Tag Archives: food storage

  • 15 Food Storage Hacks to Make Cooking Easier

    You may think of food storage as buckets of wheat and beans that are useless in your everyday cooking.

    Not so, my friends. Here are 15 food storage hacks to make your cooking easier and more awesome on a daily basis:

    1. Dehydrated onion flakes = no chopping onions = no tears. Win.

    2. Freeze-dried fruit crushed into powder in a blender makes an awesome addition to frosting and filling for cakes, cookies, and other treats.

    3. Powdered milk is fantastic for baking and everyday use (especially when you unexpectedly run out and your kids are about to stage a mutiny).

    4. Powdered milk is also great for those who use milk infrequently. No sense in letting half of the container go bad—just mix up the amount you want on an as-needed basis. Also, powdered milk has come a long way since your childhood days of “scorched-tasting” milk. Don’t be afraid.

    5. Use the powder or leftover pieces of your favorite freeze-dried fruits or spices to create delicious compound butters to spread on bread and other treats.

    6. Instead of chopping up garlic, Minced Garlic is a super convenient product to store. It will cut your prep time in half, and you can use it in your favorite meals. (And, bonus, your hands won’t smell like garlic.)

    7. Freeze-dried veggies are an easy way to have seasonal vegetables at any time of year. Add them to soups and casseroles without having to chop, slice, or dice.

    8. Add Peanut Butter Powder to smoothies. You’ll get all the flavor with much less fat.

    9. Use Butter Powder to make spreadable butter in a hurry.

    10. If you get home late or forgot to plan dinner, you can use Taco Mix (TVP) to make tacos in a flash!

    11. Freeze-dried fruit is perfect in smoothies. You can also use Freeze-dried fruits to make apple-peach or strawberry-banana bread.

    12. Looking for a great after school snack for the kids? FD fruits are healthy and taste so good, the kids won’t miss candy (well . . . )

    13. Use Freeze-dried meats as toppings for homemade pizza.

    14. Got a “Helper” meal or pre-packaged meal that requires meat? You can use freeze-dried meats as substitutes in your favorite pre-packaged dishes.

    15. Wheat berries don’t just have to be used for flour. You can use wheat berries as a meat extender or a substitute for meat in meals. Check out our post, “All about Wheat” to find out how.

    How do you use food storage to make cooking easier?

    -Angela, Dawn, and Urban Girl

     

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, cooking, emergency cooking

  • We all know that Mountain House food can help you to survive in an emergency, but did you know that an empty Mountain House pouch can help as well?

    8 Unexpected Uses for a Mountain House Pouch

    Recently, Mountain House’s Instagram page created a series illustrating various ways to re-use a Mountain House Pouch. Here’s what they came up with.

    1. Bet you didn’t know you could use a Mountain House pouch to warm up your sleeping bag . . . Simply fill up an empty (clean) pouch with hot water and place by your feet inside your sleeping bag.

     8 Unexpected Uses for a Mountain House Pouch

     

    1. How about using an empty pouch to wash your utensils while camping? This is a great way to conserve water and to get your utensils clean without them getting lost. Simply put soapy water in, close, and shake—no scrubbing required! You could even use the water to clean other small items.

    8 Unexpected Uses for a Mountain House Pouch

    1. Use a clean Mountain House Pouch as a Waterproof container for your keys, cell phone, and other items you don’t want to get wet while exploring a lake or going white water rafting.

     8 Unexpected Uses for a Mountain House Pouch

    Inspired by Mountain House’s idea, we’ve come up with five more ways to re-use a Mountain House pouch in an emergency:

    1. If you’re lost in the wild and need a container to filter water into, use your empty Mountain House pouch as a container to drink from.
    2. You can carry extra water for cooking and cleaning in Mountain House pouches.
    3. Use a clean Mountain House pouch as a waterproof mini emergency kit (similar to an SOL origin survival pack) to carry with you in your day pack.
    4. Searching for wild edibles, but don’t have a basket or container to carry them back to camp? You can use a Mountain House pouch to collect edible plants and flowers. For plants that need water to stay fresh before cooking, you can add a little water into the pouch.
    5. Lost in the woods and need a way to signal for help? Open up your Mountain House pouch and use the silver lining inside to reflect the sun similar to a signaling mirror.

