Real Food

Makin’ Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly

by Todd Walker

Vegetarians fear bacon. It’s the “gateway meat”. The temptation heightens with the mere aroma of this sizzling strip tease. Only the most hardcore herbivores can withstand the maddening scent in the olfactory receptors!

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

From a bacon-lovers perspective, preserving this fat-laden meat is a Doing the Stuff skill “worth it’s weight in salt.” However, if you believe the Big Fat Lie, go ahead and brace yourself for some disturbing news…

Your grandparents had it right… bacon fat won’t kill you. You need healthy fat in your diet.

Whether for health concerns or just to build a self-reliant skill, making bacon is a simple process anyone can do.

The recipe I used was given to me by Brian Manning, my instructor at The Pathfinder School. He made a video called “Hog and Hominy” where he carves up a side of his dry cured bacon to fry over an open fire. I had to make my own.

That's Brian Manning hamming it up

That’s Brian Manning hamming it up

I asked and he shared his recipe in the description box under his video. Be sure to check out his channel – Snow Walker Bushcraft – for some great tutorials and 18th century living skills.

I also found a helpful video by Steve Davis on his channel, “woodcrafter76“.

Here’s what you’ll need for makin’ your own bacon to cure what ails you…

The Bacon Cure

  • Find a fresh pork belly, pasture raised if possible. I bought mine at a health-food grocery store called Earth Fare. Your local butcher shop may have fresh pork belly or can order it for you. Of course, the freshest route is to butcher a hog yourself. My pork belly weighed 12.6 pounds and was on sale, half-price!
  • Buy salt and brown sugar. Lots of it. Three pound boxes of course salt. I used about 12 pounds of salt and 12 pounds of brown sugar. I’d probably use less on my next batch of bacon.
  • Brian used cracked black pepper for an outside coating. I did not but may add some for taste.
  • A large plastic bin with lid. No need to be air tight. You’ll also need a second large container to combine and store the cure mix.
  •  A dark, cool place. A refrigerator, root cellar, or cooler works.
  • Butchers string or stainless steel meat hooks. Don’t have any meat hooks? Use string and a needle for hanging your cured bacon to air dry.
  • Patience. My pork belly took 14 days to cure.

Step 1 of Makin’ Bacon

In a large container, combine equal amounts of salt and brown sugar thoroughly. In hindsight, I should have used a larger mixing container. Sugar ants made a visit to our kitchen because of the spillage from my smaller container. You can never clean all those tiny granules off the cabinets and floor.

Step 2 of Makin’ Bacon

Rub the pork belly with the cure. Make sure you don’t miss any of the crevices on the flesh side. It’s like applying a rub on a pork butt for smoking… rub it good and cover it all! These little hidden hideaways need cure applied to prevent moisture build up. Moisture is your bacon’s enemy.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The first light coat of cure

Place the coated sides in your container(s) and stick ’em in the fridge or a cooler with some ice blocks. I used a large cooler since there wasn’t much room in DRG’s fridge. Plus, I don’t trust Moose and Abby, our two rescue dogs, to be in the house alone with bacon sitting about.

I found that frozen water bottles worked better than those blue freezer blocks. I even added a 4-year-old glass jar of frozen chili to the rotation. Simply swap out melted water bottles with 4 or 5 frozen bottles in your freezer each time.

Leave the curing container in the cool place overnight and let it work.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The morning after… Drain and rub more cure mix

Drain the collected liquid and re-apply the cure. Only this time you’ll want to add a thicker layer. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of cure in the bottom of your container and place the skin side on top of the cure. Now add a generous amount of cure to the flesh side which is facing up. Remember to hit all the creases with the cure. I added a 1/2 to 1 inch layer on top. In hindsight, that much was probably overkill but Brian said I should add more cure. So I did.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

About an inch of cure covering the meat

Put the lid back on the container and place it back in your cool place.

Step 3 of Makin’ Bacon

Repeat step 2. Drain the liquid and re-apply cure mix. After a few days you’ll notice the amount of accumulating liquid on the flesh side decreases. The cure on the bottom (skin side) will still be wet and should be replaced with new/dry cure mix.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Late in the process you’ll have little accumulation of liquid in the container bottom with wet spots on top.

At that point in the curing process, you can scrape off only the dissolved cure mix and apply a thin layer to the area. I didn’t chance it. I basically re-coated the entire pork belly for 10 of the 14 days of the process.

Step 4 of Makin’ Bacon

Once satisfied that the liquid had stopped draining from the meat, I gave it a couple more cure applications. On day 14, I examined the belly and found no liquid had dissolved the cure mixture on top or underneath.

Step 5 of Makin’ Bacon

Wash off the remaining cure mix under cold water. Use your hand and fingers to scrap off any stubborn cure mixture from all sides of the pork belly.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Getting ready for a wash and smoke

Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels or a drying towel.

Step 6 of Makin’ Bacon

This step is optional but I prefer a good smoke flavor in my bacon. Smoke is also an added preservative in meats.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Keep the temp very low… below 200 degrees

I used my Big Green Egg and applewood chips for smoke flavor. You want to smoke the belly not cook it. Keep your smoker temperature under 200 degrees. If you have a cold smoker, even better.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Applewood smoke engulfing my bacon

It took some doing to get my BGE to hover between 150 to 175 degrees. Once regulated, I smoked the pork belly for about 5 hours. I gotta admit that I was a bit worried when I saw the belly looking all sweaty after the smoking process. It was supposed to be dry to keep bacteria from forming on and in the meat.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I hoped that the next step would remedy the wet, flimsy looking sides of pork belly.

Step 7 of Makin’ Bacon

And it did.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use a large canvas sail needle or leather working needle threaded with butcher’s twine

String up the cured bacon with butcher’s twine and a needle or use meat hooks if you have some. Hang the slabs of goodness in a room in your house to air dry. You’ll want to cover them in a breathable fabric to keep flies and insects off the meat. I was in the process of hand-sewing a canvas bag when DRG, in her common sense tone, suggested using an old pillow case.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The bacon hangout

And the rest is history, folks. I love my smart wife!

