DIY Long Term Food Storage

You might say there are three methods to securing long term food storage.

1. Buy ready-made packaged for long term food storage.
2. DIY long term food storage.
3. A combination of both.

DIY or do it yourself, is probably the most popular method for most preparedness-minded people. Why? Because it gives you control over what your long term food storage looks like.

DIY Long Term Food Storage Advantage

– You choose the specific foods
– The method(s) of packaging
– How it’s all packed and organized
– Basically, you choose everything…

Disadvantages ?

– Potential for mistakes (although low)
– Time (it takes time and effort)

First let me say this. There are plenty of good choices out there for simply purchasing ready made quantities of long term food storage.

If for whatever reason(s) you are not able to commit the time required to do it yourself, go ahead and simply buy a survival food kit for 30 days, 3 months, whatever you’re comfortable with.

Personally, I have purchased quite a number of ready made foods already packed for the long term. I also DIY. I diversify.

You might consider long term food storage options from Bob over at ReadyMadeResources who distributes for a number of quality vendors.

DIY

Not long ago I polled our readers to discover their most popular ‘survival food’ items stored as part of their overall food storage plan.

Here are the Top 10 Food Items
(some were a tie)

1. Rice
2. Beans (dry)
3. Wheat berries
4. Canned Meat

5. Canned Veggies
5. Pasta
5. Honey / Sugar

6. Oats

7. Salt
7. Dry Milk

8. Flour

9. Coffee / Tea
9. Freeze Dried Meats
9. Freeze Dried Veggies

10. Yeast

Just FYI, I want to mention that the combination of Rice & Beans is one of the most economical and easiest ways to quickly secure some calories for your own DIY long term food storage.

Rice is rich in starch, and an excellent source of energy. Beans are rich in protein, and contain other minerals. The consumption of the two together provides all the essential amino acids and it is no wonder that this combination is a staple of many diets throughout the world.

I also want to mention this:
Lots of calories fit in a 5 gallon bucket of rice, beans (dry), and wheat (berries).

In fact all three are pretty close in number. About 50,000 calories. Or you might say about 25 survival days per filled bucket.

Additionally, did you know this…?
One 5 gallon bucket of wheat berries will produce about 25 loaves of bread?

Make Your Own Combo Bucket

Recently on the blog there was mention of DIY combo 5-gallon buckets. More specifically, diversifying what goes inside a given bucket (rather than all one food in each).

That’s a pretty interesting concept because you can tailor it however you want!

Why might this be a good way to do it? Because a single bucket could be set up as a standalone ready-to-go well rounded emergency food deployment. Grab-n-go, or simply a more efficient way of dealing with food during an emergency (rather than having to open and unseal lots of buckets to get your diversification).

Just thinking off the top of my head, you might do a combination of something like this in a single bucket…

– rice
– beans (dry) (variety)
– oats
– salt
– sugar
– spices (gotta have spices!)

Whatever floats your boat… it’s all DIY.

I recommend that you separately vacuum seal ingredients such as rice, beans, oats. Why? By removing the air (oxygen) it will greatly increase the shelf life.

Here’s one that’s not very expensive, compact design:
Nesco VS-02 Food Vacuum Sealing System

DIY Seal Your Own Mylar Bags

When purposely storing dry foods for long term storage in 5 gallon buckets, the general “how to” process is as follows:

1. Insert a mylar bag into the pail.
2. Fill it up (e.g. rice).
3. Drop in 2,000 cc Oxygen Absorbers.
4. Seal the mylar bag.
5. Secure the cover to the bucket.

All of this takes time and requires that you purchase the necessary materials.

I wrote about this several years ago:
How to Seal a Mylar Bag in a 5-gallon bucket

The article addresses food grade buckets, oxygen absorbers, mylar bags and how to seal them.

Diversify While DIY

The best DIY long term food storage will be a diversified set of foods as well as the way they’re processed and packaged.

Purchasing a 3 month survival food kit from a vendor may be enough to keep you alive when you need it. Procuring your own diversified sets of food storage (if done properly) will provide a balance of variety, tastes, nutrition, cooking methods, and other benefits that you will control.

