Oil and Fats – More Valuable than Gold

On March 4, 2018, I posted a blog about a boy growing up in war-torn Germany, how he survived and what he learned.  Here is a quote from that blog:

“Hans made an interesting observation at the end of his story.  He related how there were a number of industrious individuals who were somehow able to establish access to certain food items that were made available to survivors for a price.  Paper money had no value and was not used but precious metals including jewelry, wedding rings or any form of gold or silver was used to purchase these food items.  The most valuable commodity of all was food itself and the most valuable food item was “fat” as Hans put it.  In other words, the richest individuals during that time where those who had some supply of oil, lard or some type of fat.  This was highly sought after for the energy, calories and flavor it added to the limited supply of bread or basic grains that could found.”

War-Torn Germany – How Did This Boy Survive?

If we choose to learn from the experiences of others, it would make sense to do the research and make the investment of acquiring additional oils and fats for our food storage.  This can be a tricky business since many oils have a relatively short shelf life.  I must admit, over the years I’ve thrown away over 40 gallons of oil because I didn’t rotate it or store it properly.  I’m hoping with the information in this blog I can help you better prepare through not only storing extra oil and fats in your food storage plan but preserving it for a longer shelf-life.

Oils and fats have different shelf-lives depending on the type of oil and storage conditions. Under normal storage conditions, your oil will last from a few months to three years or more. Sealed, canned shortening powder will last three to five years but does not perform the same as regular oils. You can extend these storage times with a few tricks outlined below.

What Causes Spoilage?

Oils and fats are vulnerable to the usual causes of food spoilage: microorganisms, oxidation, heat, light, pests, and time. For properly stored oils and fats, oxidation is the most common cause of rancidity, aided by time, temperature, humidity and light. How to assist in protecting your oils and fats from all of these causes will be discussed in this article.

How Long Does Oil Keep?

Unopened oils keep longer in the refrigerator or freezer.  Once opened, moisture can become a factor so keep oils and fats in the pantry after opening.  Moisture in the oil can shorten its shelf life as much or even more than the cooler temperature preserves it.  If a cool, dry place is available, such as a basement or cellar, that would be a preferred location for storing opened oils.

Shelf Life of Common Oils and Fats

Flavored oils, such as chili oil, truffle oil, and garlic oil, spoil faster than pure oils, so it is best to store oils in their natural state and flavor them as needed or store only enough flavored oil for short-term use.

Extending Shelf Life – Protecting Oils and Fats from Microorganisms and Pests

Exposure to microorganisms and pests will spoil your fats quickly, so care should be taken to protect oils from these problems. Microorganisms are not usually a problem if you store the oils in a clean environment, properly sealed or covered. Microorganism growth is faster in a warm environment and slowed or stopped by cold temperatures. If you do suspect contamination for any reason, throw it out. Oils spoiled by microorganisms may not exhibit any signs of spoilage but can cause illness.

Pests are more of a problem with oils and fats. If you see any signs of rodents, such as signs of chewing or infiltration, consider the oil or fat spoiled and use it for non-food purposes such as making candles.

To prevent problems with microorganisms and pests, store your oil in clean, dry, thick plastic buckets or metal cans. Metal is best for preventing rodents.

Protecting Oil and Fats from Oxidation, Humidity, Heat, and Light

Oxidation is caused by exposure to air and is accelerated by heat and light. Storing your oils and fats properly slows oxidation.

Preventing Oxidation:

Store oils and fats sealed, vacuum packed, or flooded with nitrogen to exclude air
Keep them in a dry, dark location
Refrigerate or freeze them unopened
Add an antioxidant when appropriate
Date and rotate your supplies

If you cannot vacuum pack your oil or flood it with nitrogen, another way to exclude air is to completely fill the bottle before sealing it. Choose a glass bottle or jar and fill it to the rim. Clean the rim and seal the jar. Check your fill by turning the bottle upside down to observe the size of the air bubble. Ideally, you want no air, but a tiny bubble may be the best you can get, depending on the bottle. Adding an antioxidant before sealing gives you additional protection.

Using an Antioxidant

Antioxidants will prolong the life of your oils by blocking the free radicals that cause oxidation. They won’t prevent oxidation completely, but they will slow it down considerably. One option is adding rosemary essential oil to your oils after opening. Other antioxidant oils include oil of oregano, sage oil, and Vitamin E.

