There’s no feeling of security like that of a cellar full of canned goods you grew and put up. You know what is in them, what, if any chemical fertilizers or herbicides were used, and how carefully they were preserved. From spaghetti sauce to your own jam, canning goods is a tradition that will come in mighty handy in a survival situation. And so will a pantry with nice jars filled with everything from beef stew to stewed tomatoes.
Once you are living a self sufficient life, canning fruits and vegetables as well as meat, poultry and fish is one of the best methods of food preservation available to the individual. You can take the bountiful harvest from your garden or nature and preserve it for years with a pressure canner, jars and the proper equipment. Home canned products can last years, but will probably be so good that they get eaten more quickly than that. If you are planning to can, make sure you stock up on lids. While jars can last generations, the lids themselves should not be re-used.
Although he has a pressure canner and has canned foods, Captain Dave doesn’t pretend to be an expert. Whenever you’re dealing with canning fruits, vegetables or meats, it is important to follow the latest specifics from the true experts regarding time, pressure and other specifics. Check with your local county extension office and buy the latest edition of the Ball book on home canning and food preservation. Invest in good books and the proper equipment and then carefully follow the instructions to avoid botulism and other problems from improperly canned foods.
You can also dry, pickle, vacuum-pack and otherwise prepare food for storage. Vacuum pumps are available commercially or can be constructed in your own home. You can use them to seal dried food in mason jars and other containers. Dehydrators are also useful, as are smokers. You can buy these commercially or construct your own.
When packing foods for storage, you want to eliminate oxygen (which is why a vacuum is so good). Bugs, such as weevils, and other organisms that can destroy your food need the oxygen to live, just as we do. That’s why commercial companies who prepare survival food pack grains, cereals, pasta, beans and other food in nitrogen-filled containers.
Consumer vacuum packers like the Food Saver may work great in your kitchen, but the bags are too flimsy for long term storage food. Dave vacuumed sealed pasta, dried beans and barley in a number of different bags prior to Y2K and most of the clear bags developed leaks in six months to a year. Silvery Mylar bags were the best, followed by heavy duty nylon bags, which were a yellowish clear color. In any case, dried pasta – even shapes that were not pointy – caused leaks in almost every bag.
See the Food Storage FAQ For more information on how preserve foods for long term storage.