6 Cooking Staples For SHTF


If the $hit hits the fan, there are many, many supplies (and know-how) that you will need to survive. In addition to all that, here is a list of six supplemental ‘staples’ for your kitchen after TSHTF…

Like I said, there are MANY supplies (and foods) that you will need for your kitchen, but these supplemental ingredients should be considered among those near or at the top of the list…



This powder is a combination of an acid, an alkali, and a starch to keep the other ingredients stable and dry. The powder reacts with liquid by foaming and the resulting bubbles can aerate and raise dough. Almost all baking powder now on the market is double acting, meaning it has one acid that bubbles at room temperature and another acid which only reacts at oven temperatures. Unless a recipe specifies otherwise, this is the type to use.

Don’t expose baking powder to steam, humid air, wet spoons, or any other moisture. Store in a tightly lidded container for no more than a year. Even bone dry baking powder eventually loses its potency. To test its strength, measure 1 tsp powder into 1/3 cup hot water. The mixture should fizz and bubble furiously. If it doesn’t, throw the baking powder out.

For those folks concerned with aluminum in the diet, the Rumford brand has none in it and there may be others.



This gritty powder is sodium bicarbonate also called sodium acid bicarbonate, a mild alkali. It is used in baking to leaven bread and does so in the same manner as baking powder. When combined with an acid ingredient, the bicarbonate reacts to give off carbon dioxide bubbles which causes the baked good to rise.

If kept well sealed in an air- and moisture-proof container its storage life is indefinite. If kept in the cardboard box it usually comes in, it will keep for about eighteen months.

Do keep in mind that baking soda is a wonderful odor absorber. If you don’t want your baked goods tasting of whatever smells it absorbed then keeping it in an airtight container is an excellent idea.



All spices, particularly dried, are especially sensitive to heat, air and light. Room temperature is fine for keeping them and refrigeration or freezing is even better, but they should be kept away from heat sources. It is common for the household spice cabinet or shelf to be located over the stove, but this is really a very poor place. Keeping them in tightly sealed glass containers in a dark place is advised. The cellophane packets some products come in just won’t do for storage. Tightly sealed metal containers will work as well. Even dense plastic will do, but glass is best.

Where possible, buy spices whole. They will keep their flavor longer than ground. You’ll have to use a grater, grinder or whatever, but the difference in flavor will be worth it.

If you buy spices in bulk containers (which is certainly cheaper) consider transferring some into smaller containers and keeping the larger one tightly sealed in a cool, dark place. This will prevent unwanted light and air from continually getting in and playing havoc.



Storage life for salt is indefinite. So long as you do not let it get contaminated with dirt or whatever, it will never go bad. Over time, iodized salt may turn yellow, but this is harmless and may still be used. Salt is rather hygroscopic and will adsorb moisture from the air if not sealed in an air-tight container. If it does adsorb moisture and cakes up, it can be dried in the oven and then broken up with no harm done.

Salt comes in a number of different varieties, each with its own purpose.

Table salt is the most widely known type. It comes in iodized or non-iodized, and contains a non-caking ingredient to absorb moisture. Iodine has been added to refined table salt for a good many years to counteract the effects of iodine deficient diets. Its absence can cause problems including goiter. The World Health Organization recommends all adults consume 150 micrograms of iodine per day, which is the amount in a third of a teaspoon of iodized salt.

Canning salt is pure salt, and nothing but salt.

Kosher salt is not in itself, kosher, but what makes it of interest for food storage and preservation is that it is generally pure salt suitable for canning, pickling and meat curing. It is of a larger grain size than table or canning salt, and usually rolled to make the grains flaked for easier dissolving. Frequently it is slightly cheaper than canning salt and usually easier to find in urban/suburban areas.

Sea Salt comes in about as many different varieties as coffee and from about as many different places around the world. The “gourmet” versions can be rather expensive. In general, the types sold in grocery stores, natural food markets and gourmet shops have been purified enough to use in food. It’s not suitable for food preservation, though, because the mineral content it contains (other than the sodium chloride) may cause discoloration of the food.

Rock salt or Halite is the salt that is used on roads to melt snow and ice. It, too, is not food grade and should not be used in food preservation.



The active ingredient in all vinegars is acetic acid, but what the sour stuff is made from can vary widely. The most common vinegar is the white distilled variety which is actually just diluted distilled acetic acid and not true vinegar at all. It keeps pretty much indefinitely if tightly sealed in a plastic or glass bottle with a *plastic* cap. The enamel coated metal caps always seem to get eaten by the acid over time. It is usually about 5-6% acetic acid and for pickling it is the type most often called for.



Dried yeast has only an 8% moisture content and comes packed in foil envelopes. The smaller single use packets are not generally vacuum packed, but the larger commercial sized “bricks” of about a pound or two each generally are. They can last for months on the shelf, up till the expiration date which should be clearly stamped on the package. If packaged in the same manner as recommended for compressed yeast above and kept in the refrigerator or freezer it can last for several years. The larger packs of yeast should be transferred to an air and moisture tight container after opening.

Yeast can be tested for viability by “proofing” it. This is nothing more than mixing a small amount of the yeast with an equal amount of sugar in warm water (105-115 deg F for dried; 95 deg F for fresh). Within about five minutes active yeast will become bubbly and begin to expand (at normal room temperature). Yeast which only slowly becomes active can still be used, but you will have to use more of it. If it shows no activity at all, it’s dead and should be thrown out.

