In stockpiling emergency food, shelf life is the name of the game. While you can always stock on items that will probably last for several months, there are some food products out there that can actually last for years, even indefinitely. Aside from their long shelf life, these survival superfoods can also supply you with adequate calories and nutrients to keep you going despite being in a SHTF situation.
The best part? You can make them right in your own kitchen.
Here’s four awesome survival food that you can make on your own:
Pemmican is a survival food product made from dried meat, rendered fat and dried berries. This superfood was invented by Native Americans in the 1800s (possibly, even earlier) as a source of nutrition. Back then, they used meat and fat from game like elk, deer or bison and added some wild berries into the mix. Eventually, they shipped pemmican out and traded them with early European settlers, who used them as a long-term food source for during their grueling expeditions.
Today, pemmican is often touted as the ultimate survival food by preppers as it has high energy content and can last for years when made and stored properly. And no, you don’t have to hunt down an entire bison to make pemmican.
These days you can use red meat like beef to create it. The protein is dried and ground into fine powder. The same goes with the berries. Mix them in together with the rendered fat or tallow and compress them to make little bars or cakes. Then, they are allowed to sit and cool until they turn solid. And that’s it! Keep them in airtight containers or zip bags and store in a cool, dry place and you’ll have yourself a reliable food source that can last for years.
DIY Survival Bars
Survival bars are a staple in every bug out bag or emergency kit. These food products pack large amounts of calories and nutrients in a single, compact bar that’s easy to carry around and store.
Survival bars are meant to last for a long time; most commercially made bars have a shelf life of up to 5 years. They’re usually made with oats, berries, nuts and other protein sources. You can make various survival bars at home, adjusting them to your specific needs.
Start out with some chocolate chia survival bars. They taste pretty good and are easy to prepare and store. The chia seeds are great energy-boosters; they are rich in carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and proteins. The chocolate makes it taste less like survival food and more like comfort food, which boosts morale and would give you a sense of normalcy in the midst of a stressful situation. If you really want to pack a lot of energy in your survival bar, you can use this recipe to create as much as 3000 calories a batch.
A lot of people know hardtack as a civil war staple, used by both Union and Confederate soldiers to stave off hunger during the war. It’s also been used by sailors and explorers, earning the name sea biscuit or sheet iron, because of its hard consistency. Sure, eating hardtack could be, well, unappealing, but in a survival situation, you can count on it to keep your stomach full enough to survive. It can even last for decades when made and stored properly.
Hardtack is made from three basic ingredients: flour, water, and salt. These are all mixed together to create a stiff dough. The dough is rolled flat, shaped into biscuits, poked to make some holes and baked. In some cases, they may even be baked a couple of times over or left to dry to remove any excess moisture that may lead to spoilage. The end result is a hard biscuit that may very well outlast the crisis itself.
Hardtack is usually dunked in milk or coffee to soften them before consumption. It may not be the most enjoyable survival food you’ll ever eat, but its long shelf life may want you to consider making them at home for your stash. Learn how in this tutorial.
Beef or Venison Jerky
Jerky is widely known as a snack, but it also makes for great survival food. Since jerky has to be made from really thin slices of meat, it contains a lot of protein and little fat. The drying process takes out the moisture and makes jerky last for a very long time. You can make jerky from beef or from game meat like venison.
Making your own jerky is pretty easy, too. All you need are thinly sliced beef or venison cuts and some marinade or dry rub. Once you’ve seasoned the meat, all you have to do is dry it using either an oven or a dehydrator. Once your jerky is dry and leathery— make sure no juice comes out when you try to squeeze or fold it—, you’re good to go.
Jerky doesn’t last as long as pemmican or hardtack; but it’s pretty shelf-stable at around one or two years. Don’t forget to store it in an airtight container to maximize its shelf life.
These types of survival food are a great addition to your survival stash. Not only do they provide calories and nutrients, they are also very shelf-stable and can last for a very long time. You waste very little and you don’t have to worry about rotating them very often. Making your own survival food can improve your storage and preservation skills, too. It makes you more aware of your nutritional needs and makes you think of ways on how and where to store your food properly. We’ll take a deeper dive into survival food storage and preservation in the next articles, so stick around for that!