The two slabs of bacon are air drying from a shelf in our laundry room encased in cotton pillow cases.

If you took your time and followed the process, the dry cured bacon will last several months at room temperature. I plan on dividing the belly into sections and freeze all but one part for immediate use and save the rest for future outdoor adventures… if it doesn’t get eaten beforehand.

Now go enjoy the intense flavor of your homemade bacon over a campfire! Or your kitchen. Or anywhere you can!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network. P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Manna from Motorists: 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow

by Todd Walker

It’s practically a self-reliance commandment.

Thou shalt not waste food. 

You won’t find these words on a stone tablet, but these 5 words are rock-solid advice!

Manna from Motorists- 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The smallest ripple in the industrial food machine can wreak havoc on food prices and availability. That’s one reason self-reliant types grow some, if not most, of their own groceries. Cultivating food independence is hard work, sweat-of-the-brow kind of stuff.

You deserve an unexpected gift, a miracle of sorts. The roadways are the perfect place to claim your next free-range fur or feathered meal.

Disgusting?

Hardly! It’s the ethically thing to do out of respect for the animal victim. See Self-Reliance Commandment above.

More questions swirl in minds of refined readers, followed by the inevitable…

Why, I’d never eat from a ditch!!

Here’s the thing, though…

Roadkill is an overlooked secret survival sauce. You gotta eat to survive. Food costs money. Roadkill is free. Plus, it’s healthier than factory farmed animals injected with who knows what.

How do you know if manna from motorists is safe to eat?

If you experience a fender bender with Bambi or witnessed the crash, you know the exact time of demise. When you run across a potential meal on a road trip or daily commute, how can you be sure it’s safe to harvest? There are many variables to consider.

8 Rules of Roadkill 

Follow these Roadkill Rules to help determine if food by Ford is safe to swallow.

1.) Legal Stuff

Any fur-bearing animal or bird is edible. However, laws on harvesting roadkill or possession of protected species vary from state to state. Check out this interactive map to see if your state allows the collection of roadkill.

In the Peach state, motorists may collect deer without notifying authorities. Bear collisions must be reported but you get to keep the bruin.

Texas, California, and Washington are among the few states that prohibit roadkill collection. In Alaska, the Fish and Wildlife personnel collect reported road-killed animals and distribute to charities helping the needy.

Check your state laws first!

2.) Impact Damage

The point of impact determines how much meat is salvageable. My experience with broadside impacts are not good. Internal organs usually rupture and taint the meat. Not to mention all the bloodshot meat. As in hunting, a head shot saves meat.

Tire treads over the body usually means a bloody mess. Squashed squirrel would require a spatula to remove from the asphalt and should be avoided.

3.) Clear Eyes

If the eyes are intact and clear, the animal is likely a fresh kill. Cloudy eyes hint that the animal has been dead for some time (more than a few hours).

Creamy discharges around the eyes or other orifices indicate a sick animal. If the eyes are gone, leave it alone.

4.) Stiffness and Skin

Rigor mortis sets within a few hours of death. This is not a deal breaker depending on other indicators. The steak in the butcher’s glass counter has undergone the same process of “decay” or tenderizing.

Pinch the skin of the animal, unless it’s a porcupine, to check if the skin still moves freely along top of the muscle beneath. If so, you’re probably okay. Skin stuck to the muscle is a bad indicator. If fur can be pulled from the hide with a slight tug, the animal has been deceased far too long.

5.) Bugs and Blood

Fleas feed on the blood of warm blooded animals. Brush the hair on the carcass and inspect for fleas like you would on a family pet. If fleas are present, that’s a good thing. Fleas won’t stick around on a cold body.

There’s usually blood involved when animals come in contact with 3,000 pound machines in motion. Blood all over the road may mean there’s too much damaged meat to salvage. The color of blood present should be a dark red, like, well, fresh blood. Dark puddles of blood have been there been there a while.

Flies could be a bad sign. They lay larvae in wounds and other openings of the body. A few flies present isn’t always a deal breaker. A prior wound on a living animal may contain maggots. We had a live deer seek refuge in my mother-in-laws car port who had a broken hind leg from a vehicle collision which was infested with maggots. I approached her in an attempt to humanely dispatch her and put her out of her misery. Sadly, she gained her footing and disappeared through our neighborhood woods.

In the hot, humid summers of Georgia, it only takes a few minutes for flies to zero in on dead stuff. Which brings us to our next consideration…

Manna from Motorists- 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A large beaver I found on the road last month

6.) Climate and Weather

The weather conditions and geographical location are variables to consider. Cold to freezing temperatures is ideal – think… roadside walk-in freezer or fridge. Meat will decompose quickly in hot and humid conditions.

One steamy August evening years ago, I was in my backyard and heard tires screech followed by a distinctive thud on a nearby road. I walked two doors down and found a freshly dispatched deer laying on the grassy right-of-way. That gift primed my freezer before fall hunting season.

7.) Smell

This one is pretty obvious.

If it has a putrid odor, leave it alone. You don’t have to be a TV survival expert to identify bad meat. Your old factory sensors will let you know… along with your gag reflex.

Ever break the cellophane on a pack of chicken breasts you forgot about in the back of your fridge? Register that stench for future roadside foraging.

8.) Collection and Processing Tips

Our vehicles are prepared with Get Home Kits. You may want to add a few items to it or build a separate Roadkill Kit. My kit is simple and includes:

  • Tarp
  • Surgical gloves

If you don’t drive a pickup truck, wrap large carcasses in a tarp and place in the vehicle for transport. Smaller animals usually go in a contractor grade garbage bag to get home.

It’s common sense in my mind… Do NOT field dress an animal on the side of the road! It’s dangerous, illegal (hopefully), unsightly, and disrespectful to both animal and human. I’ve seen some really stupid and disgusting practices over the years from unethical “hunters” and idiots. If you’re not prepared to harvest game properly, stick with the supermarkets.

Don’t practice slob self-reliance!

