Pantry Items and Plants Can Ease Discomfort

October 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

In the case of long-term disasters, using the natural resources we have on hand may become necessary. While the citizens of most developed countries are not schooled in the medicinal properties of herbs and plants, about 80% of the world still uses natural remedies for injuries and illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mormon medicinal plant usesIn many cases, we need look no further than our own pantries. Also, open fields may yield helpful plants, since many are hardy and grow wild.  Others are easily grown in pots or home gardens and need little attention. Not that long ago, medicinal gardens were planted next to the family vegetable garden.

While natural remedies are not required to be evaluated by the FDA, it is important to remember that in an emergency/disaster they may be the only thing available. They have been used for generations and are the forerunners of our current medicines. Perhaps the greatest concern comes from not knowing what amounts to use, or how they interact with other medications or plants. For this reason, it would be wise to purchase a comprehensive book written by qualified authorities with pictures of medicinal plants, their uses, and any potential side effects.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are encouraged to store at least a three-month emergency storage for each person in the family—including medicines.

The following plants, suggested by wisefoodstorage.com, are basics, though there are many more possibilities. If they are dried, it wouldn’t hurt to add some to the emergency storage–just in case. Listed are the herbs/plants and perhaps the unfamiliar ways they can be used:

Basil – antacid

Blackberry – leaves used to prevent dysentery and as an anti-inflammatory

Catnip – for indigestion, migraines and to slow bleeding (and to  amuse the cat)

Chamomile – an easily grown miniature daisy used as a sleep aid

Feverfew – anti-inflammatory for headaches, arthritis

Garlic – antibacterial, fights symptoms of cold and flu, may reduce cholesterol

Mint – for nausea, indigestion, colds, also antibacterial

Parsley – for digestion

Sage – aids digestion, dries up phlegm, fights colds, reduces inflammation and swelling, acts as a salve for cuts and burns, and kills bacteria

Wild English Oregano – anti-viral and anti-fungal

*Before using any of these, make sure you know their potential side effects

Additionally, as found on the website, www.symptomfind.com/health/homemade-skin-treatments/ a pumpkin mask, which contains antioxidants, will sooth inflammation and redness on skin. It suggested mixing ¼ cup of mashed pumpkin with one tablespoon of honey and apply it to the irritated area for 20 minutes, then rinse off with cool water.

Other medicinal plants that can be grown in your home or garden and used for injuries to help heal minor cuts scrapes and burns include:

Aloe

When sliced open, the stalks of aloe plants ooze a gel-like substance that is excellent for rubbing on cuts, scrapes and burns. It also can be used to alleviate the pain and irritation of sunburn. In addition, aloe is good for soothing more general skin irritations, such as rashes and acne redness.

Goldenseal

The root of goldenseal can be dried and made into a powder that is useful for treating burns and cuts. Due to its antiseptic (germ-killing) properties, goldenseal is also believed to aid the healing process of injuries and inflammations.

Calendula

Calendula flowers are another treatment for cuts and burns. To prepare the flowers for application, they are steeped in water. The mixture is then applied to the injury and left to sit for five to 10 minutes several times a day until the injury is healed.

Arnica

The fresh or dried heads of Arnica flowers (yellow) can be used short-term for treating inflammation from insect bites and other types of closed wounds. (Do not use on open wound or broken skin). Discontinue use if the area becomes irritated.

Echinacea

The roots and flowers of Echinacea, also known as the coneflower, can be used to treat burns and scrapes. Additionally, Echinacea is useful in treating boils, abscesses and eczema.

Perhaps one of the most common injuries that can be aided by pantry items is a bee sting.

When a bee stings he injects a barbed stinger and a venom sac into the skin. The best method for removing the stinger is to scrape it out with a credit card or long fingernail. Trying to pull the stinger out may break the sac, releasing more venom and making the sting hurt more. For relief of the pain, try one of the following:

Honey: Folk lore says that if you’re stung by a bee, treat it with honey! Honey’s antibacterial properties will prevent the sting from getting infected.

Baking soda: Bee stings contain formic acid, so applying a paste of alkaline baking soda and water helps to neutralize the sting and its side effects. (If you’re suffering from a wasp sting, which is more alkaline, apply vinegar, which contains acetic acid, to the sting instead.)

