Someone was asking if I could post some of Sharon Astyk's "homework" and ideas from her class. She said it is okay to do so.
The following are her simple assignments. Everyone moves at different paces, so she did one each Friday. Also, she posted topics to her blog for things we were talking about in the group each week. If you are interested, go back and read all of January's blog posts, which coresponded with her class on food storage. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with the reading. Frankly I'm still reading and rereading.
I'll post all the topics which I thought were very helping in planning, implementing and creating food storage, and I'll also share recipes ect that were brought up in the group.
Food Storage Class Assignments:
Try something new:
For this weekend the homework is the same as last weekend (and yes, it
can run into next week if your weekends are booked) - pick a project,
a step you'd like to take, a new technique you'd like to try, and do
it. Try not to pick something that will make you crazy with
frustration or that you won't get done - if you don't think you can
spend more than 15 minutes, well, pick something that takes 15 minutes.
Living the food storage diet:
Hey folks - ok, one of today's subjects is finding the balance between
quantity and quality ;-) - that is, for some people, eating out of your
pantry means real dietary shifts, and those can be tough. If, for
example, you mostly eat fresh foods, particularly meats, dairy products
and fresh vegetables, this eating preserved and seasonal foods can be
tough in the off season. It helps if you check out the links I
included on root cellaring and season extension, of course, but what
are your concerns about dietary shifts?
Coping with large quanities of grains:
What I usually do is this - I get most of my grains
packaged in large lined paper sacks, but they occasionally come in
burlap, nylon or plastic bags of some sort. I usually dump them into
the bins (this is easier with help), put in the 02 absorbers and
In all the time I've been buying in bulk, I've had pantry moths
several times, but not from bulk foods, generally. So I've gotten
kind of lax about freezing. But you absolutely can. You probably
don't want to put a five gallon bucket in your freezer - you might
find it easier to take the bag and repackage into plastic (I've used
big freezer bags, that can then be reused over and over again for the
same purpose) or wrap the bag of, say oats in plastic, and then
Spices, Condiments and Sauces:
When you eat a diet that is built at least in part around the staple
foods we're storing, the value of high quality seasoning, condiments
and sauces becomes self evident. A little highly seasoned food
alongside a larger quantity of a starch really makes the difference
between bland and terrific.
Are there any particular ones your family relies on? Any you'd like to
learn to make yourself? Are there herbs and spices you grow or store?
Life of Spices:
They never really spoil, but they do lose their flavor and potency
after about year. You can extend it by keeping them in airtight
containers, away from light and heat (ie, not over the stove). On
the other hand, whole cinnamon sticks and peppercorns last a long
time, so if you have a means of grinding them, this is much more
- they are a great source
There are a lot of kinds of kimchi - not all
are hot. I'll give you a sort of a classic recipe, but there are many
more out there - www.wildfermentation.com
has several, and I'm sure
there are tens of thousands out there. In Korea, kimchi is served with
every meal, including breakfast - we're not quite that extreme (except
when I'm pregnant ;-)), but we eat a lot of it.
What I do is cut up some greens - napa would be the most traditional,
but I like a lot of different greens. Some shredded roots are good
too - daikon, turnip, carrot. But really whatever you want. Wash the
greens and submerge them in water to cover which is a ratio of 1 tsp
salt to 1 quart of water (ie, if you have enough greens to need four
quarts to cover...). Soak overnight, with a plate or other cover ontop
and weighted down to press the kimchi down.
The next day, drain the greens and reserve the liquid. In the bottom
of a quart sized mason jar, put as much hot chile pepper (you can buy
the traditional sort at korean grocers or use cayenne - you can get
seeds for kimchi peppers from www.evergreenseeds.com
) as you like, and
if it is very warm out, another 1/4 tsp salt (it is better to use non-
iodized salt for all of this, for reasons of color and texture, but
iodized will work if necessary), and as much ginger and garlic as you
like (we like lots) minced up fine. You can also add scallions, garlic
chives or whatever you like really. Stuff the greens into the jar,
packing fairly tightly but leaving a solid inch of headspace. Add a
bit more chile if you like it, and then put liquid (reserved) in to
Put a double canning lid on, tightly enough that it stays on, but not
screwed on super tightly (or the jar will explode from fermenting
gasses), and ferment at room temperature, tasting after the first few
days, until it reaches the desired sourness. Then refrigerate or put
in a cool place. It will ferment a lot faster in warm weather, so
watch it carefully if your house is warm.
