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Priority order of food security gear..

 
pollinator
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Thinking about food security related gear & projects..

A few fairly obvious projects jump out. Assuming you had none of these, what order would you put them in?

If you have a bunch of them, are you happy with your prioritization?

THE LIST, in no particular order:
Greenhouse
Dehydrator, in my case solar
Root cellar
Butcher setup; workspace and coolroom for hanging meat
Intensive outdoor canning setup & supplies
Chest freezer/s
Freeze drier
 
gardener
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I thinknyour order is well thought out, but I think a smoke house would be part if my preparation.
 
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I think the easiest wins (assuming you already have a surplus from a seasonal garden that needs stored) would be a chest freezer first and the canning setup second. (Assuming you have somewhere "inside" to put the freezer and finished cans.)

I am really interested in a "outdoor" canning setup, interested to hear any thoughts you might have on that. I was thinking of something temporary and store-able for my own use on my porch.

From there I would probably lean greenhouse, root cellar, and then dehydrator.
 
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I'd probably start with a good "deep storage" pantry and bug-proof containers. Dry goods only last as long as the battle between you and bugs. And until you can produce your own 100%, well-stored bulk grains and legumes provide a lot of long term food security.

A well-organized pantry also means you can rotate the goods efficiently, spot imbalances, and detect spoilage quickly.

 
master gardener
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Much depends upon your specific needs and location.  If you are off grid, the priority might be different.  For me it was

Canning
Freezer
Dehydrator
Greenhouse

I already had a suitable area in my barn for butchering
I had a suitable area in my basement for cool storage.

Cost wise, I cannot justify a FD
 
pollinator
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D Nikolls wrote:Thinking about food security related gear & projects...

A few fairly obvious projects jump out. If you have a bunch of them, are you happy with your prioritization?

THE LIST, in no particular order:
Greenhouse
Dehydrator, in my case solar
Root cellar
Butcher setup; workspace and coolroom for hanging meat
Intensive outdoor canning setup & supplies
Chest freezer/s
Freeze drier



When I read "food security", my first thought was perennial foods on my property, plus seeds for sowing annual crops. That by far is my "Number One". But as I read your post more thoroughly, I understand that you're talking about food preservation tools? What a great topic! It got me thinking about my own list:

Greenhouse--where I am, I don't have a greenhouse. I've had mixed success with row covers. We have a long enough growing season that I can start most of my early seeds indoors. I harden them off as the weather warms.
Dehydrator--in my case, I have two electric ones. Our climate is very humid, so I don't think solar dehydrators would be beneficial. I do often put trays of herbs and tender veggies on the dashboard of my van on hot days. Works great!
Root cellar--I've never had one. I've made do with our workshop. Not ideal, but serves our purposes for the time being.
Butcher setup--we aren't zoned for livestock, so the only butchering we've done here at our current homestead is chicken and line-caught fish. Easy enough to do outside. If we were gifted with venison, we'd probably be a sight to our neighbors getting it hung. (Meh...they already think we're crazy...but we'd offer them a few steaks to maintain good relations, LOL)
Intensive outdoor canning--I have two pressure canners, plus a couple of water bath canners. They are easy enough to move to our large 2-burner outdoor propane stove. We also have a propane turkey fryer.
Chest freezer--we don't currently own one. We've considered getting another one. Our concern is that during an extended power outage, I'd have to utilize my previously mentioned outdoor canning in a big hurry!
Freeze drier--a girl can dream, right?!

A skill I'm still developing that I think is important to food security is seed saving. I'm focusing my efforts on crops that easily self-sow, but I need to hone my skills for crops I need to start manually.
 
pollinator
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A freezer would be first on my list.  The others I like for long term self-sufficiency and emergency situations, but for us, a freezer is used all day, every day right now.  For greatest amount of storage with least effort, freezing is the way to go.  Canning is great and I do it, but very time and labor intensive.  Greenhouses in my climate are best used for season extension rather than year round growing.  I will have a solar dehydrator at some point.  In list form,

Freezer
root cellar
canning setup - love the outdoor idea
greenhouse - not heated, season extension only
dehydrator

I could easily swap the solar dehydrator in anywhere after the freezer, if for no other reason than I can build the dehydrator in a few hours for much less time and expense than the other items.  After the freezer, that would be the easiest to "knock off the list".  