Rant over…

When processing wild game animals or fowl, (road-killed or not) always check the internal organs – heart, liver, lungs, kidneys – before going any further. Dispose of the animal properly (or report it to local wildlife officials for study) if the organs are discolored or showing yellow-greenish discharge. Again, use your sniffer. If it smells bad, it probably is.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

With winter over, at least in Georgia, you might be tempted to stash that can of cocoa powder in the cupboard for your spring and summer outdoor adventures. Leaving this viral elixir home, my friend, would be a costly survival mistake!

I’m kidding… or am I?

You see, the ancient Mayan civilization prized the wild cacao tree (Botanical name: Theobroma cacao) which means “Food of the Gods”, also dubbed “Black Gold.” So valuable in fact, early visitors to the New World noted that the cocoa bean was used as currency. Back then, money did grow on trees!

Cacao or Cocoa?

Confused?

They’re the same thing… only different. Raw cacao seeds are harvested for the beans which are then dried, fermented, roasted, and ground into a powder. This process produces cocoa and heavenly chocolate.

For maximum health benefits, raw, cold-pressed cacao beans retain the living enzymes that are lost in the traditional roasting process. Even with high temperature processing (Dutch), there’s still plenty of goodness remaining in the cocoa powder.

No matter what you call it, simply add water to make an ancient, frothy energy drink sipped by royals, warriors, and elites… without all the crappy additives in a can of Red Bull. Drinking hot cocoa made with dairy inhibits the absorption of all the great enzymes.

All who drink in this manner gain strength, endurance, energy, mood-enhancement, and nourishment from this frothy concoction. Cocoa is more than a kiddy drink on cold nights.

The 11th C of Survivability

As a student of Dave Canterbury, I practice his system of survivability. I’ve written about the importance of carrying the 10 C’s of Survivability here and here. However, I submit to you an additional kit item, the 11th C… cocoa!

Here’s why…

Each item in your 10 Piece Kit must have at least three uses other than its intended purpose. Otherwise it doesn’t meet the standard of Survivability and becomes a luxury item.

While it won’t make Dave’s official 10 C’s list, cocoa is more than a luxurious hot beverage sipped around the campfire. A tin of cocoa shouldn’t be overlooked as important in effecting your most critical survival priority…

Priority #1: Self-Aid

Staying alive in a wilderness survival scenario requires that you maintain common sense and avoid stupid stuff. Experts tell us to stay calm and formulate a plan for self-rescue or wait to be found. Easier said than done when your stress meter is pegged on red. This is the perfect time to STOP (Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan).

If your situation allows, make a cup of hot cocoa. By the time you see the bottom of your cup, hopefully, you’ll not only have figured out your plan, you’ll have the energy to carry out said plan.

Benefits of Cocoa

  • Energy – You’ll need the energy after the adrenaline and panic settles.

“This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.” – Anonymous conquistador

  • Morale – Cocoa raises serotonin levels in our brains stimulating neurotransmitters to lift our mood, fight depression, and rejuvenate our spirit. Oh, and lowers your stress level and improves focus and alertness.
  • Endorphins – These natural chemicals are released in the human body to relieve stress and pain. Cocoa triggers the release of these feel-good chemicals.
  • Antioxidants – Your body undergoes “biological rusting” or oxidation. Antioxidants slow this process. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. [Read more cacao facts at Mercola.com] Granted, this won’t be your biggest concern for short-term survival but certainly boosts your overall health.
  • ♥ Cocoa – Cocoa reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, cocoa consumption is associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age. –  Source

 Priority #2: Food 

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rations for each man on Robert Falcon Scott’s race to the South Pole: 450g biscuit, 340g pemmican, 85g sugar, 57g butter, 24g tea, 16g cocoa. ~ Photo courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute

  • Raw Cacao – Rich in nutritional value and solidly beats other antioxidant-rich super foods like green tea, blueberries, and pomegranate. Cacao’s nutrition profile includes protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.
  • Flavonoids – Cocoa’s high flavonoid content helps to prevent your body from secreting excessive fluids… the cause of diarrhea. No fun in the woods. Unchecked, dehydration is close behind.
  • Dark Chocolate – Cocoa butter, an extraction from the cacao bean, is found in high-cacao chocolate bars. Healthy monounsaturated and saturated fat helps maintain a feeling of being full. The dark chocolate I buy comes wrapped in foil… which can be used to make fire with the batteries from your flashlight.

Priority #3: Container

Of course, this one may be a stretch. But still, if you stow your cocoa powder in a metal tin, the container could be pressed into service for boiling water or charring material.

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I enjoy an occasional cup of hot cocoa over an open fire with a pinch of cayenne pepper. However, after researching this article, I’m considering adding cocoa to my daily diet. The benefits of packing a 6 ounce metal tin of cocoa powder (not the sugary pre-mixed stuff) warrants the label… “The 11th C of Survivability“.

Additional Resources:

  1. http://flyingwoodsman.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-real-manly-drink.html
  2. http://www.medicinehunter.com/brief-history-cocoa
  3. http://www.naturalnews.com/029156_cacao_chocolate.html##ixzz3UM20hOtp
  4. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-eat-and-drink-high-cacao-dark-chocolate/#axzz3TyjmAM7n
  5. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcrafting, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Definitive Guide to Dehydrating Jerky

by Todd Walker

Before the invention of modern food preservation equipment and techniques, premodern man stumbled upon the art of preserving harvested food to preserve life. Mother Nature has always thrown the unexpected at us – drought, floods, swarming insects – which could wipe out next year’s food supply.

Survival was never guaranteed. But we are a creative, wily species. Thanks to our fat-fed brains and trial and error, humans learned how to preserve excess meat for lean times!

the-definitive-guide-to-dehydrating-jerky

Jerk-able Meats

Depending on your location and availability, any lean meat can be jerked. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the following meats have been used as a light-weight, portable, nutrient dense staple for thousands of years.

