My Blog List

Monday, January 30, 2012

Instants, Inventories and Fats

The absolute perfect food for preppers would be high in fat, protein, vitamins, carbs, etc., be light-weight, be compact, be inexpensive, take no fuel resources to prepare, and would taste fantastic.  About the only things that come close are those Mayday emergency food bars.  While they're edible, I think I'd eat a bullet if I had to go more than a week or so munching on those things.

So we have trade-offs.  For instance, flavor and texture are usually sacrificed for storage time.  Real mashed potatoes taste a whole lot better than dehydrated potato buds.

I've got a few items that I think most folks believe would fall into that category - they don't taste as good as "the real thing".  Personally, I like each of these as much as I like the real thing.

They'd be:  Instant grits, instant cream of wheat and instant coffee.

Hey, hey, hey!  Put down those pitchforks and flaming torches!  Not being from a part of the country that eats grits on a regular basis, I've NEVER had the real deal.  Not once.

A few months ago, I picked up a box of the individual serving Instant Grits packs and loved them.  A half of a cup of boiling water, a pat of butter, pinch of salt and pepper, and a half teaspoon of sugar....  Color me a heretic if you must, but they're damned good!  They're ready to eat in about 2 minutes.

And they're high on the "stickin' to the ribs" scale.  I can have a bowl of them and a cup of coffee, and it will easily hold me until lunch.

Shelf life:  About 2 years.

As a kid, I did eat a lot of cream of wheat.  I still love the stuff.  Preparation is about the same as the grits.

Shelf life:  About 8 years (!)

With instant coffee, for me at least, brand names matter.  I simply cannot handle the "store brand" crap.  Weak, watery, smells of old, stale water.  I like Nescafe Clasico.  I like it so much, it's what I drink every day now.  Instead of making a whole pot of coffee, I just nuke a cup of water at a time.

Shelf life:  About 2 1/2 years.

With all of these items, besides the improved shelf life over the real thing, you have a serious savings in fuel costs.  For most of us, right now, that's not a major issue.  But, we prep for when it MAY be a major issue.  It takes a whole lot less fuel to boil up water, than it does to fully cook these items from scratch (see our Just Add Water posts).

Also, if things were to get uber-ugly, you do not want to bring notice to yourself that you have resources.  The aroma from a pot of brewing coffee could bring a bunch of hungry and desperate people in your direction.

[The same goes for garlic, onions, basil, oregano, thyme, BBQ smoke, frying foods.  Think what those smells do to you now when you get a whiff, and think what they'd do if you hadn't eaten in 2 days.]

I lost a butt-load of sugar.

Well, not really, but I can't find it.  I have LOTS of staples that I don't rotate (eat from my stores) - sugar, salt, beans, rice, wheat, corn.  The main reason for this is that these staples are in long-term storage containers.  Mylar bags with oxy scrubbers inside of food grade buckets, or smaller portions (a couple of pounds) in Foodsaver bags.

Since all of these items will last forever (from a practical standpoint), I don't want to incur the expense of, say, cutting open a Foodsaver bag to get at two pounds of rice.  I then need to go out and replace that rice, and incur the expense (time and money) of re-Foodsaver-ing the food.

The only exception to this rule is if I run out of something that I must have this very second.  I recently needed some sugar, and the cupboards were bare.  So I went out to my storage, and I'll be damned if I couldn't find any sugar.

I've got tons of the stuff in 2 pound Foodsaver "bricks".  Seriously, I remember packing a 66 quart Rubbermade tub FULL of these things.

Nuthin'.  I found the 7 gallon buckets each filled with 35lbs of sugar in mylar bags.  I was NOT going to crack open one of those bad boys.

I ended up substituting honey for whatever it was I was making, but it's got me scratching my head.  I've been telling myself I need to reorganize my preps to make it easier to know what I've got and where it is - to make sure my inventory lists are accurate.  I think this is a hint that I was right to do a little reorg...

Long term fats - think Crisco.  I think I've mentioned this before, but in case not, it's a great way to squirrel away fats that last a long time.  As long as whatever you're making doesn't require a liquid fat (such as in a salad dressing), Crisco is a great alternative.

I buy the bricks/sticks of the butter flavored stuff.  In a pinch, you can mix it with salt to give you a spreadable butter substitute.  Unopened, Crisco will last you 2 years.

I've got some that has just passed the two year mark.  I'm going to let it go at least another 6 months to see if it turns into some grotesque science project, or, if as I suspect, it will be perfectly fine.

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Oblio13 said...

My favorite storage fats:

1. Ghee I make myself when butter's on sale. We rotate it, the oldest we've ever used was a little over a year, but it was fine.

2. Coconut oil. We rotate that as well, and it never gets too old, but I'm told by reliable sources that it'll last five years. Our favorite brand is "Nutiva".

Chief Instructor said...

