dairy


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By Kellene Bishop

cheese-wax-controversyIt’s interesting what a seemingly innocuous sounding sentence can do.  Apparently the phrase “you can wax your own cheese and store it” is a vile enough claim to cause some to turn on their evil buttons. Oh the controversy. But the problem is that the misinformed cheese wax controversy is causing some to not have their favorite food group in stock in the event of an emergency. No cheese? That’s practically against my religion. I’d rather be hung by my toes and pummeled with an organic carrot than be forced to survive without chocolate and cheese. So, I consider it my duty to share the sound reasons as to why I’m completely comfortable waxing and storing my own cheese.

Sure as shootin’, if you e-mail or question someone at your local extension office or the USDA they will give you the canned statement that the preservation of dairy products without refrigeration is not recommend and may be harmful to your health. However, as in all government and bureaucratic agencies, if you ask enough people, you’ll find conflicting information. The sanctity of storing cheese without refrigeration is no exception. Not only have I found several government and educational entities which agree that hard cheeses do not require refrigeration, but the history books are replete with examples of cheesemakers, restaurateurs, and homemakers doing without the refrigeration of their cheeses long before and after the 1940’s when refrigeration became more widely accepted.

Before union health inspectors swept through the streets of New York City, no self-respecting Italian would ever refrigerate their freshly made mozzarella cheese. In fact, there are still a handful of devout artists who refuse to do so. In spite of today’s advanced technologies, the shop windows in Poland and France are still dotted with a beautiful range of cheeses hanging from the ceiling, tied with cotton string, and snugly wrapped in cheesecloth and wax. Cheese artists will tell you that the masterpiece taste of cheese lies in the aging process, the quality of molds, starters, fermentation, and brining. Refrigeration merely inhibits these agents from developing—without which the taste buds of any cheese aficionado are offended. But alas, mass production has caused the health departments to step in and ensure that no consumer contracts a deadly foodborne illness—specifically botulism poisoning. Yup. Every year the USDA spends hundreds of million of tax dollars so that they can prevent those 160 cases of botulism which occur about every 10 years—103 of them in Alaska, due to the fermented meat eating habits of the Alaska Natives there.   

It’s interesting to note that after a solid week of research on the internet and in the library, I only found one case in which any persons contacted botulism from “cheese.” And in this particular instance (1951) it was actually a commercially canned cheese sauce that was the perpetrator. Yet for some reason, we are still strongly cautioned against waxing cheese and preserving it. Adding insult to injury, (literally) I get to tolerate the ridiculous e-mails from some, accusing me of being some kind of a fascist because I’m advocating that folks wax and store their own cheese. Such accusations are ostensibly based on scientific research. But my research begs the question, “What kind of science is this?” If I tried to use one case in 1951 as the basis of a 6th grade report on “the dangers of waxing your own cheese” I’d surely get an F grade. We’ve had thousands of individuals who’ve been able to reverse their cancer symptoms with vitamin B-12, and yet that’s not considered to be enough scientific evidence to promote such a valuable and non-invasive treatment for our American citizens. So, I’m thinking that one 11-ounce can of tainted commercially processed cheese sauce is certainly not sufficient scientific evidence to say that waxing my own cheese is bad for me—especially in light of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have joyfully indulged in cheese preserved this way for generations, in all types of weather, all over the world.

Now, making it perfectly clear that I don’t put much stock in something that the USDA says, common sense and an understanding of botulism should cause any cheese waxer to take certain precautions. So I’m going to give you some additional guidelines in order to prevent you from getting sick. (Cowardly useless disclaimer: Wax and consume waxed cheese at your own risk. There. Now my attorney will be happy.)

Only Wax Hard Cheeses:

Fresh Parmesan Cheese on Pasta. Photo c/o foodwinelove.com

Fresh Parmesan Cheese on Pasta. Photo c/o foodwinelove.com

The less moisture you have in your cheeses, the better they are for waxing. The cheese wax controversy is fed by individuals attempting to wax any kind of cheese. But the hard cheeses are the only kind that should be stored this way. The cheeses that I wax are Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheddar, Swiss, Romano, Gruyere, and Colby. In order to eliminate a problem of moisture coming from the inside of your cheese and causing bacteria, select cheeses to wax that aren’t more than 40% moisture. These cheeses will typically continue to age and get sharper in taste, but I think these kinds of cheeses taste better the sharper they get. I LOVE Gruyere on potatoes, Colby paired with chicken, and Swiss paired with pork, Romano paired with risotto, and Parmesan paired with pasta. The sharper the better. Yum. In my extensive research I found several extension services and university instructions which specifically stated that hard cheeses did NOT require refrigeration such as Purdue, Mississippi State University, and the FDA. The key to this being the case is the hardness of the cheese—meaning the lack of moisture. 

I also interviewed 3 professional cheesemakers over this past week. All of them were of the same opinion and experience that they regularly store the hard cheeses waxed for 2 years or more. Even the cheese aging process requires that cheese be stored at cool room temperatures—not refrigeration.