  •  Wooly Mammoth – Sorry, Wooly is no longer available. Suitable wild substitutes include: venison, elk, moose, bear, caribou, fish, bison, alligator, crocodile, wild boar, and other critters.
  • Llama – a favorite on-the-go snack of Incas. South Americans still find llama jerky tasty.
  • On the exotic side – Yak, ostrich – and it’s cousin – emu, whale, shark, kangaroo, camel, and even horse. Equine jerky is not culturally accepted in America expect for dog treats.
  • Mainstream jerky – Beef, sheep, pork, and turkey are popular for moderns in prepackage containers.
  • And wait for itZombie Jerky! I kid you not! Nothing else helps you survive the Zombie Apocalypse like green dead meat chunks.

Wow! More than you probably wanted to know.

Jerky’s #1 Enemy

Drying is the oldest technique of preserving meat. Removing moisture from meat prevents micro-nasties from growing and decreases the spoilage rate. It was so easy cavemen could did it! Grok, after learning to corralling fire, figured out that fire would heat mammoth meat just enough to evaporate excess moisture.

Super! Portable calories meant he could extend his hunting and gathering territory.

Yes, drying meat over an open fire is doable. Smoking/drying meat over an open fire method is one of my Doing the Stuff skills for 2014. But for now, before the industrial machine grinds to a halt, I’ll use our Excalibur dehydrator.

You can use your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator. Prop the door open with a pot holder or wooden spoon and use your oven racks to hang the meat strips. Test the empty oven temp with a cooking thermometer for an hour to see if the temp stays in the 145°-155°F range. Ovens use more energy than dehydrators and don’t employ a fan to circulate air during the process.

I’ve even survived eaten jerky from Daddy’s DiY box fan dehydrator. Now you see where I get my tinkering skills!

Keep in mind, the USDA does not approve of DiY box fan or solar dehydrators. Fed Gov doesn’t approve of my eating lifestyle made up of 50% healthy fats either. Oh well… as always, do your due diligence before listening to me or anyone else.

An important note about jerking wild animal meat. Feral hogs, cougars, and bears have a tendency to host Trichinelle parasites. Salmonella and E.coli 0157:H7 have to be taken into account when making jerky too.

3 Safe Methods

According to research from my alma mater, the University of Georgia, there are 3 ways to kill the bad stuff in homemade jerky.

1.) (Easy) Post-heat the dehydrated jerky slices in a 275°F oven for 10 minutes. This is the method I use. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven.

2.) (Complicated) Pre-heat raw meat strips (un-marinated) in a hot brine/marinade mixture for about 2 minutes or until the meat reaches 160°F (165°F for poultry).  You could also bake the meat until it reaches the safe temps. You’ll need a thin tipped thermometer to test the meat with this method.

3.) (Domesticated Meat Only) Pre-soak the sliced meat in vinegar for 10 minutes. The combination of heat and vinegar kills pathogens in non-game meat.

Method 1 and 2 are effective in killing Trichinelle in wild game. The vinegar method (#3) is not as effective for wild game.

Scared yet? Don’t be. Just take safety precautions when making tasty jerky snacks.

Meat Prep

Since I’ve never tried to make ground jerky, these directions are for whole strips.

The Art of Making Jerky Safe in a Dehydrator

Slice uniformly for best results

Trim any visible fat or connective tissue off the meat. Cut your selected meat into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices between 5 to 10 inches in length. Freeze the meat until it becomes firm (not frozen solid) to make slices more uniform. I’ve found it challenging to slice meat straight out of the refrigerator – almost like trying to nail jello to a tree – even with a razor sharp knife. Or have your local butcher run it through a meat slicing machine.

Slicing along the grain of the meat produces a more chewy jerky. Cut across the grain for a tender product. Even thickness ensures consistent drying for all the meat.

Meat Marinade

How you season your jerky is up to your personal preference. There are many recipes online or you can make your own – which I did.

The Art of Making Jerky Safe in a Dehydrator

My marinade ingredients

After cutting the meat into thin strips, add enough marinade to cover the meat in a food safe container . I use a gallon size zipper freezer bag. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavor. You can make a simple jerky by using only salt and pepper. I like my jerky to bite back.

Drying Time

Pre-heat your dehydrator on the max heat setting (155°F). Check the true temp with a cooking thermometer in the empty unit if you like.

Lay the marinated meat flat on the trays with enough room between the pieces for air flow. Close but not touching.

the-definitive-guide-to-dehydrating-jerky

The last tray!

This batch contained more marbled fat than I like. The oil in the fat won’t evaporate like other moisture. Too much fat in the meat can cause it to go rancid. Not a problem. It didn’t last long. There are only 4 strips left in the freezer.

Here’s a handy heating chart: Source

Drying Temperature Minimum drying time
125º F (52º C) 10 hours
135º F (57º C) 8 hours
145º F (63º C) 7 hours
155º F (68º C) 4 hours

Set a timer for 4 hours and go do some more stuff. Check the meat and temp of your dehydrator after the bell sounds. I ended up drying this batch for six hours. Again, drying times depend on your equipment and thickness of the slices.

Before removing the meat from the dehydrator, pre-heat the oven to 275°F. When the oven reaches temp, transfer the dried jerky to cookie sheets arranged without touching and post-heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on drying racks.

There’s a scientific way to check for dryness (aka – water activity) of jerky. But you need complicated equipment. I’m guessing you don’t have said equipment. If you did, your jerky should measure a water activity of 0.85 or less.

For the non-scientists among us, check the bendiness

Use the green twig method to check for dryness. Your jerky should bend and slightly crack like a green twig. The bark of the twig may break open when bent, but won’t snap in half like a dry twig. Not very scientific but you’ll see what I mean on your batch.

Packaging Jerky

Knowing this batch had more fat than I like, I placed them in quart sized zipper baggies after they were cooled to room temp. They were dated and stored 4 strips/bag in the freezer. One bag lasts me about a week for in between meal snacks at school. Dried fruit, nuts, and jerky ride in my bushcraft kit.

Properly dried jerky will last a couple of months at room temperature – some say longer. Store it in a food safe container in a dark, dry, cool place. Mason jars are good containers.

Do not pack it tightly. And no vacuum sealing – no matter how much you love your Food Saver. Store bought jerky gets away with vacuum packing by adding chemical preservatives to their product. Leave room for any residue moisture to transfer to drier areas of the jerky. If moisture collects inside the container at room temperature, your jerky is not dry enough.