    Have you ever used a Mountain House pouch or another unconventional tool to help you during a camping trip or emergency? We’d love to hear about your experience!

     

    -Angela

    Photos courtesy of Mountain House Instagram

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, mountain house

  • Why Buy Mountain House from Emergency Essentials?

    Over their 40-year history, Mountain House has perfected the art of freeze-drying and packaging delicious meals for the military, outdoor enthusiasts, and long-term emergency food storage. Walk in to any sporting goods store, and you’ll probably find a display of Mountain House pouches ready and waiting to supply you with food for your next camping trip.

    However, there are several benefits to buying Mountain House products from Emergency Essentials that other stores just don’t offer.

    Here are 9 reasons why Emergency Essentials is the best place to buy Mountain House for your next outdoor adventure or for your emergency supplies:

    1. Unparalleled Selection: We sell the complete assortment of Mountain House Products, including new, seasonal, and limited-time products
    2. EE Exclusives: We stock some unique items and combos you simply won’t find anywhere else.
    3. Ready to Ship: These products are stocked in our warehouse and ready to ship immediately.
    4. Freshest Inventory: Because we sell large quantities, we receive frequent shipments—so you know you’re getting the freshest product possible.
    5. Lowest Price in the Country—Guaranteed: As one of Mountain House’s largest distributors, we have the buying power to bring you low prices. We’ll always have the best price (and if we don’t, we’ll match it).
    6. Emergency Essentials’ Stamp of Approval: Mountain House products have been prepared in our test kitchens and tasted by our experts and they meet or exceed our standards.
    7. We Guarantee Your Satisfaction 100%: You can try Mountain House for the first time without a care in the world—if you don’t like it, let us known within 30 days of your purchase, and we’ll take care of it! (But we’re pretty sure you’re going to love it.)
    8. Get everything you need in one place—and in one order: We have all your food storage and preparedness needs covered—just add whatever you need to your order and they’ll all arrive together, direct from our warehouse—and fast!
    9. You always get accurate, honest information when you do business with us. That’s just the way we do things around here.

    If you haven’t tried Mountain House before, give it a try! If you’ve tried it, tell us what you love about it!

     

    -Angela

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, mountain house

  • “If this is “emergency” food, things don’t look so bad!” This is what Nancy, an Emergency Essentials customer, said about Mountain House® Lasagna with Meat Sauce.

    Our customers are raving about Mountain House®—everything from the delicious flavor to the long shelf-life. And why not rave?

    Mountain House Beef Stroganoff

    Tested and used in the harshest conditions by people whose lives depended on them, Mountain House® freeze-dried meals are perfect for military, outdoor enthusiasts, or to use during emergencies. But these meals aren’t just for those who find themselves in less-than-ideal conditions. Mountain House® meals have been a favorite for people just like you for years—whether for camping or just a crazy weeknight at home.

    Check out what others have to say about Mountain House® meals:

    FiveStars

    “One of our favorites!”

    - Trade (Beef Stroganoff)

    FiveStars

    “This is so good I couldn’t wait for a disaster. We ate it up and ordered more.”

    -Meredith (Beef Stroganoff)

    FiveStars

    “This is amazing! The flavors blend perfectly and have a wonderful taste.”

    -Cynthia (Sweet and Sour Pork)

    FiveStars

    “Great diversion from humdrum meals.”

    - Bruce (Chili Mac)

    FourStars

    “Satisfying! Great for camping and emergencies.”

    - Kenneth, (Chili Mac)

    FiveStars

    “Tasty and you get a lot of cheese…and I mean a lot!”

    - Bradford (Macaroni and Cheese)

    FiveStars

    “We love it…we can’t get enough of it.”

    - Cassandra (Noodles and Chicken)

    FiveStars

    “Another winner from Mountain House!”

    - Jennifer C. (Noodles and Chicken)

    FiveStars

    “If this is “emergency” food, things don’t look so bad!”

    -Nancy (Lasagna with Meat Sauce)

    FiveStars

    “We NEVER expected to love Mountain House foods as much as we do.”

