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Prepping with Pumpkin

Tis the season of the pumpkin! 

A couple days after Halloween, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted some pumpkins left over from landscaping. They were large and hadn’t been carved so I said sure! I hate to see them go to waste. 

   This picture is the smallest of the three I received. 

Two I opened up, gutted and saved the seeds then cut up and roasted the flesh for puree (more in a sec). The third made for great machete practise! 
To make the pumpkin purée, I cut the flesh (after scraping etc) into manageable sized chunks and put them on a cookie sheet with skins up. I baked them at 350f for about 2 hours (they had super thick flesh,start at 45 minutes, it’s ready when a knife passes easily through). Let them cool a bit then scrape all the good stuff off the skins with a spoon and let cool further. The skins then went into my compost. 

   
The roasted flesh then went through my blender (but you could easily use a food processor or food mill) then into freezer bags. 

If you’re freezing it, get as much air out as possible and freeze flat. You can also dehydrate the pumpkin purée, if you don’t have the fruit leather tray covers, use parchment paper to line your trays. 

Half the seeds I roasted for a snack for my family and the other half will be planted come spring. 

Pumpkins are cheap and plentiful this time of year, with many grocery stores putting them on clearance after Halloween or thanksgiving. Don’t pass up your chance for a whole lot of food for little money! 

   About 3/4 of the above pictured pumpkin. 

Chive Seeds

Tis the season for gardening and any prepper can tell you that the more food you can grow on your own, the better.

I have a huge clump of chives in my back yard. They come back every year and spread from their roots so I had no idea they had seeds or that I could harvest the seeds to share.

To start, you need to find a clump of chives that has flowered. Select flowers that have mostly dried out.

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The tips of the flowers should be white and thin like tissue paper. The next thing I do is separate the flower blooms from the stem, to make them easier to sort.

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The dry flowers I set aside for processing and the not so dry flowers I either let air dry for a few days or compost if they are not even close to being ready.

When you pull apart the flower, inside you will find a dark green to black ball, this is where you will find the seeds. Cut this apart, it should divide into three parts, leaving you with some sacks covered in a thin green film.

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In each of these sacks is two chive seeds, gently remove the green film to reveal two small black seeds. Set the seeds aside to dry (I put mine on a paper plate away from any breeze) and then store. Chive seeds can be finicky and may only last a year even under optimal storage, so be sure to share with your friends.

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Food Storage Bug Out Bin

My food storage is mostly on shelves. But I do have the typical 5 gallon buckets full of food as well. The buckets stay with my food storage and are filled with pasta, rice, beans, and a variety of foods all mixed in separate bags. This way, if I need to move my food storage, I can grab the buckets and not be stuck eating 100 lbs of flour.

But, if I need to bug out in a hurry and can’t get to my food storage, I keep a tupperware bin with my bug out bags. It weighs about 30 lbs and is easily grabbed to throw into the car and go. We all have various food items and MREs in our bags, but this is just something a little extra.

It contains rice, pasta, sugar, tea (can’t live without tea!), fruit, granola bars, fruit snacks for the kids, a variety of spices, water purification tablets, and anything else I wanted to add. Again, this is separate from my bug out bags and wouldn’t do me any good to grab on its own and contains mostly doubles of my bug out bag and food storage.

Its a good idea to keep a little bit of your food storage separate like this, just in case. Your basement could flood, you could be cut off from the rest of your house, you might have one minute to grab the kids and get out or, if your food storage was raided, most people aren’t going to check a tupper that’s kept completely away from the rest of the food. Give it some thought and see if it works for you.

Dehydrating Turnip

wash and dry

Turnips, along with most other root vegetables, are fairly cheap and easy to dehydrate. This time of year, they are very easy to find and usually on sale.

Wash and peel your turnips

peel

Slice into thin pieces, the easiest way to do this is to use a mandolin slicer.
You can then blanch them (I don’t blanch my turnips) and then place them on your trays.

chips!

I leave them on overnight at 125′ F to make turnip chips. You can eat these as is. They are great with dips as well. Or you can rehydrate them and use them as you would fresh turnips.

Dehydrating Your Own Milk

Let me just say, this isn’t necessarily a recommended practise, do your reseach (as always) and decide if its for you.

I recently got 6 litres of milk for $1 each and decided to dehydrate them to make my own powdered milk. Most preppers order their powdered milk in #10 cans from various food suppliers in the US, however this is out of my price range and the tariffs Canadians have to pay on dairy are ridiculous.

To dehydrate my milk, first I had to make parchment paper containers to cover the screens in my Excalibur. I did this by cutting a square and folding up all the edges so they folded over themselves and then I stapled it just to be sure. Put the parchment on your screen and pour a small thin layer of 1% milk onto it. (I used 1% aka non fat milk because the more fat, the more likely it is to go rancid.

I cranked my dehydrator to 135′ F and left it over night. About 10 hours later it was ready. The milk turns into a crackly sheet in a sort of yellow color. At this point all you have to do it toss it in a blender or food processor and buzz it up until its a fine powder. Store it in a jar or mylar bag with an oxygen absorber.

