Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shelf-Stable & Edible

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I know many people think of food storage as food they would only eat if they had too.  Well, it's 2011 and food storage has come a loooong way since the days of mysterious #10 cans in the basement.  When I talk to people I almost cringe when I say the word food storage because of their most likely expression, ewww.  So I like to use the words "home store" or "filled pantry" because that just sounds like you have lots of yummy food in your house.  :)  One of the goals this month is to have at least 5 shelf-stable recipes that your family will eat.  This may seem difficult, but it is actually easy to create a meal without refrigeration. It's also easy to convert almost any recipe to a shelf-stable version...AND it is yummy!

Powdered Sour Cream, Canned Chicken, & Butter Powder
One of the ingredients that a lot of people shy away from is canned meats.  Don't be scared!! (if I can do it you ALL can do it!!)  Canned meat makes cooking so easy, just open and add to any meal you are making. You can throw together a soup or casserole in minutes.  There are many varieties available and this is one area of food storage that you must purchase and sample for yourself to see what you prefer.  I personally don't eat meat (fish only) so I can't tell you what to buy, but I do know that many people prefer the canned meats from Costco (chicken and roast beef).  I like to can my own chicken because my kids think store canned chicken tastes like tuna.  Which is fine, but when it is suppose to taste like chicken a tuna flavor really doesn't cut it.  Check around and see what brand you like. {Click HERE & HERE to view previous posts on canning chicken}  Another great option is to have freeze-dried chicken on hand.  When it is re-hydrated it looks EXACTLY like cubed chicken!! I know Honeyville sells it and if you go into their store they will let you sample it!!  That is a great way to see if you will like it!

There are other ingredients that make food taste so good, like cheese, sour cream, butter, and eggs.  These are all foods that must be refrigerated, so how do you make shelf-stable recipes without them?  I have been using powdered eggs, sour cream, and butter, and they honestly work just like the real thing.  I have added powdered sour cream to enchiladas and white chicken chili and not one person said it tasted funny.  Powdered eggs work so well in all my baking that I rarely have real eggs on hand.  I will buy real eggs when they are on sale for hard boiled eggs, but other than that we use powdered eggs.  Honeyville Grain has a really cool product called Ova Eggs and they are fabulous for making scrambled eggs.

Cheese is probably the one food that I don't want to be out of.  My kids will eat cheese with everything and it really makes a casserole edible :)  Being able to make a cheese sauce,  pizza, or even a topping for a baked potato in an emergency, would make my kids feel there was some sense of normalcy.  Having foods that we are comfortable with will help a bad situation not seem as bad.  I also think about food prices going higher and higher, and just knowing that I have some alternate ways of making the food we love is so comforting.  There are several ways to store cheese.  One way is to purchase freeze-dried cheese in #10 cans.  When re-hydrated, with cool water, it looks, tastes, and bakes just like real cheese....I promise!!!!  You can also store Tillamook cheese (the orange shrink wrapped blocks) on a shelf in a dark, cool place for about 7 months.  It gets sharper with time so start with a mild cheese. There is also a canned cheese from New Zealand, but it's pricey.  It does have a place though because you can slice it, spread it and it melts really good.  I like to store cheese in several different ways so I have options.  (Emergency Essentials sells the canned cheese.)

Red Feather Canned Butter
Butter can also be found in a powder form and in a can.  The powder form is cheaper than the canned version, so start with that if you want to experiment.  I use it a lot in baking because you can't tell the difference!  Butter is also getting so expensive, so I like to save my real butter for important baking and cooking, and use the powdered form in everything else.  The one con in using powdered butter is that it really can't be used for spreading on toast, or in a cube-of-butter kind of way, but it's great for baking!!  The canned version, which you can spread, can be bought at Emergency Essentials or online.  It is upwards of $7 for 12oz., but you can spread it and it tastes really good. 

Gossners Milk
We are really lucky here in Utah because we have a great company called Gossners up in Logan.  They make shelf-stable milk and whipping cream (and lots of cheese, not shelf-stable, but so good).  We are also lucky because we can purchase the milk at the Dollar Store!!  I buy a few every time I go to the Dollar Store. The whipping cream is available from Gossners or Honeyville Grain, and I love to have a few of them on hand to add to soups.  The Hershey's brand of milk and the Horizon brand also make shelf stable milk in juice box form.  You can find those at the grocery store.  And if you think boxed milk tastes gross, ask my kids, they all drink it and eat it on cereal.  It is actually very good milk!!

If you haven't read through "It's in the Bag" by Michelle and Trent snow, you need to!!   Every recipe is shelf-stable and really good.  Their system of food storage is quite clever.  You store every item needed to make an entire meal and store it in a bag.  This is great for food storage, but also for an easy way for kids or even your husband to make dinner.  I have made several of the recipes from their book and they have all been delicious, but we really enjoyed the White Chicken Chili.

White Chicken Chili
2 (13 oz)cans chicken, drained, or 1 quart home-canned chicken
4 C water
2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained
1 (4oz) can diced green chilies
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/3 C dried onions
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1 t cumin
1 t oregano
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
**If available add 1 C sour cream and 1 pint whipping cream (I used 1/2 C sour cream powder 1/2 C water and 1 small box of Gossner's whipping cream)
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat until hot.  Serve hot. 


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