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How to Survive the Very Worst of Times

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If you’ve ever read an article about prepping before, you’ve likely come across the acronym SHTF and know that it stands for Shit Hits the Fan. 

But what really is SHTF beyond the literal sense? 

To help you grasp the true meaning of SHTF, this article dives deep into what situations can be considered SHTF events, how to prepare for them, and what to do should you find your life turned upside down. 

Ready? Let’s start: 

What Is SHTF?

Google “SHTF meaning” and the search results will tell you it’s prepper slang that describes an extremely dire end-of-the-world-like situation. Think long, winding lines outside gas stations, empty grocery shelves, and city-wide blackouts—and those are just the tip of the iceberg.   

In a drawn-out situation, folks may run out of water, trash will pile up in the streets, and hospitals will be over capacity from injuries or illness. Many will be desperate and resort to crime.   

Being prepared is key if you don’t want to be left vulnerable and unsure of how to weather it out. Stockpiling supplies, learning survival skills, and having a game plan for different emergency situations will help keep your household afloat.

In the next section, we go through a bunch of situations that embody what SHTF is all about. Let’s check them out:

Potential SHTF Scenarios

Folks normally associate SHTF with zombie invasions or the actual apocalypse, but anything that causes significant chaos and stress can be considered a Shit Hits the Fan event.

It doesn’t have to be an event of global proportions, either. Being laid off, having a health crisis, or losing someone close to you definitely constitute SHTF events.

How long an SHTF episode lasts also depends—while there are times when you just need to weather it out for a few days, it can take weeks or even months for life to go back to normal in certain cases. Sometimes, an event can be so catastrophic that it causes permanent damage and changes your entire life.

For the sake of this article, we focus on these life-altering scenarios, which include: 

Natural Disasters

If there’s anything that should be classified as an SHTF scenario, it’s a natural disaster.

In extreme circumstances, natural disasters can deal lasting damage to infrastructure and homes, interrupt the power supply, make essentials like water and food hard to access, and leave hundreds of casualties in their wake. 

Since they often happen without warning, it’s vital to prepare for these catastrophes in advance. Lucky for you, we’ve got in-depth guides to help you get ready for all kinds of natural disasters:

Pandemics

Do we really have to go into detail about the crap that went down when COVID reared its ugly head? Well, sorry to make you re-live lockdown all over again, but we need to for the sake of post-pandemic generations who may stumble on this article. 

Now as you know, a pandemic is a serious threat to mankind.

It rapidly spreads a virus and overwhelms hospitals and healthcare workers like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. And while the repercussions on physical well-being are bad enough, it also causes folks to panic and can trigger economic collapse. 

Economic Collapse

During an economic collapse, society as we know it crumbles. Businesses go bankrupt, thousands lose jobs, and basic goods become hard to find and skyrocket in price—a domino effect. These lead to alarming crime rates and increased cases of violence. 

Acts of War

You don’t have to be a genius to know what an act of war is. As its name suggests, it’s when a country acts aggressively against another country, which eventually can incite a war. Acts of war include:

  • Air or missile strikes: May target another country’s military or innocent civilians
  • Military invasions: When one country uses force to seize another country’s territory 
  • Assassinating a head of state or a country’s leaders
  • Guerilla warfare: Involves small groups of armed civilians, rebels, or insurgents who adopt military tactics to combat a larger military or overthrow a government  
  • Chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks: Using weapons of mass destruction, these forms of warfare can cost billions in damage and leave thousands of casualties in their wake  
  • Unlawful detention: Detaining or kidnapping foreign nationals for political reasons

Any of these actions can cause complete and utter chaos.

Imagine law and order being cast aside on top of the economy crashing. Millions will be left displaced and starving, with little-to-no access to health care and other basic necessities. Not to mention, the mental and emotional damage war can deal to the community.  

