Preparation & Selection/Quality & Purchase

    Preparation & Selection/Quality & Purchase

    Apples are a favorite fruit of many people for eating out of hand, in fresh salads, or in a wide variety of cooked products. When shopping, look for fruit free of blemishes and breaks in the skin since these can encourage spoilage and decay. Also make sure you are “in season” for optimal quality. Most apples ripen in September/October. If you buy apples during the summer, chances are they are last year’s stock that has been stored over the past several months.

    Yields: Generally, apples are more economical when purchased by the bushel than when purchased in small quantities. Typically, a bushel of apples weights 42-48 pounds. Other useful weights and measures are:

    • One pound of apples equals approximately: four small apples; three medium apples; or two large apples.
    • Two medium apples are needed to yield 1 cup grated apples.
    • Allow 2 pounds of apples for one 9-inch pie.
    • One pound of apples will yield 3 cups diced apples or 2 3/4 cups of pared and sliced apples.
    • One bushel of apples will yield 18-20 quarts of apple slices.

    Select firm, ripe apricots with deep yellow to orange color. To prevent browning while preparing apricots for freezing, canning, or dehydrating, place apricots in a solution of 3 grams ascorbic acid to 1 gallon of cold water.

    Ascorbic acid is available in several forms:

    • Pure powdered form - seasonally available among canners’ supplies in supermarkets. One level teaspoon of pure powder weighs about 3 grams. Use 1 teaspoon per gallon of water as a treatment solution.
    • Vitamin C tablets - economical and available year-round. Buy 500-milligram tablets; crush and dissolve six tablets per gallon of water as a treatment solution.
    • Commercial mixtures sold to control fruit browning. These contain ascorbic acid and are available in supermarkets. Sometimes citric acid powder is sold in supermarkets, but is not effective in controlling discoloration. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when using these products.
    Barley can be purchased in the forms of pearled, hulled, and flaked. Purchase barley that is clean, dry, free from debris, and fresh smelling. Pearled barley may be the easiest form of barley to find. All varieties may be found at health food stores.

    Barley should be rinsed before cooking. Hulled barley will take longer to cook than pearled barley. Barley flour can be combined with wheat flour to make baked goods. It can’t be substituted on its own, because it doesn’t have a strong enough gluten content. Barley flakes and cracked barley can be used for hot cereal. Barley can also be added to salads and stews.

    Strawberries Selection: Bright to deep red, free of green spots with fresh green caps. Don’t ripen after picking. Avoid moldy berries.

    • Season: Local berries late spring to mid-late summer. Imported and frozen berries year round.
    • Storage: Remove moldy, damaged berries. Refrigerate unwashed, single layer on paper towel, uncovered. Use within 3 days.
    • Preparation & Handling: Before removing hulls, wash under running water; do not soak. Blot dry with paper towel. Remove hulls using strawberry huller, paring knife or spoon.

    Blueberries Selection: Dark blue with powdery hue. Dry, plump and free of stems. Avoid reddish colored and wrinkled berries. Do not ripen after picking.

    • Season: Mid to late summer.
    • Storage: Remove moldy, damaged berries. Refrigerate unwashed, loosely covered with paper towels. Use within 2 weeks.
    • Preparation & Handling: Pick out leaves and stems; place berries on towel and roll back and forth to clean. Or, wash gently under running water, do not soak. Blot dry with paper towel.

    Raspberries Selection: Red, firm and plump. Avoid shriveled and moldy berries.

    • Season: Mid to late summer. Imported and frozen berries year round.
    • Storage: Remove moldy, damaged berries. Refrigerate unwashed, single layer between paper towels: wrap in plastic. Use within 3 days.
    • Preparation & Handling: Wash gently under running water, do not soak. Blot dry with paper towel.
    Brown rice is available pre-packaged, in both large and small quantities, and loose from bins. Purchase quality rice from a reputable source. Inspect rice for insects or discoloration prior to preparing for home storage. Do not buy rice with any visible signs of insect infestation. Like white rice, brown rice is classified in three main types according to its size and texture: long grain, medium grain, and short grain.

    Long Grain: Long grain rice is a slender kernel about three to four times longer than it is wide. Long grain brown rice, when cooked, is usually more light and fluffy than the other types, and is less sticky because the kernels stay more separated in cooking.
    Medium Grain: This kernel of brown rice is about two to three times longer than it is wide. These grains are moist and tender when cooked, but do have a tendency to stick together.
    Short Grain: This type of brown rice has a short, almost round kernel, and looks a little plump. When cooked these grains are tender, but stick together, and are usually chewy.
    Specialty Rices: These are red, black, and purple rice. Each of these has a little different nutrient content and pigmentation, but all are very similar to brown rice in fiber.