I don't want the other two items
 
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As in food preservation?

Learn all about edible wild plants. Takes no gardening skills and very little labor. They literally grow everywhere and bounce back easily and quickly. They are much more nutritious than the food crops that make up the diets of the majority of Americans. Many are even medicinal. Weeds pop up early in spring and are around the whole season. Some are available in winter, even in the midwest. In the summer, when they get mowed off, they continue to produce new, young, very edible leaves. They're a win-win. I have allergies, so we have bought teas containing the edibles we're interested in, to test my toleration. So far, so good.

1. Seeds and knowledge, tools and skills necessary to use them. That would include knowledge of common insect pests and diseases, plus remedies for each. Companion planting goes a long way too. Learn all about making your own natural fertilizers as well.

2. Solar dehydrator. 'Nough said.

3. Glass jars with hermetic gasket seals, for your dehydrated foods. Get Bormioli Rocco gaskets and ditch the gaskets that came with the jars. Unless the bugs and mice can knock the jars off the shelf, nothing's gettin there lol! You can open and close the jars whenever you want, too. No worries. Side note: these jars also provide peace of mind when matches are stored in them. One little careless mishandling (by rodents, kids, etc), and all of your work and supplies are gone forever... Another side note: the cookie/popcorn/whatever "tins" that you can find in the "free" section of most garage sales work great as mouse proof storage containers as well. Make sure the lid fits tight.

4. Chest freezer and fridge with solar power. Not only would you have the ability to preserve your food, you could save lives. If the grid goes down, there are people who will die if they don't have a way to keep their med's cool.

As far as outdoor canning, go to youtube and search for Starry Hilder. She was totally off grid and did the outdoor canning. I learned tons of stuff watching her videos.

 
Kena Landry
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How about simple season extension tools, like row covers, tunnels and cold frames? This is what I've been slowly exploring for the past year.

It's much simpler than a greenhouse, is not such a big one-time investment, and if a part of the whole breaks, you don't lose the entire system (if we're thinking in terms of post-disaster setting, a heated greenhouse has lots of components that could end up failing and not being easy to replace/repair.)
 
M James
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Kena, I love that idea!

Another thing, along the same line of thinking as yours, is making individual mini greenhouses out of windows. These could be placed almost anywhere that gets sun, and they're discrete as well, depending on how you construct them and their sizes.

I've been thinking about making  a normal sized greenhouse with a rocket heater in the middle. This is just in the thought process at the moment. I want an outdoor space that will serve multiple purposes, one of which is growing plants.

I looked at some videos, awhile back, about a man that built a dome tent out of saplings, tarps and heavy blankets. Forget what it was called. Anyway, the center of the dirt floor had a pit in which he placed hot rocks from his campfire. Those rocks heated up the tent so much he had to keep the door open. That would be an awesome way to keep your greenhouse nice and toasty for the plants. Win-win. Cook your meal over the fire and when you're done, throw the rocks into the greenhouse. Go to bed in the house and sleep, worry free.
 
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If this is an immediate crisis sort of situation, season, location, and immediate food surpluses would all be important to consider. What could you get done fast enough to hold those precious precious calories? And what can you do to encourage more of them to grow or wander into your territory?

Otherwise, I'd start with the freezer and move on to whatever I wanted to do next.
 
pollinator
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I guess it depends on what you are securing your food from. As it stands now a freezer is the most useful but obviously without power it's just a mouse proof box.


My list reads

A large garden and enough seeds for the next year
Freezer/s
Cellar. mine contains both roots and jars
A huge supply of glass jars and lids.


I've listed the reasons other things didn't make it onto my list below. Not that while I don't think a greenhouse is applicable in this scenario it is actually the thing on the list I want most, just for other reasons.
A greenhouse is great for growing crops that won't grow here normally like tomatoes or peppers but pretty useless for providing more food than open land would. We can't grow all year round we don't have enough light so it just becomes a storage box for things that wouldn't otherwise make it over winter like lettuce. Standing plants like kale or sprouts will give more food for the space.

Dehydrators are great but everything then has to go into sealed containers so don't forget a ton of resealable jars.

No point having an outside area to cook here, it's very rarely warm enough for it to be A. warm enough to cook outside without a huge jacket or B. to warm to have extra heat in the house.