Oblio, had a special a while ago on canned ghee. I've got canned whole butter that is absolutely fantastic.

Do you can the ghee, or keep it in some other type of container?

Oblio13 said...

I bought several dozen military-surplus plastic-lined aluminum butter containers years ago, I think they were West German. I pour melted ghee into those, let it cool and solidify, and store them in our basement. We make it on a trivet on top of our wood stove every winter, saves energy and seasons our cast iron at the same time. Here's a recipe I collected a long time ago, don't remember the source:

"Ghee can be used in place of butter (it has a nutty, more intense flavor). It can also be used for stir frying as the ghee-making process removes the protein solids permitting it to be used in higher temperature cooking than can be done with butter. If made properly ghee has a VERY long shelf life - many years, even without refrigeration.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan, uncovered. Simmer for an hour or so, skimming off the foam frequently. After the ghee turns a golden yellow and the solids on the bottom are light brown it is ready to be strained through a sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth. If the solids on the bottom start to burn the flavor will be ruined and you will have to start all over."

Anonymous said...

You've GOT to be kiddding! Crisco? Do you evenknow how unhealthy that crap is? If someone doesn'
t start telling the truth (like the ones above) there are going to be a lot of sick, unhealthy preppers if the SHTF. And MAyday food bars? I'd yell "Mayday" if I had to eat them.

Here are your survival foods:

Pemmican. A combo of powdered jerky and beef tallow. The plains indians lived off of the stuff for long periods of time. Can bestored, if properly made for 10-15 years at room temp.

Coconut milk. The kind in cans. Lots of good health fats.

Coconut oil. More good long lasting fats.

Ghee. Properly made will store literally for 100 years.

Canned salmon and sardines. Protien and good omega 3 fats.

Freeze dried vegitables and fruits. Better than canned because they retain the nutrients.

Oblio13 said...

From the BBC website:

"2 February 2012
German pensioner eats 64-year-old US lard

Mr Feldmeier kept the lard with some cans of noodles and milk for emergencies
A German pensioner who received a tin of American lard 64 years ago in an aid package has only just tasted it, after discovering that it is still edible.

"I just didn't want to throw it away," said Hans Feldmeier, 87.

Food safety experts in Rostock, his home town on Germany's Baltic coast, said the pig fat was still safe to eat.

Mr Feldmeier was a student in 1948 when the US was running a huge aid programme to rebuild war-ravaged Germany. He kept the tin of lard for emergencies.

A retired pharmacist, he decided to get the lard tested because of the debate about expiry dates and food safety.

A food expert, Frerk Feldhusen, said the lard was rather gritty and tasteless and hard to dissolve, though quite edible. Mr Feldmeier provided some black bread to go with it.

The red, white and blue tin of Swift's Bland Lard bore no expiry date.

Mr Feldhusen said the test result might make some consumers think twice before discarding food immediately after the expiry date."

Adventures in Self Reliance said...

I store real coffee and keep it rotated fairly well but I had an interesting thing happen storing roasted whole bean coffee I got at big lots.
Don't store whole roasted coffee beans in the freezer it breaks down the oils. Leave in the package but vacume pack ala foodsaver or food grade ziplock bag with all the air you can get out of it. Store in the dark and under 60 degrees F. and it's good for 2-3 years. For long term coffee storage by Green coffee beans in bulk and roast and grind before use and you should get about 5 years.
I've used Olive oil I have stored after 3 years. I have seen anywhere from 2 years to forever stated for olive oil if stored in a cool, dry and light free area. But I can verify 3 years for myself.

Mermaid said...

Since I'm a southern girl, I'm going to pretend that "sugar" was just a typo, and you didn't really put sugar in your grits :) Bacon crumbled in grits with S&P and butter is best. Cheese is second.

But, I didn't know cream of wheat had that shelf life. I'm going to have to re-evaluate how I store it because mine tends to go rancid.

Chief Instructor said...

Oblio, I'm going to give ghee a try. It seems like a great long-term fat option.

That lard post is pretty damned amazing! That'd be some old fat!

Anon 10:17, I'm sure Crisco is on the "hit list" of all the nanny state fascists. Evil, evil stuff.

I'll keep mine, thank you very much.

Adventures, I've got a buddy who used to work in a coffee roasting house, and he said the same thing: Keep your coffee out of the freezer.

I've got lots of round beans and whole beans - all vacuum sealed - in my stores, but mostly the Nescafe stuff I mentioned, as I really like it!

I've had great success with olive oil as well - clearly lasting past the "best by" date. So far (knock on wood), I've had none go bad on me.

Mermaid, (averting her gaze) - I actually figured I'd get more abuse over the grits! Hey, I like 'em with a bit of sugar, so THERE ;-)

My Cream of Wheat numbers were based upon what was stamped on the box of individual serving packets. Perhaps it has something to do with it being the "instant" version of the product.