Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Long Term Food Storage Cook Books

I'm not a big one on cooking. My wife is good at it, but I'm more the "open the can and put the pork and beans in the pot" kind of chef.

We try to use things from our long term food storage as much as we can, because there is the eternal routine of rotating everything that has to be adhered to. I don't always get it right.  A year or so ago, I moved some crates and found a whole case of Navy Beans that I bought in 1999.  They were about 13 years old by my calculations.  None of the cans were rusted, or swollen up.  So first I opened a can and gave it to the chickens. They ate it with no ill effects. Then I gave a can to the dogs.  I once saw them eat a DAK ham that had gone bad in the can and it didn't seem to do them any harm, so I figured they could eat the beans and they did with great pleasure.

So I ate some.  The beans themselves tasted fine, but the fluid in the can was a little bland. Didn't do me any harm though.  Still, you don't want to let things fall through the crack and the long term food storage supplies need to be used and replaced like anything else.

It's not hard to use dried onions, cheese powder, egg powder, corn meal, rice , beans,  flour and similar everyday foods. You just open a pail, take out what you need, use it with your regular cooking and all is well. It's a little more difficult to work in things like dried fruit slices, rolled oats, dried broccoli and the like.

There are cook books to help you do just that.  Here's one that has been very useful to us.

Vicki Tate has a number of good books out on using your long term food storage supplies to make wholesame and delicious meals.  This is a book on the topic in general.  It's the first one of hers I would buy if I were starting out.  After reading it, I'm sure you'd want the more detailed books.

 Beans and rice are what they used to store on slave ships. The reason is simple. They keep well, they are cheap, and they will keep people alive . Everybody I know well enough to discuss the subject of what they have stored, keeps large quantities of different kinds of beans. They usually also have white or brown rice.

A cautionary tale here.  When we first began to pursue storing large amounts of beans, I had no idea how long to soak them before cooking them.  My mother told me that my grandmother soaked dry beans before cooking them but she couldn't remember how long. There was no internet to speak of back in 1986,  so I didn't really have access to other self sufficient life style adherents.  I put the beans in a pot and soaked them for 24 hours. When bubbles started coming up out of the beans, I figured they were ready and I boiled them.  When I ate them they tasted good, especially since I had no idea what dried beans were supposed to taste like when you cooked them.  Unfortunately, they made me really , really sick.  The only time I have felt worse was when I joined my reserve unit at the University of New Mexico and drank a bottle of bourbon. I had never had hard liquor before then and to this day I still want to be sick when I smell bourbon.  At any rate, I learned the hard way that soaking beans for 24 hours was not the right time.  If  I'd had a copy of this book that never would have happened.

This is a book about what and how to store in terms of food. It also touches on what kinds of foods you can raise yourself. If you are already storing for the long term, you might want to read it just for the ideas it gives you.

I never turn my nose up at books designed for beginners. Yes, I've been doing the long term food storage thing for a long time. The Mormons helped me a lot over the years, and I feel pretty comfortable that between what they taught me, my own experience, and what I've read I'm doing it right. But there is always room for improvement. Not the most hard core, savy survivalist knows everything there is to know.  So if you read this and you don't learn anything, you can pass it on to someone less well versed in the topic.  You may pick up something useful you hadn't thought of before, though.

This may seem an odd selection for a post on food storage and cooking with it.  But it contains the best description of feeding a family with virtually nothing that I've ever read. Steinbeck knew his subjects, and you could think of the people in this book as the first Americans to live through TEOTWAWKI.

Anybody who hasn't read the book already is doing themselves a grave disservice. If you are a survivalist or a prepper, this is the book you need to read concerning the psychology of a family under apocalyptic conditions. You won't just enjoy the book, you'll learn from it.

The sections on how the women fed the family, with no money and virtually no supplies but lard, flour, and perhaps some dried bacon are very worthwhile.  We all hope we never get down to that , and we are putting away food to see it never happens to us. Nobody can see the future though. If  you get down to brass tacks and the kids are hungry you may be glad you read The Grapes of Wrath.

Marlene's Magic with Food Storage  is out of print, I think.  But even if it is, you can usually find out of print books on Amazon.  This one is excellent.  We've used recipes from the book and they have been right on target.  One thing you get out of reading recipe books is learning what you don't have in your supplies that you ought to.  So as you go through Marlene's book,  you need a note book to jot down the supplies you never thought of storing on your own.  I need to use a notebook for this so I don't lose the little scraps of paper I would ordinarily make notes on. If you are better organized, you might want to use index cards or whatever works.