    The general recommendation for the amount of grains to store is about 300 lbs of grains per person/year. Part of that grain recommendation is often rice. The one challenge for long-term storage of brown rice is the shelf life…brown rice goes rancid quickly. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. Plan on about 45-60 minutes. The bran layer hinders water from soaking into the kernel (Filipic, 2010).

    Brown rice can be used in place of white rice in most recipes and gives a nutty flavor and more chewy texture. Cooked rice is a potentially hazardous food and should be held at proper temperatures. Hot rice should be held at 135° F or above. Cool rice to 70° F within 2 hours; cool from 70º F to 40º F within an additional 4 hours. Cold rice should be held at 41° F or below (USDA, n.d.). In each storage container, limit the depth of rice to 2 inches and cover loosely in the refrigerator. Once the rice has cooled completely, seal the container (Crum, 2011). Large amounts of brown rice can be cooked, repackaged into smaller containers, and placed in a freezer for storage. These smaller amounts of rice can be easily reheated in the microwave (Dinstel, nd). A rice cooker makes fluffy brown rice. Fluffy brown rice can also be made in the oven if there is no rice cooker available (Crum, 2011).
    Canned foods can either be purchased commercially or home canned. Home canned foods should be canned using research-tested recipes and processes like those found in the USDA Complete Guide to Canning (USDFA, 2009) or in Extension publications. Use only the best quality foods to can at home. Home canning processes can never improve the quality of foods. Commercially canned foods are superior to home canned for food storage. Commercial canners can closely control quality and safety to produce the best product. Commercially canned foods for storage can be purchased at grocery stores and similar outlets. Avoid budget resellers (e.g., scratch and dent sales, dollar stores, etc.). Purchase canned foods in either cans or jars.

    Avoid rusted, dented, scratched, or bulging cans. Always use FIFO (first-in, first-out), meaning use your oldest cans first. Before opening, discard any badly dented, bulging, rusty, or leaky cans or jars that have broken seals. Open cans or jars to view and smell contents. When opening, discard any can that spurts. Discard contents (do not taste) if there is a strange odor or appearance. If there is no strange appearance or odor, taste a sample. For added safety, in the case of older canned foods, you may wish to boil the food for 10 minutes before tasting. Discard if there is an off flavor. High-acid foods may leach metal or metallic flavors from cans if food is left in open cans; move unused portions, to another container, cover and store in the refrigerator. Low-acid foods should be heated to 165° F or boiled for 5 to 10 minutes before eating. Once opened, canned foods may last between a day and a week, depending on the food.

    Choose freshly harvested cherries with a deep uniform color. Flesh should be firm and not bruised. Don’t delay preserving. Stem and wash thoroughly just before using, handling carefully to avoid bruising. If desired, pits may be removed.

    If pitted, drop cherries in a solution of 1 tsp. powdered ascorbic acid per gallon of water to prevent discoloration. Drain fruit before processing.

    If unpitted, prick skins on opposite sides with a clean needle to prevent splitting.

    Yield: A lug weighs 25 pounds and yields 8 to 12 quarts. An average of 17 1/2 pounds makes a 7 quart canner load (approx. 2 1/2 pounds per quart); 11 pounds makes 9 pints. An average of 1 3/8 pounds makes 1 pint of frozen cherries.

    Choose chile pods that are mature, heavy for their size, smooth and symmetrical, fresh, and crisp. Avoid misshapen pods, shriveled skin, mold, soft spots, and bruises.


    The tough outer skin should be removed from the chile. Blistering the skin by one of the following methods makes removal easy. The skin may be removed immediately or after freezing. Handling pungent chile can burn hands and eyes. Protect hands by wearing plastic gloves. Keep hands away from eyes while working with chile. Wash and dry chile. With a knife, make a small slit in the side to allow steam to escape. Be sure heat source is very hot. Turn frequently to prevent scorching and insure even blistering.

    Methods for blistering chile:

    • Oven or broiler method—Place chiles under a 400-450° F (205-232° C) broiler for 6 – 8 minutes until skin blisters so that it can be pulled away from the flesh. Turn chile once top side is blistered.
    • Range top method—Place chiles on a hot electric or gas burner after covering burner with a layer of heavy wire mesh.
    • Outdoor grill method—Place chiles on a charcoal grill about 5-6 inches above glowing coals.

