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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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By Kellene Bishop

waste-food-storage-moneyThere’s nothing sadder to me than when I see someone who’s finally started taking steps to build up their food storage, only to hear that they’ve wasted tons of money by having to throw food out.  I see folks buy foods regularly without being mindful of the best way to store it.  More unfortunate is that folks are throwing away perfectly good grains when there’s no need to.  The good news is that you don’t have to waste your food storage money this way.  I’m going to show you how to maximize every precious buck!  This article is to help you understand how NOT to waste all of that hard work and food storage money.

Two things to keep in mind when storing food:

1) Environmental storing conditions

2) Storage containers.

When it comes to the ideal storing conditions, you always want to store your dry foods in a cool, dry place.  When I purchase MRE’s, I always request certifications or attestations of HOW they were stored prior to shipping them to me.  That’s a heck of a lot more important to me than when they were manufactured.  A cool, dry environment is your ideal storage condition.

When you’re buying foods, remember plastic is porous.  Aluminum and Mylar are much better, but well-sealed glass containers are ideal.  The sooner you can transfer things from a cheap paper box or plastic bag into a Mylar bag, a #10 can, or a Mason jar, the better and the significantly longer shelf life you’ll enjoy.  In fact, the shelf life of foods stored in this way usually last 3 to 6 times longer than your original expiration food information!  (See, we’re keeping up with the rate of inflation already.)

foodsaver-jar-sealerDon’t be afraid to buy chocolate chips, candy bars, or almonds on sale.  You don’t need to eat them all right away.  Simply store them in a vacuum packed Mason jar.  A Foodsaver comes with a jar attachment that you simply put on top of your partially lidded jar, suck the air out, and then put on the ring.  It’s that easy.  (See Foodsaver operation instructions for more details.)

If you have something finely powdered such as cocoa, cornmeal, or Kool-aid, put it in a bag first, squeeze out the air, and then put it in the jar.

With granola bars, candy bars and the like, simply poke a small pin prick in the wrapper, put them in the jar and seal them.  You can look forward to those peanut M&Ms for a few years down the road.

Think about all of the food items that this storing method will help you with!

  • Raisins
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Nuts (all kinds)
  • Volatile grains
  • Candy bars
  • Dried fruits (dehydrated or freeze-dried)
  • Bacon bits (real or artificial)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cereals (warm or cold)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Soup mixes
  • Spices
  • Dried herbs
  • Beef Jerky
  • Cookies
  • Malt-O-Meal

Now you can go CRAZY being sure to have the foods on hand that you actually LOVE.  You don’t have to waste your food storage money!  Woohoo!

The possibilities are literally endless!  The best part about this method is you can keep doing this so long as you have electricity.  Once you open a jar, you can simply reseal it as long as the lid hasn’t been damaged during the opening process.  You can extend the life of the foods that you’re living on every day.  It only takes a few second per jar to seal—the time is SO worth it!

Note: This method is NOT good for items that need to be refrigerated as a pressure canning process is typically needed to preserve such items.

Do you see weevils or critters in your dry foods?  Don’t worry about it.  Simply place that wheat, oats, rice, etc. on a small cookie sheet in your solar oven for an hour at 200 degrees, then sift through it, and your dried foods will still be just fine and nutritious without the unpleasant hitchhikers.  

I hear of way too many people throwing out their brown rice, complaining that it goes bad too fast.  Can I just say “stop that”?  You can store brown rice for years in a sealed Mason jar.  Oats sealed in a #10 can should keep their shelf-life for 10 years if stored under ideal circumstances.

If a product is stored in a dent-free, sealed #10 can, it should have a long shelf life of years!  If it’s a more volatile food, put it in a sealed Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber or a Mason jar and then rest easy for a long shelf-life.  

Speaking of oxygen absorbers, did you know that bay leaves also act as a great oxygen absorber?  All you have to do is put a couple of bay leaves in your quart jars, or about 5 of them in a #10 can, and voila!  You’ve got an inexpensive oxygen absorber that you can EASILY grow right in your own yard.  

mylar-bagA Mylar bag sealer with Mylar bags can be obtained for about $200 dollars.  It’s great for my more finely powdered items such as cornmeal, risotto, and coconut.  You can use a flat iron in a pinch to seal a Mylar bag, but it’s not as reliable for putting suitable pressure and heat on the bag.  So double check your bag if you’re using this method.

Remember, sugar is sugar no matter how old it is.  It simply doesn’t go bad.  You don’t have to worry about whether to store it in a 5 gallon bucket or a bag.  But if you store it in a bucket, you can put in a “brown sugar bear” in with it (easily purchased at any cooking store) and it will keep its fine consistency.  

Yeast has a shelf life of about 1 year on your shelf.  But if you keep it in your freezer, it has an INFINITE shelf-life.  I’ve been using my yeast for my bread right out of the freezer every time I make it.

If you open a can of food and it seems to have taken on the smell of the can, don’t worry.  You STILL don’t have to waste your food storage money by throwing it out.  All it usually needs is a little bit of aerating.  Just set it out in an open container and let it air out.  It can take a couple of days or a couple of hours.  A little bit of oxygen goes a long ways!

While your shortening that comes already sealed in a can will last 3 years as is, you can also can it by melting it and then sealing it.  You’ve now got a 5 to 10 year shelf life!  The same goes for butter!  You don’t have to ever be without REAL butter! (There’s been a great deal of controversy about bottling butter, but I’m finally willing to come out and say that it’s JUST FINE AND DANDY to do!)

In the future, think twice about throwing food out or storing it “as is” from the manufacturer.  Now you don’t have to waste your food storage money.    

For additional information on perishable foods, check out “Yes, You Can Easily Can Meat”.

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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