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Make Yourself 3 Times More Likely To Survive A Heart Attack

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 16:00

Heart Attack

The odds of surviving a heart attack have increased significantly over the past several decade, due to several factors.

Some measures include medications and high tech interventions, while others involve lifestyle changes which you can implement at home. Let’s begin by looking at beneficial herbs.

 

Consider The Benefits Of Herbs  

Herbs such as hawthorn and motherwort are excellent for the circulation. If you prefer to avoid medications which reduce cholesterol levels, consider using herbs to lower unhealthy levels of cholesterol. Herbs are effective, yet they do not deplete the body of coenzyme Q10, which pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering agents do. If you take medications to lower cholesterol, be sure to take a coenzyme Q10 supplement daily, as low levels of coenzyme Q10 may result in muscle pains, including pain in the heart muscle.

Two well-respected, large studies recently revealed that increasing fiber may prolong life after a heart attack by approximately nine years. Several studies indicate that fiber from grains is the most effective. While fiber and other nutrients from fruits and vegetables are healthy, the fiber in cereal is the type that results in increased longevity. Scientists do not understand the specific compound or mechanism behind these findings.

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Much of the fiber contained in grains and cereals is soluble fiber. Soluble fiber lowers levels of unhealthy cholesterol and absorbs toxins from the body. This may be what makes fiber from grains and cereal effective.

Sadly, less than five percent of Americans consume the minimum recommended amounts of fiber each day. Women should consume a minimum of 25 grams each day. Men should aim for at least 38 grams daily.

Researchers found that for every 10 grams of fiber consumed, the risk of death decreased by 15 percent. They also discovered that people who ate the highest amounts of fiber reduced their risk of death by 25 percent over a nine-year period.

If you have not had a heart attack, incorporate lifestyle measures into your repertoire to decrease the likelihood of you having one. If you have suffered a heart attack, there is much that you can do to increase your level of wellness and improve your chances of living a long, healthy life.

 

Immediate Care During and After a Heart Attack

Women sometimes display different symptoms of a heart attack than do men. With more women being knowledgeable about the signs of a heart attack, they are more likely to seek emergency care quicker in the event that a heart attack occurs. Prompt treatment leads to better outcomes.

The administration of medications, known as beta blockers, after a heart attack improves survival chances. After the heart attack occurs, a person takes beta blockers for the rest of their life.

 

Management of Cardiac Arrest

Changes in protocols to manage cardiac arrest have been in place since 2011. In 2011 the American Heart Association updated its guidelines for performing CPR, as it was determined that the administration of high quality, rapid chest compressions resulted in better outcomes.

Instead of the decades-old sequence of rescuers opening an airway, providing artificial respiration, and then beginning chest compressions, the recommendations changed to only administering compressions. Amazingly, the new technique increased survival rates by 300 percent. Make sure your family member and friends are aware of the new method – and are trained to perform it.

“In out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the brain and the heart need resuscitation, not the lungs,” said Gordon A. Ewy, director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.

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“When you stop chest compressions to give mouth-to-mouth ventilations, no blood is moved and the organs essentially are starved. In fact, during CPR, blood flow to the brain and the organs is so poor that stopping chest compression for any reason – including so called ‘rescue breathing’ – is not helpful.”

Also, the availability of defibrillators has afforded people rapid treatment.

Until the 1990s, most people who developed cardiogenic shock after having a heart attack died. Cardiogenic shock is a life-threatening condition which sometimes results due to weakened, injured tissues of the heart. The heart is too weak to pump blood effectively to the rest of the tissues in the body. Fluid may build up in the lungs. Organs, such as the kidneys, are susceptible to injury. Advances in technology and aggressive treatments have improved survival rates of people who develop cardiogenic shock.

 

Prevention of Heart Attacks

Increased screening and advances in diagnostic technology help identify risks for heart attack so that early interventions can be implemented. Links between risk factors for heart attacks, obesity and diabetes have been identified.

Blood tests which measure levels of C-reactive protein, cholesterol and triglyceride levels give clues regarding inflammation and imbalances of fat. Other tests, including the measurements of fibrinogen, Lipoprotein (a), and brain natriuretic peptides are sometimes used in conjunction with other tests to evaluate heart attack risks.

Medications and lifestyle interventions, such as weight loss, exercise and decreasing the intake of unhealthy fats, improve cardiovascular health. Obtaining good control of blood sugar levels among diabetics reduces the risk of heart disease.

What are your all-natural ways to lower your heart attack risk? Share them in the section below:

 

 

The post Make Yourself 3 Times More Likely To Survive A Heart Attack appeared first on Off The Grid News.

7 Remarkable ‘Outside-The-Kitchen’ Uses For Honey

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 15:00

Remarkable ‘Outside-The-Kitchen’ Uses For Honey

September is National Honey Month, and the golden liquid seems to deserve the honor. Americans consume about 1.5 pounds of honey per person annually, and there are more than 300 unique types of honey in the U.S. alone.

Honey is made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers and plants; it is not made with pollen. Pollen is brought back by the bee as a source of food for its offspring or “brood,” and it can be introduced to honey through other means, such as during the extraction process. Trace amounts of pollen are, though, found in honey.

 

Raw Honey

You may be wondering about raw honey versus processed honey. According to the National Honey Board, raw honey is honey that has not been heated or filtered. A 2012 National Honey Board study of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidant levels in raw and processed honey found that processing significantly reduces the pollen content of honey, but that processing does not affect honey’s nutrient content or antioxidant activity.

Some honey found on supermarket shelves has been pasteurized, which means it has been heated at extremely high temperatures and rapidly cooled so that it looks more appealing on the shelf. Unfortunately, pasteurization also disturbs the blend of vitamins, yeast, aromas and enzymes that make honey such a nutritional powerhouse. Since true “raw” honey is collected only from the extractor, a compromise is to look for honey that has been warmed (not pasteurized) for bottling purposes.

Honey contains a complex blend of naturally flavored sugars as well as trace minerals, enzymes, vitamins and amino acids. The 60,000 bees in an average beehive may travel more than a collective 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey! Honey’s color and flavor depends upon the source of the nectar. Sources can include clover, orange blossoms and eucalyptus in addition to flowers. Generally, light-colored honey is milder in flavor than dark honey.

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In the kitchen, we use honey as a sweetener to balance and enhance other food flavors, to thicken sauces and marinades and to give moisture to a variety of dishes. While honey should have its place as a staple on the pantry shelf, it also has a variety of other uses and benefits beyond the kitchen. Here are a few “outside-the-kitchen” uses for honey:

 

Remarkable ‘Outside-The-Kitchen’ Uses For Honey

 

1. Skin care

Honey has powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which make it useful as a topical treatment for minor skin ailments such as cuts, wounds and burns. Try applying a thin layer of honey to the skin to soothe pain and to promote healing. Another option is to dab honey onto skin blemishes to reduce inflammation. When you mix honey with water, you also can make an effective antibacterial face wash.

 

2. Ease sore throat and cough

Remarkable ‘Outside-The-Kitchen’ Uses For Honey

You’ll see honey as an ingredient in many cough suppressants and lozenges for good reason. It works even better on its own or with some lemon. Try combining a tablespoon of honey with the juice of one whole lemon as your own homemade cough syrup.

 

3. Hair care

As a humectant, honey attracts and retains moisture. This factor makes it work well for hair. Honey cleanses and moisturizes the hair shaft, and it also helps protect the scalp from the irritation of conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. For an easy hair boost, you can add a teaspoon of honey to your normal shampoo and leave it on for about five minutes before rinsing. To use honey as a conditioner, mix a quarter cup of honey with water so that it is a thin enough mixture to work through your hair. Apply the mixture to the hair and leave it on for about 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

 

4. Bath treatment

In the same way as it helps your hair, honey can condition your skin. Try it as an all-over moisturizer. Add two tablespoons of honey to one cup of hot water. Mix and let it dissolve for about 10 minutes before adding to your warm bath. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a relaxing treat.

Honey works as a skin moisturizer. Apply it directly to dry patches on your elbows, knees or hands. Then let it work for about 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

 

5. Lip balm

Similarly, you also can apply honey to your lips to smooth and condition them. Try dabbing it on with a cotton ball and letting it do its magic for about 10 minutes or so before rinsing. Another idea is to make your own lip balm by mixing one part warm, melted beeswax to three parts olive oil or almond oil. Add one to two tablespoons of honey to the mixture and then allow it to set. You can add a few drops of peppermint oil if you would like.

 

6. Immunity booster

Honey’s antibacterial and antiviral properties may help boost your immune system to help you fight sickness. If you are feeling a cold coming on, try sipping this soothing solution: one tablespoon of honey and two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice combined in a half cup of hot water. Honey also may help you get the rest you need. It helps facilitate the action of tryptophan, a natural amino acid that helps make you sleepy.

 

7. Calming influence

For centuries, one of the uses for honey has been used to help quell anxiety and nervousness. Add honey to your favorite herbal tea and sip slowly or sip a blend of honey with lemon juice and ginger for a relaxing effect.

You may have heard that it is unsafe to feed an infant honey. Infant botulism can occur when a baby younger than 12 months ingests spores of Clostridium bacteria, which can be found in dust and dirt and can get into honey. These bacteria are usually harmless to older kids and adults.

Honey has a very long shelf life. You can store honey at room temperature. If the honey turns cloudy, it is the result of the natural crystallization process and is not a sign of spoilage. If your honey crystallizes, simply place the honey container in warm water with the cap open and stir until the crystals dissolve. Repeat when needed.

Do you know of other uses for honey? Share them in the comments section below:

 

The post 7 Remarkable ‘Outside-The-Kitchen’ Uses For Honey appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Preparing For A Hurricane: 17 Vital Items You’ll Definitely Need

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 15:00

Knowing what you’ll need when preparing for a hurricane is a life or death matter for many.

The devastating power of nature is truly amazing. Our thoughts are with the east coast as they prepare for and deal with the devastation of hurricane Dorian.  It’s difficult to think that a single hurricane can cause billions of dollars of damage, undoing in mere days what has taken mankind years to build. The cleanup efforts for the damage that Hurricane Dorian causes will take an estimated three years or more.

 

Should You Bug Out?

The first question you must ask yourself when preparing for a hurricane is whether or not you should bug out. This depends a lot on where you live, the terrain around you, and the strength of the coming hurricane. There are many people on the east coast who won’t be affected by the hurricane, simply because their homes are just a few feet higher than the water.

If you don’t know how high you are above sea level, and how that compares to the area around you, then you need to get your hands on a topographical map. You can download these for free from the USGS website.

 

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If your home is located in what is known as a “100-year-flood zone,” chances are pretty good that you’ll be flooded out in any major hurricane. This term means that there is a one percent chance that your home will flood in any one year. Other zones are listed as “500-year flood zones” or “1,000-year flood zones.” Anyone who buys their home with a mortgage loan and who lives in a 100-year flood zone will be required to buy flood insurance as part of their contract. Few of the rest of us bother with that.