– 5 gallon buckets of various dry goods
– 5 gallon combo buckets
– home canned foods of your choosing
– store bought canned foods, meats
– store bought pastas, sauces, spices, and whatever else…
– dehydrated foods
– freeze dried foods
– special treat foods (sweets!), fruits

Food Storage Mistakes

Do you know the 4 Things That Affect Food Storage?

– Temperature
– Moisture Content
– Atmosphere
– Container

(Read about them in the linked article above.)

Did you know that temperature greatly affects the shelf life of your food storage?

Example: A can of food with a specified shelf life of 2 years (at room temperature 72 degrees F) will actually reduce to one year if stored at 90 degrees F.

Read more specifics about it here:
Temperature Versus Food Storage Shelf Life

Other Mistakes To Avoid

– Buying too much food that you don’t normally eat
– Not diversifying
– Getting started, but not finishing
– Failure to rotate your foods
– Losing track of what you have
– Too much freezer food (will you always have electricity?)
– Not enough spice!

More: Food Storage Mistakes To Avoid

SUMMARY
In closing, regardless of how you acquire or what you choose for your own DIY long term food storage, just do “something”. Don’t feel guilty about taking the easy way out and buying a ready-made kit (see our sponsor link near the beginning). It’s simply common sense preparedness.

For others I’m preaching to the choir. You already are beyond long term storage and are into self-sufficiency replenishment (self sustaining gardening, etc..). It still doesn’t hurt to examine what you do have though. Diversify!

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70 Comments

  1. That is the trouble that I have- storing food that I don’t normally eat much of. Rice, beans, spam etc. I don’t eat a lot of of. It does make up a lot of storage though. Kind of it’s just the way it is.

    1. I also do not eat very much of rice and beans (and some of the other items that I have). But I choose to store them because of their ability to store well for the long term, and easy source of calories.

      I can’t imagine eating just rice & beans for a long time, however I do have lots of supplemental items for it. Plenty of canned chicken, spices, etc.. lots of other things will go with it to make it more palatable.

      1. Ken
        Rice and beans maybe not but rice and veggie stir fry or teriyaki vennison, mmmmm

      2. I have hesitated in storing beans. “They say” that the oil in beans goes rancid. Is this true?

        1. After about two years they become very difficult to cook. They can be home canned effectively., esp. using a pressure cooker…even at that time. If this is something your family likes, and can eat, I would suggest buying up a stock…of__( 6 months supply). use from for 2-3 months, buy another 6 months supply, take left overs from first stash and prepare them cooked/canned/dehydrated for long term storage. Repeat until you have a year or more stored. Practice cooing with them in times when you have less time to prepare a meal.
          It would be possible to fully cook, mash and dehydrate them as well for an instant bean, for a refried bean or to add protein to a meal.

        2. Lvang & Just Sayin’
          I have to strongly disagree with the “oil going rancid” and old beans.
          I’m currently cook and eating on a 5 gallon batch of beans that were originally put up in 2009, they take a little more cooking time (20 – 25%) but are as good as the day is long.

          1. NRP, these were some of first i put up. not in mylar, but sealed buckets, w/oxy absorbers. could not get them tender… was not really rancid… tasted fine, but tough… Used same de gassing and cooking procedure cooked almost 2 hrs in Electric pressure pan. Still firmer than I liked tasted good, just took a long time . will swell, partially cook, give to chickens w/other feed.. will replae with more meats and smaller portion of beans. Gastritis is no fun. and I do not like rabbit tobacco well enough to drink it everyday, even if it is free.

      3. I grew up in a very poor family. we always had just enough if we counted every penny. Mom and dad lived thru the great depression, learning how to make do. Mom said the 3 meals a day during the time were this. Oatmeal, cornmeal, and miss a meal. To this day I always eat what is placed before me.

    2. aka
      I am not a fan of rice, by using the flavor of the broth for the meat you are cooking changes it a lot. I sauté onions, bell peppers or sweet mini peppers in butter with Italian seasoning, then add it to the cooked rice or over the rice with the meat.

