The Survival Mom » Food http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Sat, 27 Jun 2015 07:17:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Food Storage Can Sizes: When to go big, when to go small http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-can-sizes-when-to-go-big-when-to-go-small/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-can-sizes-when-to-go-big-when-to-go-small/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 21:20:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23916 I’ll never forget the very first time I placed an order of food from a food storage company. It was with Walton Feed and, although their products are very good quality, their order form made me dizzy. A friend helped me through the order process and for many years afterward, I figured that the big […]

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food storage can sizesI’ll never forget the very first time I placed an order of food from a food storage company. It was with Walton Feed and, although their products are very good quality, their order form made me dizzy. A friend helped me through the order process and for many years afterward, I figured that the big #10 cans were the way to go. The bigger, the better, right?

My pantry is currently stocked with mostly #10 cans.  If my family’s survival depends on this food, I’ll be glad I went for the biggest containers possible.

That’s what I used to think.

Now, 7 years later, I’m rethinking that strategy. It all started when a perfectly good #10 can of freeze-dried grapes became virtually inedible due to a small level of humidity one Phoenix summer. The grapes became sticky, a little gooey, and clumped together. It was hard to eat them and I ended up throwing most of them away. That can of grapes was a #10 can, and my young kids just couldn’t eat that many freeze-dried grapes and weren’t all that crazy about them to begin with.

Food storage can sizes can be confusing

Food storage companies sell most of their freeze dried and dehydrated foods in 2 different size cans. Cans labeled #10 are the really big cans you might see at Costco or Sams Club, holding foods like nacho cheese sauce. They hold about a gallon of food each and in many, many homes are the building blocks, so to speak, of a family’s food storage. The smaller #2.5 can holds about 1/4 that amount.

In almost every case, if you are stocking up just for yourself or maybe one other person, you may want to buy more of the #2.5 cans, but that depends on the individual food. For smaller households or for people who eat smaller amounts, these cans each hold enough of any given food to last several days or weeks, and you’ll likely consume the contents before they’re negatively affected by heat, humidity, oxygen, light, or pests. They’re also easier to transport and their smaller size means they can fit into nooks and crannies — space that would otherwise be wasted. 


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Recently I reviewed the sites of a couple of food storage companies and developed a sort of checklist I’ve followed to determine which size of can is the best choice for my family. Three of the biggest companies, Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials all carry similar products. Here are my recommendations for what you should buy in a #2.5 size can or a #10 can.

My suggestions for #2.5 cans

NOTE: Virtually all baking ingredients should be purchased in smaller amounts, except for sugar and flour — if you normally use those 2 ingredients frequently.

  • Baking powder. Your can of grocery store baking powder has lasted for how many months? Don’t bother buying this in a #10 can.
  • Baking soda. If you use baking soda just for baking, this size is fine. If you use it in household cleaners or in other ways, I recommend either a #10 can size or the much bigger 5 or 13.5 pounds bags available at Costco, Sam’s Club, or on Amazon. That’s what I’ve purchased, along with a handful of #2.5 cans to use for baking.
  • Beef and chicken bouillon. Humidity can affect this in a big way and unless you’re making meals in a jar that call for bouillon, for most households, the smaller can size is best.
  • Butter powder. A little goes a long way and this product produces a flavorful spread but it can’t be melted
  • Cheese blend. This is a powder, similar to what you would find in a package of store-bought macaroni and cheese. Not everyone likes it, but it’s a handy ingredient for making cheesey things. A smaller can will last for quite a while.
  • Hot chocolate mixes. Most people just don’t go through this very quickly. A small can will do very nicely.
  • Iodized salt
  • Freeze-dried cheese, if you’re stocking up for just 2 or 3 people.
  • Freeze-dried parmesan cheese. How long has that green can of Parmesan cheese lasted in your house? Probably a very long time! Therefore, if you buy this version, plan on buying the smaller can.
  • Freeze-dried meat and chicken, if you will be preparing meals for just 1-2 people.
  • Juice mixes. I’m not a big fan of these and my family never drinks juice, but if yours does, look for varieties that offer a nice dose of Vitamin C, in particular.
  • Shortening powder, unless you make biscuits frequently
  • Specialized grains, such as millet and amaranth
  • TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) – If you choose to stock up on this, a little goes a long way. I use 1/3 cup, for example, in soups.
  • Yeast or Instant Dry Yeast. This tends to not store very well, long-term. You’re better off with smaller packages. If you very rarely need yeast, you might just want to buy an occasional jar of it at the grocery store so less is wasted if the yeast becomes too old to be effective. Always proof yeast that is more than a few months old.
  • Yogurt bites. These are very sensitive to humidity. Get the smaller cans and enjoy them while they’re crunchy. They are a great addition to homemade trail mixes.

Produce

  • Most fruits, especially if you live in a humid climate. Humidity causes the sugar in fruit to become sticky and the pieces clump together.
  • Vegetables that you don’t use very often or that only a few family members like.
  • Vegetables that are cut into very small pieces — a little will go a long way. Examples: celery, onions, peas, chopped carrots. Even a #2.5 can of dehydrated onions will last practically forever.
  • Vegetables and fruit that you really love but are very expensive in their freeze-dried or dehydrated versions. Examples: cherries, raspberries, mangoes.