    -Sandi (Lasagna with Meat Sauce)

    FiveStars

    “You will not believe that it could possibly be freeze-dried… Better than homemade!!”

    - FL gal (Lasagna with Meat Sauce)

    If you don’t believe them, try out a can or two for yourself. You’ll love them. We guarantee it.

    What’s your favorite Mountain House® meal?

     

    --Kim

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, mountain house, sale, Customer Reviews

  • 5 Non-Emergency Uses for Mountain House

    Who says you can only eat Mountain House during an emergency?

    In addition to rotating Mountain House into your weekly meals to prepare yourself and your family for an emergency, there are several non-emergency uses for Mountain House that you can include into your daily life.

    Here are our 5 favorite non-emergency uses for Mountain House (some of these uses might surprise you.)

    1. Mom’s night out (and Dad can’t cook)
    2. You just don’t have time or energy to cook.
    3. Gourmet backpacking food (and easy cleanup).
    4. “Mom, what’s for Dinner?”
    5. Quick hot meal for an ailing neighbor.

    *Bonus use: “Hey Grandma, we’re coming over in an hour!” Great for feeding any unexpected family, friends, or guests who need a place to stay.

    But let’s be honest: Mountain House food is so good that you’ll be looking for any excuse to eat it; once you’ve tried it, you’ll be hooked.

     

    What other non-emergency uses do you have for Mountain House? Let us know in the comments.

    -Angela

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, mountain house

  • What makes Mountain House so Awesome?

    It’s no secret that here at Emergency Essentials, we love Mountain House food. Not only does Mountain House taste great, but it’s also perfect for emergencies or your everyday needs with great quality, selection, and shelf life.

    But you don’t have to take our word for it. The history of the Mountain House Company and their unique freeze-drying process help the product speak for itself.

    Here are six reasons why Mountain House is awesome:

    1. They’re perfect for long-term storage: Mountain House has been in business for 40+ years. They’ve perfected the art of freeze-drying and packaging freeze-dried meals for long-term storage. Their products have been scientifically proven to store for at least 25 years.

    2. Each meal uses fresh ingredients: Since Mountain House only uses fresh ingredients, the nutritional value, color, and texture of the food is preserved during the freeze drying process. This means that you can enjoy the same nutritional benefits you would from eating a fresh apple each time you bite into a Mountain House freeze-dried apple slice.

    3. Each meal has a home-cooked taste: Instead of freeze-drying each individual component in the meal and then packaging it all together, Mountain House prepares and cooks each meal before freeze-drying. To ensure optimal flavor and to enhance the quality of each meal, Mountain House adds noodles into the package after the freeze-drying process.

    As you add water to your meal, the noodles will cook in the same time it takes to reconstitute the other components, so you’ll have tender noodles to enjoy with each meal. This method of freeze-drying gives each Mountain House meal a home cooked taste that everyone enjoys.

    Added bonus: each meal is cooked by trained, professional chefs (no wonder it’s so good!)

    4. Each meal is quick and simple to prepare: The best thing about Mountain House meals is that they are easy to prepare. All you have to do is add hot water, wait 8-10 minutes, and voila, dinner is served.

    5. You can use Mountain House for more than just emergencies: Mountain House isn’t only good in emergencies, but it is also perfect for camping trips, a quick hot meal for when you don’t feel like cooking, and for preparing a quick meal for an ailing neighbor.

    Fun fact: Did you know? Mountain House’s parent company, Oregon Freeze-Dry began by selling freeze-dried meals to the military during the Vietnam War. Since 1968, Mountain House has been trusted to feed troops in every theater of combat.

    6. Mountain House is improving each day: Mountain House has a dedicated team of researchers that work each day to ensure that Mountain House foods taste great. They even have a sensory group that evaluates the taste, texture, and flavor of each meal to make sure that each product is high quality.

     

    Check out this video to learn more about Mountain House’s Research and development team and why Mountain House is just plain awesome:

    What do you love about Mountain House products? Let us know in the comments

     

    -Angela

     

    *Editor’s Note about the Image at the top of this post: Although this picture looks like Mountain House cans are stored in the garage, we do not recommend keeping your food storage in a garage for long-term storage. Fluctuations in temperature, odors, and other chemicals can lessen the quality (and longevity) of your food.

