Friday, August 28, 2015

National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

September is National Preparedness Month #30DaysofPrep 2015 It's safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with. This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we've put together for later in the month. Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We'll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage

Self-Reliance

72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags

Preparedness

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How To Begin Prepping: A True Story

I vowed from when I started sharing, that I would always be dedicated to helping the newbie prepper & just sharing what you and I were doing. You see I remember when I started that there were questions I didn't even know I had. Trying to read and glean information on what to store, how to store it...
I love to read and enjoy a good apocalyptic fiction story. You can usually pick up a prepper tip or two in the midst of the story. Recently I have been reading a couple prepper series where the story started with the main character winning the lottery for 211 million dollars or was a rich business man who began prepping...

The only problem with that is it isn't realistic. I gather you and I are not rich, but are just hard working people who are trying to prep on a budget.
With that in mind, today I am sharing a newbie prepper from our community today and how they are getting started. 

Meet Roben, a real person like you and me who is beginning her journey:
"L
et's start with the why! I grew up in a house that was owned out-right there were no payments we had to make, yet we didn't have a lot of money. Turns out my father is a penny pincher and a pack rat, my grandma was a canner and talked about what it was like to live in the great depression. I see how hard my hubby works and how much it hurts him when we cant pay a bill. I want less bills, less strain, less stress. I know at some point the American dollar is not going to be worth anything. I worry how we will afford to feed and cloth my family. How we will pay for medical. I see a major crash coming. now I know that right now I don't have much, but I have a small garden and I have a pressure canner and a dehydrator, I am learning. The world will not be the same after, but most of all...I want this because I worry about not having a place to live or food to eat or water to drink and when shtf where I am will not be safe.
Hey I posted something on my wall I would like you to look at and comment about but I couldn't figure out how to tag you in it. Thanks for looking know your very busy. But thought it was worth a look am I doing it good enough or is there a better way? Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day for me it makes me feel special. Thank you!"
Well I took a look and I am sharing her progress. Here are pictures of what Roben is currently doing for her storage. I like the ingenuity, particularly in keeping within her very tight budget.

 

Roben remembered her grandmother wrapping her canned items in newspaper and storing them in a dark place. She is getting storage buckets free from work, wrapping up her jars and then storing them. Great!

 

I think Roben, you might benefit from reading this article on how I started and things I learned including making a list of what you use everyday, store water, store what you use and use what you store: 6 Simple Tips for the Beginning Prepper 

Top Three Picks:

                                    



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Sunday, August 23, 2015

EMP: Myths or Facts

I am far from an expert on electromagnetic pulses or HEMP (high altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulses). 
From the concept of an EMP to just a complete break down of society that would leave sources of power unavailable from the very beginning I have prepared for an event that involves total lack of electricity. We even practice days without power as a lifestyle, which I recommend you try. It is amazing to learn how dependent you are as you automatically turn on lights or the stove. The phone is powered down and the laptop is hidden. 
Our preps have involved alternate sources of fuels and basically living without electronics completely which saved our "ash" a year and a half ago when our heat pump went out over a New Years Eve holiday. (Pardon our ashes...) The only exception is planning one of our next steps of getting a much older car, in the vent we need to travel and pick up various family members to bring them safely to the farm.
Probably the number one fiction book on an EMP event would have to be "One Second After", by New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen.  While I had this book in an electronic version, I recently purchased the paper back book. Mostly in preparation for the release of his sequel "One Year After" (which I already have purchased, just waiting for it to be released).
I read this book early on in my prepping and this latest reading has surprised me in how much it has influenced how I currently prep. Just reading the forward reemphasized the reality of this possible event occurring. Bill has an excellent grasp of what is a real possible scenario. The government has plans, do you? I
 prefer the fiction that just allows the event to happen and the aftermath that occurs.
The irony wasn't lost on me yesterday I was reading "One Second After", while waiting for a service tech to set up our internet connection and satellite t.v. at the farm. I had boldly proclaimed to Mr. Perky, I wouldn't completely move out to the farm without an internet connection.
There are over 500 fiction books listed on Amazon involving EMP events. I would be remiss if I didn't include the highly recommend classic "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. One of the first books that examined the effects of a nuclear blast.
The reality is we don't know if or when a life changing event will occur. Or even what type of scenario we are preparing for. We prepare based on our own understanding and beliefs. The possibility of a grid down situation occurring is in my top two.
How do you prepare? Exactly how self-sufficient are you really?


