First of all I would like to thank JW Rawles, of SurvivalBlog fame, for allowing me to publish this article. When I wrote to him explaining that I was setting up a site with a bias to UK prepping he gave me permission to republish 10 of his posts to get me started. A true gentleman sharing in the spirit of helping others. The problem I then had was which 10 out of the thousands he has do I publish? I chose posts that were generic enough to be applicable to the UK and covered the areas I wanted to touch on. There were many more I could have used. Donâ€™t forget to visit his site SurvivalBlog for the rest of his posts.
This post, the 9th of the 10 chosen, is on Using the Grain You Have Stored, by Naomi M. Thank you Naomi as well for sharing your knowledge with the world. This post was chosen because grain is a recognised foodstuff which is a cheap and a solid basis for survival. In the UK thought it is seen as animal feed only. Very few in the UK will have it on their plans for survival.
Using the Grain You Have Stored, by Naomi M.
Grain is a foundational item in food storage, because it is a cheap source of fair-to-good quality calories, and because it has good long-term storage life. This article will discuss nutritional considerations, health aspects, and specific uses for each grain.
What do we want out of food? We want energy (calories), building materials (protein and fats & oils), and health-supplying nutrients (vitamins and minerals). How much grain should we store to supply these needs, or, conversely, how long will our grain storage sustain our life?
Most sources recommend that a basic year’s supply for one person is 300 lbs. of grain, 60 lbs. beans, 10 quarts oil, and 8 lbs. salt. This diet only provides about 1,500 calories per day. This is only adequate to fuel a slim, sedentary female. At least 30% more is needed for a 2,000 calorie diet. Therefore, a more realistic storage goal for one year would be 400 lbs. grain, 100 lbs. beans, and 14 quarts of oil to meet caloric demands.
As with calories, protein needs vary from person to person, depending upon size, gender, and activity, including child-carrying and lactating. Protein does not give energy, so why would it depend upon activity? Because protein is the basic building block of the body. Muscles, antibodies, digestive enzymes, hormones – they’re all made of thousands of specialized proteins. When we’re active, the muscles must be re-built. When we eat for the purpose of supplying energy, it requires enzymes to break down the food and make it usable.
A low number would be 40 grams per day, while a high number would be 150. Most of us need between 50 and 100 grams of protein per day. However, not all protein is equal.
The body is capable of making all the thousands of varied proteins, using less than a couple dozen building blocks, called amino acids. The body can even make most of these amino acids, but there are nine of them it cannot make; we must eat them. They’re called essential amino acids, which is somewhat of a misnomer, because they are all “essential,” just as every letter of the alphabet is “essential” in a dictionary.
It is possible to get all nine essential amino acids from any grain or bean, and many vegetables. However, if one ate exclusively a certain grain, it would take several pounds per day to give an adequate amount of each essential amino acid, because grains are low in certain amino acids. Eating that large amount of grain would supply more calories than needed, which is wasteful, particularly in a situation when we have limited food supplies. Fortunately the nature of the creation of grains and legumes is such that legumes are also low in a couple of essential amino acids, but they just happen to be the ones in which grains abound. Therefore, one can eat a moderate amount of grain and beans together and supply a good quality protein source for the body.
You might think of it as a Scrabble game. What if your tile source had a dozen vowels for every consonant? You could make words, but it would take a lot of sifting through lots of excess vowels. Then there is another box where there are a couple dozen consonants for every vowel. Again, that wouldn’t make for a good game. But put them together, and you have a decent balance of what you need to make words.
One can get technical about the amounts of each amino acid in each kind of bean or grain, but a basic rule of thumb is that a ratio of 1 part legume to 3 parts grain gives a well-balanced source of amino acids. This is why it is recommended to store 100 lbs. beans for every 400 lbs. grain. Rice and beans is a good protein meal, as is a peanut butter sandwich, or beans and bread.
Whole grains vs. “polished” grains
A typical kernel of grain consists of a tiny part called the germ, which is where the new life is stored. The germ is rich in vitamins and oils. Wheat germ is a popular topping for health food types. I remember the first time I heard of it, as a teenager: “No, thanks! I don’t want any germs on my food!”
