Preparing for Down Times: Food Reserves

Updated: Feb 12

JT Bogden - Poor partisan leadership around the world and in the United States has now positioned humanity for a possible major economic collapse potentially on a global scale. Such collapses have been usually accompanied by rationing and austere economic hardship. Jared Diamond wrote Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed. In this book, Diamond discusses complex economies and land sustainability. He shows how refusal to recognize the circumstances, cooperate, and adjust have caused the societal collapse and loss of civilizations.

I want to stress this is not about being a prepper as preppers use belligerence to survive and families are not Involuntarily Displaced Persons, IDPs, which are common when hostile combat forces sweep through areas or otherwise the use of belligerence by rogue militias. IDPs usually gather in fields away from the fighting and set up makeshift camps because their homes are destroyed or inhabitable.

Food reserves or storage assume that families are toed in their homes and the circumstances place a strain on individuals and their families whose drive is to survive food shortages. My belief is that the American family has the will to survive but at the same time needs basic guidance to make reasonable choices. This post is a prudent look at solutions that aid individuals in surviving what poor partisan leadership has caused creating food shortages.

I have been researching how to preserve food and survive food shortages.  Food reserves can be set aside prior to any natural or man-made event using generally one of three methods; dehydration, canning, or freeze-drying.  I have taken a look at each of the three processes for in-home use.

Dehydration is the lowest cost method and requires a machine to achieve the results but can be performed using a forced-air oven as well. The process is simple. Food is cut into no more than quarter-inch thick slices and placed on a tray. There are different tray designs based on the food being dehydrated. Metal wire racks are for large pieces of food like meats, large slices of fruit, and large vegetable slices. Teflon trays are used for liquids. Teflon screens and sheets are used for smaller fruits and vegetables like berries.  The dehydration process cycles warm air to remove water content leaving the food crispy and flavorful. The food is not cooked during the process and temperatures remain well under 167 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact temperature and time depend on the food item. Dehydration can take anywhere from 6 hours to days to complete. Once the food is complete storage is best in airtight containers and cool dark places for long-term storage. I use the Magic Mill 7 Tray Dehydrator which costs just under $200. 

Canning is an intermediate-cost solution but has danger concerns.  The pressure cookers used to seal jars can explode if not properly seated or have the correct weights on the relief valve. Once meats are canned and stored there is an issue of botulism bacteria forming if not properly canned and sealed.  Canning is also very time-consuming requiring a physical presence during the canning process. Otherwise, canning may be a solution to having meals in a jar and stored for long periods. Upon breaking the seal on the jars the meal is generally ready to eat but some may require warming. The setup requires a pressure cooker designed for canning in which the jars may properly fit into the device. I found this All-American Canner Pressure Cooker to be an ideal choice. Its cost is just under $400.00.  These pressure cookers come with various weights that determine the exact pressure levels inside the vessel. Setup also requires thongs, jars, lids, and other utensils.  

Freeze-Drying is a costly solution but safe. Freeze-drying sublimates the moisture in food materials leaving the food structure intact and takes over 24 hours to complete.  The sublimation process causes water to pass from a solid to vapor without becoming a liquid. In order to consume the freeze-dried food items, water must be added to reconstitute the food material. Harvest Right Home Freeze-Dryers seems to be a popular solution but costs just above $3000. These units come with different color options and range from 4 trays up to 8 or more trays. The latter being more expensive. Food is prepared the same as for the dehydrator but goes into pan-like metal trays. Fully prepared meals can be freeze-dried also. Popular retail products that are freeze-dried include instant coffee and emergency food kits.

If freeze-drying is the choice then purchasing retail emergency food kits is perhaps a lower-cost approach to this method as in-home preparation is both time-consuming and costly. Having tried several brands, I have found the Wise Company freeze-dried products are a tasty and cost-effective alternative to in-home preparation.

Both the dehydration and freeze-drier solution require long-term storage in air-tight bags. Food savers are the best solution for the long-term storage of food materials. There are different models and capabilities. I found this one to be most useful when having a high volume of items being prepped. The device does require the purchase of bags and storage containers as well as serviceable components and adapters.

Be sure to Date-time stamp all sealed bags.

In conclusion, families may find that with a little effort that food reserves and storage solutions can be an improvement in the quality of life during austere times. The process of building the reserves can be a family event and even fun.

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