This is my first survival thread and I wanted to do something a little different. Many threads discuss what to stock for emergencies, weapons and
survival techniques, but I wanted to discuss ways to get the most out of the most precious commodity. Food! Whether your living off the land, or
eating from a stockpile, its important to realize that almost everything can be used for nutrition and it doesn't have to taste like garbage. I'm not
talking about eating odd foods, just ways to reduce waste, and get the most yield from foods when it matters the most.
To give you a little background, I am a professional chef. I have been in the business for a while now, running a great operation for some really
great people. I love to share ideas on topics I have knowledge about but its more important that you do what is best for your needs, and to use your
common sense. Consider what I say only an idea for your use, if it works for you. So on that note: Let's get started.
Waste not want not!
It would be an outright shame if you and your family were in a situation where food was tight, and you threw a good percentage in the trash. It
doesn't make sense. So what are some ways to ensure less waste?
1. Only prepare what you need
If refrigeration is not possible, then having leftovers is not wise unless it can be stored at room temp. If you save that temperature-sensitive food
for the next day, you will either throw it away, or make someone very sick. So prepare meals in proportion with the exact amount you need.
For those of you who are blessed with refrigeration during hard times, you can easily throw it in the fridge for later use. My only suggestion is to
make sure to let nothing spoil. Use the items before it expires. Pretty simple. To extend its life, be sure to properly cool items, then seal it
tightly AFTER it has cooled. This will also help stop bacterial growth that will spoil the food or make someone ill.
Check into information regarding cellar, or home made (hole-in-the-ground) refrigeration techniques if you can. You would be amazed at how well it can
work and how it helps keep food edible when storing is necessary.
3. Oh, The Power of Pot
No, I'm not talking about illegal substances. I'm talking metal and big. In my opinion, a large stockpot is important in hard times. Virtually any
food scraps can be tossed in a pot, boiled to oblivion, and whats left is liquid gold. All vegetable trimming, meat scraps, fat, bones, and anything
else you so desire can be boiled to extract its nutrients, and has a decent shelf life when properly contained. Its nothing more than soup base or
stock. It saves you from wasting what you would otherwise not eat, and pretty tasty if you have some seasonings at hand.
I would also like to discuss rendering fat. If you have the need for fat, animal scraps can easily be tossed into a pot and boiled. Of course, the fat
will eventually rise to the top. So toss the pot in the coolest place available after it has boiled long enough, give it some time and the fat will
rise and harden on top of the water. And you now have a big chunk of fat for whatever purpose you see fit. Whether its for future cooking, or homemade
grease for mechanical parts, fat is damn handy.
Some of you may be thinking it wouldn't be very appealing to boil fruit in water for later consumption. Your right, and you can do this but it
wouldn't be tasty. To get the most out of the fruit, I would boil the fruits in a small amount of water to extract the flavor and sugars. Let it keep
reducing, or add more sugar if available, until it becomes almost sticky. Be careful not to let it burn, and it will quite easily. Strain out the
fruit material and continue to cook until thick. Let it cool and harden and then you have a homemade candy of sorts. Easily available for quick energy
or diabetics who need sugar. It also has a much longer shelf life as sugar is a great natural preservative.
Its also important to touch on the type of pot you use. I recommend a 10 gallon pressure cooker/stockpot. I recently bought one at a local store for
$15. It has the pressure gauge, vent valve and locking-sealed lid. Not only is it big enough to cook just about anything, it doubles as a tool in
canning. I would touch on canning but there is too much good information elsewhere on the web to do it justice. Take a look into this subject if it
interests you. It is a great way to reduce waste, and store foods for long periods of time.
A stockpot can also be used for sanitation and various other uses when needed. Items can be boiled or steamed to be sterilized. You can make large
amounts of food to be canned, stored and saved for future use. Needless to say, I find a stockpot to be a crucial part of surviving difficult
4. Smoking and Air Drying
I think it is very important to learn how to dry or smoke meats as a way to conserve. With smoking, its important that the meat it cooked by indirect
heat (ie; the smoke) and is cooked properly. This will extend the shelf life of the meat. Smoking meats for a day or two can extend its life to a
couple weeks if properly contained. Although this is a great method, I find that it may be a bit unpractical for many in survival situations. So I
believe that air drying meats is a better option. I would simply slice the meat as thin as you can and place it a container that can be sealed
tightly. Make a brine using water, salt ( I also use a little lemon juice), and mix it well. It should be very, very salty and cloudy. Mix well with
the thinly-sliced meat, tightly cover and let it sit in the coolest place you can for a couple days. After it has soaked in the brine, find a clean,
airy place to dry your meats. Ideally, I would use a "rack" made of clean wood, but exactly how to handle the meats will be up to your imagination and
needs. To properly dry the meats there must be direct contact with sunlight and I prefer a slight breeze. I don't know why, but it always tastes
better. After the meat dries, it should look like beef jerky almost. Seal the meat in an airtight container and it will keep for some time. The proper
amount of salt and the proper amount of time is all that is needed to preserve your meats and ensure less waste.
Since we are talking about dried goods, pemmican is an age-old practice that takes dried meats and fruits( preferably berries), grinds or pounds it
together into a powder and is then mixed with suet, or rendered fat. Done properly, this method can provide nutrition for many years, some say even
upwards of twenty, without the need for refrigeration. It is a very useful method if one can perfect it. I strongly encourage you to look into it.
6. Save the Water
Whether your boiling stock, or cooking pasta, the water can either be filtered and reused, or serve a beneficial purpose in the garden. Water used to
boil pasta or possibly rice is packed with nutrients and starches that benefit garden plants. Instead of tossing the water out, water the garden with
it. It is a natural way to feed the plants.
These are just some of the ways to get the most of your food when it matters. Whether your canning or making soup stock, you will have a great chance
of making survival much easier if you are prepared to make every bit count. And don't forget the pot!
When all else fails....Tortillas!
I have read many threads on survival, and I often read that one of the key items people is storing is flour. Good idea, but how many of us are going
to be able to bake bread? Bread requires certain environmental condition to rise, and a few extra ingredients that most of us will simply not have
access to. So I suggest that tortillas are the answer. With only flour and water you can create tasty tortillas that are easily at hand, easy to carry
and will store safer for a longer period of time.
Simply take flour and water, mix into a dough, pound or stretch by hand and cook in a pan. Simple as that. If your lucky enough to have salt, and some
fat that you rendered with your stockpot, you can add a little of both to make it even more tasty. It may not look like the store brands, more like
Native American fry bread, but it is an easy way to use two simple ingredients and create a tasty addition to your meals or trip out hunting for
I hope that I have shown a few good ways to maximize yield from your foodstuffs, and have a greater vision into what you may need in a SHTF scenario.
There are many other areas I could cover but other threads have touched on those particular subjects. I welcome any other ideas my fellow members may
have, and I may be adding some more information as the thread moves along. Please feel free to share your hints, tips or tricks so that we can all be
edit on 5-3-2011 by sheepslayer247 because: spelling
edit on 5-3-2011 by sheepslayer247 because: fixed paragraph