NOTE: Definitely consider buying varieties of freeze-dried and dehydrated vegetables and fruit that you cannot grow yourself, for whatever reason, and/or tend to be pricey. Blackberries, raspberries, cherries are all some of my favorites, but I’ve chosen to stock up on their freeze dried versions because they usually are more expensive in the grocery stores. I’ve purchased fewer freeze dried blueberries because I live in Texas blueberry country and can easily buy them in large quantities and can them for later.

My suggestions for #10 cans

  • Bakery mixes. Some companies offer cookie, cornbread, bread, biscuit, muffin and brownie mixes. Before ordering these, take a look to see how much is required for one batch of a recipe. One sugar cookie mix recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of the mix! Just 4 or 5 batches, and that can is ready to recycle. You’re better off stocking up on the individual ingredients to make your favorite desserts, but some people really like the convenient mixes.
  • Beans. Beans have a very long shelf life, even when the can is opened.
  • Fruit varieties that you know you’ll use frequently. Apple slices, for example, if your family loves apples and you use them in lots of recipes.
  • Freeze-dried cheese. Most recipes will call for at least 2-3 cups of rehydrated cheese (think enchiladas or a lasagna). If these are recipes you want to continue making, the larger cans will be best.
  • Grains. Virtually all grains, from wheat to pasta to oats and rice, are fine in the larger cans. If you use grains at all, they are probably a staple of your family’s diet and you’ll have no problem using up the contents in a #10 can as these foods store very well, long term.
  • Just-add-hot-water meals. You’ll most likely use a few cups of these meal mixes at a time.
  • Most freeze-dried meat and chicken. Some brands say that opened cans of their freeze-dried meats are only good for 30 days or so, while other companies estimate a few months. Honeyville says to use their freeze-dried meat within 30 days once opened and within a week if it’s not refrigerated. Thrive Life’s meat and chicken have longer shelf lives once open. If you have Honeyville meats, then smaller can sizes might be a better choice, unless you normally feed a large family and can easily use up a #10 can within 30 days.
  • Some vegetables. For the most frequently used veggies, you might want to opt for the larger can size. Do you cook a lot of meat and potatoes? Then #10 cans of potatoes in all their varieties is probably your best choice. One caveat is for those living in a very humid climate. In that case you may want to buy the smaller 2.5 size cans because humidity will affect freeze dried and dehydrated vegetables.

Is Food Storage new to you? Check out my list of food storage articles for newbies here!

As always, always, your mileage may vary! One of my prepper pet peeves is the occasional complaint by some of my readers who don’t stop to think for themselves when they read different types of survival advice: “You say to stock up on peanut butter, but we’re allergic to peanut butter.” “Why should I buy mangoes when we hate mangoes?” All food storage absolutely must be customized to your household’s preferences, allergies, food sensitivities, storage space available, finances, and even the level of motivation.

In survival and preparedness, as in every other area of life, you must make the decisions that suit your family and your circumstances best! Use my suggestions here as guidelines but do consider:

  • What will my family actually eat?
  • What ingredients do I normally use in the course of a month?
  • Are there any allergies or food sensitivities that I need to keep in mind?
  • In a worst case scenario, who else might I need to feed? (If you think there will be loved ones showing up at the door, stock up on a lot of meal stretchers. These extend just about any recipe and are calorie dense.)
  • What is my monthly budget for extra food storage?
  • Where will I store all this extra stuffNever store food in an attic, garage, outbuilding, or any place that isn’t, at the very least, well insulated. Ideally, food should be stored in the 70-75 degree range.
  • What are my priorities when it comes to food storage? Just the basics, beans, wheat, rice, and salt? Making sure my loved ones continue to enjoy the same familiar and comforting recipes no matter what happens?

When the #10 can is just too, too big

Sooner or later you’ll be faced with the dilemma of what to do with the contents of an opened #10 can when you know, full well, that you aren’t going to polish it off any time soon. The food doesn’t have to go to waste, and shouldn’t. You can easily repackage it.

Most of the foods I’ve listed here can easily be repackaged in canning jars of the size you prefer. You’ll need a selection of jars, canning lids, a vacuum sealer, and a jar sealer attachment. This is a very, very simple process, and I’ve used it to package in jars everything from salt to biscuit mix to quinoa.

You can also use the vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags. That’s a nice option because the individual bags can be stored in larger bins and buckets.

In this video, I demonstrate how to use a vacuum sealer and jar sealer attachment to store small amounts of food in canning jars.

 

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Fishing for the Truth: Is Tuna a Viable Addition to Your Food Storage Pantry? http://thesurvivalmom.com/fishing-for-the-truth-is-tuna-a-viable-addition-to-your-food-storage-pantry/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/fishing-for-the-truth-is-tuna-a-viable-addition-to-your-food-storage-pantry/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 07:00:24 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23515 When I first began stocking up on food specifically for food storage, adding cans of tuna to my stash was a budget-friendly move. My family enjoyed occasional tuna sandwiches, and I grew up loving a good, old-fashioned tuna casserole. However, over the years, tuna began getting one black eye after another. First, reports of mercury […]

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tuna safety for food storageWhen I first began stocking up on food specifically for food storage, adding cans of tuna to my stash was a budget-friendly move. My family enjoyed occasional tuna sandwiches, and I grew up loving a good, old-fashioned tuna casserole.

However, over the years, tuna began getting one black eye after another. First, reports of mercury contamination in tuna and issues with dolphins caught in the nets of tuna fishermen worried tuna lovers. More recently, concerns about radiation contamination from Fukushima affecting tuna in the Pacific Ocean have made eating tuna feel risky. This has left moms like me wondering: Is tuna safe for my family?