What I do here is simply share our preparedness journey. We would love it if your joined our Perky Prepping Gramma community on Facebook. I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

  

P.S. I don't know about the validity of this man's science, but I am sharing his post on EMP Myths for your review: EMP Myths by Jerry Emanuelson

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Water Storage 101

Water Storage has probably been one of my highest priorities, really simple to store, but often one of the last things preppers store.
i am a wee bit concerned as we are draining our Augason water storage barrels this week, if TEOTWAWKI should occur ALL our water storage is now at the farm. 
My recommendations to beginner preppers is to list what you use each day and start stocking up in that order. My guess is that most people use water in some form or another within the first 5 minutes of waking up. Do you use the restroom, make coffee or like me grab a glass of water?
We have had 250 gallons of water stored in the house for some time now. Roughly three months of water. 
The general estimate is to store 1 gallon per person, 
per day and that is barely enough to cover very basic needs.

I personally store three gallons a day for two people and three dogs who drink about 32 oz. a day combined, just in case.




As you have seen before I have several water storage containers, but for my money I like the Augason Farms Water Storage Kit which contains a 55-gallon water barrel that is durable and designed for water storage. It safely pumps water, fuels, paints, and solvents and includes a lid opener and water treatment drops to treat 60 gallons of water.
Now I have to find a place to store my barrels & get them filled. I have a good idea where I am putting them.

5 Fab Fav Prepping Kitchen Tools

Frequently people put off purchasing tools in the community of prepping. When in reality I am learning that these are essential and critical prepping tools. 
High-quality tools make prepping an effortless process now and if the 
S should HTF in the near future, these 5 Fab Fav Prepping Kitchen Tools will make your life incredibly easier & in some cases it could mean the difference between surviving through the winter.
The longer I prep the more I find that the pressure canner, food dehydrator, vacuum sealer and water bath canner are indispensable equipment. I am also adding a steamer/juicer to my Fab Fav list, since I have learned how simple it is to make various types of juices for jelly & drinking.

1. Why You Really Need a Pressure Canner for Prepping. Tips & Tricks to buying the correct pressure canner for your needs. Learn from my mistakes.
The most important kitchen tool on my list would be a good quality pressure canner. Pressure canning is easier than you think. From meats to milk, all protein based, non-acidic foods NEED to be pressure canned.




Instructions here.

2. Dehydrator: Little or Big?
When you start dehydrating food for long term storage, you eventually be decide you need a dehydrator. Find out how I decided which to get. In the end the answer will probably surprise you.



Instructions here.

3. Vacuum Sealer to the Rescue
Using a vacuum sealer if one of the best ways to prep & store dry foods long term. From grains & beans to chocolate! The possibilities are endless. Learn how to use this simple tool. Bonus: Have an electric one for prepping now & a non-electric option for when the grid is down.




Instructions here.

4. Water Bath Canner
While you are able to water bath in a pressure canner, there are still benefits to having a water bath canner. Whether it is making jams & jellies or putting back your acidic produce for the winter, here you will learn a few tips and tricks. Plus I demonstrate canning tomatoes from this week.




Instructions here.

5. Love Juice? Make Your Own
Last, but not as critical I would recommend having a non-electric steamer/juicer on hand for high quality juice which you may drink or turn into jelly.





BONUS: Canning Utensils: Why would you want to read a review of canning utensils? Well some brands are actually better than others and I will tell you what to look for and why. Plus, I am sharing my favorite super storage tip for canning utensils.



Read the reviews and tip here.

Well my fellow preppers, I hope this list of prepping tools for the kitchen was helpful & that you enjoyed the article. You will find that I simply share what I am actually doing as I have learned to become a prepper. We would love to have you join our community on Facebook at Perky Prepping Gramma, where simply share what we are doing to be prepared.
I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A, B, C's of Water Bath Canning

I jumped right into pressure canning, so when it came to using a water bath canner I was a little more hesitant.
It is possible to water bath with a few extra essential items, it does pay to eventually get  water bath canner
First, let's start with the basics. You need a large pot, canning utensils and a canning rack of some sort to place on the bottom. The rack prevents the jars from bouncing around on the bottom of the pot and possibly breaking. 
If your purchase a water bath canner, pick one that has the rack included like in the picture above. But canning racks can be made at home or purchased. You may set canning jar rings in the bottom for a quick and easy rack which I did the first time I did a water bath. Or if you already have a pressure canner, you may use the rack from that set. 