Toothpaste: Although it might sting at first, applying toothpaste to the area can help neutralize the pain. Like baking soda, toothpaste contains alkaline ingredients that neutralize the venom in the sting.

Meat tenderizer: This kitchen-cupboard cure contains an ingredient called papain that breaks down the proteins found in bee venom. You can also make a paste with baking soda and meat tenderizer and a little water. Leave on for a short time for relief.

Calendula: Applying calendula cream to the stung area can reduce swelling and itching. Because calendula has antiseptic properties, it can also help prevent infection.

Ice: This cheap and easy natural remedy numbs the pain and reduces swelling. Although it seems like the most simple, it’s probably the most effective.

This article was written by Jan Mayer, amember of The Church of jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Harvesting and storing seeds

October 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

It’s a sign of plenty that we throw away seeds. In years past, when there has been wide-spread famine, seeds have actually become more valued than silver or gold. But today, because produce is readily available, we may underestimate the long-term importance of the seeds we so easily discard.

Mormon harvesting and storing seedsMormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have been encouraged for decades to plant gardens and to have a year’s supply of food and other necessities for their families in case of an emergency. Adding seeds to that supply would assure greater self-reliance and a sense of stability.

Successfully harvesting and storing seeds from your garden depends in part on the quality of seeds you planted in the first place. It’s important to plant fresh seed from a reputable seed company, making certain to save some in the original packet to assure a good garden the next year. With proper storage conditions, vegetable and flower seeds are good for one year without a decrease in germination, but they often last up to ten or more years. The drier the seeds, the longer they will remain viable.

Experts indicate that the original plant should have come from Heirloom seeds or open pollinated seeds rather than hybrids, because they will consistently produce the same plant year after year. They suggest marking where you plant each type of seed with the name and variety of the seed.  Following is a compilation of recommendations from FARMERIK, Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E., J.E. Ells, L.N. Bass and D. Whiting.

SEED SELECTION

To harvest good seeds, find the very best looking, strongest, and most productive plants in your garden. Do not collect seeds from diseased plants since the genes will be infected and weaken all seeds. Select plants with early bearing fruit, high fruit yield, good size, flavor and aroma for the best seeds. It is important to save seeds from at least three different plants of the same variety to provide good pollination the following spring.

SEED RIPENESS

Allow seeds to fully ripen before harvesting to achieve the best germination yield the following spring. The seed must be given time to store enough nourishment so it can germinate the following spring and grow into a healthy seedling.

DRYING

Seeds must be dried before they are stored (between 5% to 13% moisture content, with an average of 8%). Individual seeds should be separated from one another so they can dry more evenly. Larger seeds will require more time to air dry. Do NOT dry at a temperature higher than 100°F. or the seeds will crack. Indoor air drying is usually the best.

STORAGE

There are varying opinions about the best way to store seeds. Some say to put seeds in small paper envelopes placed in a standard plastic freezer bag. Others argue that even a plastic bag will allow moisture to seep in if it is kept in a refrigerator or freezer. All agree that placing the seeds in an envelope in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid will keep the air and moisture out. A cool temperature (40-50 degrees) will extend the seed life for years.

LABELING

Clearly label each seed envelope using permanent ink to identify the exact variety of seed and the year the seed was harvested. Also include the number of days the seed was allowed to dry, along with any unusual weather conditions during the drying process, such as unusually humid weather or unusually warm or cold weather during the drying process.

SEED BANK

A seed bank is a separate storage of about 10% of the seeds you harvest each year. This is to protect against an unexpected disease that could attack a garden, preventing being able to harvest seeds at the end of the season. A seed bank will assure that there will be seeds and the garden can be healthy the next year. In many cases, the devastation of a garden is hard to see until it comes close to harvest.

PLANTING SCHEDULE

Each spring you should gradually plant each variety of seed over an extended period of several weeks rather than all the seeds of one variety at the same time. This reduces your risk of loss to late frosts and it provides a longer harvest period for fresh vegetables for the table.

PREPARING SEEDS FOR PLANTING

Place the seeds you wish to plant in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator for three hours. When you remove the seed from the freezer the rush of warm air will help to break its winter dormancy. Then place the individual seeds between two damp paper towels for one day in a warm area. The seed is now in an optimal condition for immediate planting.

