Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nutrition Without or With Little Refrigeration.

How will you live without refrigeration?  Well, people did it for thousands of years.

 You can cool your food, not quite to the temperature that we are used to, but enough to prolong spoilage.. a bit.

Cut a hole in the side of your house away from heat sources.  Build a box cased into the opening like a window frame, but extending a foot or 18 inches outside the house.  Do not put a back on it.  Hang a piece of cloth over the box to cover the sides and the open back of the box.  Keep it wet, and as the water evaporates, it will remove heat from the box.  Make a good door on the inside that does not allow room air to enter, and insulate the door to stop heat transfer.(Styrofoam)  Hang a pail with a little leak in it over the box to allow a slow drip to fall on the cloth and keep it damp.  Put a metal back on the open side in the winter, or build another one that is not quite so exposed on all sides to very cold temperatures,  This will allow the room air and outside air to balance out.

I will have a very small refrigerator.  This will not allow me to store perishables for as long as I do now. These techniques will help me with food storage.

Butter keeps pretty well in a cool place, especially if it is well salted.  The milk solids will eventually go rancid.
Try making Clarified Butter.  Heat butter just till it melts.  The milk solids will sink to the bottom, and you can drain off the clear fat from the top.  This is used in very refined does not burn as easily as butter, and it is used in hot climates because it does not spoil as quickly.

Potted and salted meats are available in cans and home made.  You must curb your use of salt though if you use them regularly.  The salt content will KILL YOU!  No salt in any of your food in addition to this, and you can soak salted things to remove some of the salt, changing water a couple of times.

Pepperoni and other preserved meats and sausages are good for long periods.  Salami and any dry cured meats are good. 

For Millenia, Salt was as valuable as gold, as it was one of the best ways to preserve food!

Hams have been smoked for centuries, as have fish fillets.  Refrigeration is still good with them, but well smoked meats need minimal care for preservation, but chilling will always do them good.

Salt is used to preserve hams, such as prosciutto...never refrigerated, and Italy is a pretty hot is good though if you can do it. 

Sun dry tomatoes and some meats, but meats must be done very quickly to avoid, very dry days only and very thinly sliced food.  Do not do chicken!  Jerky recipes are all over the Internet.

Caves and root cellars will help to preserve foods longer.  In my Grandmothers' islands, they used to hang meats and foods that require cool temperatures in their underground cisterns.  Just build a box, waterproof it just to prevent dripping into the water, and suspend it from ropes. 

If you have a nice cold stream nearby, fill crocks with food and lower the crocks into the stream.  Do not submerge the cover unless the seal is perfect so as not to let in water. 
Just covered jars or Tupperware are good for small portions, again, as long as the seal is perfect.  Canning jars are good for this.

Crocks with loose covers could attract foraging animals, but that is a chance you may have to take.  Do not try this in stagnant or still pools...Running water please...always cold and moving.

Storing milk is problematic.  YOU DO NOT NEED MILK FOR ANYTHING.  Even mashed potato is better with broth and maybe a bit of cheese.  You are not a baby cow.  But since you make butter, you will have milk, so it certainly will not hurt you to have it for some uses.

Learn to make cheese...hard, long storage cured cheeses last a long time.  Soft cheese will last a week in a cool spot, but better if refrigerated.  Both are really easy, and there are all kinds of sources on line for techniques. 
Learn to curdle the milk with natural rennet. 
If you are not killing a calf each week, old fashioned rennet is not going to be available.  Also, where would you buy it after the end of society.  There are cheeses made with lemon juice, vinegar and also with thistle juices(I understand). Search for rennet made from Stinging Nettles.
Preserve cheeses in ashes. Nut wood or ashes from grape vine trimmings are usual. 
Once you open a cheese, cutting into the natural rind, it...but you can leave it unrefrigerated briefly, tightly covered as with a cheese dome..  All these preservation techniques need to be done VERY CLEAN to avoid contamination.

Make Terrines and Pates.  Salted, smoked, spiced and liquor soaked meat purees, layered with blanched vegetables and nuts are sealed in pretty layers of fats and bacon, cooked very low, and stored cool in a covered container,... cover while hot to seal like canning.  Meats will last longer this way than just basic storage, This does not mean that they are preserved exactly, just prolonged a bit.  Cut the loaf of meat and veggies into neat slices and serve on a bed of greens.
Many elegant foods began as country ways of preservation.  This is not meant to be long term storage, just extending the storage longer than fresh meats.  Again...WORK CLEAN!  This is the origin of meatloaf that we do today...but great recipes will produce great food.

