Top 10 Tips For Dehydrating Frozen Vegetables

Top 10 Tips For Dehydrating Frozen Vegetables

  1. Buy Store Brands:  Store brands are less expensive but are often sourced and prepared exactly the same way as their more expensive, name brand alternatives. In normal circumstances, most people won’t be able to tell a difference anyway.  In a survival situation the extra food that you can put away for the same cost could be the difference between life and death.
  2. Shop The Sales:  Different stores have sales at different times, so search around for the best price.  You don’t have to process your veggies on a set time schedule so hold out for the best deals.
  3. Stay Cool:  Place your vegetables in the freezer as soon as you get home. Even if you plan to dehydrate your vegetables the same day, keep them frozen… your finished products will be better if you start with a completely frozen bag of vegetables.
  4. Don’t Refreeze:  Don’t refreeze your vegetables once they thaw as frost will form on vegetables as they refreeze and this will make for a poorer end product.
  5. Use Tray Liners:  Be sure to use your dehydrator’s tray liners. Once your vegetables start dehydrating they will shrink and fall through regular trays.
  6. Just One Layer:  Make sure your vegetables are laid out in just a single layer.  If you pile your vegetables up on one another or put them in your dehydrator in frozen clumps you may have uneven dehydration, and you could end up with un-dried bits.
  7. Airless:  Once they are dehydrated, get them in to an airtight container as quickly as possible.  Air, and the moisture it contains is the enemy of your dehydrated foods.
  8. Seal Them Up:  Glass jars with tight fitting lids which are not suitable for canning may make good containers for your dehydrated vegetables.
  9. Suck it up:  Vacuum Sealed Bags also make a great storage option and make it easy to package meal sized portions for quick and easy preparation.
  10.  Store it Right:  Store you package items in a cool, dry, dark space.  This will increase the shelf life.

BONUS TIP

  • Identify It:  Label everything with a date and contents, so you can rotate your stock as needed, without confusion.

Search the web for more useful tips on how to become more self sufficient by dehydrating food for long term storage. and check out my article on how to Dehydrate Store Brand Frozen Vegetables.

A Redneck Education in 10 Lessons

Let me share with you a redneck education in 10 lessons but first a confession…I’m half redneck!

You see, Dad is a country boy.  He’s the son of a depression era farmer turned businessman and Dad grew up in a small town where he made extra money by hiring himself out to the local farmers during school breaks.  As a young man, Dad’s neck was definitely a shade of red but he fell in love with a city girl.  After getting married and dragging Mama Jackson around the world for a few years as a Navy wife he chose to settle the Jackson clan in a major Midwestern city not too far from his hometown.  We’ve never discussed it but I’ve always assumed that he settled in the city because that’s where the job opportunities were that would let him keep Mama Jackson in the manner to which she was accustomed (before her starving Navy wife days).

The nice thing about growing up in the Midwest is that even if you live in the city you are just a short drive to the country and growing up I spent a lot of time in and around Dad’s hometown.  We’d fish the farm ponds and hunt quail out of the draws that all the farms had in those days.  I grew up knowing my grandparent’s friends and my Dad’s hunting buddies.  I always felt that I was at least a part of Dad’s hometown.

While Dad married the city girl and moved to the concrete jungle suburbs…I went the other way and married a country girl.  Rachel spent her formative years deep in the Ozarks with a pair of resourceful parents that scraped a living out of those harsh, hillbilly highlands.  That living included numerous odd jobs, more than a little poaching and some creative culinary leaps including the invention of carp chili and a recipe for preparing groundhog.  When my bride and I returned home from my second Army tour we decided that the country life was for us and promptly moved to the country…in fact we moved back to my Dad’s hometown.

The nice thing about moving to a town where I had family roots was that the locals treated me like a local…they knew my people and I thought I knew theirs…did I mention that I was only half redneck?  We’ve been here over two decades now and when I think back to how young, naive and yes…ignorant I was… it’s a little embarrassing.

