinegar can sometimes be included in a recipe to help raise the acidity. Fermentation can also add acidity. Only high acid foods are safe for waterbath canning.

Low-acid food
A food with a pH level higher than 4.6. Vegetables, meat, & seafood are all low acid foods. These are foods that are easier for bacterica to thrive in and need to be processed in a pressure canner to safely perserve them.

Pectin
A natural gelling agent that is derived from fruits like apples or citrus fruits. Pectin can be purchased as a powder that is added to softer fruits like strawberries to create a thick jam or jelly. Pectin is available in several varieties including low-sugar or liqud (more on that in the next post!)

Pressure canning
The use of a pressure canner to heat-process low acid foods. The pressurized steam inside the canner allows the food to reach higher temperatures and thus can kill the harmful bacteria that can be housed the the low-acid food. Pressure canned food also must be processed for the specified amount of time on the recipe.

Processing time
The time in which the filled jars need to remain in the waterbath or pressure canner. The processing time is specified in most recipes and can have variances depending on your altitude. The amount of processing time depends on many factors including the acidity level, size of jar, and type of food. The process time allows every bit of the jar to be heated to the sufficient temperature.

Re-processing
Repeating the heat processing of filled, capped jars when a lid does not seal within 24 hours. The original lid must be removed and the food and/or liquid reheated as recommended by the recipe. The food and/or liquid must be packed into clean, hot jars and covered with a new, clean lid with the screw band adjusted. The filled jars must then be reprocessed using the preserving method and full length of processing time recommended by the recipe.

Spoilage
The evidence that a food product has not been completely rid of microorganisms. If microorganisms are present, the nutrients in the food product will allow them to grow and multiply. Spoilage occurs when food products have not been processed correctly. Signs of spoilage include broken seals, mold, gassiness, cloudiness, spurting liquid, seepage, yeast growth, fermentation, slime and disagreeable odors.

Sterilization
The process of killing bacteria. Achieved by heating empty jars to a high temperature prior to filling them & then heating them again once full.

Waterbath method / boiling water method
The simplest method to preserve high-acid foods. Using a waterbath canner, water is heated to at least 212°F (100°C) to destroy molds, yeasts, and bacteria & also to seal the jar lids. The jars must be kept in the canner and covered by at least 2″ of water for the specified processing time in the recipe. You should not use this method for low acid foods.

Canning Tools

Canning Rack

A shallow (usually metal) rack that elevates the jars slightly off the bottom of the canning pot. The rack keeps the jars from being in direct contact with the heat of the stove and also allows the water to circulate and ensure that it is able to evenly come in contact with all facets of the jars. You can use a rack specifically designed for canning or you can also use a round cake cooling rack that fits in your pot – both do the job!Lid Lifter
Lids must be submerged in hot boiling water before they can be used. This process sanitizes them and also helps to soften the rubber for a better seal. This tool is designed in order to remove the lids from the boil. It is not 100% necessary, but it is helpful. It is basically a magnet on the end of a stick.  I happen to have some neat geometric magnets on my fridge that keep my fingers safe and work just as well.Jar Funnel
A funnel with a wide a opening perfect for the opening of a mason jar. This funnel will basically help you make less of a mess. It’s not necessary to use a funnel, you can also just ladle directly into jars, but you’ll find there is more clean up to do on the jars before they can be sealed.Jar Lifter/Grabber

This specially designed tool is essentially a pair of tongs with a circular grasp to pick up mason jars. It’s nessisary to safely be able to remove the jars from the boiling water.

Canning Jars

Jar: The glass part. Jars are reusable as long as they have no chips or cracks in them, so it’s important to inspect them before using.Lid: The metal circle that fits on the top. Lids have a rubber band that fuses to the glass of the jar and that is what creates your seal. You should not reuse lids and replacement packages are available just about everywhere canning products are sold.

Band: The metal ring that screws around the top of the jar and holds the lid in place. Bands are reusable, but should be cleaned well after use.

Generally, the size you use is entirely up to you.  I tend to primarily use half-pints or quarter pints for almost all of my projects, but if you have a big family you may find yourself wanting to package your goods in a larger jar.  Half gallon jars are also available and I love to have one or two around for making Iced Tea but they are pretty bulking to use for my personal canning projects.

