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Dehydrating Frozen Vegetables

March is Frozen Food Month and frozen vegetables will be on sale at stock up prices.  Now is the time to learn how easy dehydrating frozen vegetables is!

Dehydrating frozen vegetables is the perfect project for the beginning simple prepper. Save Time. Save Money. Save Space as you build your food storage. Your dehydrator is about to become your best friend as you work to stockpile vegetables for your pantry.

Why You Should Be Dehydrating Frozen Vegetables

    • Unless you have a really big garden, dehydrating frozen vegetables is much cheaper than buying fresh, and you can dehydrate frozen vegetables year round.
    • Dehydrating frozen vegetables requires no washing, peeling, slicing, chopping, or blanching,  saving you a lot of time.
    • Needs less room (much less!) for storage!Dehydrating frozen vegetables is the perfect project for the beginning simple prepper. Save Time. Save Money. Save Space as you build your food storage. Your dehydrator is about to become your best friend as you work to stockpile vegetables for your pantry.

Dehydrators

I use an Excalibur Dehydrator, and love it.  I also own a Nesco dehydrator, which is much cheaper and works really well for dehydrating frozen vegetables.   You can quickly and easily recoup  the cost of both of these dehydrators in just a few months of dehydrating your own fruits and veggies.

Dehydrators can often be found at yard sales, but so far the ones I have come across are usually missing most of the trays, or the trays and sometimes the motors are so covered in hardened gunk, that I pass them up.  But keep your eyes open for dehydrators at yard sales and thrift shops, as your luck may be better than mine!

Dehydrating frozen vegetables is the perfect project for the beginning simple prepper. Save Time. Save Money. Save Space as you build your food storage. Your dehydrator is about to become your best friend as you work to stockpile vegetables for your pantry.

Dehydrating frozen vegetables is the perfect project for the beginning simple prepper. Save Time. Save Money. Save Space as you build your food storage. Your dehydrator is about to become your best friend as you work to stockpile vegetables for your pantry.

How To Dehydrate Frozen Vegetables

Simply spread out the mixed veggies on the dehydrator trays. I didn’t worry that the pieces were touching, I knew they would shrink as they dried and it wouldn’t be an issue. As a matter of fact, my one POUND bag of veggies shrunk down to 3/4 of a cup!

I dehydrated these @125 degrees and they took about 10 hours. Please look at your dehydrator model to see what temperature is correct for your machine. The time to dehydrate will always depend on the humidity in the room where you are dehydrating.

Dehydrating frozen vegetables is the perfect project for the beginning simple prepper. Save Time. Save Money. Save Space as you build your food storage. Your dehydrator is about to become your best friend as you work to stockpile vegetables for your pantry.

Storing Dehydrated Frozen Vegetables

Now that you have a batch of inexpensive dehydrated frozen vegetables, you’ll need to store them properly. Here’s where a Food Saver comes in so handy!

My favorite way to store my dehydrated vegetables is to pour them into a wide mouth canning jar, and using the mason jar sealer accessory, vacuum seal the jar. You won’t need a ring for this, the vacuum sealing will securely keep the lid on.

Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars

The wide mouth vacuum accessory from Food Saver makes it so easy to vaccum seal items in wide mouth mason jars!

This method will keep your dehydrated goodness fresh for at least a year. It’s always a good idea to check your lid seals every six months or so, to make sure it’s still up to snuff. Simply press on the middle of the lid, if the lid gives and makes a popping sound, you seal is no longer good.

If you would like to add a little more ‘insurance’ this storage method, you can add an oxygen absorber to your jar before you vacuum seal it. I do this quite often.

Tip:  If you would like a bit more in depth description of how to use a Food Saver to vacuum seal canning jars, take a look at this video.

Dehydrating frozen vegetables is the perfect project for the beginning simple prepper. Save Time. Save Money. Save Space as you build your food storage. Your dehydrator is about to become your best friend as you work to stockpile vegetables for your pantry.

