Tag Archives: emergency food prep


by Woodsbum

For those of you who are not sure what hardtack is, think of it like a horribly thick and hard cracker. What is nice is that it will literally last forever. It doesn’t go bad. What I like it for is tossing some hard cheese and meat on it, honey, or use it to dip into a soup. People also eat it as is, but it is a bit bland.

Here is the recipe:


  • 3 cups of white flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of water

Mix it all together and roll it out into a big square. Cut the dough into about 9 equal portions or just make them about as equal as you can get. Once you get these portioned and cut, use a nail to poke about 14 holes to make it resemble the holes on a saltine cracker.

Bake the pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove them from the sheet and let them cool. They should look like slightly browned, puffy crackers.

Each piece of hardtack is about 150 calories.


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Plum Preserves

by Woodsbum

Due to travel, it has been a been over a week since my last post. I tell you, life is really crazy.

When I got home I found that the French improved plum tree in my backyard was ready for harvest. We grabbed several bags, one of which was pitted and put into my dehydrator. The other one was pitted and put into a pot for preserves/jam. The recipe we use is a 2 ingredient variety that just takes longer to complete than one that calls for pectin.

The recipe is as follows:

  • Use about a 20 small plum/prune to 4.5 cups of sugar ratio. 12 fruit to 4.5 cups of sugar for the bigger plums.
  • Stir the fruit and sugar up, then leave it to sit for about 2 hours.
Coated and slowly heating plums

Coated and slowly heating plums

  • Heat the mixture up slowly until all the sugar is melted. This should be done on 3/10 or 4/10 on your heat setting. Once the sugar becomes mostly liquid and not all grainy, bring your heat up to 6/10 and get it steadily bubbling.
  • Once your mixture is completely bubbling, turn your heat up to the lower portion of your high setting, 8/10, for about 10 minutes. Stir the mixture constantly.
  • Turn the heat down to about 3/10 and stir it until the bubbling subsides dramatically. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Take the mixture off the heat and let it sit until it is cool enough to comfortably sit on the skin without burning.
After first heating

After first heating

  • Repeat the heating process another 4 times to complete a full 5 heating cycles.

Once the final heat is done, take the mixture off the stove and fill your sterilized jars. Just follow current canning standards.

The more times that you heat the mixture, the thicker the preserves/jam will be. If you happen to add too much sugar, you can always just use it as syrup or a sauce. The nice thing about making jellies and jams is that there is no such thing as a bad batch. You just improvise the label and use it a bit differently.

We were finishing our 3rd heating cycle last night so I don’t have any pictures of the finished jam yet. The whole process can take 2-3 days due to the heating and cooling cycles. Because of all the sugar you don’t have to worry about bacteria growing. It is fairly well preserved once the first heat cycle is completed, but the follow up cycles set your consistency and thickness.

Happy jamming!

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Oven Canning

by Woodsbum

My mother actually ran across this great site that covers some information about oven canning food. She knows that I am getting into a lot of these types of things and she thought that I would really like this information. As a matter of fact, I do like the post and thought that I would share.

I recently was introduced t the idea of Oven Canning by: Deb Shaded Deer Schorzman
Sounded very interesting to me so I proceeded to do a little research via the internet. This was the most informative piece I found. I certainly think this is worth a try. I do agree that I would only use this method for dry goods. I always like when I can find a way to have an item last longer on the shelf and keeps rotation down. Which in the long run keeps food cost down.

Let us know if you have tried this and how it has worked for you.


I learned from a very dear friend, many years ago. It is called oven canning. She also taught me how to can using a pressure cooker. She was a lot older than I was, and knew so much. I loved canning, but stuck with fruits, jams, jellies and such, as you did not have to use a pressure cooker. I was so scared to use one–I could just picture it blowing up the whole kitchen. She told me, “Kid (she always called me Kid), they are safe to use. You just have to pay attention to what you are doing, and cannot get side tracked while they are on the stove.” So the learning began. And she was right, it was safe, and I have since canned up lots of great veggies.

One day while we were visiting and having coffee at her home, she said, “Well Kid, today I am going to get busy on my oven canning.” I asked, “Oven canning?” thinking she could not really be going to can stuff in the oven. I asked how safe is food canned in the oven? She said it will last for years and years. I thought okay … I will listen to her and let her tell me, but I am sure not going to can any food in the oven.

I told her I had a few hours until the kids got home from school, so if she wanted some help, I would be glad to help her. She started bringing out all the canning jars, and a big cookie sheet. Then she started hauling out cans and cans of stuff. She said she buys things while on sale, and when she gets enough to fill the oven, she cans it.

What she had in the cans surprised me. It was beans, oatmeal, cornmeal, flour, and all kinds of dry items. I know I had a shocked look on my face, as she started laughing and asked, “What did you think I was going to can in the oven?” I told her I had no idea, and was still at a loss as to what she was going to do.

We started filling half gallon, quart and pint jars with different dry foods. When we had the jars filled, she turned on the oven to 200 degrees, and put the cookie sheet in, then put the filled jars on the cookie sheet. She filled it with all it would hold. She said now we can sit and visit for an hour. In an hour she got a damp paper towel and started taking out the jars, one at a time. She would wipe the rim with the wet towel, put the lid on and screw the band down tight. She was working steady and fairly fast. She would get one jar done then put it aside on a towel-covered area, open the oven and get out another jar and do the same thing. She said you have to be real careful and use a heavy cloth or potholder, as the jars are really hot. She used a small kitchen towel, which is what I use all the time now because you get a good grip on the jars, and it protects your hands. She got the jars all out and sealed, and then put in another batch and set the timer for another hour. She said all of her dry foods are now protected from bugs and critters, and will keep for years.

