Is Survival REALLY Survival without Cheese and Homemade Bread?

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Survival Diva here to continue our discussion of how to store unrefrigerated staples. Having been brought up on an Alaskan homestead with no electricity or running water, self-sufficiency was ingrained in me at an early age, but even so, when I started serious prepping many years ago I had a difficult time figuring out how to safely store cheese and sourdough without refrigeration.

For the Love of Cheese

The first dilemma I tackled was how to avoid buying powdered cheese and still be able to store cheese for 23 people, long-term, without refrigeration. I searched off and on for months for a solution, and when I finally discovered the answer, it was amazingly simple. Like most food-related prepping dilemmas, our forefathers had already addressed the issue successfully for centuries, but sadly much of the information has been lost. Luckily, it turned out I didn’t have to look that far back. Today, Europeans still buy their cheese from food vendors that literally hang it, unrefrigerated, from the rafters. When they bring it home, it’s not always to tuck it safely away in a refrigerator. Many times the cheese remains unrefrigerated until it is consumed.

So, how do modern Europeans and our forefathers safely consume unrefrigerated cheese? The answer is to coat it with cheese wax! I could write a two-page exposé on how to coat cheese with cheese wax and store it safely for years (some claim 20 years or more). But if you’re anything like me, visuals help…a lot! It will give you the confidence you need to brave eating it yourself or serving it to loved ones without fear. I have stored cheese for many years, unrefrigerated, and have eaten it without any ill-effects. In fact, cheese will continue to age in its preserved state, so if you like a cheddar with a bite to it, you’re going to love this approach of preserving a staple few of us would want to be without. Here’s the best YouTube video I’ve found on preserving cheese, provided by katzcradul

[jwplayer mediaid=”2151″]

The Yeast Dilemma Solved

The second food storage mystery I needed to solve was how to get around yeasts short shelf life that according to the experts is between 6 months to 1 year (depending on the type of yeast and the storage conditions). Yes, refrigerating yeast will extend its shelf life, but if the grid goes down it will be important to have a work-around. But before discussing that work-around, here’s a tip: Don’t Make Shelf Life the Last Word

I have kept a 40-count box of instant, granulated yeast blocks, 1 lb. per block for years. It was stored in my food storage shed that is very well insulated, with no windows that would let light in to shorten the shelf-life of bulk foods. One fall, while taking inventory of the storage food I discovered I’d let something important slip. The 40 pounds of instant yeast I’d been storing had gone WAY past its expiration date—by a full 5 years! I’d need to toss the expired yeast and replace it, which was bad news because it had been an $80 investment and would now be even more expensive to replace. Just to be sure, I grabbed one of the blocks and brought it into the cabin to “proof” the yeast before I tossed it.

I added the equivalent of one regular package of yeast (2 ½ teaspoons) and 1 teaspoon of sugar to ¼ cup warm water. The idea was to let it sit for 5 minutes. But returning to the storage shed to continue taking inventory, I got sidetracked. An hour later when I finally remembered my proofing experiment, I rushed back to the cabin, expecting to see the clear glass jar I’d mixed the proof in to be forlornly cloudy, with no foam that would tell me the yeast still had life. Instead, it looked like a beer brewery had laid claim to the jar and the kitchen counter and the floor. Rich brown foam was everywhere! So was the rich smell of yeast which meant I didn’t have to toss that 40 lb. box of yeast.

So, rule # 1: never assume yeast has expired! And even when it has, try this trick:

For “expired” yeast, mix 1 package of yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar and let it sit for 5 min. The sugar kick-starts the yeast’s action. When it’s foaming, it’s activated, and can be used in your recipe.

Sourdough Starter Myths and Solutions

Even though I’d proven to myself that 40 lbs. of yeast was viable, I still wanted an “heir and a spare.” Another words, I needed a back-up plan. I went in search of a sourdough recipe. Of course I did! Sourdough starter means a steady supply of yeast with which to make bread and other baked goods.

The Julia Childs of the cooking world insisted sourdough starter must be refrigerated. I decided to search prepping sites, where reasonable heads prevail who would offer reasonable solutions. I was wrong. Every site I visited said to refrigerate sourdough starter.

Months later, I had a eureka moment. There on my computer screen was an article about Christopher Columbus bringing sourdough starter over on the Mayflower. There certainly weren’t refrigerators on the Santa Maria. A week later, I discovered an article about men placing crocks of sourdough starter around their necks held by rope to keep it warm while they climbed Alaskan Mountainsides during the gold rush. Their final destination certainly didn’t include refrigerators, unless they sat them outside in winter—but that’s a freezer, not a refrigerator. And even then, they had to contend with summers, and no matter what you may have heard about Alaskan summers, it can get warm!

