Food preservation remains an important and popular activity. In an extended crisis or in a survival scenario the ability to preserve food could proof a vital skill that could mean the difference between life and death. Because food is so important to survival, food preservation is one of the oldest technologies used by human beings.
Below, we'll look at all of the different preservation techniques that will most likely be available in case of an extended crisis or survival scenario.
Refrigeration and freezing
Refrigeration and freezing are probably the most popular forms of food preservation in use today. In the case of refrigeration, the idea is to slow bacterial action to a crawl so that it takes food much longer (perhaps a week or two, rather than half a day) to spoil. In the case of freezing, the idea is to stop bacterial action altogether. Frozen bacteria are completely inactive.
In the event of an extended crisis or survival scenario power sources will probably be limited or wont be available. Since the refrigeration and freezing method is can very dependent on power sources this option has very severe limitations.
Since 1825 or so, canning has provided a way for people to store foods for extremely long periods of time. In canning, you boil the food in the can to kill all the bacteria and seal the can (either before or while the food is boiling) to prevent any new bacteria from getting in. Since the food in the can is completely sterile, it does not spoil. Once you open the can, bacteria enter and begin attacking the food, so you have to "refrigerate the contents after opening" (you see that label on all sorts of food products -- it means that the contents are sterile until you open the container). Read More
Many foods are dehydrated to preserve them. If you walk through any grocery store you may notice the following dehydrated products:
Since most bacteria die or become completely inactive when dried, dried foods kept in air-tight containers can last quite a long time. Soup and milk are easy to dry and last for years.
Normally, drying completely alters the taste and texture of the food, but in many cases a completely new food is created that people like just as much as the original!
Salting, especially of meat, is an ancient preservation technique. The salt draws out moisture and creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria. If salted in cold weather (so that the meat does not spoil while the salt has time to take effect), salted meat can last for years.
This technique creates a keg (a wooden barrel) full of salt and meat. This technique is ancient. You can read about its use during the sailing voyages around the time of Columbus. Many accounts of the Revolutionary War and especially the Civil War talk about meat preserved in this way. Salting was used to preserve meat up through the middle of this century, and was eventually replaced by refrigeration and freezing.
Today, salting is still used to create salt-cured "country ham" found widely in the southern United States, dried beef (which you can buy in jars at most grocery stores), and corned beef and pastrami, which are made by soaking beef in a 10-percent salt water brine for several weeks.
Pickling was widely used to preserve meats, fruits and vegetables in the past, but today is used almost exclusively to produce "pickles," or pickled cucumbers. Pickling uses the preservative qualities of salt (see above) combined with the preservative qualities of acid, such as acetic acid (vinegar). Acid environments inhibit bacteria. To make pickles, cucumbers are soaked in a 10-percent salt water brine for several days, then rinsed and stored in vinegar to preserve them for years.