Waxing Considerations:

  • Part of the cheese wax controversy comes with the problem of using the wrong kind of wax. When it comes to the science of waxing your cheese, I can’t say it strongly enough. The only wax you should use is cheese wax. Please do not use paraffin wax. While the cheese wax actually melts at lower temperatures than paraffin, it can ultimately (and safely) reach a higher temperature than paraffin. You want this in order to prevent any bacteria from growing on the outside. So be sure your wax is hot enough. Germs are killed at 180 degrees, so heat up your wax to 200 degrees so that when the temperature is dropped when you put it on the cheese, you still are applying wax that is 180 degrees or more. (Don’t heat the wax hotter than 210 degrees F. After heating my wax sufficiently, I turn off the heat source completely.)
  • Cheese wax is also more pliable than paraffin. Whatever position you put your cheese in when you store it, gravity will come into play and readjust it a bit. Thus you want a wax that will move with it. Paraffin wax will not do that. Cheese wax also dries faster than paraffin, making your task less time consuming and giving less opportunity for moisture to develop during the waxing process. 
  • In view of the gravity issue I’ve already mentioned, it’s also smart to wax smaller sections of cheese instead of heavy ones in which the weight will cause a greater shift in the position of the cheese. (Since most of my recipes call for 1 to 2 cups of shredded cheese, I like to wax nothing bigger than 16 ounces of cheese.)
  • Use food handling gloves on your hands when you wax the cheese. The oils from your hands will affect how the wax adheres to the cheese. With your bare hands it’s also easy to add germs to your cheese.
  • Red Cheese Wax

    Red Cheese Wax

    Next, the color of wax doesn’t matter. (Some crazy visually impaired person must have started that particular cheese wax controversy :)) The color of the wax is really only symbolic to the commercial cheese industry in terms of how long a cheese has aged. However, I prefer to always use the red or the black wax since it will allow less light into the cheese.

  • Prior to putting your cheese in the wax, or brushing it, be sure to pat the cheese completely dry. You don’t want to see any moisture on it at all. This is part of the reason why I’m adamantly against folks freezing their cheese before or after waxing it. If you freeze it and then put hot wax on it, you are forcing an expansion and condensation process. The same happens if you freeze it after waxing it. You don’t want any expansion going on. Let it sit out to get to room temperature prior to waxing it.
  • If you have trouble getting your wax to adhere to the cheese, then consider wrapping the cheese first in real cheesecloth material. I apply just a little bit of wax with the brush in order to keep the cheesecloth in place prior to dipping it. (For applying wax on your cheese, I don’t recommend using cheap cheesecloth from the grocery store. It barely qualifies as cheesecloth. What you want is a bit thicker, more muslin type. I recommend getting the cheesecloth from a dairy farmer, or a cheesemaking supply retailer on the internet.)
  • Use several thin coats of wax instead of a couple of thick ones. I have adapted to dipping my cheese in the wax 3 separate times and then I brush on the last coat, for a total of 4 coats. It’s key to use the boar’s hair brush, because that will give you the most even and smooth coat of wax. You can brush all of your coats of wax on if you’d like, but it takes longer and it requires more wax. (The good news is though that you can reuse your cheese wax. Just peel it, clean it with soap and water, and then you can re-melt it and use it again. I even save my “Bonne Bell” cheese wax and use it.)
  • When you dip the cheese in the wax, hold the piece above the wax for a full 90 seconds to dry after you’ve dipped it; before dipping in another portion of the cheese. If you lay it down to cool/dry, then you run the risk of a crack or crevice to be created while the wax is cooling. So yes, my arms get tired sometimes, but I’d rather be sure that I’ve done the waxing process right. Also, don’t allow the cheese to sit in the wax when you dip it for longer than 5 seconds. You will run the risk of melting the cheese if you expose it to that heat for that long. (Yes, this is a bit of a tricky dance sometimes.)

Storing Considerations:

The whole point of waxing your cheese is so you don’t have to take up valuable refrigeration space, and so you can still have REAL cheese in the event of a prolonged power outage scenario. It’s no secret that cheese has been around a LONG time—a lot longer than refrigeration. I assure you cheese was not discovered during the Ice Age. In the Roman Empire, cheese had become a major import/export business by 400 B.C. It doesn’t take a paleontologist to confirm that there wasn’t any refrigeration available back then. The Dutch actually created waxing and brining (salting) in order to extend the shelf-life of hard cheeses. I always picture Caesar indulging in cheese whenever he got stressed. 🙂 http://www.publichealthmdc.com/environmental/food/documents/cheese.pdf

Nothing much has changed since then when it comes to storing cheese safely. The key lies in the light permeation and the temperature of your cheese. A non-clear wax used on your cheese can take care of the light issue. Storing your cheese out of direct sunlight, away from heat, and in a cool area takes care of the temperature issue. In fact, when cheese is aged by professional cheesemakers, it’s kept in temperatures ranging between 55-70 degrees F. In the Balkans, for instance, where the climate is warmer, the cheese is stored regularly at 70 degrees F. The storing of cheese at these temperatures occurs for several weeks or months during the aging process, depending on the type of cheese being made. If you don’t have a home which permits you to store your cheese regularly at this temperature range, then I don’t recommend that you try this route of cheese preservation.  