 

Just in Case

No matter what you do while preparing for a hurricane, there is nothing that prepares you for the devastation that follows.

Even if you are certain that you are living high and dry, where the flooding from the hurricane can’t get to you, you should be prepared to bug out. Hurricanes and tropical storms are unpredictable. Things might end up very different than you expect. Always make sure you leave yourself an avenue of escape.

To be specific, I mean that you should leave yourself an avenue of escape if there are five feet of water in your home. You don’t want to depend on being able to drive your car, unless you happen to have a monster truck parked in the driveway. Nor should you really count on walking. You won’t be able to see what’s under the water, so you might just step into a hole that’s 20-feet deep.

If you don’t happen to own a boat, you should probably invest in an inflatable rubber raft. You can buy these for as little as $100, giving yourself a means of getting to safety, instead of having to wait for someone to rescue you.

Don’t forget your bug-out bags. This is what they are for. If you don’t have one, it’s an ideal time to make one. Wherever you go when you bug out, you’ll need tools, equipment and supplies to help you survive.

 

What Do You Need to See You Through?

Even if you survive the hurricane in your home, you have to consider that you won’t have any electric power, water, sewage service and that your home may very well have several feet of water in it.

Often, preparing for a hurricane is really preparing to survive its aftermath. That means stockpiling the things you’ll need to have, until power is restored. Specifically, you’ll want:

  1. Bottled water
  2. Non-perishable food (canned food is great)
  3. Fuel (gasoline)
  4. A means of cooking your food
  5. Flashlights and batteries
  6. Battery operated radio
  7. Recharging battery for your phone
  8. Solar phone charger
  9. Good first-aid kit
  10. Toiletries, especially toilet paper
  11. Insect repellant
  12. Baby formula and diapers (if you have a baby)
  13. A complete set of important documents (identification, birth certificates, insurance, marriage license, property deeds, vehicle titles) in a waterproof container
  14. Laminated list of emergency phone numbers
  15. Cleaning supplies (for salvaging your home)
  16. Rain gear (ponchos and boots)
  17. Water purifier

Hurricane devastation

All of this needs to be packed in waterproof containers, such as five-gallon buckets. Most storage bins aren’t waterproof, as the lids aren’t sealed. However, they will usually float, as long as things don’t get to the point where they are underwater.

 

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Keep in mind that this list is just the most basic of supplies. If you are already a prepper, you probably already have much more than this. That’s good, because you’ll need it. Just make sure that if you have your prepping supplies stored in the basement, you move them to a higher point in your home when preparing for a hurricane.

 

Saving Your Home

Trying to save your home from a hurricane is difficult, at best. This boils down to two basic parts: keeping your home from being damaged by the wind and keeping the water out of your home.

There is little you can do to prevent your home from being damaged by high winds. Hopefully your home was already built with that in mind. Homes along the coast should be built with hurricane clips holding the rafters to the walls and other safeguards to protect them. But if you own an older home, it may not have some of these safeguards built in.

Other than direct damage to your home, the biggest risk that high wind creates for your home is breaking tree branches. If you have any tree branches that overhang your home’s roof, you should cut them off. You also should look around your home for loose objects that could become projectiles and store them away.

 

Flooding

But, as I already said, flooding is the bigger risk. Keeping water out of your home requires building a dam to stop the water. The most common way of doing this is with sandbags. These work well, because the sand moves, allowing the bags to seal well against one another. A properly built sandbag wall should be at least a few feet away from your home’s walls, so that you can walk around your home to check for leaks. You also will need a pump or two, to send any water that leaks through back over your sandbag wall.

But it takes a lot of sand and a lot of sandbags to make a wall around your home. Typically, a 10-foot-long section of four-foot-high sandbag wall requires about 160 sandbags, plus the sand to fill them. You will need a pretty good crew, working together, to fill all those bags and build the wall.

The power of nature is so frightening because there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Another option is to buy water dams. There are a few different brands of these on the market. Basically, they consist of a flexible plastic tube, three or four feet across. Filled with water, they actually work better at creating a barrier than sandbags do, with less of a chance of spaces where water can leak through. They are also easier to set up, as you only need to lay them out and connect a hose. But you’ll need a lot of time for your hose to fill that many tubes.

 

During the Storm

If you find yourself trapped at home with the waters rising, don’t panic. Your home may have a second story, move up there. If not, you can move onto the roof. But whatever you do, don’t go into the attic to escape flood waters. An attic can become a death trap in these situations.

There actually was a home in the Houston area, during Harvey, where the homeowners pitched a couple of tents on their roof and sat the storm out in them. While not a normal method of protecting yourself from a hurricane, that was quite effective.

Chances are, someone will come by with a boat to rescue you if you end up on your home’s roof. But you’re better off being able to rescue yourself. That’s why I recommended buying a rubber raft. While that may not be as nice as having a speedboat to make your getaway in, it will still be effective.

What would you add to our list of hurricane preps? Share your tips in the section below:

The post Preparing For A Hurricane: 17 Vital Items You’ll Definitely Need appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Canning Tomatoes: Here’s What Grandma May Not Have Told You

Sat, 08/31/2019 - 12:00

Canning Tomatoes

It is never more gratifying to be a gardener than when luscious ripe tomatoes are rolling off the plants and into our kitchens. For most of us, though, there are often far more tomatoes than we can eat at the time. After slicing, sautéing, roasting, making salads and salsa, adding to pizza and ratatouille and grilled burgers, and filling the freezer with sauce, there is only option left.

 

Canning Tomatoes

It is time to can tomatoes. People have been canning tomatoes for long enough that everyone and their great-grandmother—and I do mean that literally—has strong opinions on how it should be done. Some folks use strictly paste tomatoes, meaning only those varieties developed specifically for use in homemade sauces. Others use any varieties of tomatoes at all, from commercial or traditional to heirloom, in all shapes and sizes.

There is no single correct answer when it comes to the best tomato varieties for canning. The primary difference is that paste types usually have less water content and require less reduction for sauces and ketchup. Taste, texture and personal preference are factors that matter.

The thing about canning tomatoes is that there are a lot of choices, not the least of which is whether to use a pressure canner or a boiling water bath canner. And the right answer to this question is that both methods are correct.

 

Pressure Canner or Boiling Water Bath Canner

This is unusual. For almost every other food, there is only one right choice. All vegetable, meats and seafood products need to be pressure-canned for safety. And while fruits can be processed using a pressure canner, it would diminish the quality of the product.

Canning Tomatoes

So why can tomatoes go either way? To explain, let me first talk about acid. The value of various foods are either very acidic—which registers very low numbers on the pH scale—or very neutral and registering very high pH numbers.

Almost all fruits range from 3.0 to 4.0 and are considered to be high acid. Vegetables range from 4.8 to 7.0 and are considered to be low acid.

 

Tomato Acidity

And then there are tomatoes. The average tomato sits at 4.6, right on the cusp of high acid versus low acid. In this sentence, “average” is the key word. If the average is at 4.6, that means there are some varieties that are a tad more acidic, and a few—particularly some of the heirloom types—that are a little less acidic.

Therefore, the safety rule with tomatoes is to acidify them. By adding a little acidic content to every jar of canned tomatoes, we can be absolutely sure that they are adequately acidic. Just a tablespoon of lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint of tomatoes does the trick when canning tomatoes. It is super easy, inexpensive and does not affect the taste of the finished product.

It may sound as if it is alright to skip the acidification step—adding the lemon juice or citric acid—if you are pressure canning, but that is not the case. You need to add acid with both processes, and here is why. The directions and processing times for both canning methods have been tested using acidified tomatoes. If you do not use added acid, the processing times given may not be adequate.

The major difference in canning tomatoes using the boiling water bath method versus pressure canning is processing time.

 

Processing time

For example, tomatoes packed in water take 40-50 minutes (depending upon the size of the jars) in a boiling water bath canner and only 10 minutes in a pressure canner. Tomatoes with no added liquid take a whopping 85 minutes in a boiling water bath canner and 25 minutes in a pressure canner. With crushed tomatoes, there is a huge time difference as well—35 to 45 minutes versus 15 minutes.

However, there is more than just processing time to consider when canning tomatoes. Using a pressure canner involves 10 minutes of venting, several minutes to build pressure, and more time to depressurize after processing. When you add it up, the actual time differences are less dramatic.

So why use a pressure canner for tomatoes? Many people say it is about the quality of the finished food. Pressure canned tomatoes often have brighter colors and flavors, retaining more of that tart zing that only a fresh backyard tomato can pack.

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Either way, there are some basics to go by. Following is a synopsis, although complete step-by-step directions can be found either in Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving, which can be purchased for under $10 at most stores, or accessed free online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Prepare your supplies for canning tomatoes. Wash and rinse jars and lids, and keep warm. Assemble equipment:  canner, jar lifter, funel and head-space tool.

  1. Peel tomatoes by dipping in scalding water until skin loosens, plunge in ice water to make them cool enough to handle, and pull nskins off. Trim ends. Cut or crush as needed for recipe.

    Canning Tomatoes

  2. Prepare your canner and heat the water to simmering.
  3. Add lemon juice or citric acid to each jar.
  4. Pack tomatoes according to recipe: crushed, whole or halved packed in water or tomato juice, or whole or halved with no liquid added. Add salt if desired.
  5. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids to finger tight.
  6. Process in either boiling water bath canner or pressure canner, following times and procedures for the one you are using.

 

Methods vs Processing Time

You cannot safely mix and match processing times. It will not work to use pressure canning times in a boiling water bath canner, or to go with times given for whole tomatoes with added liquid for crushed tomatoes. If using the boiling water bath method for whole tomatoes, follow that recipe to the letter.

I have been canning tomatoes for a while and have used very nearly all of the permutations—with liquid and without, whole and crushed, boiling water bath or pressure canner processed. However, I admit that I do not have a single go-to way of doing it. An hour and 25 minutes is a long process time, but once it’s boiling, I can set it and forget it. Pressure-canned tomatoes do seem a little tastier, but it is more of a multi-step process than a boiling water bath. Crushed tomatoes are easier to pack into jars, but require more prep work and yield a product that I tend to use less in recipes. Most years, I do a variety.

Even though it seems a little more complicated at the outset, tomatoes are the perfect food for canning and are just right for those who prefer a wide variety of methods. And as long as you use an approved recipe, there is no wrong way to can garden-fresh tomatoes.

What canning advice would you add? Share your tips and secrets in the section below:

 

 

The post Canning Tomatoes: Here’s What Grandma May Not Have Told You appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Storing Potatoes For 20-Plus Years

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 13:08

Storing potatoes well into the winter months provides an excellent food source

Extending the shelf life of root vegetables like potatoes has been practiced for centuries as a method to enjoy the harvest year-round. Traditionally, potatoes grown for storage are a variety bred specifically for winter storage, since not all varieties keep well long-term. Thicker-skinned potatoes such as russets will store far longer than thin-skinned red potatoes.