    Peeling after blistering:  

    • Peel immediately method—Remove chile from heat and spread in a single layer to cool before peeling. For a more crisp product, dip chile into ice water as it is removed from heat. For a more thoroughly cooked chile, cover chiles with a damp cloth. This method is best when canning chile, making salsa or using chile right away.
    • Frozen chile method—Removal of the skin is easier if the chile is frozen. Place blistered chiles in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, package and keep in the freezer until needed. Hold the frozen chile pod under cold water just long enough to thaw the outside portion and remove peel from frozen flesh of chile.

    As the chile is peeled, slit along one side and remove seeds and veins. Stems may be left attached for chile rellenos.

    Yield: There are several things that affect corn’s yields: moisture, size, and variety. One bushel of unhusked corn weighs approximately 35 pounds and contains about 5 dozen ears. When canning, a bushel yields 6-11 quarts, or 12-20 pints. One dozen ears yield two to four 12-ounce packages of frozen corn.

    Selecting fresh corn: Look for fresh husks with good green husk color, silk ends that are free from decay or worm injury and stem ends that are not too discolored or dried. Select ears that are well covered with plump, not too mature kernels. Avoid ears with undeveloped kernels, ears with very large kernels and dark yellow kernels because they can be tough and not very sweet. It is important to pick corn and process it within 2-3 hours. The sugar in corn is quickly lost, so for optimum quality process as soon after picking as possible. If not able to process immediately, store corn in the refrigerator.

    For the most part, dry beans are graded U.S. No.1 (best) through U.S. No. 3, based on defects. Lesser quality beans are generally graded “substandard” or “sample.”

    All dried beans, except lentils and split peas, require soaking in water for rehydration. Typically, 3 cups of water is needed for every 1 cup of dried beans. Allow beans to soak overnight and then rinse them in clean water. To cook beans, cover rehydrated beans with water in a stock pot. Simmer for 2-4 hours until beans are tender. Once tender they can be spiced and used in cooking recipes. As dried beans age, the seeds become harder. This results in longer rehydration and cooking times. At some point, the beans will no longer rehydrate and in that case must be ground as bean flour. Adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda will also help soften beans during soaking time (Decker, 2011).
    Dried eggs can be purchased from many emergency preparedness, camping, and food storage retailers. For best quality and safety, purchase only dried egg products that have been pasteurized and bare the USDA inspection mark. In 1970 Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act which requires that all egg products distributed for consumption be pasteurized to destroy Salmonella. In the past 40 years, there have been no recorded outbreaks of salmonellosis linked to pasteurized egg products, since the institution of mandatory pasteurization. This safety record is especially impressive considering the volume of eggs consumed in this country.

    Of the more than 76 billion eggs eaten annually, slightly more than 30 percent are in the form of egg products, further processed into either a liquid, frozen, or dried form (American Egg Board, n.d.). Manufacturers need to adhere to good manufacturing practices and buyers should be aware of product variability between brands of dehydrated whole egg (Gnadt, 2003). Dried eggs can be found in three main forms: Dried whole eggs; dried whites; and dried yolk. 
    A wide variety of dried fruit is available at local grocery stores, as well as through food storage distributors, depending on the quantity, form of drying, and type of packaging you are interested in purchasing. Most commercial food storage distributors will sell their products in No. 10 cans with an oxygen absorber. Note: It is generally not a good idea to store the fruit that you personally dried for long term. While it is possible to get it dry enough, many have trouble with mold.

    There are many ways that dried fruit can be used. Some include:
    • An easy low-fat snack
    • Add to your favorite cookie, muffin, or quick bread recipe
    • Trail mix
    • Create unique flavor combinations in salads
    • Liven up cereal or oatmeal

    When purchasing dried meats, be sure to buy from reputable suppliers (those who sell commercially). After buying dried meat, be sure to follow the storage instructions on the package and don’t eat after expiration date to ensure quality of the product. Because drying meat is a complex process involving a number of steps, it should be understood that drying meats at home does not make the meat safe for long-term storage, unless being stored in the freezer. Dried meat can be eaten directly from the package, or put in with other foods. (It should be noted that when dried meats are added to other food and rehydrated, they should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 to 5 days.)