There is another means of providing yeast for baking besides buying it from the grocery store and that is by using a sourdough starter.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: the ‘House at Cat’s Green’ by Alan T. Hagan; Diana J. Hagan; Susan Collingwood; Al Durtschi; Sandon A. Flowers; Mark Westphal; Pyotr Filipivich; Denis DeFigueiredo; Jenny S. Johanssen; Woody Harper; Higgins10; Kahless; Amy Thompson; Geri Guidetti; Logan VanLeigh; Amy Gale; James T. Stevens; Craig Ellis; Leslie Basel.


  1. I love the picture with the article Ken. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. Born about a hundred years too late.

    1. Funny, I often think the same. Get the feeling I should’ve been born about 250 or 300 years ago.

  2. I’ll be the 3rd to say, love the pic.
    Ken, although I do not know if what I am about to say is true. I just read on Preparedness Advice blog on 10-29-13, titled “Baking powder shelf life is longer than you have been told” It states that samples were taken from .25 – 29 years with no problem making biscuits with proper storage. There is a reference from the report http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/IR/id/77. I’m hoping they are right because I do want to have this for my preps. By the way, absolutely love your site.

    1. I can tell you my Mom is 90 and probly has her first ever Baking Powder and Spices, she is from a Generation that saved everything. Seriously tho, her things are at least 40 yrs old for sure and work fine.

  3. Your practical article brings up several things that I’ve long been concerned about with prepping.

    When folks lived as pioneers, no matter how skilled they were, there were things that they couldn’t source in the wild. That meant that as they traveled from the civilized regions to the frontier, they had to carefully pack what they knew they needed to get to the border towns and the last trading outpost, before finally pushing off to stake their claim wherever that might be.

    Think how difficult that was! Any supplies carried either by flatboat or by covered wagon weighed something, and you sure didn’t want to carry excess weight as it either made it hard to steer or created more work for your draft animals.

    Your list includes lots of those essential cooking items. Because of railroads, it was possible to transport goods easier to these frontier areas, and so people could biannually travel into town to resupply what one cannot acquire in the wild.

    That won’t be possible post-collapse.

    Let’s start with the easiest thing: yeast. Yeast exists all around us. In fact the native yeasts in regions are one of the ways that wine in France results in different varieties.

    I’m not too fond of sourdough. It’s not my favorite bread by any means. An alternative was to gather yeast that accumulated on grapes. The natural way to extend the harvest and preserve them is to dehydrate them. As you do that, the natural yeasts collect on these dehydrated kinds of fruit, and so by adding water, and a little time, the yeasts will combine with the sugars, and will fizz in the water. That method has been used in Japan and Austria to create a leavening for bread.

    The first fermented beverages in the New World by Europeans were maple wine and persimmon scrumpy. It’s likely that some of the yeast was introduced into the batch as well as natural yeasts from the area. Native Americans in the SW made tizwin, a weak corn beverage.

    Baking soda and tartaric acid combined can make a serviceable baking powder. Likewise ancient people made ash cakes to leaven their bread. Most Native Americans ate flatbreads, some of which were fried in fat from animals as the possession of oil meant a huge chore of acquiring something from which to accumulate the fat.

    A smart frontiersman or prairie wife would make up some yeast bread, save part of the dough, and then partially leven the new bread from remnants of yesterday’s dough.

    When the baking powder and yeast runs out, we will all be sad, for ash cakes don’t have the same flavor at all. In fact, it will be all too easy to use up all of the raisins, wheat berries, oil, salt, etc to make that bread. Because so many have no way to easily mill wheat, even if it is a crop in their area, then a lot of people will realize that it’s easier to simply add boiling water to it to survive than to go to all of the trouble of making bread of almost anykind.

    The most likely bread to make is pita bread, at least that’s what my research and experiences indicate as a baker and prepper. No other bread is easier. To preserve bread ingredients, it would be very wise to research panfortte and the LDS method of prairie fruitcake. A common ingredient in the latter is the preserved protein from grasshoppers. The former was the most common method of preserving bread during the Crusades. It’s not unlike a particularly delicious fruitcake, and there are many Italian recipes for panforte.

    A lack of salt is a terrible problem. Most people will attempt to boil it down from seawater, and then realize how much work is involved towards that endeavor. What’s wiser is the slow evaporation method, in which water is evaporated in stages and put into a new evaporation section, each time reducing the water content and liberating other “salts” other than sodium chloride that’s within the seawater.

    For everyone else, there are almost no natural sources of salt. The Native Americans used boiled hickory root. One can get salt from blood as a flavoring. If extremely lucky, then finding an old salt lick in your region is one possibility. Some salt flats exist out West, and that’s a manner still used in parts of Africa. Otherwise very dangerous mining would have to be done, something that would be extremely risky post-collapse.

    If one does even a cursory study of the Native Americans, then you realize that trade networks existed all across North America, through Central America, and down into South America. Much of that was by foot traffic! Those who learn how to harvest salt from the sea will have a steady income source for sure. Yes, that won’t happen in the first year of a collapse, but trade networks will begin again.

