We’re exploring redundancy today.
I want to talk today about some of the ways I use redundancy in my food preservation.
My first line of defense against rot is canning food. Properly canned, all sorts of food can last for years. In terms of numbers, I keep hundreds of jars in my house, of varying sizes, mostly quart and pints, with small numbers of the half pints and gallons. Lids I buy almost every week during peak preservation times, it’s our habit to buy at least two packs of either size we need. I like to have at least 2 or 3 canner loads worth of both sizes of lids on hand. I have a shelving system in the basement, away from light and heat, where all the jars go. The obvious and major drawback to this form is that the end product is bulk and slightly fragile. It also needs electricity to run my stove. You can see discussions here on SHTF about ways to put some redundancy into this, various forms of gas setups can allow canners to can when the grid is down. I have a rocket stove setup, I’m trying to adapt it to hold the weight of the canner, but it’s a work in progress.
This leads me to my next major preservation route, drying. Drying is nice because the end product is light and very portable. In order to dry, I have two different methods, purposefully redundant. I have my electric dryer; it works great as long as the power is on. My backup system is a solar dryer. It works when the power isn’t on, but it doesn’t work in cold or cloudy weather.
Of course, if it’s cold and cloudy out and I have a need for preservation, I can usually turn to freezing. My major beef with freezing is that it requires electricity in order to stay frozen, (excepting the middle of winter.) You can argue that you can keep your freezers going for weeks with your generator and whatnot, but that’s a lot of complexity to add for something that should be kept simple. (Food, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.)
The simplest back up of all is the food I keep fresh in the ground. Ground storage works really well for root crops over winter in most cold climates. (See a post on clamps here) Parsnips and kale will last without any help from me well into winter. Leeks and Swiss chard will last quite a while into winter with a little bit of mulch/cover. During warm months, I make sure I have multiple sowings of our favorite varieties so that I always have some producing, and if one gets wiped out with a weather calamity, I’m more likely to have some that will survive.
I try to maintain a variety of methods for preserving, so that no matter what’s going on in my life, I can preserve and eat my own tasty food. If I have to Bug Out I have dried goods, if we get trapped in our house, I have canned goods. Important crops/foods get preserved in multiple ways so that I’m sure some is available when I need it.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.