What To Do With Dehydrated Frozen Vegetables

  • Add a handful or two to soups or stews. Perfect for crockpot cooks!
  • Add some to a blender and turn them into a veggie powder. This powder can then be added to all sorts of things you’d like to up the nutritional value of.
  • Smoothies!
  • Use for camping and hiking trips.

LOVE the idea of having veggies and fruits in your long term food storage as a hedge against inflation and emergencies? We’ve got you covered! Thrive carries a wide variety of freeze dried foods for this very reason!

So, which frozen vegetable will you be dehydrating first?

Politics and Prepping: The Rising Cost of Produce

Understanding the relationship between politics and the economy is an important Prepper skill to develop.  It allows you to prepare in advance for the rising cost of produce items we rely on daily.

Paying For A Wall Between The U.S. and Mexico

Let’s take President Trump’s proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico. You know, the one Mexico is supposedly paying for? The one that for all intents and purposes might really  be paid for by a 20% tax on what American’s import from Mexico?

Now whether you are in favor of a wall or hate the idea, isn’t the issue.

The issue is a potential 20% increase of everything you purchase that crosses that boarder.

Understanding the relationship between politics and the economy will give you the opportunity to prepare for rising costs. As President Trump moves forward with building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, rising produce costs are becoming a reality. Make sure your food storage and budget doesn't take a hit with these strategies for prepping against the rising cost of your favorite fruits and vegetables.

What Does The U.S. Import From Mexico?

In 2015 alone, the U.S. imported over $295 BILLION dollars worth of products from Mexico, according to government trade data. From cars to car parts, to electrical machinery and oil.  $2.4 billion worth of apparel.  $1.9 Billion in beer and tequila.

What really has my attention is the amount of of vegetables, fruit and nuts we import from Mexico.  $5.5 billion of vegetables and $3.9 billion of fruit and nuts.  All to potentially be subjected to a %20 price increase.

Bananas and Mangoes

Consider the products we simply can’t grow here such as bananas and mangoes. And then consider what other countries might do to block U.S. exports in retaliation.

And what about the fresh fruits and vegetables we depend on during the winter months? Where do we get a great deal of those? Yup. Mexico.

Can Your Grocery Budget Handle The Increase?

Did I mention the amount of tomatoes and avocados we import from Mexico? 78% of our avocados and 71% of our tomatoes according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  And it not just avocados and tomatoes either.   Herbs, spinach and lettuce make their way across the border to our tables every day.

Finally, according to Forbes, the restaurant industry is already seeing their stocks fall on the fears of increased food costs.

 

Understanding the relationship between politics and the economy will give you the opportunity to prepare for rising costs. As President Trump moves forward with building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, rising produce costs are becoming a reality. Make sure your food storage and budget doesn't take a hit with these strategies for prepping against the rising cost of your favorite fruits and vegetables. How To Prepare For The Rising Cost Of Produce

Learn to grow your own.  Now is the perfect time to learn what grows in your area and how to start your own seeds indoors.   Growing your own food helps to tremendously off set the rising cost of produce.

As the season progresses we at Simply Preparing will help walk you through the basics of getting your first garden up and growing!

Learn how to preserve your own food.   It’s easier than you think.  I promise.

Dehydrating.  With just a few simple pieces of equipment you can dehydrate and store fruit and vegetables long term.  One of my favorite resources for dehydrating is the book, Dehydrate2Store by Tammy Gangloff.

Another excellent storage option is to freeze your bounty.   Did you know you can freeze avocados?  Yup! I have a freezer full of frozen avocados for my son’s blenderized diet and my guacamole addiction!

Carolyn Humphries book, How To Freeze Fresh Food At Home is a great book for beginners wanting to learn how to freeze foods.

Prepping With Freeze Dried Food.

