Monthly Archives: October 2012

Last Minute Preps

So the storm is knocking at our doors and a lot of people have been asking me what they should buy TODAY because they have nothing stored.

Here’s a short list to get you started::

Bottled water – you can also fill your bath tub and any containers in case the water gets shut off or contaminated. You need 4 L per person per day. Don’t forget your animals!!

Easy food – get stuff that doesn’t need to be cooked or requires minimal preparation. Crackers, peanut butter, ready to serve soups. Try and keep away from anything that needs to be refrigerated since we never know if the power is going to go out. Again, don’t forget your pets.

Flashlights – most people have one stuck somewhere in a drawer. Get it out and get extra batteries. Keep in mind candles are not safe if there is a gas leak.

Make sure you have on hand: first aid supplies, warm clothes, basic hygiene needs, books and entertainment (especially those with children).

 

Preserving Bananas

Bananas are a cheap and easy source of vitamins. The only problem is they turn really bad really quick. Luckily, there’s a few easy things you can do to extend the lifetime of your bananas.

Freezing bananas is ridiculously easy. I know several people who for ages would just throw away their over ripe bananas and then buy new ones to make banana bread or muffins. Don’t!
Throw your spotty or overripe bananas in the freezer as is, peel and all. The skin will go black but they are easy to slip out of the skins once they defrost and easy to mush for your baking needs.
Bananas can also be used in the place of eggs in vegan baking.

To keep your fresh bananas longer, separate the bunch. The ripe bananas release a gas that quickly ripens other bananas close to them. Once your bananas are at the ripeness you prefer, put them in the fridge. The skin will blacken but the banana will stay at your preferred ripeness for a few more days than if they were on the counter. (I’ve heard up to 14 days but I’ve personally only gone to about 5 in the fridge.)

Finally, dehydrating them. To dehydrate bananas, just slice them thin and lay them on the dehydrator trays. They take a long time because of the moisture content but they make amazing banana chips. (A tip my kids found on YouTube: dip your sliced bananas in dry pudding mixes before putting them on the trays. Its messy, so wear gloves but it tastes so good!)

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil is a great addition to your preps. The plant is native to Australia and is related to eucalyptus. It has been used for centuries as an antibacterial, anti-fungal and infection healing oil.
It can be used on almost any skin ailment including blemishes, wounds, dandruff, head lice, chicken pox and blisters. It is fairly effective at killing Candida, which causes yeast infections.
It has similar healing properties to lavender oil (which I wrote about here).
You can grow your own tea tree plant indoors in containers and potentially distill your own essential oils from it (article coming soon) but it requires a significant amount of the plant to make a small amount of oil.
It should not be ingested without supervision of a doctor as it can be toxic internally. Some people are sensitive to tea tree, so make sure you check for allergies before using. A simple skin allergy test is to put a drop or two on the inside of the elbow and wait for at least 24 hours to see if there is a reaction (ie: rash, hives or blisters). If there is no reaction, it may be safe to use it in greater quantities. If there IS a reaction, discontinue use.

Coffee for Preppers

I don’t know about you, but for me its hard to function without at least one cup of coffee in my system. If I don’t get that first cup…well, its just better that I do. This is technically an addiction to caffeine and going through a SHTF scenario at the same time as going through withdrawal, no thanks.

So I looked around for the best way to store coffee for the long term and found some contradicting information. I contacted a family friend, Dave Cook, who owns the Fire Roasted Coffee Company in London Ontario (Canada) for some answers.

In regards to the storing green (unroasted) beans versus roasted beans, Dave had this to say:
“Green coffee is a neutral grain which does not generally deteriorate at all in the first year but slowly degrades after that but most people would not notice especially if it is the only option. Coffee is very easy to roast over open fire…”

I have always been of the opinion that freshly ground coffee tastes much better than when it has been pre-ground and stored that way. Dave agreed: “For grinding there is a variety of hand crank compact grinders and yes, fresh grind is much better as whole bean retains much better flavour as it is one big particle as opposed to many small ones”

I asked Dave if storing in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers (like most of us preppers would be doing) is best”
“It is possible to store roasted coffee and in an oxygen deprived environment it will keep reasonable flavour but will degrade rapidly when opened. Heat is actually the biggest enemy to coffee as it oxidizes the naturally present oils and turns them rancid. If cost of inventory is a factor green unroasted coffee is half the price of roasted.”

What would Dave, an expert, store for himself?: “In a perfect world I would store both green and roasted coffee with the roasted filling short term need or if it is unsafe to go outside,  with the green coffee offering longterm supply and the ability to enjoy world class coffee in potential world of chaos and social disorder.”

Dave closed by reminding us: “If your readers live in the area of the equator, there also is the opportunity of growing their own or harvesting wild crops.”

I love Dave’s coffees and fully recommend them to anyone! I’d like to thank Dave and the Fire Roasted Coffee Company for answering my questions.

To contact them:
http://www.fireroastedcoffee.com
online@fireroastedcoffee.com
Twitter: @fireroastedcafe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fireroastedcoffee

Drying Herbs

Whether you have them for mundane or medical reasons, properly drying your herbs is important.

Most herbs are easily dried by hanging them upside down in a cool area where they will get a bit of air flow. Before I had my dehydrator, I hung my herbs up in my closet. You can also dry them in the dehydrator at the lowest setting, by far the quickest method, or you can dry them in the oven on the lowest temperature with the door propped open by a wooden spoon to allow for airflow.

Herbs are properly dried when they are easily crumbled between your fingers.

Be sure to store your dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool dry place. A lot of people store theirs above the stove or close to it. This is one of the worst places because the heat will degrade your herbs, they will lose potency in flavor and go stale much quicker. To store large quantities for your preps, place your herbs in a food saver bag or a mylar bag and add an oxygen absorber. If you have to open the bags, quickly remove the amount you need and then reseal the bags as soon as possible to maintain quality.

 

Peppermint

Peppermint is a great herb that is easy to grow in most climates although it does best in shade with moist soil.
Homesteaders and preppers who keep bees are fond of this plant because it produces a lot of nectar that will attract the bees to the plant. For this reason, it is advised to grow peppermint away from the entrances of your home. It spreads easily and quickly so it is best to grow it in a container.
Dried peppermint leaves make an excellent tea that can help calm upset stomach, aid digestion and can treat flatulence. The essential oil of the peppermint plant can be used as a pest repellent. Mice, ants and squirrels do not like the scent and it can be sprinkled around your food storage or entrance points of the pests. For people, the scent can be used for migraines, stimulate the senses, and it has a cooling effect on the skin. It can be used for nausea and motion sickness but the oil should be avoided during pregnancy.