It was weeks later when I stumbled upon a website that suggested keeping sourdough starter on a countertop, unrefrigerated. Finally…someone who subscribed to what our forefathers practiced season after season, year after year. This was many years ago, just after I’d begun prepping in earnest and in my mind I NEEDED the approval of a stranger on a website I’d never met to give me permission to flaunt the convention of refrigeration in exchange for survival. Now that I’ve been at this for untold years, I’ve come to realize there is a chasm the size of the Mariana Trench separating what the experts tell us and what we must learn for long-term survival!

On the advice of this stranger, I began my first sourdough starter and kept it unrefrigerated (still do, as a matter of fact) and have never been disappointed. The only trick you must follow is to scoop out around a cup of sourdough starter and use it or toss it each day, so it won’t lay claim to your counter, and given enough time…your kitchen, dining room, and possibly your living room. Just mix flour and water commensurate with what you have removed to let the whole fermentation process start all over again. Admittedly, it requires a little up-keep, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it will become just as much of an ingrained habit as pouring that first cup of coffee in the morning.

The following is my favorite sourdough starter recipe. But, a word of advice: You have your choice of sourdough starter. Many can be ordered online, others can be flinched from Aunt Martha or a friend. But however you do it, get started with sourdough and when calamity strikes, you’ll be able to bake bread and goodies without skipping a beat!

Counter-Stored Sourdough Starter Recipe

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar

I Packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast

2 Cups Warm Water

Instructions

Mix flour, sugar and yeast together with a wooden spoon (never use metal) in a glass, glazed ceramic, or crockery pot with a 2-quart capacity.

Gradually stir in the warm water until the mixture becomes a thick paste.

Cover the container with a dishcloth and allow to sit in a 70 to 80 degree room without drafts.

Stir once a day for 2 to 5 days until it gives off a pleasant sour smell and is bubbly.

Important Notes:

*If you use whole wheat, rather than all-purpose flour, the sourdough starter recipe will require a longer rising time.

*Adding the sugar kick-starts your sourdough starter because yeast feeds on sugar. If a dietary restriction disallows sugar, the recipe can be made without it.

* Use distilled or bottled water if your water contains chlorine, as chlorine can stop the action of yeast.

* Temperatures of more than 100 degrees will kill yeast.

* Covering sourdough starter with a dish towel allows wild yeast to pass into the sourdough starter—and why plastic wrap is not recommended.

Last week, there were many great tips and shared memories and experiences about storing eggs, unrefrigerated. I thought it would be good to keep the momentum going by everyone sharing tips and experiences with yeast, and discussing sourdough starter and storing cheese, unrefrigerated. It’s sure to be manna from Heaven to have these items available for long-term food storage! So please, share what’s worked for you and your favorite recipes for sourdough starter.

God Bless and Stay Safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva

FastestWayToPrepare.com

 

 

 

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About David Morris

David Morris is the creator of the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, the Fastest Way To Prepare Course, Urban Survival Playing Cards, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets, and other books, courses, and articles on preparedness, survival, firearms, and other tactical topics. He lives with his wife, 2 boys, and 2 dogs.

Comments

  1. link to you-tube video of preserving cheese is missing

  2. Spot on with this write-up, I honestly feel this website needs a lot
    more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

  3. I blog frequently and I truly appreciate your content.
    This article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.

  4. Doris Flowers says:

    where can I buy the cheese wax ?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Doris,

      Amazon has several vendors. I recommend either the black or red wax. If you haven’t already, watch the suggested youtube video in the post and it’ll make sense ( :

  5. I was given a sourdough starter that a friend of mine brought back from when he was prospecting on the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. While I kept my home at a fairly even and warm temperature I am sure he was not able to do so in his cabin. This starter survived in an 1890’s log cabin till a 1980’s modern home. I figure sourdough is fairly rugged. Cold temperature will slow the growth of yeast but freezing does not kill yeast.

  6. Hi Catherine

    I keep my home at 62 when not there and at 66 or lower when I am there. I really can’t even afford those temps much longer. But I have a credit from my monthly billing that I need to use or the company keeps the money. We really do not have many sunny hours here anymore. Seems like each winter it gets less and less but when I am home and it is sunny I charge my out-door solar lights to use in the house.