SPRING GERMINATION TEST

If you want to test the viability of your seeds BEFORE you plant them in the ground in the spring, write the name of the seed and the year it was harvested on a DRY paper towel. Dampen the paper towel and place ten seeds on one-half. Fold in half so the seeds are between the two halves of the damp paper towel. Place the damp paper towel inside a plastic bag and put it in a warm place. You can put several damp paper towels containing different seed varieties in the same plastic bag. Keep the paper towels slightly damp but NOT soaking wet. Periodically check the seeds based on the average germination time for each type of seed. You can determine the “approximate” germination rate by counting the number of seeds that sprout and dividing by the original number of seeds tested. For example, if you tested 10 seeds and 8 of them sprouted, then the germination rate is 80% (8/10 x 100). You can then plant these sprouted seeds in a peat pot indoors if the outdoor weather is too cold, or you can plant them in the ground if warm weather has arrived.

This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Additional Resources:

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Terrific tomatoes throughout the year

October 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

There’s nothing like a harvest—until those glorious garden goodies overtake your kitchen and your abundance turns to spoils. After all, you can only give away so many tomatoes or zucchini.

So what do you do?  Zucchini doesn’t go bad quickly and you can always make varieties of bread using chocolate, sour cream, apples, or banana to classic zucchini bread.

But tomatoes are not so forgiving. They demand immediate use.

Still, I wasn’t worried when we ended up with 60+ pounds of tomatoes. We ate as many dishes as we could think of and then we had to deal with rapidly ripening produce. I use stewed tomatoes as a base for several recipes, so I planned to can the rest… until we discovered our canner was missing. Did we leave it behind when we moved? We couldn’t find a store that had any in supply,  and we felt awkward asking new neighbors.

The quote “necessity is the mother of invention” had never been more true. We experimented, made a few mistakes, but ultimately were excited by what we found. We made tomato leather, and dried tomatoes in quarters and slices. We were delighted that they take up so little space but pack such a big flavor. We decided to store the leather and slices in the freezer because we anticipate using them through the next few months.

Adventures in making Tomato leather

Tomatoes that are ripening quickly are great for leather. After several attempts, we found the following method to be most consistent:

mormon-preparedness-tomato-leather

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clockwise: Tomato leather cut to fit a piece of bread, a tomato leather roll-up, dried whole tomato slices, and quartered tomatoes.

Preheat the oven to 185 degrees.

Remove core and stem from 8-10 tomatoes and cut into quarters, leaving the skin on.

Complete this step twice. Fill a large blender (mine is 48 oz.) to the top (4 or 5 tomatoes depending on their size).

Add 2 Tbs. lemon juice and blend the tomatoes until smooth. There will be about 4 ½ -5 cups of puree each time– for a total amount of 9-10 cups of puree.

Pour into a large pot and turn heat to high.

Stir occasionally until puree boils; turn down to medium and cook down until it is a little more than half of the original amount. Don’t allow it to become too thick or it will not stick together and will take a longer time to dry.

Spread plastic wrap (microwaveable) over a large cookie sheet (with sides); allowing a  very slight overlap on the sides.

Remove puree from heat and cool for ten minutes. Pour the puree, spreading it smoothly from corner to corner. Make sure the plastic wrap doesn’t fall on the puree or that section will not dry properly. The heat will not hurt the plastic wrap.

The drying process takes at least 24 hours—sometimes longer. If you need to remove it to use the oven, it will continue to dry—just at a slower pace. Make sure you return it to the oven as soon as possible.

The leather is dry when the surface isn’t moist and you can pull up a corner with it holding together. It isn’t unusual for cracks to appear in the leather.

The leather is very sturdy and chewy with a wonderful flavor. I rolled it up in the original plastic wrap and cut it into 8 strips, but it was eaten a lot faster than the time it took to make it.

One of the best uses of the leather is to cut it about the same size as bread and use it as you would tomatoes on a sandwich. In the middle of winter, that robust tomato taste will be a real treat!

Oven-dried tomatoes

mormon-preparedness-oven-dried-tomatoesThe next thing we tried—and loved—was drying tomatoes. This was a very simple process, and the enhanced flavor is well worth the time it takes to dry them. We didn’t add any salt or spice although a sprinkle of garlic or Italian spice would be worth a try. We love the flavor just as it is and have already added a few to salads.