    Dry milk products come in two main forms: regular (noninstant) and instant. Regular: Regular non-fat dry milk has not gone through the extra process and takes a little more effort to stir in and dissolve when added to water. It typically works best to reconstitute in warmer water, then chill, after it is completely dissolved. Instant: Is simply non-fat dry milk that has gone through an extra process where the milk has more air put into the granule and puffs it up so when it gets added to water (of any temperature), is will quickly dissolve and reconstitute. Instant NFDM is usually more expensive than regular NFDM. There are no significant differences in the nutritional value of these two NFDM forms. There are also “dry milk alternatives” available. These products are made with the whey, or soy, or a combination of both. They will be listed as a “milk alternative”, and are fortified, like milk, with vitamin A and D. They reconstitute easily and quickly taste like milk. Dried whole milk, and dried buttermilk, have milk fat and are not as suitable for long-term storage because they will go rancid more quickly. They are available, but are a little more difficult to find. Evaluate several brands of dried milk before purchasing any large quantity for emergency storage. A recent study concluded there is wide variation in the quality of flavor acceptability of dried milk products available for long-term storage. (Lloyd and Pike, 2002)

    Typically 1/3 cup dry powder is mixed with 1 cup water to make 1 serving. The instant NFDM will dissolve in water more readily. Non-instant, or regular non-fat dry milk versions may need blending or can be held overnight in the refrigerator after reconstituting to increase solubility. Reconstituted NFDM will not taste any better than fresh non-fat milk. If the absence of milk fat is objectionable, mix reconstituted NFDM into whole fresh milk. NFDM can be used to make or replace a variety of dairy-based items, such as coffee creamer, basic sauces, puddings, and yogurt. NFDM can also be used in recipes calling for milk by combining dry milk with dry ingredients, then adding amount of water equal to the amount called for in the recipe. Once opened, NFDM will have a 3-month shelf life. Keep opened containers stored in cool, dark, and dry conditions.
    When adding dried vegetables to a food storage program, be sure to consider your plan for use and rotation in making decisions about the choices, variety, and options that will fit your specific needs and budget. Freeze-dried vegetables are superior to other mechanical/home dried vegetables for storage. Freeze-drying uses low heat and causes little damage to the tissue, taste, or aroma. Products easily restore and closely resemble the taste, texture, and nutritional content of the original food. In sun drying or in mechanical drying, the cell walls are often damaged and the essential flavor and texture of the food is lost during evaporation of water. The extent of loss depends on the type of drying method used and the expertise in controlling other drying parameters. Commercial dryers can closely control quality and safety to produce the best product. Commercially dried vegetables can be purchased at grocery stores and food storage outlets. Check the labels for freshness of the dried product at the time of buying.

    Vegetables selected for drying should be sound, fresh, and in the peak of condition: ripe, but still firm and at the right state of maturity. Vegetables that are inferior before drying will be inferior after drying. Wilted or inferior material will not make a satisfactory product. Immature vegetables will be weak in color and flavor. Overly mature vegetables are usually tough, woody, and lack flavor. Over-mature and/or bruised products are likely to spoil before the drying process can be accomplished. Even when using an oven or an electric dehydrator, it will be necessary to watch out for the eff ects of humidity on drying foods.

    There are many ways to use dried vegetables such as: soups, side dishes, and casseroles. Before using, check the contents of the container and discard any vegetables that have an off odor or show any signs of spoilage or mold. One cup of dried vegetables reconstitutes to about 2 cups (Neilson et al., 2006). Most vegetables are soaked or rehydrated in cold water prior to use. Add sufficient water to keep them covered. After soaking, simmer until desired tenderness. There are two other acceptable rehydration methods: adding the dried product to hot/boiling water or adding the dried vegetable to a product with lots of liquid, such as soup. Whichever rehydration method is chosen, the vegetables return to their original shape. Vegetables can be soaked in either water or, for additional flavor, bouillon or vegetable juice. They usually rehydrate within 1 to 2 hours. If they are soaked for more than 2 hours, or overnight, they should be refrigerated. Using hot/boiling liquid speeds up the soaking process. Save and use the soaking liquid in cooking. Adding dried vegetables directly to soups and stews is the simplest way to rehydrate them. Leafy vegetables, cabbage, and tomatoes do not need to be soaked (Brennand, 1994).
    Fats and oils are the raw materials for liquid oils (e.g. vegetable oil, olive oil), shortenings, margarines, and other specialty or tailored products that are functional ingredients in food products. They are commonly found in almost any grocery store, usually in plastic containers of different sizes. The quality of edible fat depends on three factors: the type of raw material employed; the storage time and temperature of the raw material before rendering, and the type of rendering equipment used. Do not home can butter for emergency storage.