Most of the kernel is composed of the endosperm, which is a chunk of carbohydrate designed to feed the growing plant until it can begin photosynthesis. This is the part that feeds us, too, being full of calories.
And the coating of the seed is called the bran. This is rich in minerals and fiber, important for the digestive system.
To make white rice or white flour, the grain is stripped of both its bran and its germ. This leaves the calorie and protein contents basically the same, but removes most of the vitamins, minerals, and oils. It is therefore generally better to consume the whole grain. However, brown rice, which is the whole grain, will go rancid, and should not be stored long-term. I have kept it in my cool basement for 2 years, but that’s stretching it. This is why preppers store white rice, which has lower nutritional value, but will not go rancid.
Fats and Oils
All grains have a small oil content, which provides some of the calories of the grain. The oils themselves are important for various body processes, such as cell wall formation, hormone production, and appetite regulation. Wheat germ oil is the richest natural source of vitamin E. In general (except in the case of rice), these oils are stable in the whole grain.
Preparing Grains for Maximum Health
We have considered some of the nutrients that grains can provide for our bodies. Now we will address the issue of how to prepare the grains so that our bodies can properly assimilate all these nutrients. This is not something that people of our generation give much thought to; after all, most of us have an excess of nutrients, and conserving them isn’t on the radar. But in TEOTWAWKI we will want to absorb all the nutrition we can from what we eat.
We must respect the fact that a grain is a seed. Its intended purpose is to grow a whole new plant. It’s just bursting with potential life, always ready to sprout forth. Then why doesn’t it just sprout as it sits in your cupboard? A little thought will lead to the idea that it is caused to sprout by the presence of water. That’s somewhat true, but in a backward sort of way. The actual mechanism is that it has powerful enzyme inhibitors throughout its substance, which prevent it from sprouting. It’s always being held in check. When the seed is soaked, this disables the enzyme inhibitors, so the seed can follow its natural course.
This mechanism is non-trivial to the one who circumvents the sprouting process and takes the grain for food, rather than to plant. Without the soaking, the enzyme inhibitors are still active. They’re still active even after cooking. So when they get in your stomach, they will still do their job. Only, since you’ve chewed up the seed and dispersed it throughout your stomach, they’ll be inhibiting the enzymes they find there – namely, your digestive enzymes. Young people won’t notice this, because they have plenty of enzymes to spare – tummies of steel. But as we age, beginning at about 40, our enzyme production diminishes. This results in various ailments such as indigestion, food sensitivities, candida albicans overgrowth, Crohn’s disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The results of these ailments range from mild discomfort to acute malnourishment and pain. And in TEOTWAWKI, there won’t be a medical establishment standing by to alleviate the problem. Furthermore, all of these ailments share the characteristic that the sufferer eats food that doesn’t do him any good – doesn’t get digested – doesn’t fuel his body and sustain his life, doubtless very frustrating in a time of shortage.
(The bran of most grains also contains phytic acid, which inhibits mineral absorption by those who eat the grain. This, too, is a serious digestive problem.)
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to both problems, which was practiced by our ancestors: soak your grain before you cook it. Soak it 7 – 24 hours, preferably in water to which acid (yogurt or fruit juice) has been added. This disables the enzyme inhibitors, and also neutralizes the phytic acid, so that the grain is safe to eat. You may use the soaking water as cooking water.
See the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for more information on soaking grains.
It is no coincidence that many women who faithfully made whole wheat bread for their families for many years, believing they were serving the most nutritious food, end up with gluten intolerance. This has been my observation, and my personal experience.
I believed in “eat what you store.” Accustom your body to your storage foods, so it won’t cause undue stress when you have to live on your storage. But the theory is flawed: How about: eat lots of sugar, so your body will be used to eating lots of sugar. Your mouth might be “used to” it, but you’ll ruin your pancreas and inhibit your mineral absorption, leading to malnutrition. Smoke lots of cigarettes, because they will be a good relaxation when you’re living in times of stress. Again, you might be “used to” smoking, not coughing and gagging like someone newly-introduced to it, but you’re also ruining your respiratory system. Of course whole wheat can’t possibly be as bad as sugar and tobacco. No, but it does have the potential to ruin your digestive system if consumed un-soaked over a period of many years. So, eat what you store, but only eat the kinds of foods that will build your body, prepared in a way that will not cause damage.