    Thank You
    Beverly

    • Catherine F says:

      Hello Beverly,
      Keeping your starter at 62 or 66 is not going to hurt it. However, if you are wanting to use it to bake bread, you will want to raise the temperature to around 75 degrees. The higher temp will cause the starter to become more active and will perform better when you make bread. Depending how long it takes your starter to become fully active determines how many days you will want to have it at this temp before using it. Personally, I would give it a couple of days and at least two feedings before i would use it. I know you don’t have a lot of heat in the house, so i thought about your idea of putting a light inside a cardboard box for dehydrating food. If you could put your starter in a container that let no light in, like a crock, and could bring the temp inside the box to 75 degrees, your starter should do well. Be sure to set the light high enough so that it does not cause a lot of heat on the top of the crock. My reason for a container that does not let in light, is that I read years ago that sun light can harm your starter. I am not sure of the effect of direct electrical lighting.

      • Catherine F
        So how long should my starter be at 75 degrees before it is ready to use for bread?

        • Survival Diva says:

          Catherine,
          Your sourdough starter should be ready to use within 2 to 5 days. That’s as specific as it can be because the environment where the starter is made varies: drafts and temperature make a difference. Starter will also catch wild mold as well if you cover it with a dishtowel. Let us know how it turned out ( :

  7. If I make the sourdough starter, how often do I have to feed it, or use it? Will be making some bread son, but I’m single, so I won’t need to make it often. Thanks.

    • Catherine F says:

      Hello Jo,
      How often you feed a starter depends on a few factors. If you have a dough starter, feeding it once a day and keeping it around 68-70 degrees would be sufficient. The cooler temperature will help it not to ferment too quickly. But do put it in a warmer area of the house, about 75 degrees, a couple of days before you use it to bring the starter’s activity to a higher level. If you use a batter starter, I found that feeding it twice a day was better. There is less flour available for the yeast to feed on in a batter starter than with a dough starter. Again, keep it a little cooler until you’re close to needing it, (no pun intended) then move it to a warmer area.

    • Catherine F says:

      As to how often you have to use your starter- only when you want to. Feeding the starter is the most important thing, which is a daily occurrence.

  8. Hi Catherine

    Thanks for the tips. I have cast iron and hope to get the rest of the parts I need to set up a cheap would stove that I got. I was wondering if anyone ever tried heating one of those camping solar showers in the winter for hot water? If this works I could get bread to rise and have hot water too.

    I have also seen on websites people making dehydraters using a cardboard box and a light bulb. Any thought on this anyone, cause maybe I could run this on solar power with a few more parts and do some other cooking as well.

    Thank You
    Beverly

    • Catherine F says:

      Glad I could help Beverly. I left a comment a few paragraphs down regarding sourdough bread- hope that helps as well. if you have any further questions about sourdough starter, let me know.

  9. Hi Survival Diva

    Yes I have a space heater but it expensive to run so I save for emergencies. I do live in a northern climate so I am guessing sourdough starter will only work in the warmer seasons but even that will save. Ayone else have a suggestion for winter climates?

    Thank You
    Beverly

    • Catherine F says:

      What is the temperature in your home? Sourdough starter does not need a really warm environment to survive in. In fact, any temperatures over 80 degrees will cause your starter to need more care as it become more active and will use it’s food quicker.

    • What do you do with sour dough starter?

      • Survival Diva says:

        Mary,

        Sourdough starter can be used to bake with after you run out of yeast or it has passed its shelf life–but for sourdough starter to make sense as a replacement for yeast, you should have it made BEFORE you run out of yeast. There are recipes and work-around’s to get it going without yeast, but it’s better to have it available before, no after, an emergency. It’s been used for hundreds of years to make breads, pancakes, muffins–basically any recipe that calls for yeast. You can find inexpensive used books on using sourdough starter with recipes online, or you might be able to find one at your local library. There is tons of free info online as well. Hope this helped!

  10. I just recently started making sourdough bread with starter that I made from just:
    2 cups flour (fresh ground)
    2 T pineapple juice (from an overripe pineapple)
    Spring Water, enough to make a pancake batter consistency
    I mixed it in a 1.5 quart jar and left the lid off for about 2 weeks. I fed it about 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water each morning and stirred it 3-5 times each day. After about a week it started bubbling and I would cover it at night. Refrigerating it isn’t necessary but it does slow it down, so if you’re not using it that often you can keep it in the frig.