On the other hand, even in the midst of all this tuna drama, there’s been a rise in popularity of sushi restaurants, and they certainly serve tuna. Raw, no less! Upscale restaurants regularly offer seared tuna, ahi tuna, and other tuna dishes. How can a tuna fish sandwich made by Mom have “Death!” written all over it, but a Spicy Tuna Roll is perfectly acceptable?

Tuna is a healthy addition to your food storage pantry

Since my original plan to have a few dozen cans of tuna in my pantry for long-term storage was at stake, I’ve done some research to find out more about tuna. Ultimately, that led me to learn that at least one company is making a significant effort to deliver fresh-tasting tuna, with mercury levels near zero — Safe Catch.

But first, here are a few reasons why I’ve stubbornly insisted that tuna is a  healthy addition to everyday meals as well as your food storage pantry:

  • Tuna contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve both depression and cognitive decline. One group of researchers discovered that it only takes 9 servings of canned albacore tuna a month to provide an average daily dose of 500 mg of essential omega-3 acids.
  • Tuna contains a form of selenium, selenoneine, that protects the red blood cells of tuna from free radical damage. In the body of the fish, selenoneine also binds with mercury compounds and protects the fish from mercury-related problems! That’s amazing!
    In the human body, it’s very possible that we, too, receive similar protection from antioxidants when we eat tuna.
  • Tuna is an excellent source of vitamin B3, B6, and B12. It also contains a good amount of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and choline, along with various minerals and a very healthy dose of protein.
  • Canned tuna is a super-easy and convenient food to have on the shelf for quick meals and snacks. The pop-top feature on most cans makes it an excellent addition to any emergency kit.
  • Tuna is typically budget-friendly and is a versatile form of protein to add to a wide variety of recipes.

Still, there are a few concerns and some surprising answers

Although canned tuna, usually albacore and skipjack, is recommended because of its high levels of omega-3s, attention still needs to be paid to the level of mercury that may be consumed. Safe Catch tuna is the only brand that tests every single fish for mercury levels. They’ve developed the very first technology capable of screening each fish for purity and the levels that Safe Catch has set for safety are stricter than those set by the Environmental Working Group and Consumer Report’s “Low Mercury” limits.

Even as I was sampling some cans of Safe Catch, thoughtfully provided for me by the company, I knew that radiation was going to be a concern, so I asked about it. Here is what I learned, first hand:

Safe Catch just received their radiation testing. Their Safe Catch Wild Elite Tuna tested for zero levels of radiation. The Safe Catch Wild Albacore Tuna tested for 0.46 Bq/kg which is 232 times less radiation than what the average banana contains. The testing was done by a third party lab.

As I was researching everything-I-ever-wanted-to-know about tuna, I learned that most tuna is pre-cooked before being canned. This allows the very best nutrients, including omega-3s, to drain away during the processing. Then, the tuna is rehydrated with phosphates, GMO vegetable broth, soy, water or other fillers. Safe Catch has none of those added, so it’s no wonder that it tasted and smelled fresher than any canned tuna I’ve ever tried. Instead, Safe Catch tuna is raw packed and then cooked. It’s free of additives, is non-GMO, BPA-free and isn’t packed in either oil or water.

So how does Safe Catch taste?

The Safe Catch tuna that I sampled was fresh tasting, without a fishy smell. In fact, I had some leftover tuna mixture, stored it in the fridge, and promptly forgot about it. Typical. About a week later I saw a blue and white container in the back of the fridge and braced myself.  Whatever was inside couldn’t possibly still be good.

I was amazed to find out that the container held what was left of my tuna fish salad, and it smelled as fresh as the day I opened the can. Pretty impressive.

Safe Catch tuna comes in 3 different varieties: Wild Skipjack, Wild Albacore, and Wild Albacore with no salt added. It retails for about $3-5 per can. It’s found in stores nationwide (store locator) and can be purchased online.

If you’ve held off buying canned tuna because of the well-publicized issues the tuna industry has had, Safe Catch might be the best way to re-introduce tuna into your everyday meals and food storage pantry.

Resources:

Is Tuna Safe to Eat Post Fukushima?

Tuna from The World’s Healthiest Foods

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What is Honey Powder & How Do I Use It? http://thesurvivalmom.com/what-is-honey-powder-how-do-i-use-it/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/what-is-honey-powder-how-do-i-use-it/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 07:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23100 Honey powder is a food item that has become popular in food storage circles. It’s grown in popularity because of its versatility (use it as you would any other powdered sweetener), its very long shelf life (up to 30 years when stored properly), and the fact that a little goes a long way. Honey powder […]

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what is honey powderHoney powder is a food item that has become popular in food storage circles. It’s grown in popularity because of its versatility (use it as you would any other powdered sweetener), its very long shelf life (up to 30 years when stored properly), and the fact that a little goes a long way.

Honey powder is simply dehydrated honey. Depending on the brand you buy, some sort of stabilizer will have been added in order to keep the powder from clumping. You may see that fructose or even starch has been added in order to create a shelf stable product.

Honey powder, available from Augason Farms, comes in large #10 cans or plastic bags. As long as the honey is stored in a cool, dry location, it will have a very long shelf life. Honey powder purchased in a plastic bag should be repackaged in order to avoid the damage done by humidity, light, and oxygen. One way to repackage honey powder is by using a Food Saver machine, canning jars, and a jar sealer attachment as explained in this video:

Put honey powder to use in seasoning rubs, sprinkled over oatmeal or other hot or cold cereal, mixed in with iced tea or lemonade, or added to recipes that call for honey. It can be rehydrated for a sweet, honey drizzle over French toast, pancakes, or muffins. Yumm!

