This material is from the encyclopedia S.O.S. (Systems of Survival), the newsletter FORESIGHT, and the Civilian Survival Series "REFUGEE-U.S.A.', by Richard E. Oster Sr. and carries the same copyright as do these original publications--1986.
Lifelong survivalist Dick Oster roams the "boonies" of Texas when he's not at home in Arlington (Texas). Shelter, emergency supplies and means of dealing with a hostile environment are problems as natural to Dick as the supply of 5 o'clock martinis is to addicts of the Manhattan rat race. As a retired space engineer Dick is a bug on accuracy. But you're on your own in undertaking his advice on emergency food preparation. Among the necessary ingredients: common sense and resourcefulness. Survival is an art.
FAMILY FORUM "Poor Boy" Survival Food Storage --Richard E. Oster, Sr. QUESTION: How can a person with limited resources store Survival food? ANSWER: You must first understand what destroys the nutritional value of food. A major problem is that of microorganisms (bacteria, mold and yeast). They require both heat and moisture to thrive. With high enough heat they can be destroyed and with low temperature they either go dormant or may be destroyed. Too much heat in storage will also destroy nutritional value. HINT: Food that is sealed in waterproof containers can benefit from burial in reasonably dry earth where temperatures are fairly low and constant. This also hides the food from predators (both human and animal). CAUTION Never store all of your food in one location. Make yourself a little "treasure map" and use several locations. Food can be a very big treasure in a disaster. Oxygen (about 20% of air) also destroys food (oxidation) as well as helping pests stay alive. Enzymes, found in all living matter, promote growth, but when we store food we want it to stop growing, so we must stop the enzyme action. The food we will demonstrate here already has the enzyme action stopped but if you were storing foraged food you could stop it by steam or boiling water blanch. Some ways you could store food include canning, freezing, freeze drying, brining and dehydrating. Our scheme includes using food that is already fairly dry, drying it a little more, getting all the air (oxygen) that we can out of the container and then sealing it tightly. The other schemes noted above require the use of a lot of "civilized" equipment which will not be available after a disaster. However, our scheme will work both before a disaster and after as well. Present day "long shelf life" storage food is "canned" after dehydration or freeze drying, by removing the air from the container and then inserting as inert gas (such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide . . . an inert gas is one that does not react with either the food or container). In a disaster you will most likely not have access to an inert gas. Our scheme uses hot air to dry the food, to pasteurize it and to help get the colder air out of the container. It is not as effective as the inert gas but I have been running a test program on certain foods, i.e. cooking and eating them after ten years with good results. I don't have the funds for periodic testing of the remaining nutritional content (the U.S. Govt. should do that) so I can not tell you what nutritional degradation takes place. The food tastes OK and causes no ill effects. I suggest that you eat from your stockpile in a rotational manner and keep adding to it. In this way your food will not have a high average life. The overall scheme to beat the poor supermarket packaging is to use metal containers (store bags, sacks, and boxes let in moisture as well as pests). Good containers are the one, two and three-pound coffee cans and plastic lids. Don't forget the plastic lids . . . we will have a seal between them and the food but need them too. The size can you use depends upon the amount of food you have and the size of the group that will be eating from them. Once opened it is back to square one. Wash the cans and lids in boiling water and dry with a lint free cloth. Put the lids on the cans and store by nesting a one-pound can in a two-pound can and then these two in the three- pound can. This will keep all but the outside of can three clean. If you find dirt when you start to put the food in them then sterilize again. DO NOT TRY TO PROCESS TOO MUCH FOOD AT ONE TIME. You will get bored, tired and careless. You will need the following materials: 1. A heat source that you adjust to 175ø F. A home oven is fine. It can be downgraded to a COLEMAN type oven over a camp fire if need be. You may even have to build a makeshift one in the boonies (Hint: When you flee your house take the oven door with you. They are usually easily removable and it will help in building one). Be sure you have a portable oven thermometer in your bugout kit. They are available at most sporting goods and camping stores. 