Store, Air, and Rotate:

Cheesecloth photo c/o surlatable.com

Cheesecloth photo c/o surlatable.com

Pick the coolest area of your home to store your cheese in. I recommend either putting the cheese in a cheesecloth (the cheap stuff is OK for this purpose) and then hang it on the ceiling, or to place your waxed cheese in a multi-tiered hanging wire basket trio (like the ones people store their fruits/vegetables in their kitchens.) Cheese is made with an active culture. Thus you want it to be able to “breathe.” I don’t have problems with rodents getting into mine this way. But if you do have a rodent problem, I recommend to keep the waxed cheese in large Mason jars with some holes punched on the top lid for breathing. It’s also recommended to change the position of your cheese every 4 weeks. As I said before, cheese will be affected by gravity. So, change the position so that it doesn’t “move” so much that it cracks the wax and to prevent the moisture from settling in your cheese. And as with EVERY other thing that you store in your food storage, be sure to rotate your cheese and use it as well. 

Some good news for you to know, is that if your cheese does start to crack for some reason, you can simply rewax that area. If you see some mold developing, simply cut off the mold, about an inch deeper than you see it, and rewax that area. The good news is that no, you have not ruined an entire block of cheese. 🙂

Wisconsin Cheese photo c/o explorewisconsin.com

Wisconsin Cheese photo c/o explorewisconsin.com

On a final note, I think it’s interesting to note that if you were to go to the grocery aisles in the UK, you would not find your cheese in a refrigerated section. (The same goes for eggs and butter as well.) Believe it or not, here in the U.S. I’ve even found guidelines for retailers from the Public Health Dept. of Wisconsin—a state that definitely knows its cheese in which they share a similar sentiment. In their materials for grocers they specifically say that hard cheeses do NOT require refrigeration when on display. Ironically, my research also benefited from one of the very sources which one of my nemesis referred to when accusing me of the high crimes of cheese waxing. Even the local Utah Valley University Extension offices shared this with me in an e-mail:

A few cheeses based on their dryness, fermentation, and a few other factors are safe to store at room temperature. When these cheeses are stored that way, they can develop mold on the surface. Waxing the surface inhibits that mold.

Naturally, he wouldn’t tell me which cheeses he believed would benefit from waxing. But then again, I doubt he intended to help my research in this case either.

All in all, I hope that sharing some of this research on the cheese wax controversy and more specific tips will help you satisfy your desire for cheese in any circumstance.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Dharma Food Supplies

Food Storage photo c/o westword.com

If you could only store four foods for you and your family, what would they be? Come on, take your best guess. The good news is you could indeed survive with some knowledge and creativity on just four foods for you and your family for an entire year, and you wouldn’t necessarily get bored either. The reason I share these four foods with you is in response to so many pleas to simplify food storage. Although I feel more strongly about storing what you eat and eating what you store using the “meal method”, some folks just simply won’t tackle their food storage needs unless it’s broken down to ultra simple. Well, here’s ultra simple, broken down to just four foods.

Allow me to share with you what I call “The Vital Four.” I don’t call them that to be cute or cunning. These four foods are not only ideal and relatively simple to use, they are also still relatively affordable.

Hard White Wheat photo c/o pgward.org

Hard White Wheat photo c/o pgward.org

So, what would The Vital Four be? In order of priority:

  • Wheat
  • Powdered Milk
  • Honey
  • Salt

Now, before you get crazy, these foods would NOT be appropriate if you currently aren’t eating wheat. Remember that due to the significant lack of fiber in our diet today, if you were to go on an all wheat diet, you would be dead within 30 days due to the shock to your digestive system. So don’t plan on using these foods “cold turkey”, folks. You’ve got to get your body used to this kind of fiber ahead of time if you intend to survive on it. With four of the most simple foods, could this list be any more “ultra simple?”

So why this particular order?

Vital Four #1: Wheat. Wheat is at the top of the list due to its enormous amount of protein, multiple uses, fats, amino acids, carbohydrates, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins—not to mention its longevity in your storage. An unbroken wheat kernel has the ability to retain its fat without going rancid. For those of you who don’t know, wheat was discovered in the Egyptian pyramids dating back to 2500 BC. The story is told that 36 of the kernels were planted and grew and thrived into 1,500 bushels of wheat over six years. Even those who are gluten intolerant can still use wheat by sprouting it. Once you sprout it, it’s no longer a gluten compound. It’s a vegetable—particularly high in vitamin C and B which is great for blood sugar regulation and energy. (1 ounce of sprouted wheat contains an entire day’s supply of vitamin C.) In other words, sprouted wheat can compensate for the absence of fruits and vegetables in a diet. As you’ve heard me say, sprouting is ultra simple.