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attacks

An EMP attack is like a lightning strike but way more powerful. It releases a burst of electromagnetic energy that causes currents and volts in an electromagnetic field to surge, damaging electronic devices. Its effect will be monumental on our technologically dependent society.    

Cyber Attacks

Any type of cyber attack can have major consequences—hackers can steal your money, use your sensitive data to pose as you, or even compromise federal intelligence agencies. While you may not be able to do anything about a government data breach, you can take measures to protect yourself from common cybersecurity threats.

Martial Law

When martial law is declared, military rule replaces ordinary law. It can be declared during periods of civil unrest, war, or even natural disasters. Living under martial law, when your rights are restricted, is downright terrifying.  

SHTF scenarios can be traumatizing, to say the least. Since you can’t exactly predict when any of them will happen, prepping is your best weapon. This brings us to the next part of the article:

How to Prepare for SHTF

If you want to survive SHTF, you can’t leave your life up to fate. What you need is an SHTF plan. 

Now, much as you’d like to be ready for every single form of SHTF, you have to prioritize based on what the most likely threats are. That means stocking up on food for natural disasters or installing alternative energy sources for power outages instead of collecting weapons for the zombie apocalypse. 

Aside from these, you also want your SHTF plan to take these into account:

Grow Your Stockpile

As mentioned earlier, when SHTF, you’ll have trouble finding everyday essentials like food, clean water, and your favorite brand of toilet paper. For this reason, a top priority is squirreling away enough supplies for 3 days to 2 weeks—and then some. 

Here’s what you need to build a decent stockpile: 

Water

Make sure there’s enough H2O for everyone in your household—both for drinking and sanitary purposes. The CDC recommends storing 1 gallon per person per day for a minimum of 3 days, although a 2-week supply would be ideal. 

For good measure, throw in water purification tablets and a water filter to use when you come across a water source.    

Food

When it comes to emergency food, concentrate on gathering food that’s:

  • Shelf-stable
  • Calorie-packed
  • Nutrient-rich
  • Easy to prepare 

Peanut butter, raw honey, canned goods, and grains all fit the bill, but don’t make the mistake of stashing food that your family dislikes for the sake of having a fully stocked prepper pantry.

Fire Starter

Having the means to start a fire will be a godsend when things go south. With fire, you can enjoy a hot meal, boil water to make it safe for drinking, and stay warm without power. 

But you can’t just count on one fire-starting method. If your trusty matches fail you, you’d want to have these in your fire starter kit for backup:

  • Ferro rod
  • Flint and steel
  • BIC lighter
  • Char cloth

First Aid Supplies

Assuming no one in your group is a healthcare professional, you likely won’t receive any medical attention during SHTF. First aid supplies will make all the difference between life and death, preventing injuries from getting worse and lowering the risk of infection.   

Here are some things that should be in a first aid kit:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter meds
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer 
  • Cotton swabs
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Bandages 
  • Antibiotic cream
  • A manual that shows you how to treat common injuries and ailments

Of course, these are only the basics. If you want a full-fledged first aid kit to stash at home or keep in your car trunk, here’s an article to help you out. 

You can also take things a step further and prepare an IFAK, or an Individual First Aid Kit. This is more of a trauma kit than a typical first aid kit, and it’s specifically designed with major injuries in mind. 

Personal Hygiene Products

Hygiene may be at the bottom of your list when gearing up for SHTF, but it’s more critical than ever. Don’t let it suffer if you don’t wanna get sick and spread that nasty disease around. Here’s a list of personal hygiene products to add to your stockpile. 

Cash

Your credit cards will be useless when SHTF. While some ATM machines may work, the lines will be crazy long and you can’t guarantee you’ll get a single dollar from it. Cash will be king, so always have emergency funds accessible.   

