Mason Jar Meals Using the Best Survival Food
Try Freeze Drying Food for Make-Ahead MealsPromoted by Harvest Right
The best survival food retains vitamins and lasts decades. Take it from #10 cans to delicious combinations before hard times hit.
Whether you’re a prepper, homesteader or just someone who wants assurance in your pantry, you have a stock of emergency essentials. This may include #10 cans purchased from food storage distributors or religious organizations. They sit on basement shelves, large and austere and intimidating. Plain labels identify refried beans, lentils, rice or diced carrots. But they don’t look appetizing or easy to prepare in a hurry.
Perhaps you create your own food storage, drying mushrooms or berries then stashing in airtight containers. And though a canning-glass cornucopia gleams back at you, holding potential, only half the work is done.
What do you do now? And how can you upgrade the best survival food into something that cares for your needs through unexpected poverty, evacuation, loss of utilities such as electricity, or simply having no time to prepare food from scratch?
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Turn Survival into Satisfaction
Though you go hunting and make jerky, you probably don’t relish the idea of gnawing dried venison each day until times get better. Even the best survival food would get boring. Or your situation may allow no time to pair beef with pasta, tomatoes and onions for a delectable meal. Perhaps you’re leaving on business and need options so your family doesn’t go broke buying expensive fast food while you’re gone.
A little forethought can solve those problems. Create mason jar meals while times are good.
Preparing meals ahead of time eliminates problems such as losing a can opener, exposing multiple containers of previously perfect food to air and humidity, using time you don’t have to create meals, or running out of key ingredients when you can’t go buy more.
The one detriment of opening those perfect #10 cans is loss of shelf life. These mason jar meals last a couple years on the shelf while #10 cans with moisture absorbers can stay good for decades. Store what you eat and rotate often. By creating new jars every couple years and using old ones for breakfast and dinner, you don’t have to worry about spoilage.
Dry ingredients are plentiful from food storage supply companies. Freeze-dried meats, powdered eggs, dried cheese or powdered tomato sauce add new options to boring beans, rice and dried peas. Any dried spices can be added, as can dry or crystallized sugars. If you intend to create a large amount of mason jar meals, purchase the best survival food from reputable sources. A #10 can of tomato powder goes a very long way.
Obey several rules.
- Only use dry ingredients. Moisture promotes decay or bacterial growth and will soon spoil the entire contents. Fats and oils eventually turn rancid.
- Include ingredients which cook together in the same pot. Toppings can be enclosed in separate plastic bags then inserted into the other ingredients. But do not include items which must be picked out or separated prior to consumption.
- Remove as much air as possible through vacuum food preservation. This greatly increases shelf life.
- If food is going into long-term storage, purchase oxygen absorbers and include one in each jar. This extends a two-year shelf life to five or seven years.
- Rotate and eat your food. This is a great way to test recipes. Move older jars to the front, filling in the back with newly filled containers. Make dinner or dessert with your creations.
Freeze Dry at Home!
Learn how to freeze dry ALL types of food — even full meals — by watching our video series.
Gifts of Nutrition
Food storage makes excellent gifts for others valuing sustainability and preparedness. But those large, austere cans aren’t very festive. Making mason jar meals from the most colorful and best survival food allows attractive combinations.
A quick Pinterest search reveals beef stews layered in jars: brown jerky and beans topped with red bell peppers, orange carrots, yellow corn, green peas, and white onions. Salt and spices layer with the vegetables. This rainbow of ingredients empties into a pot with water. After 30 to 60 minutes simmering with the lid on, it’s ready to eat.
Desserts such as brownies or sugar cookies layer the same way. Jars contain cocoa powder on the bottom, white sugar, flour mixed with the leavening and salt, and ingredients such as chocolate chips, colorful candied pieces, or dried cherries. Festive tags give additional instructions: mix the dry ingredients with oil, eggs, and perhaps water or milk. Bake at 350 degrees.
Tie colorful ribbons around mason jar rings. Customize ingredients to the recipient’s favorite flavors or dietary needs. Be sure to include instructions.
Examples Using the Best Survival Food
For breakfast that can sit awhile on a shelf or travel to work, collect a pint-sized jar, quick or rolled oats (not steel cut), dried fruit and/or nuts, dried sweeteners, and desired spices. Wide-mouth jars allow you to stir ingredients. Add ½ cup oats into the jars then layer desired flavor combinations. Try dates with pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg, and powdered maple syrup. Or brown sugar, apples, almonds, cinnamon and ginger. Blueberries or peaches taste great with powdered vanilla extract and white sugar. Or create high-protein oatmeal by adding peanut butter powder, protein powder, flax seed meal, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, and the fruit and sweetener of your choice. When you’re ready to consume the oatmeal, fill the jar with hot milk or water. Let it sit a few minutes then stir and enjoy.
Another idea is pancake mix. Though additional wet ingredients must be added, the first step is already done. Obtain commercially prepared pancake mix or simply combine dry items from your favorite from-scratch recipe. For a hearty oat-nut mix, replace up to half of the wheat flour with quick-cooking oats then add sliced almonds to the jar. Since sugars may burn on the griddle, they can be placed in clean plastic bags so whoever cooks the pancakes can sprinkle them on at the end.
Combine dried pasta with freeze-dried meat, tomato powder, Italian seasoning, mushrooms and other vegetables. If you want cheese, place it in a plastic bag to hydrate separately. Prepare baked pasta dishes by mixing in a metal pan with hot water then baking until all moisture is absorbed. Top with cheese at the end.
Soup combinations are endless. Food Network’s curried lentil soup recipe includes bay leaves, chili pepper, turmeric, curry powder, sun-dried tomatoes, red and yellow lentils, and the storage jar. Cream soups can be safely created and stored using gravy mix in addition to dry ingredients. Combine country gravy mix, chicken bouillon, onion, celery, parsley, rice, and dried mushrooms in a jar to simmer later with water until rice is tender.
For side dishes, try mixing rice with herbs and vegetables. Suggestions found in a quick Internet search include curried rice mix with chicken bouillon, minced onion, raisins, and curry powder. Or lemon dill rice with grated lemon peel, dill seed or dill weed and chicken bouillon.
Desserts are easy: take your favorite recipe and only add dry ingredients. Then print a tag with instructions for wet ingredients and baking times. A fruity panettone includes candied orange peel, dried cherries, raisins, apricots, sugar, yeast, and flour. Cornbread needs flour, cornmeal, leavening and salt, and any freeze-dried corn or fruit desired in the final product.
Preserving Without Glass
If you make enough meals, you’ll run out of jars or storage space. Or you may want portable meals or containers which can withstand earthquakes. Switch jars out for heavy-duty vacuum sealed bags. Empty ingredients into the bag then suck out air and seal using a food-saving machine. Be sure to include moisture absorbers for long-term storage. Vacuum-sealed bags can be stacked within a portable plastic tub, fitting tighter and weighing less than jars. They can leave as quickly as you can during an emergency.
Storing vacuum-sealed bags within a rigid container is important to avoid damage to the bags. If even a small puncture occurs, suction is lost. Moisture and bacteria can enter and spoil the best survival food. Don’t handle the bags unless necessary and avoid contact with sharp objects. If the ingredients shake around loose in the bag, the plastic has been compromised.
Whether your best survival food is purchased in #10 cans or preserved from your own garden, making mason jar meals allows you to think ahead so tough times (or tight schedules) are still delicious.
Have you made mason jar meals or vacuum-sealed combinations? What recipes do you hope to try? Please let us know your experiences in the comments below.