2. A fairly large, shallow pan (one that will fit on the oven shelf) 3. Aluminum foil 4. Masking tape 5. Coffee cans 6. Scissors 7. A felt tip pen 8. Clean, lint free dish cloths 9. Surgical type gloves if you want to be super clean (I don't use them) 10. Hot pot holders 11. Selected food and scoop 12. Storage space (well below 80 degrees F if possible) Here is how I do it: 1. Assemble the equipment. Check to see how much food will fit into which size coffee can. (see examples in table 1) and also how many cans plus tray and foil lids (more below) will fit into oven. 2. Cut aluminum foil lids that are 2" greater in diameter than the plastic lids (allows 1" overlap of can sides). Table 1 shows some foods that I processed in May 1986. CAUTION: This is not a nutritionally balanced diet but shows how many calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat you can get for the listed cost, weight, storage volume etc. NOTE: All foods can not be processed by this method. All foods not processed by the manufacturer must be dehydrated by you (a separate process and story). This would be especially true if you foraged food in the boonies. 3.Sterilize the shallow pan with boiling water, dry it and line it with aluminum foil (leave some hanging over the pan ends to aid in lifting.). 4.Spread the food out in the pan (foil) so that it can all reach the desired temperature. Turn the oven on to BAKE and set at 175ø F. Place the pan, tray and aluminum foil lids on the oven shelves. Crack the oven door slightly to let any moisture escape. DO NOT PUT PLASTIC LIDS IN OVEN AS THEY WILL MELT. 5.When the heat process is complete (all food reaching 175ø F for 15 min.) take the tray out of the oven and set it on solid surface. Take can from oven and place near pan. You could use a food scoop to lift the food out of the pan but I just pick up the foil at each end and let the center bend a little to make a funnel at the side. Pour the food into can until nearly full. The can will be too hot to hold so use pot holders. Shake and tap can so the food is packed down. Keep adding food (use scoop if necessary) until can is full plus a little and all possible air is out of can. If you spill a little it is just like loading gun powder. . . it is contaminated so let it go. 6.Place can and contents back in the oven for 15 more minutes (this last heating is an effort to get the last possible bit of air out and pasteurize it one more time after handling). Quickly remove the can and place an aluminum lid on it. Fold the sides down, put the plastic lid on the can and seal the edges with masking tape. (When you pick up the foil lid try not to touch it with your fingers inside 3/4 from the edge so no hand contamination will touch the food). 7.Cut the nutrition info. from the food package (if store food) and attach it and any cooking in formation to one of the cans (use the food in this can last). 8.Place a piece of masking tape on top of the can and label the food type and date (don't mark on the plastic lid as you may need to reuse these lids). This food was purchased in Arlington, Texas in May 1986 for a total of $28.74 (see table 1). Storage space was one three-pound coffee can, eight two-pound coffee cans and seven one-pound coffee cans. This amount of food will provide about 1500 calories per person per day for about 45 days. (This is a low limit diet for the first week or two of a disaster and from 2,000 to 3,000 is a more likely need after exiting a shelter). It has pretty good protein and carbohydrate content but very little fat (NOTE: Only animal protein - eggs, meat, milk, etc. -- contain all eight essential amino acids.) If the protein is to come from vegetable sources you must combine the correct vegetables to get all eight essential amino acids (See REFUGEE-U.S.A. -- Food). The fat problem reminds me of a story from the Yukon territory: when the old sourdoughs went into the wilderness for winter hunting/trapping they ate a lot of rabbits (snow hares). Now rabbits don't have much fat and only those sourdoughs which made special preparation get through winter. The secret was to take a barrel of doughnuts, which contained enough fat for the long winter! You can make some interesting mathematical manipulations with the data I have provided for you. If you are money, space and weight conscious you can find out what foods provide the most in calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat with the least volume, weight and cost but I will leave that exercise up to you. STORE SOME FOOD!
Table 1. Seven kinds of food prepared by Oster with nutritional value and cost (stored in coffee cans with pasteurizing heat)
ITEM NAME QTY. LBS. CALORIES PROTEIN CARBOHYDRATE FAT COST ' GMS GMS GMS *** 1 Pinto Beans 8 12664 831 2311 43 3.05 2 Rice 10 1600 320 3520 0 4.77 3 Macaroni (small 6 10080 336 2016 48 5.10 elbow) 4 Black eye peas 8 12448 827 2239 54 4.68 5 Instant potato 2 3000 48 720 0 2.29 6 Instant milk 4 6400 640 960 0 6.89 (low fat) 7 Split green pea 4 6960 484 1254 20 1.96
42 67552 3486 13020 165 28.74
* all dry food ** Pinto beans took 1 three pound coffee can with a little food left over Rice took 2 two pound coffee cans with a little food left over Macaroni took 2 two pound coffee cans and 1 Ib. coffee can with a little food left over Black eye peas took 2 two pound coffee cans with a little over one pound food left over Instant potatoes took a two pound can with no left over food Instant milk took 1 two pound can and 3 one pound cans with no left over food Split green peas took 2 one pound cans with about 1/2 pound of food left over *** Arlinqton, Texas May 1986
Journal of Civil Defense: October 1986 p.14-15