Clothing

Have a mix of clothes to address different weather conditions. Here are some of the things you’ll want to include:

  • Raincoats or waterproof jackets to keep you dry  
  • Thermal tops and pants to stay warm in the winter
  • Sunglasses and breathable shirts to wear when it’s hot out
  • Sturdy boots and a pair of tactical gloves

Fuel

Some of the first places folks will rush to after a disaster? Gas stations. If you don’t want to waste precious time lining up to get your tank filled, either keep it 3/4 full all the time or store a few gallons of gasoline at home.

Just be careful when you do the latter since the last thing you want is to start a house fire

Entertainment

Don’t forget to add some form of entertainment, whether it’s books, board games, or coloring materials! These may not seem important right off the bat, but they’ll give you and your family a healthy form of distraction during such a chaotic time.  

If you have kids, it’s also best to include their favorite plush toy or blanket for comfort. 

Other Survival Gear and Supplies

Here’s a list of additional items you need to stash for emergencies:  

Build Your Survival Kits

A prepper isn’t a prepper if they don’t have at least one emergency or survival kit ready for action. In fact, it’s normal in the prepper community to have two, three, or all of these—you know, to cover all their bases: 

  • Everyday Carry (EDC): Your everyday carry is what you bring with you everywhere you go. Everyone has their own version of it, but a prepper’s EDC includes items that come in handy for emergencies, like a wallet multitool or lighter.
  • Bug Out Bag (BOB): A bug out bag carries the items you need for a short-term survival situation. It should have enough to sustain you on your way to your bug out location, which typically means 72 hours’ worth of supplies. 
  • Get Home Bag (GHB): A get home bag is the bug out bag’s counterpart. It’s meant to keep you alive as you journey home in an emergency.  
  • I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) Bag: Strapping an INCH bag to your back doesn’t exactly mean you’ll never see the inside of your home again, but it will help you stay alive when you need to evacuate for a long period. 
  • Survival Cache: This is a stash of survival gear and supplies hidden in a secure location. Survival caches are strategically placed along bug out routes to supplement bug out bags and other emergency kits. 

These survival kits more or less contain the same items we shared above, but you shouldn’t use the exact same water filter for your BOB and INCH bag. Nope. Different bags mean a different set of survival tools. 

Have a Communication System in Place

Sure, your phone may have enough juice to last a day or two, but you can’t afford to take any chances when disaster strikes. If it’s a crisis involving your whole area, communication lines will be flooded, and you’ll have a difficult time getting in touch with anyone. 

That is, unless you have a communication plan. Strategizing what to do with your family ensures no one gets lost and helps prevent anxiety. 

A solid communication plan includes:

  • A designated meeting place in case you get separated
  • An out-of-town contact to get everyone’s status or whereabouts  
  • Emergency contacts for each member of the household
  • Numbers of your local fire department, ambulance, etc. 
  • How you’ll get in touch with each other 
Related: When the Lines Go Down: 4 Emergency Communication Devices 

Self-Defense

Desperate times call for desperate measures by folks who didn’t get to stock up on essentials. So another critical part of your SHTF plan is plotting what you’ll do for self-defense. Take your home and your person into account: 

Fortifying Your Home

With all the food and provisions you’ve accumulated, your home will be a goldmine for thieves. Keep these unwelcome guests away from your property by:

Related: 12 Brilliant Ways to Fortify Your Home for SHTF 

Defending Yourself Using Your Fists or Weapons

If your home fortifications didn’t work and you find yourself face to face with an intruder, take matters into your own hands. This is where it helps to know defensive fighting styles like Brazilian jiu-jitsu or simply how to use your fists, legs, or elbows.

You also can’t go wrong with these self-defense weapons: 

  • Taser
  • Tactical pen
  • Nunchucks
  • Stun gun
  • Baseball bat

We want to highlight that you should only do self-defense as a last resort. You don’t know what lengths someone is willing to go to. 

Plan for Both Bugging In AND Bugging Out  

Here’s a question of great consequence: will you bug in or bug out when shit hits the fan? 

Your decision may very well decide your fate, so weighing their pros and cons is a lot of pressure. But as a word of advice, you’re better off planning for both.  