We had large tomatoes, so we quartered each tomato into 6-8 sections. Next, we placed them on wire cooling racks that were placed over a cookie sheet. We used two racks to cover one cookie sheet and sprayed them lightly with Pam.

It’s best not to allow the tomatoes to touch or they stick together. We placed them in the oven for about 15 hours at 200 degrees. They’re done when they’re shriveled and chewy but not juicy or crunchy. Once dried, we placed them in a zip lock bag. I’ve read that they last indefinitely in the refrigerator or cold storage.

We also sliced whole tomatoes and dried a batch. They shrink considerably, but this shape is my favorite because they are smooth and fit nicely on sandwiches. I’m looking forward to a tasty BLT when fresh produce is hard to come by!

mormon-preparedness-tomatoes-on-oven-rack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange tomato slices so that air can circulate and they can dry evenly.

This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Additional Resources:

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Spice up food storage for better meals

October 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

Spicing up your storage may make the difference between tasty meals and bland, just-get-by fare. To assure that your food storage meals have appeal, don’t forget to include spices with your basics. Many foods are enhanced with the addition of salt and such spices as red or black pepper, mustard, or cumin. Herbs such as oregano, dill, basil and sage add fullness to main dishes.

spices-food-storage-mormonGarlic and onion powders and spice blends such as curry, chili powder and poultry seasoning also add distinctive flavors to legumes and main dishes. Spice blends are especially savory if they are sautéed in a small amount of butter prior to being added to the dish being prepared.

To determine the spices to buy, take a look at the food storage menus you have planned. Chances are you already have many on hand that will work short term, but it’s a good idea to evaluate how much you use in a year and if you have enough. Other flavoring agents, such as  bouillon granules, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar will store long term and offer variety to tired menus.

Most spices have a shorter shelf life than other stored foods. For example, whole spices and herbs with flowers and leaves last about one year; whole seeds and barks last about two years and roots last over two years. Ground herbs and spices last only about six months; ground roots last about a year. The best way to tell if still have the desired flavor is to smell them. If there is very little scent, the potency is gone and will not add flavor to a recipe. On the other hand, seeds generally have a mild smell unless they are rancid. In this case, the smell will be strong and unpleasant and will ruin any recipe, so be sure to smell them before using.

Be sure to include spices that are used in many desserts such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Though they don’t contain sugar, they add a flavor that enhances the sweetness of an item, such as cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie or cookies. Other favorite flavorings include cocoa powder and vanilla, lemon and almond extracts.

Additional spices and items that should be considered for storage are those that you will need for canning if you are able to harvest from your garden or trees. Pectin, canning bottles, lids and equipment need to be available. Spices could include cinnamon for applesauce, dill seed and mustard for pickles and cumin for salsa.

Good quality spices are available in bulk from a specialty or health food market. It isn’t necessary to buy a large amount, but the cost of packaging is eliminated and you have control over the amount and the way the items are stored.
With spices, skimping on good quality shows up in the flavor of the food you prepare. It may cost a little more to buy trustworthy brands, but in this case, it’s worth it.

The way spices are stored can make a big difference on how long they last. If they are stored close to heat or light, the flavor will deteriorate. If possible, store them in airtight containers in cool, dry places to extend shelf life.

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This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Food storage for special dietary needs

October 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

Coming up with meals when someone in the house has food allergies or special dietary needs can be daunting. Add the challenge of building a food storage supply that works for everyone–and it can be downright discouraging. The good news is that by utilizing storage concepts, planning meals could become easier. Making basic mixes and rotating food storage will assure that you have the ingredients you need at your fingertips.

First things first

food-allergies-mormonBefore you worry about food storage, give yourself time to adapt to the new way of eating that is required with dietary restrictions. At first you may be inclined to eliminate what can’t be eaten and stick to the small list that’s okay. But with time it becomes a burden—especially when everyone else is gulping down favorite foods.

Although there are lots of foods on the market that are close imitations, they’re usually expensive and not easy to store long-term, so don’t be afraid to experiment with recipes. It’s a good idea to research the huge variety of grains and flour blends to learn how substitutions work.

