Tag Archive: Homemade

Must-Have Canned Foods You may not Know Exist

14 Must-Have Canned Foods You Didn’t Know Existed

There’s a reason preppers and even just people who like a well-stocked pantry purchase canned goods. They hold up for a long time, years even. They’re generally easy to prepare, many items requiring no more preparation than a quick warming in order to make sure the food is free from harmful microorganisms. Cans also come ready to store, no extra prep needed to sock them away for long-term storage.

Plenty of staples like beans, soup, veggies, fruit, and pasta are commonly found in the average family’s pantry, and found in great quantities in preppers’ stores. Those staples would get boring quickly, though. If you’re looking to add some unique and exotic foods to your food storage for either variety in your diet or for trading, read on for a look at the following canned goods you didn’t know existed.

canned-brown-bread image

Bread- Canned bread is totally a thing, and it’s available in several different varieties. While it’s likely more practical to store ingredients to make your own bread for the long-term, canned bread could be a tasty, quick way to a full belly and to get some carbohydrates into your system. You can find Original and Raisin Brown Bread by B & M in many stores or online.

(B&M Brown Bread – plain and also B&M Brown Bread Raisin)

There is no cholesterol in this classic bread. While there’s no need to cook, you can slice it, toast it, bake it, microwave it*, or
use it for sandwiches with cheese and luncheon meats! You can also drop the can in boiling water after putting a hole in the can, and serve with butter. Made with water, whole wheat flour salt and corn oil, you’ll enjoy Brown Bread in a Can the New England way with the classic brick oven Boston baked beans.

Related: How to Make AmishSweet Bread


 

canned butter

Butter- Would you miss butter if you suddenly didn’t have access to the supermarket? No big deal, you can get that canned, too. There are a few brands of canned butter available, (canned butter) and it’s rather expensive since it’s not canned in the US. However, it’d be a lovely treat in a SHTF situation, and fat is a crucial part of the diet. For a less expensive canned butter, opt for powdered butter, instead.

     Related: Making Butter at Home,Like Our Grandparents


 

canned pudding image

Pudding- Canned pudding is more often found in Europe, but you can find it in stores in the US, too, as any buffet or cafeteria worker attest. Whatever your favorite type of pudding, it’s likely available in a can.  (Chocolate Pudding, Vanilla Pudding, Butterscotch Pudding)


 

canned cakeimageimage

Cake- A pudding in the European sense that refers more to a desert dish in general, you can get canned Spotted Dick made by Simpson’s. It’s essentially a sponge cake with spices and raisins. While it doesn’t quite fit into what we think of as a cake in everyday life, I bet it’d be an incredible birthday treat in a SHTF situation.                                                               


 

canned bacon

Bacon- Very few people don’t like bacon, so it’s great that Yoder makes it in a can for long-term storage. It’s salty, fatty, and flavorful, which makes it great for spicing up boring food made from more traditional prepper food items. You don’t need much of it to transform a pot of soup or some powdered eggs.


 

canned cheese

Cheese- While making your own cheese isn’t rocket science, there is a lot of actual science involved, and the raw materials needed may not be easy to come by. So, there’s canned cheese.While it’s not quite like what we think of as ‘real’ cheese, canned cheese has plenty of fat and flavor to be a worthwhile addition to your prepper’s pantry. Check out Kraft’s Prepared Pasteurized Cheddar cheese or Heinz’s Macaroni Cheese for reasonably priced options.  (Also Bega canned cheese when available)



canned hamburger imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

Hamburger and other meats – Generally, people think of canned hamburger being home-canned. However, it’s available in cans from both Yoders and Keystone. There are even pre-seasoned canned hamburger products available, like the taco meat by Yoders.  (Ground Beef, turkey, pork, roast beef, pulled pork, chicken breast, chicken)

Related: Pressure-Canning Hamburger Meat for Long Term Preservation


 

canned chicken

Whole Chicken- Canned whole chicken, like those available from Sweet Sue, are good for more than just the meat. When the entire chicken is canned, all the gelatin and fat is preserved, allowing you to make a fantastic chicken soup. 

Related:  How To Can Chicken(Step By Step Guide With Pictures)


 

imageimageimageimage

Sandwiches- Also known as the Candwich, these canned sandwiches will be available in several different flavors. They haven’t quite hit the open market yet, but they’re coming! They come in a can about the size of a soda can with a peel off top. They’re perfect for on-the-go eating. 


 

canned potato salad

Potato Salad- Who knew this traditional, delicious picnic side was available in a can? Canned potato salad would be a good way to add a little flavor into your preps, and it can be eaten warm or chilled, making it a more versatile side dish than you’d possibly realized.                                

Related: How To Can Potatoes for Long Term Preservation


 

image

Tamales- We’re talking whole tamales here. Simply heat these canned tamales up, maybe add some fresh veggies or canned cheese to them, and voila! You’ve created an entire meal by simply opening the can. These provide a ready-made meal in a solid form, which can have profound positive psychological impacts. While canned soup is great for filling you up and providing a decent balance, it’s simply not the most satisfying food out there. 


 

canned cheeseburgerimage

Cheeseburger- Made in Switzerland, these rather expensive canned cheeseburgers aren’t very practical, but they’re a fun addition to your preps. You simply boil the whole can and open for a tasty (that’s subjective, of course) cheeseburger.

 


 

image

Escargot- Even if you don’t care much for fancy seafood, there are plenty of canned sea food items that could be great for bartering. Apart from escargot, you can find crab, lobster, clam, oysters, and other shellfish canned for long-term storage. 

 


 

canned duck confit

Duck Confit- Popular in France, canned duck with fat doesn’t seem terribly popular in the US. However, the high fat content in this canned dish could prove to be helpful in a SHTF situation. It’s great for soups and stews, and it adds a sumptuous touch that you won’t often find in the world of canned goods. 

 

 

 


image

 

Peanut Butter- Peanut butter powder is a product that’s made by pressing roasted peanuts to remove most of the natural oils, and the remaining peanut “particles” are ground into a fine powder. Out with the oil/fat go many of the calories. You can reconstitute the powdered product to create lower-calorie, less-fat peanut butter, but the texture is not as smooth and creamy.

 


 

Whatever you goals, consider adding some non-conventional canned goods to your stores. Variety, after all, is the spice of life. We need a variety of foods to stay at our healthiest, and because of this, people generally want a bit of variety in their diet. The humor factor that many of the above items bring to the table shouldn’t be discounted, either. Psychological health will be remarkable important if society collapses or any disaster, as well, so attending to our psychological needs shouldn’t be overlooked. As is always the case with canned good storage, be sure you’re properly storing cans and rotating your stock as necessary.

 

Want more exotic foods? check out this list. From possum and rattlesnake to pork brains.

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

 

via:  askaprepper, happypreppers,


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Three Ways to Use Healing Essential Oils That Work

When it comes to using essential oils topically, most recipes will simply say “add to a carrier oil and apply”.  That sounds simple enough but the reality is that measuring the proper number of drops can be hit or miss.  Most EO brands include an orifice style dropper but just when you think you have doled out the requisite drops, more come out.  This is not only wasteful, but when it comes to essential oils, using more is not always better.

A solution to this dilemma is to create custom salves, butters, and lotion bars that make the application of essential oils a cinch.  Not only is that, crafting these concoctions and using essential oils in this manner fun, especially if you are a do-it-yourself type.  When creating your own blends, you can mix and match oils at will or stick to a tried and true healing combination.


Speaking of a tried and true healing combination, my absolute favorite is a blend that includes equal parts of Lavender, Rosemary, and Peppermint essential oils.  I love them so much, that I have convinced my favorite EO purveyor, Spark Naturals, to offer them with free shipping but more about that later.

First, though, I am recapping three essential oil recipes that simply work, and should be in everyone’s natural first aid arsenal.  They are a cinch to put together, budget friendly, smell wonderful, and are not in the least bit boring.  Not only that, they make a wonderful launching point for some great custom blends of your own.

Miracle Healing Salve – The Recipe

This is the signature recipe that has garnered almost 200 comments from readers on this website.  This all-purpose healing salve is truly a multi-purpose miracle worker!