The traditional method of winter storage is by using a root cellar. Harvesting them is to dig the potatoes when the potato plants have died down. Then, brush off dirt (without washing) and cure them before storage. Curing the potatoes in temperatures ranging from 45-60 degrees Fahrenheit (or as high as 80-85 for sweet potatoes) and high humidity (90 percent or more) gives potatoes a thicker skin that prolongs their storage life and lessens spoilage.

 

Potatoes Prefer Shade

The curing process should occur in the shade or in a darkened indoor location like a barn. If your potatoes are green, it means they have been exposed to excessive light and should be discarded. The green color is frequently a sign that solamine is present. Unfortunately, solamine is toxic at high levels.

Store potatoes in a humid dark root cellar at approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit after curing them. Potatoes should be packed in bushel baskets or burlap sacks or in several piles. Storage temperatures below 45 degree Fahrenheit may increase the sugar content of potatoes. However, higher temperatures can lead to shrinkage or rot, reducing storage life by half. Also, potatoes should be stored away from any fruit that gives off ethylene gas (such as apples and pears). Frequently, people will wrap apples and pears individually in paper to store them in a root cellar so as to reduce the ethylene gas they emit.

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Storing for 20 Years

Twenty years sounds like a long time to store potatoes. Surprisingly, “fresh” potatoes in the grocery store are often 11 months old when you buy them.  Modern developments in commercial food storage allow growers to store produce with a chemical (1-methylcyclopropene), which extends the shelf life of vegetables.

Of course, fresh potatoes won’t last 20 years, but you can dehydrate them to get that kind of long-term shelf life while maintaining nutritional value.

 

Some conditions:

1) The shelf life will be longer if your storage location has a moderate temperature and reduced light. Therefore, a cool basement would be ideal, while a hot attic or room which fluctuates in temperature will shorten the shelf life of any stored food.

2) Botulism can grow in low-oxygen moist environments. To avoid this, you must reduce the moisture level within the potatoes to 10 percent or less in order to store long-term with an oxygen absorber packet or to safely store using a vacuum sealer that removes air.

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Here’s how to do it:
  • A dehydrator with an electric fan is recommended.
  • Wash the potatoes (peeling is optional).
  • Slice ¼ inch or less, or grate.
  • Drying temperature for potatoes is generally 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Drying time will depend on the humidity and your dehydrator. Dried potatoes will be crisp and brittle.
  • Once dry, let them cool for an hour or so, and then place temporarily into gallon-size Ziploc bags to “season” the dried slices for a week. Seasoning accomplishes two things: 1) It distributes any remaining moisture evenly between slices, and, 2) It alerts you if there is too much moisture in your dried potatoes. If you have too much moisture, you will see condensation on the inside of the sealed bags (in which case you need to dry some more).
  • Pack into airtight glass containers or cans.

 

Storing Potatoes

Your kitchen cupboards are simply too exposed to light and temperature fluctuations to be useful in storing items more than a year. However, dried potatoes in a glass jar will last about a year in kitchen cupboard conditions. This is about the same time as a canned potato product. However, in a cool, dry and dark place like a cellar, these jars of dehydrated potatoes will last five or so years without any detectable change in taste.

For REALLY long-term storage of 20 years or more, put an oxygen absorber packet in the airtight container when packing, or remove air using a vacuum sealer, and again, store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Dehydrated potatoes are tasty in soups, stews and casseroles. Also, vegetables and starches are an essential component of any balanced diet, and potatoes are a great (and delicious) option for long-term food storage.

What storage advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

 

The post Storing Potatoes For 20-Plus Years appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Simple And Easy Cheese-Making For Beginners

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 15:00

Cheese making for beginners

After visiting with a friend, she convinced me to try making my own cheese.  Doubting my ability, I asked her if there was a cheese-making for beginners class she could recommend to me.  She smiled and said she would be happy to teach me.

Think it’s too difficult to make your own cheese? Think again!

Making cheese can be quick, easy and inexpensive. In fact, some cheese can be made in just three steps. Below are three recipes that you can make at home. Even if you’ve never made cheese before, you can make these simple cheeses to save money. And they’re much more nutritious and taste better than the store-bought versions that are full of chemicals and preservatives.

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Cottage cheese

There’s something filling about eating cottage cheese. It has lots of protein and makes a great breakfast or snack. But the cottage cheese that you get from the grocery store doesn’t always taste good. If you want delicious cottage cheese, why not try making it yourself? It just takes a e of minutes to make and is a great recipe for those of you who feel like you are a cheese-making beginner!

 

Homemade cottage cheese.

Homemade cottage cheese

Makes 2 cups

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ cup half-and-half
Directions:
  1. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. Check the temperature with a candy thermometer and continue cooking until it reaches 120 degrees F.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar and continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Cover and sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth or a tea towel. Allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse with cold water for 3 to 5 minutes. When it’s cool, squeeze the curds dry as much as possible. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine. When ready to eat, stir in the half-and-half. If not, transfer to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. Add the half-and-half just before serving.

 

Farmer’s Cheese

Farmer’s cheese is a great cheese for beginners. So if making your own cheese sounds intimidating, try this recipe first. And it tastes great in lasagna, tacos, salads and even cheesecake.

In fact, that’s my favorite way to use farmer’s cheese. And now that it’s fall, try this pumpkin cheesecake; it’s my favorite cheesecake to make!

 

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Makes 1 pound

Here’s what you need:
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
Directions
  1. Pour milk into a large kettle. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
  2. When the milk starts to boil, turn off the heat. Stir lemon juice into the milk. The milk will curdle. Wait 10 minutes.
  3. Line a colander or strainer with cheesecloth or a tea towel. Place a large bowl underneath the colander to catch the liquid. Pour the milk through the cloth. What is left in the cheesecloth is the farmer’s cheese. And the liquid that is leftover is the whey. Gather the cloth around the cheese, and squeeze out as much of the whey as you can. Wrap in plastic, or put in an airtight container. Store the cheese in the refrigerator; it will keep for a week.

 

Mascarpone Cheese

Homemade mascarpone is just as good as the store-bought version. It’s also quite simple to make, and is cheaper than buying it.

Mascarpone cheese is too rich to eat by itself, sort of like eating a spoonful of butter! But it’s delicious to use in savory and sweet recipes alike.

Homemade Mascarpone

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 2 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Directions
  1. Pour heavy cream into a large pan. Simmer over medium high heat until a thermometer reads 190 degrees F. And stir often to avoid scorching.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer at 190 degrees F for 5 minutes. The cream should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to let cool for 30 to 45 minutes, or until room temperature.
  3. Place a strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth or a tea towel over an empty bowl. Pour the cream, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. Keep the cream for 8-12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Next, discard the whey and put the cheese in an airtight container. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Don’t buy expensive cheese that is often full of chemicals and additives. Instead, make your own cheese! By following the recipes above, you’ll become an expert in making cheese in no time. But there’s only one drawback to making cheese — it won’t last long! And if you do run out, don’t worry. These homemade cheeses are so simple and easy-to-make, that you’ll be able to whip up some more in no time at all!  With a little practice, you’ll no longer be a just cheese-making beginner, you’ll be an expert!

Have you ever made cheese? If so, what kind? Share your tips in the comments section below:

 

 

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10 Signs Your Canned Food Has Gone Bad

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 13:05

It is important to watch for signs of spoiling when it comes to your canned food.

Do you know how to tell if the can or jar of food in your stockpile is safe? Surprisingly, some dents are ok, but these 10 signs mean that your particular can or jar is not safe to eat.

 

1. Bulges in the lid of a jar, or sides of a can are a sign that something is seriously wrong with the contents.

Canned food should not create a bulge. Therefore, if you see a bulging lid or side, it’s a sign of pressure from gas, bacterial activity and spoilage. Whatever you do, don’t eat the contents of any bulging can or jar with a bulging lid.

 

2. Excessive pressure release when opening a jar is a sign something is wrong.

It’s normal to hear a light “whoosh” when opening a sealed jar. However, a lot of pressure or even a surprising amount of pressure releasing on opening is not a good sign. It could mean gas has built up inside the jar as a byproduct of bacterial activity. Remember, if something doesn’t seem right, throw out any can or jar that does this.

 

3. Bubbles are a sign of spoilage.

Bubbles usually indicate some kind of fermentation, a bacterial process which can be perfectly fine IF intentional and under certain specific conditions. It also makes excellent pickles, wine, beer and other foods.

Discover the secrets to successful food storage 

However, unintentional fermentation is rarely a good thing, and under low-acid or low-oxygen environments some bacteria can lead to deadly problems, including botulism. If you open a can or jar that’s been sitting on a shelf and you see bubbles, something isn’t right.

 

4. Foam is an indicator of bacterial activity.

Botulism and other dangerous bacteria can survive (and even thrive) in very low-oxygen environments like canned food.

 

5. Cloudy liquid

Liquid inside the can is typically clear. Therefore, if the liquid is cloudy that is another sign that food may no longer be good.

 

Canned food is a must have on most homesteads.

6. Signs of mold

If you find any signs of mold on the underside of a lid means the food should be discarded. No matter what the color is, mold on the underside of a lid is a bad sign, and the food in that can or jar should not be eaten.

 

7. Inadequate seal.

If a lid can be pushed up and down, it’s not safely sealed. When you first can a food, the lid is sucked down as the jar of canned food cools. Therefore, you should not be able to depress a lid and have it pop back up. That indicates it did not seal properly. Consequently, unsealed and unrefrigerated jars are not safe to eat.

 

8. Leakage means the container is compromised.

If there are traces of food on the outside of the container, it likely leaked from inside the same container. If there’s a leak, the seal is compromised, and the food is likely unsafe. When in doubt, throw it out.

 

9. Does something smell funny?

If the contents of a can or jar smell “off” or unusual, or somehow different that you remember, then the food might have gone bad. If it doesn’t pass the sniff test, throw it out.

 

10. Rust on a can

is a sign the container may be compromised. If you can clearly see the can is fine, then it’s probably ok, but your containers should not be getting rusty. Evaluate your storage location and rotation plan to ensure you aren’t keeping food too long or in less-than-ideal conditions. Rust is a clear sign that something isn’t ideal.

Be smart and bon appetit!

What tips would you add? Share your advice in the section below:

 

 

The post 10 Signs Your Canned Food Has Gone Bad appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The Easiest Ways For Harvesting Down Feathers

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 16:30

Harvesting down feathers can be a chore, but beneficial in the end result.

 

Raising ducks and geese can be rewarding — in many ways. They’re social animals that play out a backyard soap opera on a daily basis. Many species of ducks produce just as many eggs as your average chicken. Duck eggs are much larger and richer than chicken eggs.

Ducks also generally excellent, devoted mothers. If you’re not careful a single duck can raise two clutches of 12-16 babies in a single year. That leaves you with a common duck owner problem: overpopulation. An overpopulation of ducks can be quite the blessing if you’re prepared to harvest meat from your home duck flock. Which means, you also have the added benefit of harvesting insulating feathers for homemade down pillows, blankets and jackets.

 

Plucking. 

