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By Kellene Bishop

Freeze Dried Blueberries. Photo c/o thereadystore.com

Freeze Dried Blueberries. Photo c/o thereadystore.com

While I am able to obtain produce periodically, I have to say the majority of the fruits and vegetables in my food storage are of the freeze-dried variety? Why? Cost and convenience.

Consider this. I can purchase a flat of fresh blueberries for $30-$35 at a farmers market. Undoubtedly there will be some waste, bruising, and I may or may not be able to use them all before they spoil. I will also need to wash them and dry them off prior to using (depending on what I’m making with them). However, if I purchase a #10 can of freeze-dried blueberries, I still get 90-95% of the ORIGINAL fresh produce nutrition, without any bruising or waste. Plus there’s no need to wash and dry them, or to sort through them and clean off any stems. The freeze-dried produce is picked at their prime and I get them without any pesticides or any other “yucky” ingredients. In addition, the shelf life of the brand I prefer (I haven’t checked on ALL of the brands) is 20 years. Not only that, but the Blue Chip brand (a.k.a. Morning Moos) also guarantees that AFTER you’ve opened that big #10 can, it’s guaranteed for its taste, texture, and nutrition for a full 18 months! So there’s no need to be overwhelmed at the thought of opening the can.

My husband and I munch on the freeze-dried fruits as snacks quite frequently during the day. And when I watch for the sales, I’m paying LESS than I would have had to pay for fresh produce.

Photo c/o freeze-dried-food.com

Photo c/o freeze-dried-food.com

The benefits of freeze-dried foods deserve restating:

Last 20 years on the shelf
Last 18 months after opening
No yucky ingredients
Taste great
Easy to use
AND COST LESS

Sometimes the “costs less” component of freeze-dried foods is hard to wrap our minds around. We think in terms of paying $1.29 for a small pint of berries, for example. But then when we see the price tag for a #10 can of freeze-dried produce at $25-$30, we choke. Keep in mind you’re getting a LOT of produce that can easily replace a flat of produce you would purchase elsewhere.

As opposed to dehydrated foods, freeze-dried foods reconstitute with much less water and time. In fact, in many instances, I don’t even bother reconstituting a lot of what I use by relying on the moisture in the dish I’m making or the heat from cooking to do the work for me. That way I get a much fresher, powerful burst of flavor. Even better, with freeze-dried products I don’t have to waste freezer space on the items which may or may not taste mushy or get freezer burn.

Even more important, these foods are really nutritious FOODS as opposed to somethings I bring home from the processed foods aisles. Can words ending in “oxins” “ose” “itrates” or ithin” really be considered “food?”

Freeze-dried foods also look prettier and more appetizing in my meals. I recently purchased a muffin mix with “real blueberries” in it. The “blueberries” were just shredded little bits. So the next time I had a hankering for blueberry muffins, I simply put some of my whole freeze-dried fruit in them. My volunteer munchers scarfed them down.

The other day I made jam in a jiffy just by using a little bit of sugar, the freeze-dried raspberries (or strawberries or blueberries) and some water. No cooking or refrigeration was required. And just as important it didn’t require an entire day of canning. I just made up exactly how much I needed/wanted to go with my homemade bread.

Toast and Jam photo c/o Dinner with Julie

Toast and Jam photo c/o Dinner with Julie

Ultra MaxiGel Jam/Syrup

1 cup Morning Moos (Blue Chip) freeze-dried raspberries, strawberries or blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. UltraMaxigel
Water (about 1 cup+)

Blend all ingredients well with a high speed mixer or blender. Add enough water to create the consistency you prefer. You may add more water for a syrup consistency as well.

That brings me to another point of using freeze-dried fare everyday. It’s so simple. The recipe I just gave you is easy enough that a 4-year-old could make it. For example, when I’m making meatloaf, I just throw in a handful of freeze-dried spinach flakes and some freeze-dried red and green peppers that are already diced up. Cooking with freeze-dried foods simply couldn’t be easier.

As you may be able to tell, this food isn’t “just” for food storage. In fact, I kind of think of the two words “food storage” as a bit of a nasty connotation in my home given that I use these kinds of ingredients every day. While these types of products may be great FOR food storage, these everyday items are vital ones of convenience in my home. So keep your eyes open for freeze-dried products in your area. And if you have any doubts as to the taste, write to the company and ask for some samples to be sent to you before you spend the money on them. I’m a true convert to this kind of product—especially when it comes to my produce.