Ingredients:
1 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 Tbl Organic Beeswax Pastilles

Containers:
8 each: 2 ounce jars or containers
** or **
4 each: 4 ounce jars (I use these Mason jelly jars)

Essential Oils:
40 drops Lavender essential oil total
40 drops Rosemary essential oil total
40 drops Peppermint essential oil total

Directions
1.  Put a pot of water on the stove to simmer.  While the water is heating, add the coconut oil, olive oil and beeswax pastilles in a heatproof jar or measuring cup.

2.  Set the jar filled with the coconut oil, olive oil, and wax into the water and leave it there until it melts, giving it a stir from time to time.  You want a slow, gentle melt so take your time.  It could take 15 or 20 minutes depending on the temperature of the water bath.

3.  While the ingredients are melting, drop your essential oils into each of the containers. For 2 ounce jars, use 5 drops of each oil (total of 15 drops per jar).  For 4 ounce jars, use 10 drops of each oil (total of 30 drops per jar).

Hint:  I have found that it is easier to use a glass medicine dropper than the dropper that comes with the bottle of essential oil.  This is optional and a matter of personal preference.

4.  Pour the melted oils into each of the smaller jars containing essential oils.  There is no need to stir unless you want to since the oils will mix up on their own.

5.  Set the filled jars aside for up to 24 hours.  Although the salve will start to firm up within minutes, it takes at least 12 hours to complete the firming process.

Healing Body Butter – The Recipe


Ingredients
1/2 cup Shea Butter
1/4 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Liquid Carrier Oil (Almond, Olive, Fractionated Coconut, Jojoba, Hemp, etc.)
60 drops essential oils

Suggestion: 20 drops each of Lavender, Peppermint & Rosemary Essential Oils (I use Spark Naturals)

Directions
1.  Combine the Shea Butter and Coconut Oil (or other liquid carrier oil) in a large Pyrex cup or mason jar and set on the stove in a pan of simmering water.  You can also use a double boiler but this is so much easier.  Be sure to use a large vessel so that water does not splatter and contaminate the oils.

2.  Gently stir until melted.

3.  When thoroughly melted, remove your cup or jar from the water bath and set aside for 5 minutes.  During this time, the melted oils will cool just enough to prevent overheating the liquid oils.

4.  Add the remaining oils which are already in liquid form as well as the essential oils.

5.  Set aside to cool. The butter/oils will begin to harden a bit which is what you want.

Note:   I set mine in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to speed the process.

4.  Using a hand mixer (I used my blending stick), whip until you have a nice fluffy consistency.  If cooled and semi-hardened as described above, this will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes so be patient.

Note:  Another reason you want to use a large cup or jar to melt the oils is that the whipping process will make a mess all over the place if there is insufficient heat room.

5.  Transfer your Simple Body Butter to a scrupulously clean container and you are done.  I have used both glass mason jars and plastic jars (like these) with success.

This is a small batch recipe but it can easily be doubled or even tripled.

Of course if you prefer to use different essential oils, you can do that too.  Just keep in mind that for this small batch, you will be adding about 60 drops total, depending on the quality of your oils and dilution desired.  It has been my experience that the higher quality the oil, the less you will need.

Note: 60 drops is the same dilution used with Miracle Healing Salve.  It uses a total of 30 drops of essential oil per 4 ounce jar.

Healing Lotion Bars – The Recipe

Making these Healing Lotion Bars is super simple.  The ingredients are readily available and although you can use a fancy mold like I did, you can also use a muffin tin or even an ice cube tray for shaping the bars.  After some trial and error, have found this lotion bar recipe to be just perfect!


Ingredients
1/2 cup Coconut Oil (I used Tropical Traditions)
1/4 cup Shea Butter (I used 100% unrefined from Amazon.com)
1/2 cup Beeswax Pellets
25 drops each of Lavender, Peppermint & Rosemary Essential Oils (I use Spark Naturals)

  1.  Set a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a slow simmer.  You may also use a double boiler but I prefer using a pot of water and a glass measuring cup as a make-shift version so I can better see the action.  This also makes pouring the hot liquid into the molds safer and easier.

2.  While you are waiting for the water, gather your ingredients so they are ready to go.  Add the coconut oil and beeswax to your glass measuring cup and set it aside for a moment.

3.  Measure out a chunk of Shea butter then chop it up a bit into smaller pieces.  Set the Shea butter aside for now.

4.  When the water is simmering, add the glass measuring cup holding your coconut oil and beeswax to the pan and let them melt.  Do not add the essential oils; that comes later.

5.  Give your brew a stir from time to time; this tends to speed up the melting of the wax.  For me, this step took about 10 minutes.

6.  When everything is nice and melted, quickly add the Shea butter.  It will melt quickly which is what you want.  While it is melting, stir it up like a crazy person. I read over and over that this prevents graininess so that is what I did.  I used a dinner knife but you can use a spoon, fork, or even a chopstick.

7.  Once the Shea butter is melted, quickly take your liquid off the burner and add the essential oils.  I used the same oils I use in miracle healing salve (and in about the same proportion) but you can use whatever you want.  Or none at all if you want a plain lotion bar.

8.  Quickly pour the liquid into your molds.  I used this silicone daisy mold and love the results although during my testing and trial runs, I used muffin tins, both bare and with paper liners.  They worked fine but were not as cute.  And these daisy shaped lotion bars are very cute if not a bit quirky!

9.  Set the healing lotion bars on the counter to firm up, or, do what I did and set them in the refrigerator to cool.  They will harden up in an hour or two.

10.  Once the healing lotion bars are firm, pop them out of the mold.  They are ready to use as is although I find that they cure and harden a bit more over the next few days.

Note:  The proportion and blend of essential oils is a personal choice.  Feel free to experiment.  For my healing lotion bars, I used the same oils that I use in my Miracle Healing Salve.  The recipe above made 1 1/4 cup of liquid lotion bar base so I chose to use the same proportion of 30 drops for every 4 ounces of base carrier  oil (in this case coconut oil, Shea butter, and beeswax).long before that.

Three of My Best Loved Oils are Budget Friendly + Free Shipping

Early this month, I contacted the owners of Spark Naturals and explained to them I wanted to do a recap of my favorite salve, body butter, and lotion bar recipes.  I asked them pretty-please if they would run a special free shipping offer on my three favorite oils, namely Lavender, Rosemary and Peppermint.

And they agreed!  For a limited time, Spark Naturals is offering free shipping on your entire order when you purchase any one of these three oils.  To take advantage of this offer, be sure to check FREE SHIPPING at checkout.  This offer is good through midnight, August 21.

When I say these oils are budget friendly, I mean it.  Here is a cost breakdown both before and after adding my 10% discount.

  5ml 15ml
Lavender  6.99 18.90
Rosemary 6.99 13.72
Peppermint 6.46 18.45
Total 20.44 51.07
After 10% Discount using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout 18.40 45.96

11 Ways (So Far) to Use the Miracle Healing Salve EO Combination

The “miracle” of this combination is how easily it resolves a variety of first aid and skin care issues and woes.  Here is a short list of some od the ways I personally use this healing combination of Lavender, Rosemary, and Peppermint essential oil.

1.  Antiseptic Ointment for life’s little bumps and bruises:  Instead of Neosporin, reach for Miracle Healing Salve, Butter, or Lotion Bars to both soothe and heal cuts and scrapes.

2.  Hand and foot moisturizer:  An unbelievably emollient hand and foot moisturizer.  No more dry hands and feet – especially when using the body butter.

3.  Relief for nocturnal foot and muscle cramps.  Rub this combination of oils on the bottom of your feet and on your calves before going to bed.  You must be consistent because at least for me the results are cumulative.   I went from nightly cramps to cramping only 3 or 4 times a month.  Really, this really works.

4.  Promotes healing of scars. Slather the Miracle Salve, Butter or Lotion Bar over new scars and watch them heal in days rather than weeks.

5.  Relieves itching from insect bites, hives, and those mysterious itchy patches that won’t go away.

6.  Eliminates symptoms of mild eczema and psoriasis:  With the addition of 5 to 10 drops of Melaleuca oil (tea tree) to a jar of Miracle Salve or Body Butter, dry, ugly patch of psoriasis on Shelly’s elbow all but disappeared. In the past he has tried everything including diet changes and prescription drugs.  It took about 3 weeks for these healing essential oils to do their thing but they do work. For more immediate results, read Treating Psoriasis with Essential Oils.

7.  Makeup Remover: Smear on your face the wipe away your makeup with a damp washcloth.

8.  Facial moisturizer and serum:  Yes, really.  You would think it would be greasy but the oils absorb quickly and leave your face with a nice, dewy texture.