These two recipes from Augason Farms incorporate honey powder as either an ingredient in the recipe itself or rehydrate to create a honey syrup.

Honey Scones

6 cups Augason Farms Honey White Bread & Roll Mix
2 ¼ cups warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
1/3 cup oil

Instructions

Combine bread mix, yeast, water, and oil. Knead until smooth and elastic, or mix 10-12 minutes using dough hook on 2nd speed (3 speed mixer).

Cover and let rest for 20 minutes, roll out and cut.

Fry at 375°F. Turn when golden brown on the underneath side, fry until golden brown.

Serve with Augason Farms Honey Powder, rehydrated according to package directions.

Yield: 24 scones

 

Whole Wheat Nut Muffins

1 egg
3 tablespoons Augason Farms Country Fresh 100% Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Augason Farms Honey Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Sugar or sugar-cinnamon mixture – optional

Grease bottoms only of muffin pan.

Beat egg and stir in next six ingredients. Mix well.

Add flour and baking powder and stir just until flour is moistened. Do not over mix.

Fill cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle with sugar or sugar-cinnamon mixture if desired.

Bake at 400˚F for 10 minutes.
what is honey powder

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How to Make Homemade Masa & Corn Tortillas http://thesurvivalmom.com/homemade-masa-corn-tortillas/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/homemade-masa-corn-tortillas/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 07:06:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22881 This is the second half of my two-part series addressing the trend in survival circles of grinding popcorn for cornmeal and nutritional concerns about cornmeal, in general. In part one, I outlined how corn must be processed before eating in order to to free up the nutrients. Skipping this step can result in a terrible […]

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how to make homemade masa and corn tortillasThis is the second half of my two-part series addressing the trend in survival circles of grinding popcorn for cornmeal and nutritional concerns about cornmeal, in general. In part one, I outlined how corn must be processed before eating in order to to free up the nutrients. Skipping this step can result in a terrible vitamin deficiency known as pellagra.

If you’ve stocked up on popcorn, planning to grind it, skip the grinding. Just go ahead and pop it. Eat it lightly salted, and relish the joy that comes from knowing that you are eating popcorn the way it was meant to be eaten.

But popcorn is only part of the story. It’s not the only whole grain corn available on the open market. Honeyville Grain, for example, sells yellow, white, and blue corn in bulk. From this, you can make homemade masa, the key ingredient of many tasty food items, such as tortillas, tamales, and pupusas.

Corn was developed by the ancient American peoples to make specific foods unique to their culture. Corn was a staple in the Americas long before the Europeans arrived on the scene, but they never contracted pellagra. However, the Europeans using the same became quite ill. They were using this new grain to make foods that they were already used to eating, namely bread (cornbread) and porridge (grits/ polenta). In other words, they were using a New World ingredient to make Old World food, and it didn’t entirely translate. They were missing something crucial: nixtamal! To get out of corn everything that it has to offer, you can’t use it in a European way. You have to use it in a Native American way.

Homemade Masa and Corn Tortillas

Disclaimer: this takes a lot more preparation and effort than merely grinding it in your Nutrimill. However, I’m confident that once you try real, homemade tortillas from real, homemade masa, you will never want to go back.

Ingredients

2 cups whole dent corn
2 Tbsp calcium hydroxide (also called cal, or pickling lime – sometimes found in the canning aisle at the supermarket)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt

Equipment

Food processor
Tortilla press
Plastic wrap

Instructions

Rinse your corn and put it in a saucepan over medium heat with the calcium hydroxide/pickling lime and water. Slowly bring it to a boil over a period of 20 minutes or so. Let it continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. Let it sit undisturbed overnight or for at least 8 hours. This is when the magic happens — the chemical reaction that changes the nutrients in the corn so that they can be absorbed by the human digestive tract.

When the allotted time has past, the pericarp, the outside bit of the corn, will have loosened considerably. Put the corn in a colander and rinse with cool running water as you rub the corn with your hands. Keep rubbing and rinsing the corn until all traces of lime and pericarp are washed away.

Place the corn, now technically nixtamal,  in the food processor with the salt. Process on High until the corn is at the proper consistency – it should be chopped up finely enough that it can be formed into balls. Sometimes I have to add as much as 3-4 tablespoons of additional water to get it the proper consistency.

Ta-da! You have made masa. This can be used for humble corn tortillas, tamales, and also pupusas, which are a kind of stuffed tortilla.

homemade blue masa

Homemade blue masa

Here’s a picture of some masa I made. You may notice it is blue. No food coloring was added. That is the real, actual, non-photoshopped color. That is because I have a lot of blue corn in my food storage. I chose blue corn for two reasons:

1) Why bother with boring yellow corn when it can be blue?

2) Blue corn is higher in protein.

Also, there does not currently exist any GMO blue corn on the market. You can be guaranteed a non-GMO product when purchasing blue corn, if that is something that is important to you.

Making homemade corn tortillas

To turn your masa into tortillas, first line your tortilla press with plastic wrap to keep the masa from sticking. Place a small portion (about 2-3 tablespoons worth) in the tortilla press. Cook about 1 minute on each side on a HOT griddle or skillet.

I adore homemade masa and corn tortillas, and I love making them from scratch. They are immensely popular with my family, including the picky toddler.