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

Photo c/o total-diet.com

Fruits and Veggies. Photo c/o total-diet.com

I’ve conducted over 100 food storage evaluations over the last year and a half, and while there are a myriad of issues and common errors that many make, one thing that concerns me the most is a lack of emphasis on the storage of fruits and vegetables.  These items are critical in fulfilling the body’s need for fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The best weapon you can have in an emergency is your health and fruits and veggies are a key to providing this.  A focus on fruits and veggies has a great deal of lifesaving merit.

Given that many of us utilize fresh or frozen produce, we tend to overlook the need for canned or freeze dried sources to meet those nutritional needs in the event of an emergency.  We’re constantly pummeled with “wheat and water” admonitions for food storage, but we rarely hear the need to be mindful of fruits and veggies.  So how many servings do you need and in what form should you store it?  Given the variety of emergencies that can affect us, relying solely on a small garden or what’s in our freezer to provide us with this vital nutrition is not a good game plan.  You really can’t afford to have this vital source of nutrition off of your radar.  You simply must focus on having 3 servings a day of fruits and veggies, especially during an emergency.

Freeze dried bell peppers.  Photo c/o 21food.com

Freeze dried bell peppers. Photo c/o 21food.com

I’m a big fan of freeze dried fruits and veggies.  In number ten cans, quality freeze-dried produce will last 20 to 30 years.  Even better, if you are able to get it on sale, it needn’t be something that you obtain just for emergencies.  For example, I regularly acquire freeze dried spinach and diced red and green peppers.  When I’m making an omelet, I take a couple of spoonfuls of spinach and mix it in.  Not only have I saved myself time by not cleaning and cutting the veggies, but this way I know that I won’t have to throw veggies out later.  When I’m making a spaghetti sauce or a casserole, I simply add a dash of my peppers for flavor.  This is actually a LOT less expensive than if I were to go to the store, pay for the produce, clean it, dice it, and then hope that I’ve got more uses for the remainder before it goes bad.  The same holds true for fruits.  In fact, I regularly find myself munching on the fruits out of the can without even the need to reconstitute them.  They are a delightful snack this way.  Freeze-dried pineapple, blueberries, apples and strawberries are yummy!  And they are much easier on your blood sugar than the sweets you will inevitably crave in an emergency.

Understand that there’s a big difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated foods.  Dehydrated fruits and veggies lose the majority of their nutritional value, not to mention that they don’t always taste the best.  Whereas freeze-dried produce keeps 90% of its nutritional value, and with an easy bit of reconstituting can be indiscernible from fresh produce in your dishes.  In my opinion the taste of freeze-dried goods are just as good, if not better than the real thing.  It’s almost like the freeze-drying process compounds the flavors. 

Next, canned fruits and veggies.  I don’t mind canned fruits, but personally, I’m not a big fan of some veggies from the can.  I love fresh produce and the canned goods just don’t cut it for me.  That said, I’ve learned to live with them in a casserole or when mixed in with something else.  But I’m also mindful that in an emergency, the nutritional value is critical for those not-so-green goodies in the can.  Obviously, taking on the lost art of canning is a GREAT idea.  Chances are that the canners your grandmothers used still work perfectly today, but other canners have progressed significantly in our time that provide more safety features.  Plus, Mason jars and lids are very, very affordable.  Learning how to can allows you the luxury of making the most of a great sale on produce!  There’s very little that you can’t can and put away for a rainy day.  It’s not nearly as time-consuming as you may remember as a child thanks to the advance technology available.  Consider that you can also can fruits and veggies in a solar oven without heating up your kitchen or being fearful of the hissing that your canner makes.  I’ve even known women in Arizona and Texas who have canned their produce simply by putting it in jars out on their hot patio.  Now how easy is that!?

Sprouted wheat. Photo c/o nandyala.org

Sprouted wheat. Photo c/o nandyala.org

Lastly, sprouting.  Yes, wheat is a starch, but when you sprout it (as well as other grains and legumes) it becomes a high quality fresh vegetable!  Consider also that in the event of an emergency, water will be a highly valuable commodity so using large amounts of water to preserve your vegetable garden may not be realistic.  However, sprouting is very easy to do, indoors or out, and it requires a minimal amount of water.  Most sprouted items increase in nutritional value by over 500%!  So while you’re storing up your wheat, be sure to consider the supplies necessary to sprout your wheat into a good supply of vegetable source as well.  When your wheat does sprout, it’s also a great indicator that your wheat is in fine condition for consumption.  If it doesn’t sprout, it means that it’s lost a lot of its nutrients during storage.  While it can still be used for flatbreads and such, it’s not going to do much more than fill you up when you’re hungry.

Word to the wise: don’t forget to store your fruits and veggies! 

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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