If you have already worn out your digestive system by eating too many improperly-prepared carbohydrates (this includes beans as well), you may believe that you are “allergic” to the various grains. After giving your system a hiatus from grains for a few months, you may find that you are better able to tolerate them when they have been well-soaked. And if you are having any digestive issues, they may be easier to resolve now, when you have easy access to the vegetables and meat that you’ll need to eat while your system is recovering. It might be very difficult to avoid grains when you’re living off your supply.
Later in this paper I mention a number of ways grains can be used. Some of them use un-soaked grains. These should only be used by people with no digestive issues, and only sparingly.
Vitamins and Sprouting
The endosperm of grains has a negligible amount of vitamins. The bran has some, and the germ has the most. However, when the grain actually begins to sprout, an abundant array of vitamins and enzymes bursts forth from the carbohydrate. The calorie content of the grain is traded for these vitamins and enzymes. Sprouting your grain is a wonderful way to get vitamins.
An unfortunate fact that many are unaware of is that when you store foods in cans or buckets with oxygen absorbing packets, the seed is killed. It will not germinate – it will not sprout. So if you plan to sprout any of your stored food, you will have to find some other way to store it. My mother-in-law stored lots of kinds of food using bay leaves. This old wives tale may be pooh-poohed by some, but we are still eating her stored food fifty years later, and it has no bugs. I have heard that you can also prevent infestation using diatomaceous earth, but I have not yet tried this.
When you sprout your grain, do not think of alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts, with their long, thick stems. Sprout grain for only 3 or 4 days, and use when they’re only about 1/4 inch long. Any longer, and they are grass, and humans can’t digest grass.
Awhile back there was a wheat grass fad. Wheat was sprouted and was allowed to grow several inches, developing leaves with chlorophyll. The sprouts were not eaten, but juiced. Of course, a special juicer was needed.
Your sprouted grains should be cooked before you eat them, because the raw sprouts have some irritating chemicals in them which discourage animals from eating the young sprouts. They will have a crunchy, chewy texture, and can be added to anything – breads, soups, salads, casseroles – kind of like a mix between a grain and a vegetable.
Grains and Their Uses
So, you’re all hunkered down, scrounging meat and wild plants as you can find them, and eating your stored grain: Soaked oatmeal for breakfast, soaked and cooked wheat for lunch, and soaked and cooked rice and beans for dinner. No? You’re sick of it already? Your stored grains can provide a much better variety of interesting and tasty food than that.
At this time in our history, we have access to an amazing array of grains from around the world. They vary in their nutritional profiles, flavor, and texture. Every grain has something it does better than any other grain.
Amaranth is one of the “new” super small “grains.” An old crop of the Aztecs and Maya, it is new to our culture. It is super because its nutritional profile boasts abundant and complete protein, and lots of vitamins and minerals. Actually, the “super” is associated with “small.” The ratio of germ/bran to endosperm is greater in a smaller seed, thus there are more nutrients per seed, and per pound, than for larger grains. It is not a true grain, but a member of the same family as tumbleweed. And not being a grain, it isn’t a grass, and the leaves are edible and nutritious, as well, though, because of their oxalic acid content they should be eaten in moderation. The roots are also edible. Amaranth is gluten-free. It has no outer layer to remove, so all amaranth is a whole seed product.
You can use it in any recipe calling for rice. Alternately, if your family does not care for the flavor (as my kids have decided they don’t), you can replace just a little rice in a rice recipe. Just sneak a tablespoon or two in with every cup of rice.
In Mexico they sell a tasty candy called “alegrÃa,” (“happiness”) made of amaranth in a solid sugary base, kind of like peanut brittle, but softer. I don’t know how to make it, but an alternative is simply to add as much amaranth to a small amount of honey as it can hold.
[JWR Adds: One word of warning on Amaranth: It grows so well that it can become a widely-propagating pernicious weed that chokes out other crops. The seeds are so small that they can be carried on the wind. ]
Most barley sold is “pearl” barley, which has had its bran and germ removed, and is therefore, like white flour, a nutrient-deficient, processed product, and should be eaten sparingly. For the bulk of your storage, buy whole barley.