I hope you will look at corn a little differently from now on. It is an extremely versatile food and full of nutrition when prepared correctly. Grinding unpopped popcorn into cornmeal, while it might sound like a good idea, is not an efficient use of food resources, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about corn as a food storage item. Popcorn can be popped, and dent corn can be made into masa to make tortillas. If you haven’t already included corn in your emergency preparedness, do so today!

how to make homemade masa and corn tortillas

 

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Surprising Facts About Corn, Popcorn, and Malnutrition http://thesurvivalmom.com/corn-popcorn-and-malnutrition/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/corn-popcorn-and-malnutrition/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 07:00:53 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22542 This is the first in a two-part series addressing the practice of making homemade cornmeal out of popcorn. In this first part I will address the dietetic science that shows why this is a bad idea and some surprising facts about corn, popcorn and malnutrition. The second part will address other things that can be […]

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corn, popcorn, and malnutritionThis is the first in a two-part series addressing the practice of making homemade cornmeal out of popcorn. In this first part I will address the dietetic science that shows why this is a bad idea and some surprising facts about corn, popcorn and malnutrition. The second part will address other things that can be done with corn that are much better for you than grinding it into cornmeal.

All about corn, popcorn, and malnutrition

Regular pre-ground cornmeal has a relatively short shelf-life. Five years is the usual rule of thumb. Unpopped popcorn, however, can be stored for decades under the right conditions. Someone put two and two together and figured that grinding popcorn into cornmeal as needed would be a decent solution to this problem. I’ve heard people insist that it is more nutritious than cornmeal from the store, “…which has the bran removed,” and that it tastes better.

I must admit that I have not tried it myself, so I can’t say that I can speak with authority about the taste, but I will tell you that it is not nutritious. In fact, if you made ground popcorn your primary staple you will put yourself at risk for contracting a lovely little disease called pellagra. Pellagra and its relationship with corn is one of those things that intersects food, history, and science.

Popped popcorn, when it is not smothered in fake butter and preservatives, is very good for you. It is high in niacin and fiber, and low in calories. Corn tortillas made from cornmeal, have undergone processing of their own and are similarly nutritious. The peoples of Pre-Columbian America built their empires on corn.

If a corn tortilla is good for you, corn muffins from ground popcorn must be just as good, right? Wrong.

Prior to processing, the nutrients found in corn, niacin, in particular, are inaccessible to the human body. In order for our bodies to absorb all the good stuff, corn must be either cooked with an alkali to form nixtamal (pronounced “neesh-tamal”), or popped. Eating corn meal from unnixtamalized field corn or unpopped popcorn is nutritionally equivalent to eating a cardboard box.

When corn was first brought back to Europe from the New World, Europeans really liked the idea of eating corn. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand the value of nixtamalization. To them, it was an unnecessary step. In places where corn became the primary staple, people started getting this “strange disease” that caused skin lesions, neurological problems, and death. This disease was pellagra. In the Southern United States alone, pellagra accounted for more than 100,000 deaths. Pellagra was also widespread in Spain, France, and Italy. Only in the early 20th Century did scientists figure out that pellagra was caused not by a toxin found in corn, as previously thought, but a niacin deficiency.

This is the reason why food companies fortify our breakfast cereals. If you grab a box of cornflakes, in particular, or regular store bought cornmeal, you’ll find niacin and folic acid on the list of ingredients. This does not constitute the native vitamins already found in corn, but synthetics that are sprayed on. Those spray-on vitamins are both a good and a bad thing. Good because when the FDA began to require niacin fortification in cornmeal, pellagra all but disappeared in the United States. Bad because there is some concern that synthetic vitamins do not behave the same way inside the human body.

Additionally, many nutritionists caution against eating highly processed foods that have more than 5-10 ingredients on the label, which leads some to actively search out unfortified corn products. Thrive Life Cornmeal, for example, lists only one ingredient on its cans of cornmeal: Ground Yellow Dent Corn.

This is not a step towards better health

Grinding popcorn for cornmeal is not going to be any better for you than grinding dent corn. In fact, it would be worse because the structure of a popcorn kernel is different from a dent corn kernel. Popcorn has a much thicker pericarp – that’s the bit that gets stuck in your teeth – and a much smaller amount of starch per kernel.

If you have a reasonably well-balanced diet, it’s unlikely that you or anyone you know will actually develop pellagra and die from the odd batch of cornmeal made from unfortified corn. But don’t kid yourself: cornmeal, and especially popcorn cornmeal, is empty calories. That’s a luxury that will come at too high a price in a survival situation, where you must make every calorie count towards optimal nutrition.

Cornmeal in your food storage pantry isn’t a bad thing, but add other foods rich in Vitamin B3 and, in fact, B3 nutritional supplements as well. Food to consider are:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Coffee
  • Kidney beans
  • Meat, chicken, and tuna
  • Mushrooms
  • Peanuts
  • Peas
  • Sunflower Seeds

This is not to say that you should not store popcorn at all. When properly stored, popcorn can have a shelf-life of 15-20 years. Be sure to also store a small amount of (regularly rotated!) cooking oil or other fat along with it, so that you can pop it.

Stay tuned for my Part Two popcorn article, in which I will talk a little more about what you can (and should!) do with corn that will keep you well-fed and healthy: nixtamalization, masa, and tortillas.