Because of our climate we can pretty much grantee decent hanging temperatures just in the barn from October through December when one would be slaughtering livestock anyway.
 
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For my climate:

Root cellar (or clamp)
Dehydrator, in my case solar
Chest freezer/s
Butcher setup; workspace and coolroom for hanging meat

Intensive outdoor canning setup & supplies (I don't do much canning as it takes so much time during the busiest time of year)

Freeze drier (wouldn't know what to do with it)
Greenhouse (not really needed)

But keep in mind, where I live, we store carrots in the garden over winter.  We plant them after midsummer and leave them to keep on growing and harvest them on frost-free days as needed for that week.  

If you are using a butcher setup, I would add a place to cure and smoke meat.  Sausages, bacon, hams...
 
master gardener
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Climate is a huge factor. So is terrain. So are your crops. So are your end-product uses for the items.  I dearly want a traditional root cellar - but, we live in an area of heavy clay on top of a huge cave system, surrounded by a huge lake. So, while not impossible, that root cellar is going to be a challenge to place properly, on our land. But, I'll find a way, because during harvest time - the busiest season of the year, after planting, root cellaring is, by far, the most labor-saving. It doesn't get a whole lot easier than harvest, and stick it on the shelf with the best microclimate for each item's storage needs!

I personally won't bother with a freeze-dryer, simply because they're so outrageously expensive, that it doesn't justify it's purpose of 'saving', in my head.

Next to root cellaring, my preference is dehydrating. If your climate isn't terribly humid, it can be done effectively, outside, for only the cost of the materials to make the dehydrator, and the jars saved from whatever items you have purchased. I currently have 3 dehydrators - an electric Excalibur knockoff that hubs bought for me last year, that I've kept in near perpetual use, and 2 mesh-enclosed, collapsible, hanging ones that I picked up years ago, for a song, in an Asian market where we used to live. When it's humid out, they hang from the upstairs balcony, in our living room, because it's the only place I can put them, so that our Irish Wolfhound doesn't eat them - the dehydrators, not just the food. When it's dry outside, they hang from trees or my porch roof, depending on whether the items need sun or shade(color is best preserved in the shade). I'm an herbalist, and try to grow our buy my own fresh herbs, and dry them. These are items that, while they most often eventually will end up being used in some form of liquid, they're best preserved for long term, by drying.

Next, for me, is canning, because frankly, many veggies and meats can take forever to cook, if dehydrated, and we are in a very rural area, that's sometimes difficult to access, if the weather is foul, and we're not yet offgrid. That means I'm reluctant to fully trust the freezers, for long term storage, even though I typically prefer the textures and fresh flavors the freezer offers. Of these two options - canning and freezing - canning is, by far, the most labor intensive, so I first freeze as much as I'm willing to risk losing, in a longer power outage. Left unopened, a full freezer will stay safe for several days, even in summer. So the trick there is to have a plan B. Should we find ourselves in that situation, I'll go into damage control mode, preserving everything I can by other means, before I run out of time, starting with the smallest freezer, because it would thaw fastest. If it happens in the dead of winter, it's not a huge worry, because the cold will extend the safety window.

We have a roof over our porch, and I am actively looking for a wood burning cook stove, to make an outdoor kitchen, to add yet another layer of sufficiency, for canning, in case of rain... We're also looking into finding some old, non-working refrigerators or freezers to make mini root cellars, in the barn - but I'm also still determined to build that root cellar.

I hope my rambling might help someone, lol.
 
pollinator
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Our property came with a small hoop house style greenhouse. I love it. I made it ground squirrel proof, added ventilation and thermal mass. Works great for our mild winters and spring. We just got a new freezer after our last one died. I find it invaluable. An outdoor kitchen with a canning area is planned, but not in the works yet. Currently I do my canning in the house. I have a dehydrator, haven't found it very useful, need to play around with it more. There is a cold room under my house, but it needs work. That is a project for this summer. My plan is to build a garage for this house with a room for butchering and cold storage for meat. And another for cheese aging. I definitely need more canning lids, but am planning on doing more fermentation because it looks like it's going to be another difficult year for canning lids at least around here.
 
Carla Burke
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Oh, yeh, greenhouse - in the works. I'm collecting/ salvaging/ scavenging the needed items for this, already. I'm in the 6b growing zone, and still looking to extend my growing season.

