Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekly Assignment, Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness Ideas (Week of August 19th)

Hi Carson Ward Family, Family and Friends,

Someone is listening......

On Tuesday, August 7th, a cluster of earthquakes hit the northern Orange County area. The first one was felt at 3:45am with a magnitude of 4-5, and then by another with a 4-5 magnitude about 9:30am. Several other smaller ones were felt the following day.

Our daughter's family, who live in Huntington Beach, felt the earthquakes. Their son came running into their bedroom when the 3:45am one hit. He exclaimed, "Nana, was right!" When the next one hit at 9:30am, once again he exclaimed, a little louder, "Nana, was right!". That night before he went to bed, he folded his clothes and put them next to his bed with his shoes and a flashlight. He wanted to be prepared if another, and possibly bigger, earthquake hit during the night.

He has heard me tell our children and their families many times they need to be prepared and to get ready. It is great to hear that they are hearing me and following the counsel given, especially the younger ones. Thank you Spencer for listening to your Nana!

Just recently I heard the hurricane season this year is going to pretty bad. It is amazing how each year we see people living in the hurricane area scrambling to get ready when a hurricane is approaching. How many of them each year run to the stores for supplies of boards and nails to board up their windows, and to the stores for flashlights and batteries and drink water. Why????? Why do they do this each year? Why do they not store those supplies so when the hurricanes hit, they are not frantically running to the stores again for supplies? Why???? I guess we are all just creature of habit. We need to change our bad habits and be more prepared for what may come our way. Why do we procrastinate and leave it to the last minute? The last minute will be too late. As I said a few weeks ago--"When the emergency is upon us, the time of preparation has past!"

Weekly FREE Monthly Giveaway Drawing Question: What are the three ways to dehydrate fruits, vegetables and meats? Please email your answer to Please make sure to add your name if it does not appear in your email address. The next FREE Monthly Giveaway Drawing will be held Sunday, August 26th.

August Goals: Canning, Freezing and Dehydrating, Adding Fruits and Vegetables to our Food Storage

The last two weeks I have shown you how to freeze and can your fruits and vegetables. This week I will show you how to dehydrate them.

Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables:

Dehydrating is the oldest form of food preservation. In the beginning people used a lot of salt to preserve their food, and they dried their food in the sun or on top of the stove. Today we have food dehydrators to help in the process of drying. Dehydration is safe because if removes the water from the food, mold and bacteria cannot grow on it, and it will not spoil. Drying the food does cause a loss of some of vitamin A and C. It takes 6-16 hours to dehydrate vegetables, 12-18 hours to dehydrate fruits, and 6-20 hours to dehydrate meats. You can dehydrate fruits, vegetables and make beef jerky. Once you have dehydrated them I would seal them in the Mylar pouches/bags with the oxygen absorbers for long term storage.  Then place the Mylar pouches/bags  in the 5 gallon food grade buckets you can purchase with lids.

Different methods of dehydrating food:

1) Sun Drying--Difficult, need 3-4 hour sunny days of at least 100 degrees each day. This will only work in areas where you have this type of weather.
2) Oven Drying--Not very energy efficient, foods are not very tasty in the end, your oven must obtain a temperature below 200 degrees and you need to prop the oven door open to maintain air circulation during the drying time. To much trouble for me!
3) Electric Dehydrators--The best method for dehydrating your food. Now days they are energy efficient and can be operated at a low temperature. Look for electric dehydrated that have heat control and a fan to maintain the air circulation during the drying time. Watch for great sales. Check online too.
 Excalibur 2400 4 Tray Starter Series Food Dehydrator
Does and Don't of Dehydrating your food (Follow the instructions in your Electric Dehydrator unit):

1) Do not keep the temperature too low or too high, follow the instructions.
2) Food should be dehydrated between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Vegetables at 130 degrees, fruits at 135 degrees, meats are higher at 145-150 degrees.
3) The food should be leathery with no pockets of moisture when you touch it. Fruits, tear and check for moisture at the tear, if there is moisture, it is not dry enough. The vegetables should be tough, but can also be crisp. The meat should be tough, but shouldn't snap apart.
4) When storing your dehydrated food, make sure no moisture can get in. Best to seal in air tight contains, like the Mylar pouches/bags with oxygen absorbers as mentioned above. See the YouTube video on how to do this process yourself.
5) All vegetables except onions, peppers and mushrooms should be washed, sliced and blanched. Check online how long to blanch each type of vegetable you will be dehydrating.
6) All fruits should be washed, pitted and sliced. You can pretreat your fruits with lemon juice to prevent darkening while you are preparing for drying.
7) Dry the fruits and vegetables in single layers on trays.
8) Wipe of the fat of the jerky while it is drying.
9) Jerky does not store for long periods of time. If more than a month freeze or refrigerate. Or, you can seal the jerky in the Mylar pouches/bags, with the oxygen absorbers for longer storage.

