Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Saving your frozen & perishable foods in a disaster (and why a full freezer is good preparation!)

I've encountered several posts around the web recently, which discourage having a large amount of frozen foods stored up.
Why? Because "when the shit hits the fan and you lose power, all your food will spoil". Invariably there are examples of how many people lost massive amounts of food to spoilage when [insert disaster here] struck.

Well, OK, I suppose there is some merit to that, but what about all the things that can go wrong where you DON'T lose power?

Here are just a few things which can cause you to be unable to get fresh foods from the store, which don't necessarily include power outages.
  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Vehicle breakdown
  •  Flooding
  • Earthquakes
  • Tornadoes/Hurricanes
  • Severe weather
  • Quarantine
  • Major police activity (such as nearby hostage situations, prison escapes/manhunts, shootings, etc)
  • Riots (they don't only happen in the "famous" big cities!)
  • Road closures
  • Loss of financial stability
And what about those of us who are just dirt poor and buy in bulk when things go on sale cheap?

Honestly, there are tons of reasons to keep your deep freezer full in preparation for the lean times or when you can't get out and about for whatever reason. For me, the argument of, "but if you lose power for days, all your food will SPOILLLLLL!!!", just doesn't hold water.

Canned and dehydrated foods are usually a LOT more expensive than fresh or frozen foods. They are also usually not as tasty or good for you, so only keeping those around just because your frozen stuff might go bad someday is, IMO, just as stupid as being unprepared in general.

If and when a disaster happens, or is imminent, if you have a freezer full of food, you are already several steps ahead of most!

If things are short term and/or you don't lose power at all, your food will be fine, and you will be enjoying fresher, more nutritional foods while everyone else is losing their minds, without even having to go beyond your porch or yard.

If the power is out, don't open your freezer more than once per day, and do it quickly, preferably in the coolest part of the day/night.

If you do this, things previously frozen at 0° in a packed  freezer should stay frozen for a couple days at least. A half full freezer will keep items frozen for about a day.
To maximise the time food will stay frozen,  place frozen foods as close together as possible. The less air space between items, the colder things will stay. Fill up empty space with newspaper, paper bags, clothing, blankets, or anything that will minimise air pockets. Cover freezers and refrigerators with heavy blankets to provide further insulation.

Eat dairy and other refrigerated, perishable food first.

If the power is out for the long haul, don't panic! You can still save all or most of your food, and avoid having to scavenge, hunt, etc for longer than everyone else. (Make sure you don't make it obvious that you've got food stores, and be prepared to defend your supplies with force - deadly force if necessary!)

As soon as it becomes apparent that the lights aren't coming back on any time soon, get ready to start drying, smoking, cooking, and canning.

As food thaws, start cooking and/or drying or smoking it. 
Cooked food can be canned. Meats, as well as many fruits and vegetables can also be dried for longer term storage. You can dry fruits on top of the covered grill on screens, drying racks, in cloth or mesh bags suspended over the heat source.

Put as much food on the grill and over the fire at once as you can cook/smoke properly, to conserve fuel. If you have a smoker or smoker box insert, USE IT!  Smoked items, even if not completely dried, last longer than regularly cooked foods. Don't forget that you can dry foods anywhere there is air flow and at least some heat. You don't HAVE to use a fire for all of it, though it will make it faster.

If you don't have any way to keep things cold, you're going to need to dry or can everything that you won't be able to eat before it spoils in fairly short order, so be sure you learn the methods for doing so and make sure you have the supplies you'll need NOW.

There are several methods for drying/preserving food, and using a combination of them is probably your best bet. 

Since there are already tons of books, videos, and articles to be found, including many for free on the web, I'm not going to post the how to's on smoking, drying, and canning here. Just do a search and get to learning.

 Remember to practise your skills before you need them to survive!





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