Thursday, July 17, 2014

Augason Farms Dehydrated Vegetable Stew Blend - REVIEW

 
 
I didn't want to wait 20 years to find out if this Augason Farms dehydrated vegetable blend was any good, so here goes...
 
Keep in mind that this recipe is using all items that you would keep stored away for emergencies - without needing electricity or refrigeration.
 
This blend consists of:
CABBAGE
CARROTS
POTATOES
ONIONS
RED/GREEN BELL PEPPERS
CELERY
 
 
According to instructions, I added TWO CUPS of dry ingredients to a large pot of cold water and set to boil.
 


About 15 minutes later...


 
If you don't have your own home canned tomatoes, I recommend this commercial variety. You can find this on Amazon.com, or at Walmart (the last 2 places I checked.)
 

I prefer this brand, as it only contains ONE ingredient: FRESH RED RIPE TOMATOES.

Of course, if you have tomatoes already ripening in your garden, this would be more perfect!

Also, remember to STOCK UP on items you use frequently, as prices are rising and you're never guaranteed these will be available when you return to the store.
 
 
Next, add BEEF!
Since I'm focusing on recipes that don't require refrigeration (for a SHTF scenario), I am using my home canned ground beef.
 
Boil soup till vegetables are tender.
 
Season to taste! I used salt, pepper, red cayenne pepper, and garlic
 
 
 
Alright, let's RATE this soup based on the Augason Farm DEHYDRATED Vegetable Blend.
 
Spouse and I had this soup for dinner.
 
The vegetables came diced into tiny pieces, which would be very easy for a small child to eat.
As for texture, the cooked vegetables maintained their shape, with no sogginess. I had also sampled an uncooked piece and was very pleased with the strong flavor.
 
What also surprised me about this soup is the density. Just two cups of dehydrated vegetables, and the soup became thick!
 
This 2 pound can of dry vegetables could stretch into a lot of meals
 
With 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest in taste,
we rated this Augason Farm Vegetable Blend an
 
8.5
 
We are very pleased with this product and highly recommend this for long term food storage.
 
 
 
If you haven't already, feel free to visit my Facebook page - A Slice of Texas, where I regularly update!
 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Augason Farms Dehydrated Potatoes - REVIEW



This is a review on the Augason Farm's dehydrated potatoes. The curiosity got the best of us. Imagine being able to store potatoes in your cabinet for the next several decades.
 
Do these REALLY taste good?
 
Let's find out!



Time to find out NOW before investing too much money on food we dislike.




Freshly opened can.
 
 
Allow dehydrated potatoes to sit in water between 15-30 min
 
 
Approximately 20 min later
 
 
Potatoes have been drained. Now pan frying in iron skillet with peanut oil.
 

Of course, this isn't "fresh" potatoes, so on a scale of 1-10 for "dehydrated" food, this scored a solid

10

First of all, it tasted exactly like you'd expect a potato to taste. What I also liked about this is the texture. When I fry potatoes, I like a little bit of soft and crunchy combined. Since the potatoes were originally hard, and then softened, there's a combination of both.
 
My husband and I are very pleased with this product!
 
 On my Facebook page -  A Slice of Texas, I'll be including information on where I've found this cheaper to purchase (than on the actual Augason Farm's website.)  
 
Feel free to visit my A SLICE OF TEXAS page on Facebook -- I'll be posting updates on when I do the next food review, as well as adding more dishes to my PREPPER'S KITCHEN section.
 
This was fun, and breakfast was delicious!
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

When Has Food REALLY Expired?

If you were hungry and looking at your last can of beans, would you feed this to your family if it had expired?

Take heart, not all food spoils as fast as we're led to believe!


Would you believe that a ship sank back in the 1800's and the canned food that was retrieved were tested and ruled as SAFE?
 
Chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the
products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food
had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no
microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they
had been when canned more than 100 years earlier.
 
 


This is not about encouraging you to blindly reach into your cabinet and eating what you have, but rather to give you the encouragement with open eyes to the facts and myths on what is edible or not.

Whether a can of beans were expired or not, it is important to recognize whether it is safe for consumption by the condition and PRESERVATION of the can and its contents. If in doubt, never eat the food straight from the can. Boil for at least 10 - 20 minutes before consuming.


Here is an article that was published by the FDA Consumer Magazine several years ago on the shipwreck and other canned foods that were tested for consumption.