    For more info on studies about Mountain House, check out the results of this Oregon State University study on Mountain House products  http://safecastle.com/documents/OSU-Sensory-Report.pdf

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, mountain house, sale

  • Why Grind your own wheat?

    Have you ever seen a wheat grinder and wondered if it’s worth it? Well, here are some reasons you should give grinding your own wheat a go!

    Shelf-life. Whole grain flour (or meal) that you buy at the store goes bad relatively rapidly. Plus, you never know how long flour in the store has been on the shelf. The Whole Grains Council suggests that whole wheat flour can turn rancid in as little as 1-3 months on a cool pantry shelf, and 2-6 months in a freezer! If stored correctly, wheat berries can last 30 years or more in your food storage.

    Options. Once you have a grinder, you can grind whatever you want! There are many different kinds of wheat and many different kinds of wheat grinders. You can even grind other things like beans, quinoa, corn, rice, oats, etc.

    Texture. When you grind your own flour, you get to control the fineness of the grain. There are typically settings that allow you to grind fine or coarse wheat on each grinder. This means that you can experiment with the texture of the final product and find the perfect flour for you.

    Flavor. Although unscientific, many prefer the flavor of freshly-ground flour to that of flour that has been sitting on a shelf.

    Cost. This is a tricky one. The initial cost of a grinder is often somewhat off-putting as well as the additional cost of the wheat or other ingredients you’re grinding. The good news is that this is a preparedness item that can be used all the time; so instead of just spending money on an item to have for emergencies, you can incorporate it and use it in your life right now. Depending on the type of flour you normally buy, grinding your own wheat may save you money in the long run and will give you a higher-end flour you may not find at the grocery store. There are also other great benefits to consider.

    Nutrition. The Whole Grains Council lists many great benefits (and supporting studies) that come from eating whole grains (grinding your own means you’ve got a fresher product.)), instead of refined grains, some of which include:

    • Decreased risk of chronic disease including: stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, various inflammatory diseases, colorectal cancer, and more
    • Better weight maintenance
    • Healthier carotid arteries
    • Healthier blood pressure levels
    • Less gum disease and tooth loss

    Grinding your own wheat

    Of course, benefits are most pronounced in the context of an overall healthy diet, and whole grain foods vary in their level of nutrition. But since whole grains are a big step up from refined, commercially-processed flours and cereals, you really can’t go wrong with whole grains and your own grinder.

    Do you have any experience grinding your own wheat? Tell us about it in the comments!

    --Michelle

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, wheat

  • Cheese Making 101: A Basic Guide

    Whether you’re a cheese connoisseur or just like to throw it in with your lasagna, homemade cheese will give you a delicious (not to mention inexpensive!) blend of flavors—exactly the way you want. And believe it or not, making your own homemade cheese is actually easier than you might think, it just takes some practice. Learn some of the basics of cheese making and how it can change the way you look at cheese.

     

    Why should I make my own cheese?

    By making your own cheese, you’re actually getting a lot more than just better taste. Check out five benefits to making your own cheese.

    1. No artificial ingredients. Commercially sold cheese tends to have added food coloring, growth hormones, pesticides, or GMO-heavy ingredients, according to Cultures for Health and FineCooking.com. When you make your own cheese, everything you put into it is completely natural, making it a healthier addition to your meals. And it never hurts to know exactly what you are putting into the food that you’ll be putting into your body.

    2. It’s inexpensive. Making your own cheese is a great way to try all the exotic varieties of cheese without breaking the bank. The only supplies you need are a heavy-bottomed pot, kitchen thermometer, cheesecloth, and some cultures (but we’ll get into that later).

     3. Fast and Easy. Once you learn how to make cheese, it’s a process that becomes fast and easy, no matter what type of cheese you decide to try. The basic process is the same for most cheeses, so no matter what you want to make, you’ll already have the basics down.

