Archive for the 'Food Storage' Category

Even More Good Reasons to eat Locally

admin February 13th, 2011

Nearly all the southern regions that supply winter produce to the US have been hit by heavy freezes.  From the Digital Journal:

The cold weather experienced across much of the US in early February made its way deep into Mexico and early reports estimate 80-100 percent crop losses which are having an immediate impact on prices at US grocery stores with more volatility to come.

And it isn’t just Mexico - the freeze damage in Florida is also having an impact on produce prices - and will for some time to come.

This is just one more reason not to rely on far away places to feed you - and that means adapting a diet suitable to your own climate.  Do you miss cucumbers in February in upstate NY?  Sure.  Do you need them?  Not when you’ve got:

Apples, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic, squash, sweet potatoes, sprouts, scallions, arugula, celery root, beets, potatoes as well as other fruits and vegetables preserved in various ways.   The world is full of reminders that while it is a good thing to be able to go outside your region when you need to, need and want aren’t the same.



Food Preservation Q and A

Sharon August 17th, 2010

Ok, folks, ask me anything you want about food storage, food preservation, etc… and I’ll endeavor to answer!  Free for all - ask what you want!


Food Storage and Preservation Class Syllabus

Sharon August 12th, 2010

This is the the time of year for most of us when everything is ripe and abundant in our gardens and at local farms, and learning to put food up can make it possible for you to enjoy summer in winter, and continue eating locally as long as possible. It can be overwhelming when you start preserving, so if you’d like a friendly voice to walk you through it, please join us.

The class is on-line and asynchronous, and you can participate at your own pace. Every week we’ll have projects involving what’s overflowing in our gardens and markets to get you familiar with the basics of preserving the harvest, and also help you build up food security by building up a reserve of stored food.

My hope is that at the end of the class, everyone will have a plan for how they want to go about increasing their food storage reserves, and will have tried the major methods of food storage. You will be able to watch the jars increase as the class goes on.

Here’s a rough syllabus:

Week 1, August 17 - Introduction to Food Storage, How much, where to put it, and how? Can I afford this? Low energy overview of food preservation methods. Storing Water, making space.

Week 2, August 24: Water bath canning 101, Preserving with Salt, Sugar and Honey, Bulk purchasing, sourcing local foods, finding food to preserve, what food storage can and can’t do.

Week 3, August 31: Dehydration basics, Tools you need and where to get them, Menu making and how to get people to eat from your pantry, Setting up your kitchen for food storage, Storing herbs and spices, Sourdoughs and grain ferments, Preserving foraged foods.

***September 7 No Class, Rosh Hashana and Instructor elsewhere ;-) ***

Week 4 September 14: Lactofermentation; Special needs and health issues; Storing food for children, pregnant and lactating women; Storing medications, gluten-free storage; Basic dairy preservation; Building up your pantry and Managing your reserves.

Week 5, September 21: Pressure Canning; Beverages, Teas and Drinks; Preserving in Alcohol, Coops and Community Food Security; More Menus and Recipes; Root Cellaring and in-Garden Storage.

Week 6, September 28: Season extension, Preserving Meats, Sprouting, The next Steps, Getting Your Community Involved, Teaching others, Food Preservation as a Cottage Industry.

We will try and track the seasonal produce coming in, support each other as we experiment with new techniques and build up our pantries as we go - and have a lot of fun! If you are interested in joining, cost of the class is $150 or equivalent barter. I also have three scholarship spots remaining for low income participants who would otherwise be unable to afford to take the class. If you’d like to donate to the scholarship fund, just let me know - 100% of your donation goes to making classes available to low income participants. Email me to enroll or with questions at [email protected].


Food Storage and Preservation Class Syllabus

Sharon April 5th, 2010

There is still space in my upcoming (starts April 15) Food Storage and Preservation Online class, for those who are interesting. If you’ve wanted to start preserving or building up a food reserve and have no idea how to start, or perhaps you learned to can once upon a time, but want to explore the full range of food preservation options, or you’ve joined a CSA and want to know what to do with all that food you are getting, or cut your grocery bills - this is the class for you. Each class includes a couple of practical projects for you to try out each week.