If you’re considering going ‘back to the land,’ want to develop ‘year round retreat’ or plan on ‘escaping the rat race’ you may be considering a move to the country as well.  I’m not assuming that the community you move into will be exactly like my home but I thought I’d share the Top 10 lessons of my redneck education so hopefully you don’t have to learn them the hard way like I did.

After you’ve identified the rural community you’re interested in joining make sure you not only to do your research, but also do some reconnaissance to make sure that your community is welcoming to outsiders.  Avoid any community that you think has a third generation rule.  If you’re not familiar with the ‘third generation rule’ that’s the rule that says it takes three generations to be considered a local… avoid these communities.  If you’re also buying or relocating a small business to your new rural home all these lessons will apply, if you’re just looking for a place to lay your head or ride out an economic meltdown you can choose to apply those lessons in other parts of your new rural life like the  community based volunteerism that you’re going to want to take up.

A Redneck Education in 10 Lessons

  1. Don’t Dis The Locals:  The sense of humor that was common in the city where I grew up and in the Army units I’d served in included clever banter about mutual acquaintances’ odd habits or behaviors.  The type of thing you might say about the odd duck who sits at your lunch table in high school.  You can’t do this in a small town.  Even poking harmless fun can be misinterpreted as negative and EVERYONE is related in a small town…well not everyone, but I guarantee that Murphy’s Law will assure that the recipient of your witticism will be the cousin, ex-husband or high school coach (maybe all three) of the target of your witticism.  When I first moved to town we had a local doctor who was a Vietnamese refugee… his most often prescribed treatment was “keep your chest warm” and he prescribed it with a rather humorous accent…which I could nail!  My wife appreciated my imitation but the second time I got the evil eye from a local over the imitation (what can I say, I was a slow learner in those days) I put it away for good.
  2. Learn The Infrastructure:  There are some infrastructure differences in the country and you need to learn what they are and adjust your behavior accordingly.  One of the differences in my neck of the woods is septic tanks and coming from the city I was used to using antibacterial soap…with a septic tank, bacteria is your friend and antibacterial soap is a sure way to create a pretty crappy situation.
  3. Be Careful Who You Hire:  Whether you’re hiring someone for your small business or to help you around your place be very careful who you hire.  Hiring locals is a great idea but if you’re prone to hire those who ‘know everybody’ it can backfire if they’re also a gossip.  We had an employee at the office that knew everybody and had the gift of gab…I thought she’d bring in lots of local business but many of the locals avoided our business while she worked for us.  You see, they were afraid that their private business wouldn’t stay private.  You should have similar concerns for those you have working for you at your home or homestead as well…some of your preps just can’t be hidden and you don’t want everyone in the county knowing that you have resources if times become tough…remember to be a Stealth Prepper.
  4. Get Involved:  Man is a social creature and can’t be happy without companionship.  It can also be difficult to survive without a personal network.  Get involved in group activities that interest you and you’ll meet like minded people.  Some good places to start are your Church, your children’s school, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lions Club, a local social fraternity or an informal group like the men of a certain age that have coffee together every morning in my town.