A nice layer of fat on top of a meat dish will help to preserve meats.  Duck is often cooked extremely slowly in its own fat, the layer on top will keep it pretty fresh for a while, meaning that you could kill a duck every week or so through the winter and have a pretty steady supply of food.  A goose also works as they are very fatty.  Lard acts as a good preservative floated on top of food.  Hard working people ate the fat in the past, but you do not need to eat it if it bothers you.  Just scrape it off.

One thing to remember, our body does not need more than 3 ounces of meat a day, and you can live without completely.  It is good to keep some meat in your diet regularly, because you can lose the ability to digest it properly if it is not eaten regularly.  Who knows when you may have only meat to eat, so do not become a vegetarian..exactly.  Legumes and grains mixed in a meal will give you fairly good protein for the day  That is why a peanut butter sandwich is a decent meal.
Make your own fish pond on your property.  Seal off the inlet and outlet with fine mesh to keep stock in...Also, use only native species of fish so as not to introduce undesirable species into your area.  Running water is essential, with an inlet(or spring) and an outlet so as not to concentrate waste material in the pond.  I remember ponds on my stepfather's grandparents' dairy farm.  Water for the animals as well as fish.

 Olive oil can be used for many things that butter would be used for,  Bake cakes and crackers and breads with it.  It stores well for a long time, especially if kept on the cool side and in the dark.  (The quality suffers, but it will be OK for a while).  There are many other sources of oils in the wild in North America.  Even onions have oils in them.  Use up Extra Virgin olive oil first as it will be more likely to spoil as it has more organic content. 
Keep things in wet earthenware containers to evaporate like the cooler above, and chill the oil slightly.

If you have a kid in a pottery class in High shool or college, have them make a series of tall, straight sided cups. like large drinking glasses.  a number of sizes will be useful.  Fill the earthenware up with water, and lower in a bottle of wine, or a jar of any other food to be chilled.  As the water evaporates through the pottery, it will cool.

All canned food will help with your preservation problems, but always use the liquids for something, and be aware of ingredients...keep the foods you buy as free of extraneous ingredients as possible.  Beware of salt content and do not add salt to your cooking if these liquids are re-used.  Better still, can your own food.  The only problem is the seal, as replacement covers and seals will not be available if times are tough.  Explore old ways of canning on the Internet.
Pickling is a good alternative as is preservation in alcohol.  Again, use the brine for something, perhaps to make salad dressing or just to drink if there is little salt in it.  Vinegars are good for you.

Keep generous supplies of grains and legumes available.  Devote your growing land to both of these.
Together they provide you with complete protein for good health.  The quality of the protein is a bit lower than meats and fish, but still exellent.
As mentioned elsewhere, you can grow corn, beans and squash together in the same field and in the same mounds or rows, though the variety of corn used to be a type that dried for meal rather than for fresh eating. They all preserve or last well.  Oats are a good alternative, barley is common too.  Beers and liquors can be made from the grains.  Do not turn up your nose at alcohol, this is a good source of calories if not abused.

There are many things which are downright dangerous without refrigeration.  Anything made with raw eggs should be avoided.  Mayonnaise is a prime example.  Potato Salad, Tuna Salad,  egg salad, Cole slaw, all contain Mayo and will not be safe to eat after it is at room temperature for more than say...Half an hour. Make cole slaw with Hot pickling brine instead of mayo.  The sweet sour mustardy combination is great and spoilage is not as much of a problem,  Boil vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, salt and pepper together, and pour it over finely shredded veggies in the cabbage family or carrots, onions and peppers.  Allow it all to wilt a bit in the heat and then refrigerate.
Also, roast vegetables in the oven, and mix up a sauce of briefly simmered tomato and olive oil with a bit of vinegar...plenty of herbs and spices of course.  This will last a week cooled.

 If you catch a fish and string it on a stick to carry it home for half an hour, you are probably safe, or half the fishing world would have been long gone in their youth.  On the other hand, once the fish has been opened and cleaned, it must be used promptly, smoked , salted or preserved in some delicious pickling preparation within an hour or so.  Fish should be completely odorless, other than the fresh scent of the water it came from.  Any fishiness indicates improper preservation.

Research preservation in olive oil.  Many foods are done this way.

Fruits and vegetables will keep best in refrigeration, or in a root cellar, but do quite well for a couple of days at room temperature. Many fruits are dried for later hydration and use.  Some fruits do not react well to refrigeration.  Bananas and apples are not at their best in cold.

Eggs have traditionally been kept on the kitchen counter until used, but that was a time when various contaminations were a rarity.  If you must do this, try to do it only with your own, impeccably hygienic eggs from chickens in a clean environment.  Use them up as quickly as possible.  Eggs an be buttered to extend their life, but it does alter the way they cook and limits their uses.