9.  Cuticle and nail conditioner: No more ragged cuticles or dry, splitting nails.  This is a byproduct of being diligent about #3 above.  It just happened without my realizing it.

10.  Hair serum: A few drops liquefied in your palms and then smoothed over your hair will leave it shiny and less fly-away.

11.  Relieve pet scratching and itching, too. Tucker the Awesome Wonder Dog was scratching himself in one spot on his belly so I put a little Miracle salve on the spot and a couple of hours later he stopped.  Was it the smell, the healing properties or just a coincidence?  I don’t know but it worked.

For dozens of other hints and uses, grab a cup of coffee and read through the 190 plus comments on the original DIY Healing Salve article posted in December 2014.

The Final Word

However you choose to apply your essential oils, the application method does not have to be difficult, tendious, or boring. These recipes are easy to concoct and will give you a jump start on creating synergies that work to heal in a non-toxic manner that is safe and effective for almost everyone.

Pick one, two, or all three methods.  I promise you the results will be worth the effort.  They work.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: backdoorsurvival


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

4 Types of Filtration to Consider for An Emergency Home Water Supply


Photo by Tim MacWelch

There are a variety of ways to tackle water filtration in an off-grid scenario.

Waterborne pathogenic organisms have been, and will continue to be, a huge threat to the safety and health of anyone who is providing their own water supply, especially from surface water sources. Dysentery and other water related ailments have been killing kings and commoners alike for millennia, and it’s still happening right now. The World Health Organization estimates that water-borne pathogens kill as many as 3.4 million people a year worldwide.

In a crisis setting, you may not be using your normal source of water. This makes filtration an even more important issue. So whether your back-up water supply comes off your roof, from a spring, or out of a tank – consider using this equipment so that you and your family don’t fall victim to the global epidemic of dirty water.

1. Carbon Filters 
These are the elements in your household “pitcher filters,” which remove chlorine, lead, iron, copper, and other not-so-tasty elements. You can also find these filter elements in the plumbing lines of OTG homes around the world.

2. Reverse Osmosis Filters
The best of the bunch in the opinion of some, reverse osmosis involves pushing water through a membrane. Particles and organisms larger than a water molecule just can’t fit through the pores. This is a fine filter for screening out pathogens, but it’s best used on already clear source water. This filter can clog the fastest, and it may also require “normal range” water pressure, something you may not have on a gravity fed system.

3. Sand Filters
These are exactly what they sound like: vessels of sand that catch and hold particulates and pathogens. These are an excellent “first step” in your system, especially if you occasionally have sediment in your water which would hopelessly clog a finer filter.

4. Ceramic Filters
I’d trust my life with these. The best ceramic filters have silver imbedded in them. The ceramic screens out the larger pathogens, and the silver kills the little ones (like viruses).

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: outdoorlife


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Make Coffee From Chicory Root

Here’s my story of how I discovered a simple, common weed can be used to make coffee from chicory!

For several years, I’ve noticed a beautiful blue wildflower lining the road during the summer. It starts out looking like a weed, but when it blooms, the flower is the color of a Tanzanite gemstone. I’ve noticed that it also grows well along sidewalks, in gravel, or any other harsh environment you can think of. The plant is a dark green and is about 12-24 inches high. The bluish flower petals are flat at the ends, and slightly “fringed”. The leaves closest to the ground look exactly like dandelion. If you are looking for it on a sunny day, they are easy to see. But, on an overcast day or late afternoon, the flowers close up, and it’s harder to spot.

I decided to take some photos and find out what it was.

To my surprise, I found out it was chicory. I remembered hearing that it can be used to make a beverage similar to coffee, but wanted to learn more about it. I also wondered if it had any medicinal properties.


According to Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants & Herbs, the root can be mixed with water to make a diuretic or laxative. It’s used homeopathically for liver and gallbladder ailments, it can lower blood sugar, and has a slight sedative effect. Chicory root extracts have been shown to be antibacterial, and its tinctures have an anti-inflammatory effect. You can learn how to make your own tinctures fairly easily.

Next, I wanted to find out what parts of the plant were edible and how to use it to make “coffee”. I learned that its root must be dried and roasted before making a hot beverage. Its’ leaves are good for both salad and cooked greens. The white underground leaves are great as a salad green in the spring, and the outer green leaves can be boiled for 5-10 minutes and eaten. I decided to go dig up some roots and try roasting them for coffee.

Make coffee from chicory

I found plenty of chicory right around my house and along my street. I thought I could just pull them out of the ground but I was wrong.

It’s had been dry for the last week and we have a lot of clay soil, so I went and got a shovel. Once I started digging, I found some of the roots are very long. Many broke off as I tried to pry them up with my shovel, but I got a decent sized batch quickly.

I soaked them for a short time, then scrubbed the roots clean, and chopped off the rest of the plant. I put those parts in my garden to add to the compost, which is an ongoing project. I patted the roots dry, and sliced them up. I did have to get a heavier chopping knife because some of the roots have a center that is like wood. The really tough stuff, I just added to my garden, and the rest I put on a cookie sheet.

I thought I’d try roasting it slow and low. I turned my oven on to 250 degrees and watched it for a half hour or so. It seemed to dry out but not really “roast” the pieces. So, I turned up the heat to 350 degrees, and about 20-30 minutes later, a wonderful smell came from the oven. The root pieces were turning brown and smelled like chocolate, caramel and coffee, all in one. The darker it got, the better it smelled. Once I thought the chicory root was dark enough, I turned down the oven to 300 degrees, so it wouldn’t burn but just roast a little bit more. I would say the total time was about and hour and a half. I took the roasted root pieces out of the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

I took out my blender, and used the “chop” setting to grind up the roots. I checked on them after several seconds and found it was still too coarse, but once again, the smell was incredible. I think the blades created enough heat to warm the grounds and send the smell wafting up in the air. I knew I needed a finer grind, so I set the blender to “liquify”, and that worked much better. I ended up with a finer grind that almost had the appearance of cigarette tobacco.

I was finally ready to brew a cup of chicory coffee! I added 2 teaspoons into my coffee filter and add enough water to the pot for one cup of coffee. I watched it brew, and it looks dark, just like regular coffee. By the way, in a power outage, a French Press is highly recommended for every coffee lover. You can get one for less than $30, and it’s worth every penny.

Now, the taste test. First, I tried it black. It tastes just like a strong black coffee (too much chicory?) but with a definite mocha, possibly caramel flavor. I may have used too much chicory, so next time I’ll use 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup when I brew.

Since I don’t normally drink black coffee, I added a tiny bit of stevia and some Coffee Mate to this aromatic concoction. Oh, my, GOSH!!!!! This is like a fabulous cup of coffee from a pricey coffee house. I really thought it wouldn’t be this good. I can’t wait to go out and gather more chicory root! If SHTF, this will be priceless. There is no caffeine in this drink, so you can have a warm beverage, late at night. I had no idea how easy it would be to make coffee from chicory.

I highly recommend foraging for this wonderful and amazing plant. I can’t believe we’ve lost so much knowledge over the years about living off the land. We all should learn foraging skills. This coffee alternative is free, abundant, delicious, and a great barter item. Better yet, just try it now to enjoy, but save some for yourself for later!

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: thesurvivalmom


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

How to Make Homemade Artisanal Jam Without Pectin

Nothing is more of a summer tradition here at our house than making enough homemade jam from fresh fruit to see us through the winter. Get some fruit, some sugar, and a box of pectin and you’re good to go, right? Not so fast! You can actually make jam without pectin if you use my favorite old-fashioned method of thickening your product.

Why You Might Want to Make Your Jam WITHOUT Pectin

As the name of this website implies, we like to keep things nourishing and natural.  A while back, I spent some time reading up on store-bought pectin and I was very unhappy to discover the jams I had been making for my family have been tainted with GMOs. I had unknowingly been contaminating the carefully sourced fruit and pricey turbinado sugar with the very things I strive to avoid, and I hadn’t even given it a second thought.

Most brands exclaim breathlessly, “All natural pectin” or “Made from real fruit”.  And this is true – it does originate from fruit. Sound okay, right? Don’t be deceived.  This misleading label makes it sound as though this is nothing more than some powdered fruit.

Here’s the label from the Ball pectin that was lurking in my pantry.


