Emergency Preparedness: Food

Food Storage Overview

Food is essential for your survival. Food is the primary source of energy and nourishment to keep your body functional. It’s also very important to strive for a well-balanced meal. This will boost your resistance against diseases which is an essential factor for your survival.

Golden Rule Of Food Storage

The golden rule of food storage is to “store what you use, and to use what you store.” Foods will always have a limited shelf-life. The key to maximizing your food stash is to keep it fresh by rotating your stocks every now and then. In this manner, you can consume the food before they spoil. Foods also lose much of their flavor and nutritional value over time which is why it’s important to consume them as much as possible.

Don’t store foods that you don’t even like. They will spoil or lose their nutritional potency before you even have the chance to consume them.

In-Ground Storage

A short-term food storage solution is your garden. Root crops like carrots, turnips, horseradish, and parsnips can be left in the ground during the winter season. The ground will freeze and then you can cover the top with dried leaves, straw, and mulch. This will keep your root crops fresh and prolong their shelf-life. They will most likely spoil faster once harvested.

You can also store other garden greens in the round like cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, and beets. Simply cover them up with mulch and allow them to freeze through the winter.

Root Cellaring

Root cellars used to be the primary mode of food preservation before canning became popular. As aforementioned, food spoils because of the growth of microorganisms. Cold temperatures can stunt the growth of the said microorganisms. Since refrigeration might not be available during disasters, you can opt for root cellaring.

Make sure your food is packaged in airtight containers. Place them in cold root cellars. Ground cellars are highly recommended. Basements aren’t recommended because they’re often too warm. You can also strategically place insulation to make sure the cellar stays cold during the winter.

Common Methods Of Food Preservation

The most common methods of food preservation aim to eliminate the growth of microorganisms and their production of enzymes that trigger food spoilage.

Dried Foods

Drying foods or dehydrating them gets rid of all the moisture. This makes it impossible for microbes to grow and multiply. Even the enzymes that trigger food deterioration won’t be activated. Food dehydrating makes long-term food storage possible. The dried foods must be stored in airtight and clean containers.

This is convenient for emergency situations because it won’t require refrigeration so it won’t spoil in the absence of technology. It also gets rid of all the moisture to make your food lighter, more compact, and therefore, more portable. The only downside is that it rids the food of a lot of its nutritional value.

Canned Foods

Canned foods are staples when it comes to disaster preparation. It doesn’t spoil due to the preservatives, the sterile container, and the airtight sealing.

You can purchase canned food from the store or opt for home canning. For home canning, you’ll need Mason jars, two-piece lids, heat sterilizers, and vacuum sealing. Boil the glass containers for at least ten minutes to make it appropriate for high-acid foods like tomatoes, fruits, and pickled items. Non-acidic foods must be stored with a pressure canner.

Canned foods are available in virtually any grocery store. They should make up the bulk of your emergency food stash. They’re cheap, diverse, and have long shelf-lives. They’re also loaded with water to help you meet your daily water intake. Canned goods don’t need to be cooked which makes them so convenient. Make sure to stockpile canned goods that are far from their expiration date.

Store your canned foods in a dry area away from direct sunlight. Place them on stable shelves or racks. Store them upside down, with the lid facing downwards. This will prevent the accumulation of dirt. Keep your stock diverse. Throw in some soups, vegetables, meat, and more.

Frozen Foods

Freezing food prevents the growth of most deteriorating microbes. This is also highly recommended because it helps your food retain its nutritional value. The only downside is that a disaster will most likely cut off your electric supply, which means that your freezer will stop functioning. You’ll need to consume most of your food before they go to waste. For that reason, don’t rely on frozen foods as your primary source of emergency food.

Freezing is also advisable for preserving large game. Hunting deer or similar animals will undoubtedly leave you with plenty of leftovers. Before storing the animal carcass, make sure to remove the gut and to clean it to the best of your ability.

Freeze-Dried Foods

These are commercially prepared foods that are dehydrated through different steps. Firstly, the food is frozen. Next, the food is placed in a vacuum container and heated. The air that emanates from the frozen food will be removed. This essentially removes the moisture so that the food is dehydrated and frozen.

This ensures minimal chances of spoilage but it’s also very expensive to accomplish or purchase. Freeze-dried foods are also very lightweight and compact which makes them great emergency foods.

Commercially-Prepared Dried Goods

This includes virtually every food in the grocery store. The food items are prepared and packaged by the manufacturers so that they can reach the shelves of consumers. When shopping for food, make sure to check their shelf life. Foods that keep well include sugar, coffee, and flour. Always keep in mind the golden rule: store only what you use, and use what you store.