The trickiest part about harvesting water birds is the plucking. When plucking chickens, most people scald the birds in 145-degree water to cause the base of the feathers to loosen. This allows for them to be easily hand plucked without much effort.  They can also be mechanically plucked in a home use drum plucker in about 30 seconds.

Plucking ducks or geese can be a bit more complicated. Their feathers are water-resistant, and they’ve worked hard throughout their life to preen them into an insulated waterproof barrier. Drop them into a scalding bucket, and the water won’t reach the skin to loosen the feathers. Some people recommend dousing them in a mild dish detergent to break up their natural water-proofing oils so that the water can penetrate. However, in reality that just creates a soapy mess and doesn’t make the feathers any easier to pluck.

The fact that wetting ducks through scalding doesn’t make plucking them any easier means that hand-dry plucking is both easier and cleaner, which is good news for pillow fans. The feathers stay dry and clean with the dry plucking process, making them easy to store until you have enough to make your own down crafts.

 

All natural way to keep your flock insect free

 

Preparing to Pluck

When it comes to harvesting down feathers from your birds, make sure you provide them fresh clean water to bath in before harvest. The birds love preening and cleaning themselves, and will do all the cleaning work for you if you give them the right tools. Supply them fresh clean water in a small kids pool or large rubber feed tub on a clean surface. Give the birds a short break period (10-20 minutes) in a dry clean area to dry off before harvesting. Damp feathers can mold in storage.

If during the harvest process the feathers become soiled by just about anything (blood, excrement, etc.), simply wipe the bird down with a damp cloth until the feathers are clean and then make sure to allow them to dry thoroughly before plucking and storing the feathers.

 

Selecting Feathers To Harvest

Geese have excellent down feathers for harvesting.

Roughly 20 percent of the feathers on a duck or goose are considered “down,” and they’re easiest to harvest from the underside of the bird, on the stomach, breast, thighs and upper legs. Larger, tougher wing feathers are not appropriate for use. For home use, there’s a big gray area as to how big a feather you can use and still keep the pillow comfortable. Some of the feathers on the upper back between the wings can help fill out a pillow and keep it fluffy, but may not have the insulating power of down for a comforter or jacket.

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Commercially, the “100 percent down” label is reserved for items containing only the finest 20 percent of the bird down feathers. Other items labeled just “down” may contain other larger feathers as well, and are much less expensive to purchase. You’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference in a pillow. Keep in mind that feathers insulate less well than down.

 

How Much Down Can You Harvest?

While being very selective and using only the finest of down (20 percent of the bird), it takes about 12 Wild Canadian Geese to make a single standard-sized pillow. Domestic geese can be up to two to three times as large as their wild cousins. Therefore, it only takes 6-8 domestic geese to make a 100 percent down pillow. Using some slightly larger, but still soft feathers from the back and thighs of the birds, a single pillow can be made from as few as 3-4 domestic geese.

Likewise, it takes 40-55 geese to make a 100 percent down king-sized comforter. It would take a bit over half that number of domestic birds to make a king-sized comforter.

Goose down is more resilient and durable than duck down, and has better insulating qualities. High-quality duck down can still make an excellent pillow. In many cases high-quality duck down is superior to low-quality goose down. Be choosy with your duck down and you’ll do just as well.

Ducks vary greatly in size, but they’re generally about half the size of a wild Canadian goose. Plan accordingly, and expect to both be very choosy with your duck feathers and use the feathers of a lot of birds to accomplish your task.

What advice would you add on making a down pillow or down comforter? Share your tips in the section below:

 

The post The Easiest Ways For Harvesting Down Feathers appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Pallet Projects: 7 Things You Can Build For Free

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:00

 

Re-purposing old wood pallets to make fun pallet projects.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to make a variety of wood projects on your homestead, look no further than shipping pallets. Many large retailers and distribution centers will let you haul away wood pallets they cannot use for free or for a nominal fee.

Lots of companies re-use their pallets for return shipments. However, you should call first to see if pallets are available. Never assume that pallets stored outside at a facility are free for the taking.

Not all pallets are alike. Pallets usually are marked with either the letters “MB,” which means they have been chemically treated with methyl bromide, or “HT,” which means they have been heat treated.  Also, other pallets may have been pressure treated with preservatives.

If you are planning a project for your garden or for the interior of your home, avoid chemically treated pallets and pressure-treated pallets. Also, if the pallets smell bad or appear to be infested with bugs, leave them be.

When you choose wisely, however, pallets can become the basis for a wide variety of easy home and garden projects. What’s more is that items made with this form of reclaimed wood tend to last and last.

Get your own solar powered generator and be prepared for any crisis

Here are seven ideas for pallets in and around your homestead.

 

1. Vertical planter pallet project

The very way pallets are constructed makes them ideal for use as an attractive and practical vertical planter.

Materials
  • one 25 inch x 38 inch pallet
  • roll of landscaping paper
  • sandpaper
  • staple gun and staples
  • hammer and nails
  • potting soil (2.5 cubic feet)
  • succulents, herbs or other small plants
Instructions
  1. Sand the rough spots on your pallet and use some pieces of scrap wood to add some support to the back of your pallet.
  2. Double or triple the landscaping fabric, and then staple it along the back, bottom and sides of the pallet, carefully folding in the fabric at the corners so soil will not spill out.
  3. Place the pallet flat on the ground and pour soil through slats, making sure you allow enough room for your plants. Press the soil down firmly.
  4. Starting at the bottom and ending at the top of the pallet, begin planting your plants. Add more soil as needed to make sure plants are tightly packed.
  5. Water plants thoroughly and let the pallet remain horizontal for about two weeks. After plants begin to take root, you can hang it upright.

Here’s a video demonstrating this:

 

 

2. Room divider

You can make an attractive, rustic-looking room divider for your home with wood pallets. The number of pallets you need depends on the size of the room and the style of the divider you want to create. Here are a few clever ideas.

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3. Shoe rack

Are shoes taking over your entryway? This idea is such a natural for pallets, you will wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

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4. End table pallet project

There are some lovely examples of pallet end tables on the Internet. You can make a sturdy accent piece for your living room or a bedroom by using reclaimed pallet wood.

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5. Chairs

Do you like the traditional styling of Adirondack chairs? Surprisingly, you can make one yourself with this pallet project.

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6. Garden tool organizer

The slats in pallets make them a good choice for a garage or shed organizer for your rakes, shovels and other long-handled garden equipment.

Here is a standing rack option:

 

 

Be sure your family is prepared in case the power goes out, get a back up solar generator.

 

7. Pallet headboard project

Last but not least, you can use pallets to create a simple-but-creative headboard for your bed. Here are some directions to get you started:

Once you get started working on pallet projects, you are sure to come up with more ideas of your own. Here is a video that showcases some attractive and useful items – including some of the ideas in this article as well as others — made with pallets.

What have you made with pallets? Do you have any advice? Share your thoughts in the section below:

 

 

The post Pallet Projects: 7 Things You Can Build For Free appeared first on Off The Grid News.

8 Powerhouse Cancer-Fighting Foods

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 15:00

Cancer-Fighting Foods

Did you know that your immune system is capable of healing pretty much every disease known to man? The body’s self-healing capabilities are quite astounding.

There actually have been cases of people defeating cancer without the use of traditional medication and treatments.

Some people have success with vegetarianism, raw foods, ketogenic diets and juicing, just to name a few. Due to the individuality of the human body, one diet simply won’t work well for everyone.

What does work for everyone is banishing heavily processed, unhealthy foods for more natural options. The following 8 cancer-fighting foods will improve your health, thereby reducing your risk of cancer.

 

1. Oily/Fatty Fish

Oily or fatty fish include favorites like salmon, tuna, sardines and trout. These fish are simply packed with nutrients and should be a part of everyone’s diet. Omega-3 has incredible anti-inflammatory capabilities. Aside from omega-3, these fish also are an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin D, both of which fight cancer cells. Studies have shown that chemotherapy patients with diets high in Vitamin A are less likely to develop cachexia (weight loss, lethargy, muscle atrophy and other ailments associated with chronic illness).

 

2. Garlic

Garlic is so versatile when it comes to health, especially cancer prevention. The sulfuric properties of garlic work toward repairing damaged DNA and killing off cancer cells. Garlic also fights bacteria that is linked to cancer.

Plant an entire one acre survival garden

It is recommended that when using garlic in your cooking you prepare it at least 15 minutes prior to using it in your dish. Peeling, crushing and dicing it, and then letting it sit will ensure its sulfuric properties are working at its maximum.

 

3. Spinach

Spinach isn’t just good for your eyes but also excellent as one of the cancer-fighting foods. Lutein is the antioxidant in spinach that people claim is responsible for improving eyesight. This same antioxidant helps to remove free radicals and other harmful molecules from your body. Spinach also contains carotenoids, which has been linked to reducing risk of certain cancers like ovarian. In fact, a ton of dark leafy greens have this property. Don’t skip on them!

 

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms might be a fungi but are surprisingly good for you. Aside from being a general healthy addition to your diet, they are particularly suited as a cancer-fighting food due to the level of Vitamin D in them. Mushrooms also help boost your immune system with their alpha and beta glucan molecules. In fact, one study done with white button mushrooms shows incredible results with assisting the body in fighting salmonella.

 

5. Tomatoes

The antioxidant that gives tomatoes their wonderful color is also wonderful at stopping cancer cell growth. Lycopene studies have shown that it effectively stops or drastically reduces breast, uterus and prostate cancer. Tomatoes are naturally one fruit that have high concentrations of lycopene, but other produce like watermelon and red bell peppers are worth adding to your diet, as well.

 

6. Carrots

Not only are carrots a favorite veggie but their nutrients have some serious disease-fighting capabilities. Carrots have an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Studies have shown that this antioxidant protects cells from damage and also inhibits cancer cell growth. Carrots are best eaten cooked.

 

7. Strawberries

Strawberries are not only delicious but have a wide range of health benefits. Not only do they prevent cancer but also improve memory and fight against heart disease.

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Strawberries, along with many other berries, inhibit cancer cell growth with can be useful during the treatment process. These berries are full of Vitamin C, flavonoids and ellagic acid. Studies have shown that berries are particularly effective at reducing certain cancers like stomach and mouth.

 

8. Broccoli

Broccoli and its sprouts are one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an enzyme that is believed to reduce the risk of cancer due to its antimicrobial properties. Essentially, sulforaphane helps detoxify the body. Studies have shown broccoli is most effective with cancers of the stomach and esophagus. The nutrients in broccoli are packed within its walls. That means it should be chewed thoroughly or processed in some way to get the most benefits.

These eight foods are only the tip of the iceberg for cancer-fighting foods. If you’re serious about changing your diet, it would be wise to do private research and consult your doctor.

What other foods do you eat to try and minimize your cancer risk? Share your tips in the section below:

 

The post 8 Powerhouse Cancer-Fighting Foods appeared first on Off The Grid News.