      On the broth if you use canned, I still add a bullion cube to the broth for added flavor. Even if it does add a little more sodium to the mix.

      1. Rice can also be ground and used as a flour… works to thicken much like potato flour or corn starch in other recipes…

      2. It’s not that I especially dislike any of the food stuffs it’s just that they are not a part of my regular diet. I have a couple of recipes to use but am not espeically inventive in the kitchen. I will put the ‘add broth’ in my book of he]pful hints and give your suggestion for the onion etc a try this weekend. Thanks!

    3. I too, have had to change items we store because of intolerances.
      We eat a lot of rice most months…2 ppl: 6-7 lbs for a month..We eat it plain. When my gastritis is flaring it is the first food I can tolerate along with ice. We eat it in mexican rice, We eat it as a cereal. We thicken casseroles with it and add it to stews.
      Beans, I cook about once q 6 weeks, some form…. DH loves them, as long as I have something else I can eat a few…very few. ..2 oz, max. I like them …temptation is awful! .. will add canned ones to a soup or stew., can get by with that.
      Spam- only if we have no other meat for breakfast/other meal…. maybe every 2 months one time… too salty. We prefer the bacon flavored one.
      Replacing most of the beans and all but 6-8 cans of spam is the plan, but must be with meat/ feed for animals…can’t free range here because of hawks. Plan is to can some of the beans that were purchasd last… and replace those with new purchases… all old ones will be replaced with meats. jerky/ wild meats/beef/pork/chicken/ others. as much as possible done dry…some tradtionally canned.
      We prefer ground beef cooked, in crumbles, drained, rinsed in hot water , dehydrated… Pack in pint jars, w/oxy absorber. Start with approx 3 .5 lbs for pint… I pack mine. I prepared some i had put up 3 months prior, DH ha no idea it was not fresh in a casserole.. could not tell. did not tell him until 2 weeks later and we had it 2 times, prepd different ways.

  2. Ken,
    thanks for this article again. I am pointing the kids and several others to it as an article for ‘DIY prepping’ primer.

  3. Complacency coupled with poor organization is a recipe for disaster. Nobody is immune; I recently went through our cupboard of canned food and found too many that were “best used by” up to 4 years ago. I was surprised at how much I had thought that I had just bought recently.
    At first we relied heavily on canned foods, not so much anymore and certain foods I won’t buy canned after reading the ingredients; such as red beans in a sugar sauce, yuck. Better brands don’t have that.
    Eventually we will only have certain commercially canned foods; fish and meat primarily. I’ve had exceptional success with dehydrating commercially frozen vegetables as they have already been blanched and reconstitute perfectly. Also dehydrated cooked ground beef.
    We’ve been buying a variety of 90 second microwave rice offerings which make me want to experiment with cooking rice and dehydrating it, or freeze it.
    Lately I’ve been doing a lot of vegetable preservation by slicing, salting, rinse and dehydrate, with very good results.
    The secret to living off of a rice & bean diet as mentioned previously is to “have lots of supplemental items for it”. A large variety of spices, sauces and gravies also helps.

    1. No need to experiment with cooked and dehydrated rice… it is called instant rice. works well. my biggest problem with dehydrating myself was it falling thru the trays on my dehydrator… I used a plastic mesh from the crafts depatment or floral dept, both work well. I have done left overs several times… store in a pint jar with oxy absorber…

      1. I used my dehydrating screen as a pattern, then cut fiberglass window screening to place over the plastic screens. Works great for small things such as some spice leaves, rice, etc.

        1. Be better to order some stainless steel screen,,, you can find food safe screen in a few places, fiberglass screen may not be food safe

  4. Yes to your whole article. Wish everyone would pay attention. I do have 1 thing I may try. I have a lot of #10 cans. I have been thinking about opening them, putting them in a vacuum seal bags and storing them back in the six pack boxes. Of course everything labeled. I would hope they would take less room but I am concerned about how much they might loose in freshness and storage years in the transition. Any ideas?