Casseroles. Barley can be used in any recipe calling for rice. It will be chewier and more solid.
Drink. Barley water, made from cooking the soaked grain in excess water, is a traditional meal for people who are ill, or recovering from illness, and do not have the energy to expend in digesting more substantial food.
Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add 1 tbsp. barley and continue to simmer until it is done (about an hour). Strain out the grains (use for dinner) for a thin drink, or blend in blender for something more substantial (you won’t want to drink the dregs). GSI Outdoors makes the excellent hand operated Vortex Blender. Flavor with salt or broth (especially for convalescents), or honey or molasses for a satisfying drink on a cold day.
Soups. Barley swells considerably when soaked and cooked, thereby becoming less dense than other grains. It is a pleasant and filling addition to soups. Your blackbird stew will feel like a feast when you add barley! A little goes a long way. Specifically, a tablespoon of raw barley will expand to 1/2 cup when cooked.
Buckwheat is not related to wheat; it isn’t even a grain. It offers several nutritional advantages, including manganese, tryptophan, and magnesium. Most buckwheat sold is hulled, and will appear white. It’s called buckwheat groats or kasha. You can use it just like rice for dinner, or oatmeal for breakfast, as they do in Russia.
The unhulled buckwheat makes very good sprouts, easy to grow. Don’t think you can cook up these unhulled seeds; the hulls are about as edible as sunflower seed shells. The un-hulled seeds are ground into flour, and it’s the hulls in this flour that give buckwheat pancakes their distinctive flavor.
Corn is a unique grain in many ways. Its flavor is unsurpassed, it is the only grain also eaten as a fresh vegetable, most gardeners are familiar with growing it, its male and female parts are separated in the plant, and several delicious corn dishes are quite labor-intensive.
Corn, unlike other grains, needs to be soaked not in plain acidified water, but in lime water. This is because the niacinamide in corn is bound up in an indigestible form, but the soaking releases it. Occasionally eating un-soaked corn won’t cause much harm, assuming there is an adequate diet otherwise, but if you frequently eat corn, or make it your primary carbohydrate, you will end up deficient in this B vitamin, and suffer from pelagra. While we may not store corn as our principle grain, during TEOTWAWKI we may find that corn is the grain we are most likely to grow ourselves. Therefore we need to know how to use it to maximize its nutrition, even if we only have the information and do not develop the skill until it is needed.
There are three ways to make lime water for soaking: lye, builders lime, or wood ashes.
1. Add 2 tbsp. lye to 1 quart dry corn. or
2. Add 3/8 cup builders lime to 1 quart dry corn. or
3. Add 1 quart wet wood ashes to 1 quart dry corn.
Using whichever lime you choose, cover with water and soak the corn at least 7 hours.
Cornmeal: You may take your soaked grain, dry it again, and grind it into meal. However, this is not recommended, because it is difficult to be sure it is dry inside, and you don’t want to gum up your machine.
You may grind the dry corn first, and then soak it in lime water (2:1 corn:liquid). This will require that you modify whatever recipe you are using to account for the extra liquid.
Hominy. This can make a good base for any sort of meat or vegetable soup. After the soaking period, boil your corn in its lime water about 45 minutes, until water is thick and hulls slip off. Remove from heat, drain in colander, and rinse repeatedly to remove hulls. Return to pot, add water, and bring to a boil. If you used builders lime, continue cooking 2 or 3 hours until corn is soft. If you used lye or wood ashes, return to pot, cover with water, bring to boil, then pour off water. Repeat this four times. Then cook another 2 or 3 hours until corn is soft.
Corn tortillas. First make a dough, called “masa,” from your soaked, boiled corn. Follow the same steps for hominy: soak in lime water, boil, rinse and remove hulls. Then grind in something that will grind wet.
Add a little water to form a dough that holds together well and is pliable. Shape into walnut-sized balls. Roll out with rolling pin or tortilla press between waxed paper or cloths. Cook tortillas on a hot cast-iron skillet or griddle. Do not grease. If they stick, wipe with a cloth moistened in oil. Brown on both sides.
