Mike, from our Northern NJ Preparedness Group wrote the following post on that site and gave me permission to reprint it here:
I had a long conversation with a buddy of mine tonight over a large pot of venison stew. I was shocked that he was not practicing any long term food storage because he does not have the skills to do it. That motivated me to write this post after promising my buddy to teach him what I know about food storage.
Folks, do not waste your money buying prepackaged, bulk, long term food storage unless you have the money to burn and/or don’t have the time to spend on doing it yourself. For most of us though, I’m sure saving a lot of money would be a plus because that would allow us to spend the money saved on more supplies. Keep in mind, depending on future the skills you learn doing the preservation yourself may become invaluable.
Anyway, here’s my advice – buy and read a few books or spend some of your free time watching youtube videos on bulk food preservation. Learn about canning and dehydrating. Try to figure our what would work best for you. What are your needs, goals and fears for the future? Is your main plan to bug in or bug out? You’re probably thinking, “What do these things have to do with food preservation?”. But when you do your research everything will come together and make sense.
If you plan on rotating the food storage into your regular meals, canning is a great way to preserve many foods that you grow in your yard for several years or even longer depending on the storage conditions.
You can store meats for the same amount of time through pressure canning – only slightly more advanced but requiring a more expensive (pressure) canner. This is a great way to preserve large amounts of animal products purchased while on sale. Most canned foods can also be eaten safely out of the jar without heating or cooking (canned foods are fully cooked through the canning process).
If you are planning on bugging out and only have canned vegetables and meats – you may have a problem….Think about packing the heavy pint and quart sized glass jars. Think about the amount of space you have in your BOB or even your vehicle. Think about your physical ability to carry the heavy load and the small amount of meals relative to those heavy loads. If those jars don’t break, you may be able to carry enough to sustain yourself for several days to a week. If you had to feed a few other people, you would all be starving in several days.
So, maybe canned goods isn’t the best solution for bugging out. Or maybe you want to put a large amount of long term storable food in your basement and forget about it until the SHTF. Let’s consider dehydrated food. Because their bulk and weight have been greatly reduced through the dehydrating process, dehydrated foods are more compact and convenient for storing and require very little space. Quite simply, you can store more than twice the calories/meals in less than half the space and less than 1/3 the weight!
Dehydrated foods also offer quick mobility in the event of a bug out situation. For example, one case of regular canned food weighs approximately 24 pounds. The same item of dehydrated foods would weigh from 36 to 45 ounce. Dehydrated foods have approximately double the yield of regular canned foods even though their cost is much lower. And then there’s also those handy, stackable 1, 5 or 6 gallon food grade buckets which are easy to carry multiples of with their handles and light weight. If you couple the food grade buckets with mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, now you have a long term storable food (30+ years for long grain white rice, certain legumes, hard red wheat and others…) that is stackable, easily stored, carried and transported.
Keep in mind, in order to consume dehydrated foods like rice and legumes, they need to be rehydrated. That means you need a heat source, water and time. In a bug out situation, you may not be able to make a fire as you would give away your position easily. You may not have the time to prepare your meal as you need to keep on the move to get out of dodge and/or evade pursuers. You may not have the skills to make a fire on your own. Or all of your natural combustible material and your flint may be wet due to the weather.
So there you have it. Canning and dehydrating are two excellent forms of long term food storage. There are pluses and minuses to both depending on your financial situation, timeline, goals, plans of bugging in or bugging out, or tactical considerations. Do your research. The information is out there on the web for free but there is no substitution for having a hard copy in event of a grid down situation.
-Practicality trumps style and skill beat bulls@%t.-
Many thanks to Mike for the excellent advice.