Tag Archive: Mason jar


candle

candle (Photo credit: jamingray)

You are a prepared person; you have flashlights, and Coleman lanterns, oil lamps, glow sticks and candles. But what do you do if the power goes out and stays out, your batteries run down, your fuel runs out and the last dribble of wax has run from your candles…now what do you do?

I thought it would be fun to cover some “old school” and not so “old school” ways to light up your night or otherwise deal with the darkness.

First off go to bed. That is right our ancestors would get up and go to sleep with that giant lights source in the sky. The less time you spend in the dark, the fewer resources you use trying to keep the room lit at night.

Make your own candles: Of course to make a wax candle you are going to need wax, the most commonly known source of wax is bees. Finding a beehive and extracting the wax is a tricky and potentially dangerous proposition, but it can be done.

A much more practical way of making candles would be tallow. Tallow is the product of rendering (slow melting) animal fat for several hours, the impurities will rise to the top and should be skimmed off, what remains is tallow. You can fill pint mason jars with your tallow and use a cotton wick, wait for your tallow to harden and you have a candle. Tallow will produce considerably more soot that modern candles, but all in all it is a source of light.

Make your own oil lamps: Once the lamp oil has run out you can use olive oil in your hurricane lamp if you like or you can make your own lamp by filling a small bowl or mason jar with olive oil and soaking your wick then light it up. If you are using a mason jar simply put a hole the size of your wick into the top, make sure it is long enough to run all the way to the bottom of the container and light it up. I have found that using an open bowl with the wick laying in the oil and coming off one side for the flame is the best way to use olive oil. In fact you can pretty much use any type of oil, corn, canola, and even lard and tallow will work with the small bowl method.

You can use hand cranked flashlights and the like, but let’s be honest having to crank that thing up every 10-15 minuets. How about using those solar powered path lights that you can get at your local box store? Just take off of the built in stake and hang from the ceiling, put outside during that day and POOF instant renewable light source.

Of course if you have a fire place you have a built in source for cooking heating and for light.

 

So there you have it some ideas for when the lights go out and stay out.

 

Jeff

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A sprouting glass jar with mung beans sproutin...

A sprouting glass jar with mung beans sprouting in it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you say you can’t grow your own food?  Pshaw I say!!

So you are in the same situation as me, you live in an apartment, no yard, no balcony, and no direct sunlight? Then, you, dear reader are in the perfect category to start sprouting. What is sprouting you ask…well….

According to Wikipedia:

Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds to be eaten either raw or cooked. They are a convenient way to have fresh vegetables for salads, or otherwise, in any season and can be germinated at home or produced industrially. They are a prominent ingredient of the raw food diet and common in Eastern Asian cuisine

It is my belief that as a prepper you should be proficient in sprouting, for one it is fun, sprouts are tasty, and most importantly they provide vitamins and minerals that you would not normally get on a diet of stored food. There is a long list of things that can be sprouted, seeds, beans, lentils and nuts are just a few. Yes that is right lots of the stuff that you are storing for long term can be sprouted. Many sprouts can be eaten raw, although if you are sprouting most beans they still need to be cooked after they start to sprout to be edible.

The very best thing about it is that it is DIRT CHEAP! What you need:

Mason jar (Quart size)

Mason jar ring for the lid

Something that will act as a strainer lid like and old piece of nylon stocking.

Yes that is all you will need, well other than what you are going to sprout. For most sprouting you will need to soak you seeds overnight in cool (60-70 Degree) water in your mason jar. Drain them and rinse them every 12 hours until they are ready. You want to make sure that after the initial soak that they don’t sit in water so just turn your mason jar upside down at an angle so that they will drain and get some air flow.

Now you will note that this description is VERY VERY short, that is because it is an easy process. Also I am going to give you link in a moment that will lead you out to the web site for Sprout People, they have detailed instructions and if I am honest an outstanding web site with detailed easy directions for pretty much anything you can sprout: you can find them at http://sproutpeople.org/.

So there you have it a brief on sprouting.

 

Until next post

Jeff

 

Jousting at Hever Castle, Kent (11) Towards th...

Jousting at Hever Castle, Kent (11) Towards the end of the jousting, some hand to hand combat breaks out. Display by The Knights of Royal England. http://www.knightsroyal.co.uk/index.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have your food, you have your food grade containers, now just dump it in and seal it up and you are off and running…right? Wrong!

There is an enemy to your stores lurking in the very air your breath waiting to jump into your food and use its hideous powers to destroy and wreak havoc! As the title implies this enemy of long term storage is Oxygen, and although it is not your only combatant it is our primary opponent at the moment.

There is a lot of technical information out there about how oxygen effects stored food, as a simple man I will give you a simple explanation. Oxygen “rusts” your food and makes it taste bad and also helps little nasty microbes that can make you ill grow in your food. Bottom line oxygen bad!!!

