By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Several years ago I was minding my own business watching TV and a crazy show called “Doomsday Preppers” came on the screen. I watch about a half an hour of those weird people before turning it off. But the concept of the show sparked an interest in the back of my mind and got me thinking about the safety of my own family. I really started wondering if they would be taken care of or if they would be safe if anything (SHTF) bad happened. I concluded that we were grossly unprepared and our family’s journey began.
I am a list maker so the first thing I did was make a list of what I needed for my family to have just two month’s worth of supplies (food, water, soap, toothpaste …). Once finished I looked at my list and then at my checkbook, I am a father of six with a stay at home wife, and I quickly got over whelmed and then I panicked. After a few days I got brave enough to broach the subject with my wife and we figured out where the disposable income needed would come from. Like most of you, the economy has not been good to me. I have not had a real raise in years and the price of everything keeps going up, even while the government is telling us there is no noticeable appreciation.
My wife came up with the idea of prepping in little bits and watching it all add up. We spent one evening going over our budget and found ways to save money. I cut out my bi-weekly trip to Starbucks, started taking lunch to work a few day a week. We even cut out some of our soda habit and we realized we could easily find $10 a week to put towards our preps, and that is what we did.
You will not believe what $10 can buy until you really start paying attention. Here are just a few things you can get from a discount store like Family Dollar or Dollar General:
Rice (3 lb. bag) $1.69 – you can store 5 bags for $8.45
Dried beans (1.5 lb. bag) $1.99 – 5 bags = $9.95
Sugar (4 lb. bag) $2.39 – 4 bags = $9.95
Toothpaste $1.79 a tube – 5 tubes = $8.95
Kraft Easy Mac (2.05 oz. container) $1.00 – 10 containers = $10
The list goes on and on. Again I can’t say it enough that you can quickly store lots of supplies for as little as $10 a week. When we found a big item we wanted we would just save our $10 weekly prepping money until we could afford to buy the item. I think the first big item we got was a propane burner. In just a few weeks we had the money needed.
The key is to be consistent and disciplined and make that $10 purchase every week. In just a few months into your prepping journey you will be amazed at what you’re accomplishing. Then at the end of the first year you will look into your prepper closet and feel a lot better about your preparedness.
Once you get the basics of prepping started, you will quickly start doing things like gardening, canning your own food, seed saving and other inexpensive prepping activities that will quickly increase your safety and preparedness.
For more information on prepping please visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper
By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
By the time garden season gets into full swing most back yard gardeners have more cucumbers, peppers and onions then they know what to do with.
Every summer I take several quart jars and make up some Cool Cucumber Salad for my family and friends …. Enjoying a few for myself along the way. The recipe is easy and will last two months, as long as it is kept refrigerated.
– 7 cups pickling Cucumbers sliced thin (about 7 large cucumbers)
– 1 cup sliced Onions
– 1 cup sliced Bell Pepper
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1 cup white vinegar
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon celery seed
– 1 teaspoon mustard seed
Place the vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, remove from heat and cool for one hour. While your vinegar mixture cools place your cucumber, onion and bell pepper in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Mix all the vegetables together and place them into two quart jars (wide mouth jars work best). Once the vinegar mix has cool for an hour, pour over the vegetables and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day enjoy your Cool Cucumber Salad!
By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
I have had many people ask me over the last year or so, “why do I need to can my dried beans? They should last for years in the bags they came in from the grocery store.” Well this is just not true. There are two reasons why I can dry beans instead of keeping them in dry form.
First, according to the US Bean Council ( http://www.usdrybeans.com ) dry beans keep up to a year in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment, away from direct sunlight. During storage, beans may either absorb or lose moisture, which will affect the soaking and cook time. If stored longer that 12 months, or exposed to unfavorable storage conditions, beans may never soften sufficiently, no matter how long they’re soaked or cooked.
The other reason I can my dry beans is because when you need them they are already cooked. All you have to do is heat and eat. Canning turns your favorite foods into the ultimate fast food! If you can them, they will last for years.