The class is offered asynchronously online, which means that you go at your own pace and don’t have to be online at any particular time. Cost of the class is $150 for six weeks, or equivalent barter, and I thanks to a generous donor, I have one additional scholarship spot for a low-income participant who wouldn’t be able to join in otherwise. Email me if you’d like to apply.

Here’s the class syllabus. Email me [email protected] to sign up or ask further questions.

Thursday, April 15: Introduction, Food Preservation vs. Food Storage, Getting organized, Sourcing bulk food and preserving quantities, Setting up the Kitchen for Preserving, Equipment you Don’t Need, Equipment You Might Need, Eating what You Store.

Practicum: Planning Your Food Storage, The Menu Project

Thursday, April 22: Low Cost Strategies for Building a Reserve, Community Resources and How to Find Them, Getting Started with Canning. Condiments, Part I Year Round Food Preservation, Menu ideas.

Practicum: Water Bath Canning and Wonderful Condiments

Thursday, April 29: Foodie Food Storage; Special Circumstances, Special Diets; Meals Kids will Eat; Getting Loved Ones on Board, Herbs and Spice Mixes, Teas and Beverages, Introduction to Dehydration

Practicum: Dehydrating and making Spice MIxes and Teas

Thursday, May 6: Bulk and Local Sourcing, Storing Medications and other non-food supplies, Foraging and Preserving Foraged Foods, Teas and Beverages, Introduction to Lactofermentation, Pressure Canning 101

Practicum: Pressure Canning Without Fear and Pickling with Lactofermentation

Thursday, May 13: Planning the Harvest, Food Storage and Preservation as a Cottage Industry, Teaching Others, Storing Water, Root Cellaring and Season Extension, Setting Up a “Root Cellar” when you don’t have one, Preserving in Alcohol

Practicum: Root Cellaring and Making Liqueurs

Thursday May 20: Food Storage and Community Issues, “But Won’t the Marauders Come and Take It?” Food Preservation and Ways of Reducing Food Waste, Menus Part II, Basic Dairying, Preserving in Salt, Wrap Up, Developing Your Battle-Cry.

Practicum: Simple Cheese and Herb-Salts

This class should be a lot of fun - this was my first ever online class, and I’ve now run it almost 10 times, and it is simply a blast! I hope you can join us!

How Food Secure Are You?

Sharon October 13th, 2009

As the transition to winter begins, and I spend more time talking about _Independence Days_, I thought it would be a good time to encourage my readers to do a self-evaluation of their food security and basic preparedness for an emergency.

The truth is that even if you think you are perfectly secure, you probably aren’t.  All you have to do is think about recent occasions when regions had power outages or crises for weeks on end, and when a buffer of food and medical supplies, and evacuation plan and lots of warm blankets would have been welcome.  Think Kentucky ice storms, Northeast ice storms, Houston and New Orleans Hurricanes…honestly, we all know it could happen.

So I would advise everyone to take a little while and see what your situation is, and maybe set some new goals for the fall and winter to improve - we all have things we can improve on.  So here’s a little quiz.  All questions are true/false. 

True or false:


1. I have two weeks of stored water, including my water heater and rainbarrels (if rainbarrels, you need a filter as well).  Stored water should be a minimum 1 gallon per person per day (2 is much better), plus 1 quart for each pet.

2. I have a plan for getting water (if you have a well) if the power is out for an extended period.  This could be a well bucket, a manual pump, or another water reliable water source. I have tested and used this source, and know that it works and is reliable.

3. I have a way of filtering or treating contaminated water, should my city or well water become unsafe to drink.

4. I have some familiarity with my local water infrastructure - I know where it comes from, and my community has a plan to handle water emergencies, including extended power outages. 

5. If I don’t have a reliable water source and am relying on stored water, I have a supply of alcohol-based hand-sanitizer for cleaning and hygeine. 

6. I know how to set up a composting toilet and handle hygeine issues.  If I live in a densely populated area, I’m prepared to talk to my neighbors about this stuff to prevent the spread of disease

Food Storage:

1. I have several familiar recipes that my family likes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that I can make several times each from my food storage without any other ingredients. 

