Monday, May 31, 2010

Dry Pack Canning At Home

I’ve done lots of dry packing in my time. Usually at a church cannery, sometimes at a church building using cannery equipment and always with the #10 cans. I had never used the Mylar bags that are available at the cannery until now. Now I use them at home. I can dry pack as little or as much as I want, in the comfort of my own home. I can even do it in my pajamas if I want. Thanks to Kathy Clark, author of “Dinner is in the Jar,” she teaches how to dry pack in Mylar bags at home. Now I can dry pack the dehydrated vegetables I’ve dried, in any quantity I want so that I can open and use as much as I want at a time. This also enables me to buy items in bulk that I’d like to store a smaller amount of, and seal them in bags, easier to access.
What you need:
Mylar Bags – buy from your local church cannery or order online
Oxygen Absorber packets – also available at the cannery, Honeyville Grain, or Walton Feed
An iron
A piece of wood or metal to iron on.

For my project – Dry packing the dried corn I just did, I cut 1 Mylar bag in half lengthwise and then I sealed the cut sides with the iron, medium hot and no steam – for just a few seconds to seal the cut edges (that I just cut) on the bags making two bags, with 3 sealed sides, from one larger bag. Fill each smaller bag with about a quart of dried product, add an oxygen absorber packet and seal the top of the bag with the iron. Add a label telling what is inside and the date you sealed it and you’re done! So easy and fun. This has opened a whole new world up to me. The possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what I can store now. In a later post I’ll tell you more about Kathy’s book, “Dinner is in the Jar.” It is an awesome book with tons of great food storage ideas and recipes.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


If you have wheat in your storage but aren't using it much, here is a fun way to start. No grinder required. These pancakes are delicious and easy to make. Try these with one of the syrups listed below. You may even want to make more pancakes!
Blender Wheat Pancakes
Makes 6-8 pancakes
1 c. milk (or 1/3 c. non-fat dry milk and 1 c. water)
1 c. uncooked whole wheat
2 eggs
2 T. oil
2 t. baking powder
2 T. honey or sugar
1/2 t. salt
Put milk and wheat in blender. Blend on highest speed for 4-5 minutes or until batter is smooth. Add and blend on low, eggs, oil, baking powder, honey and salt. Pour from blender jar onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbles pop and create holes.

Buttermilk Syrup
2 cubes butter
1 c. buttermilk or sour milk
1 t. soda
1 c. sugar
2 T. Karo Syrup
2 t. vanilla
Combine butter, sugar, milk and Karo in saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add soda and vanilla. Fresh milk can be soured by adding 1 T. lemon juice or vinegar to measuring cup and filling to 1 cup with milk.

Peach Syrup
1 quart peaches
1 c. sugar
Blend together in blender till smooth. Heat till sugar is dissolved.

Fresh Strawberry Syrup
1 pint strawberries
1/3 c. white sugar
1 t. almond extract (my favorite) or vanilla extract
Wash and cut strawberries in half or fourths; combine berries, sugar, and extract in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for five minutes,stirring or breaking berries up with a wooden spoon constantly. After five minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (if you have a glass blender jar) and a lot (if you have a plastic blender jar). When cool enough, transfer mixture to blender and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Serve over pancakes or waffles, ice cream, brownies etc. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Popcorn is a good snack and a great addition to your food storage. Not only can it be popped and topped in any number of ways, it can also be ground into cornmeal and used in recipes that way.

Here are some popcorn tips:
Yellow popcorn – has more hull & is meatier – great for caramel corn
White Popcorn – has less hull – better for those with diverticulitis
Baby or Ladyfinger popcorn is the best.

If popcorn won’t pop or is old, try this:
Put 2 cups popcorn and 1 T. water in a quart jar. Shake 2-3 times a day until the popcorn absorbs water. Pop when the corn is dry.

