Thursday, December 20, 2012

10 Post-Apocalyptic Foods

*Canned or dried beans-Shelf-life: 30+ years
Kidney, pinto, black, or Lima — take your pick. Beans are the ultimate survival food because they're high in protein, easy to store, and come in many different varieties.
When combined with rice (another survival food) beans form a complete protein. That means the meal contains all of the nine essential amino acids to support your body. 

*Hard liquor-Shelf-life: Indefinite
In a time of crisis, alcohol is a must-have.
Unopened bottles of hard liquor like vodka, whiskey, and rum don't really go bad, though they may lose some of their "kick" as the years pass. Be careful about leaving them out in the sun though.
This is one of the more expensive items to have in your survival cupboard, but it has many practical uses besides drinking, like cleaning wounds. Having it available for a post-apocalyptic party doesn't hurt either.

*Honey- Shelf-life: Indefinite
Honey may crystallize over time, resulting in a heap of thick, sugary gunk at the bottom of containers, but in terms of safety, the golden liquid is practically immortal.
Honey can last for centuries if stored in a sealed jar, according to the National Honey Board.
Though it doesn't pack the same nutritional value (in terms of vitamins and minerals) as other foods, honey can add extra flavor to food, provide simple sugars, and can also be used to treat wounds and burns.
   Honey helps wounds in several ways. Its thickness provides a protective barrier. The hydrogen peroxide it contains is released slowly, killing germs in the wound. Some asyetunknown ingredients reduce inflammation, while others, perhaps amino acids and vitamin C, speed the growth of healthy tissue. Honey even makes wounds smell better, possibly because when bacteria in wounds eat honeys sugars, they give off sweetersmelling gases.

*Meals, Ready to Eat- Shelf-life: 5+ years
Commonly known as MREs, these pre-packaged meals have been sustaining American troops on the battlefield since 1981. Each foil pouch, which can be easily carried, prepared, and eaten, contains about 1,200 calories.
It's not just standard meat and potato dishes either. There are a wide range of entrees to choose from, including beef brisket, lemon pepper tuna, and vegetable lasagna for plant-eating preppers.
Depending on storing conditions, an MRE bag can stay fresh for up to five years. If you're less concerned about flavor, the pocket-size army grub can hold up for more than a decade. 

*Peanut Butter-Shelf-life: 2-5 years
Creamy, chunky, or organic, peanut butter is a cupboard mainstay for many Americans. Kept in low humidity the thick spread will last for quite some time. A high amount of Vitamin E prevents peanut butter from spoiling.
This is the one situation where you'll want to stay away from the all-natural stuff, which requires refrigeration because it does not contain preservatives.

*Pemmican-Shelf-life: Indefinite
Invented by Native Americans, pemmican was traditionally made from the lean meat of large game like buffalo, elk, or deer. The meat was dried over an open fire, mixed with fat, and pressed into little cakes. Sometimes berries were tossed in for extra flavor.
Pemmican makes the perfect survival treat because they're easy to make (there are only three basic ingredients), it's a good source of energy and protein, and it does not have to be refrigerated, cooked or heated.

Today, US Wellness Meats ( in Missouri makes packaged beef pemmican snack sticks and bars, which they say last up to two years in the freezer. 
Here's a recipe for homemade pemmican — for when your post-apocalyptic-self butchers an elk — which can supposedly last forever. 

Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat (usually beef nowadays, but bison, deer, and elk were common then) which is crushed to a powder and mixed with an equal amount of hot, rendered fat (usually beef tallow). Sometimes crushed, dried berries are added as well. A man could subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy and the protein for strength (and glucose, when needed). The Inuit, Stefansson noted, spent weeks away from camp with nothing but pemmican to eat and snow to drink to no ill effect. Stefansson, a Canadian of Icelandic origin, often accompanied them on these treks and also lived off of pemmican quite happily, so its sustaining powers weren’t due to some specific genetic adaptation unique to the Inuit. In fact, when Stefansson returned home, he and colleague adopted a meat-only diet for a year, interested in its long-term effects. A controlled examination of their experience confirmed that both men remained healthy throughout.
So, pemmican has a reputation as a sort of superfood. While I’m usually leery of such claims, the fact that the stuff is essentially pure fat and protein (plus Stefansson’s accounts) made me think that maybe there was something to it. I set out to make my own batch.
I got about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast, let it firm up in the freezer, then sliced it thin. After adding liberal amounts of salt and pepper, I set the oven to the lowest possible temperature (around 150 degrees) and laid out the strips of meat directly onto the rack. I cracked the oven door to prevent moisture buildup. At this point, I also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.

I let the meat dry out for about fifteen hours, or until it was crispy jerky that broke apart easily. I tossed the jerky in the food processor until it was powder. After the meat, in went the blueberries to process. Again, you want a powder.

Now I was ready to render some fat. I used grass-fed bison kidney fat, which was already diced into tiny pieces. I put about half a pound of that into a cast iron pan and cooked it slowly over super-low heat.

I made sure to stir the fat as it rendered out, and watched closely so that it wouldn’t burn. When the fat stops bubbling, the rendering is done.

Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.

Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder.

I think I poured too much too quickly, so I added a bit of almond meal to firm it up. Let it firm up, then cut it into squares or roll it into a ball. I went with a ball.

Pemmican will keep almost forever. Pure, dried protein and rendered (mostly saturated) fat are highly stable, so I wouldn’t worry about it going rancid. If it does, you’ll know.
Now, my pemmican wasn’t exactly delicious. In fact, it tasted a bit like bland dog food. Maybe I’ll jazz it up next time with some more salt and spices, but I don’t think pemmican is meant to be eaten for pleasure. This is utilitarian food, perfect for long treks through the wilderness. It gets the job done, and I’ll probably make it again. It definitely doesn’t taste bad; in fact, the taste grows on you after awhile.
My dog certainly enjoyed cleaning up the bowl.

*Powdered milk-Shelf life: Indefinite
Powdered milk is a mainstay of fallout shelters and food aid supplies when fresh milk isn't available. The dried stuff many not be very appealing, but it pretty much lasts forever and is useful for cooking and baking.
It's also easy to tell if the product has gone bad. If your powdered milk turns yellow, it's time to toss it.

*Ramen noodles-Shelf-life: 10+ years
The Japanese noodle is filling, easy to prepare, and light-weight. Some college kids even live on these squiggly pastas for years.
It makes sense: The dried bricks come with different-flavored packets and can be purchased for as little as 16 cents a pack. Mixed with some dehydrated vegetables, the noodles can make a nice meal.

*Rice-Shelf-life: 25+ years
Rice has long been a main food source for more than half of the world population. The hearty grain will continue to keep humanity strong and well-fed in the event of a disaster. 
Rice is also dirt cheap, comes in many types, and is easy to prepare.

*Twinkie-Shelf-life: 30 years
We're hopeful you scooped up a good amount of Twinkie boxes after Hostess announced plans to shut down its baking operations back in November.
The iconic golden snack cake may not be the most health-conscious munchy to bulk stock — it's mostly fat and sugar — but we figure when times get tough, the tough turn to junk food.
Though Hostess contends that the little cake's shelf-life is closer to 25 days, a science teacher from Maine once told the Associated Press that he harbored a Twinkie in his classroom for 30 years and despite being a little stale, it was probably still good enough to eat.

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