Pectins

Pectin is a natural gelling agent that is derived from fruits like apples or citrus fruits.  Pectin is the unsung hero of jam and jelly making…it’s the ingredient that really makes the magic happen.  You don’t need pectin to make jam, but almost all modern jam recipes use pectin and for good reason.  Pectin allows jams to gel with less sugar being added and with significantly less cooking time. Comercial pectin is slightly sweet and doesn’t have much of a flavor to it.  You can find pectin at your local grocery store usually in the baking isle with the other canning supplies.
There are a few different types of pectin, but they all work pretty much the same way:
Powder: The most common state of pectin.  Sold in a small box or in a larger jar.
Liquid: Liquid pectin is basically powdered pectin that has already been disolved.  It is a bit messier and harder to work with in my opinion, but some people swear by it.
Lite or Low-Sugar: Pectin that cuts the typical jam recipe’s sugar content down by about 40% vs regular pectin.  It makes the jam a bit better for you, but I also really appreciate the resulting flavor with the low sugar recipes -it’s less in your face sweetness and allows the fruit flavor to shine through a bit more.
Freezer Jam Pectin: This is a product designed specifically for making freezer jam and no cooking is necessary to create a gel.  My understanding though is that this pectin can create runny jam more often than not. This product is not intended for traditional canning.  You can use regular pectin for freezer jam, but you can’t use this freezer jam pectin for traditional hot water bath canning and it has a bad reputation for not working as well…so, you want my advice? Skip it – use regular pectin and cook your jam even if you plan to freeze it.
This article was written by Kat from Simply-Living-Simply and can be viewed here.

Ornamental Rule Lines in Different Design 2 150x44 Canning 101

DIY Survival Foods You’ll Actually Want To Eat

titleDIYsurvivalfoodWhen you plan for a post event situation, one of the first and most important considerations is how to keep your family fed without access to grocery stores or the luxury of refrigeration.  Having to eat only foods that are easily preserved and stored for long amounts of time does narrow your options, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of having delicious meals!

These recipes and DIY preps are made for keeping a long time and survival situation friendly cooking.

Read on to discover the delicious things you can eat even after the SHTF.

1. Homemade Beef Jerky

diy-beef-jerky

Want to know how to make beef jerky? We did, too. We decided to make our own beef jerky to see just how easy or difficult it was. We were curious to see how our homemade version compared with what you could buy in stores. The result? A rich, salty, high protein snack that tastes delicious, far better than most all we purchased. We were surprised and excited to learn that jerky could be made simply at home, and that no expensive tools, ingredients or equipment was required. We love being able to flavor our jerky any way we choose, the combinations of flavors you have available are as limitless as your imagination.

Instructions here.

2. Chocolate Chia Survival Bars

emergency-food

How to make homemade survival bars that actually taste good- I have now tried many of packaged survival bars, and have made a fruit flavored recipe for homemade emergency food bars with a long shelf life. I thought to myself, surely there is a better way to make a homemade survival food bar. The fruit Jello bars are good, but are awfully sweet. They also do not have the nutritional value I knew you could pack into a bar. The solution? Chocolate and Chia seeds.

Instructions here.

3. Fruity Survival Bars

survival-bar-recipe

Want to learn how to make homemade survival bars? So did I. Over the past few months, I decided to try a few varieties, and this is my favorite so far. The texture is right, the flavor is right, especially is you are a fan of fruity cereal. These taste a lot like Crunch Berries! You can also try lemon and orange flavored Jello in these easy to make bars. I guess together, they taste like Trix or Fruity Pebbles. Something like that, anyway. I promised I would try these, and I just had not one, but two for a snack before I could put them down. Going to admit something here- I am a bit of a food critic. If I say these are good, they are good. Otherwise, I am going to call them edible. These are actually good. They are not like bricks, and they are not dry and bland.

Instructions here.

4. Dried Fruit

display

Most dried fruit recipes call for dehydrators, but not this one. Using your oven and the chart above you can create your very own dried and preserved fruit that would last much longer than unpreserved fruits. This will be a project you’ll be happy to have completed in a post event situation, as fruit could be one of the harder foods to come by without access to grocery stores.

Instructions here.

5. Jarred Cookie Mix

cookies

This is one of the less practical items on this list. You need eggs and oil to add to this recipe in order to bake the cookies and you’ll obviously need an oven or some other convection heat to cook these treats. Also, these are obviously not going to provide with a lot of useful nutrients and nourish your body. But all of that aside, a lot can be said for planning to have some sort of creature comforts around in your planning for emergency. That, after all, is what this whole list is about! Not having survival food just to live off of, but also to enjoy!

Instructions here.

6. Pickled Eggs

eggs

These aren’t for everyone. There are people out there who absolutely love pickled eggs and others who won’t even try them. Though the thought of this food might be a lot to process, do yourself a favor and at least try them! They’re inexpensive to make and preserve tons of protein for a long time. And yo might be surprised by the delightful texture and added flavor created by jarring and pickling eggs.

Instructions here.

7. Grilled Bread

bread

This recipe is for when you don’t have access to a lot of time, energy, or an oven. Being able to make delicious bread quickly over a stove or grill can add some versatility to your preparation of this important survival staple.

Instructions here.

8. Cheesy Bacon Biscuits

biscuits

Cheese, bacon, and biscuits. Need we say more? These biscuits won’t keep as long as something like a hardtrack or survival bread, but they taste a heck of a lot better! This isn’t what you’ll want stocked as your main source of survival food, but having these around as a treat and taste of normalcy will make your day that much easier to get through.

