Preppers need to be a bit thick skinned, as most of the public looks at us with smug amusement. For example during a recent medical visit we were making small talk about how we had spent the past weekend.
“I was canning venison,” I said.
That brought a little smile of superiority to my health care provider. “Who does that anymore,” he asked quite smugly.
“I do,” I replied. “So do millions of other smart people.”
“I doubt it,” he condescendingly replied.
So I changed the subject.
I learned a long time ago that those types of useful idiots, with their total trust in the system, are a lost cause. He is good at his job, but delusional about what is going on in the world. He will keep voting for his own destruction and doing nothing to prepare for its eventuality. I know this guy well enough to understand that if there is a collapse he and his family will not last long.
As a prepper there is no point in worrying about people like that. It’s better to just stick to your plan and carry on. For those enlightened souls who realize that personal safety is our own responsibility, canning is a great way to preserve food.
Our grandparents and parents knew that. I can remember my mother and my aunts preserving the wild berries and fruit they had picked. They also canned the extra vegetables from the gardens they grew. I am a hunter and a meat guy so I got into it as an alternative way to preserve wild game.
Canning is a great way to feed your family with food that is not over processed and full of chemicals. It’s also a way to preserve food for storage when the electricity goes away. We almost universally use freezers now, but what happens when the power goes out? I have a generator to keep the food in my freezers frozen, at least as long as gasoline holds out. If I run out of gas, I will be faced with hundreds of pounds of soggy, spoiling food, but canned food will keep on the shelf for a year or longer without refrigeration.
The tenants of survival are the three “Bs,” beans, band aids and bullets. In short you need to stay healthy, have enough food and have the means to protect what you have. When it comes to food, long term storage is the issue. I don’t want to live off MREs and your stores of freeze dried food and other food will run out sooner or later anyway. You need to plan for long term. That means having multiple ways to preserve food as it becomes available. In that light, shouldn’t canning be part of your survival plan?
To preserve any low acid food like meat you must use a pressure cooker. The reason is simple. At sea level water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the elevation, the lower the boiling temperature. At 5,000 feet of elevation the boiling point is down to 203 degrees. Even at sea level, 212 degrees is not hot enough to kill all the bad stuff that makes food spoil. A pressure cooker is a sealed unit that builds and holds steam pressure at a set point, usually 10 or 15 pounds. This increases the sea level boiling temperature for water to 240 degrees for ten pounds and 250 degrees for 15 pounds of pressure. The rise in temperature insures that all the little bugs and germs that live in any food are killed off. Done right, the canning jars will seal and create a vacuum as they cool so that nothing bad can enter. The food is cooked, but it’s also sterilized. Without bacterial spores or other critters to multiply and spoil the food, it stays preserved and safe.
Canning is really pretty simple and easy to do. There seems to be a bit of mystery and lots of tales of warning about it circulating around. Enough so that first time I tried it I was convinced I was doing something wrong because it was too easy. But I wasn’t. It is that easy. Just follow the rules, keep it clean and you end up with safely preserved food. The great thing is that you can do this in a survival situation using just about any controllable heat source.
When I was ready to buy a pressure canner I found that there is a wide variation of designs and quality on the market. But every time I started looking for the best, the road ended at the All American Pressure Canner.
This is the only American made pressure canner and that has to count for something. It’s been manufactured since 1930 by a family owned company in Manitowoc, WI. The Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry started back in 1909. They are one of the largest non-ferrous foundries in North America. They make castings for John Deere, CAT, Harley Davidson, Mercury Marine, Phillips Medical and much more. Their pressure canners are made the way we used to make things in America, heavy, solid and precise. The pressure canners are made to last not a lifetime, but for generations. This is the only canner that doesn’t use a gasket and it has an exclusive metal-to-metal seal. Think about it, where will you get spare gaskets after the world falls apart? The only thing that can fail on this is the pressure indicator gauge. But it’s redundant and not necessary. The pressure is controlled by a weight. The truth is, this canner will last longer than you will. It’s more expensive than the cheap imported canners, but you get what you pay for. If the world falls apart you will be using the canner a lot and finding a replacement for a broken, cheap imported canner will be impossible. I learned a long time ago that if you buy high quality tools, you only need to buy them once.
You will also need jars, lids and screw-on bands. So part of your prepping should be laying in a good supply. The jars and bands are reusable, but the lids are not. They are not expensive and if you have extra they will be good barter.
It’s also a good idea to pick up a few books on canning. Not only do they explain the process, but most are full of good recipes. Some are very simple and basic while others are more elaborate. You may not be able to get anything on line in a survival situation, so having dead tree – hard copy books on your shelf is the way to go.
For canning meat the recipe calls for meat and salt, but the salt is optional. The bottom line is I can preserve venison or other meats with no other needed ingredients. That’s about as basic as it gets for survival.