Milk is Good for Bones. photo c/o franklinpierce.edu

Milk is Good for Bones. photo c/o franklinpierce.edu

Vital Four #2: Milk.  An important part of the “promised land” duo, milk has a great nutritional content–particularly protein and vitamin A and D, multiple convenient uses, and also stores very well–especially with today’s technological advances. Milk is a quality food which is found to be important for the proper function of the muscles and the bones, but even more so in times of stress. Very few foods can claim to assist the body in these two critical areas in one fail swoop, and none of the others I’ve found which do assist the body in this manner taste very good in baked goods, cheeses, and sauces like milk does. I mean really. Whoever heard of spinach cheese?  There’s nothing difficult about using milk. Measure it. Water it. Mix it. That’s it. Super simple!

Vital Four #3: Honey. Honey is the ONLY food which stores indefinitely (except maybe Twinkies. But it remains to be seen whether we can really call the Twinkie “food”). It was also found in the Egyptian pyramids, and serves as a necessary sweetener in everything which may call for sugar. As you may have read in a previous article, it also has amazing medicinal virtues. One aspect you may not have considered is that the sweetness of honey is so fulfilling, it’s not likely to be over indulged in. The last thing you need in an emergency is to be addicted to a particular food. Unlike so many other sweeteners out there, honey is NOT addictive. In fact several university studies have shown that withdrawing from sugar is just as challenging to most humans as withdrawing from heroine. Honey also has small amounts of protein, iron, and vitamin C. Hmmm… sweet, nutritious, and an indefinite shelf-life. Sounds like a food storage dream.  

Vital Four #4: Salt. Many folks are surprised to hear “salt” on my list of The Vital Four. Frankly, I’m surprised as well. I’m not one to “salt my foods. I rarely use it in my cooking, preferring other sources for a salty taste instead. In actuality, our bodies are just as reliant on salt as we are on water. In fact, it keeps our fluids in balance. It is necessary to all of the cellular processes in our body. ALL of them. It’s particularly necessary for muscle contractions, such as your heartbeat, nerve impulses, and the digestion of proteins. Our bodies do not produce salt. We deplete it through normal function. And we deplete a lot of salt when we’re involved in heavy labor or intense stress. Thus we must conscientiously feed it to our bodies. In addition to all of this, it’s also a great preservative for meats and vegetables without the need of any fancy equipment. Better yet, working salt into your diet doesn’t take any trickery.

If you want to still keep things ultra simple but add a few more “luxury items” to the list, I would recommend vegetable/olive oil, peanut butter, legumes, yeast, molasses, and dried fruits.

Passport to Survival photo c/o amazon.com

Passport to Survival photo c/o amazon.com

In summary, I find it interesting that The Vital Four are referred to in the Bible as foods of prominence: wheat—“the staff of life,” “land flowing with milk and honey” (mentioned 70 times in the Bible), and salt—“the salt of the earth” and “savor.” If you want a bundle of easy and creative recipes to use with your ultra simple food stores, I highly recommend Esther Dickey’s book, “Passport to Survival.” It was published in the late 60’s so you will most likely acquire a used copy on Amazon. But I find my copy to be just as useful—if not more so—today than perhaps it was intended to be several decades ago.

So I’ve made food storage as simple as is absolutely possible. Got any more excuses for delaying your food storage?  🙂

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

(Please note: This article is not for those who are repulsed by the use of puns. 🙂

Incorporate dairy into your food storage. Photo c/o cookmyfoodstorage.blogspot.com

Incorporate dairy into your food storage. Photo c/o cookmyfoodstorage.blogspot.com

When it comes to long-term food storage, many feel that getting enough dairy is a significant challenge.  Well today, I’m going to show you how you can milk the most from your powdered milk to provide your family with the dairy products you love.

For starters, I cannot state emphatically enough how good powdered milk is today. When I teach my “UNDERwhelmed in Food Storage” class, I insist that those who attend at least try the powdered milk samples I’ve got. You should see some of the faces I get when I make this announcement. You can tell that some of these folks have some serious nightmares from their childhood when it comes to powdered milk.  But inevitably, ALL courageous tasters admit that it tastes VERY different than when they were growing up. While I still have some folks who feel that it doesn’t take “just like ‘real’ milk” they will at least concede that they could live with it if they needed to. Personally, I find it delightful. I LOVE the independence I feel when running out of milk doesn’t mean a trip to the store. And when I purchase it in the big 50 pound bags at the wholesale stores, it breaks down to only about $1.27 per gallon—a great deal in this economy. Today, the only time I actually buy milk is when I’ve got double coupons and can get it for less than 50 cents a gallon. (I just got a gallon and half the other day for only 17 cents!)  In fact, the taste of powdered milk has come so far, that my otherwise persnickety husband actually grumbles a bit now when we have to drink the “real” stuff now.

So, what can you do with powdered milk? You can make some downright heavenly items that you usually pay a small fortune for. So let’s see how we can milk the most from your food storage.

Homemade Condensed Milk photo c/o examiner.com

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk photo c/o examiner.com

One of the pleasant surprises I discovered is how easy it is to make sweetened condensed milk. I make it in a blender presently, but I have practiced a couple of times and can easily make it with a non-electric blender. All you have to do is combine a ½ C of hot water, 1 C of non-instant powdered milk, 1 C sugar and 1 T of butter. (Yes, butter. You know, the stuff that you’re now canning for a rainy day?) Just mix it all in a blender and presto! You’ve got your very affordable, sweetened condensed milk to use in any great recipe!