    It’s not just that salt is needed for curing or aging meat (something I heartily encourage folks to learn to do for it’s expensive to purchase aged beef). Salt today contains iodine. It’s added intentionally because people commonly got goiters, had thyroid trouble, babies were born with cretinism, etc all because of low iodine. That affects just about everyone save those who routinely eat products from the sea (like fish as well as seaweeds).

    Where do you get iodine from otherwise? When black walnuts are ready, their husk can be boiled down. The pioneers did that to get black dye for clothing. Black shows up the least amount of dirt and absorbs the sun’s rays for warmth. That black dye contains a whopping amount of iodine. In miniscule amounts, that might not only be used as a disinfectant, but also to treat ourselves so we have a little iodine in our diet.

    Those same green walnut husks release a chemical agent that binds to the respiratory process of earthworms and fish. This method is a tried and true means of catching far more because both have to come up for air, and the fish can then be netted easier.

    Spices were used throughout history to flavor off-tasting meat. With few chances at refrigeration (other than spring houses and root cellars), then meat even if dehydrated, might have traces of fat on it, which then gets rancid and moldy.

    Look at your spice cabinet. Almost none of them can be acquired domestically. It would be wisdom to look at the kinds of herbs that the Native Americans used to flavor their food. It’s highly likely that things like peppergrass, sumac (creates a citrus flavor), sassafras, berries for thickeners, etc will be used for flavoring dishes. Creatures like the common rolypoly bugs can impart a shrimp-like flavor since they are crustaceans. Adding in wild nuts like hickory will vary flavors. Things will seem much more bland.

  4. I’ve always wondered about water conditioner salt. Is it safe for human consumption? I have read the labels and feel as though it could be used. Besides it is used in house hold drinking water systems.

    1. Dan, I couldn’t sleep (insommnia is common as you age), so I did a quick check of one manufacturer of salt for water softeners. The salt utilized for that product is not “food grade”. It’s also not 100% salt, only 96%, so there are some additives.

      I wouldn’t recommend it for human consumption. Do your own research. Many manufacturers often answer those kinds of questions on their websites in FAQs.

      Apparently some folks utilize water conditioner salt for other uses like for melting snow and ice as well as for ice for ice cream makers.

  5. Ask a cook. An herb is not a spice. They are two seperate things. Many great herbs can be grown in the garden. Many of them have medical as well as culinary uses. As such, all preppers should also be growing their herbs, not least of which is the vastly improved flavor of using herbs as well as the price savings.

    Nope, I was only talking about spices. Spices over time lose their potentcy.

    Re the cocoa and tea and coffee comments, I have to say that you’re going to have some serious morale problems with your tribe when the coffee runs out. It will lead to massive headaches for up to two weeks. Tapering off will help, which will occur as you ration it. Black tea can be brewed for longer periods and also using the cold pressed method, and this will boost the amount of caffeine extracted. Black Tea can be grown in a tiny portion of the USA. Of course lots of herb teas can be grown but they provide no caffeine.

    It will be a tragic day when there is no cocoa. I don’t believe that can be grown anywhere in the USA. While I enjoy carob and some folks can grown them in the USA, that’s no direct substitute. J Russel Smith in his famous Tree Crops book (freely available by the way as a pdf in lots of places due to the age of the publication) discusses how important the carob might be as a food source. There are lots of important tips in that book like Honey Locust beans, a food that most people have no idea about today.

    Yep. You can and should definitely store salt. As long as you have dessicants around it, it should hold up. I cannot think of a better trade item for the price.

    Not sure what one person posted about salt and water purification. I believe that the main reason for adding salt in is to remove water hardness. I believe that works due to the breaking of ionic bonds (research some your old college chemistry) and so dissapates out those minerals. While increasing the salinity might kill some pathogens, it’s never been a proven method of water purification.

  6. Great picture, it brings up all kinds of warm fuzzy… I see a lot of very practical items in it. You can put together your own BP with 1 part baking soda, 1 part corn starch (optional) to 2 parts cream of tartar. I’ve done this when I ran out and it works exactly the same. I’m not likely to run out now though ;) I have an herb garden with the herbs I use most frequently that grow well where I am…for cooking and home remedies alike. A little research can go a long way. Salt is a great item to have plenty of in my book, a great preservation item if needed. If the power goes out long enough to warrant it, any meat in my freezer for example could be brined until it can be further dealt with. It is an inexpensive item and worth having extra for trade. PS A little willow bark tea can take care of a headache quite well. Baking Soda is invaluable as well, the only thing I might add to this list is Epson Salts. The post Chernobyl research as well as other events seem to indicate that regular baths of a combination 1 part Baking Soda and 2 parts Epsom Salts are the best home remedy for mild radiation exposure/detox etc… You have provided a wonderful site for us and I sure appreciate it Ken! Thank you!!

    1. Josi
      what an amazingly great suggestion…
      salt, to brine any frozen meat if power goes out….

      have you done this/do you know specifics?
      -would one slice and thaw meat first?
      -could this be done with any meat
      -would one just sprinkle salt (heavily) on slices of meat, turn, repeat (seem to recal reading Natives did this sort of thing)
      -after it is brined, could it then be dehydrated?