 

Next you will need some canning utensils. Particularly helpful are the funnel, the bubble popper and jar lifter.
I recently wrote a post about the ins and outs of various brands of canning utensils: Review & Use of Canning Utensils, the post also includes my favorite recommendations and why.


Also you will want to have a good reliable canning book. By far the best is the "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving". This contains the all important answers to how long do I water bath any certain item. 


Why a water bath canner? Actually the main reason I decided to purchase an actual water bath canner has to do with weight. The one most commonly recommended is made of Graniteware. Which is much lighter in weight that other pots I have used. They come in a variety of sizes.


Now, here are the tomatoes we water bathed this last weekend & directions.



A. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

B. WASH tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Trim away any green areas and cut out core. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves, quarters or dice.

 

C. ADD 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar. This is now the preferred method to increase the acidity of tomatoes, since in more recent history a lot of tomatoes are being grown specifically with decreased acid levels. But, I won't argue with you if you choose not to add acid. 

D. PACK tomatoes into hot jars. You may add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar.
E. REMOVE air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.












F. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner 45 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude.

G. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

 

We would love to have you join our community on Facebook at Perky Prepping Gramma, where I simply share what we are doing to be prepared.
Items we used or mentioned today:




I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

BONUS Canning Utensils: Review & Use

When I first started canning, I started out with a basic set of canning utensils. I hadn't read a review of caning utensils, didn't understand exactly how to use the individual canning tools or what a bubble popper was.
Here is what I wish someone had told me before I bought my utensils.



Funnel: The funnel is specifically designed to fit in regular and wide mouth canning jars and allows for easier filling of the jars. It also helps keeps to rim of the jar clean.
Since I vacuum seal at lot of dry items in canning jars, I also find the canning funnel perfect to use for adding the dry items to the jars since the funnel is much wider.


 


Magnetic Lifter/Bubble Popper: Sometimes this comes together as one piece, sometimes it comes as two separate pieces.
The magnetic lifter is used if you are still warming your lids in hot water, it is used to lift lids safely out of hot water and to place the warm lid on your jars. 

 





The Presto which I prefer has the combo, the other end of this tool is your bubble popper.
You use it by inserting it into to the filled jars and moving it around the inside to release the trapped air bubbles in the jar. This is called bubbling. 
You may use something like a rubber spatula to perform the same job. It's best not to use a metal item to release the bubbles because it could scratch the inside of the glass surface.
It’s important to get the trapped air out of your jars. During the canning process the heat pulls the oxygen out of the jars to create the vacuum seal. You want to insure all that air is pulled out, not have some air trapped inside of your food.


 

Jar Lifter: Means just that. Those jars coming out of your canner when they are finished canning are super hot. The jar lifter is something I am particular about. Examine the handle. I have one (which I can't identify the manufacturer or I would tell you) in which the handle is terrible. it is made from two hard plastic pieces and once you drop it, the handle splits into two pieces. Once I took this picture for this article I threw it away.


 

Tongs: The tongs are great for handling hot food. But, I use it most often for lifting the rack(s) out of my canner. Particularly when I am am double stacking my canning.



Jar Wrench: Honestly this tool languished in my bags for awhile. The jar wrench is used to open those hard to open rings. I rarely use it for canning, since I remove my rings after canning for storage. But, there has been a tie or two where the rings didn't want to come off. Now I use it all the time for other hard to open jars in my pantry. It's great.




Now ranking my choice of manufacturers. 
The Ball Canning Utensil Set works fine, it just lacks the combo magnetic lid lifter/bubble popper. 




What I recommend most often is the Presto 6 Function Canning Utensil Set. It has the wonderful lifter/bubble popper and includes a timer. You get everything you could need for canning in one set.

Recently I purchased this Faberware Canning Set to add to my collection. It is a bit pricier, but I LOVE the sturdier jar lifter. 
Plus, the funnel has head space markings on the actual funnel on the bottom.


Know you know which tools I recommend and why. Keep reading for my Super Helpful Storage Tip:


The reason I appear to be organized is that if I didn't use these tips, I would never be able to find my canning utensils when it came time to can. I actually store my canning utensils in this bag I got for $1 at Target. I keep the weight, timer and canning booklet in the little pocket on the front. 