5 Easy Steps To Making Homemade Apple Juice

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 12:00

Kids love making and drinking homemade apple juice

Like most children, my kids consume a lot of apple products—fresh apples, applesauce, and apple juice. I love the health benefits apples offer. Cornell University in particular has conducted several studies on apples and found that the antioxidants in apples can reduce cholesterol levels, improve memory and even protect against Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Making homemade apple juice is one of our favorite things to do!

Unfortunately, commercial apples are ranked number one for the most pesticide-polluted crop, according to the Environmental Working Group. I can’t always afford to buy organic produce, but I buy organic apples most of the time because my kids eat so many of them.

I also make my own juice and applesauce. Like most foods, homemade apple products taste infinitely better than their commercial counterparts, and I have total control over what goes into them. And, the produce usually doesn’t cost me a single red cent.

 

Where To Get Apples

My apple trees are still very young, so it’s going to be a few years before I can harvest from them. In the meantime, I’ve got two neighbors who are more than happy to share their apples with me. Crab apples make great apple juice, as well.

If you don’t have access to free fruit, try joining a fruit share. A fruit share is simply an organization that records your contact information and the type of fruit you’d like to get. Then, you’re put in touch with orchards or individuals who have extra fruit they want to get rid of. You usually have to pick the fruit yourself, which isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. You get to meet nice people and you get free fruit.

Another option is to visit a U-pick orchard. You’ll pay for the fruit—sometimes a premium price—but you’re supporting local agriculture and getting a high-quality product. The final option is to watch local grocery store ads. My local produce store sells apples in the fall for .49 per pound. These apples usually aren’t organic, so peel them before you make the juice.

 

Learn the old time secrets of food storage

 

Making Homemade Apple Juice

Making homemade apple juice may seem like a big job, but it’s really very simple. First, start with about 25 pounds of apples for one batch of juice. I like to use several different varieties for the best taste. You can use almost any variety, but I like those with a little bite and a slightly spicy flavor. Favorites include McIntosh, Jonathon, Gravenstein, Gala, and Golden Delicious. Make sure the apples are ripe. They can have a few blemishes, but if the apples don’t taste good, the juice probably won’t taste good either.

Wash the apples carefully and cut away any bad spots or worms. You don’t have to peel them—in fact—the peels contain a lot of nutrition so it’s better to leave them on if the apples are organic. Cut the apples into quarters, discarding the seeds, and toss them in a large pot.

Add enough water to almost cover the apples and bring them to a simmer. Cook the apples until they’re very soft and pulpy—about one hour. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the apples into the colander. Press down on them with a spatula or spoon to extract more of the juice. Another option would be to grind the apples using a food mill and then place the apple mash in the colander. If you do this, be sure to save the apple pulp for apple butter, baby food, or applesauce.

Let the juice drain for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. If you like, you can pass the juice through a coffee filter, jelly bag, or cheesecloth to filter it. I prefer unfiltered juice for its taste and added nutrition. Heat the juice in a stockpot to simmering. Taste it and sweeten it if necessary with sugar or honey. Sometimes I add a bit of cinnamon or orange juice.

Ladle the juice into hot quart jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rims with a damp cloth and place lids and rings on the jars. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 30 minutes.

 

Using A Steamer Juicer

If you plan to make a lot of juice, it might be worthwhile to invest in a steamer juicer. This product has three chambers—one for the fruit, one for the juice, and one for boiling water. The steam from the water heats the apples and extracts the juice, which comes out a surgical tube on the side of the contraption.

To make apple juice in a steamer juicer, simply wash and cut the apples as described above. Fill the top chamber with the apples and fill the bottom chamber with water. Heat the water to boiling and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until you see juice in the tubing. Open up the valve on the tube and empty the juice directly into clean, warm jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.

The steamer juicer does a pretty good job of filtering the juice, but if you prefer, you can empty the juice into a pitcher or pan and filter it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. This is also the best option if you want to add sugar, honey, or spices to the juice before canning it. After filtering, reheat the juice if it’s cold and pour it into hot jars. Process as described above.

 

Using Homemade Apple Juice
  • Make homemade hard apple cider or vinegar.
  • Add pectin and sugar to make homemade apple jelly.
  • Heat apple juice with a little lemon, honey, and chamomile tea to comfort an ill child.
  • Add sparkling soda for a special drink.
  • Mix apple juice with ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch for a yummy pancake syrup. Heat it to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  • Add apple juice to fruit smoothies or add a few spoonfuls to pancake batter.

 

Do you have any delicious apple juice recipes that you’d like to share? Please put them in the comments below.  

 

The post 5 Easy Steps To Making Homemade Apple Juice appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Cooking, Surviving And Thriving During A Long-Term Power Outage

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 16:00

As soon as you know that a power outage is going to last more than a few days, you should shift over to long-term mode.

Getting through a long-term power outage is much more challenging than getting through a short-term one. Also, it’s a good time to consider the challenges with the hurricane season just heating up. After all, September is typically the month with the most tropical cyclone activity worldwide. With a few preparations to make things easier, you can survive a short-term outage almost as if you were on a camping trip. However, when the power outage lasts for multiple days or longer, you’ve got to take additional action to take care of yourself and your family.

The first and hardest thing to do is to find out how long the outage is going to last. In my article on getting through a short-term outage, I mentioned the need for communications. Specifically, I recommended having a radio so that you could get emergency news reports and have an idea of how long the outage was going to last. That’s important so that you know when to shift from short-term mode to long-term mode.

As soon as you know that a power outage is going to last more than a few days, you should shift over to long-term mode. Basically, that means that you don’t just try and hang on until the utility companies restore power, but you change your way of doing things to methods that don’t require electricity. Particularly, we’re talking about:

  • Food Preservation
  • Cooking
  • Heating Your Home

 

Power Outage Survival Tip #1: Get Some Alternate Power

We should begin by saying you should put in some means of alternative electrical power so that you are ready for a power outage. A few solar panels or a wind generator will make a world of difference, allowing your family to use at least some electrical devices. Make sure that you have a battery backup system as well so that you can store the power your system creates for when you need it.

Unless you have a lot of money to use, it’s going to be very hard to generate enough electricity to fully power your home. The average American family uses a lot of electrical power every day. However, you easily can generate enough electrical power to allow you to use some appliances, run a computer, turn on a radio, and maybe even operate a room air conditioner or small refrigerator on really hot days. A lot depends upon how much you can afford to invest in your power generation.

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The ability to generate some electrical power will also make it easier for you to do some things that would otherwise be impossible, such as charging your cell phone and doing some work on your computer. Even a minimal amount of electrical power generation can make a lot of difference when the time comes.

 

Power Outage Survival Tip #2: Food Preservation

The food you have in your refrigerator and freezer is only going to stay cold for a maximum of two days. This is where most people give up and just throw that food away. However, you can make good use of that time to preserve your food. You can preserve just about everything you have in your refrigerator or freezer in one way or another.

Remember, there are a number of things in your refrigerator which don’t really need preserving. As Americans, we tend to put a lot of things in our refrigerators that are already preserved. Ketchup, jam, mayonnaise, and other condiments will most likely keep just fine even if they are left out on the counter. Other things like eggs don’t spoil very rapidly, so you don’t need to worry about them. The things you most need to concern yourself with are meats, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.

 

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The easiest way to preserve fruits and vegetables is by canning them. If you are already canning produce from your garden (which you should do), then you’ve already got everything you need for canning. You can preserve meats by turning them into jerky. If you don’t have a solar dehydrator to use, don’t worry about it. Simply hang the strips of meat on a clothesline to dry.

 

Power Outage Survival Tip #3: Make A Zeer Pot

Another thing to consider for alternative refrigeration is making yourself a Zeer pot. This is a natural refrigerator which works by evaporation and cools quite well. While it is an ancient form of refrigeration, people still utilize this method in Third World countries today.

A Zeer pot is very simple to make. All you need is two ceramic pots which will nest inside each other. The outside pot needs to be unglazed and the inside pot can either be glazed or unglazed. When you put the pots together, fill the space between them with sand as well as the space below the inner pot. Then, fill the sand with water. Next, put the food inside the inner pot and cover the top of the unit with a wet cloth.

 

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The water will seep through the outer pot and begin to evaporate, thereby cooling the entire unit. You can keep produce and dairy products in the Zeer pot to ensure that they are fresh for a longer period of time. Typically, produce stored in a Zeer pot will last three to four times longer than produce that is left out. While not as good as a modern refrigerator, the Zeer pot works quite well, especially in arid climates.

 

Power Outage Survival Tip #4: Cooking

While you can cook on your barbecue grill during a power outage, you may want to have an alternate means of cooking available. Eventually, you’ll run out of charcoal or gas for your grille and you’ll still want to eat. Of course, if you’re heating your home with a fire, you can always cook over it as well.

The easiest and most efficient alternative for cooking is to build a rocket stove. Rocket stoves provide a lot of heat for a very small amount of fuel, making them highly efficient. The secret is that the rocket stove moves a large amount of air through the stove by natural convection. This fresh air helps ensure that the fuel is burned completely. It also keeps the fuel burning rapidly so that the temperature is maintained. Please be sure to read our article on rocket stoves for more information on this.

 

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Another alternative cooking method I want to mention is the camp stove. Most camp stoves today run off of small bottles of propane. I don’t like those for a survival situation, simply because you have to depend on having the propane bottles. However, Coleman still makes their older dual fuel camp stove. This is the type where you have to pump up the tank just like the Coleman lanterns.

The dual fuel stove will work either off of Coleman fuel or gasoline. While gasoline might be hard to come by in a grid-down situation, it will probably be easier to come by than other types of fuel. If nothing else, you can siphon it out of your car, giving you fuel to cook by for quite some time.

 

Power Outage Survival Tip #5: Heating Your Home

The other big challenge is going to be heating your home. All of our modern home furnaces require electricity to operate. With the grid down, you won’t have any heat at all.

This is one item that takes some prior planning and preparation. You’ll need to have some sort of heater available, as well as a good supply of fuel on hand. For the majority of people, the most obvious heater is either a fireplace or a wood burning stove. Another alternative to consider is a kerosene heater.

A wood burning stove can be installed temporarily for emergency use. The hardest part is making sure that you have an adequate fireproof floor under the stove. You don’t want to set it on carpeting, as it will most likely ruin the carpeting. Besides, both carpeting and wood floors can burn. If you don’t have a fireproof floor, you can easily put a temporary one in by overlapping layers of tile on your existing floor.

The chimney for the wood burning stove can be run out through a window. Simply remove one pane of glass and run the chimney through the hole. Make sure that the chimney is installed in such a way that the path the smoke must travel through is uphill all the way. Otherwise, the fumes might back up into the room. In addition, close off the extra space in the window with plywood.

