Friday, April 12, 2013

Storing foods without refrigeration or plastic, an overview

    This post mostly takes into consideration that some of you are bugging in.  Maybe you are in your retreat, maybe you feel you are high and dry.  There is more to learn about storing and stocking food from your elders and their elders.
     Consider that the invention of plastic and reliable refrigeration are twentieth century accomplishments.  Our elders were storing food and supplies long before that.  They made due with what they had at their disposal.  Basically, we all mostly know about canning and preserving and how it is done today with reliable thermometers, pressure canners and the jars of the Kerr and Ball company.  Before these accessories became available, home canners used timing, wax, used jars with no vacuum lids, their big stew pots, open fires and lead soldered metal cans!  Yes, that was a hard lesson to learn in the late 19th and early 20th centuries!  Lead is bad!
     But, before these home preppers had machine blown, mass produced jars to reuse and tin cans they soldered shut themselves, the elders of our elders had methods for preserving foods.  They used drying, either in the sun or over a slow fire.  They stored liquids in terracotta jars and amphorae and they kept grains in baskets.  Fortunately, we have vermin discouraging plastic buckets, but what if in some future, you do not?
     A little research into root cellaring to make a place to keep root vegetables dry through a winter is in order.  You don't have to dig a hole in the back yard.  The simplest root cellar could be a dresser in the basement or wood crates in a crawl space where you stack potatoes, carrots and onions with paper to insulate the roots.  This layering of straw or newsprint can be used not just to insulate but to absorb excess moisture so the veg do not rot.  Root cellaring is all about temperature and moisture control, I will post more on this subject later.
     Liquids were stored by our fore bearers in clay pots and wooden barrels.  Lids for the clay pots were made to fit over the opening like a cap and often were sealed with strips of fabric soaked in wax or grease or even creosote   Let's not use any thing flammable containing tar if we can help it!  

     Wooden barrels were used to make, store, and age wines and pickled products as well as being used as a shipping container.

     I will be posting more on this subject in the future but for tonight, let this post serve as a overview.  No one expects a prepper to go out and spend good money on barrels.  I just want you to know how to use wooden containers if you need to use wood.  I want you to get the concept of clay containers and their contents lasting for years in hot climates and cold and I want to touch on the use of baskets as well.  


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