Refrigerated, it will last even longer. Frozen jerky lasts for a year or more.

Now take your jerky and make some pemmican, another long-lasting, portable, stick-to-your-ribs survival food. Click this link for my Bread of the Wilderness (pemmican) tutorial. (Check the comments from Anne O. for some great tips on pemmican)

To safely salvage and preserve excess harvested meat, dehydrating is the way to go. I’ll let you know how my experiment goes with jerking meat caveman style. How hard can it be, right?

Also, if you haven’t joined the Doing the Stuff Network yet, there’s still room for those of you willing to trade theory for action!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. Trade theory for action and join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Best Prepper Practices: Add a 4th B to Your 3 B’s

by Todd Walker

Best practices exist in all endeavors –  sports, business, education, and… preparedness.

Best-Prepper-Practices-Add-a-4th-B-to-Your-3-B's

“Best” practice (BP) is used to describe a method that has consistently produced superior results over time compared to techniques yielding lessor outcomes. Methods of Doing the Stuff should change with new discoveries and better techniques.

Pleeeese, try to leave egos at the door to avoid holding on to less than best practices.

Ask ten preppers for their best food storage practice and you’ll likely get 11 different opinions. We’re an opinionated lot. No problem with opinions. But opinions are highly subjective. The aim here is to discuss stuff proven to work and can be applied by novice and experienced preppers.

Keep in mind that BP’s can and should be individualized to fit your situation. For instance, I don’t eat wheat and grain products. On rare occasions that I eat a slice of pizza, my body pays dearly. I store food that I eat now. Whatever your diet, some food storage is a best practice for preparedness.

Again, practicing the best method for Doing the Stuff of preparedness is our purpose here. We’re not covering all Best Practices in one post. We’ll discuss the first one today… the 4th B.

A good a place to start is at the beginning…

Discovering the online “prepper/survivalist” movement 7 years ago, I realized that I was one and had been for most of my life. I’d just never known what label to paste on the stuff I was doing. I’m still unsure. Maybe it’s my hatred for labels.

Labels aside, there are trillions of bytes of information floating through the preparedness community. At last count, I’ve devoured 2.39% of that mountain of data. I chew on the hay and spit out the sticks.

Searching for hay to chew on, I rarely find survival and prepper blogs mention health and fitness in their apocalyptic lists. This needs to change. I mostly find beans, bullets, and band aids – and lots of shiny objects to collect. DRG and I do a fair amount of stuff collecting too.

But…

Two years ago Dirt Road Girl’s cancer destroyed our best practice paradigm. Today, our #1 concern is staying healthy… in a sustainable fashion. This post was partly inspired by Dr. Dan Stickler (PaleoDoc) and his SurvivalBlog post when he stated…

“I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.”

Being able to use the other 3 B’s depends on how well we develop the 4th B… your Body. You’ll never regret focusing on the 4th B as a prep!

Best Practices to Build Your Body

1.) Destroy the Food Pyramid

Pyramids are built by slaves.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat. The obesity epidemic in America is directly linked to our government food pyramid. The problem is compounded by nutritional “experts” recommending food that the human body was never meant to consume.

Here’s a chart showing how the obesity epidemic is fueled by High Fructose Corn Syrup.

cornsyrup

Is your pantry filled with HFCS? Read my post on how dropping the F-bomb could save your live.

Owning years of stored food, guns, water filters, first aid supplies, and bug out bags won’t be of much use if you’re body shuts down from chronic disease.

Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure may “run” in your family. That fact doesn’t have to sentence you the same “fate.” There’s a better way…

Leave SADisease Behind 

  • Develop a lifestyle of eating what your body needs. Conventional nutritional wisdom promotes the Standard American Diet (SAD – Processed foods, sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup  – chemically created sweetener with little to no whole foods). Our bodies aren’t designed to ingest SAD stuff. SADiet leads to SADisease.
  • Stop counting calories! A calorie restricting diet is one more stressor your body and brain can’t afford. Starve your body and your brain goes into survival mode… to store fat.
  • Eat real food. Processed stuff imitating food leaves you overfed and under nourished.
  • Perimeter shopping. The interior isles of your grocery store are filled with boxes, bags, and cans with labels. You can try to pronounce the chemicals resembling food on the package only if your food has labels. If you can’t pronounce it, avoid it. Adopting this simple strategy alone can transform your health.
  • Nourish your noggin. Eat these excellent brain foods: Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast. Nuts – excellent for your grey matter. Check out the Brain Pyramid here.
  • Get to know your local farmers. Find farmers who produce naturally raise grass-fed animals, free-range poultry, and non-GMO fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a few resources to help you locate local food producers:

  1. Eat Wild
  2. Local Harvest
  3. Locally Grown

If you’d like, you can read more my nourishing thoughts here.

2.) Functional Fitness

Functionally fit means having the ability to be physically useful in everyday life and emergencies. This simply means be strong to be useful… or Be ready to go when the SHTF. 

Doing a set of B.O.B. pushups.

Doing a set of B.O.B. push ups.

Being active and exercising are different. Both are important in becoming functionally fit.

But here’s the distinction…

Exercise should be performed in brief, intense sessions with a purpose in mind. Walking the dog, hiking, cycling, and chasing your 2 year-old is not exercise. These activities fail to meet the requirement of brief and intense. You may be thinking I haven’t met your toddler!

You’re right. I haven’t.

These are all activities that keep you moving and helps pump toxins out of your body – an important part of optimal health. Do activities you enjoy that keeps you moving regularly a minimum of 2 hours per week.

Workout Hacks

More exercise doesn’t mean better. Whether exercising at a gym or not, you should learn hacks that save time and pain while maximizing benefits. Don’t have time (or money) for a gym membership? Me either… but I manage to stay fit.