Let’s face it.  With or without a wall between us and Mexico, food prices are only going higher and higher.  This is where the real value of freeze dried foods come in.  With up to a 25 year shelf life.  Non-GMO offerings.  Locally sourced whenever possible.

Each can of freeze dried food I purchase today has it’s price frozen as well.  Up to 25 years from now I can open a can of food that I paid 2017 prices for, and allows me to combat the rising cost of produce.  It’s like having money in the bank, but with a much higher interest rate.

It’s also pretty amazing how versatile freeze dried food is.  Take a look at all the produce used in one of my favorite soup recipes, Sausage Potato Soup!  Yum!

Understanding the relationship between politics and the economy will give you the opportunity to prepare for rising costs. As President Trump moves forward with building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, rising produce costs are becoming a reality. Make sure your food storage and budget doesn't take a hit with these strategies for prepping against the rising cost of your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Not sure how to use freeze dried foods?  No problem!  You can take a look at the recipes found on my Thrive Website to get some great ideas.

Taking the time to understand what is happening within the White House will insure that your house is prepared to better weather the growing world wide unrest, the consequences of repealing the Dodd-Frank Act and the returning concerns with China’s economy.

How to preserve blackberries

I love to preserve blackberries.   It’s so easy to insure the great taste of summer in your food preps with just a small amount of work.  Rich in bioflavonoids, vitamin C and antioxidants, blackberries are nutritional power houses perfect for long term food storage pantries.   Here are my favorite ways to preserve blackberries.

There are more was to preserve blackberries than just making jam and fruit roll ups. Learn how to preserve blackberries to use in smoothies, oatmeal, muffins and more. Learn how to make seedless blackberry powder to stir into yogurt and use in baking. Preserve the fresh taste of summer all year long!

How To Freeze Blackberries

One way to preserve blackberries is to simply wash them using a 4:1 solution of water to vinegar, allowing them to air dry and then ‘flash freezing’ them.

To flash freeze,  simply lay out the now dry berries on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pop the tray into the freezer until the berries are frozen, then  package them in a  freezer safe container.

By ‘flash freezing’ the berries first, you’ll be able to simply pour out the amount of frozen berries you need.

simple-ways-to-preserve-blackberries

Preserve blackberries without the seeds.

I prefer my blackberries in a seedless form, especially in smoothies, or my son’s blenderized diet.  First,  rinse the blackberries with the 4:1  water to vinegar solution and puree them in a blender.   With the back of a spoon, push the blackberry puree through a sieve into a clean container. Easy!

how to deseed blackberries

Fill ice cube trays  or the trays used to freeze baby food with the blackberry puree, and freeze. Frozen blackberry ice cubes are a fun way to preserve blackberries.    The result is a whole bunch of frozen blackberry puree ice cubes that  can be added to smoothies,  thawed to flavor yogurt,  or as  base for popsicles and more!

How to use blackberry 'ice cubes'.

How To Dehydrate Blackberries

Dehydrated blackberries last for years when stored properly.  Rinse berries in a 4:1 solution of vinegar water  and  allow to air dry in a dehydrator set to Cool.  Dehydrating wet blackberries makes them flatten out.

Once the blackberries are dry,  set the temperature of the dehydrator to 125F and allow them to dehydrate for 18-20 hours.  Blackberries are done when you can easily crush a berry into powder with just your  fingers.

How to dehydrate blackberries

Make Blackberry Powder

Fill a sieve with dehydrated blackberries and crush them with the back of a spoon, catching the powder in a bowl.  You’ll be left with just dehydrated blackberry seeds in the sieve which you can throw in your compost pile.

Sprinkle blackberry powder in  teas and juices, or  into  your daily water intake.  Spoon blackberry powder over your morning oatmeal or yogurt and into your smoothie for a ‘grit-less’ drink.

Rehydrate your blackberry powder and use it in your favorite blackberry jam recipe.  Bonus!  No seeds!

