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Survival Diva here. The Mother of all Food Storage Myths started the ball rolling on myths we’ve come to take as gospel that are not always the best advice in a survival situation. Now it’s time to pick up the threads and discuss related myths, that when addressed, can get us past a long-term crisis much more comfortably.
Believe it or not you can store eggs, unrefrigerated, for 6 months or longer, and cheese for years when done properly. And there’s good news for those of you who have been looking for a solution for yeast’s relatively short shelf life…there is an easy work-around.
It all hinges on our forefathers wisdom that has been lost by most of us for one simple reason. We’ve always had the refrigerator! And we’ve learned to rely on the experts who tell us we’re all goanna die if we ever stray from keeping our food outside a refrigerator.
The good news is we don’t have far to go far to debunk most of what we are told with regards to living without traditional refrigeration and it goes back to our forefathers. They did quite nicely, even though they had to make it from one growing season to the next without a refrigerator, keeping staples like eggs for months, cheese for years, and they had to have a dependable way to bake bread.
So, How Did They Do It?
Many had icehouses. Back in the olden days, ice was a VERY profitable business and most homesteaders had their ice delivered. Otherwise, they went to ice houses whenever ice needed to be replenished—typically within 1 to 3 years. That’s not going to happen in our day when everything is trucked in and society no longer sees the need for self-sufficiency.
If you happen to live in a northern climate zone, it’s certainly worth checking out how to build and maintain an ice house. It means building into a north slope that is shaded, requires lots of sawdust, and a nearby lake for blocks of ice. Or you could make your own ice in winter.
Tom Tailer, a physics teacher, came up with a way to build an inventive ice house made from nothing but a little wood, a bunch of 2-litre pop bottles, and saltwater solution made from 200 grams of rock salt water per 2 –liter bottle. Tailer and his students experimented with both a freezer (using more salt-water filled 2-litre bottles), and a refrigerator which uses fewer salt water filled 2-litre bottles. Amazing! Visit here if you want to see the basics: www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20100816/NEWS02/100815019/Essex-project-builds-backyard-passive-freezer and a follow-up article and video: www.uvm.edu/~cems/?Page=News&storyID=17191
Many homesteaders had root cellars that were used to preserve fruits and vegetables, and in some cases when the root cellars remained cool enough they stored their dairy products such as eggs, milk, cheese, and butter in their root cellar. But what about those who lived in southern climate zones where none of this was possible?
In this post, we’ll start with the How-To’s of storing eggs for 6 months or more. In the next post, we’ll move on to cheese, and then we’ll move on to sourdough starter.
Myth-Busting Un-Refrigerated Egg Storage
Myth #1: “You can’t store eggs without refrigeration.” Oh yes you can! In fact, that’s how our forefathers did it. They HAD to store their eggs over winter when hens stopped laying eggs with the lack of sunlight.
You WILL notice the egg whites are a bit runnier after eggs have been stored for months, but they are safe to eat and they are just as tasty.
For those of you with salmonella on your mind at the mere mention of storing eggs unrefrigerated, see the tried and true method of testing eggs at the end of this section—another of our forefather’s tried and true tricks. Plus, your nose will alert you to a spoiled egg…the sulfur smell they give off is unmistakable!
Here are the two best methods to preserve eggs:
#1: Water Glass Method
Eggs can be preserved from 6 to 9 months with the water glass method. Water Glass can sometimes be purchased by special order at big box stores or pharmacy’s, or it can be ordered online at Lehman’s.
Use ONLY Farm-fresh, un-washed eggs for this method. Unwashed eggs retain what is called the “bloom,” which is a protective coating deposited by the hen to protect the egg from outside pollutants. Preserve fresh eggs with the water glass method within 24 hours of purchase for best results.
What You’ll Need
1. A large, ½ gallon (or larger) container or with a lid. The size you choose depends upon how many eggs you plan to preserve, or if you want to have several containers. Half-gallon containers will store up to 15 eggs, one gallon containers, around 30 eggs.
2. Unwashed, Farm-Fresh Eggs
3. Water Glass solution made from one-part water glass to 10 parts boiled water (the boiled water MUST be cooled to room temperature).
- Inspect the eggs for cracks or chips and toss the defective ones—one spoiled egg WILL ruin the whole batch! Wipe any unsightly residue from the egg with a dry, soft cloth.
- Boil enough water to make the water glass solution that is one-part water glass to 10-parts water—enough to fill your container. Let the water cool to room temperature before mixing with water glass.
- Place each egg GENTLY into your container into the water glass solution. Be sure the water glass solution covers the top of the last eggs at least one inch.
- Apply Vaseline to the lid-otherwise any water glass that may be transferred from the lip of the container is capable of sealing the lid shut and you may not be able to get it opened. Screw down the lid.
- Store the preserved eggs in a cool, dark place. Even the floor of a closet will work.
#2: Mineral Oil Method
This method can keep eggs for up to 6 months, but storage time varies depending on the temperature they are stored in. Basements or root cellars work well for this method for storage—just remember; the cooler, the better.
For this method, some folks preserve store-bought eggs, and others Farm-Fresh eggs. Personally, I use the Farm-Fresh because they retain their “bloom” to further protect the eggs. Eggs stored in temperatures of 68 degrees or cooler will store for 6 months, and sometimes longer.
What You’ll Need:
Surgical/Food Handler’s gloves
- Inspect eggs and toss any that have cracks or chips.
- If you’re using Farm-Fresh eggs, gently wipe away any residue on eggs with a dry, soft cloth.
- Wearing gloves, pour a small amount of mineral oil on gloved hands and hand-coat each egg with mineral oil, making sure to coat the entire egg.
- Place mineral oil-coated egg in the cartoon and store in as cool a location as possible.
Note: Eggs must be turned every month, from pointed end down to pointed end up to avoid spoilage.
How To Test Eggs For Spoilage
Anytime you are preserving eggs for any length of time, it is imperative to test them before using. To do this, I suggest a 2-step method:
First put the egg in a bowl of cold or room temperature water. If the egg remains at the bottom, it is safe to eat. Should it float near the middle of the water, but does not rise to the top of the bowl, it is stale, but may not be spoiled. This occurs when the egg develops an air pocket, which makes the egg more buoyant. If it floats to the top, toss it!
For eggs that passed the water bowl test, next crack the egg into a bowl before adding it to a recipe. Let your sense of smell make the decision. If you detect the smell of sulfur, toss it.
NOTE: Eggs stored for months will have runnier whites, but can still be used in baked goods and their taste is no different than just-bought eggs.
This concludes the first part of getting around refrigeration food storage myths. Have you tried either the water glass or mineral oil method to store eggs? Been struggling, or found success for grid-down refrigeration solutions? Please share your thoughts and tips!
Also, remember to take advantage of the 2 for 1 special on Urban Survival Playing Cards and remember that 10% of all sales this week go to frontline first responders helping with Hurricane Sandy recovery. That goes for the cards, for TacticalFirearmsTrainingSecrets.com, SurviveInPlace.com, and FastestWayToPrepare.com
God Bless and Stay Safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva