Food storage

Discuss lifestyle changes to better survive disasters. This category is for topics pertaining to being self reliant such as DIY, farming, alternative energy, autonomous solutions to water collection and waste removal, etc.

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Food storage

Post by crowbar » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:51 pm

Im getting really comfortable in the self-sufficient living section just to warn you guys :mrgreen:
I did however have a couple of questions, 2 that if it were live or die I would have ran out of food the 2 years ago :(
Question 1: What is the proper way to store the harvest? I really like gardening but I have a hard time justifying growing a lot if my family isnt going to use it. So Is there a good way to store things like corn, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, etc.
Question 2: Anybody let me know how to store root vegetables? I know a root cellar is the best way but I cant find a good resource in building one or storage on a smaller level.
Question 3: There must be an easier way to keep weeds out of the garden...

I'm looking more into indoor gardening but there is just so much more potential outside.
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Re: Food storage

Post by Flea » Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:02 pm

Get yourself a pressure canner, everything you mentioned except for the lettuce can be canned for later consumption. There are tons of books on the subject...

There is no easy way to weed the garden...it is a PITA but the best way to do it is get in there with your hands and rip them suckers out or use a garden hoe.
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Re: Food storage

Post by BigDaddyTX » Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:06 pm

Here's some canning recipes from the forum.

http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 47#p962947" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Food storage

Post by crowbar » Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:14 pm

doesnt pressure canning distort taste? I really need to invest in some books on the subject.
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Re: Food storage

Post by Prickle » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:21 am

crowbar wrote:doesnt pressure canning distort taste? I really need to invest in some books on the subject.

I guess that depends on what you mean by distorted.

It has similar tastes (usually better though) and textures as the canned foods you'd buy at the grocery store except there's no preservatives and you control the amount of salt and seasoning.

It can be cheaper too depending on what it is.

Dehydrating is another option for storing fruits and veggies.

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Re: Food storage

Post by cromag » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:21 am

crowbar wrote: Question 2: Anybody let me know how to store root vegetables? I know a root cellar is the best way but I cant find a good resource in building one or storage on a smaller level.
You don't really need a root cellar if you have a cold room in your house. Colder is generally better, but not freezing. Each year we hang up several 25- and 50-lb sacks of onions and potatoes in our "cold room" i.e. unheated laundry room, and they make it through the whole winter, until the weather warms up again. A pillowcase hung on a sturdy hook would work fine and allow veggies to "breath", discouraging mold. A box filled with clean straw would work too, but could be more vulnerable to pests especially if it's on the floor. You can brush dirt off veggies, but don't scrub them; you'll remove a natural protective layer if you do.
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Re: Food storage

Post by Lucretius » Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:34 am

Many root vegetables can simply be left in the ground, and harvested when needed. That is until the frost comes along...

I grow potatoes in tires, and that makes for a good heat sink, that keeps the potatoes from freezing during the winter.

As for other storage methods, I'd suggest trying to learn multiple ways to do it. Having many options is essential. Besides, if one method fails, your entire harvest will not be spoiled.
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Re: Food storage

Post by Kathy in FL » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:53 am

Proper mulching and staying on top of the weeding can keep your weed problems down to a minimum. Don't give the weeds a chance to make seed heads and/or spread. Cultivation between rows will help as well.

Canning can actually give you even more variety from your harvest. Can your own soups. Can your own convenience foods like stews and sauces. Can your own relishes and condiments.

If you are adventuresome enough to garden then you are adventuresome enough to can and preserve your harvest.

Canning isn't the only way to preserve your harvest but it does give you the longest shelf life with the least amount of alteration to your produce. Unless you are a raw vegan then you are already "distorting" your harvest when you cook it. Don't let that be an excuse not to give it a try.

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Re: Food storage

Post by crowbar » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:55 am

My grandparents can like maniacs so I may have to jump into the fray this year. Thanks for all the information, especially the pillow case storage.
I had heard growing potatoes is tricky. You have to keep mounding dirt on them once they form or they become poisonous?
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Re: Food storage

Post by ZombieGranny » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:02 am

Before Off Topic contributors and their posts are "burned to the ground" as stated by 'The Powers That Be', I have decided to take action and remove the 6,747 unwelcome posts contributed by me in the past 7 years.