  5. Don’t Talk About Religion:  Robert A. Heinlein from little ole Butler, MO said it best…’one man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh.’  Hilarity aside, living in a small community in close proximity you want to tolerate others’ beliefs because if you piss someone off…there’s no escaping them and you’ll see them every time you buy groceries, fill up your tank with gas or go watch the high school team play.  This spirit of religious tolerance plays out on an organizational level in many towns where churches of different denominations often band together to accomplish charitable goals and undertake share missions.
  6. Buy American Cars:  When I first moved to the country there was an unwritten rule that the union crowd wouldn’t do business with you if you drove a foreign car.  Over the past two decades this particular ‘rule’ has disappeared in my community but every community has unwritten ‘rules’ that can sometimes be difficult for the outsider to decipher.  The best practice is to watch what and mimic what the locals buy, build, wear and do…and if in doubt find yourself a redneck whisperer that can facilitate your training and assimilation.
  7. Lend A Hand:  Give freely of your time to individuals and organizations.  Putting others before yourself will demonstrate that you deserve inclusion in the redneck collective.  Lend a hand, help out with community event, stop and help…you’re a good guy or gal…don’t be afraid to demonstrate it for your new friends.
  8. Promises Not Lawyers:  Unfortunately the ‘compliance culture’ is making inroads into our rural sanctuaries but out here a promise and a handshake still means something to many folks.  Be careful bringing lawyers into minor routine transactions as you might alienate your new friends.  My rule is that I always give the other guy the benefit of the doubt if he’s got a good reputation and the consequences of his failure won’t endanger my family or finances.  Additionally, when I do use a lawyer I use a country lawyer that’s well known, liked and respected…we tend to get to agreement much easier and with less cost.
  9. Wave:  Another unwritten rule in my neck of the woods is that you wave.  In town and on paved roads you wave at those you know, on gravel roads you wave at each person you pass.  The rules may vary in your rural paradise but as a prepper you want to maintain an awareness of those around you and a friendly attitude so comply with the local waving mores…like Dalton said “I want you to be nice.. until it’s time..to not be nice.”
  10. Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover:  In the country status, education, and wealth aren’t readily identifiable by clothes, cars, housing and diction like in the city.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the old guy with the three day growth of beard and muddy overalls can’t afford to buy the fancy import car you’re selling so that you can ‘buy American’… he may be the county commissioner, a retired PHD, the Methodist Pastor or the richest guy in three counties.
  11. Bonus Lesson…Don’t Let Your Dogs Run Loose:  In my neighborhood we welcome folks moving out from the city…but the quickest way to alienate the locals is to buy that place on acreage and think that you’ve got to populate it with three or four dogs that you let run loose.  Dogs running lose will pack up and revert to their predator behaviors.  Allowing your dog or dogs to join a pack that kills your neighbor’s livestock is not a good way to ingratiate yourself to your new neighbors.  Our local sheriff’s deputies counsel a solution for these situations…they call it “the 3 S’s.”  The 3 S’s is a procedure where you first ‘shoot’ the offending dog(s), then ‘shovel’ the carcasses underground and finally ‘shut up’ and never mention it again.

