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Archive for February, 2017

Clever Ways to Work with Food While Camping

Clever Ways to Work with Food While Camping

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While it is true that camping involves making do without a lot of the conveniences that we often take for granted, this doesn’t mean that we have to eat MREs or out of tin cans either.  Even during a survival situation, if you have some basic items on hand, you can improvise them in order to create a greater variety of meals.  Here are a few examples to consider.

Citrus and Banana Peels

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After you’ve eaten your orange, grapefruit or banana, you can stuff the newly-available space with almost any food you like and use it as an improvised pot.  People have baked muffins in the field with orange bowls, and bananas can be stuffed with almost anything as a way to hold the ingredients together while they cook.  Both will also add a little extra flavor to whatever you’re cooking as well. 

Additionally, remember that you can also use an orange half as an improvised candle.  When that’s finished, you can stuff it with sap or pine pitch and continue to let it burn. 

Aluminum

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Aluminum foil and empty cans give you a world of opportunity when it comes to being able to diversify your meal options in the field.  You can use cans to bake with, boil liquids or eat and drink from.  Everyone should have at least one can and some foil on hand in their bug out bag or survival kit.   

Empty Chip Bags

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Many empty chip bags are made with a Mylar-like lining with bottoms that are generally well-sealed.  This makes them excellent choices for food pouches.  Shake out the leftover chips and place any food you like inside.  You can also use them to rehydrate dried soups or other dehydrated items if you don’t have a suitable container nearby.  Just pour in the dry ingredients, add water, wait, and you’re good to go.  Just remember that the pouch will be as hot as the water inside, so be careful not to accidentally burn yourself when you’re ready to grab it and start eating.

Zipper Bags

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You can use zipper bags as a means to boil almost any kind of food, and a little thinking outside of the box can open the door to all kinds of possibilities.  Just put the items inside, squeeze out the air, and zip up the bag before placing it in the water.  One fun recipe idea to try is to make an omelet.  Simply add the eggs and other ingredients into the bag, squish and mix everything thoroughly, seal it up and put it in the water.  Let it poach for a few minutes and you’re good to go.

Bring Seasonings

The last thing that a lot of people think to incorporate into their bug out bag or survival kits are seasonings.  Aside from salt or maybe some pepper, most spices are kept at home instead of in the field where they can do you, and your meals, a lot of good.  However, it’s a good idea to put these items into small containers instead of baggies or individual packets.  This will minimize the risk of losing them if they get wet.  Instead, think about putting them in small Tic-Tac or similar containers.  They are compact and easy to store, and they also tend to be pretty water and spill-resistant.

Hopefully these examples will prompt you to mull over some outside-of-the-box ideas well.  While this may not seem like a big deal now, a happy stomach can provide a tremendous morale boost during a wilderness survival situation, and there are a lot of little things that we can do in order to improve the quality and variety of what we eat in the field.

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How to Make Dehydrated Cheese Powder

How to Make Dehydrated Cheese Powder

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One of the little things that many of us may miss the most if we have to rely on our survival stockpiles is cheese and other dairy products.  This is why it’s a good idea to dehydrate and store some beforehand in order to have them available during a crisis.  While the first thing that comes to mind when we think about dehydrated dairy is powdered milk, you can also get creative and dry a number of different types of cheese as well. 

Let’s take a look at some general guidelines along with the overall process, and you can feel free to let your imagination and creativity run wild in terms of incorporating them into various “survival” recipes.

The Right Kind of Cheese

Dehydration, in theory, can work on almost any kind of cheese.  However, you will end up with a greater amount of finished product, as well as shorter processing times, when you work with drier varieties.  Remember that most of the moisture found in cheese comes from water, and all of that water needs to evaporate before the cheese can be processed and stored over the long-term.   

On the softer side, cheddar cheese is a good option, but it produces a lot of oil during the dehydration process.  However, going for harder cheeses such as parmesan, gorgonzola, feta or romano are excellent options.  If you do plan on experimenting with softer cheeses, make sure that they are all-natural and don’t contain any artificial colors or preservatives.  You can also expect to need to double the processing time in some cases in order for all of their moisture to be removed. 

Basic Guidelines

As a general rule of thumb, the first thing to do is grate the cheese into small pieces.  You can also cut the cheese into thin slices before dicing them, or you can take pasty cheeses and smear a thin layer of them across your lined dehydrating rack.  The aim is to make each piece or layer of cheese as thin as possible while maximizing the amount of surface area that is exposed.  This will promote even heat distribution and promote faster evaporation.

Once the cheese has been prepared, simply place a single layer around your dehydrator.  You can use any type of liner you want in order to prevent the cheese from falling through the slits, but keep in mind that most cheese products will produce some oil.  Consequently, you want to experiment with different liners and different cheeses in order to reduce the amount of grease that pools or drips into your dehydrator.

Dehydrate the cheese at a temperature around 120-125 degrees until the pieces are completely dry.  Feel free to check in periodically and shake, arrange or turn the pieces as needed in order to ensure that they are drying evenly.  You can tell the cheese is done dehydrating when they break up into a dry powder when you rub pieces between your fingers. 

Processing

All you need to do is grind up the cheese pieces until they reach an even, grainy or powdery consistency.  This will help to release any additional moisture that has been trapped.  Store the cheese in vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers, and you can expect to get a shelf life of up to a few months.  Unfortunately, there will always be some greasy remnants in most dehydrated cheese products, and this shortens shelf-life.  However, since the process is so simple, you can make batches as needed as long as you have a power supply or heat source for dehydration.

While powdered cheese won’t give you the same benefits as fresh slices, it can be incorporated into a million-and-one different recipes that can be a soothing break from the mundane during a crisis.  You can also use it as topping or seasoning for anything from popcorn to pasta and salads.  Try it for yourself, and let your creative side go wild, because the possibilities are endless in terms of putting the cheese to good use. 

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