This may require that your whole family lives in one or two rooms for the duration of the power outage, or at least until it warms up again. This is especially important at night when everyone is sleeping. While sleeping together in one room may be difficult, it won’t be as bad as freezing due to lack of heat.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Build Your Own Solar-Powered Backup System

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for surviving during a long-term power outage? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

The post Cooking, Surviving And Thriving During A Long-Term Power Outage appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Fall Foraging For Powerful Healing Roots

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 15:00

Foraging for healing roots can prove to be very beneficial

Fall and spring are the best times to harvest roots and bark. In summer, plant energy is spent producing leaves, flowers and fruit. In the fall of the year, the energies concentrate on survival and protecting the plant through future winter months. Thus, energy is directed downward. Roots grow and store carbohydrates for future nourishment and survival.

 

Healing Characteristics of Roots and Bark

While each herbal root or bark possesses its own chemical makeup and healing attributes, most roots and bark contain compounds which work to deeply nourish and support healing. Although plant compounds are designed first and foremost to protect survival of the species, many roots and bark improve human and animal health, too. Most roots benefit the liver, skin and kidneys — the organs of detoxification which keep the entire body working optimally. Many roots are bitter, which makes them valuable for the digestive tract. Bark is often astringent. This quality is useful for relieving inflammation of joints and sore throats.

 

Gather Herbs Ethically

It is always important to obtain herbs ethically. Never take more than you need, and leave plenty of plants for future plant and human generations. With bark and roots, this is particularly important, as entire plant populations have disappeared due to injudicious consumption.

 

Use Marshmallow Root instead of Slippery Elm Bark

Slippery elm bark is an at-risk herb. It is a wonderful medicine which is sweet tasting and nutritious. Slippery elm bark relieves digestive and respiratory illness but should never be gathered from the wild, even if local stands are large. Marshmallow root makes an acceptable substitute in most cases. However, if you do choose to use slippery elm bark, only purchase organically grown cultivated bark.

 

Ginseng and Alternatives

Ginseng is very expensive because it is a threatened plant, and many states are cracking down on illegal ginseng gathering and they are limiting harvests. Most states require that plants be a specific age when they are harvested. In addition, harvesters must propagate future stands.

Marshmallow root is a healing root that you can substitute for Slippery Elm

Personally, I never use wild ginseng. If you are patient and have the right growing conditions, you can grow your own. If not, then excellent quality, organically cultivated ginseng is available. In most cases, other adaptogenic herbs such as eleuthero, rhodiola and ashwagandha may be used instead of ginseng.

 

Use Barberry Root instead of Goldenseal

Goldenseal’s most active compound is berberine. Unfortunately, goldenseal is an at-risk plant. Barberry root is also a rich source of berberine. Use it instead of goldenseal. On the rare occasions when I do use goldenseal, I only use organically grown cultivated roots. Goldenseal may be grown in woods if you have the right conditions.

 

How to Gather and Use Healing Roots

It is critical that you identify your roots correctly. If you are harvesting wild roots, then mark the plants while easy-to-identify foliage, seeds or flowers are still present. If you wait until after a frost to gather roots, it will be difficult to ensure that you are gathering what you intend.

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Choose roots of vigorous plants. In most cases, I cut and harvest approximately one-third of the root. Place the remaining root back in the ground. Water it to ensure that the root will re-grow.

In some cases, it is the root bark that is most active medicinally. An example of this is barberry root bark. To gather the bark of the root, free pieces of the root from the soil, and scrape off the bark. Be sure to replant the root.

Roots may be whole, sliced or chopped prior to drying them. Place the fresh roots on a screen in a warm, dark place for several weeks in order to allow them to dry thoroughly. A dehydrator speeds up the process. After the roots are completely dry, package them in clean jars. You may choose to make syrups or tinctures as well.

 

The Best Herbal Healing Roots

Dandelion root is excellent for liver and digestive health. Burdock root is nutritious. It benefits the liver, digestion and skin. Yellow dock is a good source of iron. It is also good for the liver and digestive tract.

Home grown Echinacea is terrific for immune health. Do not harvest it from the wild, as it is also at-risk for disappearing. Barberry root is a terrific aid for treating infections. It also tones the digestive tract. I find barberry especially useful for relieving respiratory ills.

Learn about and use roots which are abundant in your locale. Many are easily grown in a home medicinal herb garden. Garlic, horseradish and onions are among the most valuable herbal roots. Gather some blackberry roots to treat diarrhea.

 

Gathering and Using Bark

When possible, harvest bark from downed limbs. Never gird a tree or the tree will die. Carefully lift the bark away from the wood, and remove the bark without cutting into the wood. Use the instructions above for drying and preparing roots to preserve your bark. Sometimes, the inner, softer bark is desirable to gather. Inner bark usually separates easily from the outer bark.

 

Valuable Bark

Wild cherry bark has been used to prepare cough syrup for many years. It must be cooked prior to consumption. White oak bark, witch hazel and prickly ash bark are powerful astringents. White oak is good for diarrhea. Witch hazel has been used for centuries as a topical antiseptic that relieves itchiness. Soaking in a bath that contains a strong prickly ash tea helps to relieve joint pain.

 

Roots and Bark for Health

Dried bark and roots retain their healing properties for a long time. They are excellent additions to a natural home medicine chest. As the days turn cooler, and the colors of autumn burst forth, enjoy gathering and preparing roots and bark for your family.

Which roots and bark do you gather during the fall? Leave your tip in the section below:

 

 

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11 All-Natural Fall Allergy Remedies

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 12:00

Spring isn’t the only season that can bring dreaded colds and sinus problems. For many people, fall allergies can be just as much of a concern.

Spring isn’t the only season that can bring dreaded allergies. For many people, fall, with its ragweed pollen and mold spores, accompanies fits of sneezing, coughing, runny noses, and watery eyes.

To combat fall allergies, you can try herbal remedies. In particular, here are 11 excellent sources of natural relief:

 

1. Elderberry

Elderberry tones the respiratory tract and keeps the airways clear from phlegm. Moreover, research confirms that elderberries contain compounds which strengthen the immune system and help ward off infections.

 

2. Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla is a rich source of flavonoids. Flavonoids in sarsaparilla have proven to be effective in reducing inflammation caused by fall allergies, asthma, and bronchitis.

 

3. Horseradish Root

This root vegetable relieves coughs and bronchitis, it also soothes inflamed tissues. Horseradish root opens clogged sinuses and further facilitates their drainage. Our sinus cavities often have poor circulation of blood. Horseradish root improves the circulation of the whole body.  As a result, immune compounds from the blood reach the sinuses more efficiently to fight infection.

 

4. Echinacea

Echinacea is well-known for its tonic effect on the immune system. While some people use it as a preventative herb, I prefer to use it for acute, short-term use.

5. Spilanthes

Spilanthes possesses immune-supporting compounds which help ward off infection. Additionally, it has a tingling, numbing effect, which makes it useful for relieving the discomfort of a sore throat.

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6. Garlic

Garlic lessens the symptoms of fall allergies. Symptoms including, runny noses, fevers, coughing, sinus congestion, bronchitis, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, its immune and circulatory-enhancing effects aid the body’s immune system and relieve infections.

 

7. Horehound

This plant has been used since antiquity and is a superb remedy for sore throats. Most notably, horehound enhances immune health. The herb is useful for treating upper and lower respiratory tract illnesses. Horehound possesses decongestant properties which hasten healing.

 

8. Licorice Root

Licorice root combines well with other herbs used to relieve respiratory problems. In fact, it strengthens the actions of other herbs. Licorice has been employed for centuries to support respiratory health. Furthermore, modern science confirms that licorice enhances immune health. Licorice works as a decongestant, clearing mucus and hastening healing. Also, its sweet flavor helps make less tasty herbs more palatable.

 

Goldenseal root is a perennial herb that many people use to treat minor respiratory issues.

9. Goldenseal Root

Goldenseal root is a perennial herb that many people use to treat minor respiratory issues. It is an at-risk plant, so I prefer to use goldenseal only for serious infections. Overall, the most active compound in goldenseal is called berberine. Berberine is also found in Oregon grape root and barberry root. However, for minor ills, I prefer to use these herbs as alternatives to goldenseal. If you opt to use goldenseal, purchase organically cultivated roots only.

 

10. Yerba Mate

This particular herb contains compounds which open up air passages. Therefore, it is useful for the treatment of allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.

 

11. Andrographis

Specifically, Andrographis prevents and treats the common cold, influenza, bronchitis, tonsillitis, allergies, pneumonia, and sinusitis. It is a powerful herb which has been the subject of several studies that confirm its healing benefits for the respiratory system.

 

Using Herbs To Relieve Fall Allergies, Colds, And Sinus Congestion

Herbs are available in many forms, including capsules, tablets, tinctures, and in bulk.

However, I usually prefer to use herb teas to relieve upper respiratory ills. The warm beverages help to unclog sinuses and soothe sore throats.

In essence, tinctures are convenient. Herbs in tincture form are readily absorbed.  However, alcohol-based tinctures often extract plant compounds that teas cannot.

Try making a gargle with herbs. Gargles are surprisingly excellent tools for preventing illness and alleviating symptoms if illness occurs. On the whole, they help to relieve sinus congestion and post-nasal drip.

Surprisingly, one of the most effective methods of herb administration is to make an herbal steam. Simply place a few spoonfuls of a bulk herb in a pot over steaming hot water.  Next, sit facing the pot with a towel draped over your head. Eucalyptus, thyme, oregano, and rosemary make good antibacterial steams.

Surprisingly, herbs are among the most effective tools available for preventing and treating fall allergies. Unlike pharmaceuticals, most herbs are well-tolerated with no or few side effects. If you have a serious respiratory illness or long-standing health problems, first consult with your health care provider.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 12 Ways Thyme Oil Can Heal, Help You Sleep, And Even Chase Away Bugs 

What are your favorite herbs for fall allergies? Leave your reply in the comments section below.

 

 

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4 Simple Animal Traps For Off-Grid Survival

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 10:30

Animal Trap

Survival snares and traps will help feed the family during a long-term disaster or simply if you’re looking to supplement the menu choices when living off the grid or on a rural homestead.

Traps and snares hang, trap, crush or choke the prey. The best type of snare or trap to construct is a simple one. Devices made of inexpensive material with a simple design allow you to locate the traps and snares in multiple locations, increasing the likelihood of going home with some meat.

 

1. Figure 4 Dead Fall Animal Trap

The figure four dead fall animal trap got its name from the shape of the pieces used to create the hunting device and the rapid fall of the object used to kill the prey. A piece of board or wide branch is often used at the top of the trap, with a heavy stone balanced near the top. Branches or other small piece of pole-like wood or metal prop up the top of the trap. This type of trap can be made in any number of sizes.

A weight of some type supplies the downward pressure on the end of the stick support. A diagonal stick that rests and pivots on a vertical stick keeps the trap from slipping or tipping over. The diagonal stick must be held into place by affixing the pieces together with a piece of string or rope that will break away when the trap is tripped by an animal.

Place bait at the end of the horizontal stick, directly below the rock or other weight used near the top of the trap. When the prey takes the bait at the end of the horizontal stick, the trigger of the trap is released and the weight falls and kills the animal immediately. Make sure the vertical stick rests upon a flat stone or other hard surface so the device does not sink into the ground.