    1. Old lady, I would leave them in the cans. Much better for long term storage. The vacuum seal bags let air permeate over time. I have also found that the vacuum bags are getting a little thinner and they just don’t hold up as well.

    2. In my opinion you are better off leaving any professionally prepared freeze dried or dehydrated foods in their original #10 cans. Any advantage gained by smaller size from vacuuming would be offset by loss of atmospheric integrity of the foods (shorter shelf life possible) any losing all rodent protection that the cans provide. Sucked down bags are seldom ever truly flat. After trying to rebox them you may only break even in size. I’ve had some of my vacuum bags slowly leak and only discovered that months later that I had no real long term protection at all. Just my experience.

    3. I am with the others on this. They are already packaged for a 25 year shelf life ( most products) so why would you break them down now. The only reason I could even think to do this would be to build ready made meals IE putting meat,veggies,bullion ect all into one package but I personally think that the storage space and convenience you will save is not worth the chance of the loss of product longevity. Those # 10 cans are expensive and I would not want to have to replace them.

      1. I would only open the cans if i needed an item or if damaged and I needed to check one… if cans get wet or before they do spray bottom with clear coat… and allow them to dry, to prevent rust. Would not put in vacume seal bags, too many items are sharp and can puncture, then you loose product and potential to loose whole container to mice/invaders.

    4. Old lady
      We use a lot of potato gems(mashed potatoes)in the winter time. After the can is opened I have 6 months(short timetable on storage)to use the product up. We have gone longer on the shelf life, worst comes down to it, put the product in a glass canning jar & vacuum seal the food item.

    5. Thanks for your help. I will leave them in the cans. I was thinking if the shtf and they came looking it would be easier to hide. But since that hasn’t happened yet I won’t do the extra work.
      I also noticed the new seal bags are getting thinner and go faster.

  5. The one thing I would add is to periodically spot check the mylar bags. They can loose vacuum. I have had that happen. I now re-package rice, beans, pasta, and a few other items into one and three cup bags and vacuum seal. Using this method I don’t have to measure but once and don’t spill any more when transferring to a cooking vessel. I still check these smaller bags. Grains of rice can poke a small hole in the bag and will re-inflate the bag over time. Doesn’t take a large hole either. Pasta will do the same thing.

    1. Not, consider the 7 mil bags. I was using the 5 mil and freeze dried foods can have very sharp edges. 7 mil is really better.

      1. Mrs.
        Where do you get the one gallon 7 mm. Mylar bags. I have only found them in the one quart size.

        PS. I shall be trying some experiments with freeze dried bread this week following your suggestions.

        Long live the freeze dryer!

        1. Skee, Top Mylar has 7 mil gallon bags. Just search and they are there. I buy my 2 quart from them. Looking forward to the bread experiment!

  6. As yall know I have a freeze dryer which I love. Now as I accumulate the mylars and jars of food storage begins to be a new situation to consider. Not that we do not have the room, but how can it be done more economically. So I have been on the search for something more affordable. I just received two new containers today to try. Will update on Saturday.
    Also does anyone know if you can use a oxygen absorber with a food grade moisture packet?
    Canned food usually last a whole lot longer than the date. I opened a can of Sam’s chicken that was 8 years old and it was good. Now as we have said on here before the ACID foods will not last as long because it eats away at the lining of the can. We just threw away 2 number 10 cans of pineapple. I suggest not buying the canned pineapple for long term storage tomato’s are the other along with chili and similar sauces. Some with big families can rotate of course. The lining is of course not good for us, but it is what it is. Everything I freeze dry is cooked except for fruits. That way it needs no fuel to cook later.