To reduce oxidation, you only need a small amount of antioxidant oil, between .05 to 1 percent. Approximately 3 drops to 2 teaspoons of antioxidant oil per quart of oil. The larger amount is ideal and offers the best protection, but it also adds flavor to the oil. Adding 3 drops or more of rosemary oil per quart gives you a reasonable amount of antioxidant protection without noticeably affecting the flavor.

You may want to consider using antioxidant oils when transferring oils into smaller containers to increase the shelf life of the opened oil.

How to Tell if Oil is Rancid or Spoiled

Oils and fats are usually labeled with a “Best Used By” date rather than an expiration date. Stored under normal pantry conditions, your oil should last beyond this date. However, by following these recommendations, you should be able to extend this storage time considerably.

As oil ages, it changes in color, clarity, and texture. These are the beginning signs of spoilage, but the oil may still be usable. When the oil is rancid, you will notice an unpleasant taste and smell. At this point, consider it spoiled. It won’t make you sick, but it does lose its healthy properties and may become unhealthy over time. It doesn’t taste good either, so you are better off not using it. It might still be useful for purposes other than cooking or eating.

How to Store Fats to Extend the Shelf Life

The best way to store fats and oils is in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For normal storage, this means in a pantry, away from the stove or other heat sources. You can increase your storage time considerably by storing oil and fats in the refrigerator or freezer if you have the room. They will probably become cloudy and solidify, but this is normal and not a sign of spoilage. Remove them to room temperature for an hour or more before use, and they will return to their liquid state.

Storing large Quantities of Oils and Fats

To get the best prices on oils and fats, purchase them in large containers. However, when you are ready to use them, consider transferring amounts to small containers since the oil spoils faster once opened. Always rotate your oils and fats to keep from wasting your investment. Plan on re-packing the oil or fat immediately after opening.  Pack the oil or lard tightly into a canning jar and cover it with a warm, dry lid. Then I vacuum seal it to remove the air. Before vacuum sealing, you can also add an antioxidant oil as listed above to prolong the shelf-life.

There is no question adding extra oil to your food storage will require more vigilance in your rotation plans but as time has proven, it will be more than worth it when the times comes you are forced to reply on your food storage.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Avoiding the Threat of a Deep Freeze

It’s always exciting when Spring arrives and warmer days are right around the corner.  I love it when the days get a little longer and Day-light Savings Time is re-engaged so it’s light longer in the evening.  I also like to watch the fruit trees start to blossom and get excited about all the great apples, cherries, apricots and plums we’ll be able to harvest in the coming months.  The smell of the blossoms and the buzzing of the bees around them are wonderful to experience.

Then sometimes, it all comes to a screeching halt.  All of the dreams and great expectations of a bountiful harvest are dashed.  Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and we get hammered with a late frost.  The blossoms turn brown and shrivel up and the dreams of bushels of fruit have to be put off till next year.

My dad grew up working in an apple orchard and would tell us of the long nights keeping the smudge pots burning in an attempt to keep the temperatures just high enough to ward off a hard frost.  Typically, if the temperature drops to 28 degrees for more than a couple of hours, real damage can be done to the crop.  There were years they were successful and the smudge pots saved the crop and others, in spite of their efforts, where they lost most of their fruit.

Orchards farmers today use both water and wind to increase the temperature of their orchards and prevent freezing.  Sprinklers using ground water will increase the temperature by 2 to 4 degrees and wind machines help mix the cold air with warmer air and can increase the temperature by 2 to 3 degrees.

Our ancestors were very familiar with these potential cold snaps and would prepare for such events.  Many didn’t have the local grocery store to rely on and had to provide from their own orchards and gardens.  These wise providers knew the importance of preserving as much of their harvest as they could for later use.  We hear the term “canning” which really means putting up food in quart and pint jars to be used at some future date.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers spent countless hours in the kitchen canning fruits, vegetables, meats, butter, nuts and any other food item that would last.  They had to preserve not only enough to last till the next harvest but extra in the event something went wrong.