Supplies Needed for Canning Dried Beans
– Pressure Canner
– 4 pounds of dried beans (your choice of variety)
– Canning Salt
– 2 gallon stock pot
– Long handled spoon
– Small sauce pan
– 7 quart canning jars or 14 to 16 pint canning jars
– Jar lifter
– Magnetic lid wand
– Canning funnel
– Measuring spoon
– A few old towels
Preparing for Canning
– Wash beans and remove any dirt, foreign debris and bad (broken) beans
– Place beans in two gallon stock pot and cover the beans with two to three times the volume of water as beans
– Bring the beans to a boil and simmer for one hour
– Stir occasionally and add water if needed
– Wash jars, lids and rings
Filling and Closing Jars
– Put 2” water in small sauce pan and bring to boil
– Remove from heat and place lids in water
– Fill sterilized jars with drained beans to about 1 ¼ inches from the top
– Add ½ teaspoon canning salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart
– Top off each jar with juice (from cooking beans) leaving ¼ inch of head space
– Wipe rims of jars with wet dish cloth or paper towel (I use a paper towel)
– Assemble lids and rings and apply to jars
– Tighten lids to hand tight
Canning Dried Beans
– Put 3” water in canner and bring to boil (don’t put cold jars in hot water)
– Place jars in canner and lock down the lid
– Vent the canner for 7 to 10 minutes
– Process at 10 PSI for 45 minutes for pints or 55 minutes for quarts (Check you canner directions for proper PSI if you live at high altitudes)
– When done allow pressure to drop off naturally
– Remove jars and place them on counter to cool (I usually place them on a towel on the counter)
Jars may take up to an hour to seal, but wait until they have cooled to room temperature to be sure. Remove the bands before you store them.
If a jar does not seal, which is uncommon, your beans will need to be eaten right away or placed in the refrigerator.
By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Just the other night I was sitting in the den with the kids and had an urge for something special. I don’t know about you but I love pickled food! I have eaten pickled okra, pickled asparagus, pickled bell peppers and my favorite; pickled green beans (AKA: Dilly Beans).
I snuck over to the pantry and grabbed a pint jar of dilly beans, which my wife and I canned about two months ago, and sat down at the kitchen table hoping the kids would not smell them. I barely started enjoying those crunchy pickled green beans before the kids came to investigate. I ended up having to fight off the kids to get my equal portion of beans. Of course my equal portion is larger than the kids portion, I mean that is only fair right?
For those of you that do not have the Ball Blue Book I will share with you the recipe so you and your family can also enjoy this delicious treat. If you are just starting out in canning, I would strongly recommend that you get a copy of the Blue Book, it is very helpful!
Here is the Dilly Bean recipe from the Ball Blue Book:
2 pounds trimmed green beans
4 heads of dill
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (red pepper flakes can be substituted)
2 ½ cups vinegar
2 ½ cups water
¼ cup canning salt (do not use table salt)
Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready to use, pack beans lengthwise into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. To each pint, add ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 clove garlic and 1 head dill. Combine remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over beans, leaving ¼ inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims with damp cloth and adjust caps. Process pints for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Yields – 4 pints.
Usually any low acid foods like beans need to be processed in a pressure canning for safety, however when you are pickling, water bath processing is the recommended method.
This is a very easy recipe and takes very little time to make such a yummy treat.
Give it a try and happy canning!
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By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
I have been looking for an easy way to save dry goods like rice and flour for a while. I buy a little just about every time I go to the grocery store and have been looking for an cost effective way add them to my long term food storage. During my research I learned about oven canning and thought it might by a great solution for me.
Unlike many people who store food I do not buy in bulk; for two reasons. The first being that I do not have any stores nearby that sell bulk dry goods and the other is I don’t have the extra money to buy 100 pounds of rice and then all the Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers and food grade buckets. What I do have is a few extra dollars every week and lots of jars that were in grandma’s out building. So I can buy a few 3 pound bags of rice at the end of the week, oven can it and I am done.