    1. Mrs. USMCBG,
      Yes , oxygen absorbers and moisture absorbers can be used in the same containers.
      For storage of pineapple or tomatoes… I buy in lots of 36 cans when possible. I suggest storing them in cans for up to 6 months, ( as long as well in date) buying to replace a 6 months supply.. at that time . After have stock in, Take all the old products and dehydrating those- or freeze drying if you have a freeze dryer..store in oxygen free glass jars.
      This way nothing is wasted and all is available for future use. It can be done after the expiration date, but when possible, I prefer to do ahead of the date. Pickles , relish, and a whole array of canned foods nearing expiration, or with cans that have minimal damage….( like cans got wet and need quick use to avoid rust.).. can be safely saved this way.
      Pineapple dehydrate .. I usually keep it about 3 months. then dehydrate. I put the juice in a jar and drink it…

  7. Also look for other supplements like canned cheese soup, cream of mushroom soup, freeze dry cheese if you have kids anything with cheese basically. These items will greatly expand the versatility of your emergency stash. I also recommend that you try cooking some of your recipes for the family using only what you would have on hand from your food storage. See if they even eat it. I make a pretty good SPAM chilimac… More or less edible filled with high calories to get you that extra few miles of energy when needed.

    1. The LDS manual mentions having GRAVY to mix in and make some foods more palatable. Makes sense.

      1. That is why I store a good amount of oils and flour… to make gravy . a bullion or bone broth gives a fuller flavor but water or powdered milk mixed works as well. DH calls the premix powder -glop. Have some I must find a home for. bought for back up …will keep small amount, get rid of rest.

      2. There are all kinds of meals o be made with a gravy base… creamed Tuna, Beef, Pork, are all common. stretchers for a small amount of meat served to several growing family members..
        Most any meat properly processed and seasoned could then be chopped ,canned and processed. One pint of meat prepared with gravy and and biscuits, with a side of string beans /chosen veggie would feed a family of 4-5.
        . I would also add squirrell, rabbit, venison and coon . Dad said Ground Hog,, Beaver, were good.First hubby swore by rattlesnake and Alligator tail… as good ,.
        ..In South America they eat guinea pigs.( some farmers are making a living raising them for commercial sales, dressed and deliverd…..like we eat chicken. That would be an animal that could be kept in the house or on a back porch in the city.. ( would qualify under pet.) Should not be under livestock.

    2. I would add to that list Soy, Hot sauce and Worcheschire sauce. As long as it is Something your family normally eats, it is not a bad choice. If your family does not like it , it is not a bargain for you. Variety is the key to preventing food fatigue.

  8. I have been dehydrating a lot of potatoes lately. A 10 minute dunk in boiling water keeps them from browning while drying, plus makes slicing 1/4″ thick on a mandolin slicer a breeze.
    After drying till brittle, portion into vacuum bags.
    Cheap, nutritious and compact food storage.
    Blessings.

    1. I will have to try that as I do something similar; I slice raw on the mandolin and air fry them and freeze.

    2. Good choice the ones we are getting are poor quality and much more expensive… Over the last year for several weeks , at a time,we could not get a potato that was not green. Now they have dark spots in them, so have to open each one, before fully slicing …Like a box of cracker jacks, just to see what you have inside.,lol. we prefer potatoes as one of main foods. given plenty, good quality, we will eat 30-40 lbs in a month.. Can’t use the ones with all additives in them, DH will not eat “instant potatoes”.. without a lot of stuff, I can’t have ,added. Makes me need to prepare them separately…so he WILL eat them and I can. That is why I was so disapointed in my potato crop.. Did you know it takes what is packaged as 36 servings, 3 boxes to fill a gallon jar? .=108 servings, for us about 80 servings. Be sure to freeze for 10 days to kill any larvae. allow to return to room temp. Pack in jar with both Food Grade/Pharmacy grade ( what is in pill bottles) moisture packs and oxygen absorbers. Keeps more than 6 years… beyond that I am not sure…
      Ken addressed making buckets for various needs..
      . I make a baking bucket. I include plain flour, vacume packed, salt, cane sugar, baking soda+cream of tartar( with recipe to make baking powder as needed) cinnamon, meat tenderizer
      I have a box with commercially canned meats/green chili and garlic to make green chili with.I keep the tomatoes/rotel separate.
      A breakfast bucket…includes dry ngredients vacume packed,, 4 lb.oats, 4#flour/for gravy, 4#rice,2# sugar, several dehydrated jerky packs…depending on space,.. spices,…nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, dehydrated eggs(in pint jars with oxy absorbers)
      I keep all my oils in 2 places.kitchen/deep pantry all in one box… so I can keep them tightly rotated, FIFO… except for the gal..olive oil in the freezer….I keep it about 18 months and rotate fresh thru…I keep more than a gal. just keep one additional in freezer…normally.