I started oven canning all of our dried foods at that time, and only a few months ago found out how long most of the foods will keep if stored right. Are you ready for this? A lot of them will last 20 to 30 years! I was shocked when I found this out. I know I have used items that have been canned 7 to 10 years or so, and they are great and are fresh tasting, just like when first canned. But 20 to 30 years was a real shock. They are to be stored where it is dry and not over 75 degrees.

I oven can all kinds of dry goods beans, cornmeal, flours, rice, oatmeal, dried onions, dried carrots, dried celery, potato flakes, dried yams and sweet potatoes, cereals, pastas-the list goes on and on. I even oven can our dry boxed cereals, as I was tired of finding bugs in boxes that were unopened but we did not use up in record time. (The bugs were in the foods when packaged, as they were in the sealed bags, but not in the box they were put into.) Most of the cereals are even better once they are oven canned, as they have more crunch to them.

The only thing you can not oven can is dry foods that have oils in them. I oven can almonds, and pecans, but walnuts do not can good at all. They will go bad, but it is due to the amount of oil, so they get tossed in the freezer.

Like my friend of many years ago, I buy dried food when it is on sale, and when I get enough to fill the oven a couple of times, I oven can it. It sure is great having all the dry foods safe and handy to use.

Everyone I tell who has tried oven canning has told me how happy they are to know about it. The best part most of them tell me is not having the freezers filled with all the dry foods, so they now have space for the foods that must be frozen.

You can use most glass jars and their lids, as long as the lids have the rubber gasket inside. Once in a while I will have one or two jars that do not seal; I just put them in the pantry to use, as they are heat treated and in glass, so they are still bug- and critter-free.

Any herbs and veggies that you dry, you can oven can. I dried grated carrots and then oven canned them. I just used some in my homemade soup, and they are fantastic. I hope this is a big help to saving your foods, freezer space and money. It sure helps us each year.

Any questions that I did not cover, please ask via COUNTRYSIDE.COM, and put it under Oven Canning, I will see it and respond. If you leave a phone or email number, I will contact you. I don’t know it all, but what I do know I am more than happy to share.

Using a cookie sheet or large flat container is a darn good idea to set your jars on. When I first started oven canning I knocked over a pint of rice while getting jars out. Needless to say, the clean up took a lot of time and energy.

   Before and After


 Happy oven canning.–Lil Roberts, Manteca, California
posted in COUNTRYSIDE magazine Sept/Oct 2011

I really am excited about getting some things together to set up some canning sessions. This is one area that I have not been as diligent in preparedness as I should be. It appears that I will need to take a trip over to Bi-Mart and get some canning equipment sooner than later.

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Grain Mill

by Woodsbum

Over the last several years I have been on a mission to lower my dependency on stores and manufactured products. Of course there is little to no way to get completely independent, but I have been making as many strides as I can reasonably make toward that end goal. Having a way to mill grains and make flour for cooking is one such leap I had yet to make, until recently.

The criteria for my milling system was fairly straight forward. I wanted something that was NOT electric, but I could attach a motor to it later on if I so desired. Other than that I just wanted it to be sturdy and actually work as advertised.

Since our family is not a huge bread consumer, this device would not be expected to produce pounds of flour every week. I figured that a few cups at a time was more than sufficient. Even my big bread recipes only call for a max of 6 cups. My son can grind away for a few minutes to get us that amount.

Now that I knew what I wanted (usable, durable, inexpensive, and manual) I went to work on Amazon in search of something that would suffice. There in lies the rub……  I had NO clue what I was buying really. There are hundreds of devices out there in a multitude of configurations and they all claim to be the best thing since mortar and pestle. Getting some rocks and grinding didn’t sound like fun so I just read some reviews, bought something, and crossed my fingers.

Here is what I got:

Grain Mill

Grain Mill

It had great reviews and I had a coupon to get a solid discount, so I figured I couldn’t get too badly hurt if it turned out to be a bust. Interestingly enough, it seems to work pretty good. We have only used it 5-6 times, but it works as advertised and I get a good arm workout in the process. The wheat berries we picked up are some sort of hippie stock, GMO deprived, organically sealed and hermaphrodite free or some such crap. The flour tastes okay so I guess I picked well.

Wheat Berries

Wheat Berries

We have not figured out how many berries it takes to get a cup of flour, but I can tell you that it seems to be a lot. Several refills of the hopper are required to get enough flour for a pizza crust. That is about as scientific as I can get on it, but I have discovered a few things that I would like to pass along to everyone.

  • Cleaning this thing is not for the faint of heart. Holy sheep shears…….
  • The table clamp scratches the crap out of your table so only use it when you wife is gone and you can use thick socks to protect the table. Don’t tell my wife.
  • The flour from this allows dough to raise more than store bought flour. The taste seems to be the same, though. For all the work I wanted it to taste like fluffy gold and it doesn’t.

For those that have considered jumping into this purchase for themselves, I would recommend what I got. It works and hasn’t killed me yet. Nothing fancy, just functional. This being said, I would have to say that this isn’t just a prepper tool. Anyone that likes fresh cooking components would be happy with this setup in all honesty. Just the fact that I can store the berries in small, vacuum sealed packages and just make the flour as needed keeps all my ingredients fresh. If nothing else it makes me feel like I am doing something “special” for my family when I bust this guy out. That and it is kinda nostalgicly amusing.

Have fun with the arm workout!!!!

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