Ask 10 survivalists what they are most concerned about regarding survival and/or disaster preparedness and the majority of them will say something about the procurement of food. For good reason, we can’t physically live without food for three weeks or longer. This makes survival food storage of vital importance.
However, when it comes to our morale, food is a big part of giving us the boost we need to keep going. Not to mention, even though we can live that long without food, our bodies start to break down and become non-functioning as each day passes without nourishment. Let’s take a look at some of the choices that are out there when it comes to survival food. In general, there are several types of food out there for our consideration. For this discussion we are going to look at four.
Survival Food Storage
1. Freeze dried foods
This is what I would call the “cream of the crop” for survival food simply because freeze dried foods retain higher percentage of nutritional value than some other choices while at the same time being easy to store and stow away. Many people are surprised to know that freeze dried food retains less moisture than even dehydrated food does. Another benefit is that most freeze dried foods have a 20+ year shelf life, making them incredibly easy to store and not concern yourself with regular rotation to keep things fresh.
2. Dehydrated food
Dehydrated foods are similar to freeze-dried foods in that a lot of food takes up only a small space. As mentioned before most of the nutritional content is still intact, but it does not equal that of freeze dried foods. The beauty of dehydrated foods is that are incredibly affordable options when it comes to doing the work yourself. Freeze drying is more complex and can be done at home, but should best be left to the professionals. Whereas, dehydrating is nothing more than getting a good dehydrator and spending the time doing it. This also allows the user to customize their food options so that you are not at the mercy of the tastebuds of a large food preparing company.
3. Canning Food
If you only consider nutritional content, then canned food is definitely the way to go. The only drawback to this method is the weight and space it takes to store this type of food. Canning with jars and actual cans is a method nearly as old as the pioneers that settled into the United States. This is definitely a practice that, if you have a friend or family member to help you with, it will go a long way in usefulness and safety. Canners are designed to remove the oxygen through pressure and heat. When this is done it allows the stored food, whether it be meat, fruit or vegetables to last an incredibly long time and retain all the nutritional content when stored correctly. This means you store the food in a cool location without much sunlight. A basement is an ideal place for such storage.
4. Smoked and cured meat
Another practice that was often used by native cultures, was to smoke meat. Smoking is the process of providing low heat and ample amounts of smoke to thinly sliced meat. This serves to preserve the meat source. The downside is that it is a very short window of time and is dependent upon the environmental conditions. If you are fortunate enough to kill a large animal, then smoking it might be the best short term solution when a freezer is not available. Smoking helps to keep bugs and insects away that can destroy a good meat source quickly. Native cultures and those that live far north in colder climates can store meat like this for extended periods of time. That is due mainly to the cold temperatures coupled with smoking the meat.
Cured meat is another example of using old school tactics in modern times. Most meats that are cured utilize heavy doses of salt to preserve them. Pioneer and frontier settlers utilized this method for many years to store their meat sources. Salt is a substance that you can buy in bulk and store for later use. This process involves utilizing a useful recipe that combines salt and other minerals that are then placed onto meat sources.
Country ham from the southeast is an example of salt/sugar cured meat source. After it is salted the meat source is allowed to “sweat” which is the process of laying it out so it soaks all the minerals up into it. It will put off a fair amount of water during this process. Once that is complete you then wrap the meat in paper and store it in a cloth bag. The meat source will continue to sweat and the paper will soak it up. Most people allow cured meat to hang for several months. It can hang for up to a couple of years but you run the risk of bugs and insects getting in. Hang the cured meat in a dry location away from sunlight for best success.
These are broad classifications for survival food. There is no way that an approach to survival food works well for everyone. You need to consider your environment, skill, and budget as it relates to these possibilities and choose what is best for you.