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Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by Dana, Oct 10, 2008.
Any suggestions for semi-long term storage of flour?
i have read that if you keep the grain whole and not grind it and keep air and bugs out it will keep a few hundred years, corn is especially good for this and there are the cliff dwellings of the anistasi ( sp?) indians where they have found pots of corn still good after 300 years
in china before rice became the staple, wheat was the grain of the day and they have found 500+ year old wheat that could be consumed after being found.
Traditionally, one way to keep your flour (post-grinding) was in the form of Hard Tack, or Ship's Biscuit. Hard to use, but easier than whole grain, and can keep for months. Bugs were a problem, but one that I think is mitigated with modern plastic containers or wraps. Making a large batch of hard-tack and storing in ziplocks and then again in sealable plastic bins, I think should keep for a very long time without spoilage or infestation.
I just google'd up a basic recipie.
I vacuum sealed 20lbs or so and have it in airtight containers. Lasts about 2 years.
How long would the Army hard pack thing last?
In theory, a year or so... in practice, usually less, mostly due to handling. I think if properly prepared and dried, and then sealed in modern containers, quite a bit more. It's going to taste like a brick, and its best use is in addition to a soup, but if you're preparing for an extended time without the means to procure flour or grind your own grain (modern wheat packed in #10 cans often lasts over 30 years), it'll do, and it's relatively cheap, I suppose.
I think the real utility of it is as a portable lightweight food item. If you're going to be in the woods for weeks, it's one way of carrying your bread. If you're on ship and space is tight, or you're in a situation where mobility trumps longevity, then hardtack seems an appropriate answer. I wouldn't store it in any great quantity in a long term food storage plan, though. Make a decent sized batch once a year, and rotate it out every other year... if ya gotta bug out, grab a few pounds of it and some instant soup mixes, and get on your way. Don't try to live on it for months, though.
Can the same thing be done with rice?
One more thing, in some of my research on this, retained moisture is the death of good hardtack. If you live in a humid area, baking alone will not drive enough moisture off... letting it set in a closed space with a dehumidifier is wise, and will add significantly to the shelf life of the product. Bone dry is the key to long term storage of this stuff.
I say use a dehumidifier, because I notice that even the standard kitchen dehydrator, in the summer months of the D.C. area, never really dries stuff out all the way. Sure, it makes great rasins, but if you want a rock-hard bananna chip, forget it. Same with jerky... good short-life meat, but no good for really drying it out for a longer storage time. It's just too moist here.
If you're without a dehumidifier, try to limit your drying times to days with cooler temperatures and low relative humidiy... sub '50s F, and under 20% water vapor. I think this is a good beginning. Hot and moist is no good.
Never thought about rice, but how often are you jonesing for rice flour? Makes more sense to preserve it as a grain, and cook when needed, I would think.
I found some scant reference to using other grains than wheat, but they refer mostly to modern interpretations, fanciful recipies based on the original meant to actually be enjoyed, with no mention of their use as a sturdy ration over a long period of time.
I did just read a modified exerpt from Hardtack & Coffee, by John Billings, written in 1861. He mentions that when issued, if it were wet and moldy, it would be discarded and replaced... but if infested, the men were to bear it as is. Oftentimes this meant dunking one's broken-up biscuit into a pot of coffee, and then straining off the drowning weevils leaving "no distinctive flavor behind." Also, "Eaten in the dark, no one could tell the difference between it and hardtack that was untenanted."
Pass the salt.
Also breaking it and sitting it on the stove would drive out the weevils often.
Flour keeps a long time if sealed aritight and moistrure tight but it will keep a lot longer as grain.
Where can you buy grain at? I've never seen it at my local grocery store (live in a small town with no big ones near by). Do you have to go to a specialty grocery store or buy it over the Internet?
Here ya go Dean. http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/hardwhitewheat50lb.aspx This is where I got mine from. I would have prefered a local source, but couldn't find one. Expensive?......yes, but I felt the good in having it outweighed the bad. I also got a grain mill from here http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/sea...ute15=0&attribute16=0&RS=1&keyword=grain+mill It's not the best one, but it's far from the worst.
LDS Canneries will sell a couple varieties of wheat in bulk, with an advertised shelf life of 30 years. I reccomend a combo grinder, one that will use electric but has a manual option. Use the juice for making lots of bread now, so you get used to the process, but have the manual backup for "if the power goes out" and you can still do your thing.
Grain has a shelf life of 30 years? Hard to believe. Rice goes bad in just a couple years.
Sealed in a #10 can, with a dessicant pack, not so surprising.
Here's their order sheet... http://www.providentliving.org/pfw/multimedia/files/pfw/pdf/113827_HSOrderForm_US_JUL_08_pdf.pdf
We cannot purchase bread in my local town which does not have soy flour as part of the ingredients. I am allergic to unfermented soy products so have been forced to bake my own bread. After much experimentation I now make two 2lb loaves at a time using just four ingredients. Flour, Yeast, Water and salt. I make what I call my 60/40 loaf which is 60% organic unbleached white flour and 40% wholewheat flour which I grind using organic wheat.
I buy the unbleached white flour in 10kg sacks and as the flour stays fresh for approximately one year and I get through several sacks in a year it isn't a problem. However I did get one sack which had weevils in it (cobwebby bits in the flour) and I just sieved the flour and used up the sack. As for the wheat there is a really simple solution. I bought food grade diatomaceous earth and to each 20kg sacks I add I cup of the DEarth and mix it into the wheat carefully. I say carefully because DEarth is calcified ground seashells millions of years old. It dries out the bodies of the weevils and kills them, however if you touch the DEarth with your bare hands you will immediately feel the oils in your hands drying out. Most unpleasant sensation.
So use gloves when mixing and be sure not to inhale the stuff or get it into your eyes. When I want to use the wheat I just sieve out any excess DEarth and grind away. It won't hurt you to digest some of the DEarth as long as you buy the food grade and not the DEarth that is used for filtering swimming pools. I am stocking up on sacks of wheat because I know that by using this method my wheat will stay perfectly useable for many years to come (it will probably stay fresh until long after I am gone).
I didn't think that LDS Canneries were open to non-members anymore.
LOL, I am going to try to make this hardtack, if nothing else would be a good cooking project for my kids! Here is another recipe I found for it.....
Hard tack is a cracker/biscuit flat-bread used during long sea voyages and military campaigns before the introduction of canning as a primary food-source. Mostly inedible for dry and hard preservation, it was usually dunked in water, brine, coffee, or other liquids, or cooked into a skillet meal. This cracker was little more than flour and water which had been baked hard and would keep for months as long as it was kept dry. Also known as a sea biscuit, sea bread, or ship's biscuits.
2 cups of flour
½ to ¾ cup water
6 pinches of salt
1 tablespoon of shortening (optional/not traditional)
Mix all the ingredients into a dough and press onto a cookie sheet to a thickness of ½ inch.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (205°C) for half an hour.
Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough (a fork works nicely).
Flip the crackers and return to the oven for another half hour.
Some recipes also recommend a second baking at 250°F (120°C) to thoroughly dry out the bread.
Scale ingredient quantities equally if more dough is required.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Hard_Tack"
The LDS cannery in Portland, OR is open to non members one or two days a week.