2. I have food storage to last *at least* 3 weeks?  3 months?  Six months or more?  My family could eat wholly from our pantry for this period, and, even if they didn’t love it, would enjoy the foods generally.

3. I have special foods for those who have special dietary needs in my family and among the people most likely to come to us in an emergency.  If these foods are different than our normal ones, I have used them, and know that everyone will and can eat them.

4. I have fresh foods in cool/cold storage or in the garden year ’round that allow for a diet including fresh vegetables and fruits to supplement dry, canned or other preserved foods.

5. My food storage includes a variety of staple grains and legumes, not just wheat.  I know how to cook and use these grains, and my family likes them and eats them regularly. 

6. If I rely on a freezer, I either use it only for supplementation, or have a backup plan for how to prevent food waste (throwing a big party, canning or preserving it) if the power is out. 

7. I have the tools to preserve and store foods that I grow, forage or purchase in bulk.

8. I have stored food for my pets and livestock.

9. If my family regularly consumes meat, dairy or eggs, I have the animals to reproduce this, stored equivalents or a family that is comfortable with doing without and a store of recipes to make sure they don’t miss it.

10. I have a store of vitamins and understand the basics of nutrition so that we can eat well from our pantry.

11. I take advantage of bulk purchasing, seasonal abundance and sales to expand my storage as much as I can.  I also take advantage (or direct those more in need to it) of free food, through foraging, gleaning, dumpster diving, etc…

12. I have a budget for food storage and preparedness, and I add a little to my storage every week (or whatever period you use) by preserving, purchasing or foraging.

Evacuation Plans:

1. My family has “grab and go” bags that include basic necessities to allow us to manage up to a few days in transit or a shelter if we must leave our home rapidly.  These include copies of important documents and photos, portable, easy to cook foods, medication, matches, water, hygeine items, a change of clothes, children’s needs. 

2. My family has an evacuation plan including a meet up spot, a plan for picking up children or elders from various sites, a family member who can take messages and coordinate communications if people are out of touch, and transportation security - ie, bicycles, or stabilized gas for the car, directions to likely locales, etc….

3. Everyone in the family knows what to do if we get separated.  Friends/family that we might evacuate to know we might arrive and are willing to help.

4. We have plans for pets and livestock should we need to evacuate.


1. We have multiple first-aid kits (Independence Days includes a comprehensive discussion of this) and know how to use them.  All adults and older children are competent to provide first aid, evaluate whether something needs more medical attention, and handle an emergency if medical attention isn’t immediately available.  Not only do I own the books, but I’ve actually read them ;-) .

2. I have a three week supply of any needed medication or a viable substitute that I have tried and that works.  I also have copies of all my prescriptions, including glasses. 

3. If we are quarantined, I have basic nursing skills and know how to care for a sick person, and to reduce risk of infection. 

4. I have the capacity to boil water and heat food, to prevent fires while using new tools, to keep warm or cool and handle basic hygeine issues even during an extended power outage.

Tribal issues:

1. I know which of my family/friends might come to us in a crisis.  I have made basic preparations to meet their needs in an emergency, at least for a short time.  I have enough food and clothing, and at least a sleeping bag or two to offer.

2. If I am anticipating children, parents or extended family to rely on me in the long term, I have made preparations for this in my food storage, medical storage and supply of other basic needs.  This includes covering special needs like diapers for infants, medications for elderly parents, etc…

3. I have sent people I love a letter saying “if you ever need to come here I would welcome you.”  The letter includes back-road directions and is designed to get them thinking about such an eventuality.


1. I am familiar with my local foodshed and watershed, and am working with others to expand it.

2. I am encouraging others to build up a reserve of food and medicine, and to find ways to meet other needs, at either the individual or communal level.

3. I can teach others the skills I’ve gained, and am willing to do so.

Ok, scoring: If you see a “false” that’s an indication that that’s a place to begin working.  How did you score?  Remember, if you have work to do (me too, trust me!), don’t panic - just do a little at a time.  It doesn’t take a lot of time to fill a bottle with water or pick up an extra package of bandaids and one of dried beans.  It all adds up over time.


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