Saturday, March 26, 2011

Availability of Freeze Dried Foods

As you may know, it's difficult to purchase freeze-dried food in #10 cans these days.  The websites I've been to all have some or most of their #10 cans on backorder,  both Mountain House and Provident Pantry.  I assume the same is true of other brands.  Apparently, the demand for freeze-dried and dehydrated foods is increasing faster then the supply can respond.  Here's what Mountain House says about it.

On the one had, it's good that--apparently--so many people are preparing.  On the other hand, this makes getting your food preps in store harder.

However, all is not lost.  I've noticed that both Emergency Essentials and Disaster Necessities will backorder these items for you.  You'll just have to wait for them.  (I should note that I have no experience with Disaster Necessities.  I recently placed an order with them--for backordered items--but I haven't received it yet.  No, I'm not abandoning Emergency Essentials, I just wanted to try another supplier.)

While you're waiting for backordered freeze-dried food, you can stock up on canned goods and other products that store well, from Costco, Walmart, or whatever store is in your area.  And don't forget non-food items, such as soap, toilet paper, etc.

I also noticed that Emergency Essentials is out of, and back ordering, their 55-cal water barrels.  So it looks like people are storing water, too.  Storing water is very important, especially for people living in dry areas.  We need water even more than we need food, although water is usually easier to find.  But it must be CLEAN water.  Dirty water can kill you.  So it's a good idea to store some way to clean dirty water.

I recently joined Costco again after being away for several years.  I was happy to see that they have 12-packs of many canned goods at reasonable prices.  And big bags of rice and other staples.  Personally, I'd want to repackage rice or other staples that are in burlap bags, so they have a longer shelf life.

Many food-storage types talk about storing food (rice, beans, wheat, etc.) for up to 20 years.  But that isn't really necessary.  Ideally, you want to be storing foods that you and your family like to eat, and be regularly eating those foods from your storage.  When you buy more, you put it in the back of your current stock and use the oldest things first.  So you don't need to store something for 20 years.  If you have a year's worth of food stored, you might have things no older than a couple years, because you're constantly cycling through it.

Besides, who wants to store food for 20 years?  If there's no disaster, you've wasted your money.  But if you're buying and storing food you eat all the time anyway, and you're cycling through your stored food, your money is never wasted.

I would argue, though, that convenience foods stored in cardboard should be re-packaged in some way to make them both more airtight and less available to pests.  You DON'T want mice eating all your stored food.

Good luck, and happy food storing!

Creamy Soup Base Review

I've been ogling the Creamy Soup Base over at Emergency Essentials for a while now, so I finally decided to give it a try.  I am sure glad I did!  It makes wonderful cream-of-broccoli soup.  I've also used it for making creamed peas and scalloped potatoes.  I haven't tried this yet, but I'll bet you could make good mac-and-cheese by melting some cheddar cheese in it and pouring it over macaroni.

The only real down side is that the ingredients aren't the most healthful:  1060mg of sodium and 11g of saturated fat per serving.  And a serving is only 1 cup, so I usually eat 2 servings at a time (a big bowl of cream-of-broccoli soup and a chunk of homemade bread is an awesome lunch!).  This is probably not something you'd want to eat every day.  On the other hand, fats are one of the most difficult food categories to store for more than just a few months, so this could be valuable in a well-rounded food-storage plan.

I make my soup a little healthier by adding a little white bean flour (from Bob's Red Mill) to the soup mix before adding it to the boiling water.  You can, of course, make a cream soup with just the white bean flour (the recipe is on the package),  but it's lumpy--the recipe on the package tells you to put it in the blender before serving it.  And the bean-flour soup doesn't have any seasonings in it (the chicken bouillon in this soup mix has some seasonings).  So I just add some bean flour to the creamy soup mix.  You have to be careful, though.  If you add too much it makes the soup lumpy.

But soup from this mix tastes good, is versatile, and is quick and easy to prepare.  I makeit when I'm too tired to cook a "real meal".

Here's how I make my cream-of-broccoli soup:

First, I measure out 1/2 cup soup mix, and put it into a 1-cup measuring cup.  Then I add a spoonful of white bean flour.  I start 2 cups of water to boil (do not add salt--there's plenty in the soup mix).  While the water is coming to a boil, I cut up some broccoli--about 3/4 cup.

When the water comes to a boil, I whisk in the soup mix, then turn down the heat, because this likes to boil and you want it to only simmer.

The soup is supposed to simmer for 10 minutes.  About half way through that time, I add the broccoli.  I've learned that you shouldn't wait too long to add the broccoli, or it will taste raw.  Of course, you don't want to put it in too early or it might get too mushy.  I use thawed-out frozen broccoli, so it's been blanched (before it was frozen), so it's partially cooked.  If you're using fresh broccoli from the garden, it might need to cook longer.

And that's it.  After simmering for 10 minutes it's done.  Easy, peasy, Cream of Broccoli soup.

Oh, there is one thing.  The recipe on the can says to "Whisk 1/4 cup Creamy Soup Base into..."  so I was picturing the kind of whisk that you'd use for whisking eggs while baking.  But a gravy whisk works better.