Many of your own recipes can be adapted with great results. For example, it’s easy to substitute wheat with corn starch when making gravy. Just reduce the amount of flour by half. If your recipe calls for 3 Tbs. of flour, then use 1 ½ Tbs. of cornstarch. Mix the cornstarch in about ¼ cup of cold water and add it to your drippings.  Make the gravy as usual. It will thicken and have the same flavor as the flour gravy.

This same idea applies to making a white sauce, which can also be used instead of a can of soup. Try this basic recipe for one cup of sauce:

Melt 3 Tbs. butter or margarine (there are a few regular brands without any dairy products). Remove from heat. Add 1 ½ Tbs. cornstarch and ¼ tsp. salt. Mix together in pan and add 1 C. milk (or milk substitute). Stir constantly on medium high heat until the mixture thickens to the consistency you want. If you want a chicken flavor, you can add chicken bouillon granules to taste or add sautéed mushrooms as a substitute for mushroom soup.

Once you know what works, you’ll be able to determine what things to store. Are there favorite recipes that work for the whole family? It’s always easier to cook for the group rather than preparing separate meals.

The next step: store what you eat—eat what you store

Once you are comfortable with the new menu ideas, take a look at the basic food storage guidelines. It will help to make a safe list of items from the basic guidelines that you can use. Adults should have 300 pounds of grain for a one year supply, with half of it being wheat. But if wheat is an issue, you can choose to store a greater amount of alternative grains such as oats, rice or cornmeal. There are many food storage recipes that use a variety of grains. However, check carefully before buying a large quantity because some grains don’t have as long a shelf life as wheat. Their higher oil content will cause them to go rancid.

You can collect food storage recipes that use different grains instead of focusing on the traditional items like breads, etc.

Other substitutions include beans which can stand alone or be used in place of oil or flour, depending on the recipe. Powdered soy milk is an alternative for powdered milk, but it is better for cooking than drinking. Applesauce can also be used as an oil substitute in some recipes.

There are a number of sweeteners that can be stored, including white and brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, corn syrup and maple syrup. There are also artificial sweeteners available in medium sized quantities.

The key to success will be creating meals from the foods you are storing and then replenishing the supply. Once this becomes a routine, meal planning will become simpler.

Other things to keep in mind

Stephanie Peterson, who is known in Arizona as Chef Tess offers the following additional suggestions:

If you have family with nut allergies, don’t add any nuts to any of the year supply. …If a parent isn’t there to supervise in an emergency situation, will the child know if there are nuts in the family food?! It may be a little more difficult, but making all the food safe for the one with allergies is always a better idea than having to keep that one person from eating at all.

Have a list of allergens in your year’s supply area (if children are older and able to read).  Also have that list readily available in their 72 hour backpacks in case they get separated from you. Does that list also include the severity of the allergy (from mild nausea or out and out shock…)? Do you have the “worst case” medication in their personal backpacks?

Look for allergens in places you don’t normally think of. For example, if a person has a corn allergy, watch for corn syrup which is in a ton of stuff, but also baking powder, marshmallows and in packing of meat like tuna as vegetable water.”

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Article was written by Jan Mayer

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What about Wheat?

October 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

When it comes to food storage, wheat is usually first on the list. In fact, for more than fifty years leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons, LDS) have counseled church members to have a year’s supply of wheat. But have you ever wondered why?

food-storage-wheat-mormonThere are several important reasons, including its reasonable price, long shelf life, and versatility. But perhaps the greatest reason is for good health.

Over 50 studies have confirmed that eating whole grains such as whole wheat bread or cereal or pasta, whole grain cereals, and brown rice are known to reduce the risk of some diseases.

Whole grain products are made with the whole kernel of grain consisting of three components: bran, endosperm and germ. The bran (outer layer) contains the largest amount of fiber, the endosperm (middle layer) contains mostly protein and carbohydrates along with small amounts of B vitamins, and the germ (inner part) is a rich source of trace minerals, unsaturated fats, B vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients. The B vitamins are helpful in reducing stress; the fiber assures better digestive processes and helps to remove the “sludge” in the intestines.

The FDA suggests that every person should eat at least three ounce equivalents of whole grains each day. Studies indicate that those who consume the recommended amount have reduced risks of coronary heart disease including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The grains are also thought to provide a protective effect against cancer.