Most have heard the term, “year’s supply of food”.  Have you ever wondered why a year?  What’s so important about a full year?  Why not just three or six months’ worth of food storage?  The simple answer is this: It’s a growing cycle.  Yep, that’s it.  Our ancestors understood that if a crop got wiped out this year, it would be at least another year before they could harvest their next crop.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Yet in today’s world, we’re seldom conscience of the growing season of any given food.  The grocery store always seems to have what we need and apparently, somewhere in the world, it’s the right growing season for what we’re looking for and the grocery store has it shipped in from far and wide.

As a result, we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on a significant amount of produce shipped in from Mexico and South and Central America.  U.S. farmers grow a lot of produce, but imports are filling most of the rising demand, especially during winter months.  In fact, the volume of imports has increased to more than 150 fruits and vegetables.

As the farming, production and distribution of our food supply becomes more and more complex, the potential disruption of this supply becomes more probable.  There are just so many moving parts that it’s only a matter of time before something goes sideways and disrupts the flow from the grower to the consumer.

We have all seen the news reports of empty shelves at grocery stores due to a trucker’s strike or an impending hurricane or announced shortage.  It doesn’t take long for panicked consumers to rush to their local grocery store in an attempt to beat others to the available food so at least “they and theirs” will have something to eat, not concerning themselves with others who may not have been able to get to the store as quickly.

The bottom line, you and I have no control over the flow of food to our local grocery store.  We are totally dependent on all the factors coming together in a timely fashion to provide us with the fresh food and produce we’re accustom to purchasing and consuming.  The only way we can protect ourselves against a myriad of potential issues that could disrupt our food supply is to follow the example of our ancestors – set aside enough food for future needs.

We have so much the advantage over what our ancestors had to do to provide the security of food storage.  Rather than spending countless hours and days of labor growing, harvesting and preserving the food, we now have access to dehydrated and freeze-dried food.  It will last longer, it’s more durable and takes up less space than countless quart jars of bottled food.  And all we need to do is purchase the appropriate amount for our families and store it away.

In addition, due to current-day technology, we can also store away our second year’s supply of food in the form of heirloom seeds.  These seeds have been properly treated to last over five years on your shelf and provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  They are heirloom seeds (non-hybrid) so that one can take the seeds from the harvested produce to plant a subsequent year’s garden.  The cost of this “second year’s supply” is very reasonable and the seeds are easy to store.  As long as you have the space to grow a garden, (even if it means tilling up your lawn) and access to water, you’ll be in great shape should the need to grow your own food lasts longer than a year.

Please take the time now to protect your family against the very real possibility of food shortages in the future by not only having the appropriate level on dehydrated and freeze-dried food but also the back-up of heirloom garden seeds.  Mother Nature WILL throw us a curve ball.  It’s happened so many times in the past and is guaranteed to happen again in the future.

Sources:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/graphic-science-where-in-the-world-your-fruits-vegetables-come-from-interactive/


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

The Importance of Protein in Your Food Storage

I was on one of my many health kicks a couple of years ago where I decided to try the vegetarian lifestyle.  I had read many articles about the health benefits of removing meat from one’s diet and added a few YouTube videos to the mix that seemed to confirm this style of eating.  I must admit, it was very hard to keep an open mind as I reviewed much of this info because I felt like I would be joining some type of a cult if I personally embraced the often emotionally presented beliefs of vegetarianism.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone who chooses a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle – more power to them!  It just the feeling I got from much of the material I reviewed that those who choose not to embrace this way of eating are foolish and grossly uninformed.  I’ll be the first to admit, I am grossly uninformed about many things, nevertheless, I feel I have a pretty good idea regarding what my body needs to feel healthy and provide the energy I need to last the day.

So in spite of my reservations, I decided to give it a shot. The first thing that was required was to go shopping for the right kind of food to make this as pain-free as possible.  This included visiting the local health food store and purchasing every kind of “fake meat” I could find.  I was surprised to learn they had what looked like bacon, hamburger patties and hot dogs so I bought them all.

I’m sorry to say, these “meatless” meat products were far less than satisfying and some we just plain nasty.  The true carnivore within would not be fooled by these not-so-cheap imitations.  Honestly, for the most part, I was able to handle a meat free diet if my wife had the time to prepare some delicious entrée.  But, if I was hungry and went to the fridge, I just couldn’t bring myself to choosing to munch on rabbit food rather than something that would stick to my ribs.