Storebought pectin contains additives that are most likely genetically modified.  Dextrose is generally made from corn products (GMOs that are absolutely SOAKED in glyphosate).  It is made from cornstarch, the main ingredient in good old High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Don’t let anyone tell you that citric acid is “just Vitamin C”.  It is derived from GMO mold.

Not only does store-bought pectin contain unsavory ingredients, but it is also very highly processed. According to Wikipedia, this is how it is produced:

The main raw materials for pectin production are dried citrus peel or apple pomace, both by-products of juice production. Pomace from sugar beet is also used to a small extent.

From these materials, pectin is extracted by adding hot dilute acid at pH-values from 1.5 – 3.5. During several hours of extraction, the protopectin loses some of its branching and chain length and goes into solution. After filtering, the extract is concentrated in vacuum and the pectin then precipitated by adding ethanol or isopropanol. An old technique of precipitating pectin with aluminium salts is no longer used (apart from alcohols and polyvalent cations, pectin also precipitates with proteins and detergents).

Alcohol-precipitated pectin is then separated, washed and dried. Treating the initial pectin with dilute acid leads to low-esterified pectins. When this process includes ammonium hydroxide, amidated pectins are obtained. After drying and milling, pectin is usually standardised with sugar and sometimes calcium salts or organic acids to have optimum performance in a particular application. (source)

So, if you want to avoid GMOs and processed foods, what’s a homemade-jam making mama to do?

Jam has been around for thousands of years.  The first known book of jam recipes was written in Rome in the 1st century (source). Since, I’m pretty sure our ancestors didn’t have those handy little boxes of Sure-Jell or RealFruit or Certositting in their pantries, I set out to learn how they made a thick delicious preserve to spread on their biscuits.

My first attempt at breaking up with the box was to make my own pectin with green apples. While I ended up with a tasty product, it wasn’t really jam-like.  It’s possible, considering the time of year, that the apples were too ripe to allow this to work for me. You can find instructions on how to make your own pectin from apples HERE.

I continued to read recipes and methods from days gone by. It soon became clear that adding pectin wasn’t really necessary at all. In days past, the sugar and the fruit worked hand-in-hand to create the desired consistency. If you are determined to use pectin (some fancier jams are nicer with a thicker set-up) I strongly recommend Pomona’s Universal Pectin, a non-GMO, non-toxic pectin.  Don’t be put off by the higher price – you can get several batches of jam from one packet of pectin, so it works out to a similar cost as the yucky stuff.

I combined bits from a few different methods and finally came up with a jam that the entire family was happy with. In comparison with the boxed pectin jam, it doesn’t gel quite as much, but after trying this jam, the texture of the other now seems slightly artificial to me. This produces an artisanal jam, a softer preserve with an incredibly intense fruit flavor. When using this method, you don’t get that layer of foam that you have to skim off the top like you do with the boxed pectin method. And best of all, you get two products for the price of one. You’ll have an additional sweet juice or syrup at the end of your process.

How to Make Jam without Pectin

First of all, I want to encourage you not to be deterred by the lengthy amount of time to make this jam. Very little of that time is spent hands-on. Nearly all of it is draining time. You’ll end up cooking your fruit down for far less time than the standard pectin-included method, and your fruit will taste fruitier because it’s so concentrated. Give it a try! You’ll be hooked!

  • 7 pounds of fresh or frozen fruit (approximately 14-20 cups)
  • ¼ cup of lemon or lime juice
  • 3-5 cups + 2 tbsp of sugar (I’ve varied this and have even used no sugar at all, but this seems to be the happy place for my family’s preferences)
  • A piece of clean, non-linty cotton fabric for draining (I used a flour sack towel. This will be permanently stained, so don’t use something you want to keep pretty.)

Directions:

  1. Prepare your fruit.  For berries, this means washing them and sorting them, removing little leaves and twigs, as well as berries that are shriveled.  For fruits like apples or peaches, this might mean blanching and peeling them, then removing the cores. Leave the odd green bit of fruit in, because less ripe fruit has more naturally occurring pectin than ripe fruit.
  2. Mash, finely chop, or puree your fruit.  I used a blender to puree half of the fruit, and a food processor to finely chop the other half. We prefer a rough puree texture.
  3. Pour this into a large crock or non-reactive bowl, layering your fruit with half of the sugar.  I use the ceramic insert from my crock-pot for this.
  4. Leave the fruit and sugar mixture in your refrigerator overnight.  The juice from the fruit will combine with the sugar and form a slightly gelled texture. Some liquid will separate from the sugar and fruit.
  5. The next day, line a colander with a flour sack towel.  Place the colander into a pot to catch the liquid from the fruit and sugar mixture. Pour your fruit and sugar mixture into the fabric-lined colander. Put this back in the refrigerator for at least an hour to drain. You can let it drain for longer with no ill effect – in fact this will result in an even thicker jam.

    From this point on, you’ll be making two separate products: jam and fruit syrup.

  6. When you’re ready to make jam, scoop the fruit out of the fabric-lined colander and place it in a pot with lots of open area to help it cook down faster. (This gives more space for the liquid to evaporate.)
  7. The liquid that you caught in the other pot is the basis for your fruit syrup.  You’ll have about 1-2 pints of liquid.  Place that on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and a tbsp of lemon juice per pint and reduce heat to a simmer. I like to add one big spoonful of jam to this to add a little texture to the syrup.
  8. Meanwhile, on another burner, add lemon juice and bring your fruit and sugar mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. After about an hour, the texture will have thickened. If you still have a great deal of liquid, you can use a fabric lined sieve to strain some more out. (You can add this liquid to the syrup.)
  9.  Fill sanitized jars with your products (syrup or jam).  Process the jam in a water bath canner, according to the type of fruit you are canning and making adjustments for your altitude.  Refer to the chart below for processing times.

    And there you have it…it’s easy to make an intensely fruity artisanal jam without pectin!

    Universal Jam Making Chart

    The processing times are based on sea level. Adjust these times based on your altitude.

    FRUIT

    SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

    PROCESSING TIME

    Apricot Peel, slice in half to pit 5 minutes
    Blackberry optional step: mill to remove seeds 10 minutes
    Blueberry optional step: puree 7 minutes
    Cherry Pit with a cherry pitter, chop before cooking 10 minutes
    Grape Mill to remove seeds 10 minutes
    Huckleberry Check for stems 10 minutes
    Peach Peel, slice in half to remove pits 10 minutes
    Plum Slice in half to remove pits 5 minutes
    Raspberry Crush with a potato masher 10 minutes
    Strawberry Remove cores, mash with a potato masher 10 minutes

    Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

    Via: theorganicprepper


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

The Formula For Penicillin

From our friends at doomandbloom.net

=================

As you might know, I write mostly about how to deal with medical issues in situations where modern medical facilities and care don’t exist. Accumulating medications for disaster settings may be simple when it comes to finding aspirin and other non-prescription drugs, but prescription drugs will be hard to get for those who can’t write their own prescriptions or don’t have a relationship with an understanding physician.  Antibiotics are a case in point.

I consider this a major issue because there will be a much larger incidence of infections when people have to fend for themselves. In a long-term survival setting, they will perform activities to which they are not accustomed and injuries are likely.  Simple cuts and scratches from, say, chopping wood can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat, and swelling, within a relatively short time.

The History Channel, some years ago, aired a special called “After Armageddon“, where a family gets out of Dodge after a collapse-level catastrophe and eventually makes their way to a village of survivors. Integrating into the community, the father (a paramedic) takes to gardening and other survival-type activities. He suffers a cut which quickly becomes infected. Unfortunately, no antibiotics are available and he slowly succumbs to the infection despite knowing exactly what’s happening to him.

Treatment of infections at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists would most likely ignore the problem until it gets worse. This is unwise, as an infection can become life threatening if not treated. Having antibiotics readily available would allow them to deal with the issue until medical help (if available at all) arrives.

ANTIBIOTIC OPTIONS IN SURVIVAL SETTINGS

Years ago, I wrote the first physician article about aquarium and avian antibiotics as a way to stockpile medications for the uncertain future.  Since the only ingredient in certain of these medications is the antibiotic itself, it’s a reasonable alternative. There are some veterinary antibiotics, like Fish-Mox, that are only produced in human dosages and appear identical to human pharmaceuticals, down to the identification numbers on the capsules. For more information, see my series of articles on the subject.

This is not to say you should treat yourself in normal times. When modern medical care is available, seek it out. The practice of medicine without a license is illegal and punishable by law.