Atole. This is a traditional Mexican hot drink often served for breakfast. Mix 1/2 cup masa, 5 cups milk or water, 1/4 cup honey or sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Blend thoroughly and enjoy a steaming cupful. Atole can be as thin as hot chocolate, or as thick as porridge. Make it as you like.
Tamales. Add about 1 part fat to 5 parts masa. Use any animal fat which you’ve skimmed off the surface of your soups, or shortening or lard that you may have stored. Add salt. Spread the masa on soaked corn husks, fill with a seasoned meat mixture, fold up, and steam for an hour or so. In Mexico tamales are not only made of meat; they make delicious raisin/cinnamon tamales, as well as potato/cheese tamales. You can be creative, and be well within the tamale tradition.
Millet is another very nutritious small grain, which can be substituted for the less-nutritious rice in any recipe. Saute it before you cook it to enrich the flavor. Soak it first to enhance digestibility. Use 3 cups water per cup of millet. Cook with less water for a firmer, rice-like consistency. Cook with more water for a creamier, mashed-potato effect.
Curiously, there are several different varieties of what we call “millet,” falling into different biological genuses. Some varieties take only 65 days from planting to harvest! Store millet. And if the Schumer never hits the fan, at least you’ll have plenty of bird seed!
Oats are available in various stages of refinement. All oats have been hulled, and all forms are considered whole grain products. The difference is whether they are still whole (groats), how much they have been smashed (rolled), cut (steel-cut or Irish or Scotch), and steamed (quick or instant). The more processed they are, the faster they cook.
All forms make a good breakfast cereal, soaked overnight and then either cooked or eaten raw.
Granola: Add about 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup sweetener of choice, and cinnamon and/or ground cloves, chopped almonds, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds to about 4 cups oatmeal. Spread on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes at 350. Remove from oven, add any of the following: 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 cup raisins or chopped, dried fruit, chopped pecans or walnuts. Stir in. Replace in oven. Bake another 15 minutes.
Treats: Oatmeal cookies, of course. Also, no-bake quick treats: mix oatmeal with something moist – like honey or peanut butter. Add dried fruit, chopped nuts, or powdered milk.
Do not soak pasta! Maybe that’s a no-brainer. You’ll end up with pasta mush, the same as you will if you add your pasta to water that isn’t boiling.
Quinoa is another “new” super “grain,” in fact botanically related to Amaranth. The nutritional profile is similar, as are the growing conditions. However, the flavors are quite different, and in our family we like the quinoa much better. Quinoa cooks very quickly, so doesn’t use a lot of fuel.
Quinoa has a layer of saponins on the outside, which are soapy substances designed to keep it from being eaten by animals. When you buy quinoa, the saponins have already been removed. If you grow your own, however, you will have to remove this nasty-tasting chemical yourself. Put it in a blender with cool water, on low speed. Blend for about 5 minutes, changing water frequently, until water is no longer soapy.
Everyone is familiar with rice, and how to cook it: casserole, fried, pilaf, and soup. And don’t forget rice pudding – cooked with extra water, and then lots of cinnamon and some dried fruit – like raisins – added. Rice does not need to be soaked as long as other grains.
Horchata. Here’s a popular Mexican cold drink: Combine 1 cup uncooked rice and 5 cups water in the blender. Blend about a minute. Let this mixture stand at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours. Strain the rice water into a pitcher and use the rice for something else (dinner). Stir in 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar. Serve cold.
You can experiment and find out any adjustments you would like; some people like it creamier (less water), or more or less sweet. Also, if you have it, you can add 1/2 cup milk. You can also add almonds with the rice. And some people even cook the rice mixture first.
The most important step, which you cannot skip, is the straining. Strain it through cheesecloth. Even so it will be a little gritty, especially at the bottom. Don’t drain your pitcher! You can even strain it through fabric.
Rye is very similar nutritionally to wheat, but doesn’t have as much gluten. So a bread made of 100% rye flour will be very heavy. That was the original black bread in Russia, but most modern tastes prefer to just add a little rye flour to a bread recipe.