    Rancidity is a chemical reaction of fats and oils that produces off flavors and off odors. Fats and oils go rancid because of two chemical processes; hydrolytic rancidity and oxidative rancidity. Hydrolytic rancidity occurs when the fat (triglyceride) is broken up into free fatty acids and glycerol by the presence of water. The presence of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL) quickens this process. The unfavorable odor and flavor are the results of tasting individual short chain fatty acids instead of the whole triglyceride. Dairy products are mostly affected by hydrolytic rancidity. Keeping fats and oils cold slows down the hydrolytic rancidity process, but even freezing does not stop the quality deterioration completely (McWilliams, 2006). Oxidative rancidity occurs in fats and oils that contain unsaturated fatty acids; mostly because unsaturated fats are less stable than saturated fats. Oxidation produces an accumulation of aldehydes and ketones, which are compounds that are also responsible for the unfavorable flavors and odors. Heat, light, oxygen, and metal ions encourage (speed up) oxidative rancidity.

    To prevent oxidative rancidity, products should be kept cool and covered or sealed from air. Do not combine new and old fats (Klein, 2013). Fats and oils can be used as is directly from storage. Once a container is opened and contacts air, the shelf life will drop. Therefore, opened containers should be used relatively quickly. Rancid fats or oils cannot be made palatable. Few recipes could possibly add enough strong ingredients to distract the human palate. Simply discard rancid oils and replace them.

    For top quality, allow figs to ripen fully on the tree. They must be picked as they ripen or spoilage from the fruit beetle can occur. Select uncracked figs and avoid over ripe figs with very soft flesh. Figs have a low acid value, so you will need to acidify when canning. Stem and wash fruit, peel if desired. Use caution in picking fruit as the “milky” substance can irritate the skin due to the enzyme ficin that breaks down proteins.

    High quality grapes are plump, well formed and firmly attached to green, pliable stems. Fully ripe grapes are soft and tender. Grapes showing signs of decay, shriveling, stickiness or dry brittle stems should be avoided. Moldy and wet grapes indicate decay. Unlike some fruits, grapes will not improve or ripen after they have been harvested. They must be at peak quality and sweetness when you purchase or pick them. Green grapes are the sweetest and best flavored when they're yellow-green in color; red varieties when the grapes are predominately red; and the blue-black varieties when the berries have a full rich color.

    Fresh Facts:

    • Just before use, wash grape clusters under a gentle spray of water, drain and pat dry.
    • Seedless grapes are used whole. For seeded grapes, remove seeds by cutting grapes into halves lengthwise and scooping out seeds with the point of a knife.
    • Grapes are easier to peel when they’re frozen. Just rinse frozen grapes in lukewarm water until skins split. Skins will then slip right off.
    • When preparing small clusters of grapes for garnishing, cut the clusters with scissors. This helps keep the grapes attached to the stem.

    Canned Facts:

    • Seedless grapes can be canned whole for use in fruit salads and molded gelatin desserts. If seeded varieties are used, halve and remove seeds before canning.
    • Grape juice can be canned sweetened or unsweetened. If juice will be made into jelly later, it's best to can it without sugar, then add the proper amount of sugar at jelly making time.
    Lentils are available year round in prepackaged containers and in bulk packaging. When purchasing, check containers for lack of evidence of insects or moisture. Lentils should be whole and not cracked, though they may be halved. Canned lentils have the same nutritional value as dry.

    Lentil preparation: Lentils do not need to be presoaked. Prior to cooking, spread lentils out and remove any stones or debris. Lentils can then be washed under cool water and put with water for cooking. Bring lentils to a boil, then simmer. Red lentils will rehydrate quicker than green. Lentils require 10-30 minutes to rehydrate.

    These following measurements will be helpful in rehydration, usage, and storage:
    • 1 cup dry lentils + 1 cup water = 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked
    • 1 pound dried lentils = 2 1/4 cups dry
    • 1 pound dried lentils = 5 cups cooked

    Lentils can also be very useful when ground into flour. They are gluten free.