  11. Catherine F says:

    I own a seasonal bread business that features different types of sourdough bread. I only put my starter in the fridge once to see how well it would keep and decided to never do it again. My reasoning was that it took several days for me to get the starter back up to full strength in order for my bread to rise well and get sour enough. I didn’t need delays, so I felt that storing starter in the fridge was a bad idea. Also, i use a dough-like starter instead of the batter type because i have found the dough starter keeps better and in my opinion makes better loaves of bread. One key I have discovered for getting bread to rise successfully is the temperature of the dough. I mix my sourdough until it reaches a temp of 78 degrees. When it’s lower, it does not seem to rise as well or get as sour regardless of the room temperature. ( I don’t like the room above 75 degrees for fermenting bread.) The room does not have to be blazing hot to get good results even for yeast breads. It may take a little longer for bread to rise if the room temp is at 68, but it will rise. If the yeast bread you are making requires a certain temperature of water, (many need over 100 degrees to rise properly), make sure the water is at that temp. I make a sourdough tomato garlic/herb bread and put yeast in it as well as the sourdough starter to help it rise. It takes an hour and a half to two hours to rise, but even with a internal temp of only 78 degrees it always rises. I have not read through the comments yet so I hope this helps somebody.

  12. Hi everyone

    Great post, but I have the same problems as Liz and there is never a warm spot in the house for letting bread rise. I know a heating pad works but in a grid down situation this isn’t going to work. I am living as much as possible like a grid down and improving as I can because I am unemployed. So any suggestion?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Beverly,

      Offhand, all I can think of is a space heater to keep the area warm enough to get the sourdough starter going. If you live in a northern climate, I’m assuming you have an alternative method of heating your home. Otherwise, sourdough starter could be an issue in the winter.

    • Catherine F says:

      I have read about people baking bread in cast iron dutch ovens. Cast iron holds heat well, so if you had a way to heat the cast iron to a good bread rising temp, such as putting boiling water in it and letting it sit for an hour or so, or warming it in an oven if you have propane available. You might want to take an oven-safe thermometer and let it rest on the surface of the cast iron to see what temperature it has reached so you don’t over heat it. Or, if you do have an oven that runs on propane without electricity (some require electricity to run like mine does) you can heat it to to 75 or 80 degrees and set your bread in there to rise. I also have a wood burning stove that I could put my bread near. Perhaps setting the bread pans in trays of warm water so the heat from the water can allow the bread to rise.

      • When I was young my grandmother had a gas stove and she would just put the bread in the oven to rise. My understanding was that the pilot light was enough to keep it warm and it kept it draft free at the same time.

        We also had a wood stove but grandmother always made the bread, I wish I could remember more form that time in my life.

  13. joseph morehouse says:

    Thank you for this information on cheese and yeast.
    You have given me information on how to save money and be better prepared.

    • oldsewandsew says:

      Loved all the info from katzcradul on long-term storage of cheddar cheese. My question is: will this work for other cheeses. I’m assuming it’ll work for most ‘hard’ cheeses, but what about Parmesan, or Romano? What about semi-soft and soft cheese? Any ways to keep them for longer periods? Any and all information greatly appreciated.

      • Survival Diva says:

        oldsewandsew,

        All hard cheese can be preserved with cheese wax. Waxing doesn’t work for soft and semi-soft cheese. I have heard of people home canning soft cheese, but it must be done carefully. For Parmesan and Romano, vacuum sealing will preserve the cheese longer than keeping them in their container.

  14. Sue the Frugal Survivalist says:

    The American Frugal Housewife, published in 1832, advised housewives to preserve extra cheese by covering them “carefully with paper, fastened on with flour paste, so as to exclude them from air. In this way they may be kept free from insects for years. They should be kept in a dry, cool, place.”

    Little House in the Big Woods, recounts how Mrs. Ingalls mother preserved her homemade cheese:

    ” Every morning she took the new cheese out of the press, and trimmed it smooth. She sewed a cloth tightly around it, and rubbed the cloth all around with fresh butter.Then she put the cheese on a shelf in the pantry.
    Every day she wiped the cheese carefully with a wet cloth, then rubbed it all over with fresh butter once more, and laid it down on its other side. After a great many days, the cheese was ripe, and there was a hard rind all over it.
    Then Ma wrapped each cheese in paper and laid it away on a high shelf. There was nothing more to do to it but eat it.”

    Reader’s Digest’s Back To Basics book states that in colonial times fresh cheese was rubbed with salt before being stored on long benches in a cool dairy room. This book advises modern cheese makers to allow fresh cheese to dry in a cool, airy place for 4-5 days, turning it over twice a day. Next, coat the cheese with paraffin, butter, vegetable oil, or salt, and allow it to ripen in a cool, well ventilated area. If mold develops, scrape off the moldy parts, rub with salt and reseal.

  15. Ron Hodges says:

    Although I am not a decendent of Columbus I am a decendent of John Howland a 21 year old indentured servant that was on the Mayflower.. My Grandmothers ( she is my link to John Howland) reciepe for sourdough starter came from necessity as she raised ten kids homesteading in rural NW Oklahoma in 1892. I found this reciepe among a letter she had written in 1921 to her oldest daughter- passing on the tried & true details..
    I have used this for about 20 years now and it works great.

    The Starter is the basis and must be prepared several days in advance. The starter is good for as long as you continue to feed it. If you fail to maintain the Starter properly, you must begin a new Starter from scratch.
    First, understand that all bowls must be glass bowls and all utensils used In the making of the Starter must be wood or plastic. Metal bowls or metal utensils will kill the recipe. A word of caution: If your Starter ever turns orange or pink in color, throw it out and start over.

    Wash 4 potatoes leaving the skin on the potatoes. Chop the potatoes into small cubes and place in a large pot with water to cover. Heat to a rolling boil and cook until potatoes may be mashed into the water. When all potatoes are just mush, save the water and discard the mush (the mush can be fried to make some really tasty potato cakes or mashed potatoes). This potato water is the basis for the Starter.
    In a small glass bowl add ½ cup very warm water ( not the potato water ):
    Sprinkle 1 package dry active yeast over the water. The water must not be so hot that it kills the yeast, but warm enough that the yeast thrives. Set this mixture aside until yeast is completely dissolved (about 5 minutes ).
    In a separate glass bowl add:
    2 cups warm potato water
    1 Table spoon sugar
    1 Table spoon salt
    Stir well —
    Add the water and dissolved yeast mixture and stir well again
    Add 2 cups All Purpose Flour and stir well again
    Cover the Starter with a cloth towel and set in a warm dry location free from drafts for 3-5 days at room temperature. Stir the mixture daily.
    At the end of the 3-5 days the Starter is ready for use in your recipe.

    Feeding your Starter: As you use portions of your Starter for your recipes , sooner or later you will need to replenish it. To do so simply add equal parts of flour and water and continue setting it in a warn location, covered with a clean towel or cloth. If the Starter is not replenished every 6-10 days it will spoil. If it does, throw it out and start over with a new Starter.

    Note there is no mention of refridrigation as she had none but she did use the starter daily.

    You should read her reciepe for making butter with nothing other than a cow, a covered wagon and a team of mules— LOL

    Ron

    • Survival Diva says:

      Ron,

      This is a piece of history. It started me thinking…Because so many of you have valuable food-related tips and recipes everyone can benefit from, I just hopped on the forum and started a new topic under Christianity, Religion and Prepping titled Pioneer Recipes. This is a great time to start a “cache” of all these tried and true recipes and food related tips on the site.

      So, if any of you have any recipes or food related tips such as long-term storage, preserving food, etc., please go there and post them under Pioneer Recipes!

  16. Thanks for the info. A question: What do you do with the excess liquid cheese wax left in the el cheapo pot AFTER dipping and covering the cheese blocks twice? Surely, it must be removed some how and saved for the next processing session.
    Secondly, Columbus had his three ships, but Raleigh arrived earlier (The Lost Colony). However, the first permanent English settlement was in 1607 at Jamestown Island, Virginia. Many died but outpost stations were established (Martin’s Hundred) and a capitol was later established at Williamsburg.

    • Survival Diva says:

      J.R.
      The melted cheese stays in the el-cheapo pot ( : Think about storing it upside down to avoid getting anything unwanted in it between uses.

      Now I’m off to learn more about Raleigh…

      • Miss Arleen says:

        I found this PDF article about cheese at another site that has a lot to say about cheese and storage temperature- http: //www . henningscheese . com/pdf/storage_temperatures_necessary_to_maintain_cheese_safety.pdf

        According to this article, how carefully the cheese is prepared is the predominant factor in how well it will store.

  17. Questions about Sourdough Starter…
    1. I was wondering if you add sugar to the starter every time you remove some or if you only add it initially.
    2. We keep our house around 65-67 degrees. Is that warm enough to keep starter going?
    I am definitely going to try the cheese wax. Sounds better than powdered cheese which I have 🙂

    • Survival Diva says:

      Liz,

      Sourdough starter will take off best at room temperature–between 70 to 80 degrees, but cooler temperatures are said to work, only slower. The sugar only needs to be added the first time. It’s only meant to kick-start new sourdough starter.

      I hope you love the cheese you’ll be making. I suspect you will!