To rehydrate, mix it with cold water and shake it until you get all the chunks out.

 

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!)

Making Your Own Dehydrated Cat Food

Last week I covered how to make your own dehydrated dog food. This time, I’ll cover cats as it is bit more involved due to the differences in dietary needs.
This is assuming your cat isn’t a mouser, won’t be hunting or has no claws.

Cats require a difference ratio than dogs for their food.
A basic cat food recipe would be:
3 parts meat
1 part organs (my cats particularly like liver and hearts)
1 part grain
1/2 part vegetables

Dehydrate all your ingredients until fully dry to avoid rancidity. Times will vary on your location, dehydrator and humidity.
When making dehydrated animal food, I usually dehydrate everything then powder it. Once its powdered, I measure out the ratio using a measuring cup or tablespoon depending on the container I want to fill.
Vegetables for cats can include: broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and peas amongst several others, check with your vet if you are not sure.

When your mixture is complete, be sure to seal it in an airtight container (or include an oxygen absorber) and store in a cool, dry place.
When ready to serve, mix water in slowly to get the consistency your cats like.

Making Your Own Dehydrated Dog Food

When it comes to preparing, sometimes our furry friends are overlooked.

Dog food can be expensive, bulky and depending on what you feed them, it can expire quickly.

A cheap and easy way to store dog food long time is to dehydrate your own ingrediants

and mix it. When ready to serve, you add a bit of water and you’re set.

Dogs need a certain balance of nutrients in their diet but its simple to figure out the ratio.

They need about:

1 part meat

1 part grain

1 part vegetables

There are of course people that feed their dogs grain free, but that’s up to you.

When dehydrating meat, I usually make sure that its fully cooked first and then dehydrate it from there.

You can use your table scraps but make sure that you cook your meat plain, adding flavorings, salt, pepper and

other things later, just to be safe.

Vegetables you could do raw or cooked, again, make sure theres no added butter or anything that could go rancid

if not dehydrated properly.

And as for grains, I usually use rice or oats for my dogs (as one of them has a sensitive stomach).

To make the mixture, I gather all my dehydrated ingrediants and buzz them up in a food processor so it makes

a fine powder. Then I measure about a cups worth of each, put it in a bowl and mix it thoroughly.

Then just add to a jar or a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber and store in a cool, dry place.

Vegetables to USE: broccoli, spinach, celery, carrots, peas, green beans and sweet potatoes are all puppy favorites.

Vegetables to AVOID: avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic and tomatoes have all been listed as toxic at some point to dogs, so

I felt it best to add them here although I know some people who swear by giving their dogs garlic (I don’t.)

Next week I’ll cover our feline companions.

Using the Tomato Harvest: Salsa!

Every year, I make my own salsa and can it. Every year I make more than the previous year and I still haven’t managed to be able to make it last over the winter. My vegetables this year in the garden did terribly, so when I saw that the grocery store had 50lbs of tomatoes on for $10, I jumped all over that chance.

Here’s my favorite salsa recipe. I got it originally from my friend Judy and altered it because she doesn’t add nearly enough heat for my family.

Salsa:

8 cups of Roma tomatoes (peeled and chopped)

4 cups onions, chopped

4 cups sweet peppers, chopped

1/4 cup vinegar

5 cloves garlic (or to taste)

Jalepeno pepper or to taste (I usually add a lot of jalepenos and Thai chilies but we like it really spicy)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp oregano (to taste)

1/2 tsp coriander

2-3 tbsp salt

Cook until veggies are done then add a small can of tomato paste. Cook for another
5-10 minutes then put into sterilized jars. Place your filled jars in a water bath canner and process for 20 minutes.

Home canned foods can last a long time but are usually best if consumed within a year to 18 months of canning.

Dehydrating Citrus – and Why It’s Important

Vitamin C is a very important nutrient that seems to be lacking in a lot of survival foods. Getting enough vitamin C is vital in an emergency situation. It is necessary for collagen synthesis (collagen is what heals your wounds, and knits the skin back together), without it your new wounds may not heal properly and older cuts may start to fall apart.

Enough vitamin C can cut back on how often you get colds and flus and cut back on how much they affect you. It can also delay the onset of certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimers. It is essential for drug metabolism, helping medications to reach their full potential in your system.

Sources of vitamin C include: broccoli, sweet bell peppers, sprouts, kale, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries and of course citrus fruits. Citrus can be found easily and cheaply by almost everyone and it is so simple to dehydrate.

Pick nice, firm just ripened fruits. Cut into thin wheels (1/4″) and lay on your dehydrator trays. Using a temperature controlled dehydrator, set it to 125 F. It takes about 6-8 hours depending on the humidity in your area, it could also take more.

To use your citrus, you can place it in glasses of water or juice to add flavor or you can powder the inner parts to make juice mix. Make sure to store your fruit in airtight containers in a cool dry environment.

dehydrated oranges