    Note: Lentils with husk remain whole with moderate cooking; lentils without husk tend to disintegrate into a thick purée, which makes quite interesting dishes.
    Initially MREs were only produced for the military by subcontractors; therefore, obtaining a case or two meant getting them by dubious means. Due to the prevalence of unauthorized sales to civilians, the military began placing a notice on MREs stating that resale was not permitted. Because of the demand, there are two different types of MREs today; military and civilian. Many of the military subcontractors simply started making a consumer version of MREs for sale to the public. Often the package label looks very similar to the military version.

    MREs are widely available both in specialty stores and online. Specialty stores such as emergency preparedness, survival, and camping stores typically carry a variety (MREinfo, 2013). The quality of MREs is similar to canned foods. They are safe to eat providing the metalicized pouch is not compromised.

    Tear open the packaging and enjoy.
    Oats are generally available for purchase in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food from bulk bins, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered and free from debris. Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture. As with all grains, store oats in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place, and protect oats from insects and rodents.

    The most popular variety is Bartlett pears available the first two weeks in September in Utah. If they are to be transported or not processed immediately, pick while slightly green and allow them to ripen in a cool, dark place.

    One bushel of pears weights about 50 pounds and will yield 16-25 quarts of pears. A pound of pears yields 2 cups of sliced pears.

    Wash and peel pears, cut them in half or quarters and core. Place in water containing 1 teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid to each pint of water or follow recommendations on commercial preparations that contain ascorbic acid OR use 2 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon of water to prevent discoloration (do not soak longer than 20 minutes). Rinse and drain.

    Choose freshly harvested green beans with young tender pods. Pod diameter, not length, is the best indicator of quality. Freshness is evidenced by a distinct, audible snap when the bean is broken. Beans that are over-matured will be tough and stringy. Immature beans will wilt and soften quickly after harvesting. Wash beans in cold water. Beans can be cut into 1 to 4-inch lengths or left whole.

    Fruit Use

    The edible portion of the fruit includes the seed and the juicy translucent flesh covering the seed. The tart flavor of the pulp and juice can add interest and variety to other foods. The flesh-covered seeds can be used as a garnish in fruit cups, compotes, salads, desserts, and as a snack. The juice is used to make jellies, puddings, desserts, and drinks. Grenadine, made from pomegranate juice, is a flavoring in some beverages. Grenadine is also a delicious topping for ice cream and chilled fruits such as peaches, pears, and bananas.

    Removing the Seeds

    It’s a good idea to wear an apron when handling pomegranates. They tend to spurt, and the deep red stain is difficult to remove. Because pomegranate juice can darken if it comes in contact with metal, use plastic or glass utensils. When you need a large number of seeds, cut off the crown and score the pomegranate lengthwise in three or four places. Seeds can also be removed by cutting the pomegranate in half, placing the cut face down, and rapping the shell firmly with a blunt instrument such as a hammer handle. The juice sacs are somewhat easier to remove. -2- While holding the fruit under water, split the sections and separate the seeds from the section walls. The seeds will sink to the bottom and the peel and membranes will float. Skim off membranes and drain seeds in a colander.

    Extracting the Juice

    One large pomegranate yields between one-fourth to one-half cup of juice. To get the juice, crush or press the seeds. Seeds can be pressed in a sieve or food mill. Juice can also be extracted by whirling seeds, 1 1/2 cups at a time, in a blender or food processor until liquefied, then straining them. Strain crushed pulp through a double thickness of cheesecloth or nylon netting to remove seeds. Another method of obtaining juice is to cut the fruit in half and use a juice press or juicer. Press, do not twist the fruit. The rind contains tannin, which gives the juice a bitter taste. Place the juicer in the sink to avoid splattering. Strain juice.

    Popcorn is sold either as a plain or flavor-added popped product or as an unpopped product in moisture-proof containers ranging from plastic bags and sealed jars to ready to-use containers both for conventional and microwave popping. Popcorn flavor is enhanced to individual tastes with the addition of salt and butter (Carter, 1989). According to the Gale Research of 1996 for, popcorn is the only corn that pops; it is not dried kernels of sweet corn.

    There are several popular varieties of popcorn and thousands of hybrids. White hull-less and yellow hull-less are the varieties sold most commonly and packaged in microwave bags. Rice popcorn is a variety with kernels that are pointed at both ends. Pearl popcorn produces round, compact kernels. Strawberry popcorn has tiny red ears that are shaped like strawberries and produce red kernels. Black and blue varieties of popcorn have colored grains that pop as white kernels. Rainbow or Calico corn has white, yellow, red, and blue kernels.
    The quinoa seeds have a bitter taste that comes from the saponin in the outer coat, but that coat is removed before consumption by either rinsing or mechanically removed by manufacturers (Grain Information, 2012).