      I think this use of salt, in power failure has much application. have often wondered what the heck i would do with all my meat if there was extended failure

    2. Thanks for the appreciation Josi, and yes I too was drawn to this photo, and agree that it does envelop a sort of ‘warm and fuzzy’…

  7. Seasonings are a big part of my storage. I usually pack a bag of beans, rice and seasonings, then vacuum seal them together. This way one complete meal is ready and I don’t have to pullout bottles of spices and herbs for seasonings. It just makes it easier for me. Vinegar and Salt play a very key role in preserving foods so they should be added to a stock. As far as WHAT spices or herbs you chose to put back is up to you. I like a variety of each but lean more towards herbs as the usually have more than one properties that is good for humans. As mentioned by almost everyone some few hundred years ago we were limited on how to put back food for long duration. Canning was a way of life not choice, just like smoking the meat or Salt curing, then placed in a root cellar.

  8. At some point, your provisions will run out. Vinegar can be made quite easily from apples. Because pickling will be common post-collapse, it’s important to understand how to make your own vinegar.

    And it’s not just for culinary uses. Apple cider vinegar made naturally has a “mother” in it which is a bacterial culture. Because of that and vingear’s natural acid, it can be applied on the skin to help with many skin ailments. It also will be one excellent way to alter the pH under your arms and act as a deodorant.

    The latter is not just for the pleasantries of living in close human proximity, but more importantly for descenting yourself for trapping, for the game animals will definitely smell you coming.

    Apple cider vinegar fights mold better than anything else. Not only that, but it’s a fungicide for lots of issues like ringworm.

    The initial smell of the apple cider vinegar will disspate after application.

    A long time ago, people on the prairie had to mix up what they needed from common ingredients. They knew that they could make some basic ingredients from common natural things, but others like tartaric acid (cream of tartar) had to be purchased. That ingredient might be used for all kinds of things and recipes. As you look through old books that were made for the pioneers, then you come across lists of recommended supplies. They would then reacquire them from trading posts on the few times they went to town.

    In the Peace Corps, they also have that same idea, for when living in a 3rd world nation, many items will be unavailable. When organizing a village, it’s highly likely an organizer will have to make many materials from scratch from locally available products or even junk material.

    Post-collapse, those who have reference manuals from diverse sources might be able to scavange around for basic materials and make what they need. Those who have books on the arts and crafts of the pioneers might be able to replicate their chemistry, engineering, and old agricultural skills.

  9. Re salting meat:

    I’ve read a post elsewhere where there was a power outage, and they canned the meat from their freezer in a hurry in order to save it. If you read such accounts, you realize how under the gun they were. It’s far from ideal.

    Yes, the early colonists salted meat and fish, but such methods are prone to error and can easily make you sick. I would bet that since fish has far less fat, that’s why salting it is easier.

    What many neighborhoods have elected to do is to throw block parties with the thawing meat. The best place to store it is in your bellies. That’s far more secure than attempting to preserve something that’s thawing. As meat thaws improperly, the bacteria count goes very high. It needs to be cooked well-done as a result.

    It would be great to store it, but that’s so chancy and could make your family ill soon after. Under disaster conditions with the additional work and eating ill-prepared meat, then that spells disaster.

    We’re spoiled and used to eating three square meals a day plus snacks. Our ancestors were not so lucky. People can manage for awhile without meals, albeit uncomfortably.

    Some people think they could jerk what meat was thawing, but I doubt it. Jerked meat must have all of the fat trimmed off, a problem until the meat is fully thawed to trim it. If you attempt to make jerky and don’t trim the fat, it will go rancid.

    Canning the meat is the best option if at all possible. Why? Canning preserves the fat that’s in the meat. Fat calories have twice the calories as protein or carbs. Ask anyone who’s hiked the Appalachian Trail. Trimming off the fat, results in a major loss of the nutrition that’s there. Sure, today we eat less fat, but under survival conditions, that fat is life sustaining.

    When aging beef, you use salt to wick away the moisture and dry up the fat and under refrigerated conditions. It’s different than salting it, with the salt generally placed underneath an elevated tray of beef.

    One can smoke meats, but given the amounts of the thawing meat and so much of it, few people would be able to do very much at once.

    Say there is a disaster, and as a prepper, you help organize things like the thawing situation with a block party. That likely means getting a lot of guys together for grilling, and a major opportunity to discuss the situation and how to deal with all kinds of things. Those same people on the grilling team are apt to be the same ones you organize to gather water, perform security, check on folks who might be elderly, alone, missing parents, have illnesses, etc.

  10. Baking powder has a relatively short shelf life BUT… Baking soda and cream of tarter when kept seperate have indefinate shelf lives. I keep both. the recipe for making Baking powder can be easily found on the net. Cream of tarter can be bought in bulk from atlantic spice company… in a 50lb bag if you wish… So instead of stocking up on something that is going to die stock up on what you need to make it. The powder becomes “activated” when the two are mixed by a chemical reaction. Just mix them in small amounts…

    1. I don’t think it would work well in the long run. The Native Americans as far as I remember would jerk their animals like the buffalo, a meat that was given to jerking due to lower than normal fat anyway. Some meats get very very chewy though still flavorful when jerked.

      Anyway, then fat was added back in along with things to flavor it. Once the fat is combined with the jerked meat, it will then begin to go rancid again. It will definitely get moldy again.