Some people believe rye flour makes a better sour dough starter than wheat.
Teff is another super grain. It’s a true grain, originating in the African grasslands. It’s the tiniest of all the grains. It is in fact an appropriate grain for preppers to be aware of. “Teff” means lost. It has reference to the unsettled nature of tribal life. When the people had to flee, a handful of teff represented a years supply of seed. While there are 230,000 alfalfa seed per pound, it takes 1.3 million teff seeds to make a pound! Teff has the most complete protein of any grain, comparing favorably with egg protein.
The grains are so tiny that when you cook teff alone, it ends up a very gelatinous mass, where the individual kernels are undistinguishable. After you cook it, you can let it sit awhile to stiffen up, then slice and fry. Serve with sauce – vegie/meat for dinner, fruit/sweet for breakfast.
Africans use teff flour to make ingira bread, a sour dough product.
Wheat is by far the most popular storage grain, as well as the most useful grain in our everyday lives. Any cookbook will have recipes for muffins and biscuits, cookies and cakes.
You can also find plenty of bread recipes. A basic bread recipe has flour (white or whole wheat), yeast, sweetener, oil, salt, and water. From that lots of different things can be added.
That’s fine, except for two considerations: 1. Yeast needs to be stored under refrigeration, and of course won’t last forever. 2. Yeast bread does not provide the soaking wheat needs to make it digestive-system friendly.
You can also find lots of “sourdough” recipes in cookbooks and online. However, the vast majority of these recipes require the addition of yeast, and usually sugar, and the sourdough is just there to give flavor.
Our ancestors in every culture made sourdough bread with a “start,” and they kept their cultures going by replenishing them day by day. Instant yeast is a newfangled invention, designed to save time at the expense of nutrition, leaving the bread-maker dependent upon a supply of instant yeast.
To make a start, mix 2 cups flour (rye or wheat) with 2 cups water. Cover with a cloth and leave un-refrigerated. Every day, add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, and stir. In a few days it will get bubbly. After a week, your start is ready.
To make sourdough bread, combine 1 quart start with 4 or 5 cups flour. Add 1 tbsp. salt. Add enough water to make a dough of good texture. Knead. Form into loaves and place in 2 greased bread pans. Let rise. It will not double, as yeast bread will, and it will rise slowly, depending upon the temperature. Give it time – maybe 12 hours. Then bake it at 325 for about an hour. This is a very dense bread, with a pronounced sourdough taste. It goes excellently with nut butter, though many people find it too solid for sandwiches.
The above start “recipe” is just an idea. If you’re alone, cooking for yourself, you will find that you have more start than you can use. So just add 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup flour per day. Or perhaps you’re feeding a couple dozen people in your compound. Then add 4 cups every day. The object is to strike a balance, so that at every bread-making you end up with a supply of start that will grow into the amount you need at the next bread-making.
No oven? No problem! Bake your bread on top of your non-cook wood stove! Put your big army-feeding pot, with the lid on, on the stove and pre-heat your “oven.” I put an inch of water in the bottom, because I was afraid it would warp the metal otherwise. Put something metal on the bottom to hold your bread pan up in the middle of your “oven.” Put your raised bread in. I didn’t bother with a thermometer. It took awhile to bake – maybe a couple of hours. But maybe that’s because people kept peeking in to see how it was doing, and in this kind of oven, you really lose heat that way! We finally decided it was done by the poke method. The kids declared it an unqualified success. In fact, they liked the strange texture of the crust, caused by the high humidity. This might be a good thing to do when butter is scarce or non-obtainable.
I have heard that you can also do this with a Dutch oven on top of your stove.
No fire? Limited fuel? Summertime? No problem! Use your solar cooker! You can solar cook even on cold days, as long as you have sol.
No solar cooker? No problem! Make one! Copy the plans now. I think a commercially-made solar oven is an essential for preppers who live in sunny states. But even if you have your own cooker, you may want to know how to make one for your less-prepared neighbors. Stock up on the supplies needed, especially black paint and aluminum foil. The weakness of the solar cookers recommended at SolarCooking.org is that they rely on oven bags, which obviously won’t be available. Glass will work better.