One thing I noticed was that I seemed to get hungry more often.  It’s like the meatless food just didn’t have the staying power to keeping me going.  In addition, I started worrying about the level of protein I was consuming.  I know there are many sources of natural protein in plant based foods but my body felt like it was missing some important high octane fuel to provide the energy I was accustomed to.

Unfortunately, like so many of my health goals, this new undertaking didn’t last longer than about 30 days and I decided to throw in the towel.  There were, though, some very valuable lessons learned.  First lesson, don’t waste your money of fake bacon and hotdogs – you’ll be sorely disappointed.  The veggie burgers weren’t half bad though.  At a little higher level, stick with the real thing.  There are many food substitutes in the marketplace designed to fake you into thinking you’re eating healthy when you’re not; fake butter, fake sugar, fake fat, fake meat, fake cheese, fake eggs and the list goes on and on.

The most important lesson I learned – maybe not learned because I always knew it, but was reminded of it – proper nutritional value is made up of many components that need to be correctly balanced for your body to function optimally.  Nutritional value is primarily composed of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars and fiber.  If your overall diet is lacking in any of these areas, over an extended period of time, your system will begin to show potential serious deficiencies.

Since we’ve been discussing meat or the lack thereof, let’s broaden the topic just a little and discuss “protein” as an important part of any food storage plan.  Most food storage companies will attempt to address the need of adequate protein by adding dry beans or TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein made from soy) to their meal plans.  Navy, pinto, chili, black and kidney beans are a great source of protein.  A cup serving of any of these beans will yield about 40 grams of protein.

According to the USDA, an adult should consume at least .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.  Since most of us are not adept with the metric system, here’s the US equivalent.  You should consume about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  For a 150 lb. woman, that would be 60 grams.  For a 200 lb. man, that would be 80 grams of daily protein.

If all the math seems confusing, remember that most experts recommend consuming about 20–30 percent of your overall calories from protein foods.

Most meats average around 20% protein which is one of the highest forms of protein available and how most Americans get their daily required amount.  Not only is meat the most commonly consumed form of protein, but it’s also usually the center dish of most meals.  What would Thanksgiving be without a turkey or ham?  How about a BBQ without the burgers and hotdogs?  A nice meal at a restaurant without the steak or a piece of fish?  Or a nice Sunday dinner without the roast?  I think you get my drift.  Most of us were raised with meat being the central part of a meal and will find it very trying if that were to suddenly change.

The consequences of not having enough protein in your diet can be severe.  Here are a few to consider:

●  Cataracts
●  Heart problems
●  Kyphosis or muscle atrophy
●  A sluggish metabolism
●  Low energy levels and fatigue
●  Poor concentration and trouble learning
●  Moodiness and mood swings
●  Muscle, bone and joint pain
●  Blood sugar changes that can lead to diabetes
●  Slow wound healing
●  Low immunity

So, how does one accomplish the task of storing enough protein to provide 60 to 80 daily grams of per person to help avoid these maladies?  For those who wish to solve this concern the vegetarian way, beans and legumes store very well and are a great approach.  For those who would like to continue with their current eating habits and get much of their protein by consuming real meat, your options are limited.  Due to the difficult nature of storing meat as the primary source of protein, most choose to ignore this hole in their preps and somehow assume it will all work out – they will be sadly mistaken.

Overlooking this essential part of nutrition and assuming one could naturally and easily convert over to an all plant form of protein can be very problematic. Drastically altering the foods we eat can cause bloating, cramping, dysentery and a feeling of malaise.  The last thing you want to do during an already stressful situation is to add to that stress by not consuming foods you are accustomed to.

If you want to store real meat that has an extended shelf life for off grid scenarios, your only option is freeze-dried meat.  Freeze-dried meat will last up to 25 years and is very easy to prepare and use.  All you need to do is add hot water, let it sit for 10 minutes and you’re good to go.  Remember, freeze-dried meat IS the real thing, not some meat substitute or soy product with potential allergen problems.  Having the proper amount of protein in your diet is not only essential, but will provide the needed familiar “comfort food” in times of stress and need.

Source:  www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietary-guidelines

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Would You Eat This?

My father served in the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War.  He had many exciting stories of serving in the military and as kids, we would love to gather in my parent’s bedroom, wrestle and play king of the hill on the bed, have my dad read to us and tell us stories of serving his country.  My father was a very patriotic man, loved parades and found it easy to shed a tear singing the national anthem.