      Canning is the best way of preserving meat to keep as much nutrition as possible. While today we scrap away the large clumps of saturated fat from a can since we know it’s hard on our arteries, post-collapse that fat is a significant amount of calories.

      I know a backpacker who was struggling in the first month of a journey on the Applachian Trail. He was attempting to complete it all at once. Very few people end up doing that. Anyway, he was eating the normal amounts of lean foods that he would consume ordinarily and was wasting away from putting in all of the hiking miles plus carrying a heavy backpack plus gathering firewood, etc.

      The hikers all vary up along the Appalachian Trail because of moving at different speeds and wanting to complete a section, for some have to get back to work and can’t finish it all in one attempt. Anyway, he was guided by other experienced backpackers as to what they were eating to stay healthy.

      The amount of fat calories they were eating was astounding. They would intentionally load up on them to ADD calories to the meal in the most efficient manner, for fat has twice the calories of protein. If you eat more protein than you need, your kidneys gather up the amines on the end of the amino acid and that combines to urea and you urinate it away. So excess protein will not help you under a survival situation.

      Excess carbs are always a problem under survival situations because while some carbs can be harvested from the wild, the caloric content is very low and one could spend more energy gathering and walking from them, and run into a glycogen defecit as a result. Watch any good reality show, even the experts have trouble getting enough carbs despite their best efforts. Sure under some circumstances one happens along a large bunch of berries to get a major dose of carbs, but then most of the time birds, squirrels, bears, etc are eating those up.

      Look at a military grade MRE and see how many calories are required for a soldier per day. They average 1200+ calories per meal. Then they plan for snacks too. The soldier or prepper post-collapse will need both the nutrition plus the calories in excess amounts to survive, something more preppers are not planning for as it doesn’t seem like sense now for most Americans are overweight. I doubt there will be one overweight prepper post-collapse.

      If one studied the nutritious habits of bears, you’d see that they eat a ton of fat from the skins of the salmon they catch, while often discarding the salmon meat itself (believe it or not).

      Since all refrigeration is somewhat doomed to limitation, for the cold inevitably escapes away and is limited due to the temperature of the spring (spring houses), or the depth of the Earth (root cellars), or the evaporation rate of water (used in the desert to lower the temperature of evaporative coolers or swamp coolers), then refrigeration truly shouldn’t be something a prepper should count upon. But it is. We all freeze a lot of meat, for we enjoy grilling it.

      And yet we know that the power will fail.

      All dehydration of meat means cutting off the fat. That’s true of milk. That’s true of meat. That’s true of fish, etc.

      The exception is in smoking meat like salami or summer sausage. Because of the massive amounts of nitrates and the heavy spicing, then you see these things at room temperature in the groceries. While they last a long time, it’s also highly likely that they are truly rancid at some point but you don’t notice it because of the strong black pepper in them. That same principle was utilized by folks back in medieval times.

      One can smoke hams, but even these are placed in a dark place and carefully monitored. All hams will grow mold, something that surprises folks who have never eaten country ham. Then upon use you trim it off.

      Under pre-collapse conditions, with grocery stores, it is easy to be a vegan. A family living in harmony with the Earth as intensive gardeners can grow enough vegetables and grains to survive, but I honestly think that 99% of vegetarians will be severely malnourished in the long run post-collapse.

      Does much of the world live largely as vegetarians? YES. They do but they also constantly have issues with food security and health issues with malnutrition. Only trade, good weather for crops and herds, keeps them alive. This is why you see folks in 3rd world nations all of the time struggling about this issue.

      I like vegetarian food. Much of it is delicious. Look through your grocery or specialty food aisle, and you will today see a wide array of items. That ONLY HAPPENS BECAUSE of trade networks. Those will not exist post-collapse.

      1. i humbly disagree with you! i will let someone else respond in greater detail.. if needed! all i have time for now is to humbly suggest you research pemmican a little deeper… history has proven pemmican to be perhaps the best survival food their is… from the nomadic aboriginals… to explorers… pioneers… voyagers… hudsons bay company… hunters trappers british army… me gods! i would take the weight in properly made pemmican over your canned goods any day! and i would stake my life on it! its longevity is many years… i could go on… please research! a basic place to start would be wikapedia! God Bless! Si Vis Pacem Parabellum! Be Prepared! Brearbear

  11. I must respectfully disagree. There are numerous recipes for pemmican versus jerky. One most often begins with a base of jerky and adds back in the fat plus berries or fruit leather.

    Don’t be fooled. Pemmican is not nutritionally complete food. Folks long ago had all manner of nutritional deficencies. They made up pemmican to use on hunting trips and to eat quickly towards that purpose. It doesn’t replace regular meals and storing pemmican long term will lead to bad bacteria that will could make one seriously ill. No thanks.

    Post-collapse, folks will likely consume much of the game animals they catch, and when very fortunate to take down a large animal, then they will jerk it. Then when they can, they will add in ingredients to make pemmican, but only fairly fresh. it just isn’t wisdom to make up a batch of pemmican and try to survive on it.

    All fat when kept even a short time will go rancid. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to make some batch of pemmican or even some older fat to watch it get very foul.

    The only smart way to get decent nutrition post-collapse is canning that meat and fat to maximixe nutrition. Folks long ago did all kinds of things and had cast iron stomachs and endured but they also died very young men by comparison.