    4. Children love it. Most kids love cheese, and letting them be a part of making it is a great activity. It’s also a fun way to teach them about science and chemistry as you use bacteria, enzymes, and naturally formed acids to solidify and preserve milk protein, and fat.

    5. It’s delicious. Do I really need to say any more? No matter what flavor of cheese you choose to make, it’ll make a tasty addition to your meals and snacks.

     

    Basic Supplies

    Making cheese requires some basic supplies to help you get the best possible results. Make sure you have the following equipment and ingredients on hand before you start.

    Ingredients:

    Fresh Milk: The fresher the milk, the better. The best flavor of cheese comes from unpasteurized milk (although you’ll want to let it cure for 2-4 months if you’re worried about pathogens in it); however, you can also use pasteurized milk, whole milk, or skim milk. Using anything other than unpasteurized milk may require you to add extra ingredients (such as more Calcium Chloride in pasteurized milk to help it coagulate). Remember, the fresher and fattier the milk, the richer and better the taste. Note: Ultra-pasteurized milk is not recommended to make cheese because it has difficulty coagulating. It can, however, work for making yogurt.

    Cultures: Cultures are the bacteria or chemicals you add to acidify your milk and help the curing process. There are two types of cultures: Thermophilic and Mesophilic. The one you need will depend on the cheese you make. Thermophilic cultures are used for cheeses that are scalded to high temperatures. Mesophilic cultures are for those that don’t heat beyond 102° F.

    A lot of cultures are considered “mixed cultures” where there are multiple strains of bacteria included. The mix of the culture can change quickly due to temperature and storage conditions so it can be harder to know exactly what the mix of those cultures is. You can also use pure cultures (where there’s only one strain of bacteria present, making it easier to know exactly what bacteria is in the culture) from cheese-making supply houses.

    Rennet: Rennet is the enzyme that causes acidified milk to gel together and to form a “clean break”. A clean break is when the coagulated milk holds itself together when you probe the mixture with a table knife or finger. In order to get a clean break, the milk must be undisturbed during its gelling process. You can use rennet liquid, powder, or tablets.

     

    Equipment:

    Heavy Stainless Steel Pot with Lid: It’s important to use a pot with a heavy bottom to help disperse the heat evenly without scorching the milk. You can also use a heavy enameled pot. Just make sure you don’t use an aluminum one which will react with the acidifiers (bacteria or inorganic chemicals that produce or become acids to help with the curing) used in the process.

    Measuring Cups: Have a variety of measuring cups and spoons on hand. Accurate measurements will help your cheese turn out better.

    Thermometer: While cooking and cooling your cheese, it’s important to keep an accurate temperature reading. The texture of your cheese depends on it and can change with a sudden shift in temperature, even by one degree.

    Large Whisk: This helps to mix the rennet and starter. Rennet is the enzyme that causes acidified milk to gel together. The starter is the bacteria or acidifiers you add to your milk so that the rennet will work and the curds will form.

    “Cheese Cloth”: Use a type of “cheese cloth” or white cotton fabric (such as a handkerchief or a non-terry sterilized dish towel) to drain the liquid whey proteins from the solid curds. If possible, avoid using what is sold at supermarkets as “cheese cloth”. Typically, this fabric is too flimsy and the open-weave material will let your curd slip through. If you do choose to use the supermarket’s cheese cloth, layer a few pieces at different angles to minimize curd loss.  

    Cheese Press:  This tool is used to apply pressure to fresh curds, exposing the milk protein and allowing the loose curds to bond with each other to form solid cheese. The cheese press is required if you plan on making a hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, Cojita, aged Gouda, etc.). You can purchase a press from a cheese-making supply house, or make your own if you’re only making a pound or two.

    Wax: Waxing the outside of your cheese prevents it from molding or spoiling while it ages. Make sure to use a wax that will resist cracking (unlike Paraffin) so that your cheese doesn’t spoil or grow mold through the wax’s weak spots. Check out how to wax your cheese here.

     

    Basic Process

    Before beginning, prepare your kitchen by scrubbing your counters, stove, and sink thoroughly. Each type of cheese requires the growth of specific bacteria in the mixture of basic ingredients. Any unwanted bacteria that get into the mixture can ruin your batch of cheese.

