How to DIY a 25-Year Emergency Food Supply
There’s a lot that can go wrong during and after a disaster, starvation being a prime predictor in whether you survive or perish the ordeal.
However, if you start preparing today, going hungry will be the least of your problems should the worst happen. Let’s take a look at how to prepare yourself for survival with a 25-year emergency food supply.
While stockpiling an emergency food supply that has a viable 25-year shelf life may sound rather daunting, it doesn’t hurt to try and imagine the worst possible scenario in order to better prepare for them.
Whether it’s a political, environmental or man-made disaster, having a stable and well planned emergency food supply is the single most important thing you can do for you and your family.
What is a 25-Year Emergency Food Supply?
Not all food supplies are created equal. This is primarily due to the intent of that food supply, rather than what that food supply actually contains. In this case, a 25-year shelf life emergency food supply is meant to be shelf stable for two and a half decades.
By shelf stable, we are of course referring to food that will not spoil or go bad during their stated shelf life, while requiring very little upkeep. Other than adhering to the recommended storage conditions, this food will remain a viable food source without ever having to be touched.
That said, chances are that the first place your mind goes to when you think of stockpiling long-lasting food is canned items. You picture shelf after shelf of canned goods in your pantry, and hope this supply will be sufficient to offset the duration of the immediate disaster.
While canned goods are an excellent source for stockpiling an emergency food supply, they aren’t exactly meant to last 25-years.
High-acid canned foods such as fruits and tomatoes can last you up to a year and a half, and low-acid canned foods such as meats and vegetables can go for up to five years.
Even if you store canned goods in a cool and dark place, you can only extend their shelf life by a few months or perhaps a year at most. Past that, you will need to be creative and find other food sources as your canned goods will have gone bad.
Buy or Make a 25-year Emergency Food Supply
If your goal is to create an emergency food supply with a 25-year shelf life, you have two options:
- Buy prepared food guaranteed to have a shelf life of 25-years
- Make the food supply yourself
Buying the Food Supply
The easiest option is to simply buy an already prepared 25-year emergency food supply. However, you will not find these foods at your local grocery store. You’ll need to buy them at a specialty store that offers various sized kits of powdered, dehydrated or freeze-dried foods in Mylar bags.
Mylar is a kind of polyester used in making things like emergency space blankets, solar filters and helium balloons. It’s extremely durable and has the ability to create an extremely airtight barrier which makes it the best choice for long term food storage.
Food Supply Candidates
The following is a list of popular companies that specialize in producing emergency food with a 25-year shelf life:
Granted, while this option is certainly not cheap, you can rest assured that these foods are guaranteed to have a shelf life of at least 25-years and are also guaranteed to deliver the same great taste and texture as when the foods were first made.
Making the Food Supply
While buying your 25-year emergency food supply is an excellent and largely painless option, it’s also quite expensive. If cost is a factor to you, the alternative is to build your own emergency food supply from scratch. This option has several advantages:
- You will save money
- You will learn how to make and preserve food that will last decades
- You can customize the food supply to fit your dietary needs (vegan, gluten free, raw food diet, etc.)
Below are the steps to make your own 25-year emergency food supply.
Equipment and Supplies
Preparation is key when gearing up for a potential emergency situation. Planning a food supply is no exception. That said, expect a reasonable start-up cost to get your own emergency food supply off the ground. Here’s a cheat sheet of what you’ll need out of the gate to get started:
- A large supply of Mylar bags in different sizes and capacities. You can buy these by the carton and use them in conjunction with an impulse heat sealer to easily seal and extend the shelf life of your foods.
- Oxygen absorbers for food storage. These are added to each of your Mylar bags before sealing to ensure all the oxygen is removed from the bag. This also greatly extends the shelf life of your foods.
- A heat source to seal Mylar bags shut. In this case, using an impulse sealer will allow the Mylar bag and its contents to remain safe and viable in your emergency food supply.
- Plastic 5-gallon buckets. These will act as your primary food storage containers. Although slightly more expensive, it is worth investing in buckets that use a Gamma Seal lid as they are the gold standard for food storage.
It is crucial that any bucket meant for food storage is made of a food-grade plastic, otherwise chemicals and dye from the plastic bucket could lead to food contamination.
- A freeze-dryer. This will be necessary for removing all moisture from meats, fruits and vegetables. A freeze-dryer is expensive, and you might be tempted to use a dehydrator instead.
While a dehydrator will remove moisture from food as well, it is not nearly as efficient, as dehydrators can leave behind up to 10% water content in the food.
The technology used in a freeze-dryer chills your food down to about negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit and activates a high-powered vacuum pump that gets rid of the water vapor found inside the food.
This process removes all moisture, and as such, your food can last more than 20 years when properly sealed and stored in this manner.
- Label maker. You’ll need this inexpensive device to create self-adhesive labels identifying the contents within your sealed Mylar bags.
Mylar bags are not transparent, so having a label clearly identifying what’s inside is very important, especially if you have prepared meals that were made to satisfy specific dietary requirements (vegan, gluten-free, raw food, etc.).
How to Prepare Your Emergency Food Supply
Once you have everything you need, the following steps are rather simple and straightforward:
- Cut up larger food items into smaller pieces
- Combine the foods you want, such as pasta with cheese, meat and vegetables etc. and put them in a tray (foods that you would typically combine in a meal)
- Put the prepared meals into the freeze dryer
- Once the process is done, put the meals into a Mylar bag with the oxygen absorbers, using different bags for different meals
- Seal the Mylar bags with the impulse sealer and label each bag with its contents
- Store the bagged meals in food-grade plastic buckets and label each bucket accordingly
Regardless if you bought your 25-year emergency food supply or made your own, you will need to find the right place to store your food since this can greatly affect its shelf life.
The most important criteria for storage is to keep your emergency food supply away from heat and sunlight. Even though your food will be sealed in Mylar bags and plastic buckets, it’s critical to keep your food away from light exposure and high temperatures.
Traditionally, this means storing your food in cool, dark places such as a root cellar or your basement. If you live in a place where these are not available, storing the food away from windows and sources of heat (such as a furnace or water heater) is your next best bet.
Ideally, if you don’t have a root cellar or basement, store your food supply in an interior room, such as a closet at the lowest level of your home. Be sure to check on your food supply from time to time to asses its condition and update its inventory if you are cycling food in and out of your supply.
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