I’ll never forget a story he related regarding his time in basic training.  He talked about how everything was very regimented and if you didn’t follow every rule to a T, there were severe penalties that would be immediately prescribed.  This even included how and when you ate, what you ate, and how you cleaned up afterwards.

In their mess hall, there was a rule that you could take whatever you wanted to eat, but you must eat it all – there was no wasting of food allowed.  The food that was typically offered wasn’t anything to write home about and the cooks were less then chef quality.  One particular day, my father was very surprised to discover that the mess hall was serving steak.  This was very unusual and such a rare treat that my father decided to load up on the steaks knowing there would be no problem devouring them all.

After the first bite, my father knew he was in big trouble.  You see, those delicious looking steaks were in fact liver and my dad couldn’t stand liver!  It was all he could do to just swallow that first bite.  He glanced up at the mess Sargent who was standing near the tray return making sure all the food taken was indeed eaten and nothing thrown away.  Dad began to sweat knowing he was in big trouble – there was no way on earth he was going to be able to choke down those liver steaks, regardless of the impending wrath of the mess Sargent.

What to do, what to do – there didn’t seem to be a solution.  None of his buddies were about to save him – they just laughed and knew he was in big trouble.  When a soldier finished his meal, he wasn’t allowed to sit around and chit-chat.  He was to leave the mess hall passing the inspection of the mess Sargent.  Dad was stalling – eating his side dishes as slowly as he could till his buddies had left. With the clock ticking, he knew his time was up and he was about to give up and face the consequences the Sargent would be more than happy to deal out.

Then, out of the blue, Dad felt something brush up against his leg.  When he glanced down, he saw something that a soldier never would have expected to see in a military mess hall – it was a dog!  Had the Sargent known there was a dog inside, he would have blown his lid and found the responsible party to take out his anger.

Dad reached down and grabbed the dog so he wouldn’t leave and as nonchalantly as possible, Dad began feeding this miracle dog the stack of liver steaks he had on his tray.  Within a few minutes, Dad’s tray was as clean as any hungry soldier would have left it.  Without hesitating a second, Dad jumped up passing the Sargent, stacked his empty tray and made tracks out of there never looking back.  For as long as my dad was stationed at that base, he never saw the dog again.

Now most of us would have thought – just hold your nose and shovel the liver down.  Easy to say when you’re not the one on the receiving end.  Just last night, I tried to get my granddaughter to try some clam dip and you would have thought I was trying to get her to eat a spoonful of slimy worms.  She’d have none of it!

Over the years, I’ve heard people say, if my kids get hungry enough, they’ll eat anything.  There is some truth to this statement but time is the real factor.  “Hungry enough” is an interesting phrase.  Indeed, if an individual is approaching starvation, there are many examples through history where individuals will eat anything, even other humans.  This is of course the extreme and the last thing we would want is to have family members reach that level of starvation before they are willing to eat unfamiliar or less than appetizing food.  The emotional stress and trauma such a situation would case could scar someone for life.  Why would we ever want any loved one to go through that?

I’m not talking about catering to the finicky kid who won’t eat his vegetables or oatmeal.  Regular, every-day foods are not the issue.  But when we’re talking about serving up venison and lentils, don’t be surprised if you experience some resistance, especially from the younger ones.

There are two basic solutions to this dilemma:

1.  Store the type of foods your family is accustomed to eating. With freeze-dried foods, you can store just about any type of food you currently consume, including real meat.  No longer is it necessary to rely on bulk grains and powdered milk as your food storage plan.  In addition, a 25 year shelf life along with not having to cook you food (just add water), makes freeze-dried food the easiest, best tasting and most cost effective way to provide customary food for your family.

2.  Take the time to introduce all the perceived distasteful foods to your family now. Help them become familiar with the unusual and basic foods that are not typically available at the local grocery store.  Be prepared for a significant amount of push back from the kids and others even though your intent is to prepare them to feel comfortable with living off the land.  It’s not that this approach is wrong; it simply requires a lot of heavy lifting – a total commitment to learning a new lifestyle.  There are many folks who struggle with even the very basic concepts of storing simple foods.  Asking this group to fully embrace the survivalist approach of eating what you kill would be over the top for most.