If you bake on your wood stove top, or solar bake, you’ll have to adjust your daily schedule. For solar, you’ll want to bake around noon, so prepare your dough at the crack of dawn, or just before going to bed at night. For stove top, except in the coldest times, you’ll probably just have a fire morning and night. So make your dough to be ready at one of those times.
Gravy or Sauce
Many casseroles are made by adding a can of cream of something soup to a cooked carbohydrate, with some vegetables mixed in. So you are probably storing a good supply of cream of mushroom (or celery or chicken or whatever) soup to make these quick and easy and tasty casseroles. You will eventually run out of your cream soups. You can make something just as tasty and more nutritious with wheat. The starch in wheat is a good thickener. Here’s the procedure:
Heat (or melt) oil or fat in a pan on the stove. Add an equal amount of flour. Stir a couple of minutes to toast the grain. Then add liquid. You may add milk for cream sauces. You may add stock for gravy. You may add water because that’s what you have. Hopefully you have some seasoning – bouillon seasoning, salt, celery seed, curry, etc. If you want a thin sauce or gravy, add 1 cup liquid per tablespoon of flour/oil. A medium sauce is made with 2 tbsp. flour/oil in 1 cup liquid, and a thick sauce uses 3 tbsp. flour/oil per cup of liquid. A thick sauce makes a good cream soup for your casserole. A thick sauce also makes a good addition to cooked potatoes in their water. Add some meat (bacon, clams) and corn, and you have a filling and nourishing chowder. Actually, you may use any flour, not just wheat, to thicken your sauce. They all have starch.
Pasta. Mix 1 1/2 cups flour with 2 eggs and 1 tbsp oil. If needed, add up to 2 tbsp water. Make a stiff dough. Knead, cover to keep moist, and set aside for 10 minutes. Roll out dough and cut as desired.
You can substitute other flours as part of the flour. You can add herbs or spices. You can add pureed vegetables as part of the moisture.
You can make pasta without eggs, if your chickens aren’t laying: 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup hot water, and 1 tbsp. oil.
Drop into boiling salted water and cook for about 10 minutes.
Postum. This was a tasty hot drink made of wheat by the Post company, and discontinued several years ago. Postum aficionados really miss this product, and have come up with a homemade version:
4 cups wheat flour
2 cups coarse ground corn meal
1/2 cup molasses
Mix the wheat, corn meal, & molasses with hands until well-mixed. Put into shallow baking pans and brown in slow oven until it is a rich dark brown. Stir often to prevent burning. This takes several hours. Cool.
To use: add 2 tbsp. mix for 1 cup water. This is not an instant drink. You must brew it awhile.
You can also add bran (from making wheat meat) for a richer, more authentic flavor.
So you’re all settled in your chosen place, but there’s no meat to eat. The chickens aren’t setting, so you’re not ready for chicken stew, and the cow isn’t even pregnant. Or maybe you forgot to put the chickens and the cow in your G.O.O.D. bag. Dear husband comes home every evening empty-handed, after slogging over the frozen landscape from which the game have mysteriously disappeared. And the cat has stopped sharing. No meat. Everyone is lusting after meat.
If you have seasonings, you can make a passable substitute for meat out of wheat. It will, of course, have the nutritional profile of wheat (somewhat less, actually), and not of meat. It is “meat” strictly to satisfy the palate. It’s a process involving several steps: 1. Soak, 2. Develop gluten, 3. Rinse, 4. Flavor, 5. Bake (for texture), and 6. Use.
1. Soak. Mix 7 cups flour (whole wheat or white) with 3 cups cool water to form dough. Cover with cold water and let rest for 2 – 3 hours.
2. Develop gluten. (This step is why you can only make this with wheat, not any other grain.) Place dough or portion of dough in a colander, which is then placed in a larger bowl filled with warm water. Wash with in and out. You are developing the gluten into long strands, as in bread-kneading, and at the same time washing out the starch and bran. Continue until it becomes the consistency of bubble gum. You will not wash out all the bran. That’s okay.
(Note: Do not throw out the washing water – it’s full of nutrients. After it all settles, the top clear layer is water; the lower, thick liquid is starch, useful for thickening or adding to baked goods, and the bottom sediment is bran, to put in your muffins or use to make “Postum.”)