Here’s my top shortcuts to functional fitness:

a.) Use your body weight: An intense, short session of push ups, squats, and pull-ups works all muscle groups. Lifting heavy stuff adds lean muscle mass – very important for those of us on the backside of 40. Another plus is that you can lift your body weight most any place. No gym required. (1-3 times per week)

b.) Max Out (Sprint): Skip your long slow run and do a 10 minute sprint session. You’ll only need to do this once every week to ten days. Your done in 10 minutes or less. My advise is to take it slow and build up to max effort.

c.) Keep moving at a slow pace: This one goes back to being active; hiking, walking, dancing, swimming, and chasing your toddler. (2-5 hours per week)

d.) Be consistent: Practice doing the stuff for your body – Splitting firewood without hydraulic machinery, carrying heavy stuff (safely), taking the stairs (with leaps and bounds), walking a mile with your bug out bag, etc. 

e.) Be safe: Consult your physician before starting a new program. Learn proper technique. Monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. 

If you made it to this point in the article, there’s hope no matter the condition of your body. Even if the term “push-up” automatically means the frozen push up treat in your mind, no worries, you can redesign your body and survivability with simple lifestyle changes. I said it’s simple, not always easy. But totally worth the effort!

Is adding the 4th B on your Best Practices radar? If so, we’d like to know how you’re doing the stuff for your body. 

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

P.S. – You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your  vote on the “Top Prepper Sites“! You can vote daily by clicking here. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there. 

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

My Top 10 Foods I’d Hate to Survive Without

by Todd Walker

Here’s the scene.

The inevitable happened. The world as we know it has ended. Trucks, planes, and trains stop unloading their goodies. The fragile power grid gives up the ghost. You and yours are as prepared as one can be to ride out the initial stage of the apocalyptic storm that’s raining zombies.

You’re cut off from other people and can’t barter for food. You’ve got shelter, water, first aid, and security measures in place. Now for the food.

Indulge me in my obvious futuristic mind experiment for a moment.

SONY DSC

 

Image Source

You’ve acquired a top-secret, new technology – the 3D Food Printer. This machine has the capacity to create a year’s worth of food for your family. Once you press ‘print,’ that’s your food choices for one year. Oh yea, you can press the button daily to ensure food freshness. There’s no limit on what you can program the machine to produce.

But – here’s the catch. You only get to choose 10 food items.

What 10 food items would you ‘print’ to help you thrive, not just survive for one year?

Here’s a few guidelines if you want to play along.

  • Have fun with your list. No justification needed :)
  • No food rules! Just ‘print’ your top 10 foods list in the comment section.

My Top 10 Foods I Would Hate to Survive Without

My dream list contains foods I eat in my Primal Lifestyle. Yours may differ (see #2 above). The choices are difficult. When choosing, I wanted to incorporate the pleasure of taste, nutrition profile, and comfort my food provides.

A.) Grass-fed beef filet mignon

We buy the whole filet and I cut it into steaks to freeze. When get the urge to eat steak, nothing beats a nutrient dense, naturally raised cow steak!

B.) Wild-Caught Salmon

Dirt Road Girl and I just enjoyed her rocking salmon recipe last night! I’d program the 3D machine to print the skin-on variety. Loads of good omega-3s with every flaky bite. Plus, I’d crisp up the skin in a cast iron skillet for salmon bacon!

C.) Kale

Kale, unlike its cousin Brussels sprouts, is actually edible and quite tasty. It also provides essential vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, B6, E, manganese, potassium, calcium, and fiber).

D.) Free-range Eggs

With so many ways to prepare these nutrient-rich bombs, I’ve yet to find an egg I didn’t like! There full of essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins (more so than kale), iodine, and many other nutrients.

E.) Sweet Potatoes

I prefer these to regular potatoes. They offer some starch carbs, but not as much as plain old potatoes.

F.) Raw Heavy Cream

From grass-fed happy cows, of course. This goes on my kale recipe, in my coffee, and as an added bonus, gives me the ability to make butter, cream cheese, cheese, and yogurt. Redundancy!

G.) Coconut Oil

Here’s a 160 reasons why! ‘Nough said.

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry!

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry! Image courtesy of The Organic Prepper

H.) Cashews

How could I not ‘print’ a daily dose of these buttery nuts. I go through at least a handful a day. I also mix in almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, and sunflower nuts. But cashews are my go-to snack.

I.) High Cocoa Content Dark Chocolate with Almond Butter Spread

I know. I’m cheating with two items at once. But that’s how I eat my dark chocolate semi-regularly. My little dark indulgence has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and satisfy cravings world-wide. A great comfort food while you’re waiting for the apocalypse to pass.

J.) Wild Blueberries

Packed with anti-oxidant powers and vitamins, this is my favorite fruit! Being from the Peach State, I worked in peach packing sheds growing up and love peaches. But I’d ‘print’ blueberries for their nutrient profile.

I struggled over swapping the dark chocolate for a dusty bottle of Pinot Noir. I settled on the chocolate/almond butter. But given one more item, I’d add me some wine with my chocolate!

Your turn. What 10 foods would you program to ‘print’ to help you survive and thrive for one year? List them in the comment section below!

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ Please share our stuff! If anything from our site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and Facebook

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form for non-commercial purposes, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. All embedded links in our posts must stay intact if you wish to repost our material. If you are interested in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The 4 Standards of SmartPrepper’s Nutrition Plan

by Todd Walker

Part 3a in our series – The Essential Pillars of Preparedness for SmartPreppers

Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

[In Part 3a, I felt the need to supplement Part 3 with the 4 essential standards of any SmartPrepper’s healthy nutrition plan]

Six pack abs are built in the kitchen – not the gym.

The 4 Standards of SmartPrepper's Nutrition Plan

Training time in the kitchen pays off! Image Source

This is not a tutorial on how to build sculpted Spartan abs. However, if that’s your goal, spend more time prepping in the kitchen than over-training in the gym.

Here’s the thing.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat!

You won’t reach optimal health or survival without feeding your body good stuff. Could you survive eating processed junk? Yes – for a while. But eventually your SADiet (Standard American Diet) food choices will turn into SADisease (Standard American Disease).

Here are the main SADiseases linked to the SADiet: obesity, type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, and over 30% of cancers. Consuming processed food (chemicals resembling food) is the best path to leaving the land of the living.