Remember, when the need arises for you to use your food storage, chances are you will be experiencing a significant uptick in your stress levels.  If you ever needed easy to prepare, nutritious comfort food, it’s during these times of stress.  Make sure your plans address the need to reduce this stress and don’t insist that your family changes the way they eat – it’s not necessary and with help of freeze-dried food, you can keep your family focused on other important issues.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

What Is TVP?

Protein is the most expensive part of your food storage.  At the same time, it’s an important addition to keep you and your family healthy. While true freeze-dried meat is the best base for your protein storage, some people use TVP to supplement their protein.

What is TVP?
TVP is Textured Vegetable Protein.  It’s made from soy flour after the soybean oil is extracted.  It’s a protein substitute that is high in fiber and natural protein. It easily absorbs flavor and retains the flavor with cooking.

Benefits of TVP
TVP is something that you’ve probably had many times throughout your life. Schools and fast food restaurants use it to supplement meat. You’ve probably had it in tacos, hamburgers, sloppy joes, and casseroles.  Whether you use it alone or you use it to extend meat, it’s a great product to have on hand. Benefits include:
Affordability –  Soy protein is significantly less expensive than meat.
Flavor– It can be flavored with meat juices or another seasoning to taste just like meat.
Ease – While TVP needs to be cooked, it doesn’t need to reach a safe temperature, so it’s easy to use in an emergency.
Meat Substitute–  TVP is perfect for those on a kosher or vegetarian diet.

Drawbacks of TVP
TVP is not meat at all. Alone, you can definitely tell the difference between the two.  Other drawbacks include:
Lower Protein – While TVP has naturally occurring protein, it has less than half of its meat counterpart. It is actually not a complete protein, lacking two essential amino acids; cysteine, and methionine.
Higher Sodium– Because TVP needs to be flavored, it generally has a high sodium content.
Soy– TVP is soy protein. If you are on a soy restricted diet, you will not want to use TVP to supplement your protein storage.

Everything You Need to Know About Shelf Life

When you buy long-term food storage, you want to be confident that you are getting products that will last for a long time. How do you know how long your food is good? Here are some tips to remember when storing food.

Shelf Life
Shelf life refers to how long an unopened package of food is safe and retains its nutrients.  Dehydrated foods generally have a shorter shelf life than freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods, if stored in the right environment, can be stored safely for up to 30 years UNOPENED.

Ideal Storage 
Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods should be stored in a cool, dry, dark environment. The ideal storage temperature is 50 degrees F.  A basement storage room away from moisture and windows perfect. Since homes are not usually built with food storage in mind, look for closets, under beds and other areas that do not butt up against the edge of a house.  Warmer, lighter environments can reduce the shelf life of food storage.
Avoid great temperature variations. Storing at a constant temperature is ideal for shelf life.

Bulging/Sucked In/Damaged Cans
Safe food generally is in cans that are perfectly intact. If you see cans that are bulging or sucked in, the safety of the food is compromised and should be thrown away immediately.
Damaged/dented cans can let air into them through microholes. Once a can has been dented, it should be treated as an already-opened can.

Open Cans
Once a can of freeze-dried food is open, the food is safe to eat for 6-12 months. Since most cans contain up to 40 servings of food, it’s unlikely that you’ll eat it in one sitting.   Store in a cool, dark, dry place with the lid on tightly for best results. You may like to keep opened cans in the refrigerator, but it isn’t necessary.


Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrate Food

If you’re new to the food storage game, you might be wondering why so many emergency prepping companies choose to freeze-dry instead of dehydration for many products. Looking at the process for both preservation methods will help you understand the benefits and drawbacks to both.

The Process
Dehydration-  Dehydrating food is a relatively easy process that can be done from home.  Dehydrators simply circulate hot, dry air across the food removing much of the water (usually between 90-95%) Dehydrating is ideal for grains and legumes.  
Freeze-Dry-   Freeze-drying is a more complicated process. In systems that have only recently become available to households, foods are placed on sheets in chambers where they are frozen to -40 degrees F.  At this point the freeze-dryer creates a vacuum around the food and then warms it. As it’s warmed the ice turns to vapor and evaporates.  Freeze-drying removes up to 99% of water. Freeze-drying is ideal for meats, fruits, and vegetables.  Most freeze-drying is done commercially, but recently at-home freeze-dryers have become available.