Once in a while, I get someone who wants to know how to make penicillin (isn’t it just bread mold?).  It’s true that penicillin is a by-product of a fungus known as penicillium, which, indeed, grows on bread and fruit.  It was originally discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1929. In 1942, a moldy cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois was found to have a strong version of it.  Most of the world’s supply of penicillin in the 1940s came from cultures of the fungus on that cantaloupe.

There is a formula for making penicillin at home. It’s next to impossible, honestly, to get all the chemicals needed to produce it safely. Besides the legal issues, home laboratories are dicey at best (just ask a local Meth dealer). To illustrate a point, however, here it is:

THE FORMULA FOR PENICILLIN


Penicillium Notatum mold

Penicillin is a by-product of the Penicillium fungus, but the thing is, it’s a by-product of a Penicillium fungus that’s under stress.  So you have to grow the fungus, and then expose it to stresses that will make it produce Penicillin.

First you need to produce a “culture” of the penicillium fungus. – Amicrobiological culture is a method of multiplying microscopic organisms by letting them reproduce in a certain environment under controlled conditions.

One of the most important things to know is that it is easy for other microbes to contaminate your penicillium culture, so use sterile techniques at all times or you will likely wind up with something entirely different (and, possibly, harmful).


general penicillin production process (from NIH)

STEP 1

Expose a slice of bread or citrus peel or a cantaloupe rind to the air in a dark place at 70 deg. F until a bluish-green mold develops.

Cut two fresh slices of whole wheat bread into ½ inch cubes and place in a 750ml Erlenmeyer flask with a non-absorbent plug. One thing you might not know is that a lot of bakeries put a substance called a mold inhibitor on bread.  This suppresses fungal growth so you should probably use bread that you baked yourself.

Sterilize the flask and contents in a pressure cooker for at least 15 minutes at 15 psi. An alternate method is to place in an oven at 315 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

In a sterile fashion, transfer the fungus from the bread or fruit peel into the flask containing the bread cubes. Allow the cubes to sit in the dark at 70 degrees for 5 days. This is called incubation.  That’s the easy part.

STEP 2

This is where it gets complicated. Prepare one liter of the following solution:

Lactose Monohydrate                    44.0 gm

Corn Starch                                      25.0 gm

Sodium Nitrate                                3.0 gm

Magnesium Sulfate                         0.25 gm

Potassium MonoPhosphate          0.50 gm

Glucose Monohydrate                   2.75 gm

Zinc Sulfate                                      0.044 gm

Manganese Sulfate                        0.044 gm

You’ll obviously need a scale that measures very small amounts. These are called gram scales and you can find them online.  The above ingredients can be found at chemical supply houses, but you’ll have to buy a significant amount.

Dissolve the ingredients in the order listed in 500ml of cold tap water and then add more cold water to complete a liter (1000 ml).

Adjust the pH to 5.0-5.5 using HCL (hydrochloric acid). You’ll need a pH test kit like those found at pet shops and garden supply stores. Fill glass containers with a quantity of this solution. Only use enough so that when the container is placed on its side the liquid will not touch the plug.

Sterilize the containers and solution in a pressure cooker or stove just like you did before. When it cools, scrape up about a tablespoon of the fungus from the bread cubes and throw it into the solution.

Allow the containers to incubate on their sides at 70 degrees for seven days. It’s important that they are not moved around.  If you did it correctly, you’ll have Penicillin in the liquid portion of the media. Filter the mixture through a coffee filter or something similar, plug the bottles, and refrigerate immediately.

STEP 3

To extract the penicillin from the solution:

Adjust the cold solution to pH 2.2 using (.01 %) HCL. Mix it with cold ethyl acetate in a “separatory funnel” (that’s a funnel with a stopcock; you can find all these items at chemistry glass suppliers) and shake well for 30 seconds or so.

Drain the ethyl acetate (which should be on the bottom) into a beaker which has been placed in an ice bath and repeat the process. Add 1% potassium acetate and mix. You want the ethyl acetate to evaporate off. This can be induced by a constant flow of air over the top of the beaker, say from a fan.  When it dries, the remaining crystals are a mixture of potassium penicillin and potassium acetate.

There you have it, you have put together a laboratory and made Penicillin!  You are now officially a mad scientist.

REALITY

It’s clear that making penicillin at home is beyond the ability of non-chemists.  However, it does make a point.   If there’s a major long-term disaster, there isn’t a way that anyone will be able to produce reliably safe and effective antibiotics at home. You might read about producing penicillin teas, but the issue is that you might have contamination by other molds that could be hazardous to your health.

If you are concerned about a collapse-level event, it may be wise to consider stockpiling some veterinary equivalents. At present, no prescription is necessary nor is there a limit to quantities purchased. This may eventually change as the CDC has declared that an increased “stewardship” of animal antibiotics will be necessary to combat the issue of antibiotic resistance. This is a reasonable concern, but restrictions will probably involve drugs for food animals first.

You can find lists of useful antibiotics, their veterinary equivalents, and much more in The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now in its 700 page Third Edition. The book is available on Amazon or at DoomandBloom.net.

If you don’t want to buy fish medicine, at least grow plants that might have some antibacterial action. Garlic, for example, has scientifically proven antibacterial properties, as do some other herbs.  Honey, in its raw and unprocessed state, is also consider to be antibacterial. More on various herbal options in a future article.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: doomandbloom


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

10 Survival Uses for Blackberries


Summer is here, and so are the blackberries!

These dark berries are like sweet little gems from the wild. They are a delicious and nutritious source of food that we can forage almost anywhere, since they are found around the Northern Hemisphere. But there’s more to these berries than just a snack. Here are ten ways these plants can help you survive when times get tough.

1. Leaf tea

Blackberry leaves are a common herbal tea ingredient (particularly for the Celestial Seasonings company). Steep one teaspoon of dried leaf in one cup of hot water for 10 minutes, sweeten (if you have sweetener) and enjoy. This can boost morale, warm the belly and hide the flavor of an “off” water source.

2. Diarrhea remedy

The leaf tea can also be drunk repeatedly to help diminish the symptoms of diarrhea. Steep two teaspoons of dried leaf per cup of hot water. Start with half a cup every hour, and continue until the ailment improves. And if the leaf tea isn’t getting the job done, steep one ounce of fresh blackberry root in a cup of hot water and drink half of a cup per hour.

3. Flower petals

The fragrant white petals can be added to salads and other dishes. They don’t contain many calories, but they can make those bitter wild greens taste much better.

4. Perimeter alarm

Carefully tie up the thorn-covered strands of blackberry stalk to block the trails at night. This can give you a perimeter alarm around your camp. When any two-legged and tender-skinned predators hit the thorns in the dark, they’ll have a hard time staying silent.

5. Trap guidance 

Need to funnel a game animal into your snare noose or foothold? A wall or carpet of prickly blackberry stalks can direct their movement and guide them into the trap.

6. Pemmican ingredient

Dried berries are an ancient and traditional ingredient in Native American pemmican recipes. These “meatballs” are typically a blend of powdered jerky, dried berries and rendered fat. Rolled into balls and eaten as trail food, pemmican provides a massive amount of calories (thanks to the fat), and it supplies protein and carbohydrates, too.

7. Hand drill spindle

Need to make a friction fire? While de-thorned blackberry stalks aren’t the best hand drill spindle, they’re not the worst either. If it’s the best you can find, give it a try.

8. Juice

No food or water? You shouldn’t eat when you have nothing to drink, but you can squeeze blackberries in a cloth and drink the juice. This provides hydration, sugars, vitamins and minerals. It’s like nature’s Gatorade! You can even turn it into wine.

9. Fishing

Small slivers of blackberry stalk with the thorns still attached can be turned into emergency fish gorges, a hook style that works then the fish swallows a sharp object that sticks in their throat. Land them gently with a dip net, as it’s easy for fish to shake these “hooks” out.

10. Eat them

Eaten by the handful or bucketful, blackberries are good food and good for you.

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

Via: outdoorlife


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

How to Make Cheese from Powdered Milk

As a prepper you may have buckets and buckets of powdered milk stored. Many of us hate the taste of powdered milk. It’s cheaper to buy this bulk and store it in a 5 gallon bucket, then you can not only make milk, you can make cheese too.