    Long term bacteria colonization within the human body leads to all manner of inflammation and contributes to deposits of bacteria on heart valves. No thanks.

    1. Read more here about following a traditional Native American recipe and even with refrigeration there is a limitation on how long it lasts. Remember with a collpase you have very limited refrigeration (spring houses, root cellars, evaporative coolers) and that is entirely dependent upon the outside temperature.

      It is wisdome to mix up pemmican and use it up, then to make large batches to eat later. The former will save you time when on a hunting party; the latter will make your tribe very sick from bacteria.

      If one had technology, then one could probably render a better fat and that lard would be better, but that’s a lot of ifs post-collapse.

  12. As i wrote above… “properly made pemmican”… and as Grandpappy himself said, and i quote “The heat generated during this process was the key to the complete successful eradication of the harmful micro- organisms in the meat”. “heat will successfully destroy a wide variety of harmful micro- organisms”. “I recommended drying the thin strips of meat in the oven at a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 6 hours. At that temperature the above organisms cannot survive”.

  13. And not to be argumentative to my colleage, but if one continues to read, that pemmican is not traditionally made, but soaked in a brine to treat it such that it will lower (not eliminate) bacteria. Besides that, if one reads the entire exchange, the recommended storage is only 8 months.

    There’s nothing antimicrobial about pemmican, but with proper preparation one can by combining old ancestral skills plus modern technology create a more shelf stable food.

    Pemmican contrary to all of the many stories was NOT made for long term use. It was created as a time saver so Native American scouts (and others who adopted their ways) wouldn’t have to prepare a meal since they’d been out hunting all day.

    Pemmican can be eaten longer term, but that’s not how the Native Americans would have utilized it.

    Think about nutrition and microbiology. Despite the talk about pemmican being a complete food, it really isn’t. Yes, it has meat, fat, and berries in it. Do you think for a moment that it contains all of the essential amino acids, all of the various kinds of fatty chain acids, all of the carbohydrates (carbon skeletons) needed. All of the vitamins and trace minerals found necessary for human metabolism. NO!

    If it did, then we would all be eating pemmican and no other food would be necessary. We could really reduce the amounts of food grown on farms and solve world hunger. That’s just not true.

    There’s a reason that canning is done. All fresh food has mold, viruses, bacteria, potential insect eggs, worm eggs, and when wet possible single cell creatures on it.

    We wash and heat treat food to eliminate much of them, but in spite of our best efforts some of these do not get eliminated (like thermophilic i.e. heat loving bacteria), or they get redeposited, or they are not sufficiently killed to completely eliminate them.

    While some bacteria is aerobic (need oxygen to survive), some bacteria are anaerobic (don’t need oxygen to survive). For example, the most dangerous bacteria that live in your gut are anaerobic like E coli.

    However we treat the pemmican, it will be immediately be recolonized by bacteria during preparation. In fact, the old ways of preparing that pemmican ensure that it was so recolonized. Modern methods of rendering the tallow to sufficient temperature, brining the beef, and cleaning the berries, will still not kill all of the pathogens.

    Over time, those grow on the fine medium of the pemmican as a nutrient bath. It’s no different than a petri dish. In fact all food is that way.

    Dehydration eliminates many pathogens because all life needs water to multiply. However spores are still present but inactive.

    Canning eliminates many pathogens because it’s vaccuum packed and heat treated, and under such conditions, while spores are still evident, they are also inert.

    Rehydrate the food and it will be repopulated by pathogens. Expose the contents of the can to air and heat by cooking, and it will be repopulated by pathogens too.

    Still, those two methods are superior because you control them.

    Let’s look at panforte, a forgotten bread used by our ancestors to preserve it. Because of how it is prepared and with the additive of ethanol, then bread made that way (not unlike fruitcake), can last much longer than ordinary bread. Still, no matter what, the longer it’s on the shelf, the more and more bacteria will multiply. The more that mold will grow.

    There’s fruitcakes from generations past that are still edible. Would you wish to be a science experiment and consume them? Probably not. That’s not how fruitcake or panforte was intended to be consumed, only to length the time of its storage into the next season so folks could survive.

    I’m sorry, but it’s a misapplication of ancestral skills. All people would do better by other preparation methods. Pemmican plays a very important role, for it’s dense calories and decent nutrition in a small package that requires no cooking. Use it like the Native Americans used it, for that niche use is superb.

  14. Here are some wild edibles that you might not have considered as food sources, though our ancestors might have eaten them in the past in order to both survive. In addition, they might have eaten them during times of hardship when their provisions were running low. Or if not picky, then they might have eaten them.

    Grass seed
    Grass seed is plentiful much of the year. When grass grows long, it begins to go to seed. Much of the time it can be harvested from meadows as the grass “bolts” and goes to seed, but often that happens and it is eaten by birds or other creatures and broadcast by the gentle swaying of the wind. One can intentionally harvest this resource, as long as there is NO BLACK on the seeds at all. That blackness might be ergot, a species of mold, which can both make you ill, cause hallucinations, and halt pregnancy. Be careful.