My apologies to forum members for any inconvenience this may cause. This is the 4th time it's happened and I'm too old and tired to fight it again.
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Re: Food storage

Post by crowbar » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:40 am

what you said about the tubers is what I thought too. I had heard it from someone I consider to be a great deal smarter than me...my wife. I think she may just have misunderstood what was being said to her though.
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Re: Food storage

Post by Lucretius » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:45 am

Potatoes are REAL easy to grow. Needs little watering and care, don't attract vermin.

AND they kill all weeds in the area where you grow them. This I've tried for myself.
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Re: Food storage

Post by crowbar » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:59 am

I had read that if done right 5lbs of seed potatoes will yield 100lbs of potatoes.
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Re: Food storage

Post by RealZombiesAreSlow » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:10 pm

Kathy in FL wrote:Proper mulching and staying on top of the weeding can keep your weed problems down to a minimum. Don't give the weeds a chance to make seed heads and/or spread. Cultivation between rows will help as well.
My thoughts exactly. Proper rowing of your plants makes hoeing weeds much, much easier. If you don't row your plants, you have to leave a lot more space between them to safely hoe the weeds. It's trivial to set up proper rows with the right preparation - twine and a couple stakes are all you need. As with most things, forethought and planning makes it much easier.

As for mulching, I advise it but I would recommend against wood mulch. If you plan to till the soil annually (necessary if you have awful clay, like I've got; probably not necessary if you have decent topsoil) then wood mulch will make your life difficult. I've gotten into the habit of shredding newsprint and paper bags from the grocery; the paper makes fine mulch when applied liberally (just wet it after applying it to keep it from blowing about) and can be safely tilled into the soil (where it will help to aerate the soil and eventually biodegrade, but won't provide much by way of nutrition). Just be sure not to mulch with glossy paper or anything with plastic.

I'd also recommend looking into fermentation as a method to preserve your harvest. Roughly half of my cabbage becomes sauerkraut (which would keep well for a long, long time...if we didn't eat it in the first 2-3 months of the cold season). I also like to ferment pepperoncini and pimento peppers for sandwiches and snacks. You can also pickle a fair number of things (cucumbers being the obvious choice here). Most of your crops, however, should probably wind up either canned or in a root cellar.

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Re: Food storage

Post by LowKey » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:04 pm

RealZombiesAreSlow wrote: As for mulching, I advise it but I would recommend against wood mulch.
I've had good success with wood mulch. I ordered 3 truckloads of "composted cow manure". When delivered it turned out to be more like corse sawdust/very very small wood chips soaked in cow urine.....the ammonia smell was very strong. Using a wheelbarrow, shovel, and garden rake I spread it into 5 rows 4ftx25ft, watered it and waited about 6 days then planted. I didn't till it into the soil, as there was no topsoil present (landlord had the site scraped to clear debris).
Had a bumper crop and very few weeds.

IIRC, the main worry with mixing the wood chips into your soil is that the decomposition of the chips robs the soil of nitrogen which is then unavailable to your vegetables.
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Re: Food storage

Post by MoGrrrl » Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:48 pm

Good advice offered already. I'll add:

We mulch with hay. We also use soaker hoses under the mulch for easier watering.

You may want to look into dehydrating too. We dehydrate a lot of tomatoes for snacking and sun-dried tomatoes.

We can quite a bit, for urbanites. I would recommend the Ball Blue Book of Canning as an excellent, inexpensive source of instruction and recipes. I also like Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine for even more recipes.

We don't grow much lettuce. I might switch to other greens if you want to preserve them: we freeze a lot of kale and spinach.

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Re: Food storage

Post by crowbar » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:04 pm

mmmm...spinach...
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Re: Food storage

Post by herbalpagan » Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:18 pm

I don't know what size garden you have, but a garden for storage seems to me that you should can much of it. A root cellar won't do you much good for long with tomatoes, peppers and such. Canning doesn't distort the taste, but drying can a bit. I use a variety of methods to preserve my harvest. Freezing for the broc, spinach, summer squash, juicing and either freezing or canning for fruit and tomatoes to be made into soup, jams and juice later, canning for tomatoes, potatoes, beans. Drying for some spinach,onions, peppers and herbs. Cold storage for potatoes and onions.
Something that many who garden a bit don't take into consideration when switching to gardening for storage (a years worth) is that this takes time and effort and equipment. It also requires that you think about how you prepare meals differently. When we lived in town, it was easy to get half our meals from take out or fast food. I doubt I used my stove more than 1/4 of the time. Moving away from that required that I started cooking REAL meals and old fashioned meals too. I can still order frozen food and help with time of preparing, but a homemade soup with homemade bread is something else. It requires planning and actually getting up and doing it. It's become a source of pride at our house to serve meals with all our own produce except for maybe the chips for the homemade salsa. BUT it takes a commitment and effort on the families part.
Well worth it health wise though~and you can't leave out pride of accomplishment as a good thing too.
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Re: Food storage