Smokehouse - also in the works, and collecting/ salvaging/ scavenging the needed parts for this. I'm not as far along on this as on the greenhouse, but it also won't take as much. John is a retired chef with one of his specializations in charcuterie. I'm the family builder.

As to prioritizing all our stuff, I think it's kind of apparent, in my posts, but having a safe place to store everything was first, and was begun with pantries and freezers, for simplicity and expediency.
Next came the easiest, cheapest, fastest ways to fill them.
Now, we're working on producing our own and expanding the storage options.
I don't think the process ever truly stops evolving. Things will come, things will go, as time goes on and life changes. Maybe someday, we will even reach the point where that freeze-dryer will feel like a reasonable item. I'd love one, honestly - it's just pretty much a pipedream, to me, right now.
 
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I'm not that guy, but Tom Brown Jr. and Grandfather would say that all the food you need is there, no worries. Setting traps would be #1. Another poster mentioned wild edibles and that is incredibly valuable. Our society is so twisted that food is considered weeds and non/food is reckoned as beautiful frontage. My buddy Thomas Sheridan mentioned hard tack biscuits as something worth making, as it lasts forever. But again, that's worrying about tomorrow: you're more prone to do that if you have dependents. I think if you have personal experience with dearth, and you are unencumbered, and you also have the knowledge I'm mentioning, you would always survive regardless. Water would be a greater concern. I suppose if I was marooned on my new lot, I would live on crawdaddies and wild onions. After a few weeks of that, I imagine that I would be fearsome to anyone who encountered me, but hey, I'd also still be alive.
 
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The larvae from bugs is already in the grain, and some, like grain millers do lay eggs on the box and hatch and go inside I guess.  Freezing grain and beans in a zero degree freezer for a couple of days kills the larvae, then you can seal in containers so bugs don’t get in from outside.  In today’s world I don’t think we can depend on electric all the time.  Anything could happen to cause grid down situations for long periods.  Drying or canning is a much safer alternative in such extreme situations.  
 
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D Nikolls wrote:Thinking about food security related gear & projects..

A few fairly obvious projects jump out. Assuming you had none of these, what order would you put them in?

If you have a bunch of them, are you happy with your prioritization?

THE LIST, in no particular order:
Greenhouse
Dehydrator, in my case solar
Root cellar
Butcher setup; workspace and coolroom for hanging meat
Intensive outdoor canning setup & supplies
Chest freezer/s
Freeze drier



A couple of thoughts on this:

You can butcher and can without designated spaces for those things.  It's more hassle, yes, but still possible, so I would put those things toward the bottom of the list, UNLESS you were doing a ton of butchering or canning, and really needed the special setup for comfort purposes.  For my own family, we can maybe a dozen batches of jelly, chutney, and pickles a year, plus around 50-60 quarts of fruit, so it's not really something we need a designated set-up for; doing it right in the kitchen works great for us.  We only butcher chickens here, and not many at a time, so again, a designated set up isn't really worth it, though I did get a propane burner and big pot so I could do the dipping and plucking outside, as I don't like doing that in the kitchen (wet feathers, ugh).  

For storage, I am lazy, so I would go in order of least to most labor intensive - chest freezer, root cellar, freeze dryer/dehydrator.  I have all of those things except a freeze dryer, and the freezer sees the most actual use.  The root cellar is great, but quirky, and doesn't always live up to our expectations for it, so we use it less than I thought we would.  It needs quite active management, because as soon as one thing rots, it affects all the things in that bag/barrel/bin, so you have to pick through the veggies regularly and keep a close eye on things.  It's still useful, just not as much as I had hoped.  

Also, before investing a lot of money/time in a dehydrator or freeze dryer, make sure you like dehydrated / freeze dried food.  Not everyone does.  Some things work better than others for dehydrating, in my experience, but the list of what your household likes and will eat/use probably varies quite a bit.  We like dehydrated strawberries, corn, sweet peppers, and cabbage; black currants and blueberries didn't work so well for us, and apples are yummy, but fiddly, so we don't actually make them all that often.  Actually, that applies to canning, too.  My family loves canned peaches and plums, but won't touch canned meat.  Anyhow, this is a long way to say that the technologies may be more or less useful, depending on your family's tastes and cooking style.  