This was my redneck education in 10 lessons (and two bonus lessons) and your community’s values and mores are sure to vary from my community’s but hopefully these lessons I learned will help you avoid some of the uncomfortable situations and steep learning curve that I went through…yea, I learned six of these the hard way.

Top 10 Ways To Find Extra Preparedness Money

Prepography contributor Grumpy G and I have had several rounds of correspondence lately discussing budget prepping and prepping when money is tight.  Preparedness doesn’t have to be expensive, but there’s no denying the fact that many facets of preparedness do cost money and with the economy getting tougher and tougher in many areas it sure would be nice to have some windfall or unbudgeted money to put towards your preps.  That got me to thinking about ways the Top 10 Ways To Find Extra Preparedness Money.

With one exception I’ve used each of these techniques to find extra preparedness money at some point.  If you have techniques you’ve used that you can add let us know in the comments:

  1. Garage SaleHold a Garage or Yard Sale:  I hate getting everything together and sitting around the garage all day but it’s a sure way to make an extra couple of hundred bucks in a few days and replace things you no longer use with things that you hope don’t end up in the next garage sale.  Don’t forget to put an ad in the newspaper and make sure to put signs up from the nearest major intersection(s) if your community allows it.  Consider timing your garage sale with your city or neighborhoods annual garage sale and you’ll be even more successful.  If you live outside of town borrow a friends garage or participate in a multi-family garage sale in town for more sales.
  2. Turn the Tables on Amazon:  Did you know that Amazon buys back music, books, electronics and all sorts of other stuff.  You generally make garage sale prices but don’t have to sit in a hot garage all day.  I’ve done this enough that I’m starting to get a better idea of what brings the big bucks and it seems to be collections (anthologies) of books, graphic novels, music and recent electronics.  Amazon pays you in Amazon gift cards which means you can buy just about anything but firearms, ammo or misplaced Russian nukes.  Amazon even pays for shipping.  CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more.
  3. Join the Reserves or National Guard:  This one takes more than a little more commitment but the pay is good, the cause is honorable and it comes with lots of built in training that has preparedness value.  The education and health insurance benefits are tremendous even for the “Reserve Forces” and will help you prepare mentally and physically for the unexpected.  Reservists and Guardsman typically serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year after initial training.  Contact your local military recruiter for more information.
  4. Take a Part Time Job:  Seasonal work is often available so it need not be a long term commitment.  Some jobs also come with employee discounts that can help stretch those prepping dollars…think hardware stores, grocery stores, gun stores, farm stores, pharmacies or big box stores.
  5. Put Forward Extra Effort at Work:  If you work for tips or commissions think of ways to bring something extra to your customer’s experience.  If you’re a salary-man or woman,work hard and earn that next promotion…if you are an hourly worker volunteer for overtime.
  6. Start or expand a Small Business:  Turn a hobby into a business…even better if its a preparedness hobby.  If you already own a business add a product line, buy out a competitor or move into a new territory.
  7. GunSell a Firearm:  I’m not sure I’m capable of selling a firearm without regretting it…and they almost always appreciate in value but selling a firearm is a great way to make some quick cash because there’s always a buyer.  Make sure you do so legally and consider using an online service like Gunbroker.  If selling a firearm to a stranger make sure you meet safe like the parking lot of your local police station (tell the desk officer what you’re doing and he/she will keep an eye on you).
  8. Buy Wholesale & Sell Retail:  I once bought a couple of pallets of ammo cans from Government Liquidation because it was a cheap way to get the large number I needed.  The extras went into a garage sale or were traded to a local gun shop for store credit.  Make sure you buy what you know and have a good feel for what you can sell it for.
  9. Join a Barter Network:  This is actually the one way to find extra preparedness money (I know…no ‘money’ involved but it has the same end effect) that I haven’t tried but I have cousins that have participated in barter networks for years.  In a barter network you trade your skills or excess capacity from your business for the skills of others (or excess business capacity).  The secret to making the barter networks work is that they aren’t one on one exchanges… you receive a credit for the time/skills or goods you contribute to the network and debits for the time/skills you withdraw from the network.  As an example of how these networks work…my cousins owns a doughnut shop and trade doghnuts for trips, car rentals and meals but you could just as easily barter for preparedness skill training, garden work or fresh honey.
  10. Donate Unused Items to Charity:  This last method takes a little lead time but is much easier than any of the methods listed above.  Round up all your unused items and donate them to your favorite charity and pick up a charity receipt.  Claim the donation when you file your taxes and pay less taxes.  You win, the charity wins and Uncle Sugar is going to borrow three times what you would have paid him anyway so he won’t be doing without…trust me.

These are my Top 10 Ways to Find Extra Preparedness Money…what are yours?

Top 10 Symptoms of Poor Man’s Disease

I’ve been unemployed, I’ve lived check-to-check and I once lived in such a bad neighborhood that I made a game of seeing how many prostitutes I could count on my way home from work (high score was 12) but I’ve never been poor.  I’ve been researching and reading a lot about World War II lately and thinking about that generation that endured not only the great depression, but also the TEOTWAWKI event that was World War II.  We are so wealthy as a society even in the midst of this recession (that Uncle Sugar tells us was over in 2009) compared to what my grandparent’s generation endured.  Most of our ‘poor’ today live like kings compared to even the typical middle class family of the 1940’s but some people still insist on being poor.  I call this insistence on being ‘poor,’ these attitudes that guarantee you won’t improve your situation, ‘poor man’s disease’ and below are the Top 10 Symptoms of Poor Man’s Disease. (more…)

Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present an article by guest writer Alan Carr on the Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips.  Alan presents ten simple ways to increase your chances of survival in the unlikely event of a commercial airplane crash.  I have a safety protocol I follow when I board a commercial airline and I’m going to have to modify it a little based on Alan’s research.  Preparing yourself for even such an unlikely event gets you in the habit not only of survival thinking but may also save your life in a worst case scenario.  One of the reasons that this topic is of interest to me is that I nearly lost my father in an airplane crash when I was about two years old.  It can and does happen!

Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips (more…)

Top 10 Weeds That Heal Infographic

Top 10 Weeds That Heal

 

Andrew’s Note:  Today’s infographic, 10 Weeds That Heal, is designed to encourage you to study medicinal plants and herbs.  DO NOT TRY ANY OF THESE REMEDIES WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT INDIVIDUAL STUDY AND TRAINING…specifically of the plants you’ll encounter in your environment.  Remember that to forage and use medicinal plants you must learn not just how to identify beneficial plants, but also how to identify the dangerous and poisonous lookalikes.  Today’s infographic is courtesy of The Ready Store, one of our fine advertisers.  I encourage you to check out their store as they help keep Prepography up and operating…they’re also having a storewide sale up to 40% off until the end of September/Preparedness Month.

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Garbage Bags

Today Prepography is pleased to present garbage… garbage bags that is…as in the top 10 preparedness uses of garbage bags.  Garbage bags can be used by preppers for dozens of purposes besides rubbish disposal.  I like the heavy duty, Contractor Grade Garbage Bags because they’re larger and more durable than the typical kitchen variety.  In the Jackson household often buy our heavy duty garbage bags through school fundraisers but they’re also available from the big box and local hardware stores as well as online.

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Trash Bags: (more…)

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Cola

I have to admit, I don’t stock Coca-Cola with my preps or even keep it in my house.  You see, I’m addicted.  I can’t keep my hands off the stuff if it’s within reach.  If I had a bunker full of this nectar-of-the-gods that was hermetically sealed until doomsday… I’d spend the first few weeks afterwards wired to the gills and unable to sleep from all the caffeine.

Don’t worry about me though…I understand my addiction and take appropriate actions without the need for a Busybody Bloomberg or family intervention.  I buy one or two Cokes a day as I’m out and about and never bring the stuff home lest I be tempted to overindulge.

My addiction doesn’t keep me from dreaming longingly about that bunker full of Coca-Cola though… and if you decide to stock up on cola for potential cola-free times ahead then here are the Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Cola:

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Cola (more…)

Another Use For Mineral Oil

I just added an update to Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Mineral Oil based on a recent experience I had.  The Mineral Oil magically restored my hearing!

Mike Hoare’s Top 10 Rules of Battle

I love reading books about history and I especially enjoy military history.  Currently I’m listening to Lieutenant Colonel Mike Hoare’s memoir Congo Mercenary which he self narrated.  You don’t expect an adventurer and mercenary to to have a flair for writing but I’m really enjoying the book and am especially enjoying Hoare’s descriptions of the characters he met and commanded as well as what life was like in central Africa in the 1960’s.  As you can tell by his rules, he had rather a romantic outlook on life but many of his rules are nevertheless, timeless maxims for soldiers and those going into harm’s way.  I’ve added a few notes at the end if any of the rules leave you a little puzzled.

Hoare named his Congo Unit, 5 Commando (he’d led 4 Commando in a previous action in the Congolese province of Katanga).  Here are Mike Hoare’s Top 10 Rules of Battle:

5 Commando’s Rules of Battle

1) Pray to God daily.

2) Make a fetish of personal cleanliness; take pride in your appearance.  Even in the midst of battle; shave every day without fail.

3) Clean and protect your weapon always.  They must be bright clean and slightly oiled.  Examine your ammunition frequently.  Check and clean your magazine springs and clips. (more…)

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