Instructions here.

Being able to enjoy your food even in an emergency situation will make all the difference in the morale and good spiritedness in your group.

This article can also be viewed here at Survival Life

5 Prepper Spring Cleaning Ideas

SpringSpring is in the air, but not here quite yet as evidenced by warm days followed by snow and high winds the next. You can hear the frustration with the weather almost everywhere you go and phrases like “if you don’t like the weather, just wait” are thrown around as much as possible.

I think we usually have periods at the change of any season just like this where you are teased with a glimpse of the new season’s weather. A taste of what is to come, but you are not really out of the current season (winter) at all. It isn’t time to put away all your sweaters for most of us and break out the shorts and flip-flops, but it is coming.

With the warmer days and the renewing of our yards in the form of blossoms and green starting to creep back into yards, our thoughts turn of cleaning out the house. It’s nice to have a freshening up of what has been locked tight against winter’s chill for so many months and I thought that this would be a good time to take care of some prepper housekeeping items I have been meaning to do myself. I have written on this in the past at the Prepper Journal, but I had some other spring cleaning ideas that preppers could do that would keep our skills and supplies up to date and fresh.

Rotate your stored water

Stored water

Storing water is just smart and we have seen a lot of recent cases where for one reason or another people were unable to drink water from the taps. Having stored water insulates you from something like this happening to your home. Most people store their water in large plastic jugs and over time water doesn’t necessarily go bad, but it will taste and sometimes smell funny depending on how or where it was stored.

At least once a year I like to empty all of my stored water our into the garden and fill up my containers with fresh water. This way I know that should anything happen, my water will be as reasonably fresh as it can and hasn’t been sitting for 5 years in the same container.

Also, I like to clean out my rain barrels and give them a good scrubbing so they are likewise able to have fresh water stored in there from the upcoming rains. Now, my rain barrel water does go through an extra filtering process so it isn’t like I am drinking right from the rain barrel, but it like to start the season with a clean container if possible.

Go to the Range

The winter time reduces my time at the rifle range. Sure, indoor ranges are open for pistol mainly that are comfortable year round, but I admit that I slack off in the winter time. With warmer days it’s good to get out to the range and re-zero your rifles. Even if they are driving nails, it’s good to practice anyway and try out any new equipment you may have mounted to your weapons. We have several ranges within an easy driving distance from my house. Ideally, I would be able to shoot on my own property, but that dream hasn’t been realized yet.

Schedule some time with a friend and go to a range that has at least a 100 yard option. If you are lucky to live near a long distance range, go out and scope your rifle in at 700 yards and see how you do.

gun-cleaning-300x194Clean your weapons

Cleaning your weapons after some range time is always a good idea but even if you haven’t fired anything, I think it’s a good idea to break them down and give them a good cleaning. For my concealed carry pistol, I know that it gets very dirty so this is the perfect time. Cleaning your weapons not only conditions and protects the surfaces, it will also ensure you know how to disassemble your weapon easily. I had some family members who struggled with disassembling one of their handguns because they had never done that even though they had owned the weapon for a couple of years. This gives you the chance to show your firearm some love that could save you if your life depended on it.

Rotate the food in your pantry

Unless you have spent the big bucks on the fancy can rotation systems, keeping the food you have stored in the pantry requires a little work. We have a first in first out system, but that still requires some manual adjusting of the items whenever we come home with groceries from the store.

I try to go through the pantry once a year to make sure the items in there haven’t fallen back in the back and have become neglected. I found a few very old items the last time I checked on my supplies and you want to make sure that what you have in your pantry is as fresh as possible. Use this opportunity to straighten everything up, maybe conduct a new inventory and ensure you don’t have 5 year old cans of peaches back in the back that are starting to swell.

Inventory your Bug Out Bag

This could also be done for your Get Home Bag just as easily. I keep my get home bag in my car and have used some of the items as the need arose. The best thing to do is to restock anything you take out of your bags immediately after you use them, but we are all human. Life can get in the way sometimes, and those bandages you removed might need to be refilled. Maybe the lighters you have somehow leaked out because the button on the top was depressed by another item in your bag. Your survival food bars may have either cooked to death in the heat or have been eaten by a hungry child after swimming practice. I know, it happens.

Also, you should refresh your stored water in the bug out bags at the same time you refresh the water stored in your house and make sure any medications you have in there aren’t very expired or damaged in some way.

Taking the time now to conduct a little spring cleaning on your prepping supplies could identify problems now that you don’t want to find out about when you actually need this stuff. Better to do it now when the days are getting brighter and you are looking forward to nicer weather.

This information has been made available by The Prepper Journal

This article was written by Pat Henry at The Prepper Journal.  The original article can be viewed here.  Like them on Facebook while you are there!