Use dehydrated blackberries in place of fresh blackberries to make a blackberry flavored simple syrup to use to flavor cocktails and sodas.

Too busy to preserve blackberries yourself?

I  store cans of freeze dried blackberries in my long term food storage.   A quick trip to  Thrive Life  and you could do the same!

Need more information on how to dehydrate foods?  I recommend Dehydrate2Store.

What foods are you preserving this harvest season?

Prepping on a Budget: Things to Buy at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has to be one of the best times of the year for prepping on a budget. Loss leaders are the items stores deeply discount to get you in the door in hopes you will buy the rest of your meal there. I admit, I am a lazy couponer and deal shopper at best these days but this is one week that all the ads are spread out and my strategies kick in. Especially if money is tight for prepping this week your extra $5-$10 will yield you much better results than most others throughout the year.

Loss leaders at Thanksgiving center around foods that are great for 2-3 years of shelf storage. I was able to pick up all of the below canned goods for less than 69 cents a can. The soups and veggies were 50 cents each.

Ideas for building long term food storage using Thanksgiving loss leaders.

I know Walmart price matching can be a pain for some. My store is really nice about it so I just gathered all my ads, made a list and headed in for one big stock up.

Here is a list of great prepping items to be looking for on sale the week of Thanksgiving:

  • Turkeys-Buy as many as you have space for in the freezer. Or plan to can the meat or make chili or soups with them to can.
  • Canned Fruit– pineapple, peaches, pears, cranberries are all good choices.
  • Canned Soups-Broth, Cream of Mushroom and Chicken are big this week. Broth takes the place of water when cooking rice or beans so you are helping to up your water storage with that one as well.
  • Canned Pumpkin-This is a biggie if you have pets.
  • Jarred Gravy-Will make emergency foods taste a little better!
  • Pumpkin, Squash, Onions, Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes– All of these store well if you can ‘root cellar‘ them. For those of us that have no ability to root cellar, there are many creative ways to can or dehydrate these veggies to store. My favorite ways to use a bounty of pumpkin is on ParkerMama’s blog.
  • Butter– I freeze mine but I know it can be canned.
  • Flour-If you would like to store it for more than a year, you can put it in airtight mylar containers. I’ll post a tutorial soon on how to do this easily.
  • Sugar, Karo Syrup and Honey-check how long Karo lasts cause it’s not something I use.
  • Salt-You need salt in your diet in an emergency. It also works well to cure and preserve foods and has actually been used as currency throughout the word. It’s amazing what this undervalued thing that sits on our table is useful for!

Check expiration dates as you are shopping. Digging around a bit can produce dates almost a year apart. Duringcanned goods expiration date 2015-long term food storage my shopping I was able to find 2015 dates in most cases.

 

I’d love to hear from you: 

  • I am not a canner so if you are and have good links to share, please leave them in the comments.
  • What’s missing above? Is there something great I forgot to share?

Prepping With Potatoes

Potatoes are cheap, store well, and are easy to find thus making them a great friend of preppers. Recently 10# bags of potatoes have been on sale for $1.99 in my area leading me to search for many ways that prepping with potatoes can be done. Here is how I have been using these sales to further increase my food stores.

Prepping With Potatoes – Dehydrating and Freezing

For both dehydrating potatoes and freezing potatoes you want to par boil them first. That means you want to boil them until they are soft but still firm. You need to be able to grate them into hash browns for dehydrating so you do not want to boil them until they are too soft. See what I did here?

Dehydrating pototoes-step one, boiling Big mistake. I should not have cut them. This was my first time dehydrating potatoes for hash browns so I followed the advice on one of my favorite sites, Dehydrate2Store. The next time I do this I will peel them first with my apple peeler and leave them whole and hope that makes it easier for me. Cutting them in half allowed them to boil too softly which made grating them a bigger chore than it should have been.