A greenhouse...that's a bit of a tough one.  We bought one, and it promptly got wrecked in a storm.  We haven't replaced it yet, because I have no idea where to site one that it wouldn't be at risk in the next storm.  They also seem fairly labor intensive.  In my climate, a greenhouse would be a huge asset, if only we could keep it intact.  However, we've managed fairly well without one.  

If you aren't already butchering, gardening, root cellaring, intensively canning, dehydrating, etc, I would personally add just one thing at a time.  All of those things take time to master, and while none of them is exactly rocket science, it is overwhelming to try to learn more than a couple new skills at a time.  The skills needed are more extensive than just the thing itself - with dehydrating, for instance, you also need to manage the storage and rotation of the dehydrated food, and figure out how to cook effectively with it, plus figuring out what dehydrates well, and what your family likes.  Canning is a similar story.  Even freezing, especially freezing your own produce, takes some trial and error (or did for me), though that's more a matter of observation (ie. what froze well, and what got tough or wasn't palatable in recipes).  

Anyhow, not exactly an 'order', but those are things I'd consider in deciding how to tackle your acquisition list.  
 
Stacy Witscher
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My desire for an outdoor canning area is because of the heat that canning produces. I currently can in my kitchen, but I'm not going to want to do that in the summer. The canning area will just be part of my outdoor kitchen. The plans are to include a large sink for washing produce and a cob wood oven as well.
 
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Love your list. The only thing that I'd add would be heavy duty manual food processing/cooking tools like a grinder, grain mill, etc. and a cooking over the campfire setup.

Since I'm physically unable to do a lot these days, I've started to think about food security in a much different way lately. I'm shifting more towards identifying, locating and/or planting perennial things that most people won't recognize as being a food source. Humans used to be very efficient gatherers and I'm thinking that it wouldn't hurt to learn/know how to do so again. I feel better knowing that if someone stole/confiscated all of the food preps in my house that we wouldn't starve. So lately my priority has been locating edible plants, trees, flowers, roots, tubers etc. already growing within a few of miles of my house during each growing season. I've also been strategically "guerilla planting" abandoned lots and wooded areas lol. Yes, it's possible that others may find my hidden plantings but then again it doesn't cost me anything more to do it. If I buy 10 bulbs/seeds then I just plant a couple elsewhere. I make cuttings from my own yard for free and plant those elsewhere too.
 
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Salt, salt, and more salt...

Salt was one of the most essential items for food preservation. Long before electricity there was salt. Use it to salt and dry fish and meats, use it in curing meats, fermenting, real pickles, jerky, etc.

In any emergency prep, I assume zero electricity (if it’s there, I will use it, but for planning, it isn’t). So my list differs quite a bit.

I also don’t think very many have tried living off the land as an exercise/test or survival course. One person can wipe out local forage and wildlife in a 1000 acre area really really fast (back in the old days, there was way more wildlife and natural food around, not so much anymore). So unless you live far out in the sticks, you are going to deplete local natural resources very fast and that disaster may not happen when things are growing and available and could be months away. And there is a very good chance that others near you will be doing the exact same things.

Canning should be perfectly sterile and that can be done outdoors, but it’s not that easy. If you have an indoor  wood stove and a screen door, there is nothing you can’t dehydrate very quickly. Any root cellar is only good if you have something to put in it and are willing to manage it. Most real greenhouses require electricity, fans, vents, misters, lights, heaters, evap coolers, etc.

Anyway... You get the picture... But this is a fun exercise in thought. I think it might be better if we tightened the variables a bit, but it’s flushing out some good things to consider.

Thank you.
 
Jess Dee
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Paul Eusey wrote:

Canning should be perfectly sterile and that can be done outdoors, but it’s not that easy.



Canning requires basic cleanliness, but I don't think many folks manage to have their area perfectly sterile.  I certainly don't.  That's part of why you boil the canned goods (or subject them to pressure) - it kills anything that may have gotten into the jars.  I think a sheltered outdoor canning area would be adequate, as long as the person was able to keep it reasonably clean.  But a person could also put the fruit/veg/meat in jars in a kitchen, then haul them outside to run through the canner / pressure canner, as well.  I wouldn't hesitate to use an outdoor canning kitchen; I just wouldn't prioritize it over some of the other options.
 