To finish up, here are some more Peggy Layton books you might want to consider adding to your self sufficiency library.

  Just a word about powdered milk.  It keeps as long as you have it sealed in a mylar bag, in a nitrogen flushed pail. After you open it and start using it, I've found that even with the lid down hard on the pail it starts going bad in about six months.

People say that dried eggs are no good.  I can remember being served dried eggs in the mess hall when we were in the field, and I never thought they were that bad. Marine Corps cooks tended to be pretty good, especially the older non-commissioned officers who had been around awhile.  If you cooked up the powdered eggs so they weren't runny, they were pretty tasty. If you added dried onions, dried peppers, and some butter powder as the cooks often did they were really good.

I make omelets out of dried eggs, copying the ingredients the field mess hall cooks used, and I enjoy them with some hot sauce. This book will help you get the most out of powdered eggs. I've got a big flock of chickens but I still store the powdered eggs. Backups to backups.....

There are some more good books on long term food storage and on cooking with it.  I think I've probably overloaded everybody by now though, so I'll finish this post up.  Remember, you can get a program on line from the Mormons to help you determine what you need.  You just plug in the age and gender of each family member, and how long you want to live off your stored supplies. Then it cranks out a very exacting list, by item and amount.


  1. So what is your recommended dried bean soaking time? I don't remember seeing you mention that.

    The Mrs. has a few of those cook books you mentioned as she loves them. I also would recommend a few specialty ones like cooking Lamb and such. Another good one is "Stocking Up" from Rodale press. The Mrs. purchased her grandmothers house when the lady passed away and it included all the contents as no one in the family even wanted to fight over them. It was a treasure trove of old cook books and canning supplies.

  2. Well, I put the beans in a pot and boil them for five minutes. Then I dump that water out, put them in a mixing bowl and let them soak for four hours. Then I cook them.

    The truth is, some people don't even soak them at all, and some people soak them in water with vinegar, etc.

    Everybody has their pet system but mine works pretty well.

  3. Getting all the old lady's possessions was a real bonanza. Older people tend to have things squirreled away that are really useful. When my great Aunt Annie May died, I got things nobody else wanted. They took the china and silver and all. I got blankets, cast iron cookware, everyday dishes and flat ware, , fireplace implements, tools, an old pistol, a shot gun, sheets and pillow cases, towels, dish rags, wash cloths. Things like that have value. The last thing I needed was more china and silverware. When I go, I hope my kids take what they want and give the rest away to people who can use it. I don't want my possessions sold off for a nickle at an estate sale to strangers.

    I'm going to check out "stocking up." It sounds like it belongs on my shelf.

  4. "Stocking Up" is a really good book that we got from jam's mom and step-dad - they got us a lot of old books from jam's granmother's as well...they knew that we were taking this whole thing seriously. i have all of the books that you mentioned and they are very good books to have. i have probably 3,000 books, all of which are very useful in a SHTF situation. i have greek and roman classics, all kinds of encyclopaedia sets, medical books, books form the renaissance - all kinds. my biggest fear is if SHTF, the internet goes down and we have no access to knowledge anymore. jam is building me a waterproof, airproof library this fall/winter/spring...right now, some of my best books are in the living room but the rest are in the attic.

    i love these kinds of posts that you do Harry. they are never preachy and you are never mightier than thou....i hope that new preppers and survivalists find your blog and use it to learn. i love blogs that teach...not preach. and yours is one of the finest!

    your friend,

  5. Kymber, that's an outstanding idea. I have some 2000 books but they are mostly military history. I always thought that if the great implosion actually occurs, it would be good to have something to read on long winter nights by the fire. I never thought about trying to preserve knowledge in it's own right. That's a really worthwhile endeavor.

    It would be hard for me to be too arrogant. The last 30 years of my existence are studded with mistakes, things I did wrong but didn't realize it til after the fact. I always think that if I can save someone from making the same mistakes I made in their self sufficiency plans, then that makes my own blunders more tolerable in the long run.

  6. By the way, I'm going to get a copy of "Stocking Up." Until you and Pioneer Preppy mentioned it, I honestly don't think I had ever heard of it.