    One could add hot water to grass seed to make a nutritious meal. It’s far from perfect by itself, but it can be added to other foods you have to boost the calories and nutrition. Yes, you could mill it like other grains, but under collapse conditions, all efforts to mill it take energy. Energy as work means less total calories. You want to eat in the easiest manner that requires the least effort and least cooking to maximize nutrition.

    The only grains that can leavened are wheat and rye. One can add things like grass seed to bread to help improve it, and it was common for the pioneers to do things like that to stretch out their provisions.

    Red bud or Judas Tree pods
    Some Native American tribes consumed these as some of the first wild edibles during the Spring. They were a welcome addition, and one that few people will think about eating. Red bud trees are found in diverse places because folks like the ornamental appearance of them as their blossoms decorate their branches. Later they form heart shaped leaves that distinctively identify them.

    Samaras from Maple Trees and Maple Syrup
    Samaras are the seeds that are in the twirling seed pods of maple trees. They have quite a bit of nutrition in them. Earlier in the year, when the sap rises from the roots, maples can be tapped with spiles, and whether concentrated or not, that sap has valuable nutrients within it. One can likewise tap birch but it has a wintergreen flavor. One could drink this in lieu of water.

    Acorns provided a lot of the calories for the Native Americans. They need to be leached of their tannins. There are three ways to do so. If you steam them, then you can eat them the fastest and in the steam is an oil that is an emollient. If you boil them many times, and toss the water, then you can then eat them, for they are bitter otherwise. Many Native Americans leached the tannins by placing them in banks along rivers towards that purpose, a not recommended method. Boiling removes the oil and so an important calorie boosting aspect of the acorn. Boiling removes part of the starch too. Certain species of acorns can be cold water flushed because they have very low tannins by comparison to their cousins. Some people use hosiery attached to the sink to flood water through acorns towards this purpose. That’s a lot of ifs and you won’t have city water pressure post-collapse, so of lesser importance.

    White and red clover blossoms
    Most people won’t think to harvest these very common meadow flowers, but they are packed with protein. The white ones are better for this purpose, but the red ones have medicinal qualities. While others are hungry, they might walk right past this bounty, but you hopefully will use them. It was common in Ireland to do so, and add this to regular flour to stretch it, and so make authentic bannock bread.

    The tubers from cattails make a starchy food, but I don’t think you’ll like this alone. The pollen often is described in books as being collected in containers, but actually if you harvest the whole head before the pollen gets loose, then you will get ten times more and fill up your container with much more nutrition. The young stalks can be cut much like celery.

    You will be competing with every other woodland creature for these foods, but it’s doubtful that most humans will eat them. All can be used with your provisions, and that’s the recommended way of doing so.

    There are others like yucca in arid places that are extremely important, but not grown in my region, so I am less inclined to discuss what I don’t know.

    It is better to know ten wild edibles well, then to have a theoretical knowledge about many. These might keep you alive for they provide a lot of calories and nutrition in a small space. These species will be your new staples post-collapse.

  15. i always take everything i read and everything i hear with a grain of salt. I WILL be researching this issue extensively with every effort! For me this is a life and death situation. i am a nomad living in the far north. i am currently employed in the oil fields live in a work camp in northern B.C. right on the N.W.T. border. Soon to be in the Yukon… i have a prepper philosophy of caching… ” not putting all your eggs in one basket”. canned foods freeze…so everything must be freeze dried…or dried goods.. everything must also be as light weight and as easy to prepare as possible. especially when i go prospecting. caching is a way of life. i live out of my” bug out bags”… right now i have 2 sets…next pay to buy at least 1 more set… ( includingall the basic gear/tools),… i plan to cache a dozen or more b.ob.’s, ( some will even be low quality bags with basic cheap stuff… but still life saving…others will have the highest quality gear like i have now… i love Cascade Designs gear… they make M.S.R. produducts…have used them for years… for example). and as i gain regional experience, to have many cache areas/ gold claims… . i also plan to build many expedient fallout shelters in each cache area. pemmican, which i have never made is vital to and has always been a big part of my plan. ( i have made beef jerky).

  16. i ask the prepper community to assist me. i have read a lot about pemmican before this and now spend much as can on this issue! looking for university/ scientific documents/ studies… OPINIONS!!!!! anything i can… seems that my doubts and fears are kicking this preppers butt! when you run out of food… or the zombies take yours … hunt and make pemmican then die from bacteria? also want to stockpile lots of it…

  17. there is no way i want to exclusivly live on pemmican but have read arctic/antarctic explorers have… also do not want to live entirely off of freeze dried… i DID live entirely off of mountain house freeze dried… this summer! i lost weight. it was very tasty,…but…

    1. Here’s a couple of suggestions:

      You can use Google Scholar to find articles on the esoteric like the bacterial count of pemmican over time. Chances are that someone has done such a things. Likewise one could do an EBSCO search, which is an academic database of scholarly journal articles on pemmican nutrition.

      I would be perfectly happy if you could disprove anything I state.

      I noted that you mentioned dehydrated food and feeling weak from it, which was one of my earlier posts. Dehydrated as well as freeze dried foods, which are two different food preservation methods, both remove as much fat from the foods that are preserved. Therefore a HUGE amount of calories are removed, but the food is then shelfstable. So you get a product that only needs hot water, but less nutrition, and hence lower calories to burn for energy.