    3. Jacksoneson
      Have processed potatoes the same way, and a few years later they were nasty! After that experiment which was not intended, was a good learning lesson. Now if I do potatoes same way as before they go into glass canning jars & vacuum sealed.

      1. Antique Collector,
        Thanks for the heads-up. Haven’t stored these long term yet.
        Blessings

    4. Try dipping the potatoes in citric acid. You will find it with the canning items. I bet this will keep them longer and fresher also. You will find citric acid in MANY MANY food items for preserving flavor and color.

      1. I was having problems with the taters turning brown when dehydrating them. After slicing/dicing them I put them in a bowl with water and add a few drops of lemon juice. I just use the lemon juice that comes in the plastic lemon container that you can find at the store.

  9. I have a system of 36 buckets. Meat, dairy, vegetables, the whites, soups and stews, fruit, treats, bread, hygiene, and other ( tea, coffe, sweeteners etc. I store them in groups of 36. When the time comes, I can retrieve 36 buckets at a time and not have to search for anything.

    I have found that using a straw to suck out the air in the Mylar bags works really well. Not so well with flour.

    Stay frosty.

  10. For the newbies. Do the math. A prepackaged 90 serving bucket is not an adequate supply of calories for a 30 day supply. Some of those servings might only be 200 calories. Look at contents, many are pretty heavy on the carbs, not so much on the protein. Some of the suppliers are more up front about this than others

    Good to know on the pineapple as we have a few cans that are getting old.

    Anyone know offhand how long the shelf life is for Crisco? Same question for lard.

    Recently somebody mentioned Gamma lids for square buckets. I’ve seen square containers with Gamma Lids in the pet stores but does anyone know if there are Gamma lids for the square 4 gallon buckets?

    1. I have a friend who processes her own Pork Lard… she strains it pours very hot, in sterilized jars, fill as full as possible.. to minimize oxygen content., sterilized lids ready.,.puts lids on.quickly for seal.. As of this time she has “jars just opened 5 years old and tastes like the day it was put up”… so time on the Lard is dependent on proper storage., ie. cool house,properly packaged.
      Crisco , I keep for 100 hour candles, and would never cook with it. Look at date on can,,, prob could extend it for 6-8 months.,.
      … Coconut oil can be bought in bulk and has a storage life of approx 5 years. and it substitutes for butter and requires less, is healthier for most ppl, nourishes the brain… very few ppl are allergic.

    2. Me, I was looking at the square buckets. They are gamma but have a tear away seal then they are not air tight. They have one that can be opened and closed but not air tight. look at Pleasant Hill Grain. They have a good price on buckets and lids.

    3. Me, you are correct about the buckets. Wise is the worst over all from my research and purchase. I just opened a package of Mac and Cheese from Mountain House. Bought it at Wal Mart to try. It was one serving and mostly sauce. Edible and that is about it. Very little macaroni in it. Better than nothing. Had their Beef Stew before and it was much better. Mostly potatoes and the beef is decent enough.

      1. Mrs.USMCBG, Did you like the taste of the sauce?…ie. would it work as a topping over 2 or more servings of pasta, stored separately…all the more reason to can /dehydrate/ freezedry our own…

        1. Just Sayin, yes it was ok. Add some xtra mac, rice, or what ever. This is part of the calorie content.

  11. This has been a long running discussion at our house about food storage. If you are hungry rice and beans will work just fine, add some Texas Pete good to go. We are not talking about your favorite food’s but survival and getting to the other side. No room for “I don’t like that” or it will make me fat just, getting by. If it don’t kill you eat it. This is from someone who has enjoyed a good tree chicken in Panama at Jungle Warfare Training.

    1. I tend to agree both with Southernman and CrabbeNebulae. While I CAN survive quite well on beans and rice with hot sauce I think we need to plan BEYOND mere survival.