      • I’ve researched sourdough starters and bread making extensivly. What I found out is starting and maintaining a sourdough starter is one skillset, and making bread with it, is another skillset. Most of the ways you read to start a starter will work, because after about 7 feedings the original starter is gone, and the proper makeup of bacteria and yeast is what your left with. Thats when you should use it to make Bread. A purist says an equal amount of Flour and water by weight is all you need to start and to feed a starter. I feel the hard part is figuring out when to feed a starter. You do not need to refrigerate it, unless you want to slow down the times you feed it, and when you do refrigerate it you will have to take it out and feed it at least 2 times before you use it. learning how to use it for baking Bread is lot of work but very rewarding. Probably a great skill to learn before thats your only option

  18. David & Diva:

    As a bit of history and as the first part of the poem goes, “in Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and that was with his fleet comprised of the Pinta, the Nina & the Santa Maria while the Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower in 1607 and landed at Plymouth Rock One Hundred Fifteen (115) years later!

    • Survival Diva says:

      Bob,

      This error was mine… my history teacher would be scratching his head about now. I know better…promise. Should’ve proofed the post. On the other hand, I love seeing the posts are being read and how sharp you all are! I’ve long believed preppers are above the bell curve for intelligence and thoroughness ( :

  19. What makes the wax different than a vacuum sealed bag?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Tim,

      There may be no difference, but the cheese wax method has been tested over centuries and found to be safe and effective. I will go online when time allows to see if anyone credible has tested a vacuum seal method and post the findings if I can locate any.

      • Norman Hatfield says:

        Dear Diva,

        If store bought cheese is used, it’s already vacuum packed. So, why can’t you just store it in your kitchen cabinet?

        • Survival Diva says:

          Norman

          I don’t recommend vacuum sealing cheese for long-term, unrefrigerated food storage, but I said I would look into any credible studies and post the results if there were any success stories.

          Cheese at the grocers is wrapped in plastic, but not shrink wrapped. Personally, I use the cheese wax method because it’s been used for centuries and has been proven reliable. Cheese is expensive! I would hate for anyone to invest money into cheese and have it go bad.

          • Norman Hatfield says:

            Well, the grocery stores here sell both kinds. Cheese the grocers have wrapped themselves and cheese that has come from the makers in a vacuumed package. I would think that the latter would be a whole lot more sanitary to begin with rather than just dabbing a little vinegar to kill the germs on a piece that has been exposed to the air and handled by several people. And, if the purpose of coating the cheese in wax is to seal it, what could be more effective than cheese that was vacuum packed before it left the maker? I realize there are going to be issues with perhaps water and oils leaching out, but this is apparently a problem with wax stored cheese as well. Now I’m wondering about cheeses that are ALREADY wax covered when you buy them. They SHOULD be even better than doing it yourself due to the previous ‘germ’ issue. I’ll do some experimenting and let you know how they turn out.

          • Survival Diva says:

            Norman,

            It might be worth trying. I wished there was information about the results of storing vacuum sealed cheese. You’re right about the problem with extra water and oil leeching from the cheese wax. It’s a recent development because cheese makers just started leaving excess water in for weight–not fair at all! If you give vacuum packed cheese a try, please let the group know how it turns out. At least you’ll be able to see through the packaging to double-check for mold. I’d responded to another post about waxed cheese purchased at the grocers. I haven’t been able to find results on storing already waxed cheese. It’s the same issue for most non-refrigerated food storage. We’re pioneers in a sense. Not a lot of information exists. Personally, I’ve relied on our forefather’s methods because we still have records on effective ways to store food season to season.

  20. Love the cheese waxing — I started research by contacting New England Cheesemaking Supply (silly me, AFTER I’d ordered wax, brush, etc. from them) asking about using store bought chedder & they responded that if you use store bought cheese all you’d wind up with was old, stale cheese! I thought I’d have to learn to make cheese (which they do sell kits, etc, for) & was really down as I don’t have time to start making my own cheese. Now I know I don’t have to do that & can get busy using equipment I’d bought (& find another use for the expensive brush). Can’t thank you enough for this info! HOORAY!

  21. Marc-Edward says:

    You can also use the same guidelines as above but for your yeast source, pick any wild berry that has a white haze on it, grapes for instance. The covering on the skin of the berry is wild yeast. Being careful not to rupture the skins, place the berries in a strainer to let them soak in the batter. Pull them out after a few hours. ( The acid from the fruit of the berries is acidic and slows the growth of the yeast colony.)
    Do NOTE; In an urban setting you WILL give your location away, if the smell of fresh baked bread is in the air.