Making evaporated milk is just as easy. To make 12 ounces of evaporated milk, simply mix 1½ C of water with a generous ½ C of non-instant powdered milk.  You may not be aware of this, but you can use evaporated milk successfully as a substitute for cream, half-and-half, or even whole milk in any recipe. Pretty darn simple, eh? I LOVE to mix 12 ounces of this in a sauce pan along with ½ C of butter and  about 1 C of strawberry puree to make humdrum pancakes taste a bit more gourmet! Also, The Food Network showed me that adding some evaporated milk to your meatloaf is the key to keeping it moist and yummy!

Add some powdered milk to some flour and butter and you’ve got the makings for some GREAT white sauces to go on pasta, vegetables, and even as a soup base. YUM!

And last, but not least is using powdered milk to make buttermilk. Just take 1 C of  your milk (made from powdered, of course) and add 1 T of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let it stand for 5 minutes and then proceed to use it in your recipe that calls for buttermilk. Some of my favorite treats are made from buttermilk and I’m not about to do without them. So, just because I love my readers, I’m going to share my two most favorite buttermilk treats. You’ll LOVE them!

Celestial Syrup

Pancakes, anyone? Photo c/o unabashedlyvegan.blogspot.com

Pancakes, anyone? Photo c/o unabashedlyvegan.blogspot.com

Combine the following in a small sauce pan:

¾ C sugar
½ C buttermilk
¼ C butter

  • Boil for one minute.
  • Remove from heat and add ½ t. baking soda and 1 t. vanilla.
  • The puree of any fruit can be added, but is not necessary. It’s heavenly without it.
  • Serve over pancakes, waffles, or your favorite ice cream.

Chocolate Buttermilk Pudding

2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding
2 C of cold buttermilk (If you don’t have refrigeration, this will still taste just fine.)

  • Whisk together until well blended.
  • Fold in 1 16 oz tub of Cool Whip. (You can make whipped topping from powdered milk as well, of course.)
    Fold in 2 small drained cans of mandarin oranges. (I like to cut the oranges in half to create more “perfect bites.”)
  • Then fold in the entire package of Keebler Fudge Striped cookies, crushed. (I just got a bunch of them for only 50 cents each and then sealed them in a large Mason jar for maximum shelf life.)
  • Chill for about 30 minutes or more. (Again, refrigeration isn’t necessary to serve this dish–only if you’re going to store it. I like to fold in the cookies just before serving, but this is a still yummy even a couple of days out!)

There’s more to discover to your powdered milk. Just keep exploring and “milking it” for all it’s worth. We haven’t addressed yet everything that’s possible to make out of powdered milk, but it’s a worthwhile start. Enjoy!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

The Agriculture Department is raising prices on your dairy products. (How they have the authority to do this is beyond me, but for now, it is what it is.)

breaking-news-milk-cows-istock000003721058Farmers claim that it costs more to make milk than they get to sell it. Guess what that means? Can you say milk shortage?? In June of this year, The National Milk Producers Federation said they would PAY farmers to slaughter diary cows in order to manipulate the prices higher based on “supply and demand.” (Despicable, I know.)

Michael Swanson, chief economist at Wells Fargo, told Bloomberg, “The milk price remains well below the total cost of production.”

Cheese is expected to increase in price SIGNIFICANTLY as is butter. What does this mean to you? Start buying cheese and butter while you can afford it, and then wax or can it so that you can have it on hand!  

breaking-news-challenge-butterBy the way, on the internet you’ll find .50 cent off Challenge Butter coupons, $1.00 off coupon of any two pounds of cheese, plus a .75 cents off coupon of a gallon of milk. (There’s also a .75 cents off of any kind of yogurt.)

To capitalize on these coupons, go to coupons.com. If these offers don’t work for your zip code, enter in 84097. You may also want to use zip code 19542.  Albertson’s has a double coupon out this week making your cheese, butter, yogurt, and milk VERY affordable. Limit is printing 2 coupon per computer.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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bottling-butterBy Kellene Bishop

June 12, 2007.  That was a day I experienced a moment of euphoria as a concern of mine had just been satisfied completely.  That was the day I discovered you could bottle butter.  It was a very, very happy day for me, until I began doing research on it.  There were an abundance of comments surfacing on the internet stating that bottling butter simply wasn’t safe because it was “impossible” to get rid of any botulism.  My joy was squashed.  But after speaking to many lifetime emergency preparedness folks who swore that bottling butter was just fine, I decided to do more research on the matter.  The good news is I’ve decided to fully embrace bottling butter.  The thought of butter on my homemade wheat bread, even in the midst of a crisis, is just too enticing to pass up.  So here’s how I’ve come up with my rationale for bottling butter in spite of what some information on the internet has said.