Here is a fun popcorn recipe:

1 cube real butter
1/3 c. light corn syrup
½ c. honey
1 c. sugar
1 c. cream or canned milk
½ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Cook to 238º. Pour on popped corn. This popcorn does not go hard, it is gooey and very good.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

White Sauce Mix

There has been a lot of hype lately about Universal mixes. A powdered white sauce mix that you can “just add water” to and make a thousand different recipes. Okay maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point. A few years ago the Utah State Extension Service developed this recipe. Once you try it, you’ll want to keep it on hand. It only has 3 ingredients, is relatively inexpensive to make and has at least a thousand different uses. It can be used in any cream soup recipe, homemade macaroni and cheese, au gratin or scalloped potatoes, cheese sauce for veggies or creamed vegetables, like new potatoes and peas; or use in any recipe calling for white sauce. You can have it on hand all the time and won’t even need to send $3.95 in the mail for the free powdered white sauce “just add water” sample!

Magic White Sauce Mix
2 ½ c. dry powdered milk
1 c. flour or ½ c. cornstarch
1 c. (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
Combine dry milk, flour or cornstarch, and butter in a large bowl. Mix with electric hand mixer until it looks like cornmeal. Keep mix tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to eight months. Yield: 5 cups

To Make White Sauce
2/3 c. Magic White Sauce mix
1 c. water
In a saucepan, combine Magic White Sauce Mix and water. Stir rapidly with a wire whisk over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Yield: 1 c. white sauce

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Store Fresh Eggs for 2 Years

Imagine eating exclusive out of food storage for an extended period of time. Wouldn't we miss those eggs? Now you don't have to. Unfortunately as a society with all the awesome conveniences we have, we have lost much knowledge that those who lived before us had. Such as how to preserve many different varieties of fresh foods, such as eggs. There are a couple of ways to preserve eggs. I'll mention one today.

Did you know that an egg will stay fresh as long as air does not penetrate the somewhat porous shell? When an egg is laid, it has a coating on it that protects the contents from going bad, even in a hot nest, while being sat upon by a contented mother bird. When eggs are processed for sale, they are cleaned, thereby removing some of the natural coating that was protecting the egg from spoilage. By purchasing fresh eggs and recreating the barrier between the outside air and the egg within the shell, you can significantly increase the egg's shelf life, even when stored at room temperature for great lengths of time.

Here's how. First, get a large container of Vaseline and a bunch of eggs, preferably in Styrofoam containers. If you can only find eggs in cardboard containers, that's okay. Just use plastic wrap inside of them to protect the cardboard from the Vaseline.

Next, get ready to get messy. Take eggs out of container. Get a small amount of Vaseline on your hands. (You can use gloves if you wish.) Pick up an egg and rub the Vaseline all over the egg until it is covered completely. The Vaseline doesn't have to be thick, just don't miss any spots. When it's covered, set it back into the egg carton, with the wide end of the egg at the top. (That's where the little air space is located inside the shell) Get a little more Vaseline on your hands and do another egg. Repeat until all eggs are covered. Close cartons, date, and put into your food storage room.

To use an egg, put a little dish soap on your hands and rub it all over the egg. Rinse with warm water while wiping the egg clean. Only wash as many eggs as you intend to use right away.

If you want to be sure your egg is still fresh before eating it, simply drop it into a bowl of water. If it sinks, it's fresh. If it floats, some air has gotten inside the shell and you should discard the egg.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


One of my most favorite additions to my food storage is butter. Canned butter. When I first heard this I didn’t really believe it. But it is true. You can and it is not hard to do. Actually it is fun. If you do this close to a holiday, you can usually find butter on sale. Buy it when it’s on sale and freeze it until you have enough to make a batch of this. Every time I see these little jars of butter in my food supply, it makes me smile. The recipe suggests using pints, I used half pints. If I were using this and had no refrigeration, I wouldn’t want to open a jar bigger than what I could use up quickly. Here is how it’s done:

1. Heat half-pint jars in a 250º oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills two half pint jars, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars or about 24 half pints or a combination of the two. A roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.

2. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #4 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

3. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4 inch of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

4. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids "ping," shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

5. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

6. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. It does last a long time. It has been tested and it was fine after 5 years. Canned butter does not "melt" again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One of the finer things in life…

Home canned apple pie filling. What a great way to preserve fruit for your storage. This pie filling is so much better than pie filling that you buy at the store already canned. There is no comparison. Whenever you shop for apples, buy a few extra and save them for pie filling. It takes about 6 pounds of apples to make quarts of pie filling. You can use whatever variety you desire; I like Granny Smith and I would not use Red Delicious but I’ve never really tried any that were not good. My family loves crisp apples but when they aren’t so crisp anymore, it’s pie filling time.