There are two types of wheat that are good for long term storage. Red wheat has a strong, nut-like flavor and is darker, while hard white wheat is lighter in flavor and color. They have similar fiber and protein levels. White wheat is usually preferred for baking because it seems to have a better texture.

Wheat that has been stored properly will be good for at least 30 years. If it is opened, it will last several years if it is stored in a cool, dry place.

However, once wheat has been ground, it loses nutrients quickly and can become rancid. It is important to cover ground wheat and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Flour is very absorbent, so avoid storing it near foods with strong odors such as onions or apples.

To have a year’s supply of grain, each person should have 300 pounds. Other grains such as oats and rice can be included in that total amount.

Introducing whole wheat into the diet should be done gradually to allow the digestive system to adjust to the increase in fiber. You may prefer to begin with one half white flour and one half wheat flour and add more each time you make the recipe.

For those who aren’t fans of whole wheat baking, the darker color can be disguised in recipes that have chocolate, strong spices, fruits or vegetables, such as bananas, zucchini, pumpkin or carrots or equal amounts of brown and white sugar.

The following recipe is low fat, nutritious and delicious!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

4 Tbs. margarine (or butter), softened

¼ C. applesauce

2 eggs (or 2 Tbs. dehydrated eggs+1/4C.Water)

2 Tbs. skim milk or water

¾ C. packed light brown sugar

1 C. mashed banana (2-3medium bananas)

1¾ C. whole wheat Flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

¼ C. coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Beat margarine, applesauce, eggs, milk and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add bananas and mix at a high speed for 1-2 minutes.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt; add to the batter and mix. Add nuts if desired. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees until it is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean—about 50-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out. Allow it to cool completely before slicing. (This is better the second day!)

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Article was written by Jan

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Dried food great for emergency storage

September 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

The harvest is in…your garden is cleared. Now what do you do with all those vegetables? One of the oldest methods of preserving food—dehydration– is easy to learn and a great alternative to freezing or canning.

dehydrated-food-mormonBy taking advantage of your home-grown produce, and watching for sales on in-season fruits, vegetables and meats, you will have an abundance of healthy, inexpensive foods. Besides being good for storage, these items are perfect to take on outdoor activities such as hiking or camping.

As a Mormon woman (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) I am grateful for the counsel from our LDS Church leaders to have at least a three-month supply of food for our families. Dehydrated food is especially effective for storage, because it doesn’t require refrigeration, is lightweight, and would be easy to grab quickly in case of an emergency.

Drying food eliminates the moisture and inactivates the enzymes from produce and meats until moisture is added and the items return to their original size. Without moisture, bacteria, yeasts and molds can’t grow. However, it is essential to store dried items in proper containers and to maintain cool storage temperatures to prevent a build-up of moisture that would cause spoilage.

While there are many dehydration systems available from specialty stores, it is not difficult to build your own dehydrator, use your oven or rely on the sun. Following are a few of the methods used to dehydrate food.

Methods of drying food:

Dehydrators: Electric food dehydrators come in a various sizes and prices and usually have a fan and heat setting and several shelves to place food. They are convenient because they stand alone and cut drying time in half compared to air or oven drying.

Indoor Air Drying (Room Drying): This is used most frequently with bundles of herbs or hot peppers suspended from a rack or twine and left to dry for days.

Oven Drying: The best temperature for this type of drying is 140 F, but the lowest temperature most ovens have is 150 F. If this is the case, prop the door open and put the food items on cooling racks set on cookie sheets to allow as much air flow as possible. The food will cook slightly and appear dry, but should be checked on the inside to assure that it is dried thoroughly to prevent moisture from causing spoilage.

Solar/Sun Drying: The most common apparatus for this type of drying is a dehydrating box that utilizes the sun as its heat source. This method takes a shorter drying time than many others.

Dried Foods storage:

Once the food is dried, place it in dry containers and store in a cool, dry place away from heat or moisture. Foods stored below 60 F will last between 6-12 months. Those stored at 80 F will be good for 3-6 months.

There are many good websites with tips on dehydration and recipes for making and using dehydrated foods. I did a “dehydrated food recipes” word search on Google and it brought up so many sites that I couldn’t read them all.