So how do we fix this, how can we fill up a 5 gallon bucket with rice, beans, or whatever and then get the oxygen out of it? I am glad that you asked such an appropriate question at such an opportune moment.

There are 4 main ways to get the oxygen out

Behind door number one we have sucking it out:

Vacuum Sealers utilize special bags that allow you, with the aid of a machine, to suck out all the air out of your storage bag, the machine then seals it shut for you. This is an excellent method, especially if used in conjunction with our second choice.

In my humble opinion a Vacuum Sealer is an awesome addition to a peppers toolkit. Mine was gifted to me, so I saved there, but even if you don’t have the money for one right now ask around, chances are someone who you know will have one that they will let you use. You can even use them with Mylar bags (Mylar bags are great for use with buckets if you are looking for an extra layer of protection for you food). Mine even has an attachment for vacuum sealing mason jars.

Behind door number two we have eating it out

Oxygen Absorbers utilize a chemical reaction to eat or use up most of the oxygen in a given container. As I mentioned these are great to uses in conjunction with a vacuum sealer, just pop an appropriate sized one for the size of container your sealing and you are off and running.

They come in various sizes

100cc – Smaller bags and #10 cans

500cc – Medium bags and smaller buckets 1-3 gal

1000cc – 4 -6 gallon buckets

2000cc – 6 + gallon buckets

Oxy Eaters www.usaemegencysupply.com

Behind door number three we have driving it out

Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide, as it melts it goes straight from a solid to a gas. Carbon dioxide is heavier that air so as the gas fills the bucket it forces out the air/oxygen. This ranks as the least expensive option for a few bucks work of dry ice purchased at your local

1 Lb of Dry Ice makes 8.3 Cubic feet of carbon dioxide gas

A 6 gallon bucket contains 1.46 Cubic feet of space

Add in Beans or Wheat that space is reduced to 0.48 Cubic Feet

So 2oz of dry ice can fill a 6 gallon bucket four times over using this method you will drive out 90% of the Oxygen

Just put your dry ice in the bottom side of your bucket and fill up your bucket and then put your lid on but don’t tighten it down, you want to give the air that is being forced out somewhere to go. Once the side of my bucket is not cold to the touch I seal it up and we are good to go!

Behind door number four we have caning, this is a WHOLE post in and of itself and as such I will address it at another time.

So now you have the weapons you need, sally forth and do battle with Oxygen!

Jeff

A Kerr mason jar

A Kerr mason jar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you have read my compelling blog posts and you are saying to yourself, why this bright man has convinced me to become prepared. “I ran out to my local store and found two 25lb bags of rice I am ready for the zombies to attack my home and…….ummmm……Jeff…” Yes I say, “…how am I supposed to store this…?” Great question!

Let’s look at containers first because there are some rules you NEED to follow!

Is your container food grade? What is a food grade container, you ask? Well it is a container that you can store food in…duh… usually plastic is what we are talking about here and not all plastics are made alike.

Plastics can contain products harmful to humans and animals that will leach into the food that you store in them. There is a lot of information out there about the types of plastic and grades of plastic and this’s and that’s, let me try to simplify it. How do you know if your buckets or containers are food grade i.e. safe for you to use? There are a few ways.

 If you are purchasing them call the company that made them and ask, easy peasy.

 If you are “collecting them” because you’re cheap like me, know what they were used for! For instance even if a bucket is food grade, if it had paint in it DON’T USE IT, plastic can absorb harmful chemicals and leach they back into your food, in fact if I am looking for buckets I only go to 2 types of places fast food and grocery stores.

 Fast food places if you ask them usually have pickle buckets that they just discard and are usually happy to give them to you, the bakery sections of grocery stores use 3 and 5 gallon buckets for lard/icing and again are usually happy to set them aside for you to take.

The Grocery store buckets usually will clean up with a brisk washing with very hot water and dishwashing soap, to cut the grease that was in the icing. The pickle barrels from the fast food places have a heavy vinegar smell to them, I scrub them out with hot water, bleach, and dish soap, then set them out on the porch  (preferable in the sun) for a few weeks, I have found this is the best way to kill the smell. Bring them back in and wash them one more time and you are off and running. While washing the lids check the o-ring that is built into the lid I take it out and look to see if it has any nicks in it 99 time out of 100 they are in good shape, I also like to make sure that I keep the same lid with the same bucket (they seem to fit better this way).

The other type of containers that I really like to use are…drum roll please…2 liter soda bottles! These can be great for rice, beans, sugar, coffee, salt or anything else you can fit into them.

Another great option are mason jars, you can find these at most  garage sales, you will need to purchase new lids but even I “El Cheapo” will pay for new mason jar lids. Really any container that is food safe and can be sealed will work.

I will cover how to use these containers in later blogs

Keep up the good work you are doing great, and making lots of progress!!!

Jeff