That’s the SAD news.

Here’s the GOOD news – SADisease is completely preventable – even reversible!

Making simple chances to your eating pattern can prevent you from being a SADisease statistic. Knowledge is empowering. But only if you take action and start Doing the Stuff for optimal health.

Part of Doing the Stuff is practicing skills before a crisis occurs. We call it Preventative Prepping. You can apply the same principle nutritionally to prevent SADisease and reach optimal health.

Healthy nutrition is not only an essential pillar of preparedness, it’s the foundation upon which all other pillars rest. Nutritional professionals, aided by Big Agra and corrupt corporations, have successfully demonized what your body needs to thrive before and after any crisis.

So, what does a ‘healthy’ nutrition plan look like?

A SmartPrepper’s nutrition plan should include these 4 standards 

1.) Nourishes your body

Avoid processed foods. You can only read food labels if your food is pre-package. Eat what your body needs to thrive. Most packaged, processed foods don’t meet this standard and leave you overfed and under nourished. Instead of eating chemicals resembling food, feed your body real, whole foods like these ….

  • Naturally raised animals
  • Plants
  • Nuts
  • Free-range eggs
  • Healthy fats – butter from grass-fed animals, coconut oil, nuts, to name a few (if you’re fat, you’re not eating enough fat)
  • Fermented foods gets your gut flora in shape

2.) Recharge your brain batteries

Here’s a study suggesting that eating foods rich in vitamin B12 will keep your brain from shrinking and stave off dementia. Meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk should be part of your balanced nutrition plan. Liver and shellfish are your best bet for boosting your B12 intake – especially for senior preppers. 

More smart foods that nourish your noggin:

  • Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast.
  • Nuts – excellent for your grey matter
  • Check out the Brain Pyramid here

3.) Feeling full

Does your food satisfy your body and kill hunger? If an hour passes and you’re hungry again after eating, it’s a good chance you’re not feeding your body what it needs to stay satiated. High carb, sugary meals may be the culprit.

Eat from the list on #1 above. Quality, saturated fat is the key to feeling full.

4.) Peak physical performance

Eat a diet of happy animals who ate a healthy, natural diet, plenty of green, leafy plants, and listen to what your body tells you. You body is a high-performance machine. Treat it that way.

Take action, analyze, and adjust to how your body reacts to the fuel you feed it. Action is the first step.

These are the four standards to keep in mind when making your grocery list and food storage plan. You may think this is not realistic for long-term storage. If you’d like, you can take a peek at my Primal Pantry here.

This is not a fad diet. It must become a lifestyle. Once you begin your journey to food freedom and healthy nutrition, you’ll begin to see positive results. Eating healthy stops being something you have to do and become something you love to do.

You’re plan doesn’t have to be perfect. The key is to start and make this a lifestyle change. It gets easier the more you do the stuff.

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ Please share our stuff! If anything from our site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and Facebook

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form for non-commercial purposes, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. All embedded links in our posts must stay intact if you wish to repost our material. If you are interested in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Food Storage, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

by Todd Walker

What I’m about to share is ‘Dirt Road Girl’ approved!

When Stacy Harris sent me her new book to review, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, before I could get my hands on it, DRG snagged it and wouldn’t put it down. She immediately performed her sniff test ritual. She opened the book, plants her face between the pages, and inhales deeply. Congrats Stacy! Your book passed DRG’s sniff test with flying colors!

Image

Our first impressions of Stacy’s new book were high quality, glossy pages with excellent photos of food, recipes, family, and sustainable practices for self-sufficient living. It’s good that the pages are high gloss since I began drooling by just looking at the food photos and recipes.

Stacy’s passion for growing heirloom plants and animals that are natural, pesticide, hormone, genetically modified free is clear. And she’s able to cook for a family of 9 from her heirloom garden, pastured animals, and wild game. Very inspiring!

The tips for sustainable living are mixed in throughout the book. One of my favorites is on page 88 – The Perfect Boiled Egg.

“To determine the age of eggs, place eggs in about five inches of water. If the egg lays flat on the bottom it is very fresh and is good for baking and poaching; it the egg tilts on the bottom it is about 10 days old and is great for boiling; if it floats throw it out.”

There’s also tips on foraging wild foods, beekeeping, seed saving, and other self-reliant skills. The tips aren’t going to teach you everything you need to know about sustainable living, but they will motivate you on your journey.

Being an avid hunter and fisherman myself, I loved the ‘Woods and Water’ section of Stacy’s book! I’m always happy to try new recipes for venison, wild turkey, duck, quail, small game, and seafood and fish. Even if you don’t harvest wild fish and game, she provides a substitution page to incorporate domesticated animals for recipes to please everyone.

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

10 slices of bacon on Stuffed Venison Meatloaf – perfect!

A note to my Primal/Paleo readers – a few of the baking recipes call for sugar and flour. You can easily substitute for these if you wish and still enjoy the goodness of these traditional home cooked recipes.

Reading Stacy’s story and new cookbook will inspire you to take your next step towards personal freedom and sustainable living. All while eating the best prepared foods on the planet!

You can also connect with Stacy on her blog, Game and Garden, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Special Announcement: Congratulations to Stephanie G. on winning an autographed copy of Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living from our Reader Appreciation Fall Giveaway! We appreciate everyone’s continued support of our blog as we continue Doing the Stuff of self-sufficiency and preparedness together!

Keep doing the stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ Thanks for sharing the stuff! You can connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Gardening, Homesteading, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Regular Folk Taking the Doing The Stuff Challenge

by Todd Walker

Inspiration comes from perspiration. Thought I’d share a few of our fellow Sherpa’s projects.

1.) Crunchy Mama shared with me that her son has begun making paracord survival bracelets. He’s a little entrepreneur. I’ve offered to send her a paracord jig that makes creating bracelets very easy. (Sorry, I don’t have permission to post pics yet)

2.) Here’s a look at Caroline Cooper’s homemade medical kit.

medical kit Healthy Household: Homemade Medical Kits

3.) MI Patriot made these tomato ladders. The ladders are painted primary colors and are very functional. DRG and I just took ours down last week, folded them up, and stored them for next season.