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2. Fixed Snares

A fixed loop snare is typically made from either braided steel cable or wire. Wire is usually strong enough to trap small game-like rabbits, squirrels, raccoons or a fox. This type of snare is usually a one-time-use hunting aid. The wire on a fixed snare is often kinked or bent by an animal as it struggles to break free. Many trappers consider the fixed snare the quickest type of snare to make and set.

Fixed snare animal trap

To make a fixed snare use a piece of branch or a twig found on the ground; the twig should be considered breakable. Wind one end of the wire around the piece of branch about three times and twist the wire or steel cable as you close the end. Once you break the twig, you will have an “eye” in the wire, just like used when sewing, but on a larger scale.

Make a loop out of the other end of the wire and thread it through the eye. Put the fixed snare along small game trails or over burrows. You can attach the snare to a spring pole to garner an even more secure snare line. Copper or brass-colored wire blends in with the wooded environment far more than silver wire. The less likely animals are to discover your fixed snare, the more likely you will find your next meal waiting when you return to check the hunting device.

 

3. Simple Snares

Perhaps the simplest snare to make is of the noose variety. The rope, chain, wire or heavy string noose should be placed over an animal den or trail frequented by wildlife. So placing the simple snare near a path to a watering hole would be an ideal location. Make the noose just large enough for the head of the most likely prey to pass through. As the creature attempts to move through the obstacle, the noose snare should tighten around its neck. Although a simple snare may not actually kill the prey, it will keep it in place until your return. Check the traps frequently for the sake of both bagging the meat and for the sake of humane treatment of the animal. Baiting the noose will likely increase the curiosity of animals in the area.

 

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4. Dead Fall Pits

A dead fall pit is an excellent way to trap large, and potentially deadly animals. The digging required to make a deep hole in the ground will require both time and energy. So this is not a project to undertake and expect to score meat for dinner the same day. Making sure that everyone knows where the pit is located or marking it with a warning flag will help keep those you care about safe.

As with the simple snare and the dead fall trap, look for a quality game trail before grabbing a shovel to begin making the dead fall pit. Dig the pit deep enough that large game in the area will not be able to escape. Encountering a wounded and angry bear that managed to crawl out of the pit will quickly change you from the hunter to the hunted.

Once the trap has been dug to the desired depth, “plant” sharpened sticks, branches, or metal poles into the ground. Cover as much of the open area as possible; the prey may not fall dead-center and could be alive and feisty when you arrive to haul it out. Once the dead fall pit construction is complete, tie together long but not thick branches to cover the pits. Placing leaves and grass over the pit will further hide the trap from the animal’s view.

Do you have any animal trap tips? Tell us what you’ve used in the comments section below.

 

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Survival Uses For A Plain Old Tin Can

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 16:00

A tin can has many different survival uses.

A key component of a good survival plan is to take everyday items and apply them into useful purposes for a disaster scenario. Tin cans are just one of those items.

Tin cans, of course, cannot be resealed after you open and eat the food inside of them, but this does not make them disposable items.

 

Nine Good Survival Uses For A Tin Can 1. Storage and organization

Ttin cans are normally used for storing food. But they also can just as easily be used to store other food and items after their initial use. More food, coffee, ammunition, seeds, water — take your pick. You can use a bandana or plastic wrap with rubber bands as a makeshift lid.

 

2. Cooking pot / stove

The ability to boil water and cook food while on the go in the wilderness should absolutely be on your list of top priorities in a survival situation. After all, drinking water from a natural source that is contaminated or hasn’t been boiled can sometimes be more dangerous than not drinking any water at all. Consider including an empty tin can or two in your survival bag to make hot drinks, to boil water, or to cook food. When using a tin can over the fire, just remember to use a branch or other object to hold the can and prevent burning yourself.

 

3. Transporting fire

You’ll need to be creative in how you make fire if your supply of traditional fire-starting materials is starting to run low. One such way is to keep your fire burning constantly, regardless of whether you’re stationary or on the go, in your tin can. The concept is incredibly similar to how you would make a fire bundle. Punch five holes in the sides and the bottom of your tin can, and then place coals from a recent fire at the bottom. The coals will burn for several hours, and you can keep them going by adding kindler and tinder at different moments. Caution: Avoid letting your skin coming into direct contact with the can (for obvious reasons).

 

4. Making hooks and arrowheads

Tin can pieces can be one of your best resources for fashioning fishing hooks and arrowheads. You can accomplish this either by bending the pieces yourself until you reach the shape you want, or better yet, you can cut them with a knife or another sharp object. All you have to do then is lash the arrowhead onto the end of a makeshift arrow or tie the hook onto some fishing line.

 

A tin can, could be used as a vital survival tool.

5. Showerhead

You can make your own wilderness shower just by punching holes in the bottom of a tin can. You’ll need to come up with a system where water is continuously pouring through the can. This is a survival use that you shouldn’t overlook.

 

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6. Warning system

Many campers believe that a fire is all they need while sleeping under the stars; it offers them protection, peace and warmth. But fire can’t alert you to danger while you sleep. This is where tin cans come in: Simply set up a perimeter of cordage or string around your immediate camp site, and then attach tin cans at various points, paired by twos. If something tries to get through, the cans will rattle, alerting you.

 

7. Candle lamp

Many survival kits include candles to provide the user with immediate light and warmth. Nonetheless, lighting your candle and leaving that small flame exposed out in the open is going to pose some obvious problems if the wind is involved. Cut and punch a hole in your tin can’s side and then face it away from the wind. Set your candle inside of it for proper warmth and lighting.

 

8. Shovel

This survival use doesn’t need too much of an explanation. If you ever need a shovel or a scooper in a survival situation, a tin can will do nicely.

 

9. Signal

There are so many survival stories where people made it out alive because they were able to signal for help. A tin can is an excellent signaling device if used correctly. Cut a small hole in the center of the bottom of your tin can. Polish the outside with charcoal or chocolate. The surface should become very bright and smooth, and if the sun is also bright enough, you can aim the tin can at whatever or whoever you are trying to signal by looking through the small hole.

What survival tips would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

 

 

The post Survival Uses For A Plain Old Tin Can appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Canning Mistakes Even Smart People Make

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 12:00

Some Canning Mistakes Can Be Very Deadly

Canning is an annual task for all homesteaders, ensuring a long-lasting stockpile of meals to eat.

And while most people may think of staples such as relish, pickles, tomatoes and olives, canning actually can include foods such as meatloaf, ground beef and chicken.

But if canning is not done properly, the food can quickly go bad, leading to illness or even death due to Botulism.

Stay safe this year by avoiding these five canning mistakes:

 

1. Not properly sterilizing

Cleaning the jars, bands and lids is essential to ensuring that no bacteria can grow. The method to follow when sterilizing the jars is to first wash them in the sink with hot soapy water. Then put them in hot, boiling water for 10 minutes. For the bands and lids, it is appropriate to just wash them in hot soapy water.

Prepare now for surging food costs and empty grocery store shelves…

Ball actually discourages the boiling of lids, due to the fact that it could damage the rubber gasket. Ball’s recommendation is to simmer (180 degrees Fahrenheit) and not boil (212) the lids.

 

2. Not following the recipe

Everything that is stated in a recipe is there for a reason. From preparing the food to how much headspace is needed – it is all required. Most importantly, make sure to pay attention to the various times in the recipe. Additionally, choose a recipe from a credited source. You may be placing these jars in storage for months or even years, and it’s no time to cut corners.

 

3. Not properly sealing

The Biggest Canning Mistake Is Simply Not Following Directions

This is the whole magic behind canning. To hear that “pop” is music to a homesteader’s ears. When putting the food into the jar, it is a great idea to use a funnel. This will help ensure that any food chunks do not get on the rim of the jar. Then, have a warm and clean towel ready to wipe off the tops. Next, when placing the band and lid on, hold the lid with one finger while twisting the band on. This should allow for proper sealing.

 

4. Now allowing the pressure canner to cool down by itself

After letting the pressure out of the canner, as directed by a recipe, you can simply leave it alone. Speeding up the process by putting the canner under cool water can lead to problems, such as the cracking of jars or the food being under-processed. These extra few minutes actually are critical to the canning process.

 

5. Not using the correct method of canning (hot water bath or pressure)

The rule of thumb is to put non-acid foods such as peas or chicken into a pressure canner and acidic foods such a pickles or jam into a hot water bath. The reason is simple: The potentially deadly Clostridium botulinum spores don’t grow in acidic foods.

 

What would you add to this list? Share your canning tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

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Off Grid Places To Live: Five States With The Lowest Taxes

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 16:00

Where are the best off grid places to live?

Residents of Wyoming pay the least taxes in the United States, while New Yorkers pay the most. That’s the conclusion of a recent study by the Tax Foundation which ranked the 10 best and 10 worst states for taxes.

The study proved what many of us probably already know: Residents of the Northeast are overtaxed while residents of certain Western states pay fewer taxes. But there are several surprises in the study. Vermont, for instance, is one of the most taxed states in the nation and Texas no longer appears on the list of the least taxed states. North Carolina also made the most-taxed list.

The list does not take license fees and other government charges — which can be very high in some states — into account.

It should be noted, however, that the list only accounts for state taxes; it doesn’t account for local taxes (in some states local governments actually collect an income tax) or federal taxes.

 

5 States With The Highest Tax Rate
1. New York State

Residents of the Empire state pay a top tax rate of 8.82 percent, a 4 percent state sales tax and an average of $2,280 a year in property taxes. It is actually worse in the Big Apple, where the New York City government charges a 3.876 percent income tax on top of state and federal levies, a 4 percent unincorporated business tax on self-employed people and a corporation tax of 8.85 percent.

 

2. New Jersey

New Yorkers who cross the bridge to the Garden State won’t get much of a break. The top income tax rate in Jersey is 8.97 percent and the sales tax is 7 percent. New Jersey now has the highest average property tax in the nation of $7,885 for the average household. If that wasn’t bad enough, the economic recovery means that most of the state’s residents no longer qualify for a property tax rebate program.

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3. California

The Golden State has one of the highest state income tax rates in the nation at a top rate of 13.3 percent and a state sales tax of 7.5 percent. To add insult to injury, there’s also an alternative minimum tax on individuals and corporations.

 

4. Minnesota

This state has a top income tax rate of 7.85 percent, a sales tax of 6.875 percent and a property tax average of $1,412. It also passed a retroactive individual income tax hike on earners making more than $150,000.

 

5. Rhode Island

The Ocean State has a top income tax rate of 5.99 percent and a sales tax of 7 percent. It also has an average property rate of $2,083. It was named the “least tax-friendly state in the country for retirees by Kiplinger Magazine, thanks to its practice of taxing Social Security benefits, pension income, and almost all other sources of retirement income,” according to Fiscal Times.

Vermont, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Maryland rounded out the Top 10 of most-taxed states.