Bugging out, or getting out of dodge, may be the better option for these scenarios: 

  • Your home is directly affected by an earthquake, hurricane, or fire
  • Violence from civil unrest is getting out of hand and you can’t defend your home
  • Your supplies are depleting
  • You have a bug out location and different ways to reach it
Related: 7 Key Steps for a Successful Bug Out Plan 

On the other hand, bugging in (what average Joes refer to as “sheltering in place”) is ideal if:

  • People in your household can’t bug out due to their age or health condition 
  • You live in the suburbs or countryside—somewhere far away from the city
  • The outside elements are too harsh and you need a dependable shelter

Become Self-Sufficient

Your supplies and gear can only get you so far. If worse comes to worst and you run out of provisions, how will you stay alive?

The answer is honing your survival skills.

We’re not saying you have to live entirely off the grid (though that will definitely boost your chances of survival), but it still pays to know skills like:

Create a Support Network

While this is the last part of your SHTF plan, don’t discount its importance.

Remember, you weren’t made to be a lone wolf. Even though it sounds smart on paper to trust only yourself, the truth is that you’ll need all the support you can get. 

A pre-established network with your neighbors doesn’t just help your mental and emotional health. From a practical standpoint, being part of a community ensures there are plenty of resources to go around—whether it’s in the form of food, first aid, or security.   

What to Do During SHTF

You’ve done all you could to prepare for things to get really, really bad. Now you’re in the thick of it. What do you do when all hell breaks loose?

Retreat to Safety

Your first priority is to remove yourself from the danger fast. Be calm when you do so. We know this sounds like a tall order, but keeping a level head will allow you to help your household better (pets included). 

Take Care of Injuries

Now as far away from the threat as you can be? Assess your family members for injuries, and then put your first aid kit to good use. Remember that manual you added? Yeah, that may just save your loved one’s life—or your own. 

Put Your Communication Plan Into Action

Okay, let’s say you’re split up from the rest of your family. After you’ve found a safe spot and treated any injuries you sustained, start getting in touch with them or the out-of-town contact who’s supposed to keep tabs on everyone. Then, make your way toward the spot where you agreed to gather. 

Pro Tip: Text instead of call. Everyone else will likely be dialing their loved ones, which can overwhelm the communication lines. Your texts will have a bigger chance of getting through. This is what happened during 9/11.   

Decide if You’re Bugging In or Bugging Out

Bugging in is the more convenient option. And it’s usually safer. 

If you’re bugging in, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got enough water and food to tide you over until the situation improves. Your home should also be safe to stay in. Check if it has any significant damage.   

Bugging out should only be done when you don’t have any other choice. 

If it’s clear that you can’t stay in your home, it’s time to carry out your bug out plan. That may include unplugging your appliances, grabbing your bug out bag, locking all your doors and windows, and then using one of the routes you plotted to escape to your bug out location. 

Stay Informed

Being up-to-date on what’s happening allows you to plan or adjust your next steps. There’s nothing fun about hearing bad news one after the other, and while it’s tempting to shut everything out, it’s in your best interest to be aware of the current situation.  

Related: 9 Things to Avoid Doing Post SHTF 

How to Cope Post-SHTF

After the crisis, things won’t go back to normal right away—heck, your concept of normal may be thrown out the window for good. 

Here are some ways to deal with the aftermath of SHTF:

  • Practice mental exercises: Your brain needs regular workouts just as much as your body does. Keeping it sharp will help you stay focused on the situation at hand. 
  • Talk to someone (or simply be in their presence): This is one of the best benefits of being in a group. Since they’re going through the same things you are, you can turn to them when you need to talk or just want company.  
  • Don’t force yourself to feel positive: Asking someone to look on the bright side when a situation is bleak is like telling a hungry bear to stop hunting for its dinner—useless. It’s okay to admit you’re not 100% fine. What would be crazy is if you weren’t affected at all.
  • Help others: We can give you an entire list arguing why it’s better to help others than keep all your preps to yourself, but one reason to lend a hand is that it benefits you, too. You can barter with the folks in your community, for example, and make the entire ordeal better for everyone. You don’t have to let SHTF bring out the worst in you. Just don’t spill the beans about your fully stocked pantry or else people will take advantage of you. 