    Quinoa can be purchased at grocery stores, health food stores, and online.
    When harvested, spelt stays attached to its protective covering, the hull, until right before milling. The hull protects against soil-borne pathogens (Wilson, 2008). Spelt can be purchased through organic and health food stores in bin containers or prepackaged.

    Spelt flour can be used instead of, or in conjunction with, wheat flour in recipes such as breads, pastas, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, and waffles. Rolled or flaked spelt can be cooked and eaten like a hot cereal.
    Purchase plain iodized salt for long-term storage. Spices and herbs are available in several forms: fresh, whole dried, or dried and ground. Only dried spices are used in emergency food storage. Purchase commercial grade spice at the grocery store. Keep in mind that spices on sale are often already old. Some spices can be stored in oil, but these products should be commercially purchased or be dried spices or herbs added to oils. Fresh spices or herbs added to oils may be a risk for botulism. Spices or herbs can be purchased as single varieties or blends. Generally screw-cap containers are better than flip tops because they have a tighter seal (Spice Barn, 2009). Exotic seasonings are available at most international markets or can be ordered online.

    Stored spices should be used exactly the same as spice for regular meals. If stored for long periods some of the potency may have diminished and adding more of that spice may compensate. Once opened and exposed to air, use the spice quickly within 1 to 4 months.
    Two varieties of dried peas are available, green and yellow. Yellow peas have a milder flavor than green peas which are richer and stronger. Dried peas can be purchased as split or whole in prepackaged bags as well as in bulk containers. Choose peas that are free of cracks and debris.

    Before using dried split peas, inspect and remove any debris or dirt. Split peas will not need to be presoaked like other dry legumes. Simply put peas into the soup or stew you are making and they will cook in a reasonable amount of time. To prepare split peas that are not part of a soup or stew, place the legumes in a saucepan using 3 cups of fresh water for each cup of peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Usually split peas only take about 30 minutes to cook. Foam may form during the fi rst 15 minutes of cooking. It can simply be skimmed off. Split peas may also be ground into pea flour to use as the basis for some pea soup recipes. This allows the peas to cook faster and will thicken the soup as it cooks. Peas are an excellent protein substitute for egg products.
    Pure cane or beet granulated sucrose (table sugar) stores the best. Powdered sugar is simply table sugar ground to a finer powder. It can be stored the same as granulated sugar. Brown sugar is either white sugar with caramel coloring or white sugar with some molasses residue. It often has a little higher moisture content than table sugar, making it sticky. Purchase top quality refined sugar from trusted commercial sources. Raw sugars and honey that are less “pure” will have a shorter quality shelf life. Commercial, filtered liquid honey will last the longest in storage. Select filtered, top quality syrups or honey for storage. Comb honey, unfiltered honey, or raw sugar syrups do not store as well. Brown sugars that have natural moisture do not store as well long-term.

    Once opened, sugars can easily be resealed or simply closed in their packaging. If granulated sugar is lumpy or hard, chop lumps in a food processor. If crystallization occurs in syrups or honey, re-liquefy them by placing the container in a larger container of hot water until the crystals have dissolved. Honey stored in metal containers that has become tainted with a metallic flavor can be consumed, but should be discarded and replaced when possible (Molan, 1992). There are some that advocate use of honey as a topical antibacterial agent. It does have antibacterial properties, but it also has properties that could promote bacterial infections and is not recommended for medical use. Storage containers should be opaque, airtight, and moisture/odor proof. The typical retail paper package for crystal sugars is not suitable for long-term storage.

    Polyethylene bags, Mylar®-type bags, food-grade plastic buckets, glass canning jars, and No. 10 cans are all suitable for dry sugar storage. Glass canning jars and No. 10 cans work best for liquid syrups and honey. However, honey is acidic and can acquire a metallic taste from the metal can after many years of storage. The main metal in food cans is tin. Tin, when ingested in enough quantities, can cause gastric irritation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. However, these symptoms should not prevent someone from using metallic tasting sugars during emergency situations. However, if sugar acquires a metallic flavor during storage, it should be discarded and replaced (European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General, 2001).