When I get my pressure canner out to use, I then hang the bag out of the way on a shelf close to my stove (below). I actually have two sets of utensils in this bag. It has come in very handy several times when I have dropped one of my utensils on the floor. I just reach inside and get out a second one that is clean. 



Then when the items are clean again, I put the bag inside my canner when I am not using it. As you see I have helpers. They always show up when I am canning. Since I have two canners, I have one bag of utensils in each canner. 



 
These two sets are the canning utensil that I personally recommend.


I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

How to Wax Cheese for Long Term Storage...

Being prepared for any type of SHTF isn't hard if we plan ahead. Imagine, the grid is down and you are making a recipe that calls for cheese...and you have a hankering for the real thing. Gooey, unadulterated, dripping cheese...then you remember you have precious bundles of stored waxed cheese.
Look at how good this looks...


Real cheese is one of those items I would rather have in any emergency situation. Who doesn't love cheese? Unless you are lactose intolerant. I have tried various cheese products for long term storage & haven't found one to compare to the taste of real cheese. Being the kind of gal I am, I knew I had to learn this vital skill of how to wax cheese for long term storage

Equipment: You will need dedicated equipment for waxing, since you won't be able to get these items clean again. Get your equipment. You need a double boilerparchment paper, a thermometerboar bristle brushcheese wax & muslin.  I wound up purchasing all the items I needed on Amazon.
Now you are almost ready to get started.






Next you need to purchase your cheeses. Use hard cheeses. Test it before buying by pressing your thumb into the cheese, it needs to not leave a thumb imprint to be dry enough. Also avoid cheap brands, I could almost guarantee they will give you problems in storage. I personally have had excellent results with various Gouda & cheddar cheeses.




Prep & dry the cheese. Since this was my first time, I worked with small batches of cheese. I cut them into meal sized portions. Wiped it down with vinegar & wrapped it loosely with a paper towel. Then let it it out on the counter to get to room temp. & to dry it out more. Pat it down to remove moisture. Because moisture will interfere with the adhering process.




Break up the wax (TIP: take the plastic wrapping off before you cut it) and melt in a double boiler until your temp. reaches 180 – 200 degrees. I will be getting a larger pan set for waxing.






 Wash your hands. Dip half of each block of cheese, slowly in & out of the wax.



 Hold it over the pot for a few seconds to allow the excess wax to drip off.



Gently set on parchment paper (it's smooth surface will help eliminate lumps & bumps in the wax). Set the side you just dipped facing upwards. Let it cool for at least 90 seconds.



 Then dip the opposite side of the cheese. Dip 3 times (3 layers).



 Then brush one more layer on. Look for spaces where it may have not been covered.



If you want to you can cut the labels out from the cheese wrappers ahead of time and then add the labels to the block of waxed cheese and wax a thin coat over the label. It will adhere the label and you can still read the label. 



After your cheese is waxed wrap up the brush and thermometer up in foil for the next time. Let the wax cool in the double boiler, then pack everything away in a special box with all your waxing equipment together.



For storage: After the wax is sufficiently dried, wrap the blocks in cheese cloth. Like a gift package. 





Store in a cool, dark place & fairly dry. It should last for years and years (8-10 years). Either store on a wire rack or hanging in pantyhose sure, I don't use those anymore LOL. But I will stress it depends on how well you follow the instructions and how well you store the cheese. Check it periodically for seepage, mold or cracks in the wax.


TIP: Unless you live off grid, I actually currently store mine in the fridge since I have the space. But, I know if something should happen I will have a nice amount of cheese stored.


If I don't respond to your question here sometimes the messages don't go to my e-mail. PLEASE feel free to ask on the Facebook page. 

What you see here, is what I actually do. If you liked this article, please feel free to join our community (Perky Prepping Gramma) on Facebook & keep up to date on things posted.  Thank you. ~Perky Prepping Gramma~

For more great information on prepping check out the following articles:

For your shopping cart: What I do here is simply share our actual preparedness journey. If you liked this post, we would love it if you joined our Perky Prepping Gramma community on Facebook, comment or share. Plus it would just make my day.
Your order is so very appreciated, because anything ordered through my Amazon Associate links helps me to be able to stay home and write for you. Know that I only post items that I use and recommend. I really appreciate your support. Below are items I used for waxing the cheese (11828).

       
       



Perky Prepping Gramma is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.







Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network 
 Waxing Cheese again...

September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

It's safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with. This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we've put together for later in the month. Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We'll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage

Self-Reliance

72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags

Preparedness