It’s really easy to do and tastes pretty good too. If SHTF, I guess any cheese would be better than no cheese. This also gives you something else to use your powdered milk for other than drinking. As we all know powdered milk isn’t the best tasting drink in the world!

You can try making this from a small box of powdered milk which will cost you about 3 bucks. Then you can see how tasty this actually is without spending a fortune.

Here’s another recipe I wanted to test out that puts to use the buckets of powdered milk I have stored. Remember if you are constantly rotating your stored food (especially the 3-month food supply) not only will you greatly reduce the chance of anything going bad, but you’ll actually be learning to use your bulk-stored food and eating what you store — some of the most important rules in food storage.

To make cheese from powdered milk is an easy process (unexpected since I never had any experience making cheese before this). Here’s how it works:

What You’ll Need

  • Powdered Milk
  • Water
  • Cooking Pot
  • White Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • Cheesecloth or Clean Cotton T-Shirt

    How to Make Cheese from Powdered Milk

  • I used a small amount of ingredients so I could test it out first before using the full recipe. The full recipe calls for:
  • 3 cups powdered milk
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plain white vinegar
  • In my instructions I quartered this recipe as follows:
    Step 1: Mix together 3/4 cups of powdered milk with 1 1/2 cups of cold water in a cooking pot. Stir until dissolved.
    Step 2: Stir milk over a medium-low to medium temperature until it becomes hot to the touch but not scalding (this should be around 140º if you’ve got a cooking thermometer)
    Step 3: Maintaining the same temperature, stir in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. You should immediately begin to see the curds separating from the whey.
    Step 4: Continue cooking to allow the curds to separate from the whey. After a few minutes there should be large globs (if that’s a real word :)) of curds in an amber pool of whey. If it’s still too milky, add another tablespoon of vinegar, stir and cook it on medium to medium-low heat until the curds completely separate from the whey.
    Step 5: Pour the curds and whey into a colander lined with a clean cloth, cotton t-shirt or cheesecloth to drain off the whey (this sweet liquid can be used in the place of water in other baking recipes so drain it into a bowl if desired).
    Step 6: Taking the cloth or cheesecloth (a t-shirt in my example) squeeze the curds to press out any remaining whey.
    Step 7: Rinse the curdswhich is essentially ricotta cheese (I’ve been informed that this is more a paneer style cheese and not ricotta. Ricotta is made by further processing the poured-off whey. For more instructions into this, check out the links in some of the comments below) at this pointunder cool water and eat fresh or store in the fridge.

    Conclusion


    What you should be left with is about the same amount of curds as you measured out in powdered milk.

    Since I used 3/4 cup of powdered milk in the above recipe, it resulted in about 3/4 cup of curds — so plan your recipes accordingly.

    I was really excited when learning this, since I love lasagna. Pasta as well as tomato sauce — in the form of canned tomatoes (or powdered tomatoes) — stores very well, but fresh cheese doesn’t. Now that I know how to make fresh cheese easily from my stored powdered milk, even lasagna can be enjoyed during the end of the world.

    The cheese you make here is more of a paneer style cheese not a ricotta. Ricotta is actually made from the whey. So you could go on to make ricotta from the left over whey you got here and then get more use from your milk by having the nice cheese you made plus ricotta.

    This link to guide anyone who is interested on how to make ricotta.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Ricotta-Cheese

    Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

    Via: tacticalintelligence


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

How to Create a Safe Room in Your House or Apartment


The homes of many rich, famous people have a secret hidden within them.  Somewhere, in the depths of the home, is a secure room to which the residents can retreat in the event of a home invasion or violent intruder.  A safe room was carved into the original house plan, and many of these are state of the art.  Features might include a bank of monitors for viewing what’s going on outside the room, a small kitchenette, comfortable furnishings, fresh air venting, and a hardened communications system.  These expertly designed rooms can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to be a movie star or a multi-millionaire to build your own version of a safe room. Even the most humble home or apartment can have on a place to which vulnerable family members can retreat if they are under threat.

Why should you have a safe room?

Some folks may read this and think to themselves, “I don’t need a safe room when I have my 12 gauge shotgun and my 9 mm. That’s just running away.”

I completely understand your point. Most of the people who read prepping and survival sites are not of a “retreat” mentality.  But, if a gang of 12 thugs (possibly wearing badges) kicks down your door, how likely are you to shoot every single one of them before someone gets off a lucky shot and hits you?  Hint: If you aren’t tactically trained, the likelihood of this is pretty slim.

Here’s another reason: do you have vulnerable family members in the house? Children? A spouse or elderly relative? Someone who just isn’t a fighter?  Even if you intend to engage, you may have people in the home who are not willing or able to do so, and it will be better for you if they are safely out of the way.

A safe room is honestly just another prep. It doesn’t mean you are cowardly. It means you are ready for a variety of scenarios and that the safety of your family is paramount.  It is a layer of protection that allows vulnerable people to retreat until help arrives.

Here’s a perk: another great use for your safe room is that you can stash your valuables there. Most break-ins occur when you aren’t home.  If your valuables are locked away, a random tweaker searching for things to sell to support his habit is not going to be able to access your important papers, your fine jewelry, your firearms, or your most prized possessions.

Retreating to your safe room

When you retreat to your safe room, you have one goal: to end any possibility of interaction with an unwelcome person. Please don’t call it a panic room. That indicates that you are a scared victim.  You are retreating to a safer location because you don’t intend tobe a victim. In a military gun battle, do soldiers move behind sandbags or into trenches? Of course. They want to limit the likelihood of being shot or otherwise injured. You may or may not be a trained soldier, but your goal is the same. It is to avoid being injured by a person who may be intent on injuring you.

A safe room is not a bunker. You probably aren’t going to be holed up in there for days during a stand-off. It is a point of retreat until help arrives.

The #1 rule of the safe room: DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE AND YOUR HOME HAS BEEN CLEARED. NOT FOR ANY REASON. A criminal will threaten, cajole, manipulate, and bully to try to make you come out. DON’T DO IT.

We’ve often talked about the importance of having a plan (as well as a few back-up plans) and running practice drills. A safe room is no different. All family members that are physically able should be able to quickly access the room. If you have several people in your household, you might want to put a keypad access on the door to the safe room so that whoever has retreated first is safely locked in without worrying about admitting the other family members.

Map out as many different ways as possible to get to the safe room from various locations in the house. This is a great time to get the kids involved, because children are explorers by nature. They may know routes that you had never even considered.  Practice, practice, practice.  Run timed drills and make a game out of how quickly all family members can get to the safe room and get the door secured.

Of course, the success of moving quickly to your safe room rests upon being alerted that someone is in your home.  You should have security measures in place that let you know that the home has been breached:

  • A dog
  • A high quality monitored alarm system
  • A wireless alarm system that sounds an alarm and automatically calls for assistance
  • Outdoor sensors that will alert you when someone comes through your gate or approaches your home. (Note: If you’re like us and you live somewhere with a lot of wildlife, this option may not work well for you.)

The more of these early warnings you have, the better off you’ll be. Someone might get through one of the alarms, but how likely are they to get through 3 or 4 without you being alerted?

Where should your safe room be?

If you are building a new home from the ground up, you have the unique opportunity to have this special room added to the plans. In this case, your far less limited by the existing design and layout of the house. In fact, there are companies whose sole purpose is designing safe rooms for homes and businesses.  One of the most reputable, Gaffco, offers consultations, plans, and even construction of these rooms. Additionally, they offer “pods” that were originally designed for the US military, which can be incorporated into the design of your home or connected to the home via a breezeway.  These options are top of the line, and may be out of the affordable price range for the average family.

Most of us aren’t in that building process though, so we need to adapt part of our living space to make a safe room.   Some people adapt a large walk-in closet or pantry, while others refurbish a room in their home. DuPont offers a “Stormroom” that is reinforced with Kevlar and is epoxied to your garage floor. It’s designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, so it’s a good be that it will also withstand your average home invasion.  These start at $6000 for the smallest size.

Here are some important qualities:

  • No windows to the outside
  • Ventilation
  • Thick/reinforced walls
  • Water and a bathroom
  • Enough space for the number of people likely to shelter there
  • Ease of accessibility for the family from multiple locations in the house

Of course, finding all of these things, sitting there in one room, waiting for you to reinforce the door may not be likely so you have to work with what you’ve got.