    Choose freshly harvested squash that have not been left on the vine too long as they become tough. The smaller the squash, the less likely they will be bitter or woody. So, if you grow them yourself, don’t be afraid to pick them when they’re still small. Wash squash in cold water to remove all visible signs of soil. Handle carefully as summer squash bruise easily. You can store summer squash at 45-55 degrees F (or in your refrigerator crisper drawer) for 2-4 days.

    Tomatoes can be preserved by freezing, canning, or drying with good results. For best results, peel tomatoes before preserving.

    Use only meat from healthy, disease-free animals (healthy in general appearance and not displaying any abnormal actions), and protect the meat from dirt and flies. Aging and butchering can be done at home or by a qualified butcher.

    General Cleanliness:

    Make sure all surfaces and utensils that will touch the meat are clean. Use a detergent and warm water solution to remove all visible signs of soils. Re-clean and sanitize surfaces and utensils after working with meat to prevent cross contamination of raw meats with other foods.

    Food Safety Note: 

    Always wash cutting boards, utensils, and counters with hot soapy water before and after any contact with raw meat or juices. To make a sanitizing solution, use 1 teaspoon of household chlorine bleach per quart of water or use a commercial kitchen disinfectant.

    Aging: Age the carcass by hanging in a clean, cool, dry place with a near constant temperature, preferably 34 to 36°F. Excess moisture will increase the development of mold. Walk-in coolers are best for aging. Aging, when the temperature is correct, has been found to give a better flavored, more tender meat. In addition to making the meat more palatable, proper aging gives the meat a firmer “set” so that the carcass has better cutting quality, and is easier to handle and wrap for storage in the freezer. Aging is not required when making sausage. After aging, the carcass is typically processed into manageable cuts and wrapped. Generally one carcass yields only 20 to 25 percent boneless meat in the form of steaks, roasts, and ground trim. Wrapped venison cuts should be kept chilled at 40°F or lower to prevent spoilage.

    Purchase vitamin C from a reputable pharmacy or health food store. There is no real need for multi-vitamins, but they certainly cannot hurt. Avoid products making unverified claims such as “emergency storage” vitamins that last 10 years. Rarely are these claims backed with evidence and most likely they are no better than the normal generic brand. Once opened, use vitamins from that container in a few weeks or months. If not needed, reseal vitamins in a manner to preclude oxygen, light, and moisture.
    Whole wheat berries can be purchased from a producer (farmer). These grains are almost always not cleaned and may have been bulk stored for many months. Grains may also be purchased from a processor. In this case they may have been cleaned and packaged. Do not purchase “seed” wheat for storage, since these products may have had toxic chemical treatments.

    Lastly, grains may be purchased, cleaned, and packaged from a retailer. Please call your county Extension Office for local outlets to purchase grains for storage. Stored wheat can be ground for flour, popped (like popcorn), steamed, or cracked and cooked. Some like to germinate and sprout wheat for wheat grass.
    Purchase quality rice grains from a trusted source. Inspect rice for insects or discoloration, prior to preparing for home storage. Do not buy rice with any visible signs of insect infestation. There are three main types of white rice in the United States: long, medium, and short grain. In addition, there are several types of specialty rice available.

    Long Grain: Long grain polished rice is about three times longer than it is wide. Aft er cooking, it is fi rm, fl uff y, and not sticky.
    Medium Grain: Medium grain polished rice is between two and three times longer than it is wide. Cooked U.S. medium grain rice is soft , moist, and sticky in texture.
    Short Grain: Short grain rice is less than two times longer than it is wide. Short grain rice is very sticky and sometimes called sushi rice.
    Specialty Rices: These include Arborio, Basmati, Della or Dellmont, Japanese premium, Jasmine, Toro, and Waxy. Analyses on which variety stores best have not been done.

    Use white rice within 1-2 years after opening. White rice, for the majority of cooking needs, does not require washing before cooking. Recipes using other types of rice (such as Basmati or Japanese) may suggest not only washing, but also soaking. Soaking removes some of the extra starches.

    The most common preparation for white rice is to boil/steam it. Place one cup of white rice in 1 ½ cups-2 cups of boiling water in a saucepan. Place a lid on the pan and reduce heat to maintain a low boil for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let the rice sit another 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve.

    For food safety, refrigerate unused cooked rice within 2 hours.

    Select small and firm zucchinis, free of blemishes and decay. Their skin should be tender but firm with a glossy appearance. Avoid stale or over-mature squashes with dull surfaces because they usually have enlarged seeds and dry, stringy flesh.