1)      History: I interviewed no less than TWENTY individuals who have been bottling butter and using it without any instances of illness or food poisoning.  Most of these individuals have been bottling butter for longer than a decade.  The key is to use clean and sanitized jars and lids as well as to bring the butter up to the boiling point. (Instructions follow)

2)      The Source of the Bottled Butter Controversy: The bottom line is that oxygen and bacteria are the primary culprits in the deterioration of foods.  Just as fire can’t live without oxygen, bacteria doesn’t do so well without it either.  The bottling butter process eliminates oxygen from the butter.  However, nothing—not the canning of any item—can  be certain to  “kill” botulism.  You simply need to make sure that you do not provide a source for botulism in the first place.

Botulism is a muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinum.  Such bacteria are commonly found in soil.  Butter is not a substance harvested from soil.  Additionally, instances of botulism have been mostly eradicated in the U.S.  Each year, the CDC records roughly 25 cases of food borne botulism poisoning.  Most of the findings originate in some fermented whale and other traditional foods prepared by Alaska natives.  There has not been a case of commercially prepared foods containing botulism since the early 1970s.  (Click here for a link of warning)

I have found that the majority of those who state that bottling butter is dangerous are relying primarily on a report issued by the USDA as linked for you above.  In other words, the primary entity stating NOT to bottle your own butter is the Department of Agriculture.  While I may sound a bit like a rebel, I don’t give that much stock.  After all, the FDA, Surgeons General, etc., have made a whole lot of big mistakes over the years such as “smoking IS NOT hazardous”, “Laetrile will not help with cancer”, “Ephedrine is perfectly safe”, just to name a few.  I’ve found that a great deal of “government studies” always tend to benefit the person who’s paying for the study.  Clearly it would not be financially beneficial to the commercial dairy manufacturers if folks were bottling their own butter. 

While you’ll have to make this decision for yourself, I for one will be bottling my own butter and stocking up on it any time I can get it for less than $1.50 a pound.  After all, does the USDA tell you that you can store cheese on your own for 25 years, or that you can store “fresh” eggs for 9 months?  I think not.  And yet I KNOW that these methods work.  I’ve also seen several “butter storing” canisters for sale on the shelves at kitchens supply stores.  Again, the concept is that you can store the butter on your counter by eliminating the oxygen that gets into it.

I have a confession to make.  I keep my butter on the counter by the toaster for when I have toast.  I don’t refrigerate it.  I’ve done it ever since I was a little kid, ’cause that’s just what Mom and Grandma did.  I’ve NEVER gotten food poisoning—ever.

When it comes to using your bottled butter, I have a recommendation.  In an emergency situation where you’re having to make your supplies last for “who knows how long” I don’t recommend using your bottled butter for anything other than buttering.  Applesauce, pie fillings, oils, and so many other items will suffice as substitues in your other baking and cooking endeavors.  So don’t think that you have to bottle enough butter to use in everything to last you for a year.  Save the butter moments for when it really counts.

Here are the bottled butter instructions.  You’ll see that they are VERY easy.

  • As an extra precaution, I place all of my jars, rings (no seals), utensils, pots, funnel, etc., that I am going to use for this project out in my solar oven for about 30 minutes at 200 to 250 degrees so that they are all sanitized.
  • You can use any butter available, but I don’t recommend bottling margarine.   The less quality of butter that you buy will take a little bit more “shaking’ but I’ll get to that later.  The results are the same regardless of how much you spend on the butter.
  • (One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars.  A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.)
  • Heat up your clean, pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals.
  • While the jars are heating in your oven, melt your unwrapped butter slowly in a pot on your stove until it comes to a slow boil.  DO NOT DO THIS IN THE MICROWAVE.  Be sure that the pot you are using is EXTRA clean and sanitized.  (I always like to make sure the pot I use has gone through the sanitize cycle of my dishwasher or the sanitation recommendation above.)  Boil the butter for 5 minutes like this.  Using a clean utensil, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching.  When you rest the utensil, be certain that it is NOT placed on any area that may have germs.  Being sure to do a slow boil will make the necessary shaking time shorter.
  • Place the rings and lids in a pot boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until needed.  Use tongs to pull them out of the water to avoid burning your hands.
  • Once the butter is finished boiling, remove it from the heat.  Using a ladle or small measuring cup, scoop the butter from the pan and pour it into the jars.  I like using a funnel to ensure I don’t leave a mess.   Fill the jars leaving a ¾ inch of head space in the jar.  This allows room for the shaking process.
  • Wipe off the top of the jars with a clean, sanitized towel or wash cloth. Place a hot lid and ring on the jar.  Secure lids.  The lids will seal as they cool.  Once a few lids “ping,” shake the entire jar while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle safely.  You are doing this because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom.  You want to blend it as much as possible while it cools.  Repeat this every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes.  You will begin to see a the same consistency in the entire jar.
  • Now place your jars into the refrigerator.  While they are cooling and hardening, shake again every 5 to 10 minutes for a half hour.  The butter will begin to look like firm butter.  Be sure that you don’t skip this step as the final shaking is very important!  Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar.  Leave the jars in the fridge for a total of one hour.

Canned butter will store for 3 to 5 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf.  I’ve had butter as “old as 7 years” with no problems or compromise in taste.  Know that your bottled butter will not re-melt after you’ve bottled it so you won’t need to refrigerate it after opening (yet another plus, in my book), though you should still plan on using it up within a reasonable amount of time.