      Store what you eat and eat what you store is true BUT we need to think not so much about Avocados from Mexico and Organic Apples from Argentina and putting tins of food into a 5 gallon bucket BUT what Basics can I store AND what can I Produce to supplement and eventually replace my dependence on stored foods. Sorry for run on sentence, hopefully the idea is clear.

      That said if you think you can trust your garden, fruit trees and hunting skills can take over in a few months or next year you are setting yourself and family for failure. Store enough for 2+ years at 2400 calories, as year long diets are harsh when you have to WORK HARD. Rice and Beans and some Dent corn (Horse Feed is excellent) with a grinder are CHEAP, high Calorie and high in protein ask any hard working Mexican family. Dried beans and dent corn ground together and some added fat from a woodchuck makes a Great Cornbread and gravy.

      Please Please Please check your calorie and Protein for a realistic amount of both. So many of the prepackaged 30 day supplies etc. will have you on a serious diet and losing muscle mass when you NEED to be able to work hard.

      Plan to do more than survive BUT have plenty of cheap survival food stored for When NOT If your hunters are failing and the gardens a total bust.

      If nothing else you can plant the Dent Corn and Bean and go for it.

      BTW the 3 Sisters Does work BUT you will need to protect the corn and beans at least until they are surrounded by spiny squash plants. I did some research and in addition to the fish guts for the corn for fertilizer the young boys would protect the 3 sisters AND Harvest whatever came by to eat the fish or plants. Woodchuck stew is great IF you remove the scent glands.

      1. Plant the beans after the corn is well up. Especially if you plant climbing beans. Plant the squash after the beans are well up. I ended up doing two sisters, because the squash smothered the beans and starved the corn.

        1. Lauren I am chuckling with my cup of coffee (something I WILL Miss) about your rogue 3rd sister :-)

          Squash for me is a paradox. Can be a bit tender, easy to kill at the start then becomes an overwhelming mass of production that I use a lawn mower to keep contained. I have a south facing hill side and plant the squash in a row down hill from the dent corn and beans and I use my hoe daily to keep the squash growing mostly down hill.

          I will repeat my observations that the 3 sisters are a bit romanticized as is most Indian cultures and the truth is it works will with daily protection and care by children as the real Indians did. That freed up adults for tasks requiring more strength and kept the kids busy.

          But the 3 sisters with the proper selection of species will store well and keep you well fed. I have to say that because I saw one family a few years ago plant hybrid sweet corn, yellow squash and sweet peas for their 3 sisters and talked about how hard it was to can foods.

          I can’t yell too loud at least they planted seeds instead of collecting seed packets.

          1. Yellow squash is the vegetable kingdom’s equivalent of pajama boy. I can’t say anything about sweet corn because that’s what we plant–Dad won’t even consider anything else.

            I planted zucchini the first year I tried three sisters, and I planted it IN the corn. Oops. This year I have rattlesnake beans and they’re strangling the corn. Live and learn, I suppose.

          2. Lauren,
            I havent had much luck with three sisters, closest i got was planting the beans when the corn was about 4′ tall, it did ok, i think too there is a disconnect on the true yields that may have been had by the early farmers, they didnt have access to even the most basic commercial fertilizers so im betting lower yields were the more common result, they also had birds and bugs and deer etc to deal with, i believe more than anything it was about consolidating their planting to conserve on water and such, they most likely had to water by hand so less hauling of water in skins,

          3. Chuckle I agree Tommyboy about the productivity of the Indian method but a little like Lauren I was experimenting with the 3 sisters as a low maintained decent yield storage foodstuffs that produces viable seeds for Next Year.

            I found in NH when planted in a damp area like a swale Dent Corn on top of some fish trap scraps get’s that 3+ feet pretty quick and then the beans do not smother them. The squash I planted at the same time as the corn BUT I use a hoe as needed to keep the squash from smothering everything else.

            My raised bed garden out produces the 3 sisters but I tend to it a lot more.

            Modern fertilizers might be hard to find after SHTF even though I have some stowed away.