Condiments on the other hand will do pretty well without refrigeration.  Many are heavily salted or full of vinegar and sugar.  Still, once you have stuck your meat-covered spreader into a mustard jar, anything could happen.   Mustard, catsup etc., are pretty well preserved in vinegar, salt and sugar.  These are very easy to prepare yourself from dry mustard, either purchased or gathered and ground at home.  Barbecue sauce and catsup are easy to prepare yourself from fresh tomatoes, and some are made with other fruit when in season.  Peaches are often used in condiments, and you can make chutneys for use on foods, especially meats.
You can do tiny batches of these for use that day or the next. Again, if heavily salted or in vinegar or sugat rich base liquids, they may last pretty well.

Pasta is an excellent food for long term storage.  Make your own from virtually any recipe that is recommended for drying, and it will last for a very long time if kept very dry.  It can also be cooked and kept cool for several days till it needs to be eaten.  Store with a good coating of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. The pasta may be mixed with a generous number of eggs and left over bits of meats and veggies and fried or baked as a cake in a nice heavy skillet(cast iron is best) and served in wedges  like a pie. 
Look for a German country recipe called rivels(I think)  These are extremely easy!
They are simply 1 egg, and a cup of flour with a 1/4 tsp of salt.  The dough is just mixed up till it holds together.  They can be made into rough balls or flat ovals to boil in soup like a noodle.  I have seen them quite large, formed with a spoon but also tiny.  The large ones may have to cook 10 minutes.  You can press them through the large holes of a grater, to make tiny ones.  I have also seen them coating the mixer's hands and simply rubbed off the hand into the broth in tiny shreds.  Thinned with plenty of egg or water, they can be allowed to run semi-liquid, through the holes of a strainer into the soup or water to make worm like noodles.  Add herbs or cooked vegetable purees, like onion or carrot for variations.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Preserve Fruit and Veggies

Preserving fruits and vegetables has been a problem since antiquity.  Warm climates typically have food available in some form year round.  Winter food crops are possible in green houses as well.  Lettuce and tomatoes, possibly spinach are common now in the winter by importation as well as growing in green houses.
Root crops are typically available late in the season, and the unharvested ground can be covered with VERY thick mulch to keep it from freezing.  Often pine and spruce branches are added on top of the mulch to facilitate finding it..and to shade it out to avoid a freeze thaw cycle.
Kale grows in the winter, and where it does not grow, you may experiment with just how long they remain good under the snow.

Other than root cellars, that are discussed elsewhere, foods can be buried.  Cabbages are typically buried for winter use in the north.  Potatoes are stored in potato houses in the north for planting and winter use, but they may also be buried.  The one drawback to burial, is that if you do not look them over regularly, one bad cabbage may infect dozens around it.  This is also true in root cellars and other produce and meats.

Read up on these techniques on line...The resource is good, why not use it.

You should start buying alcohol now.  Look for sales etc..  Buy rum, brandy and vodka by the cartload and store it underground.  Just keep the covers from deteriorating.

Very high proof alcohol is best, but you can use brandy, high proof rum , cordials etc.

Preserve fruit in alcohol.  This is common all over Europe, I do not know about elsewhere.  Do not be prudish about alcohol.  There are plenty of calories in Alcohol, and more in brandies, Rum and cordials from the sugar.  You are not doing this to become a drunk...though this is a danger in depression causing circumstances.  If you are afraid to consume a lot of alcohol preserved things, just cook the product before eating it.  Evaporate the alcohol in the cooking process.
Some cultures, like mine in the Aeolian Islands, cook fruit and wine down to a syrup to preserve it and as a sweetener.

 Rumtopf is a German method of preserving fruit throughout the season.  You start with the first produce in the Spring, macerating the fruit in bite sized pieces(or whole small fruit pitted) in sugar.  1 pound of fruit to 1 cup of sugar is common.  Then cover the fruit with rum.  Now, you can cover the rum with plastic wrap, but they did this for centuries without. I believe you can do this without sugar in extreme conditions as long as the liquor is strong, but the product will not be as pleasant.
Add more layers of fruit as the season progresses.  Each fruit must be in the alcohol for about 3 months.
About half way through the summer, you may add a flavoring like Cinnamon, Star Anise or Nutmeg...your choice.  In the real world after the end of days, spices may not be available.  In that case, there are tons of herbs that could be used, though they may not be appetizing to look at.  Anise flavored herbs and seeds are abundant in herb gardens.  Chervil, Sweet Cicely, Angelica,Fennel seed, thyme, and others might suit you.  The first time you use them, make a small batch in a small container to see if you like them.
It is not necessary to add more sugar after the third month, unless a taste tells you it is necessary.
This three month period is long enough for the apples and late fruits to be mostly used up in the fall, and you will then need variety.  Pumpkins and squash will last this long as well.  Serve with meats, on desserts, on their own like pickles, cooked or raw.  Brandy is commonly used, and I like that idea best.  Cook those into fruitcakes and muffins! Remove heavy skins from fruit by blanching briefly in boiling water and skinning them in cold water.
Each addition of fruit should have a weight on top, like a plate that just fits inside the container, to hold the fruit under the surface.

