Historically, a huge part of being a keeper-at-home has been keeping food… for winter months, for lean times, and for various trials. Today, conveniences abound all around us, and we think we will be in a good place forever. Please don’t be lulled by what seems like permanent abundance. Louis Pasteur once said, “In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”
Food Storage Is a Good Place to Start
It is important to note that all of these foods will have an increased lifespan when kept in a cool, dry space.
Before I begin, do NOT forget to make provision for water available without electricity!
Consider a Bison frost-free hand pump and a Berkey water filter (gravity-drain non-electric). If the electrical grid is down, just fill the Berkey with pool, stream, or rain water – or from your Bison water source!
Now for the food:
1. Raw Honey
Raw honey (never heated) has such a long shelf life that it has even been recovered from Egyptian tombs. While it can change color and crystallize over time, its edibility does not change. You can restore crystallized honey by soaking it in a sink of very hot water (never over 102 degrees and lower is even better). In its raw form, honey is chock-full of enzymes and essential nutrients.
Honey also double-duties as a perfect topical wound healing salve due to many factors including its acidity and the presence of hydrogen peroxide. Dr. Mercola states that the use of honey in wound care is regaining popularity as researchers are determining exactly how honey helps fight serious skin infections, including MRSA! Dr. Mercola recommends only Manuka honey for wounds.
Whatever your reason for storing food, rice is perfect, and it, too, like honey, is said to have been found in Egyptian tombs, though I cannot substantiate the rice. White, jasmine, wild, arborio, and basmati rice all have an almost indefinite shelf life. Rice is considered by many to be the ultimate survivalist food to stockpile in order to be prepared for a food crisis. Our rice is in tightly sealed 3 gallon food grade plastic tubs.
Brown rice, while a healthier alternative to white, has a lot shorter lifespan and tends to slowly become rancid due to the higher oil content.
3. Raw apple cider vinegar and white vinegar
White vinegar is made out of corn, the top genetically modified produce item, so I save the white vinegar for cleaning and use Bragg or Spectrum organic apple cider vinegar for our salad dressings and cooking. I keep both in stock.
Both have high acidic properties and are used as a preservative to keep other foods fresh or pickled so they can keep for years to come. White vinegar is very inexpensive, so I keep the most of it on hand.
I try to think of items that keep well that also have medicinal properties for a time of prolonged emergency (like honey). Bragg organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized and 5% acidity. Contains the amazing Mother of Vinegar which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. Apple Cider Vinegar has been highly regarded throughout history. In 400 B.C. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, used it for its health benefits.
Celtic sea salt for everyday cooking
Sea salt is the ‘real’, unrefined form of traditional table salt, sodium chloride, with all the trace minerals in their natural balance as God designed them. It is the ideal choice over its unhealthy counterpart, but in the event of a food crisis sodium chloride can also do the job. It is better to be prepared with sodium chloride than to not have anything at all. Salt is a powerful flavor enhancer, anti-microbial meat preservative, and helps food keep its texture. It will never go bad if stored properly. You can also use it to cure the meat in your freezer in a pinch.
Want to preserve meats? How much salt should you store?
If you have a lot of meat frozen, keeping a lot on hand (say up to 100 pounds?) could mean saving it in the event of a prolonged electrical grid failure. Here is what one source says:
Historically, brining and salting has been used as a method to preserve meat. Some method were as simple as submerging the meat in a barrel of salt water. The salt solution was judged ready when it would float a raw egg. This solution would require approximately 8 lbs of salt to 5 gallons of water. Cover the meat completely with the solution and leave covered until ready to use. From the amount of salt it requires, you can see that it pays to store a substantial amount.
5. Dried Beans
“A note on dried beans – smaller beans like lentils and split peas cook faster and require less fuel if you are dealing with power outages. ~M.N.