  22. Marc-Edward says:

    Thanks for the great article (A. A.) Joe,
    If you find yourself in a survival situation without sourdough you can make your own. If you see wild grapes or other berries (and possibly other fruits) with a light haze on them, you are looking at wild yeast that has taken root on the surface of the fruit.
    Mix up a small batch of 1 cup of flour and water, possibly adding 1 teaspoon of some form of sugar, honey or syrup. Roll it out flat to about 8 inches in diameter, place the berries, being careful to not break their skins, in the center and fold in two, pinching the edges, place in a warm location and wait, say an hour.
    Break open the dough, again being careful not to break the skins of the fruit, (the acid slows down the growth of the yeast), dump out the berries then mix with additional dough, I usually start with a slightly sweetened pancake batter consistency to accelerate the initial fermenting, again adding some form of sweetener to hasten it along.
    This works great, I would try it soon, just to get the hang of it. My suggestion is to keep it as a pancake batter and cook up a nice treat for yourself and your family.
    As with any other sourdough mix you still have to keep it alive by adding more mix to it, at whatever consistency you choose to store it at.
    You can follow the guidelines for the recipe above but, I do not remember waiting for days to cook up the sourdough pancakes I made. Also I think I used regular tap water but using unchlorinated water may be a good precaution.
    Store in your refrigerator, as long as it is working but never below or even near freezing nor above 100 degrees F.
    The removal of a cup each day as Above Average Joe mentioned, is just to keep it from overflowing the container you use.
    The most important thing is to keep feeding it as it is a living breathing creature. So keep adding more dough mix, translation- yeast food.
    One note on this; In a true urban survival situation, do not think that you are going to be able to bake bread and not attract attention to yourself and giving away your location. Baker beware.

  23. I don’t think Christopher Columbus was ever on the Mayflower… that was the Pilgrims.

  24. Randall Thomas says:

    Hey David, Any chance you could imbed a print button to give us a printable version? I do the paste and copy to get this into a clean printable page that I place in my Survive in Place binder but if imbedded it would surely be nice. 🙂

    • Highpockets says:

      I totally agree. It would be nice if we could print these off and save them for reference.
      I tried printing them and get 25 or more pages,not worth the time,effort,ink & paper.

  25. Eric Seberg says:

    Please post the link that says Christopher Columbus brought starter over on the Mayflower. I want to find out how a 120+ y/o man survived the trip.

    • Survival Diva says:

      Eric & Airman,
      Airman: “I don’t think Christopher Columbus was ever on the Mayflower… that was the Pilgrims.”
      Eric: “Please post the link that says Christopher Columbus brought starter over on the Mayflower. I want to find out how a 120+ y/o man survived the trip.”

      LOL I can’t believe I missed That! Thanks, it is indeed an error… and your comments are greatly appreciated and I’m glad to fix this major oops! Note to self: DO NOT write late at night without editing, several times, the following day ( :
      Yes, it SHOULD have said when Columbus sailed on the Santa Maria, but I must admit the vision of Columbus sailing after going to his great reward with a crock of sourdough starter will have me laughing at myself the rest of the day.

  26. Will whole wheat flour work in the sourdough starter?

  27. Survival Diva as usual great advice. I am a subscriber to katzcradul
    on you tube and have used her preserving cheese method. It works and isn’t hard to do. The biggest lesson I learned from this was NOT to use a soft cheese as it will start to melt and the results will not be good. When melting the cheese wax take it off the stove after melting and place on heating pad to keep it liquid but not to hot. (also learned this the hard way) and do NOT store in cardboard box the box will pull the oils out of the cheese through the wax. I have read many sites looking for a way to keep the Sour dough starter unrefrigerated, Thank you for explaining this method. Now to be brave enough to start it. I am not accomplished at trying new things in the kitchen but am learning. Thank you
    I just need to figure out a way to brandy fruit successfully. I made quite a mess with this one and was a complete failure. Any Ideas?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Suni,

      I just finished another 20 pounds of cheese and I LOVE katzcradul instructions. She is thorough and very careful about safety…always. And thank you for your tips to the forum on storing waxed cheese and NOT using soft cheese!

      katzcradul home canning butter instructions is another I love, but because of the fear mongering over home canning butter, I’m mentioning it here, rather than a separate post. It DOES have to be done carefully, though.

      As for brandy fruit, I have to admit I’ve never tried it. I wonder if sending katzcradul a request might do the trick!

  28. A question about waxing of cheese, please. Can brick cheeses from the store be waxed after removing the original wrapping and where can you get cheese wax?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Anita,

      Yes! You can use any hard cheese from the grocery store. I’ve done it that way for years. Just remove the plastic packaging, cut it into workable chunks (by that, I mean the size you’re likely to use within a few days as it may need to remain unrefrigerated in a grid-down situation) and get busy waxing. Personally, I use medium or mild cheddar. I don’t use sharp because the cheese will naturally continue to age, so spending the extra money on sharp is not necessary.