Apple Pie Filling
4 ½ c. sugar
1 c. cornstarch
2 t. ground cinnamon
¼ t. ground nutmeg
10 c. water
3 T. lemon juice
1 t. salt
6 lbs. apples peeled, cored and sliced
In large saucepan, blend sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg well. Stir in the water; cook and stir till thick and bubbly. Add lemon juice. Pack sliced apples into quart jars leaving 1” headspace. Fill jars with hot syrup, leaving 1/2” headspace. Add lids and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. This makes 6 quarts.

When it’s time for pie, prepare pastry for a 2 crust pie and line pan with pastry. Add 1 quart apple pie filling. Cover with top crust, cutting slits for escape of steam; seal. Bake at 400º for 50 minutes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Drying Corn – awesome!

I love corn on the cob! I love frozen corn, cut from the cob. I wanted to have corn in my food storage. I bought dried corn. Paid well over $30 for a #10 can of dried sweet corn. I knew I couldn’t afford much. And when we opened it to try it, it was gone quickly. It was good but I knew I could never afford to store much. I tried drying my own. It was good too, not as good as the corn I bought but good still. I used it in stews and soups. I even tried grinding a little. It was even okay to eat plain but it was a lot of work. This year I discovered the art of drying frozen corn. It’s delicious. It’s reasonably priced, especially if you buy it on sale and it’s so easy. Just empty the bags of frozen corn onto your dryer trays lined with nylon netting and you are good to go. It dries relatively quick, about 3-4 hours depending on your dryer and the amount you are drying. No cutting it off the cob, no blanching, no mess, just easy and quick, it stores well, and it’s delicious. I finally feel like I can afford to have corn in my food storage. When buying frozen corn to dry, it’s good to buy on sale but it’s also important to buy corn that is sweet and tastes good. The sweetness intensifies when you dry it. It is a great snack right from the bottle in included in a salty snack mix; it’s good rehydrated and served with a butter sauce, or used in soups and stews. I love it when the things I do for my storage not only give me a feeling of accomplishment but also when they are easy and fun to do. I’m including a couple of recipes you can try.

Dried Sweet Corn with Butter Sauce
1 c. dried corn
2 c. cold water Soak 2 hours. Do not drain.
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Cover and cook slowly until the kernels are tender (50 to 60 minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Stir in:
1/3 c. cream
2 T. butter
Heat through. Serve in sauce dishes with sauce.

Creamed Dried Corn
If you have never had dried corn you really must give it a try. It goes back to the days when drying was used to preserve vegetables through the winter.
The dried corn has a rich, nutty flavor, very different from fresh.
2 cups dried sweet corn
3 to 4 cups boiling water
1 T. sugar
2 T. butter, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk (use evaporated for a richer flavor)
Place corn in large saucepan. Add boiling water and soak approximately 1 hour. Add sugar, butter salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer approximately 30 minutes. Add milk and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Reheats very well.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Make Your Own Mixes

Have you noticed how expensive those little seasoning packets have gotten lately? The Taco Seasoning and Spaghetti Seasoning Envelopes that we used to buy on sale for as little as 20 cents? Some are as much as a dollar or more. Why not make your own and save. Not only that you can leave out the preservatives, anti-caking agents and MSG among all those other things that we can't even pronounce. It's easy to do. If you live near a Winco you can buy your spices in bulk from their wonderful newly expanded bulk spice section. It's great to feel like you are saving money. I love making mixes from scratch and try new ones whenever I get a chance. Today I'll share an easy "from scratch" taco seasoning mix that will replace one envelope and save a few pennies in the process.

Taco Seasoning Mix
2 ½ teaspoons instant minced onion
½ teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon crushed dried red pepper (more if you like it hotter)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly distributed. To use In Taco filling add seasoning mix and ½ c. water to cooked and drained ground beef. Make extra packets and store in Ziploc bags or small Rubbermaid containers for future use.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tip of the Day!