    The process for each type of cheese (soft, semi-soft, hard, extra-hard) is fairly similar, with slight variations to make each cheese different. For example, the process for making Cheddar cheese and Colby cheese starts out the same, but the Colby cheese has an extra step where more water is added, giving you a moister cheese in the end.

    Learn more about cultures from CheeseMaking.com.

    Learn more about Rennet from CheeseMaking.com.

    Learn more about cheese-making and get more recipes at the sites below:

     

    Sources:

    http://www.culturesforhealth.com/reasons-to-make-your-own-cheese

    http://www.finecooking.com/item/48505/top-5-benefits-of-home-cheese-making

    http://www.cheesemakingrecipe.com/

    http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese_course/Cheese_course.htm

    http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/240-FAQ-Cheesemaking-and-Ripening.html

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/food-preservation7.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acidifier

    http://www.leeners.com/cheese/how-to/cheese-making-cheese-press.shtml

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, food, cooking

  • Preparedness Basics: How to Use a Dehydrator

    Whether you’re using it for food storage, snacks, or camping, using a dehydrator to dry your own food can be a great money saver—plus you know your food was fresh before it was dehydrated! There are a lot of different variables to consider when dehydrating fruits, veggies, and meats, so this is a basic how-to that will work as a jumping off point.

    What you need:

    • A dehydrator (like the Excalibur, L’Equip, or American Harvest)
    • Fruit/Veggies/Meat
    • Cutting board
    • Knife
    • Air-tight containers/freezer bags
    • Optional:
      • Provident Pantry Iodized Salt, Provident Pantry White Sugar, spices
      • Ascorbic acid or citrus juice
      • Pot with boiling water for blanching (a method of partially cooking fruits or vegetables in boiling water before dehydrating them. Blanching makes it easier to peel produce and helps to keep their colors vibrant and bright instead of turning gray in the dehydrator.)

     

    How to Prep Your Foods and Use Your Dehydrator:

    1. Collect your ingredients. If you’re using fruits or vegetables make sure they’re of good quality and not bruised or overripe as this will impact the quality of your dehydrated goods.

    2. Prepare ingredients. This will vary depending on what you are using, but this means cleaning, hulling, and slicing produce or cutting up meat. The important thing is to maintain consistency in the thickness of your slices/pieces to ensure drying at an even rate.

    •  Fruit: If desired, treat fruits prone to oxidation with citrus juice or ascorbic acid to help retain color throughout the process. You may also need to crack the skins of tough fruits (grapes, berries) to allow the moisture to evaporate.
    • Vegetables: For most vegetables, a short blanching in boiling water will help speed the drying process and help maintain color. Three to five minutes should be enough.

    3. Season. This step is optional, but if desired you can add salt, sugar, or spices.

    4. Load. Take all of your pieces and load onto the dehydrator trays without overlapping pieces.

    5. Go! Turn on your dehydrator immediately after loading. Consult your owner’s manual for recommended drying times and other specific instructions. Expect it to take anywhere from 6-12 hours.

    6. Check. As you get close to the end of drying time, you can check to see if your pieces are done! To check, remove a piece from the dehydrator and allow it to cool. Feel it with your fingers. If it feels dry to the touch, then it is probably done. An additional test can be done by cutting open pieces to see if there are any moisture beads. Another option is putting warm pieces into a plastic bag to see if condensation forms. If any moisture is present after trying one of these three tests, you need to dry them out more.

    7. Cool. Allow your pieces to cool for 30-60 minutes before packing (they should be completely cool to the touch).

    • Conditioning Dried Fruits: Because fruits retain a small amount of moisture, it is necessary to condition them before storage. Conditioning is a method of protecting the fruit from spoilage, especially from mold. Place loosely in a jar until about 2/3 full. Lightly cover. Shake once a day for 7-10 days. If condensation appears on the jar, the fruit needs to be returned to the dehydrator for further drying. Repeat conditioning process if more drying is necessary.

    8. Store. Place in air-tight containers or plastic freezer bags (remove all air) and store in a cool, dry place. When properly stored, dehydrated foods usually last about a year.