The Canning Process:
Old Preservation Technique Goes Modern



The steamboat Bertrand was heavily laden with provisions when it set out on
the Missouri River in 1865, destined for the gold mining camps in Fort
Benton, Mont. The boat snagged and swamped under the weight, sinking to the
bottom of the river. It was found a century later, under 30 feet of silt a
little north of Omaha, Neb.

Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied
peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974,
chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the
products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food
had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no
microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they
had been when canned more than 100 years earlier.

The nutrient values varied depending upon the product and nutrient. NFPA
chemists Janet Dudek and Edgar Elkins report that significant amounts of
vitamins C and A were lost. But protein levels remained high, and all calcium
values "were comparable to today's products."

NFPA chemists also analyzed a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement
of a home in California. Again, the canning process had kept the corn safe
from contaminants and from much nutrient loss. In addition, Dudek says, the
kernels looked and smelled like recently canned corn.

The canning process is a product of the Napoleonic wars. Malnutrition was
rampant among the 18th century French armed forces. As Napoleon prepared for
his Russian campaign, he searched for a new and better means of preserving
food for his troops and offered a prize of 12,000 francs to anyone who could
find one. Nicolas Appert, a Parisian candy maker, was awarded the prize in
1809.

Although the causes of food spoilage were unknown at the time, Appert was an
astute experimenter and observer. For instance, after noting that storing
wine in airtight bottles kept it from spoiling, he filled widemouth glass
bottles with food, carefully corked them, and heated them in boiling water.

The durable tin can--and the use of pottery and other metals--followed
shortly afterwards, a notion of Englishman Peter Durand. Soon, these "tinned"
foods were used to feed the British army and navy.

21 Billion Cans a Year

Canned foods are more than a relic dug from the past. They make up 12 percent
of grocery sales in the United States. More than 1,500 food products are
canned--including many that aren't available fresh in most areas, such as
elderberry, guava, mango, and about 75 different juice drinks. Consumers can
buy at least 130 different canned vegetable products--from artichokes and
asparagus to turnips and zucchini. More than a dozen kinds of beef are
canned, including beef burgers and chopped, corned and barbecued beef.

According to a recent study cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and NFPA, canned foods provide the same nutritional value as fresh grocery
produce and their frozen counterparts when prepared for the table. NFPA
researchers compared six vegetables in three forms: home-cooked fresh, warmed
canned, and prepared frozen.

"Levels of 13 minerals, eight vitamins, and fiber in the foods were similar,"
says Dudek. In fact, in some cases the canned product contained high levels
of some vitamins that in fresh produce are destroyed by light or exposure to
air.

The Canning Process

Food-spoiling bacteria, yeasts and molds are naturally present in foods. To
grow, these microorganisms need moisture, a low-acid environment (acid
prevents bacterial growth), nutrients, and an appropriate (usually room)
temperature.

Dennis Dignan, Ph.D., chief of FDA's food processing section, explains that
foods are preserved from food spoilage by controlling one or more of the
above factors. For instance, frozen foods are stored at temperatures too low
for microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts and molds) to grow. When foods are
dried, sufficient moisture is not available to promote growth.

It is the preservation process that distinguishes canned from other packaged
foods. During canning, the food is placed in an airtight (hermetically
sealed) container and heated to destroy microorganisms. The hermetic seal is
essential to ensure that microorganisms do not contaminate the product after
it is sterilized through heating, says Dignan. Properly canned foods can be
stored unrefrigerated indefinitely without fear of their spoiling or becoming
toxic.

Canning for a New Age

Dignan also notes that foods packaged in materials other than metal cans are
considered "canned" by food processing specialists if the food undergoes the
canning preservation process. Thus, today a canned food may be packaged in a
number of other types of containers, such as glass jars, paperboard cans, and
plastics that can be formed into anything from pouches to soup bowls to
serving trays.

For example, FDA consumer safety officer Tom Gardine, holding up a small,
plastic container of half-and-half for his morning coffee, says, "This is a
canned food." He explains that the coffee creamer was heated to destroy
bacteria and sealed to prevent microorganisms from entering the sterile
container. Until it is opened, the creamer is intended to be stored on the
shelf, not in the refrigerator.