      Cheese wax can be purchased online at Amazon, or you can google cheese making and order from there. Also check your area and see if you have a company nearby.

      • Highpockets says:

        How about the cheese you buy in blocks that already has wax coating???Should you
        add more wax???Also,in a pinch,could you melt candles and use the wax???

        • Survival Diva says:

          Highpockets,

          Because here in the US cheese isn’t prepared for long-term unrefrigerated storage, cheese from a grocers that has already been waxed may or may not store well. I have never been able to find information on anyone trying that theory out. If the cheese hasn’t been sufficiently prepared before waxing, applying another coat of wax wouldn’t solve the problem.

          Cheese wax can be reused when washed and then re-melted. I’ve done it myself and it works well. Make sure to watch the katzcradul YouTube included in my post that shows how to do it. Using candle wax or paraffin will not work. Over time, it will crack because there isn’t enough give to that type of wax, and it will expose the cheese to the air and it will mold.

  29. A word of caution if you also want to make cheese. You will need to remove this starter from the kitchen probably a couple of days before making cheese and clean your counters and any utensils very well . Preferably with either 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide or at least 6% bleach The yeast from the starter or making bread will infect your cheese and ruin it.

    • Survival Diva says:

      Beth,

      Excellent advice! Thank you for posting this.

    • PLEASE be very careful using 35% hydrogen peroxide! This is not the mild 3% stuff used in first aid. This stuff looks like water so it can be hard to see any spilled or know when you have some undiluted on your glove and say touch your sleeve with bare skin underneath. It is corrosive to skin, eyes, etc. and even a tiny bit of contact will leave the area white and in searing pain. Holding the area under water will not help the pain. (I didn’t even know they sold 35% to the public–are your sure about the 35% food grade? ) I’d use the 6% bleach.

      Retired chemist, Certified Safety Professional and retired Certified Industrial Hygienist

  30. Why can’t a person use just regular parafin wax and dip the cheese in it a few times. I recall that my grandmother used parafin to seal jelly in canning jars. At least it’s readily available.

    • Survival Diva says:

      John,

      Parafin wax does not give like cheese wax does. Over time, parafin can crack, exposing the cheese wich will then mold.

  31. David,

    For years now, I’ve kept a half gallon plastic milk jug with cultured milk in my refrigerator. I could simply keep it on a counter at room temp, but cold cultured (“Buttermilk”) tastes best to me! When it gets down to about a cup, I simply add more homogenized, pasteurized whole milk, let it set at room temp a day, and place back in the refrigerator.

    I also found a yogurt culture I like, but I don’t like the yogurt process of heating the milk, so I simply keep a lb.-sized plastic tub with it in my refrigerator, and add fresh milk when about i/5 of it remains, at room temp for a day and a half, then refrigerate it. It would also keep at room temp, but would turn to a solid like cheese if left at room temp.

    I found years ago that the recipe for mince meat keeps fruit and meat preserved for years in unsealed lidded containers sitting at room temp. Makes Yummy meatless mince meat pies! A great way to preserve those green tomatoes I pick just before frost!

    • How did you start or where did you get your cultures and what is your favorite way to use it?
      I have been looking around and most starters suggest you start a with starter, but how did people do it before they bought the starters?

  32. Interesting I just started my first batch of starter 4 days ago. There are so many recipes it was hard to choose. I am trying orange juice and flour right now and I want to try one with potato water in the future.

    Question why should you not use a metal spoon?

    • Survival Diva says:

      Graymist,

      If you have time, post your results with your sourdough starter. Never tried orange juice and flour and would be interested to find out how it worked. As far as using metal spoons or bowls to get sourdough starter going…it’s a combination of tradition (because before stainless steel, metal pans used different alloys which had the potential of reacting and destroying yeast) and the possibility of welds in metals that use alloys that are not friendly to molds and in certain cases can kill mold and ruin sourdough starter. Some DO use metal, I’ve just never been one to tempt fate. Most who are sourdough lovers stay with the tried and true advice of the experts..some don’t ( :

  33. Potato Water – you can use it as a yeast starter instead of yeast. I have the recipe, I’ll find it and post it on the forum.

Trackbacks

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  3. […] Bread and cheese are staples few of us would want to be without. For tips on how to use sourdough starter when the yeast runs out, or if you’re interested in seeing how you can preserve cheese for years, go here: Is Survival Really Survival without Cheese and Homemade bread? […]

  4. […] Storing Cheeses kong term I came across this through an email, If you like cheese and wondered how to save for long term here's a great link…. survivethecomingcollapse. com/…urvival-bread/ […]

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