Todd's Tomato Ladders in primary colors

Primary colored tomato ladders

4.) One of my new friends on FB, Perky Prepping Gramma, is learning how to reload ammunition. Check her out. She’s a doing the stuff machine!

 

What new skills are you learning?

Let me know and we’ll add them to our growing Doing The Stuff List! You can submit photos to me via email (survivalsherpa at gmail dot com) or send me a link if you have it published on a blog with permission to reprint it here.

The projects should be relevant to general preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, wilderness survival, self-defense/security, wild food foraging, real food, functional fitness, and self-reliance. I’ve never done a contest with prizes on our site but I’m considering it for a Doing the Stuff Challenge.

What do you think? Interested? If there’s enough interest, I’ll get it organized and started. Let me know.

In the mean time,

Keep doing the stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ DRG and I got our daughter and grandson moved into their new place this weekend. Feeling more secure. Met several of her new neighbors. One of her next door neighbors is an old friend of mine! In case you missed it, you can read about her recent break in here.

P.P.S. ~ As always, if anything from this site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page.

Any information on this site may be shared freely, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self Defense, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Rendering Tallow for Cooking and 12 Other Uses

by Todd Walker

Rendering the fat of animals (beef, sheep, bear, deer, and poultry) is a process that produces tallow. Lard is pig fat that has been rendered. Since I don’t have a source of pastured pig fat, I use grass-fed beef fat. My butcher at our local Earth Fare market freezes grass-fed beef fat just for me. Just picked up 8 more pounds yesterday. I’m now known as the ‘fat man’ every time I walk by their meat counter.

Finding Healthy Fat

Don’t expect to find grass-fed beef fat at big chain supermarkets. I’ve not had success dealing with the big boys. If you don’t have a store that sells grass-fed animals, local farmers may be an option. Of course, the animals need to be raised naturally – not factory farmed.

Here’s a couple of resources that will ship omega 3 and CLA-rich grass-fed tallow to your door!

Why grass-fed, free-range, and naturally raised? Factory farmed animals are pumped with hormones, fed chemicals, and are just not happy animals. Just ask them. If you use tallow for cooking or skin care, you want the best quality fat you can find.

If the thought of eating tallow is disgusting to your delicate sensitivities or eating style, consider the many other uses for animal fat.

12 Non-Cooking Uses for Tallow

1. Cooking is the most obvious use at our home. Tallow has a high smoke point (420 degrees) making it an excellent oil for frying foods. This means you can fry on higher heats without creating free radicals in the oil which is a concern with vegetable oils.

2. Skin care – Saturated animal fat (tallow) was used for beauty products back before the low-fat myth became ‘truth.’ Your grandma and grandpa likely used it to heal cracked, dry hands and as a moisturizer.

Tallow is biologically compatible with our bodies largest organ, our skin. Animal fat contains vitamins A, D, K, and E.

Tallow (especially tallow from grass-fed animals) also contains fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as palmitoleic acid, which has natural antimicrobial properties. – Source

3. Lubricate stuff, like the proverbial squeaky wheel. Tallow greases moving parts but is resistant to water. Steam engines and ships uses tallow for many years to keep things running smoothly.

4. Flux for soldering.

5. Leather conditioner.

6. Soap making. The best shaving bars are made from tallow.

7. Candle making. Can’t make a traditional candle? Improvise by placing tallow in a container with a piece of cotton clothe in emergencies.

8. Biodegradable motor oil.

9. Deer tallow is preferred by German athletes to make a salve to prevent sore skin and blisters.

10. Biodiesel. Tallow can be used like plant-based material to produce diesel.

11. Make your own pemmican.

12. Pastry baking.

13. Lubricate muskets and rifles.

If you’re wondering, here are some nutrition facts about this healthy fat:

Nutrition

 

The DiY Rendering Process

Step 1: Trim the grass-fed beef (or other animal fat). You want to get all the red meat off the fat.

Step 2: Cut into small squares. The smaller the cuts, the more surface area is exposed. I did this cutting twice. Then, in a stroke of SmartPrepper brilliance, I pulled out my meat grinder. Now I just stuff the trimmed fat into the meat grinder and collect it my cast iron pan.

Way faster and creates more surface area!

Way faster and creates more surface area!

Step 3: Load your cut or ground fat into a pan or cooking container. I use a large cast iron skillet. Be careful not to overload the pan with fat. It will cook down. But you don’t want to have to transfer hot tallow if it’s up to the lip of your container.

Step 4: Heat your pan of fat on low heat. I shoot for 200-250 degrees. I set up in my outdoor kitchen. My turkey fryer is my heat source. You can use your stove if you don’t mind smelling up your house a bit. It ain’t as bad as cooking chitlins. Still, a distinctive odor.

Almost ready.

Almost ready.

As I’m typing this, I’m thinking I could use my Big Green Egg on my next batch. It’s so easy to control the temp – set it, and forget it!

Step 5: Stir the fat occasionally just make sure it doesn’t sick to the bottom of your pan. You’ll notice liquid starting to collect in the pan. If it begins to smoke, you’re burning fat and not rendering it. Turn down the heat.

Step 6: Once you notice the fat turning a dark brown (think crispy bacon), you’re done. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for a while. If it cools to room temp, you’ll have to reheat to liquefy for pouring.

Step 7: Once it’s cooled down a bit, pour the contents through a fine mesh strainer. You can add cheese cloth to the strainer to catch even smaller pieces. I’ve stored tallow in wide mouth mason jars. We go through tallow pretty quickly around here. Mostly, we just pour it up in a few two-quart containers and place them in the fridge. Tallow can be stored in the freezer as well.

Oxidation can cause the tallow to go rancid. From what I’ve read and followed myself, rendering the water out of the tallow prevents the oxidation to occur. To be on the safe side, we store ours in the fridge.

I’ve read of other methods of rendering tallow by using a slow cookers. Never tried it.

Any of you rendered tallow or lard in a different way? I’m always interested in learning new ways. Drop your method in the comments if you’d like.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Natural Health, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

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