Sharon's Favorite Homemade Ketchup:http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/fo...Ketchup-109037
Medical Issues, Food Storage and Special Needs:
Some material on this subject:
Food storage for the elderly and medically
Food storage with infants and pregnant women:http://sharonastyk.com/2008/03/25/fo...regnant-women-
Ok, so what are you concerned about? Special diets? Medications?
Medication for those with chronic conditions:
I really recommend people read the medications post I linked to
initially, which covers something of the range of options available
to people dependent on medications.
If you can afford it, you should probably stockpile a reserve. You
will want to contact the pharmaceutical company for its sense of how
long the pressurization will last - most drugs don't actually expire
when companies say - they have every incentive to expire them
quickly, so that they can be replaced with new. However, a few drugs
to lose potency or even develop toxicity after extended storage, so
ask what the issues are with expiration. Generally speaking, things
are fine even 10+ years - slightly diminished potency. Antibiotics
have been used as much as 40 years after production in some cases.
But again, do your research.
One useful alternative are citizen's groups that work with doctors,
pharmaceutical companies and local governments to assure medication
availability - but I alway suggest multiple options - the "belt and
Will People Take Your Food?
I know we discussed this earlier in the class, but I thought it was
worth bringing up again, since it comes up all the time. In the AIP
class we tend to talk about security issues, but they are relevant to
food storage. My own feeling is that for most of us, common sense is
going to be sufficient.
Any thoughts or worries about this?http://sharonastyk.com/2009/01/29/wo...ake-your-food-
Solar Food Dryer:
This is the one I have - it really depends on your climate - in dry
warm places, you can just set things out on screens (covered with
something food safe). This one is designed for humid climates,
where avoiding mold is important:http://www.manytracks.com/Homesteadi...rFoodDryer.htm
Various Wheat Flours and Differences:
What's the difference between hard white whole wheat flour, hard
red whole wheat flour and just plain whole red wheat flour?
Well, hard wheats are good for bread making - they have a lot of
gluten. Soft wheats are better for pastry making. That said, you
can use either, but if you want to bake bread, you'll probably want
a hard wheat. White vs. Red is a personal preference - I use both -
the red makes a browner, slightly heartier bread, the white (I buy
prairie gold) makes a lighter colored, slightly lighter textured
bread. My guess is whole red wheat without the word "hard" in front
of it is a soft or medium wheat - a medium would be good for both
bread and pastry, a little less gluten than the hard stuff.
> And what is graham flour? Can you use it as you regularly use
Graham flour is yet another kind of whole wheat flour, made by a
somewhat unusual technique - they seperate out the interior kernel,
and make white flour by grinding it finely, then they take the bran
and germ and grind it much more coarsely - what you get is a
different texture than whole wheat flour, which its creator
(Sylvester Graham inventor of the Graham Cracker) believed was
better for you. You can bake bread with it, but its texture will be
dense - flatbreads, crackers and pastry are easier. I like the
stuff, and because of the seperation of the two parts, it keeps a
little longer than regular whole wheat flour.
Anyone here have thoughts about how they might use these skills to
make a supplemental income?
Putting It All Together:
1. List 1 full week's worth of menus that you and the people in your
house will eat. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The
trick? They have to be things that you can make from storage/root
cellar/home preserved/season extended garden.
2. Sit down and list all the ingredients you'd use. Take a look at
your pantry and see which you have and which you don't and what you
might want to do about that - you could substitute, you could
purchase and store an ingredient, or you could shift your menu.
Some of you may already have done this, but when you are finished,
you are likely to find that you've got a solid backbone for your
food storage - a lot of us eat the same 14 meals all the time ;-).
BTW, they don't all have to be different - if you eat oatmeal or
granola for breakfast every day, that's no problem - it just means
you need a lot of oats or the components of granola.
I hope some of these topics helped. I've joined the "post-food storage group", and should anything interesting come up, I'll share it.