The other great thing about oven canning is that if you can your dry goods correctly they can have a storage life of 15 to 20 years. So if you are at the grocery store and find flour or sale and decide to pick up a few extra bags you will know that you can store it long term and you will not have lost any money. The other great thing is that the jars are a good size so you can rotate the dry goods easily. We use ½ gallon jars for our oven canning. When needed my wife will just open one up and keep it in the pantry. When that jars is empty, she washes it and puts back in the box with the other empties and gets another full jar out of storage. We have found that the half gallon Ball jars hold about 3 ½ pounds of rice and 2 ½ pounds of flour. Any size jar will work from pints to half gallons.
What can be oven canned?
Dried goods like oatmeal, rice, whole wheat flour, white flour, cake mixes, and potato flakes can all be oven canned. Sugar and products that contain oil cannot be oven canned.
How to oven can Dry Goods
The first thing you need to do is pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (depending on the size of jar you are using you might have to remove the top rack in your oven). While your oven is heating up make sure that you have the correct size lids and bands to fit the jars. Fill your clean jars with the dry goods you are canning. Once the oven has pre-heated place your full jars (no lids) on a cookie sheet in the oven. We always place the cookie sheet in the oven first and then place the jars on the cookie sheet. The cookie sheets job is to keep the jars from tipping over in the oven.
Leave the filled jars in the oven for one hour. While they are processing get a clean towel and place it on your counter so the hot jars want damage it when you remove them from the oven. Once the jars have processed for an hours use hot mitts to remove a jar and place it on the towel. Carefully wipe the rim with a damp (not wet) paper towel. Lastly place the lid on the hot jar and screw the band firmly in place. Carefully grab another jar and repeat this process until all the jars have lids and bands firmly secured. As the jars cool you will hear them start to make a “clicking” noise. That is the sound of the lids sealing. Let the jars cool completely, remove bands, label and store.
Oven canning is an excellent way to prolong the shelf life of dry goods. It also kills bugs and eggs that you might not know are in your products. The big one for me was that if frees up valuable freezer space and helps me take advantage of sales at my local grocery store.
Please be extremely careful when handling hot jars and remember I am not a professional and I am only sharing what has worked for my family and me. If you have any question about safety please feel free to check with your local extension office.
By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
When I first started canning I found several sites that provided information/list on how to properly pressure can food safely in canning jars. The lists all varied a little bit, but were pretty standard. Always check your recipe for exact directions and make sure that your recipes came from a modern canning book, manual or other reliable source. I stated out using the Ball Blue Book of Canning.
The basic steps in pressure canning are as follows.
1. Place food in a clean jar, leaving the required headroom (headroom is the empty space left at the top of the jar. Your recipe will tell you how much to leave).
2. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth.
3. Place a hot, previously boiled lid on the jar and screw down the ring hand tight (don’t over tighten).
4. Place the jar on the rack in a canner which has about one inch of water in it to create steam. Please check the directions that came with your canner, mine indicated to place 3 quarts of water in the canner.
5. Turn on the heat with the petcock open.
6. Exhaust steam forcefully for several minutes. Again check the direction that came with your own canner.
7. Close the petcock and allow pressure to build to that needed to process the food. I live at an altitude that is not higher than 1,000 feet and I use 10 pounds of pressure. Check your recipe if you are over 1,000 feet.
8. Hold the pressure at this reading for the entire time you must process the food.
9. When this time is up, turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to drop to zero.
10. Carefully open the petcock and allow any steam to escape. (Warning – steam is very hot).
11. Open the canner and remove the jars to a dry towel in a draft free area to cool. (Do not touch the jars until they are cool). Once cooled remove the metal rings for the jars.
12. Check for a complete seal. There should be absolutely no give.
13. Store jars with the rings removed and do not store the jars by stacking them on one another.
I hope this helps. I cannot stress the importance of following whatever recipe you are using completely.
You can always check me out on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper?ref=hl