      Some people can bacon grease as well as lard. In fact, it’s a bit more difficult and requires care or else it can go rancid, but that’s the best method of preserving it. If one does this, then adding that oil/fat back into your other food stocks will boost the calories. Coconut oil is quite shelf stable when canned. Many oils will last awhile when bottled.

      Under survival situations, one could can animal fat and then preserve it until needed to add to other meals. This would be a very smart way to do this process.

      Other foods like smoked ham or summer sausage have quite a bit of fat, and hence these were foods that trappers and mountain men lived upon. You can replicate those efforts.

      One can do many things, but that doesn’t mean they are safe to do, or that one should do them. Intentionally risking bacterial introduction under survival situations is not wisdom.

      If you do some Native American history, I think what you’ll find is that the pemmican was mixed up on demand (and the fat was rancid if it had aged), or that much heavier emphasis was used to use acorns, maple syrup, buffalo jerky, maize, dehydrated squash, beans, etc. That’s how they got through Winter and into the period when more wild game and fish were around. Otherwise grass seed was a very important calorie/nutrient booster. Those who lived in places like Maine might harvest wild rice from estuaries.

      Explorers used pemmican to be sure, but it wasn’t as a science experiment to last for years, but made up and eaten. Seal blubber in the Arctic is a great source of fat, and these were killed and eaten. Whale blubber was somewhat common fare too. I think you’ll find those stories among the Native American.

      You might do some research by typing “pemmican” and “pioneers” or “explorers” in Google Books. They often have historical journals and some rare Native American anthropolgy articles. By specifically searching in that way, one can find a lot of old ancestral wisdom. Note however that microbiology is a relatively new science. It wasn’t until the time of the Crimean War and Florence Nightingale that handwashing was even common. Pathogens and their vectors were not understood and hygiene most often absent.

      As such, many mountain men, pioneer families, Native Americans, did all manner of things that were not healthy, and that if we duplicated, would likely cause us sickness today.

      We are not stuck with only their technology, and might find ways to adapt their culinary methods in preparing pemmican with more shelf stability. However even a cursory look at commercially prepared pemmican for sale to consumers shows eight months to be the SAFE shelflife. I doubt you can make your pemmican safer than they do.

  18. i also ask for any ideas on caching… always seeking new info. everything i own except what i can carry on my back… and looking into a mule… everything is going under ground. and i want to be able to access things many years from now!

  19. one last thing…was thinking of putting a small amount of food inside 1 small mylar bag with oxygen absorber… but only filling it half way…then sealing it… then putting that inside another small bag w/ o.a. and sealing it…to complete a small package. then having many small packages iinside a big mylar bag… which goes inside a food safe bucket… Then wrapping several layers of heavy guage plastic… Then layers of super small holed- rabbit type cage wire and using construction glue… even thinking of cementing some caches… could use some ideas… we also have to deal with frost heaves up here…

  20. would. love to find an old mine shaft! a friend found one deep under ground on his claim… says the wood is in great shape… all hand cut…

  21. Here’s a link from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. They have a team of experts in medicine and nutrition and agriculture and engineering, and these folks help guide government technicians (like the Peace Corps) and NGOs. The FAO is the brains and the techs are the brawn and hands which try to assist villagers in acquiring a better life through science and health practices that are geared around sustainability and economy.

    The document details methods of preserving meat, and discusses every possible way that’s been tried, analyzed for nutrition and efficiency, plus whether it is practical for populations.

    It briefly mentions the nutritional content of pemmican which of course is not nutritionally complete. Would that we could find such a panacea for then we could solve world hunger.

    Pemmican whether created in the old ways which were not hygienic or in the modern ways with brines and nitrates, will not last indefinitely. It has a place in survival, and continues to be taught in survival courses though. Canning and jerking is always mentioned as superior ways to store food.

    Pemmican was considered by the US military and then discounted once nutritionists got involved. Yes, it can maintain a similar taste for years but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to do so.



    With the advent of the Paleo diet, a current fad that does have a little kernel of truth to it (realize this is largely a modification of the Atkins Diet), some Paleo proponents have additionally discussed pemmican as a perfect food, but never show any nutritional information to back up those claims. Nor do they discuss the limitation of pemmican even made commercially to eight months.

    We all have ideas about what we think we would do under survival situations. There is no doubt that the Native Americans did invent something that sustained them through Winter. However they didn’t eat solely pemmican. I found one article that was published in 1911 that states that the pemmican made then wasn’t even traditional pemmican as it had been prepared by the Native Americans.


    If you don’t trust the counsel of James Rawles, one of the most respected voices of the prepping community, then I really can’t add much to the discussion. That’s why I included the link to a partial discussion between him and Grandpappy (Robert Wayne Atkins). One would think that all of this has more than documented that one shouldn’t eat pemmican stored longer than eight months even taking all of those precautions and limited ingredients that make the most shelf stable product possible.

    I think that what you will find are numerous preppers discussing with “old hands” how to fix their pemmican because it went rancid or moldy or tainted by bacteria in some manner. Which should readily demonstrate how difficult it is to make a long lasting pemmican FAR BEYOND what was practical and safe for human consumption.

  22. Ever since my first kidney stone I became aware of the symptoms. I researched some home remedies and learned a few pulls from a bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar as soon as the symptoms start will dissolve the stone naturally.

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