For further reading, I recommend, Red Madness by Gail Jarrow, about Pellagra in the deep South and “Pellagra: Curse of the Unprepared“, an article by Liz Bennett.

corn, popcorn, and malnutrition

 

 

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7 Ways Blueberries Pack a Powerful, Nutritional Punch to Your Food Storage Pantry http://thesurvivalmom.com/health-benefits-blueberries/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/health-benefits-blueberries/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 21:23:39 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23282 When I was growing up, my parents would buy blueberries in bulk. We would freeze them in little sandwich bags. Whenever we wanted a treat, my siblings and I would fill a small cup with the frozen berries and eat them one at a time until our fingers and mouths were purple and sticky. We […]

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Blueberries pack powerful nutritional punch via The Survival Mom

When I was growing up, my parents would buy blueberries in bulk. We would freeze them in little sandwich bags. Whenever we wanted a treat, my siblings and I would fill a small cup with the frozen berries and eat them one at a time until our fingers and mouths were purple and sticky. We also found that frozen blueberries were excellent bribes for our dog, though our mom was not pleased to discover we had been wasting berries in such a fashion.

We knew the blueberries were “healthy,” whatever that means when you’re ten years old, because our mom would go so far as to actually buy them for us. Fruit roll-ups and Froot Loops were not exactly welcome at our house because these were “mostly sugar.” The health benefits of blueberries were unknown to us, nor did we much care.

Fun fact: Blueberries are from the genus, “Cyanococcus,” which is literal Greek for “blue round things.”

Now that it’s been a few years and I have become a grown-up with kids and a mortgage and everything, it turns out that blueberries really are good for you! Most discussion on the health benefits of blueberries veers toward the technical side, tossing around mysterious words like “flavonols” and “anthocyanins,” and “antioxidants.” What does this mean in plain, non-organic chemistry English?

The health benefits of blueberries are numerous!

Simply put, foods with naturally-occurring blue and purple pigments (anthocyanins) are known to reduce the risk of developing certain kinds of cancers. This is the “antioxidant” property of blueberries at work. Blueberries are also high in manganese, copper, and zinc; elements important for maintaining heart health and bone structure. Manganese deficiency, in particular, is relatively common but difficult to diagnose. Feeling under the weather? Try some blueberries!

That’s just scratching the surface. It seems that there is no part of the body that does not benefit from ingestion of blueberries. Blueberries have been known to lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and to improve short term memory. The fiber content is good for your digestive system, and they can help lower blood pressure Their low glycemic index makes them an excellent food for diabetics. Doctors suggest eating raw blueberries as a treatment for urinary tract infections.

Antioxidant compounds are a little finicky and can break down easily, so most nutritionists recommend eating raw blueberries instead of cooked in desserts. Even though the antioxidants may break down a little in cooking doesn’t mean that all of the blueberries’ goodness is destroyed if you put them in a batch of muffins. Blueberries are extremely versatile and taste amazing in a wide variety of baked goods, while retaining a good portion of their health benefits.

You can store blueberries by freezing them and dehydrating them at home. They can be safely frozen for long periods of time (at least 3-6 months in clinical studies) without any detriment to the antioxidants. In general, dehydration is not as efficient as freeze-drying in this respect. However, if you have a lot of blueberries on hand and want another way to preserve them, dehydrating is still a good way to store them over a longer period of time.

If blueberry smoothies or frozen blueberries in a cup aren’t your thing, don’t despair.

Freeze-dried blueberries in your food storage pantry

Including blueberries in your diet shouldn’t have to end at the door of your refrigerator. Freeze-dried blueberries are readily available, for example, these from Emergency Essentials. The freeze-drying process retains nearly all of the fruit’s original nutrients but because the berries contain zero moisture, they have a very, very long shelf life.

I add a small handful of freeze-dried blueberries to smoothies, along with a small scoop of Greek yogurt, some almond milk, and sometimes, a tablespoon of cocoa powder!

These two recipes from Emergency Essentials are perfect for using freeze-dried blueberries. The ingredients in each recipe can easily be stored long-term, making it possible to whip up a batch of muffins and bars any time!

Blueberry Granola Bars Recipe

½ cup honey

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 ½ Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ cup instant rolled oats

2 cup freeze-dried blueberries

Instructions

  1. Reconstitute the blueberries; Drain excess water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9″ square baking pan.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar, oil, and cinnamon. Bring to boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes without stirring.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats and blueberry.
  5. Stir in honey mixture until thoroughly blended.
  6. Spread into pan, gently pressing mixture flat.
  7. Bake until lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  8. Cut into 3″ x 1 1/2″ bars.

Blueberry Drop Muffins Recipe

1 cup flour

½ tsp salt

1 Tbsp butter

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ cup dehydrated fat-free milk

½ cup freeze-dried blueberries

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Work in butter with fork or pastry blender.
  3. Add milk, stirring in just moisten. Carefully fold in blueberries
  4. Drop by tablespoon on greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.