Final Thoughts

When SHTF, it may feel like the universe around you is caving in.

But it doesn’t always spell out the end of the world. Whatever the cause, the formula for increasing your chances of surviving a catastrophic event is to prepare ahead, get your family involved, and avoid taking any chances with your safety. You also need to keep ironing out and testing your plans as time passes. 

Have other advice for surviving SHTF? Let us know in the comments!

Source link: https://www.tactical.com/shtf-guide/ by Mel C at www.tactical.com

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Family

Getting More From Your Garden: Preserving Your Home Harvest

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Home gardens are fun, but they can also be delicious if you’re growing things that you and your family can eat. Too many home gardeners, however, are content to have a ton of tomatoes that last a week and then give the rest away – or worse than that, throw them out when they go bad.

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Homesteading Handbook

You can keep as much of your garden harvest as you like, give as much away as you like and throw out as much as you like. All you have to do is know how to prepare and store your harvest for long-term preservation. Once you learn how to do these, it’s going to make your harvest time much more satisfying. 

It’s Your Jam

If you’re growing fruit and not making jams, jellies and preserves out of it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Like a lot of other freshly grown foods, eating homemade jams and comparing them to what you’ve been eating from the supermarket is like you’re eating a completely different food. 

For those entrepreneurially minded, jams and jellies are great for selling at the local farmer’s market. So if you want to make a few bucks off of your home garden, this is a really easy way to start doing that.

Cure Your Vegetables

Your vegetables aren’t sick, but they might need a cure regardless. It’s not hard and doesn’t take it a lot of time, which makes it a very easy lift for someone who has a lot of veggies but not a lot of time. 

You have to wait until your vegetables are fully ripe before you cure them. Otherwise, they’re never going to get ripe. If you cure your vegetables properly they can last for weeks or months even if you don’t put them in the refrigerator. 

Homesteading Handbook

Dehydration Is Actually Your Friend

The main engine of vegetables going bad are fungus and bacteria. You can prevent this process by dehydrating your vegetables before they go bad. Some produce is much easier to dehydrate than others: If you want to dehydrate tomatoes, just slice them up, throw them on a sheet pan in the sun for a couple days, then store them.

For other fruits and vegetables you might need a dehydrator. Fortunately, these don’t cost much these days and can easily pay for themselves with all the produce that you save through the process. 

Can It Up

Canning is a great way to preserve just about every kind of food. You can can in either metal cans or in glass jars. The choice is yours, but the main thing you need to remember is that the main threat to canned food is botulism – and that can kill you or at least make you and your family extremely miserable. 

The good news about canning is that there are hundreds of centers across the country run by the Church of Latter-Day Saints where you can learn how to can without buying any equipment. Membership in their church is not required – all are welcome.

Ferment and Pickle Your Vegetables

One way to turn your veggies into something a little different is through fermenting and pickling. In the case of fermentation, there are also health benefits – fermented vegetables are great for your gut health. 

Unfortunately, however, fermented foods taste weird to some people. So pickles might be a better choice for you if you’re not into the taste of fermented foods. 

The Easy Way: Freezing

Of course, there’s always freezing your veggies. Your space might be limited here, however you probably already know how to freeze foods. You’ll want to prepare them specifically for the fruit or vegetables you plan on preserving. For example, some should be cooked, some should be chopped and others can just be thrown in the freezer. Look up whatever you’re looking to freeze before you freeze it.

Homesteading Handbook

There’s no reason for you to give away or waste your veggie garden when it’s time for harvest. With a combination of these methods, you can enjoy fresh-ish veggies all year long. 