Black beans are a healthy and versatile food. They make a great substitute for part of the meat in a recipe, are a great diet food and a very popular ingredient in many main dishes and dips and snacks. You can open a can of black beans whenever you need a few for a recipe you are making and possibly waste the rest, or for dollar or two you can cook a pot of black beans, rinse with cold water, drain well and spread on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment and flash freeze. Store them in a ziploc bag in your freezer and you can take out as few or as many as you wish. Mix them with salsa and corn relish for a fun dip or add to any recipe in any amount. They are inexpensive and can be bought in bulk for around 75¢ a pound. A great way to save time and money. Below is a favorite recipe using Black Beans.

2 c. black beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes with chipotle chilies
1 green pepper chopped
¼ medium Red onion chopped
½ c. Italian salad dressing
1 diced avocado (optional)
Drain beans & corn. Mix all ingredients. Add Avocado just before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I love my dehydrator.....

I use it almost every week. It has become a very important tool in my kitchen. In my quest to have a more well-rounded food storage…more than just wheat and grains, beans, honey, oil and water, I began to think about the things I would really miss if I had to live on just the basics. Yes I would miss my veggies. Especially fresh veggies. I love fresh vegetables and they are good for you. I attempted storing canned vegetables, store bought and home canned but they can be expensive and take up a lot of room. I have experimented with drying a lot different vegetables but today I’m drying Peas. You either love them or you hate them. I admit I love peas but I HATE canned peas. I love frozen peas but in an emergency if there were no electricity, there would be no frozen peas. Next best thing – dehydrated peas. These can be added quickly to any soup, stew or casserole without a lot of dehydrating time. The best part about dehydrating peas is that you can dry FROZEN PEAS. No need to blanch them as they are already blanched. You don’t have to thaw them or pick and shell them. Just open the bag, spread them on the dehydrator, rotating the trays every 30 minutes or so, and 3-4 hours later you are done. (Note: Unless you have the mesh tray liners for your dehydrator, you'll need to line your trays with nylon netting - less than $1 a yard at fabric stores - to keep the tiny dried peas from falling through the trays.) The dried peas take up very little storage space. So easy and if you watch for the frozen vegetable sales they can be very inexpensive too. Try some and see how many uses you can find for them. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Save some money!!! Make your own laundry detergent and SAVE!!

What better way to find more money to spend on food storage than to save some money? Here is a recipe for homemade laundry soap that costs very little to make and will save you lots of money. This is an economical and fun alternative to store-bought laundry soap.This costs just pennies per load of laundry. It is easy to make, lasts a long time and WILL save you lots of money in the long run. This is a low-sudsing, biodegradable, environmentally safe alternative. It cleans well and the clothes are softer, even without fabric softener added. Give it a try! To get started you need the ingredients below, a 5-gallon bucket to make the liquid in, an inexpensive cheese grater and a wooden spoon or paint stirrer to mix with.

The Ingredients:

Liquid Laundry Detergent
4 c. Hot water
1 Fels-naptha Soap Bar
1 c. Washing soda
½ c. borax
1 -5 gallon bucket with a lid
Grate bar of soap and add to a large sauce pan with the hot water. Stir continuously on low heat until soap dissolves and is melted. Fill the 5 gallon bucket ½ full of warm water, add washing soda and borax and melted soap. Stir with a large spoon or stick (Paint stirring stick works great) until all powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover with lid and set overnight to thicken. You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil for each 2 gallons of liquid if you want. For a top loading washing machine use ¼ c. per load. You will get 180 loads out of 5 gallons For a front loading machine use 1/8 c. per load and you get 640 loads out of 5 gallons. This costs just pennies a load and cleans better than popular commercial brands.

Powdered Laundry Soap
2/3 bar grated Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup 20 mule team borax
Mix and store in airtight container or bag.
**light or small loads, use 1 tablespoon
**normal loads, use 2 tablespoons
**heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons
Tip: The above recipes will NOT make suds in your washer, so don’t be alarmed. Fels Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds, in the water. This makes it perfect for the new washers, as well as, traditional washers. You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener, or in most cases you can even eliminate the use of softener completely.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I will do something every day to become more prepared. I will make better use of my time, money, knowledge and resources to be better prepared for an emergency or a disaster. I will share my knowledge and experiences with others and encourage others to share their knowledge and resources also. By doing something each day to become more prepared I will not only feel more secure but help others learn from me as well. The goal to accomplish something each day will keep me moving forward and help to motivate me as well as any who read this.