A B.Y.U. study reveals that more than 80 percent of a consumer taste panel deemed retail-packaged pinto beans up to 30 years old as acceptable for emergency use (samples were stored for years in #10 cans with the oxygen removed). Dried beans can last almost indefinitely in the absence of oxygen and light, but gradual moisture loss will affect its taste and texture. Older beans may need longer soaking and cooking times; try adding acidic ingredients or salt toward the end of the recipe to avoid toughening up the skin.
Cornstarch is a food substance that has a variety of uses.
Helpful in thickening gravies, sauces, or soups, cornstarch is a food crisis necessity that will help you be prepared. Normally, I would not buy organic cornstarch for an emergency stash, but we do buy organic for use now to avoid the GMOs in regular conventional cornstarch. We find it in the ‘health’ section of the grocery or buy it in bulk here. Check out what GMOs have been shown to do to our health.
7. Pure vanilla extract
The extract in this jar is only hours old and not yet ‘finished’.
Pure vanilla extract, different from its imitation counterpart vanilla extract, will last forever. The extra cost over its imitation is only minor compared to the elongated shelf life of pure vanilla extract and you can make your own! To make vanilla extract and herbal tinctures, you will need the next thing on my list: vodka.
I have had some funny looks at the grocery when I – a smiling, gray-haired old lady – buy vodka. But vodka stores forever, and with the wonderful Frontier herbs I get from Amazon for my natural medicine cabinet, I can make a tincture (which will keep practically forever, too) anytime I need it! I wouldn’t be without it as a keeper-at-home.
Note: vodka is a solvent. Buy in glass bottles instead of plastic to avoid leaching of plastic. These are vodka-based and last indefinitely!!
Here are some tinctures we make and always have on hand:
- Elderberry colds and flu tincture
- Feverfew migraine tincture
- Garlic wellness tincture
- Vinegar of the Four Thieves insect repellent
- Dandelion blood-building, detoxifying tincture
Vodka is also a great emergency wound cleaner in a pinch!
9. Tinned Sardines/Canned Goods
You can choose any canned goods you like (you will need a can-opener), but certain foods pack more bang for the buck! Our family wants to avoid the food additives and chemicals found in so many processed canned foods today that will weaken use rather than strengthen our bodies and minds, especially in a time of crisis.
Sardines (small bristling) and fresh water salmon are LOW in mercury (calculate here), but are high in protein, micro-nutrients, and minerals. A little goes a long way to curbing hunger and sustaining optimum health and are very reasonably priced for the nutritional value. While we don’t love them, we do like them; they could save lives even if you don’t choose to eat them now.
10. Coconut oil
What shelf stable item can be used (nutritiously) in place of butter, shortening, and cooking oil, and then pressed into duty as a health and beauty aid?
Coconut oil! Unrefined coconut oil is also called virgin coconut oil. This type of coconut oil has the most nutritional benefits and the shelf life has been documented as anywhere from 2-5 years to “indefinite”.
The number one health benefit of coconut oil is that about 50% of it is lauric acid, an essential fatty acid that is only found in such high levels in human breast milk. It contains antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-protozoal, and antifungal properties, so basically, it boosts your immunity in every possible way. We have found Tropical Traditions to be a great quality Coconut Oil but we also get it at Amazon.
11. Rice Pasta
Since rice stores so well, so do pastas made from rice. We love Tinkyada! It keeps its texture wonderfully, doesn’t get mushy, and is our gluten-free choice of noodles all the time. We get them here. Update: we also love Trader Joe’s rice noodles which are identical in texture and quality to Tinkyada.
So be a prepared keeper-at-home. Right along with food comes the need for a clean, non-electric source of water.
Do not fear but ask for God’s wisdom; think about ways you can provide for your family whether in the event of a major winter snow storm that cleans out the supermarket shelves in 6 hours or a 6 month grid failure. Your family may thank you one day for your foresight!
See my new post: My Complete List To Be Prepared in an Uncertain World: 125 +Things
“She smiles at the future. She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.” ~Proverbs 31: 25, 27
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
~ Benjamin Franklin