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Prepping Survival Food for Long Term Storage

In this article we talk about prepping your survival food for long term storage. We explain what you need to look for to identify the “bad apples” - literally!

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When it comes to long term survival food preservation, you have a lot of options to work with. 

You can dehydrate, ferment, can, freeze, freeze dry, or use cold storage to extend the shelf life of your food and guarantee food security for your family in times of crisis. 

Whether you are harvesting crops from your survival garden, bartering with another local farmer, or taking advantage of a great sale by purchasing bulk quantities of food - you want to know that the food you acquire is appropriate for putting up.

In this article, we'll talk about prepping your survival food for long term storage.  We’ll explain what you need to look for to identify the “bad apples,” so to speak. 

Knowing how to recognize which foods will work for the different kinds of long term storage is an important part of survival food preservation. 

By careful examination of the food you want to put up, you can avoid accidental spoilage and the loss of money, time, and effort.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2024-06-18 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Inspecting Your Survival Food

The simple step of inspecting your food and making sure that it is fresh and undamaged will help to assure success in your survival food preservation efforts! With this one simple step, you can avoid a lot of wasted effort.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when prepping your survival food for long term storage.

Already know what to do with your food before preserving it? Then jump right into our comprehensive guide for survival food preservation methods.

Crops and vegetables from a survival garden

Prepping Meat, Fish, Poultry

Meat, fish, and poultry need to be processed quickly or you risk losing it to rot.

In times of crisis you will need to be wary of buying or bartering unidentifiable cuts of meat. Let your senses guide you.

You should notice no off smell or odors that don't quite seem right.  For fish, it will smell like ammonia. For other meats, it will smell like rot or rancid fats. Trust your instincts!

Any animal flesh that has colored spots should be cut off (with a wide margin) and discarded.  Look for purple, bluish, green, brown, or white spots on every piece of meat you process. If there are a lot of discolored areas, you might want to consider the meat a loss.

For fish, avoid those which have deeply sunken eyes, especially if they haven’t been gutted.

Prepping Cereals, Grains, and Beans

If you are purchasing or bartering for a large quantity of these essential survival foods you will need to inspect them carefully.  If the food is not apt for storing, you might end up wasting your time and energy.

Whole grains should smell slightly sweet.  If they smell oily, they’ve started to go off.

Inspect the food for evidence of bugs.  This may look like little bites (which shouldn't be confused with perfectly normal broken grains or beans) or little boreholes drilled into them.  If you actually see bugs, you know that the grain is past its prime.

If beans have a slight ammonia smell, they are rancid.

When properly dried down these foods have an exceptionally long shelf life when stored correctly. When poorly dried or bug infested, they are a disaster for long term storage. 

Prepping Nuts

Nuts are an amazing survival food because they provide invaluable fats and proteins to your diet.  They can also be stored for long periods (some longer than others).

Each variety will also have its own manner of processing for long term storage.  Do your research to know the exact process for the type of nut you plan on preserving for long term storage.

Don’t immediately discard nuts with a rotten smelling hull.  This is somewhat normal.  However, if the inner shell is rotten or bug bitten, toss it.

Stockpile foods with jars of pickled vegetables and fruits

Inspecting Root Crops

There are so many ways to ‘put up’ root crops.  Deciding which method of traditional food preservation you will use starts with making an inspection of the crops. 

First, you need to get most of the dirt off of the roots. You can either hose them down or do a dry brushing of each piece.

Rotten root veggies have a very distinct smell - some worse than others (radishes and turnips are particularly awful).  Rot may not be immediately visible.  Take the time to track down any offending produce.

Look for soft dark spots that indicate rot.  Mold may also be visible. Check each root for boreholes from bugs, and splitting. Also, look for broken skins.  All roots should also be firm to the touch.

For potatoes, separate the green spuds.  Those are dangerous to eat. You don't need to immediately toss out split, bug eaten, or otherwise damaged roots. These can be cut clean to be used for immediate consumption or processing.

As you inspect your root crops, sort them accordingly depending on the method you plan to preserve them with.


Prepping Fruit

You’ve most likely heard the saying that “one bad apple ruins the bunch”.  That saying exists for a reason.  Just like root crops, you need to inspect the fruit you plan to preserve and sort it according to your planned preservation method.

The fruit should not smell rotten or even slightly fermented.  If it does, toss it to the animals or the compost. Look for any evidence of bugs, bruises, or broken skins. 

Bug bitten fruit can easily be used in traditional food preservation methods like canning or dehydrating while only blemish-free fruits should be prepared for long term cold storage.

Handful of mushrooms from urban foraging

Inspecting Other Veggies, Leafy Greens, Spices, and Medicinals

Make sure you are harvesting or purchasing these crops at their peak of ripeness. Immediately process them for long term storage. 

Check for bug damage, wilting, signs of rot, and other viral or bacterial diseases infecting the leaves.

Use your judgment on what can be cut off, peeled away, and saved for processing.

Prepping Mushrooms and Edible Fungi

Mushrooms are one of the best survival foods available! Certain varieties can be easily grown in both urban, suburban, and rural survival gardens. Otherwise, these can easily be foraged in natural areas.

Mushrooms are a rich source of b vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals.  Certain mushrooms are even considered medicinal.

When you are inspecting your mushrooms for long term preservation, remember that mushrooms have a rich earthy smell.  Some may even smell meaty. They should be firm and smooth skinned.

Avoid mushrooms that are slimy, wrinkled (unless they should be), soggy, or show evidence of bug infestation.

If you would like to learn more about growing your own survival food and prepping for when SHTF, check out our guides on how to start a survival garden, an urban survival garden and the essential homesteading tools that will help you.

Prepping Survival Food For Preservation FAQs

If I notice bugs or weevils in my grains or rice, do I need to throw it away?

It depends.  If you have a serious infestation, that might be the best bet.  You can tell if it is serious by the number of destroyed grains and dusty powder in the container it's stored in.

If you only see a bug or two but the grains or beans seem to be in good shape otherwise, you can probably get away with ‘curing’ the food and resealing it in a new container. 

Do this by spreading out the food on a tray and placing it in an oven heated to 200 degrees for an hour and a half.  This will kill off all bugs and, most importantly, their larvae.   Be sure to wash the grains well before using them.  Try to consume this food sooner than later.

Store Your Survival Food For Long Term!

So now that you know how to prep your survival food for long term storage, get to it!  If you don't know where to start, be sure to check out our complete guide to survival food preservation.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a well-stocked root cellar or a pantry full of colorful mason jars packed with homemade goodness. 

The only thing better is actually eating that food you prepped and worked so hard to put by. 

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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