Blueberries pack powerful nutritional punch via The Survival Mom

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10 Uses For Tomato Powder http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-uses-tomato-powder/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-uses-tomato-powder/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 07:00:10 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22951 Tomato powder is hands down one of my very favorite products to have in my food storage. I love it because it’s: Inexpensive — especially when compared to things like tomato powder or tomato sauce Pure — just 100% tomatoes with no additives or preservatives Healthy — check out all these heath benefits of tomatoes Versatile Tomatoes are […]

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Tomato Powder

Tomato powder is hands down one of my very favorite products to have in my food storage. I love it because it’s:

  1. Inexpensive — especially when compared to things like tomato powder or tomato sauce
  2. Pure — just 100% tomatoes with no additives or preservatives
  3. Healthy — check out all these heath benefits of tomatoes
  4. Versatile

Tomatoes are a critical ingredient for your food storage pantry and tomato powder gives you even more options for tomato based recipes. Here are TEN ways you can use tomato powder:

1. Homemade tomato sauce

2/3 cup powder + 2 cups water = just a bit more than one 15 oz can

2. Homemade tomato paste

6 T powder + 1/2 cup water = one 6 oz can

3. Tomato juice from scratch

1 cup powder + 8 cups water = one 64 oz bottle

4. Marinara sauce — Use this recipe for homemade or this popular Survival Mom recipe.

Combine together in a large pot:

1 T. freeze dried or fresh onion
4 Cups Water
1/2 Cup tomato powder
1.5 tsp freeze dried parsley
1.5 tsp freeze dried basil
1.5 tsp freeze dried oregano
1.5 tsp freeze dried Italian seasoning
1.5 – 2 tsp salt
1.5 T garlic powder
1/4 Cup brown sugar

Bring to a simmer and cook on Low for an hour.

5. Red meat sauce

Simply add some sausage or ground beef (fresh or freeze dried) to the marinara sauce above. You might also consider mushrooms (fresh or freeze dried) and tomato dices (fresh, canned or freeze dried)

6. Enchilada sauce —

  • 1/3 cup tomato powder
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 T. cumin (adjust to taste)
  • 1 T. chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp freeze dried onions (or use fresh)

Full recipe and instructions here:  Homemade Enchilada Sauce.

Or use tomato powder instead of tomato sauce in the recipe found on Survival Mom here: Stock Your Pantry From Scratch: Enchilada Sauce

7. Tomato soup (just like Campbell’s)

  • 6 tablespoons water plus 4 T flour
  • 1/4 cup water plus 3 T instant milk powder (or 1/4 cup whole milk)
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup tomato powder
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

See full recipe and instructions here: Copycat Cambell’s tomato soup

8. Spanish rice

Just add a tablespoon or two of tomato powder plus some onion, garlic and a bit of green chili (I use freeze dried) to a pot of regular rice before you cook it. You’ll end up with some yummy Spanish rice.

9. Homemade ketchup

  • 6 T. Tomato powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder

10. Barbecue sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 6 T Tomato Powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Ground Mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

 

Tomato Powder uses

 

 

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Build your Food Storage from Scratch: Canning Bing Cherries http://thesurvivalmom.com/canning-bing-cherries/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/canning-bing-cherries/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 18:00:40 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22846 Bing cherries. Everyone in the family LOVES them and they are so very simple to can up! My family eats them faster than I can put them up, and cherry season doesn’t last long, so I have to be quick! Here are my step-by-step instructions for canning bing cherries yourself Canning Bing cherries First, get out […]

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canning bing cherries

Bing cherries. Everyone in the family LOVES them and they are so very simple to can up! My family eats them faster than I can put them up, and cherry season doesn’t last long, so I have to be quick! Here are my step-by-step instructions for canning bing cherries yourself

Canning Bing cherries

First, get out all your canning equipment, jars, extra bowls and strainer for cleaning your cherries, etc. and don’t forget a stack of kitchen towels or old washcloths–you’ll need them.

Step by step, here we go:

1. Wash cherries

2. Stem cherries. Get the kids in on this! My 4 year old did the majority of this task and he is darn good at it! My 14 year old helped, but she ate more than she stemmed!

3. Prick a hole in each cherry if you’re not going to pit them, and I don’t. I just grabbed handfuls of clean stemmed cherries and gently poked each one with the end of a steak knife, and then I pack them into canning jars. S I M P L E!

 

packing cherries

4. Get the canner heated up, the pot of sugar syrup going and my lids heating up in hot water too. I get this started while we’re getting the cherries ready to pack into jars.

My sugar syrup is just water and organic raw sugar, boiled for a few minutes and simmered. I used a 4-quart pot and about 3-4 cups of sugar. My husband likes the canned cherries in a heavier syrup than I normally use for our fruits, so I obliged since he will be the one to eat the vast majority of the canned cherries!

While everything is getting ready on the stove, I am poking holes in the cherries and stuffing them in jars!  If you have children/family around to help you– this may well be your quickest canning project–ever!

cherries in canner

The canning process

When the cherries are in the jars, I cover them with my sugar syrup to about 1 inch headspace, and make sure the rims/mouths of the jars are wiped clean with a wet, hot cloth. Then I put the lids on and screwed down the rings.

At this point, set them in the rack in the canner, lower the rack and make sure the water level covers the jars. Process them in the water bath for 30 minutes. When done, carefully remove each jar and set them on a towel, (listening for the ‘PING!” as each jar seals up) on your counter or table for about 24 hours, then label and line your pantry shelves! DONE!

 

canned cherries

That’s it!  Told you it was easy!

Helpful resources

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Summer On a Plate: 13 Light, Delicious Recipes http://thesurvivalmom.com/delicious-summer-recipes/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/delicious-summer-recipes/#respond Wed, 29 Apr 2015 07:00:14 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23017 A morning smoothie greets me just about every day. I love combining fruit, almond milk, nuts, cottage cheese (yep! It blends up great!), and other flavors. I never quite know what my final result will be. I want to share with you a great recipe from Augason Farms that incorporates their freeze dried whole raspberries. […]

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delicious summer recipes

A morning smoothie greets me just about every day. I love combining fruit, almond milk, nuts, cottage cheese (yep! It blends up great!), and other flavors. I never quite know what my final result will be.