Ultimately, if you don’t want to bottle butter, you can store it in your freezer and then use it up if your electricity dies.  If you decide that THEN would be a good time to try to bottle the butter after all, you can do so with a solar oven or simply by the power of the sun in your backyard.  But that’s another story.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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powdered-milkOk, I admit it. I used to hate powdered milk as a kid.  But I have to admit, it’s come a long ways in 30 years, thank goodness.  With the cost of milk nowadays, if you’ve got more than 2 mouths to feed, it can cost as much for milk as it does to fill up your car with gas.  And if you’re a “dairy freak” like I am, you’ll wonder what in the world you’ll do in the event of an emergency when you may be FORCED to use powdered milk regularly.


powdered-milk-21Other than the fact that I always type the word “powdered” incorrectly, I truly do value this storage staple.  It will indulge my every dairy craving in a pinch, including buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese.  Just a little bit of culturing and it turns into whatever dairy product I desire.  In fact, I can even combine it with an equal amount of ice water and some flavoring and turn it into a yummy fluffy dessert topping.  And it’s great in all of my recipes.  It costs half as much as “fresh” milk, has zero cholesterol, zero fat, and is high in calcium, vitamin D and protein.  And hey, it even comes in an easy to store box which I can neatly stack on my shelves.  I have found no problem using it as a milk substitute in every recipe with just a bit of water added to it.  I can also make dry baked mixes or beverage mixes ahead of time with it with no need for anything else but water.  Ironically, the only thing I don’t care for powdered milk is as a substitute for just plain milk.  However, I have discovered the trick of adding in a ½ teaspoon of vanilla per half gallon of powdered milk mixture to make it taste a lot better.  I find that powdered milk tastes just fine when mixed equally with whole milk as well.  Plus, I’ve never had kids complain when I mix chocolate syrup or strawberry syrup in it straight.

 

Powdered milk tastes best if it is mixed up and allowed to chill overnight before serving, or for at least 4 hours.  Chilling actually aids in dissolving the powdered milk completely and gives it a fresher flavor.

 

OK.  To use powdered milk for just about anything, you first need to learn to reconstitute it.  So let’s start with that.

 

Reconstituted Powdered Milk:

refrigerate-milkTake a 2 quart pitcher and fill it just over half with very cold tap water.  Then add 2 and 2/3 cup of powdered milk.  Using a long whisk, whisk the milk until it appears to be well mixed and the milk appears to be mostly dissolved.  Then fill the pitcher to full with additional cold water.  It’s best to have a lid on the pitcher and then place it in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.  

 

To make buttermilk from reconstituted milk, you’re going to need some “starter.”  But don’t worry.  You can buy the small pints of buttermilk and store them in your freezer until you’re ready to use them. 

Cultured Buttermilk: You won’t believe how easy this is!  Take 3 and ¾ cups of reconstituted milk and add it to ½ cup of commercial buttermilk.  Allow it to sit on the counter overnight (8 to 10 hours at room temperature) and Voila! You’ve got buttermilk!  (I store it refrigerated thereafter, just so you know.)  I have to have buttermilk to make my all time favorite syrup recipe (Sorry, I’m going to save that for another post).

chocolatemilkHere’s another idea that I have loved to use with powdered milk.  It’s called “molasses milk.”  All you do is warm up about ¾ cup of reconstituted milk and then stir in a regular spoonful of molasses (double and triple accordingly).  It’s yummy.  It kind of tastes like caramel toffee.  And here you thought that molasses was just for cookies.  

Hopefully from reading this you’ve thought about the importance of having powdered milk in your supplies, along with molasses, chocolate syrup, and vanilla extract in your storage items.  For future reference I would also add that you’ll want lemon juice and cocoa as well.   

 

I look forward to sharing more with you later.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.

You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.  

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cheese-variety2

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Well, at least those of us who are addicted to cheese anyway. 

  • Can you name at least 10 different kinds of cheese that you love?
  • Do you believe that cheese should be its own food group?
  • Are you helpless to abide by your diet unless it involves huge amounts of melted cheese?

Then this article is for you!

 

cheese-fruit-plateSo picture this.  It’s a bona fide emergency survival situation.  You are holed up on your home and living off of the emergency preparedness supplies you stored.  And you’ve got one heck of a hankering for some yummy melted cheese.  But you’re just not in the mood for the Velveeta, that nasty powdered stuff, or the “squirt” kind of cheese.  You want a good solid bite of a yummy Parmesan, or Swiss, or a sharp cheddar.  (I’m making myself drool even as I write this.)  But hey, cheese doesn’t store for a very long time, right?  Well, in this case, I’m happy to tell you that you’re wrong.  And if you’re a true cheese addict, then you’ll be happy to hear that you’re wrong for once, right?