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Thankyou Paul, reminding about salt. Keeps forever, dirt cheap, senseless not to have a large stock of it. Also, fat. Rabbit starvation is a real phenomenon. A person can have all this meat and still die, for lack of fat. It's kind of like, all the things which the talking heads tell us are bad for us, are in fact vital to our survival. Food for thought.
 
Stacy Witscher
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I did not read this thread as an end times discussion. It's far more likely that we will need food security because of temporary issues, e.g. job loss, short term natural disaster, etc. That is what I try to be prepared for.
 
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It really depends on what you're preparing for. If there's electricity for the freeze drier and chest freezers, some of the other changes. If there's no gas, a grill is a meaningless lump of metal, and so on.

Assuming electricity/gas and unlimited funds:

Freeze drier
Greenhouse
Chest freezer
Dehydrator
Butcher setup
Outdoor canning (assuming you already have indoor canning reliant on electricity or gas)
Root cellar

Assuming no electricity/gas:

Greenhouse
Dehydrator (I use my car)
Root Cellar (any enclosed space that can be kept cool)
Outdoor canning/cooking
Butcher setup
Chest freezer (insulated box for pseudo-root cellar, curing meat and cheese, etc)
Freeze drier is off the list

Paul Eusey wrote:Canning should be perfectly sterile and that can be done outdoors, but it’s not that easy. If you have an indoor  wood stove and a screen door, there is nothing you can’t dehydrate very quickly. Any root cellar is only good if you have something to put in it and are willing to manage it. Most real greenhouses require electricity, fans, vents, misters, lights, heaters, evap coolers, etc.


My greenhouse is designed to not use electricity. Doors on either end are in the direction of the prevailing winds so it seldom gets more than 5 degrees above the outside in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter it ranges 12-15 degrees higher than outside with only passive heating (water mass, set into a hill)
I use my car as a dehydrator, and even some electric dehydrators can be put out in the sun and used passively.
A root cellar might only be as good as what you have to put in it, but far better to have and not need than to need and not have.
Water bath canning would be simple--keeping a pressure canner in the safe range for the necessary time on a non-traditional stove needs lots of experience.
 
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Jess Dee wrote:
Canning requires basic cleanliness, but I don't think many folks manage to have their area perfectly sterile



Sorry, I was meaning the jars (pre sterilization). I just double checked and found some updated recommendations for 0 to 1000ft elevation (note: 10 min time increases for higher elevations)

“Jars do not need to be sterilized before canning if they will be filled with food and processed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes or more or if they will be processed in a pressure canner. Jars that will be processed in a boiling water bath canner for less than 10 minutes, once filled, need to be sterilized first by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes before they're filled”.

I’m old school on my canning, and I hate losing jars of canned goods, especially after all the work of growing, harvesting, processing, and preserving. I was brought up pre sterilizing jars, lids, and funnel and once sterilized and filled, to try not to touch them with anything but the food going inside. I try my best to keep it all safe and as sterile/clean as possible. I wouldn’t care to try that outdoors unless I absolutely had to (the boiling and pressure canning would be fine outside, but that could be a pain if you have a lot to preserve).

Thank you!
 
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Lauren Ritz wrote:

My greenhouse is designed to not use electricity. Doors on either end are in the direction of the prevailing winds so it seldom gets more than 5 degrees above the outside in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter it ranges 12-15 degrees higher than outside with only passive heating (water mass, set into a hill)
I use my car as a dehydrator, and even some electric dehydrators can be put out in the sun and used passively.
A root cellar might only be as good as what you have to put in it, but far better to have and not need than to need and not have.
Water bath canning would be simple--keeping a pressure canner in the safe range for the necessary time on a non-traditional stove needs lots of experience.



Sorry, I was referring to the year round proper greenhouses (as they say in the UK). The ones with misters and humidity control, heat and cooling, air circulation, automatic vents, etc. don’t get me wrong, I like the simple greenhouses and tunnels with roll up walls, water barrels for mass, and no fancy bells and whistles, those are awesome for extending a growing season. I love the fancy ones for propagating and winter growing (rooting cuttings, tropical fruits and plants, etc) and those are very difficult/fickle without electricity.

I love the car dehydration idea, I’m going to play around with that (a screen door suspended horizontally near a wood stove is my usual M.O. (great for apple rings, herbs, veggies, etc).