What’s your favorite method for preserving your home garden for the long-term? What secrets have you picked up? Leave a comment below to help other homesteaders. 

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Emergency

Lone Wolves Won’t Make It: How To Build A Survival Community

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Forget an AR-15, an RPG or even a tank. The most powerful weapon you can have for a SHTF scenario is the community around you

In the event that the S does HTF, you’re not going to be able to rely on your contacts you made online. Maybe you can communicate with them with a ham radio, but they’re going to be too far away for them to offer much in the way of direct assistance at a time when you desperately need it.

This underscores the importance of making contacts in your immediate community and building a community of like-minded people who can immediately band together under dire circumstances. 

Lone Wolf? Why You Can’t Go It Alone

Too many in the survivalist and prepper communities think of themselves as “lone wolves.” This is fine if you’re building a homestead on your own during a time of relative peace, stability and plenty. 

Shockwave Mini

The issue comes in when the SHTF. This is when the rule of law will break down and it becomes every man for himself. No matter what you think about your ability to defend yourself and your family now, the simple fact is that you have a massive deterrent against crime in the form of a functioning criminal justice system and a supply chain that means there’s food down at the local grocery store.

What will happen when that all goes away? 

The short version is: absolute chaos. People will be doing absolutely anything they have to do to feed themselves and their families and obtain the other necessities of life. 

Now you might think you can take care of yourself… and maybe you can against one or two or even five attackers. The question is what your plan is for dealing with a gang of bikers 50 strong – or even eight guys with combat experience and knowledge of small squad tactics. In either of these situations, a lone wolf is about as good as dead. 

You need to connect with others, even if it’s a very small, tight-knit community that will have each others backs in the event the whole world goes sour. 

The Easy Way: Joining A Local Survivalist Community

Group of young people collects firewood together

Why build a community if there’s already one nearby?

Clearly, this isn’t the right option for everyone. However, if you live in an area with a survivalist community, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Now we called this “the easy way,” but a better way of putting it might be “the easier way.” Breaking into a survival community isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially if you’re new in town and don’t know anyone. Such communities are, understandably, close knit, closed off to outsiders and somewhat distrustful of new members.

With that said, once you earn the trust of a survival community, they can be not just a valuable asset with regard to your own personal survival. They can be an excellent source of support, camaraderie and even friendship that will last you your entire lifetime, whether the SHTF or not. 

Shockwave Mini

So how can you break into one of those existing communities?

The main thing is to make yourself capable and useful while also showing a willingness to learn and pitch in. These communities also highly value people with skill sets that do not yet exist in the community. It doesn’t matter if your skill set if graphic design and marketing – they can use that, especially if you’re willing to learn more “hands getting dirty” kinds of skills. 

Listen more than you speak. Be open to ideas even if they don’t quite make sense to you. If you can do that while being a valued contributor to the community, you can start making inroads in an already existing survival community.

The Hard Way: Building A Survival Community

The hard part about building a new survival community is finding the right people. They need to not just be like minded, but also have useful skills and, perhaps most importantly, be people whom you can trust in the event that the world turns into a massive game of dog-eat-dog and the devil take the hindmost. 

You can’t just go taking out ads in the local circular, nor can you put up a flier at the local supermarket.

The best way to find people is to get involved in communities with adjacent skills, or places where people might have interest in survivalism. Gun clubs can be a good place to start, as can political organizations, though it’s best to make your group non-political. Organic farming and other skills-based groups related to survivalism can likewise be good resources, such as the local DIY solar community. 

The main thing is to not go in, guns blazing as a loud and proud prepper. You need to cultivate contacts, gain people’s trust, be known as a normal guy and then just sort of casually bring up prepping topics and see who responds favorably.