Post by cromag » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:02 pm

Question 3: There must be an easier way to keep weeds out of the garden...
After watching my aunt do this for several years, we're finally hitting the easy button on weeding. We bought black plastic sheeting in long rolls (often found in the paint section of the hardware store), along with ground staples (short pieces of u-shaped wire).

Having laid the traditional last layer of mulch last fall, we tilled the beds (just briefly) this spring. We planned where we wanted the seedlings to grow. Then we snaked soaker hose around through the beds (we put it on a hand-operated timer). We covered the hose and the beds with the black plastic sheeting and secured it in place with the staples. Then we cut holes in the plastic to plant the seedlings. We put stakes next to some of them (mostly tomatoes) and twine between the stakes. We put stepping stones in strategic places on top of the plastic, not only to help hold it down but so we could reach around the plants as they grow without stepping on them (we garden in close quarters). It's been a month, and so far, we've used much less water than last year, and... no weeds.

A few years ago, some organic gardening friends taught us a neat little trick. You can use heavy brown cardboard as a weedblock. Just cut it to the shapes you need, lay it on the ground, and water it to settle it into place. The water gets through to the soil, but the weed seeds can't. Also makes a great base for laying paths between beds; put down a layer of cardboard, maybe a layer of bark chips on top and it looks great. We also used it to level our simple patio space before laying some thin sand and pavers on top; turned out nice and flat, and again no weeds. If you leave it in place on your garden paths, it will eventually break down (think years), then you can just add another layer.
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Re: Food storage

Post by broylz » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:02 pm

we just started this year with a small container garden. cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and green beans. i am going to try to can some green beans, but not sure what to do if we get excess peppers. we planted yellow and red sweet bell peppers. my wife usually eats them raw in salads and most will probably go towards that this year. but out of curiosity, how do you preserve peppers like these? is it just chalked up to seasonal like lettuce? also any ideas for cherry tomatoes? my grandmother used to can a lot of the larger ones in the past. we did cherries for salads this year.

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Re: Food storage

Post by Kathy in FL » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:04 pm

I've made a bell pepper relish before. I also dehydrate peppers and make a pepper/onion mix that is great for throwing in omelets and soups and rice dishes; and sauces too.

I also keep some in the freezer ... onion with green and red peppers that I use in more stuff than I don't. :wink:
broylz wrote:we just started this year with a small container garden. cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and green beans. i am going to try to can some green beans, but not sure what to do if we get excess peppers. we planted yellow and red sweet bell peppers. my wife usually eats them raw in salads and most will probably go towards that this year. but out of curiosity, how do you preserve peppers like these? is it just chalked up to seasonal like lettuce? also any ideas for cherry tomatoes? my grandmother used to can a lot of the larger ones in the past. we did cherries for salads this year.

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Re: Food storage

Post by Shadowsbane » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:59 pm

Lots of veggies can be stored right outside and still planted.

Others can be stored pretty easily inside barrels or other such things and then either partially buried or covered over with straw to keep them somewhat insulated. One just needs to make sure to rotate the food and take out any spoiled ones before they all go bad.

You of course need cold outside conditions for this to work well.
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Re: Food storage

Post by DebofAmber » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:24 am

I lay cardboard along the walkways and then dump lawn clippings on it throughout the summer. We mow frequently enough that there are little or no seeds in this. If there are seeds, the clippings go onto the compost pile.

I use wide rows, and plant most things in rows going across the wide rows. This makes it easy to hoe. I love my hoe...

The weeding that has to be done close to the plants is either an excellent punishment chore for my kids or something I do early morning while listening to my mp3 player.


For storing food? I dehydrate a lot. I'm a fan of dehydrated veggies, I even buy from here: http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/Vegeta ... _1845.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I can also pressure can, but I prefer to do that with meats. I have chicken soup, spaghetti sauce, chicken and beef canned.
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