The following recipe is from Budget101.com. The site has numerous ideas and recipes and even shows how to make your own dehydrator.

Dehydrated Tomatoes

To Dehydrate:
Slice tomatoes into ¼” slices. Place on dehydrator and dry until crisp.

Place dried tomato slices into blender, herb, or coffee grinder and blend until a fine powder. Use powder in a variety of dishes from soups to meatloaf.

To Reconstitute:

Add the following to 1 cup of dried tomato powder:

Tomato Paste:
1¾ cup water and ½ tsp. sugar

Tomato Sauce:
3 cups water and ½ tsp. sugar

Tomato Juice:
3-5 cups water or to desired thickness.
Salt, pepper, to taste

Tomato Soup:
¾ cup water, ½ cup dry milk.
Season to taste

By Jan

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A Food Storage Must Have – Vinegar

August 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Food Storage

By Keith Brown

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are all too familiar with the importance and necessity of emergency preparedness. Mormon Church leaders have instructed members to always be prepared for any impending emergencies, whether they might be personal family emergencies, or natural disasters and calamities. In either case, Latter-day Saints know that if they are well prepared, there will be no need to worry in the event of an actual emergency.

A large part of a good emergency preparedness plan includes provisions for storing an emergency food supply. Not only is a large enough supply of food a necessity, but knowing how to properly store and protect that food from contamination is also of the utmost importance.

Mormon Food Storage VinegarOne of the things that a person might consider including in his or her food storage is vinegar. Vinegar can be used to remove pesticides from your fruits and vegetables, and it has many other uses as well.

Howard Garrett, also known as The Dirt Doctor wrote:

Vinegar is a wonderful organic tool that was discovered by accident 10,000 years ago when wine was accidentally allowed to ferment too long and turned sour. It can be made from many products, including beer, apples, berries, beets, corn, fruits, grains, honey, malt, maple syrup, melons, molasses, potatoes, rice, sorghum, and other foods containing sugar. Natural sugars from these food products are fermented into alcohol, which is then fermented into vinegar. [1]

Although the name “vinegar” comes from the French words for “sour wine” it should be noted that not all vinegars are created equally, meaning that some can be beneficial to a person’s health when taken internally, while other vinegars should be used for such tasks as cleaning or gardening purposes, and yet others should be avoided completely. With that being said, it might prove noteworthy to identify some of the different types of vinegars. Usually the product label will identify the starting ingredients of the vinegar, such as “apple cider vinegar” or “wine vinegar.” Listed below are a few of the different types: [1]

  1. Malt vinegar is made from the fermentation of barley malt or other cereal grains.
  2. Sugar vinegar is made from sugar, syrup, or molasses.
  3. White, spirit, or distilled vinegar is made by fermenting distilled alcohol
  4. Distilled white vinegar is made from 190 proof alcohol that is fermented by adding sugar and living bacteria.

It should also be noted that vinegar that is made from the petroleum derivative, 99 percent acetic acid, is not acceptable in an organic program. [1]

Uses For White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is good to use for general cleaning and laundry. For example, vinegar mixed with a little water makes an excellent window cleaner. If vinegar is combined with hydrogen peroxide, it can be used as both a disinfectant and sanitizer. Howard Garrett has said:

Sprinkling white vinegar atop a dusting of baking soda is terrific for cleaning sinks, tubs, tile floors and other surfaces. For cleaning, it can be diluted with water as much as 50-50. For the herbicide, it should be used full strength. In all cases, the products to buy in this category are true vinegars made by distilling grain alcohol. For the purists, there is organic white vinegar made from corn. [1]

Avoid 20% Vinegar

20 percent vinegar is made from 99 percent glacial ascetic acid. It is overly expensive, and much stronger than anything a person would ever really need. Even more important is that this type of vinegar is a petroleum derivative, which is dangerous to breathe and can be even be damaging to the eyes and skin.

Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is actually good for the health when taken internally. These vinegars are made from fermenting fruits such as apples. There are two basic categories of cider vinegars:

  • Regular apple cider vinegar
  • Organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” included

When purchasing an apple cider vinegar, a person will want to avoid the perfectly clear, “sparkling clean” varieties commonly seen on grocery store shelves. Instead, he will want to purchase the organic, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar, which is murky and brown. When you he tries to look through it, he will notice a cobweb-like substance floating in it. This is known as “mother,” and it indicates that the vinegar is of good quality. While it may look suspicious at first, in this case, it’s the murky looking stuff he wants. As with everything else, the more processed a food is, the less nutritious it is, and this holds true for apple cider vinegar. [1]

Concerning apple cider vinegar Garrett has said:

Apple cider vinegar might cure more ailments than any other folk remedy,” he writes. Vinegar apparently provides at least some cures for allergies (including pet, food and environmental), sinus infections, acne, high cholesterol, flu, chronic fatigue, Candida, acid reflux, sore throats, contact dermatitis, arthritis, gout and the list goes on… It also brings a healthy, rosy glow to the complexion and can cure rough scaly skin. Apple cider vinegar is also wonderful for animals, including dogs, cats and horses. It helps with arthritic conditions, controls fleas, repels flies, and gives a beautiful shine to their coats. [1]

Here is a recipe that Garrett has shared that can be used to soothe soar throats:

  • 3 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. of honey
  • 16 oz. water
  • Warm to sipping temperature and sip. Adding juice from chopped ginger can be used for more power.

Apple cider vinegar can also be used for pet care. According to Garrett: [1]

Vinegar is a remedy with multiple uses for dogs including alleviating allergies and arthritis, and helping to provide the correct pH balance. You can give apple cider vinegar to any animal by simply adding it to the water.

If your dog has itchy skin, the beginnings of a hot spot, incessantly washes its feet, has smelly ears, or is picky about his food, an application of apple cider vinegar can help. For poor appetite, use it in the food at 1 tablespoon, two times a day for a 50 lb. dog. For itchy skin or the beginning hot spots, put apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle, part the hair and spray on. Any skin eruption will dry up in as soon as 24 hours and shaving the dog won’t be necessary – which is good because I never recommend that. If the skin is already broken, dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water and spray on.

Another tip is if you have a dog that has clear, watery discharge from the eyes, a runny nose, or coughs with a liquid sound, use apple cider vinegar in his or her food. One teaspoon twice a day for a 50 lb. dog will do the job.

After grooming sessions, use a few drops in dogs’ ears after cleaning them to avoid ear infections. Fleas, flies, ticks and bacteria, external parasites, ring worm, fungus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, pneumococcus, mange, etc. are unlikely to inhabit a dog whose system is acidic inside and out.

Gardening Uses of Vinegar

Vinegar can also be used to control weeds in your garden, in the cracks in sidewalks and driveways. “The best choice for herbicide use is 10 percent white vinegar made from grain alcohol. It should be used full strength. Avoid products that are made from 99 percent glacial acetic acid. This material is a petroleum derivative. Natural vinegars such those made from fermenting apples have little herbicidal value.” [1]

Garret has shared a herbicide formula:

  • 1 gallon of 10 percent (100 grain) vinegar
  • Add 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene
  • Add 1 tablespoon molasses (optional – some say it doesn’t help)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant (I use Bio Wash)
  • Do not add water

Shake well before each spraying and spot spray weeds. Keep the spray off desirable plants. This spray will injure any plant it touches. This natural spray works best on warm to hot days. Vinegar sprayed on the bases of trees and other woody plants will not hurt the plant at all. This technique was first learned about by spraying the suckers and weeds growing around the bases of grapevines. [1]

Garrett also suggests that if the water is alkaline, add 1 tablespoon of 50-grain (5 percent) natural apple cider vinegar to each gallon of water to improve the quality of the water for potted plants and bedding. This doesn’t have to be done with every watering, though it wouldn’t hurt. This technique is especially helpful when trying to grow acid-loving plants such as gardenias, azaleas, and dogwoods. A tablespoon of vinegar per gallon added to the sprayer when foliar feeding lawns, shrubs, flowers, and trees is also highly beneficial, especially where soil or water is alkaline. The other horticultural use for vinegar is in the watering can. [1]

As can be seen, there are many uses for a common product such a vinegar, Having some available may prove beneficial in more ways than one.

Additional Resources:

Basic Mormon Beliefs and Real Mormons

Mormon Self-Reliance

Mormon Families