Many people have caught the spirit of food storage. They have hit the case lot sales, have a year’s supply of wheat, beans, and rice, and have even started storing and dehydrating the vegetables from their garden. Some have purchased Freeze-Dried fruits, vegetables, and meats or may even have bought their own Freeze-Drier to do it themselves at home. However, it is surprising how many people ask questions regarding how to cook their food storage. In a society that is focused around a “fast food” mentality, people are forgetting how to make meals from scratch.
For the most part, food storage can be broken down into the following categories: Pre-Made Meals, Mixes, and Ingredients. How you cook with them really depends on your recipe, but they each have some tricks that might be able to help you.
These meals are for the most part already done for you. Some require you to add boiling water and then wait. Others may require simmering. But majority contain all ingredients you need other than water. Take one of our Entrée’s for instance. Our Chicken Teriyaki directions read:
Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in contents of package. Turn down to a gentle boil for 10-15 minutes or until noodles are soft. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes.
With how easy these Pre-Made Meals are, you’ll want to use them for busy weekday nights as well as your food storage.
Mixes: Mixes generally require a little more effort than their Pre-Made Meal counterparts. You can find everything from Soup Bases to Brownie Mixes. Some may need to add an ingredient or two, such as a brownie mix. Or it may just be the start of great things like your soup base, where you add your meats and vegetables. In general, you won’t be able to tell the difference between what you purchase from the store and what is in your food storage making this category extremely easy to use.
This category is where majority of questions crop up. Questions such as “How do I actually use a dry ingredient?” “If I need 1 cup of fresh, how much of the dry do I use?” “How long do the dry ingredients need to cook?” and even “Can I just eat the dry ingredients as is?”
Using a dry ingredient for the most part is very simple. Rehydrate it by covering with warm water and let it sit until it has become soft. Then, use the product like you would a canned or frozen product in any of your recipes. An alternative method of using the ingredients is to use them dry. This takes a bit of practice due to the differences in dehydrated and freeze dried sizes, but can be done. If you are making a soup, just add a handful of Freeze-Dried or dehydrated vegetables and meat to your broth. Watch your water levels as it cooks to make sure you don’t run your soup dry. Keep in mind that if you are using dehydrated ingredients they will get much larger in size and you could have a very hearty soup without realizing it! Start with small amounts and add more as needed. If you are using Freeze-Dried products, they are roughly the same size as before, so if your recipe calls for 1 cup of fresh, use 1 cup of Freeze-Dried. It’s that simple.
So, do you need to alter your recipe’s cook time? Well, that depends. If you are rehydrating your vegetables IN your soup, you’ll need to add a couple minutes or so to accommodate the rehydration process. If you are rehydrating them before, there’s no extra time needed. Most Freeze-Dried meats come pre-cooked, so no need to cook beforehand. This makes a great shortcut for casseroles and soups, since you won’t need to pre-cook them, just rehydrate.
Since most Freeze-Dried ingredients such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and even cheese are pre-cooked, you can actually eat them dry as well! Most people prefer the meats and cheeses in recipes, but you’ll find plenty of fruits and vegetables that are great for snacking straight out of the package. Children (and adults!) love to eat the fruits by themselves or in trail mixes. They make such great healthy and alternative snacks to the lunch box staples.
Whichever method you find is the best for you and your family, don’t forget to practice and to rotate your food storage. Rotations keeps your storage fresh and your family familiar with the foods. Plus, it may just keep you from grabbing fast food on a busy night since food storage is so quick and easy to cook with!