3. Rinse. Hold dough under a small stream of water and rinse until water is clear and dough is elastic and rubbery. Or rinse in another bowl of clean water.
4. Flavor. Make a broth of about 1 tbsp. stock per quart of water (including any flavoring or soy sauce, etc. that you want to try). Bring to boil. Roll your raw wheat meat thin, and add to simmering water. Simmer for several hours. This is most economically done in a crock pot or on your wood stove in the winter, when it’s burning anyway.
Alternatively, you can manually mix your flavorings into your raw wheat meat.
Or you can skip this step entirely if you’re making wheat meat “hamburger,” where your wheat meat will be surrounded by a dish with strong flavors of its own, and the “meat” is in small pieces.”
5. Bake. Either make balls for meat balls or to grind into hamburger, or stretch out to make steaks. Bake at about 350 for about 30 – 45 minutes.
6. Use. For hamburger, grind with an onion and use like hamburger meat.
For steak, bread with eggs, milk, seasoned flour, and fry. Smother with a nice sauce.
Important: After having gone through these steps, do not boil wheat meat in its recipe. All that flavor that diffused in will just as readily diffuse out. Furthermore, it will lose its texture and become a blob of dough. Yuck. So put your “meat” in at the last minute. (If you make a mistake and it ends up a blob of dough, just bake it again.)
For more information on wheat meat, including alternative methods and quite a few recipes, see the books Feed a Family of Four for As Low As $10 Per Week, by Marlynn Phipps et al, and Recipes For Self-Sufficient Living, by Kay Martineau, et al.
Types of wheat. There are several broad categories of wheat – winter or spring, hard or soft, red or white. There are also hybrids, like triticale. In general, the hard, winter wheats will have more protein, more gluten, and are better suited to making breads, while the soft, spring wheats have less protein, less gluten, and perform better with baking powder. Hard wheat stores better. In practice, who’s going to be a connoisseur during TEOTWAWKI?
An essential in growing grains is good seed. And I repeat what I said in the sprouting section: Grain that has been stored using oxygen absorbing packets will not sprout.
Most of us are only familiar with growing corn. It will be more nutritious to try to maintain a variety of grains on the table. In planning your own grain planting, it may be useful to know the original growing conditions of the various grains, including their native climate, and find those which match your own.
|Amaranth||Aztecs||Light, after hog pasture||Widely adapted, drought tolerant, warm||300 – 1,500 lbs / acre||From Purdue|
|Barley||Egypt? Middle East?||Needs nitrogen||Varieties adapted to all climates||2,000 lbs / acre||From University of Idaho|
|Buckwheat||Himalayas?||Hardy “will grow on anything” (usually grown chemical free)||Cool, moist||1,200 – 1,600 lbs / acre||From North Dakota State University|
|Corn (Maize)||Americas||Loam, high nitrogen||Temperate||8,000 /acre|
|Millet||Africa, Asia||Poorly fertilized, dry||Hot||Must be hulled; 2,500 – 2,800 lbs / acre||From Chet Day’s site|
|Oats||Asia Minor?||Nitrogen||Cool, wet okay||2,400 & up / acre||From Purdue|
|Quinoa||Andes||Any soil; salt tolerant||Drought tolerant, cool nights, not over 90 degrees|
|Rye||SW Asia?||Infertile, sandy, acid, poorly prepared okay. Light best||Most winter-hardy grain, but not wet cold||800 up||From Purdue|
|Teff||Ethiopia||Marginal, water-logged, drought||Short growing season; warm||From Forage First|
|Wheat||Fertile Crescent||3,000 up||From The Mother Earth News|
Action to take:
1. Store a variety of grains.
2. Store legumes to balance the protein.
3. Prepare to cook bread.
4. Soak your grains for your health.
5. Consider growing grains, and storing seed.
6. Experiment with the new small grains, and store what you like, for nutrition and variety.
7. Print and save this report.
JWR Adds: Further details on grains, long term storage techniques, and shelf lives can be found in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course. (It is presently offered for a limited time at a discounted price). Some of these details are also included in my book “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It“.