I want to share with you a great recipe from Augason Farms that incorporates their freeze dried whole raspberries. For a flavor switch-up, you could use blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries. When they’re freeze-dried, you can use them throughout the year and once the container is opened, they’ll stay fresh for months.

Take a look at just how simple this recipe is:

Raspberry Smoothie

1 cup raspberry yogurt
1 1/2 cups of Augason Farms Country Fresh Milk, prepared
1 1/2 cups Augason Farms Freeze Dried Whole Raspberries
2 Tablespoons Augason Farms Honey Powder, prepared

Blend for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.

You can omit the honey and use the sweetener of your choice, such as stevia.

Another delicious summer recipe is this one for a macaroni salad with a twist or two:

Aloha Macaroni Salad

2 cups Augason Farms Elbow Macaroni
1/2 32-ounce jar salad dressing (Miracle Whip) or mayonnaise
1 20-ounce can pineapple tidbits
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup raisins
1 medium carrot

Peel and dice carrot and steam until crisp-tender.  Boil macaroni in boiling water 7-10 minutes.  Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Chill for 2 hours or overnight prior to serving.

Now, to get your summer off to a light and delicious start here are 11 more recipes I tracked down that looked too good to keep to myself!

delicious summer recipes

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Sprouting Seeds – An Essential Part of Your Food Storage Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/get-started-sprouting-seeds/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/get-started-sprouting-seeds/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 23:26:51 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22571 Do you like sprouts? I had only ever eaten plain, long white mung bean sprouts from the grocery store and didn’t really care for them. Then I discovered home sprouting and the wide variety of seeds, beans, lentils and nuts that could be sprouted. My family now eats them on salads and sandwiches and sometimes […]

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Get started sprouting seedsDo you like sprouts? I had only ever eaten plain, long white mung bean sprouts from the grocery store and didn’t really care for them. Then I discovered home sprouting and the wide variety of seeds, beans, lentils and nuts that could be sprouted. My family now eats them on salads and sandwiches and sometimes even just straight from the sprouter!

Beside the fact that sprouts are healthy for everyday eating and should be added to your diet for nutritional reasons, sprouting is an excellent prepping skill to have.

Top 5 Reasons Preppers Should Sprout

1. Nutrition

Certain seed mixes combine not only for great taste, but for high nutrition. Some seeds provide every amino acid, a long list of vitamins and minerals, and many are high in protein. Access to a fresh, non-meat/dairy source of protein during hard times is highly desirable. Broccoli sprouts are one of the most nutritious… eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts gives you as many antioxidants as 3 pounds of mature broccoli! Check out this link for a list of nutritional content for the most popular sprouts.

2. Garden Indoors All Year

If you live in an extreme climates that limit your outside growing months, you can grow a variety of fresh greens year around. No dirt under the nails, no back breaking work, no worries about early frost.

3. Security

If you have a security reason for not gardening outside, you can still have fresh greens by sprouting indoors. In fact, you can hide them even more if needed by putting your spouters inside a cabinet, under a bed, etc. Sprouts do not need any light for growth. Exposure to sunlight at the end of growing will activate the chlorophyll and green up the sprouts, but it is not a requirement for taste or nutrition.

4. Portability

You can sprout on the go by taking your sprouter in the car or even by putting it inside a backpack. In a bug-out situation, you can carry a great deal of food in very little space. (See #5.)

5. Shelf Life and Compact Storage

Sprouting seeds have a shelf life of 1 to 5 years depending on the variety. Refrigerating can double the lifespan while freezing can extend it 4 to 5 times. See a full list here. Most sprouting seeds are very small, but grow exponentially. A single pound of alfalfa sprouting seeds can produce 7 pounds of edible food!

Get started sprouting seedsThe only potential “downside” with sprouting during emergency situations is the amount of water needed. Sprouts need to be initially soaked and then rinsed twice a day. If access to safe water is an issue, it could be difficult to impossible to grow the sprouts. However, sprout water does not need to be discarded. In fact, the water used for the initial soak is full of nutrients that could be consumed as is, used as soup stock, or as needed to reconstitute dehydrated or freeze dried foods.

My Favorite Sprouters

Sprouting is so easy, a child can do it. If you can measure and rinse seeds, you can sprout! All you need is the right sprouter.

Four Tray Sprouter – The trays of this sprouter allow you to either sprout a variety of different seeds and beans in one compact footprint, or enable you to stagger your growth by starting the trays a couple days apart so you have fresh sprouts constantly at the ready. Watch this video to see how this sprouter works.

The Easy Sprout Sprouter – Simple, compact and likely the most popular sprouter of all. This one is a must if you want to sprout on the go. Here’s an instructional video to show you just how easy it is!

Get started sprouting seedsIt’s surprising how quickly sprouts can begin to go bad, so both these sprouters allow you to make relatively small amounts of sprouts so they can be eaten within just a couple of days.

My Favorite Sprouts

There are dozens and dozens of seeds, bean, lentils and nuts you can sprout on their own, but mixing them together for a gourmet treat is what I like best. Here are three of my favorites, but be bold and be sure to try a wide variety to find your own favorites. The best way to do that is to find variety samplers like this one or this one.

French Garden – Put this on your sandwich (if you have any left over after eating it straight from the sprouter!). Healthy, high protein and so good.

Nick’s Hot Sprout Salad Mix – Spicy and fragrant and 35% protein.

Pea Carnival – A mix of different peas. I was surprised at how much I liked this one. Yum!

 

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