Shelf Life
Moisture causes food to decompose and grow bacteria. The less moisture in your food storage, the better.
Dehydration – Grains and legumes are ideal to dehydrate because of their low moisture content. However, meats, fruits, and vegetables will retain up to 5% of their naturally high moisture, making it less than ideal for long-term storage (but great for short-term preservation).
Freeze-Dry– Because freeze-drying takes 98-99% of moisture out of meats, fruits, and vegetables, it is the ideal long-term storage option.

Dehydration – The dehydration process can break down several key vitamins and minerals.
Freeze-Dry – The freeze-drying process actually is conducive to retaining all vitamins and minerals except for Vitamin C.

Dehydration – Rehydrating dehydrated food typically requires boiled water, which can be time-consuming.  However, some foods (jerky, fruit leather, etc.) do not need reconstitution. (Note- Meats should be precooked before dehydrating.)
Freeze-Dry – Rehydrating freeze-dried food only requires water, hot or cold. Like dehydration, freeze-dried meats should be precooked.  However, fruits and vegetables can be freeze-dried fresh. Once water is added, it just takes a few minutes for the food to be reconstituted.

Typically, because of the easier process, dehydrated food costs less than freeze-dried food.  However, don’t compare pound per pound because freeze-dried food is significantly lighter than dehydrated due to the water content.

Both foods will retain the original taste. Freeze-dried foods will be softer and airier, simply because there isn’t any moisture in the food.



Emergency Sanitation and Hygiene

You have your food and water storage, but have you considered how important sanitation and hygiene will be in the event of an emergency? Improper hygiene can cause an infectious disease outbreak, escalating emergency situations. Here are some tips for creating your family’s sanitation/hygiene plan.

Bathroom Activity
Take a few days to see how many times your family uses the toilet in one day. See how many diapers are used. Note how quickly you go through bar or gel soap.  This information will determine the supplies you need to keep on hand.  Items you’ll need to help you with bathroom sanitation:

  • Portable toilet- A portable potty lid fits over a bucket.
  • Potty bags – Sealable, double layer bags with bio-gel can help keep your family clean. These bags can be thrown away at an approved facility (not in normal trash cans).
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Soaps
  • Toilet paper/wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers/wipes
  • Disposable gloves

It’s a good idea to designate some of your water storage for bathing and hygiene. Whether you want to use a separate container or calculate your water needs with the storage you already have, remember that water for hygiene is an important item to have on hand. Here are some items to keep for bathing storage:

  • Cleansing cloths- Whether or not you have a baby in your home, baby wipes are great to have on hand for fast, waterless baths.
  • Dry shampoo- This can extend the time between showers
  • Body wash/body soap
  • Razors
  • Shampoo/Conditioner, etc.
  • Lotion to prevent cracked skin

You will want to have a good amount of cleaning supplies on hand. A disinfected house will help prevent the spread of disease. Important items to keep on hand:

  • Water purification tablets/water preserver
  • Bleach – While bleach is not recommended for water purification due to conflicting dilution information, it can be used if another water purification is not available.
  • Disinfecting spray- Disinfecting spray is an important thing to keep on hand to spray on door handles and other high traffic areas. This can help stop the spread of most germs.

First Aid
Part of good hygiene is a thorough first aid plan. Besides a complete first aid kit, anti-diarrhea medicine and cold/cough medicines are important for preventing the spread of family disease. Also, a set of dust/particulate respirator masks can help keep the rest of the family disease free when an outbreak happens.

Be ready to hand wash clothes, dish rags, etc. If your washing machine is out of commission or uses too much water, a wash basin will be a great asset. Keep liquid or powder detergent on hand so you can hand wash without having to break open small pods. Also, if you have space, you might want to store a drying rack.

What Should Your Bug-Out Bag Have?

Bug-out bag, 72-hour kit, emergency pack. Whatever you want to call it, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of having one.  While you’d like to fit your whole emergency storage in it, you’re limited to space and weight.  Here’s a step-by-step process to help you build the perfect 72-hour kit. Items are listed in order of importance in each category.

Food & Water
The first component of a good 72-hour kit is sustenance. You’ll need food and water to stay alive.
Water- Pouched water or water bottles for 3 days. You need to pack a minimum of 40 ounces of water. If there is room in your pack when you finish packing,  add as much as will fit.
Food- There are 3 basic sources of food that would work in a 72-hour kit. Any of these would work, but they each have different pros and cons.