     

    To learn more tips about how to prepare your foods for a dehydrator, check out our blog post “ Preparedness Skills: Dehydrating Basics.”

    That’s it, a basic how-to for using a dehydrator. Isn’t it easy? Time to go make some tasty snacks!

    --Michelle

    For all those with years of experience using a dehydrator, what other tips would you give beginners for dehydrating fruits, vegetables, and meats?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, dehydrated food, emergency cooking, dehydrator, emergency food preparation

  • Media Filled Growbeds

    Aquaponics is the practice of raising fish and vegetables together in a symbiotic relationship by using the fish waste to fertilize the plants. In early April, I posted about my beginning adventures in making my own Aquaponics system. To learn more about Aquaponics and my plan for building a system, check out the article here.

    If you’re curious about Aquaponics, you may be wondering what materials you’d need to set up your own system.  As I build my own, I’ll keep you up to date on what you need to have and how to build your own.

    Materials to grow vegetables:

    • Fish Tank
    • Grow Beds
    • Growing Media
    • Water Pump(s)
    • Supply of piping, valves, & fittings
    • An Aquarium Water Test Kit
    • Proper type & number of fish

    Most of the materials I am using have been salvaged for free or close to it. I am building my system inside a greenhouse that I am constructing to allow for four-season growing and to keep predators away from the fish.

     

    Fish tank:

    The tank must be large enough to fill all of your grow beds and still have plenty of water for the fish. The water will return from the grow beds into this tank so make sure it has the capacity to not overflow. You can try using a repurposed, above ground, soft side swimming pool with a filter/pump to filter out the solid waste and supply water to the grow beds. Or, what I’m planning to do, use three Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) holding 300 gallons of water each.

    Grow beds:

    I am using salvaged (free) plastic 55-gallon barrels that are cut in half lengthwise. Make sure you cut them so that each half will have a bung or filler hole at the bottom of the radius in the center. This will allow the water to drain out of the grow bed on the off cycle.

    DIY Aquaponics Grow BedsDIY Aquaponics Grow Bed

    Growing media:

    You can use commercial clay ball media (such as Hydrocorn or other clay pebbles), pea gravel (this is what I will use), or one of the many other types of grow media. There is a lot of information about the different types on the internet. Learn more about grow media from Backyard Aquaponics, Aquaponic Gardening, and Home Aquaponics System.

    Pump(s):

    You will need a water pump, or pumps, depending on the design of your system. There are many inexpensive types out there in either 12-volt DC or 120-volt AC house current. You want enough water flow to be able to fill your grow beds in a short amount of time but not flood them out.

    Plumbing fixtures and piping:

    You will need enough PVC pipe and fittings to connect the grow beds together, carry the water to all of them and also drain it back to the fish tank. This amount is dependent on how your system is designed. I will list what it takes for mine as the construction progresses.

    Aquarium Water Test Kit:

    You will need this to determine the amount of ammonia and PH levels in the water to make sure it is at a tolerable level for both the fish and the plants.

    Fish:

    This has to be a choice based on your climate conditions. For instance, Tilapia is a favorable choice as they are prolific breeders, but they are very intolerant of cool water temperatures. Catfish, on the other hand, tolerate almost any temperature and are able to survive in low-oxygen environments; however, they will not breed in a tank unless it is large and has some type of nesting box to use. I will be using both Bullhead Catfish and Hybrid Bluegill as stocked fish in my system. The thing to remember is that the ratio of fish to water is critical. The ratio I will be using is 1 pound of fish to 10 gallons of water. This means 1 pound of fish at MATURITY to 10 gallons of water. You may get away with 100 fingerling fish to begin with, but they will have to be thinned out as they grow or they will die of oxygen depletion.

     

    I will stop here for now, and pick up next time with design and construction of an Aquaponics system.

    See ya'll next time!

     

    Kevin, OK

    Check out the rest of our Aquaponics Series:

    "Aquaponic Gardening: What is it? (Part One)"

     

    Additional Info:

    http://aquaponics.com/page/aquaponics-information

    Photo of Media Filled Beds Courtesy of Backyard Aquaponics

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, gardening, gardening tips

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