    2. All this talk about fearing a world where you have to eat a steady diet of beans. While we were not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination when I was young, we ate good. Mother cooked three meals a day. I can’t remember many meals that didn’t include “red beans” (pinto). Mother cooked up a big pot a couple of times a week.

      As a cop working the predominately African-American section of the city, several times a week I would patronize one of several unlicensed take out food businesses ran out of homes, whose only offering was a big bowl of red beans ladled over a bed of white rice with a couple pieces of fried hot-water corn bread (or corn pone). Most tasty and satisfying.

      1. Dennis,
        I love beans, white, red, black, pinto, theres many many ways to cook em, as a meatless chili, refried, soup, in cold salads, in a caserole, Food is food, if things are tough anything that fills the stomach is good!
        😎👍🏻

      2. I will eat anything in some amount, even foods my stomach can not process.. a couple of ounces of cooked pintos or great norther’s are certaintly tasty.
        My take on beans…. If you Can eat them,you need to store alot of them.. If one member of your family can eat them you need to store for 2/3 so you will have some to trade to others who did not store any., but might have something you need. ( Maybe a pig farmer needs some to go with his pork belly).

        1. JS
          The fact that they are cheap and easy to store is good enough reason to stash em for a rainy day. But the reality that they could be great for barter is a bonus, a big bonus.
          I like the small bags, peas, beans, lentils, all types of those, stuff about 20# of em in a big mylar bag in a 5gal bucket, usually only a couple bucks each at the store, good investment IMHO.

  12. You should think more out of the box than just getting by, or just getting through an emergency. Long term storage food is all about continuing to eat like you did before all the grocery stores collapsed. It is NOT about having to eat Spam or MRE’S for the next 2-3 years or for the duration of something. It is a way of life. You should be making your own bread. You should be eating beans and rice. You should be incorporating your long term storage foods into your daily eating habits. You should be developing recipes that use as main ingredients, your long term storage foods. It is that simple. If you cannot do that then you will have a very grim existence after SHTF.

    Sit down and develop a recipe list of all the things you like and you will probably find that everything you like goes back to a few basic long term storage items. Use your imagination and develop your own recipes using long term dry storage items with your daily garden harvests.

    Combine your long term dry storage food items to your canning to your on-going fresh garden harvests which should produce something… all year long and you should never have to worry about whether or not you will have enough to eat in an emergency. It is really that simple.

    If you are simply storing up a bunch of stuff to get you through an emergency, you will not survive SHTF.

    Just saying.

    1. “Sit down and develop a recipe list of all the things you like and you will probably find that everything you like goes back to a few basic long term storage items.”

      Rice, beans, pasta. So I’m working on growing dry beans. Wheat is problematic, as you need a large space to get a good harvest, but a small plot (10×10) can easily give you enough for a couple loaves of bread. Rice won’t grow here that I know of.

    2. Crabbe
      Whats wrong with eating SPAM?
      Its good stuff! Eat it now,,,mmmm
      Sizzle Pork And Mmmm

      1. I certainly have an inventory of SPAM as part of my overall diversification! In fact I have a fried slice with eggs every now and again. Good stuff!

        And talk about survival calories, there are 1080 calories in one 12oz can…

        In fact, SPAM is a pretty good survival food for one’s diversified food storage inventory!

        What SPAM Is Made Of

  13. @Tommyboy

    There’s nothing wrong with Spam. If that was all I had to eat I wouldn’t complain but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

  14. Tommyboy,

    Our ancestors used fertilizing methods that faded into history as commercial fertilizers came into vogue.

    When I was a child I would help my grand father plant his garden which consistently outperformed all the others in the community.

    After he prepared the ground and put it up into beds ready for planting, we would go and seine small ponds and borrow ditches (pronounced “bar” ditches in the south) for small fish and minnows. He kept a bucket full of bent nails saved from tearing down houses and sheds which he kept filled with water to promote rust.

    When he planted, he would place three seeds, a minnow or piece of cut fish, and a rusty nail before covering them up.

    His vegetable production was tremendous, year after year. He hand carried water for each plant. Labor intensive, but I don’t remember his garden ever failing.

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