So, in your post apocalyptic world, where do you get alcohol and sugar.  Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to survive.  Some fruits may not taste as good in maple syrup or sugar, but if you need the fruit to survive, you eat it anyway.  Preserve nuts in maple sugar and syrup.  Sugar beets are a good crop to have, and other beets and root vegetables can be used to make just have to learn.  Also, root crops may be very plentiful and easy to grow for this purpose and you may have too much for normal use.   Honey would be usable, though again, you may not be happy with the flavor.
Making sugar is nothing more than grinding sweet things up, boiling to extract the juices and squeezing out the rest.  Then boiling or evaporating the liquids till they crystallize, or use them as syrups.  Grapes, and other sweet fruits will work, and wine that has produced even more sugar from fermenting will also boil down.

Make your own alcohol from grains of almost any kind, potatoes, wine, sugar syrup of any kind.  Buy or make a still and watch out because blindness is a byproduct...I guess, of high alcohol content.  But then they said that about masturbation too.

You cannot be prudish about alcohol.  We are talking about survival here.  However, you should know yourself.  If you do not handle alcohol well, don't drink it.  Do cook out the alcohol before consumption.  THE BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE TO DO HERE, IS NOT TO MAKE THIS DECISION YOURSELF.  YOU CANNOT KNOW HOW YOU HANDLE ALCOHOL.  ASK YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY HOW YOU ACT UNDER THE INFLUENCE.  YOU JUST DO NOT SEE YOURSELF WHEN YOU DRINK.

Now is the time to buy things like sugar, alcohol, containers etc.
Sugar can be bought in huge quantities, especially if you think that you will be going into this lock-down mode.  Dampness will make it harden into a sold block, but it will still be usable.  The big issue is will dissolve, and ants...they love it.  Keep the sugar sealed up completely, and high and dry. 
Alcohol will last forever as well...Just evaporation and damage to the container will affect it.  some alcohols will not be stable in taste, like wine and brandies that can be aged, but still the alcohol is alcohol.  Seal it up, and if there is a cork, keep the bottle lying on its side.  Alcohol sometimes evaporates over time.
Ceramic(stoneware) Crocks are great for storage and other tasks like Corning meat.  Stainless steel is good, though even that can rust if improperly stored.  Glass is perfect, but breakage is an issue....Are you careful?  Of course the glass can be free, just collect it over time and store it jugs, demi-johns candy jars and canister sets are ideal, but use wax or tape or fat to seal the top.
Fats(pure), unsalted.butter(best clarified), shortening, paraffin, meat fats that are carefully strained will all seal the surface of the preserves if plastic wrap is not available.
Making wine is another skill that is very wise to know.  What do you do with fruits and some vegetables that are abundant and hard to store for long periods.  Making wine increases storage time, and preserves the calories.  Also, if the water may not be safe to drink, the wine will be.  Wine, and beer(another good skill, though grain is a bit easier to store) were perrenial drinks in Europe becaause the water was very generally tainted.  These provided safe drink.  It is now an issue here that the water is less and less safe out in the wilds.
 A by product of wine is vinegar.  Be careful to make the wine well, or you will have a lot of vinegar.
Vinegar, though pretty acidic, can be used as a drink in an emegency, but it can also be used for pickling.  Be careful though, because the acid can vary wildly and the preserving power will be affected.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Doing Without

If you are living in a post apocalyptic world, you will not have:

Razor blades
fresh sources of iron anything
glass(except from land fills)
lamp oil
manufactured clothing or cloth
canned goods
water from towns
Gas, gasoline, propane etc.
new tools
vehicle parts
Machinery parts
non local fruits and vegetables
seafood(unless you live there)
electricity or replacement parts for solar electrical systems
soap and shampoo
Iron, aluminum or other metals
packaged seeds
safe water
toilet paper
toothbrushes and toothpaste
out of season vegetables and fruits
building materials
pet food or care