Meals for today's U.S. military come in plastic pouches--a new version of the
heavier C-rations in metal cans. Such flexible pouches aren't as popular with
American civilians as they are with Europeans. Many Americans, instead, are
buying their canned foods in plastic containers that come with a peel-off
metal top and plastic lid--ready for the microwave. Barriers (made of
sophisticated synthetic materials) that provide an airtight seal are
sandwiched in these plastic layered containers. They are used for applesauce,
pudding, and other foods that can be stored on supermarket or home shelves
for years.

Then there are containers made of new transparent plastic materials like
polyethylene terephthalate--used for peanut butter and catsup. Packages made
of paperboard layers have been designed in the shape of boxes to contain such
foods as fruit juices, tomato sauce, and even milk.

Even the tin can is changing. For years, the three-piece can (made from a
top, a bottom, and a body formed from a plate soldered into a cylinder) was
the only can around. Now there are two-piece cans, which eliminate the side
seam and one seamed end. These cans are made by feeding metal into a press
that forms the can body and one end into a single piece.

In the traditional three-piece cans, a welded side seam has replaced the
lead-soldered side seam in all but 3.7 percent of American cans, says NFPA
official Roger Coleman. The welding process uses electrodes that apply
pressure and electric current to overlapping edges at the side seam. These
new seams eliminate concern about lead leaching into metal canned foods. In
the 3.7 percent of U.S. cans where lead still is used, it is often for dry
foods (such as coffee) packaged in cans, according to Coleman. Leaching is
not a concern here.

Many imported cans, however, still bear lead-soldered side seams. To tell
whether a can has been soldered with lead, first peel back the label to
expose the seam. The edges along the joint of a lead-soldered seam will be
folded over. Silver-gray metal will be smeared on the outside of the seam. A
welded seam is flat, with a thin, dark, sharply defined line along the joint.

Turning Up the Heat

Foods with a naturally high acid content--such as tomatoes, citrus juices,
pears, and other fruits--will not support the growth of food poisoning
bacteria. In tests, when large numbers of food poisoning bacteria are added
to these foods, the bacteria die within a day. (The exact amount of time
depends upon the bacteria and amount of acidity.) Foods that have a high acid
content, therefore, do not receive as extreme a heat treatment as low-acid
foods. They are heated sufficiently to destroy bacteria, yeasts and molds
that could cause food to spoil.

Canners and food safety regulators are most concerned about foods with low
acid content, such as mushrooms, green beans, corn, and meats. The deadly
Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which causes botulism poisoning, produces a
toxin in these foods that is highly heat-resistant. The sterilization process
that destroys this bacteria also kills other bacteria that may poison or
spoil food.

Low-acid canned foods receive a high dose of heat--usually 107 degrees
Celsius (250 degrees Farenheit) for at least three minutes. (The amount of
time the food is heated, though, depends upon the size of the container and
the product.) The canned food is heated in a retort, a kind of pressure
cooker.

The coffee creamer on Gardine's desk, however, was packaged differently.
Although both the half-and-half and plastic container were sterilized with
heat, they were heated separately and then brought together in a sterile
environment where the container was filled and sealed. The advantage of this
"aseptic processing," a type of canning, is that higher temperatures with
reduced heating times prevent deterioration in the quality of the food.

Aseptic processing is the "wave of the present and the future," says Gardine.
It is now used for liquids, and scientists are on the way to perfecting the
method for canning stews and chowders. However, says Gardine, because solid
foods may be more difficult to keep sterile during the filling and sealing
period, FDA is being especially cautious in approving uses for aseptic
processing.

Finessing the Attack on Food Spoilers

Another critical element in the canned food process is sealing products in
air-tight containers. It is essential that air be removed from the container
before sealing. Air could cause the can to expand during heating, perhaps
damaging the seals or seams of the container.

A telltale sign of loss of this vacuum--and a possibly contaminated
product--is a can with bulging ends. (See accompanying article.) If a seal is
not airtight, bacteria may enter the can, multiply, and contaminate the
product.

The hermetic seal finesses the canning process. The bacteria in a food and
container are killed through heating, and at the same time new bacteria are
kept from contaminating the food.