Vegetable Dehydrating Chart:

Beans, green: Stem and break beans into 1-inch pieces.Blanch. Dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
Beets: Cook and peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Dry 3-10 hours until leathery.
Broccoli: Cut and dry 4-10 hours.
Carrots: Peel, slice or shred. Dry 6-12 hours until almost brittle.
Cauliflower: Cut and dry 6-14 hours.
Corn: Cut corn off cob after blanching and dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
Mushrooms: Brush off, don't wash. Dry at 90 degrees for 3 hours, and then 125 degrees for the remaining drying time. Dry 4-10 hours until brittle.
Onions: Slice 1/4-inch thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Peas: Dry 5-14 hours until brittle.
Peppers, sweet: Remove seeds and chop. Dry 5-12 hours until leathery.
Potatoes: Slice 1/8-inch thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Tomatoes: Dip in boiling water to loosen skins, peel,slice or quarter. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Zucchini: Slice 1/8-inch thick and dry 5-10 hours until brittle.

Fruits Dehydrating Chart:

Apples: Peel, core and slice into 3/8-inch rings, or cut into 1/4-inch slices. Pretreat and dry 6-12 hours until pliable.
Apricots: Cut in half and turn inside out to dry. Pretreat and dry 8-20 hours until pliable.
Bananas: Peel, cut into 1/4-inch slices and pretreat. Dry 8-16 hours until pliable or almost crisp.
Blueberries: Dry 10-20 hours until leathery.
Cherries: Cut in half and dry 18-26 hours until leathery and slightly sticky.
Peaches: Peel, halve or quarter. Pretreat and dry 6-20 hours until pliable.
Pears: Peel, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and pretreat. Dry 6-20 hours until leathery.
Pineapple: Core and slice 1/4-inch thick. Dry 6-16 hours until leathery and not sticky.
Strawberries: Halve or cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Dry 6-16 hours until pliable and almost crisp.

(The above information comes from a website "Farm Living is the Life for Me",

Remember: If using an Electric Dehydrator, follow the instructions in the manual and the charts for how long and what temperature to dehydrate.

Weekly Assignment: Adding Fruits and Vegetables to our Food Storage:

This week add more fruits and vegetables to your Food Storage. Only add what your family will eat. Store in a variety of ways, commercially canned fruits and vegetables, frozen, freeze-dried and canned in Mason jars. Do not add fruit juices at this time. We will be working on that one later one.

Food Storage Ideas:

In an emergency situation when there is no electricity, use your refrigerator food first, then your frozen food. Try to open your refrigerator and freezer as little as possible, it will keep the food longer. Once you have used this food, then move onto your canned and dehydrated and freeze-dried food. Save the vegetable liquid from the canned vegetables to help rehydrate the dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. That way you will use less stored water and have more water for drinking. Note: If you have a generator, run the refrigerator/freezer for 1 hour, then unplug the refrigerator/freezer. It will keep it cold for about 23 hours as along as you do not open the doors often. Repeat every day until the electricity is restored.

Emergency Preparedness Ideas:

While our grandson had a great idea to put his clothes, shoes and a flashlight by his bed, I would like to add to his great preparation. Each family member should have an extra large zip lock bag tied to his bed leg with some sturdy shoes, maybe some pants and a t-shirt, a working flashlight with extra batteries, a pair of extra glasses wrapped in a wash cloth, for those who wear glasses, and a crowbar inside the bag. The reason for tying it to the bed leg, in an earthquake, as you know, thing tend to move around and would be hard to find in the dark. This way all you would need to do is reach for the zip lock bag tied to your bed leg. The crowbar is to help you get out of a door or window that might be blocked or jammed.

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