I used half of this batch to dehydrate shredded potatoes into hash browns. I had mixed some yellow potatoes in which the 10# bag of russets because I had a few sitting around that I did not want to go bad. I store these in vacuum sealed jars. I don’t like the bags or mylar for these because they are pokey. These are considered a long term food storage option if packed in mylar with oxygen absorbers, estimated to last 20 plus years.

dehydrating hash brown potatoesI experimented with half of the batch doing what Nasreen of RamblingStump.com suggested on our facebook page (you are friends with us there, right?). Nas shared that she typically stores her potato bumper crop by:

I like to scrub them, dice them up and shake them with paprika onion powder salt & oil. Then I freeze them to make homefries with later. I haven’t had an issue with browning while freezing. The oil is just me being lazy. Then they can go straight into the pan & cook without having to do anything else.

I did this as a trial so I skipped the foodsaver bags but here is how mine looked. If it turns out well after tomorrows breakfast I will make a new batch and freeze them in foodsaver bags.

prepping with potatoes: homemade home fries

Prepping With Potatoes-Storing and Growing

I was telling Tammy about this post and she reminded me that she had a great post on how to store potatoes through the winter on Parker’s blog. Click over to see how she uses cedar shavings to keep them fresh.  I have also seen some great ideas on building root cellars on Pinterest that I will share next week.

I often take gardening classes in the winter and a few years ago one of the skills I learned was how to grow potatoes in garbage cans. Potatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow and you can use a standard garbage can or 5 gallon bucket. Ideally you want to start with organic ‘potato seeds’ which is really just cut potatoes revealing the eye’s to start the plants. In a non ideal situation though, any potato you have can be cut into “seeds”. They take roughly 140 days to produce plants but one eye can be quite prolific. It would be best to always have 1-2 (or more) containers going in rotation.

prepping with potatoes: growing potatoes in containers

If you are unfamiliar with growing your own potatoes, this is a great video to get you started. Remember, growing food takes practice. You can’t expect to become a master gardener in one season and with the cost of food going up like crazy it makes sense to start growing as much of your own food as possible! This is one you can do in a small amount of space with a big impact.

How to Dehydrate Apples

Dehydrating food is a skill that all preppers should master and dehydrated apples are probably the easiest food to learn with.  But I would be seriously remiss in letting anyone think that I store dehydrated apples as long term food storage in this house. Truth is, the second my kids see this bag on the counter they will be gone. The work involved used to make the fact that they would disappear faster than I could peel them discouraging and then I bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer. It cut my prep time down into a ridiculous 20 mins for a 5 lb bag to be opened and the nesco trays running. Now, that is a time I can deal with for making a healthy snack! If you don’t have teenage boys roaming your home, this makes an excellent long term food storage option. Especially when you get apples on sale in the fall.

I used a combination of Fuji and Gala this round.

5# bag of fuji applesI was able to slice, peel and core all the apples in less than 10 mins. You can also use this when prepping potatoes.

apple on peeler/slicer/corerNext, everything goes into a water bath dip with Ball Fruit Fresh.

apples in water and ball fruit fresh bath

5 lb bag fits 6 Nesco trays perfectly.

nesco tray with dehdrated apples I dehydrate for 6-12 hours (depending on how chewy or dry you like them)on 135 degrees. It works perfectly for me to put them in around 3:30 in the afternoon and have my husband shut it off in the morning around 6:30 am.

bagged homemade dehydrated apples

This whole process yields roughly a 1/2 gallon Ziploc bag, which will take my teens minutes to munch through. If I was storing this for long term use, I would seal in a mason jar, take the air out with the foodsaver jar sealer and include a silica gel pack.

I had to wonder who this compares cost wise to just buying a bag. I looks like in my local area I can get a bag this size for roughly $10. Apples right now are running about $1 a pound (not on sale) in my area so this is cheaper. Finding apples less expensive would be better economically but even at the $5 savings I like doing this for my family. They love the taste and it is easy and I know what is in it!