The distinction between the canning process and food handling before
processing is an important one for food processors and regulators. Last
February, 22 students at Mississippi State University became ill after eating
omelets made with canned mushrooms imported from China. Similar outbreaks
followed in New York and Pennsylvania, affecting more than 100 people. FDA
identified the culprit as staphylococcal enterotoxin, a poison produced by
the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

FDA's investigation suggests that poor sanitation caused the problem, and
that the mushrooms were contaminated with staphylococcal enterotoxin even
before they were canned. The canning process did not destroy the substance
because food preservation processes are not normally designed to destroy
staphylococcal enterotoxin, a highly heat-resistant toxin.

Since this incident, FDA and the Peoples Republic of China have been working
together to determine the source of the contamination. However, FDA
authorities still are preventing mushrooms canned in China from entering the
United States. And, says Gardine, FDA is focusing attention on sanitation
procedures in imported foods.

Surpassing Napoleon

The canned food principle that won Nicolas Appert his prize of 12,000 francs
has endured over the years. What might surprise Appert, however, is how his
discovery is making food shopping and storing easier for the 20th century
consumer.

Those who order coffee at fast food restaurants now also are served canned
half-and-half, which has been transported and stored without concern about
refrigeration. Hikers can take flexible pouches of canned food on backpacking
trips without having to worry about saving water to reconstitute freeze-dried
meals. And, in this society of microwave owners, Americans who don't have
time to prepare a well-balanced meal can pick up a plastic container filled
with a canned, nutritious dinner.

Dale Blumenthal is a staff writer for FDA Consumer.

How to Recognize Can Defects

"Never eat food from a tin can with bulging ends" was a maxim many grew up
with. Bulging was one of several clues that might indicate contamination of
food packaged in metal cans. Guidelines have been adapted for recognizing
defects in cans made of plastic and other materials, as well. The guidelines
are:

Metal Cans

* an obvious opening underneath the double seam on the top or bottom of the
can
* a can with bulging ends
* a fracture in the double seam
* a pinhole or puncture in the body of the can
* an unwelded portion of the side seam
* a leak from anywhere in the can

Plastic Cans

* any opening or non-bonding in the seal
* a break in the plastic
* a fractured lid
* a swollen package

Paperboard Cans

* a patch in the seal where bonding or adhesive is missing
* a slash or slice in the package
* a leak in a corner of the package
* a swollen package

Glass Jars

* a pop-top that does not pop when opened (indicating loss of the vacuum)
* a damaged seal
* a crack in the glass of the jar

Flexible Pouches

* a break in the adhesive across the width of the seal
* a slash or break in the package
* a leak at a manufactured notch used for easy opening
* a swollen package

(Taken from a chart for retailers developed by FDA and NFPA and published by
the Association of Official Analytical Chemists.)


~ by Dale Blumenthal

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Outdoor Dining is the BEST!

 

I Love our new 19" portable barbecue grill!

 
My family enjoys outdoor dining and have made this a weekly tradition. We look forward to each weekend and coming up with new ideas for meals to grill.
 

Some of our favorites

 
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Mushroom-Bell Pepper-Tomato-Jalapeno-Zucchini-Steak-K Bobs
  • Hamburgers
  • Steaks
  • Sausage
  • Fried potatoes, onoins, beef from an iron skillet
  • Chicken wings
  •  
 
Remember those restaurants where you pay a small fortune to have someone cook in front of you? Well you can now save your money and enjoy fine dining at home!
 

Grilling our food table top provides us with extra benefits

  • Mosquitoes don't like sticking around for dinner
  • Flies hate the smoke too
  • Food tastes better!
  • Spending more time with family around the table
 
 
 
 
This handy little grill has legs that fold underneath, giving us the ability to cook at eye level on our table. We purchased this grill from our grocery store for $24. I've found some online at Amazon GRILL
 

Check out the table I got from Craigslist for FREE! I was online looking to buy a used metal table as I had sworn off owning another glass table. (We've lost 2 glass patio tables to hail damage in the past.)

Was planning to touch up the table with some spray paint, but have since fallen in love with the rustic charm.

Hard to burn dinner when it's cooking from the table!

 
What I especially love about this small grill is that we are saving money on charcoal. We own several barbecue grills of varying sizes and some of the larger ones uses up a lot of charcoal.
 
With the smaller grill, we are able to grill more often and use less.
 
There are also added benefits of being able to continue cooking during a major power outage. We've grilled in freezing temperatures and the table setting keeps us warm and cozy.
 
Using less charcoal and being able to cook when there's no power is an added bonus for me. I'm really sold on this grill!