I grew up with root cellars on the farm and they can be nice, but they don’t manage themselves. They need regular attention and can be a pain to build and fickle in various locations/conditions. They are a blend of art and science and might be more of a burden than some can handle. Those folks might do better with dehydration.

And Amen on that trying to manage a pressure canner on a non traditional stove. That could take some fiddling with to get it right and keep it safe. I think it could be done, but it definitely has more risk.

Great comments!!!
 
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Paul Eusey wrote:Sorry, I was meaning the jars (pre sterilization). I just double checked and found some updated recommendations for 0 to 1000ft elevation (note: 10 min time increases for higher elevations)

“Jars do not need to be sterilized before canning if they will be filled with food and processed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes or more or if they will be processed in a pressure canner. Jars that will be processed in a boiling water bath canner for less than 10 minutes, once filled, need to be sterilized first by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes before they're filled”.

I’m old school on my canning, and I hate losing jars of canned goods, especially after all the work of growing, harvesting, processing, and preserving. I was brought up pre sterilizing jars, lids, and funnel and once sterilized and filled, to try not to touch them with anything but the food going inside. I try my best to keep it all safe and as sterile/clean as possible. I wouldn’t care to try that outdoors unless I absolutely had to (the boiling and pressure canning would be fine outside, but that could be a pain if you have a lot to preserve).



Oh, yeah, the old-school canning requirements were pretty high.  I think a lot of it originated from the whole open canning thing, where you sterilize the heck out of everything, ladle in boiling food, put on a lid, and call it done.  Mom used to do that.  She often turned the jars upside down to cool, to get the hot food on the lid, too.  She had a lot of spoiled food, even when she did all the steps right.  I water bath everything, even jelly and pickles.  I hate spoilage, and get very little when I water bath stuff.  The odd lid seal failure, is all.  

So, I revise my statement that I'd be good with doing my canning outside, as long as it included a water bath or stint in the pressure canner :)  I wouldn't want to do old-school canning outdoors, you're right.
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I did not read this thread as an end times discussion. It's far more likely that we will need food security because of temporary issues, e.g. job loss, short term natural disaster, etc. That is what I try to be prepared for.



Me, either.  I read it more as various ways to create/preserve food on a homestead.  Of course, I'm quite biased, because that is my own situation, and I have / have used / could use most of those technologies.  I don't think a freeze drier would be worth it for us, but if I won the lottery, I would definitely consider a greenhouse, butchering area, and / or outdoor kitchen!  My dehydrator, freezers, root cellar, and canning stuff certainly see a lot of action.
 
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Good topic.

For me, thinking about and prioritizing food security gear or infrastructure would center around two things: Resilience, and sustainability.

1) Resilience:
  • Will the gear continue to function in extreme adverse situations?
           i.e. Loss of power, loss of water, flooding, extreme temperatures, humidity, loss of lines of communication or commerce?
  • Is the gear simple, and able to be intuitively understood and operated without special skills or knowledge, for posterity's sake, or in the even of a loss of personal capacity?
           i.e. If children had to operate it, could they?  Could one explain how to use it to people from a different language, without a manual?  If physical or mental illness or basic aging takes place, would one still be able to operate it?
  • Does the gear or equipment require maintenance, consumables, or general upkeep to continue operating?
  • Is the gear sturdy, and not subject to breaking or being stolen?
  • Is the gear easily repairable?
  • Are parts and consumables easily obtainable?
  • Does the gear provide a critical and unique function, or can other items be easily substituted or improvised should it break?
  • Is the gear capable of providing alternate useful functions?  Aka, is it multipurpose?


  • 2) Sustainability
  • Does it yield or preserve more energy (calories) than it consumes over its lifetime?
  • Does it require or produce environmentally harmful materials in its operation or if destroyed?


  • With those metrics in mind, I would have to do the root cellar first.

    A root cellar can store a variety of high-calorie foods and tasty beverages with zero energy, upkeep, maintenance, or skill.  It can't be broken easily like a greenhouse, dehydrator.  It can't be stolen like a freeze drier, most dehydrators, or canning supplies.  It doesn't require energy inputs or consumables like canning gear.  Doesn't require sunlight.  It doubles as a storm shelter, fallout shelter, secure storage, and provides a respite from heat and noise.  Apparently I need to go dig a root cellar!
     
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