Some good options are:

  • Walk-in closet
  • Master bedroom with attached bath
  • Basement family room
  • Storage room
  • Wine cellar (Not as outrageous as it sounds – surprisingly the humble little 2 bedroom Victorian cottage we used to live in had one)
  • Interior den with no windows
  • Inside an attached garage

If you intend to go full out and reinforce the walls, it will be less expensive to convert the smallest area that will house the required number of family members.

It is of vital importance to locate the safe room in a place that can be quicky and easily accessed by family members. If you have to run past the entry through which intruders just burst, you probably aren’t going to make it to the safe room. Remember, the most ideal safe room situation is one in which the criminal has no idea that you were home or, if he knows you’re home, has no idea where you may have gone.

One important thing to remember is that your safe room doesn’t have to only be a safe room. The best use of space would have the room used regularly for other purposes.  Most of the modifications you’ll make don’t have to be obvious. For example, if you’re reinforcing the walls, you can drywall over your reinforcements, paint the wall a happy color, and carry on with your life.  An attractive exterior type door can be painted to match the other interior doors in your home.  Even if you live in an apartment or condo, you can make some subtle changes to create a safe place to retreat.

The key here is to do the best you can with your resources and the space you have available. Let’s talk about the most important modifications.

The Door

The very first line of defense is the door you will slam behind you.  For many of us, this is where the majority of the money will be spent.

Forget about flimsy interior doors.  Most of them are hollow core and your average everyday axe wielding murderer or gangbanger intent on mayhem can get through them by kicking or punching through. Go to Home Depot and get yourself the very best exterior steel slab door that you can afford.  If your safe room is an ordinary room in the house, look for a door that can be painted to blend in with the other doors in the house. There’s no sense making it obvious that this room is special.

There’s no point in having a great door in a cruddy door frame. Your door is only as solid as the frame that holds it, so replace your standard interior door frame with reinforced steel. Get the absolute best quality you can afford, then paint it to match the rest of the door frames in your home.  Hang your door so it swings inward. Then you can add extra layers of security to the door.

You want to add more locks than just the doorknob type. For your primary lock, choose aheavy duty reinforced deadbolt system. You can also add a jimmy-proof security lock like this one for an added deterrent, but this should NOT be your primary lock.  You can add adoor bar, the hardware for which would be fairly unobtrusive when the bar is not across it.  If you make all of these changes, NO ONE is getting through that door by kicking it in.

The Windows

Windows are a definite weak point in a safe room. If you are using a room that is also used for other purposes (like a master bedroom) you probably have them.  Don’t despair – they too can be reinforced.

The biggest threat with a window, of course, is that the glass will easily break, allowing someone to either get in the room or shoot people who are in the room.

You can go all out and replace the window in that room with a bulletproof security window.  Although they are very expensive, you may decide it’s worthwhile since it’s just for one room. If this is out of your price range, you can purchase ballistic film and apply it to your existing window.  This video shows you how much a high quality ballistic film will withstand.  If you’re doing this, do NOT skimp on quality.


If you have windows, no matter how resistant they are to impact, it’s a good idea to have curtains too.  You don’t want the aggressor standing out there watching you or casing your retreat.  Not only would that be mentally rattling, they just might figure out a way to breach your safe room or counteract your safety plan, like secondary communications.  They do not need to know how many people are in the safe room, what equipment and supplies you have, or what you’re doing in there.  Get heavy curtains and make sure they’re completely closed with no gaps whatsoever.

The Walls

This is where the serious expense comes in.  A round from a 9mm handgun can easily penetrate the walls of the average home. Dry wall does NOT stop bullets, not even from a weaker caliber gun. That’s why one of the most important rules of gun safety is to not only know your target, but what is beyond your target.  If your walls aren’t sturdy enough to withstand bullets, then you’ve basically just put your family into a box to be shot more easily.

One way to lessen the expense of this is to choose a room in the basement. If you build your retreat into a corner, then you have two exterior walls that are concrete surrounded by dirt – virtually unbreachable.  Then you only have two walls to worry about.  If you are in an apartment, the laws in most states insist that walls separating two apartments must be fire resistant. Therefore, the wall between your apartment and the next could be made of cement, providing one wall of safety.

Free plans for a variety of safe rooms are offered by the Department of Homeland Security. As well, FEMA offers free plans for a safe room that is designed to withstand natural disasters. This could be easily adapted for home security purposes too.

There are a few different ways to reinforce the walls of your safe room. Some of the following options may be out of your price range or skill level, and some may not be practical for your living situation.

  • Armored steel panels: One of the best ways to convert an existing room into a ballistic haven is by adding armored steel panels to the walls. You can add drywall over the panels and no one will even realize they are there. These are heavy and use on upper floors could damage the integrity of your structure. They’re expensive, with a bottom end price of about $400 for a 4×8 panel, but depending on the layout of the room, they may not be needed on every wall.
  • Kevlar: These resistant walls are made out of a fiberglass type material.  This is a much lighter weight alternative and can be used in places that can’t hold up to the addition of heavy steel or concrete. You can learn more about Kevlar construction from Total Security Solutions.
  • Poured concrete:  This MUST be used on a ground floor or in a basement because of the extreme weight.  This is a far less expensive option and can withstand most threats.
  • Sand:  This is another heavy weight option, but it can be far less expensive than other options, particularly if you live in an area with abundant sand.  A 12 inch thick barricade of sand can protect against many different ballistic threats. In a basement room, a sand-packed wall in between the exterior of the room and interior drywall can provide substantial protection at a lower price. The Prepper Journal has an interesting article on using sandbags to stop bullets. The ideas could potentially be adapted to the interior of your home.  For example, you could stack sandbags halfway up a wall and then build a lightweight wall over the sandbags – the inhabitants of the room would need to shelter behind the sandbags to remain safe.

Temporary options: For the average family, many of these solutions can be out of reach.  If you rent, you probably won’t want to do major construction, either. It’s best to choose a room that is already as sturdy as possible and then reinforce the weak points. Although these options aren’t anywhere near as resistant as the ones above, they are better than nothing.

  • Have a heavy duty item you can shelter behind, like a steel desk or deep freezer.
  • Line your walls with heavy furniture, like loaded bookcases with real wood backs, not flimsy particle board.
  • Line your walls with metal filing cabinets, fill the drawers with anything, and stay low.

The Camouflaged Safe Room

Even though safe rooms aren’t really a “fun” topic, a secret hidden safe room is the kind of thing that stirs the imagination.  After all, how many awesome movies from your youth began with the magical discovery of a stairway or room hidden behind a bookcase or a mysterious doorway at the back of the closet?

The success of a camouflaged safe room rests on the residents of the home quickly moving into hiding without the intruders even knowing that they are home. This is the best case scenario for an event during which you need to retreat to a safe room.

You don’t have to have a mysterious Victorian mansion to have a hidden safe room. Amazon sells a hidden door hinge system that you can use to create a bookcase door. (You can also buy plans for installing a bookcase door or even an entire bookcase door kit.) Other options might include a trap door in the floor hidden under an attached throw rug or a discreet door at the back of a closet behind all the clothing.

Don’t rely strictly on the secret entry for your security. It should be followed up by the reinforcements described above, in the event that the intruders discover you’ve gotten away.

Communications

As was discussed in the introduction, a safe room is simply a retreat. If you don’t have help coming, you could remain trapped in there indefinitely, particularly if the intruders decide to wait you out.

Remember the #1 rule of the safe room? DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE AND YOUR HOME HAS BEEN CLEARED. NOT FOR ANY REASON. A criminal will threaten, cajole, manipulate, and bully to try to make you come out. DON’T DO IT.

You may not have had time to call 911 or your well-armed neighbor before sheltering in your safe room.  If that is the case, then you need to be able to summon assistance from within the safe room. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cell phone: Make sure you have an additional charger for your cellphone that stays in the safe room.  Remember that a cell phone is not 100% reliable.  While it’s not exceptionally likely that your average home invader will jam your cell phone, it’s possible. (WikiHow explains how easily one can be made and this device jams  both cell signals and WIFI. )
  • Landline phone: Put an old fashioned phone in your safe room. Don’t get one that relies on electricity to work. Even better, install a secondary buried line in the event that your primary line is disabled. If a criminal cuts one phone line, he generally won’t look for a secondary line.
  • Computer: Just like the secondary landline, above, consider a secondary internet access as well.  If you have Skype, you can also have an internet telephone system from which you can call for assistance, but be warned that you many not immediately reach your local 911 from a Skype phone.