A survival community can mean all the difference between life and death if the SHTF. In the meantime, it can act as a useful resource to pull from as you build out your prepper plan. It’s not easy and can take months or even years to accomplish. But you should absolutely be throwing your time, energy and resources at cultivating this kind of community.

Shockwave Mini

How have you built your local survivalist community? What “hacks” do you have for getting a community starter where there isn’t one?

Leave a comment below to help out other survivalists looking to build a community. 

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Preserving Food for Winter: Time-Tested Methods for Flavorful and Nutrient-Rich Pantry Staples

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Winter is approaching, meaning the summer and fall harvests are just about done. Still, that doesn’t mean saying goodbye to fresh, delicious, and nutritious homegrown food until spring blooms anew. 

You can harness age-old techniques of food preservation, filling your pantry with flavorful, nutrient-rich staples to keep your winter meals healthy, hearty and satisfying. With food preservation techniques from smoking and canning to fermenting, you can savor the tastes of summer even in the coldest months.

Homesteading Handbook

Preserving Food For The Winter: The Art of Smoking

Smoking is a time-honored method for winter food preservation, infusing foods with rich, smoky flavors. Many people would smoke foods likemeats, fish, and cheese even if it didn’t keep them longer, just for the taste.

A quality smoker won’t cost you too much and it doesn’t really matter if it’s n offset smoker, electric smoker, or a traditional charcoal smoker. Choose your wood chips or chunks based on the type of flavor profile you want to infuse your food with.

You should also understand the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking imparts flavor without cooking the food, making it the perfect choice for cheese and cured meats. On the other hand, hot smoking cooks the food while it flavors it.

Preserving Food For The Winter: Canning Your Food

You don’t have to rely on food canned from the grocery store. You can also can your own food at home. There are a number of different ways to do this for various kinds of food you’re looking to keep fresh for the winter season.

Homesteading Handbook

For example, water bath canning is the perfect choice for highly acidic  foods such as fruits, tomatoes, and pickles. On the other hand, pressure canning is the right choice for lower acidity foods like vegetables, meats, and poultry. 

You’ve probably never thought of it this way before, but pickling is also a form of canning. In this case, we will use vinegar or brine to preserve and flavor vegetables, fruits, and sometimes meats. You should experiment with various pickling recipes to create unique flavors for you and your family to enjoy. 

Preserving Food For Winter: Fermentation Of Foods

Fermentation is a natural process which can enhance the flavors and nutritional value of foods while also preserving them for long-term storage. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and sourdough bread are some of the more common kinds of fermented foods.

Beginners should invest in fermentation kits with airlocks. As you gain more experience, consider exploring more traditional methods, as well as the use of crocks and jars. Fermentation is both an art and a science. So you have to be patient while you experiment with different ingredients and techniques.

Preserving Food For Winter: Dehydration For Long-Term Storage

A food dehydrator is an excellent investment for removing moisture from fruits, vegetables, and herbs if you find that you enjoy those kinds of foods. However, you don’t need one to get started. You can also dehydrate foods right in the oven you already own or, in some cases, by air-drying.

If you want to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, slice your produce uniformly before arranging them on your dehydrator trays. Fruit leather can be made right at home by puréeing fruits and spreading the mixture thinly before drying.

It’s important to store dehydrated food properly. Store dehydrated foods should be stored in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, which will prevent moisture from re-entering. Keep your dehydrated foods in a cool, dark place for the best preservation.

Preserving food for winter isn’t just about extending the shelf life of your favorite ingredients – though it is about that. However, it can also be a way to expand what you keep around by introducing new flavors into your pantry using the food preservation process. 

Homesteading Handbook

Smoking, canning, fermenting and dehydrating will offer you different options to ensure your pantry is stocked with a variety of food your family will want to eat. It can also be a fun hobby for the culinary master looking to break outside of just cooking on the stove – many of these are basically just “cold” cooking techniques. So, embrace the age-old wisdom of food preservation for winter and fill your pantry with unique tastes all winter long. 

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