 

cheese-wax-goudaSo here’s the good news.  You CAN have your favorite cheese on hand, even in an emergency, and even though no stores are open and you have no access to electricity.  All you have to do is buy the hard blocks of cheese that you want now in order to have them  stored for up to the next 25 years.  Cheese wax prevents your cheese from developing mold or bacteria and it keeps the moisture in.  Simply use a combination of dipping and brushing with a natural boar’s hair brush to apply the melted cheese wax liberally to your block of cheese, let it harden, and then, VOILA – you’ve got your wish.  Cheese treated with cheese wax will store for up to 25 years at a mild to cool temperature.  Sure, it will continue to age.  But it sure won’t get moldy!  (And even if it does in parts, you can simply cut off that part, and re-wax over it.) Be sure that you select block sizes of cheese that you and your family can easily consume within a 3 to 5 day period in order to avoid it going bad once you’ve cut into it.

 

 

A couple of tips you should know though.

  1. cheeseclothDon’t use paraffin wax.  It tends to crack.  Cheese wax warms slower and heats to a higher temperature and thus plies better to your cheese shapes and sizes.  Cheese wax is also less crumbly and you can use less of it than paraffin. Remember, it’s reusable too!
  2. I have yet to find a hard cheese that I can’t wax.  So long as it’s hard enough to be in a solid block, you can wax it.
  3. You don’t need cheesecloth, but if you desire to use it prior to your wax layers, it may be helpful getting the wax off.  I haven’t had any problems without it though.
  4. It’s best to melt the cheese wax in a double boiler as opposed to direct heat. Any pan you use to melt your cheesewax in will be your designated cheese wax pan. They are impossible to get clean afterwards. So be forewarned.
  5. cheese-wax-double-broilers1The less you handle the cheese with your hands the better. Use food handling gloves.
  6. Dip the cheese in for about 5 seconds, then bring it out and HOLD it there for about 90 seconds. Do 3 layers of dipping and then one layer of brushing.  (Using the natural boar’s hair brush)  The reason why you want to use this kind of brush specifically is because other brushes will apply the cheese wax too thick, or with crevices, etc.  This kind of brush is perfect for cheese waxing.
  7. You don’t need to use food-grade labels for your cheese, however, it’s smart to use a label on the outside of your cheese just prior to the last wax layer.  That way you don’t have to worry about it falling off.  Be sure to label not only the kind of cheese it is, but when it was waxed as well.
  8. cheese-wax-brushDon’t store your waxed cheese in additional containers.  Just stack them on top of like cheeses and let them breathe.  I like to hang them from the ceiling in a “fishing net” kind of contraption.
  9. Be sure to check for pockets or crevices that didn’t get sealed.  Four total thin layers of wax is a good practice.  There’s no need to do more coats than that.
  10. The cheese surface should be clean and dry prior to waxing.
  11. If your 2nd and 3rd coats are applied while the prior coat is still just a bit warm you will get a better adhesion.
  12. Cheese wax can be re-used several times.  You can simply wash it in warm water, let it dry and then re-melt it.  So when you remove cheese wax from your cheeses, you can simply reheat and reapply the wax.  Simply heat the cheese wax to about 200 degrees F.  This will also ensure that you’re not transferring any bacteria or unnecessary moisture to your new cheese–even when you’re putting it on your cheese which is cooler.
  13. You do not need to filter the cheese wax after you melt it.  So don’t worry about that step.
  14. Your first coat will have some unevenness to it.  Don’t worry.  The 2nd and 3rd coat will even it out just fine.
  15. Cheese will respond to gravity. So using cheesewax vs. paraffin is important as it’s more pliable. I periodically turn my cheese in view of the gravitational pull.

cheese-wax-waxCheese wax can be found multiple places online or in your local health food stores.  I also recommend that you use red or black cheesewax as it will prevent more light from getting int. You should also have no problem finding a boar bristle brush either.  

 

Once you get the hang of this cheese waxing stuff you can progress to making your own cheese from powdered milk in any flavor you decide!  Yummy!

 

Enjoy the recipe below!

 

Kristen’s Cheesy Roughin’ It Enchiladas

 

1 can of tomato soup

1 can of cream of chicken soup

1 regular sized can of enchilada sauce

2 cups of canned chicken, drained

About 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese

 

cheese-enchiladas2Make your sauce by combining the soups and the enchilada sauce.

 

Use enough flour or corn tortillas to line a large baking dish or Dutch oven with your enchiladas (About 12 to 15 depending on how big you stuff them).  Be sure to spray your dish with some cooking spray.

 

Lightly coat the bottom of your tortilla with the sauce.  Then add about 2 tablespoons of chicken, according to your desire.  Top the chicken with about 2 tablespoons of cheese.  Then roll up your tortilla and place seam side down in the dish.  Continue until you’ve filled the dish a single layer deep.  Once you’re finished, pour the remaining sauce over the top and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the cheese is completely melted.  You can add chopped black olives, black beans, rice, or even green chilies to this recipe as well. 

 

Preparedness Pro Note: If you would like Kellene Bishop to present an Emergency Preparedness message for your community or church group, please contact us at 801-788-4133.  Ms. Bishop is an experienced speaker and demonstrator on Emergency Preparedness topics and also has created a great “Preparedness Party” platform which makes the learning of such a topic more enjoyable for all.

 

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.
You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.  

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