Once you have 911 on the line, be sure to let them know that you are armed. (Cops hate surprises.)  If at all possible, stay on the line with the 911 operator so that you can confirm that help has arrived without opening the door of your safe room.

  • Two-way radio: If you have a trusted friend or neighbor nearby, a two way radio system is another way to summon help. This one transmits up to 36 miles.
  • Ham radio:  Be warned, you need an FCC license for a ham radio.  You can learn more about the different kinds of ham radios in this article.
  • Cameras:  While cameras won’t help you summon help, they can let you know what’s going on outside your safe room.  Especially important, a camera outside the door of the room will give you some advance warning if your retreat is about to be breached.  It can let you know if help has actually arrived or if the intruders are just trying to trick you into thinking so. This system feeds into your cell phone or your computer.

Supplies

You want to have enough supplies to stay in your safe room for 24-48 hours. Since this is a safe room and not a bunker, you don’t need  year’s supply of beans and rice in there.

  • Food: Stock up on food that doesn’t require any cooking or refrigeration. (This article is about food that you’d eat during a power outage but many of the suggestions will work for your safe room supply.)
  • Water: Even if you have an attached bathroom with running water, store at least one gallon per person that is likely to be in the room,.  Just in case. Because stuff happens, especially when bad guys are around.
  • Cold weather gear: In the event that your heat stops working during cold weather, stash a selection of winter coats, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, and a warm change of clothing.
  • Entertainment:  Really.  If you end up in the room for more than a couple of hours, you’ll go insane just staring at the monitors.  As well, if there are children in there with you, they’ll handle the ordeal much better with some distractions.  Keep some books, games, puzzles, DVDs, etc., in the safe room.
  • Sanitation: Ideally, you’ll have an actual bathroom as part of your safe room. If not, you’ll need a place to relieve yourself.  The best portable option is a camping toilet, which will eventually have to be emptied, but holds over 5 gallons and should last throughout any amount of time you’d be in your safe room. Also stock hand sanitizer, baby wipes, feminine hygiene supplies, and diapers, if applicable to your family.
  • Special needs items:  Remember that movie “Panic Room”, with Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart?  They were forced to leave the safe room because it wasn’t stocked with the necessary supplies for the diabetic child.  Don’t let this happen to you. Not only will you stock your safe room with food, but keep extra medication for any family members with special needs.
  • First aid supplies: Keep a full first aid kit, as well as a manual, in your safe room. If a family member was injured on the way to the room, you want to be able to provide some care for them. Particularly focus on supplies necessary for traumatic injuries.  Also stock things like antacids, pain relievers,  and anti-diarrheal medications. You can find a great first aid supply list in this article.
  • Emergency supplies: Always keep a fire extinguisher, goggles, and some particulate masks in your safe room.  A very determined criminal might try to force you to leave the room by starting a fire. Depending on the materials used in the construction of your room, this could be successful.  The goggles and masks aren’t perfect, but they give you a chance to launch an offensive if you do have to leave the safe room.

Defense

Here’s the bottom line: If an intruder somehow manages to breach your safe room, the time for retreat is completely over.   There’s no option left – you have to be prepared to fight like your life depends on it.  If an intruder has gone to the trouble to break through all of your defenses to get to you, your life most likely does depend on your ability to mount an aggressive defense.

Aside from your primary defense weapon (which you’re probably carrying with you), all of your other weapons should be stored in your safe room. Your extra ammunition should be stored there too.

Is every person of reasonable age in your family able to handle a weapon? If not, it’s time to sign up for classes or go to the range.

You need to have a plan in the event your defenses are breached. You don’t want any “friendly fire” injuries to occur. This plan will be different for every family based on individual skills, on available weapons, and on the set-up of your safe room.

The safe room is your final point of retreat. If someone brings the battle to you, you must be prepared, both mentally and physically. Otherwise, you and your family are like fish in a barrel, neatly corralled targets for the intruders.

Outside of your safe room, might want to consider this:


Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.

This article originally appeared in The Organic Prepper

Via: apartmentprepper


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Tips for cooling off during a Power Outage – Staying cool without Air Conditioning

Every year summer storms cause power outages throughout the United States. For those who are unprepared, these power outages, combined with summertime heat waves, can be a deadly combination. That’s why knowing how to cool yourself and your home without air conditioning is an important piece of knowledge you should possess.


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, an average of 675 people die from heat-related illness each year in the United States, making it one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the country. During a severe heat wave that hit Chicago in 1995, over 700 deaths were directly attributed to the heat. In 2006 in California, a deadly heat wave killed 655 people during a two-week period.

What makes Heat so Deadly?

Living in the desert, I can tell you that going without air conditioning can be quite a miserable experience. But during an extended power outage, heat can be more than just uncomfortable; it can be downright dangerous.

Continued exposure to excessive heat can lead to hyperthermia and heat exhaustion. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heatstroke and death, so early treatment and proactive cooling measures are extremely important.

During a grid down disaster or power outage, the ability to cool down is going to be essential to your survival, especially if you live in an area that is prone to extremely warm weather.

How to Stay Cool when the Power goes out and you have No Air Conditioning

Up until about 60 years ago, in home air conditioning was virtually unheard of. But despite a lack of central air, there wasn’t an epidemic of people dropping dead in their homes because of the heat. So what changed?

Well, just like with most modern technologies there was a downside; people forgot how to take care of themselves when technology inevitably failed. The lessons from the past were largely forgotten, and here we find ourselves in a society that is increasingly dependent on technology, government and everyone but ourselves to solve our problems.

So how did previous generations stay cool?

They Dwelled in Caves


Even in some of the hottest areas on earth, ancient populations thrived in areas that most would consider inhospitable to life. In many of these areas, they did so by building their homes inside caves or partially into the ground.

While I’m not going to recommend you run out and find the nearest cave, our modern day equivalent is the Midwest basement. If you live in a home with a basement, your best bet for staying cool during a power outage is to setup a sanctuary in your own modern day cave. Since heat rises, and cool air naturally collects downstairs, your basement can be a life-saver during a heat related emergency.

They Hung Wet Sheets


For thousands of years Egyptians would hang damp sheets and linens in doorways and windows. These damp sheets would help cool their homes through evaporation and turn an arid desert breeze into an early mist machine.

Down south, people not only hang these wet sheets in doorways, they sleep with them. Before bed, try dipping your sheets in water and then ringing them out so they’re not dripping wet. Throughout the night the wet sheets will continue to evaporate, cooling the air around you.

They went Swimming.


The Great Bath, built over 5,000 years ago in Sindh, Pakistan is one of the earliest public pools in the ancient world. Throughout history people have used these public water tanks for bathing, and more importantly staying cool.

In the 1930’s, the construction of public pools skyrocketed in America; and between 1933 and 1938, almost 750 municipal swimming pools were built throughout the country.

Even if you don’t have a pool, sitting in a small plastic children’s paddling pool or soaking in a bathtub filled with cool water can help bring down your body temperature. For about $10 you can buy one of these pools and stash it away for a hot summer day.

Some other Ideas for staying cool Without AC.

Have a misting water bottle for everyone in your home.

Something as simple as having a couple spray bottles filled with water can go a long way to helping you stay cool during the summer. Simply misting yourself on a regular basis, especially if you can stand in front of a fan or out in a shady breeze, can do wonders for cooling down your body. It can also be a life saver during a situation where you might be getting close to heat exhaustion.

Invest in some cooling towels.

When I was younger, my air conditioning went out on a cross country trip right as I hit the scorching 110 degree heat of the desert southwest. To stay cool, I stopped at every rest stop along the highway and wet down my shirt and a couple of bandanas that I then wrapped around my head and neck. Doing that helped me make it through ten miserable hours of deadly heat, without any ill effects.

Today, manufactures use special fabrics and materials to make long lasting CoolingTowels that can provide a lot of relief from the heat.

Quick Tips:

  1. Invest in some battery operated fans.
  2. Build your own Off-Grid Air Conditioner.
  3. During the day, keep your shades drawn and your windows closed; or, if it’s windy, hang lightweight linens that block solar rays, but still allow a light breeze to enter your home. Remember to wet them first!
  4. At night, open all your windows and let the cool evening air in.
  5. Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, light-colored clothing.
  6. STAY HYDRATED!!

Also check out:

Keeping Your Cool – When There’s No Air Conditioning

 

Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.


Via: offgridsurvival


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page