  • Calorie bars- Emergency Ration Bars are single bars that are packed with 2400-3600 calories. You eat these over the course of the 3 days.
    Pros: Easy, calorie-packed, filling, fills less space.
    Cons: Short shelf life (1-5 years), nutrient lacking, no variety in taste or nutrition.
  • MREs-  Meals Ready to Eat are essentially meals in an airtight bag that can be heated and eaten no matter where you are.
    Pros: Easy, self-heating, nutrient-rich
    Cons: Short shelf life (1-5 years)
  • Freeze-Dried- Freeze-dried food is food that has been flash frozen and dehydrated.
    Pros: Lightweight, nutrient-rich, easy, long shelf-life (up to 30 years), great variety
    Cons: Some items need rehydrating (not all freeze-dried food needs rehydrating to consume.)

Warmth & Shelter
Once the basics of food and water are taken care of, you’re going to want to move on to the need for warmth and shelter. (Or cooling)

  • Emergency blankets- Mylar space blankets are compact. They reflect radiant body heat, keeping you warm. You might want to try an emergency sleeping bag to trap heat even better.
  • Hand warmers- These warmers can be used for up to 7 hours to keep you warm
  • Cooling cloths- Cooling neckcloths can help keep your core body temperature down if you are stranded in the heat.
  • Ponchos- Staying dry will be important to keep your heat in. Pack a couple ponchos.
  • Tube tent – As far as priorities go, the tube tent is important, but not at the top of the list for your bug-out bag.  However, it could be very helpful if you are in a situation where you don’t have shelter. If you have room in your bag, it’s a great asset.
  • Matches/Firestarter


  • Flashlight- A flashlight is a very important item in your 72-hour kit. If you can get a combined radio/flashlight, that will cover communication needs, as well. Also, to avoid having to store batteries, a hand-crank flashlight with a cell phone charger is a good idea.
  • Light Sticks

First Aid 
A basic first aid kit is essential in a good emergency pack. Essentials include:

  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Burn cream
  • First aid tape
  • Tweezers
  • Particulate respirator mask


  • Multipurpose pocket knife
  • Paracord
  • Carabiner
  • Collapsible water storage pouch


  • Toilet paper roll
  • Soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Diapers/Wipes for babies
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes for general hygiene

Make sure you have a sturdy backpack to carry what you need. For families with small children, it might be a good idea to add small toys, playing cards, candy, etc.

Combating Food Prices with Freeze-Dried Food Storage

If you’re looking for a way to save money amid rising food prices, you might have to take matters in your own hands and find a food solution that fits within your budget. The sad truth of the matter is that food prices will continue to rise throughout this year. The biggest reason for this is the California drought, which has destroyed many crops and forced farmers to make hard decisions. Almonds, in particular, have taken a beating, but other California crops, like kiwis, raisins, grapes, olives, and pistachios, are expected to rise in price as well. One paleoclimatologist has called this year the driest one for California since 1580. Fruit tree damage in the Midwest and poor growing conditions elsewhere have also been blamed for rising prices.

The meat industry has seen prices rise too for a number of reasons. Beef prices have soared because of the drought in the West and diminished numbers in cattle for slaughter. Pork prices have grown because of disease. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has caused a 7% reduction in pork production. In fact, over the past four years, the price of bacon has gone by more than 50%. Chicken and turkey prices are getting steeper due to growth demand as well as an increase in the prices of corn and soybean based feed.

The full scope of food price increases remains uncertain. The California drought is in full swing, and the extreme temperatures and natural disasters that have affected so many crops elsewhere aren’t going anywhere soon.With that in mind, we encourage you to consider alternative options, such as  freeze-dried food products, for feeding your family.

What is freeze-dried? 

freeze dried

With Daily Bread freeze-dried products, you get food that tastes good and is good for you as well. All you need to do is add water, and you have a meal ready to serve. What’s more, freeze-dried foods can last 25 years or more. Nobody can tell what the future will bring, but it doesn’t look good in regard to food prices. As supply dwindles and demand rises, prices will continue to go up. Will you be ready? Daily Bread freeze-dried food products are a worry-free storage solution to help you combat the dilemma of the rising food prices in our country.