 

The 5 Best Off Grid Places To Live With The Lowest Tax Rate
1. Wyoming

The Cowboy State has no income tax and a state sales tax rate of 4 percent. It is one of the few off grid places to live with no corporate taxes. Instead, levies on oil, gas and mineral rights finance the state’s government. Wyoming is also the state in the second best fiscal shape according to George Mason University. It does have an average property tax rate of $2,633.

 

2. South Dakota

This state has no income tax, no corporate income tax and a low sales tax on purchases by individuals. South Dakota is distinguished by a high sales tax on business purchases and a tax on investments such as stocks and bonds.

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3. Nevada

A complete lack of income taxes makes up for high property and sales taxes. In the Silver State the sales tax rate is 6.85 percent. It should be noted that residents of Nevada are not highly taxed, but visitors are. In addition to gambling, sales and hotel room taxes, visitors to Las Vegas even pay a live entertainment tax on shows at the city’s casinos.

 

4. Alaska

Residents of the nation’s largest state pay no state income or sales tax, although some local governments do collect a 1.79 percent sales tax. Alaska was in the best fiscal shape of all the states. The reason Alaska has no state income or sales tax is all the revenue from taxes on mining and oil. Alaska is the only state government that regularly gives money back to its residents — around $900 for each resident which is financed by taxes on oil and minerals.

 

5. Florida

Part of the reason why the Sunshine State is a retirement mecca is that it has no state income tax. There is a 6 percent state sales tax and high property taxes. Florida currently has a $1 billion budget surplus so the state legislature is one of the few in the nation looking into reducing taxes.

Washington state, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah and Indiana filled slots 6-10 in the ranking of least-taxed off grid places to live.

Americans looking to avoid taxes have a number of places to consider.

Are you currently living off grid? Tell us where you’re located and why in the comments below? 

 

 

The post Off Grid Places To Live: Five States With The Lowest Taxes appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Low Cost Chicken Feeds You Can Produce Yourself

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 15:00

There’s no reason to pay retail for feed when you can grow your own low cost chicken feeds at home.

Feeding your chickens can be a mundane chore, but it shouldn’t break the bank. Raising your own chickens is meant to save money and to produce the healthiest, tastiest meat and eggs possible. Check out our list of low cost chicken feeds — all of which can be made right at home.

 

Fodder And Other Fermented Grains

Fodder sounds complicated, but it’s nothing more than soaked seeds. It is inexpensive and easy to make, costing less than $8 for around 400 pounds of feed. To make fodder, soak wheat seeds in a watertight container for about 12 to 15 hours. Then, place them in a tub with drainage holes. Leave them there for about seven days, watering each day. The seeds will sprout and be ready for consumption within a week.

Fodder is a handy alternative to store-bought chicken feed because it is high in nutrients and you can grow it anywhere. Most people produce fodder indoors, in a bathtub or even a basement.

Fermented grains can also be a good source of food. An easy way to ferment grains is to purchase grain seeds (such as wheat) in bulk and then soak them overnight. This process is less involved than making fodder and is equally as productive. While scratch grain is a good treat for chickens, they end up wasting a lot of it. The process of fermenting makes it less challenging for your chickens to spread it all about the coop. These grains are also inexpensive, costing only about a dollar for 25 pounds.

 

Kitchen And Garden Scraps

Chickens love all kinds of kitchen scraps and can be fed just about any leftovers. They prefer hearty greens and root vegetables, such as turnip greens, kale, Swiss chard or leaf lettuce. Consider placing a bucket in the kitchen to fill with tasty scraps or even grow a few windowsill containers of leafy greens to feed them for a boost of nutrients during the winter months.

They can also be fed leftovers from the garden or vegetables and fruits that aren’t altogether table-ready. Feed them squished tomatoes or soggy zucchini, or even entire plants at the end of the season.

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Corn

Corn is a great low cost chicken feed

While you can feed chickens corn fresh from the garden (even corn cobs — they’ll nibble at these until they’re completely bare), you can also buy bulk corn inexpensively if you look for it at the right time. Deer corn, for example, can be purchased for less than a dollar for 10 pounds. While you should feed corn to a chicken in moderation (it can cause rapid and undesirable weight gain), it is an inexpensive supplement. If you’re feeding whole corn, just make sure you supply your chickens with plenty of grit.

 

Eggshells And Eggs

 Consider adding eggshells to any feed to add a boost of calcium. Chickens need calcium to produce healthy eggs and shells. Grind up used shells and mix them with some apple cider vinegar or garlic for a nutritious supplement.

 

Homemade Suet

If you also raise pigs, rendering lard is an easy way to recycle a byproduct and enhance your chickens’ diet. Suet should be fed in small quantities, as it is high in calories, but you can make straightforward suet from lard, sunflower seeds, and scratch grain. Some people are also successful at adding cooked organ meats from recently butchered livestock or game. These cakes store well at temperatures slightly below room temperature (or even down to freezing temps) and provide a necessary dose of fats and vitamins during the winter months where forage is scarce.

 

Worms

You should regard worms as treats only, but this is a potentially free source of food that many people often overlook. While you can buy commercially harvested and grown mealworms, growing them in a basement or similar setting is far less complicated. Buy a small set of starter worms and place them in a three-tiered plastic shelving system. They’ll reproduce if given small quantities of food and provide you with an almost infinite supply of high-protein low cost chicken feed.

 

Weeds And Lawn Clippings

While you might not have easy access to lawn clippings during the cold winter months, these make an excellent treat for chickens during the summer. When you mow your lawn, save the clippings and feed them to your chickens. You can also utilize weeds from the garden as chicken feed. Although these aren’t incredibly dense with nutrition, they can be a helpful supplement to other types of feed.

 

Flaxseed Meal

If you want to add fiber and fat to your chickens’ diets, consider adding flaxseed meal. Purchase flaxseeds, grind them in a food processor and sprinkle them in your chickens’ feed to help mimic the effect provided by layer feed supplements.

 

Lupine Meal And Seeds

 If you have acidic soil, consider growing lupines to help add extra protein to your chickens’ diets. In traditional agriculture, farmers fed lupine plants whole to livestock such as pigs and chickens because they were easy to grow, inexpensive, and nutritionally dense. Chickens will eat the plants whole but derive particular benefit from the seeds of these beautiful flowers. You can grind the plants up into meal or feed them out whole.

 

Sunflowers

Sunflowers and sunflower seeds are both delicious and nutritious for developing birds. They can be sprouted and used as fodder, or fed directly to the birds. If you grow sunflowers, cut the heads off when they’re fully developed and drooping, and then let them dry for a few days in the sun. The chickens will have fun pecking out the seeds, and they’re a terrific source of healthy fats for your birds to feast upon.

Chickens are versatile little garbage disposals, and while they won’t — and shouldn’t — eat everything, there are multiple creative tweaks you can make to save money and time in feeding them. Consider adding all or some of the above items to their diets, or combine a few for unique, nutritious feeds.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

The post Low Cost Chicken Feeds You Can Produce Yourself appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Natural Immune-Boosting Foods

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 13:00

natural immune-boosting foods

As we begin to enter the cooler months, we also enter the time of year when we encounter more illness.  Many of us should consider adding natural immune-boosting foods to our families diet. This is especially true as school is back in session. Kids are regularly exposed to new illnesses that they then bring home and share. We simultaneously close up our houses to keep the cold (and fresh air) out. Little do we know, we are cooping ourselves up in these spaces as the germs and viruses hang out with us.

Considering this increased exposure, it might be a good idea to examine your diet. Some simple tweaks and additions can help to get your body prepared for the upcoming health challenges and boost your family’s immune systems so that their bodies can fight back effectively when the inevitable exposure to illness occurs.

Here are some natural immune-boosting foods you might want to consider incorporating into your menu plan. Most are easy to work in, whether for breakfast, lunch, snacks, or dinner.

 

Probiotic Foods

Eating a cup of yogurt a day that contains live and active cultures is a wise investment in your health. The cultures (beneficial probiotic bacteria) in the yogurt help to keep a balance of good bacteria in your gut, allowing it to function at its optimal level. Much of the body’s immune system is located in the gut, so keeping the gut happy should help to maintain good overall health.

If an illness has already gotten you down and you are on antibiotics, it is even more important to include probiotics in your diet. Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria that made you sick; they also kill the good bacteria in your body. This leaves you more susceptible to illness later in the season if you do not repopulate your gut with good bacteria. For best results, do not consume your probiotic foods at the same time as you do your antibiotics. Instead, try to stagger them, consuming your probiotics about halfway between your antibiotic doses.

Yogurt is not the only option when it comes to probiotic foods and natural immune-boosting. Other foods you may want to consider trying are milk kefir, water kefir, kimchi, and fermented sauerkraut and veggies.  Check out your local health food store for real, fermented foods or try making your own for even more benefits.

 

Oats

Oats contain beta-glucans, which have an even stronger ability to fight off illness than the often-recommended natural immune-boosting herb, echinacea. In addition to their natural immune-boosting benefits, oats also help to encourage wounds to heal more quickly and potentially enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics. So, a bowl of oatmeal, granola, or O’s might be just the ticket for breakfast this fall and winter! This might even be your justification for eating that oatmeal cookie!

 

Berries

Berries contain both vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which work together to help the body to rid itself of toxins, boost the immune system, and to maintain healthy collagen levels in the skin.  These are all things you want to have going for you in the winter season.  Try putting berries in a yogurt smoothie, use them to top your oatmeal or cereal, or add them to salads or desserts.

 

Tea

True teas from the Camellia sinensis plant species have been shown in studies to contain high levels of antioxidants, which attack free radicals that contribute to disease. White tea contains the most antioxidants, followed by green tea, oolong, and black tea (including pu-erh). All of these teas have at least some benefit to the immune system and many additional benefits to the body as a whole. Three cups a day should be sufficient to receive the benefits. Drink up!

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Garlic

Garlic has potent antimicrobial properties that help the body to fight off illness. It aids in killing harmful bacteria in the gut, where much of the immune system resides.  In addition, the volatile oils in garlic are beneficial to the lungs as a decongestant.

Garlic is most potent when chopped, allowed to sit a few minutes undisturbed, and eaten raw.  Garlic is also beneficial when cooked. If you and your household are fighting illness, put it in everything you can think of to get it into your systems. I like to make hummus with extra garlic, pasta tossed with ten cloves of garlic sauteed in olive oil and with added herbs, and dill pickles with coarsely chopped garlic added.

Garlic too strong for you? Try onions, which are in the same family as garlic. Onions have many of the same properties, and may be a more palatable choice.

 

Eggs

natural immune-boosting foods

Or more specifically, the egg yolks. Egg yolks contain zinc and selenium, which kick-start the immune system. What better reason to add an egg or two a day? Try them boiled for a snack or scrambled with some garlic, onions, and/or peppers for a light lunch.

If you have high cholesterol and have been told by your doctor to avoid eggs, please take that into consideration. Eggs from free-range or pastured chickens might be a better choice in this case.  Free range eggs tend to be lower in cholesterol and higher in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

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Ginger

Ginger has the ability to fight off illness on many fronts.  It is an antimicrobial that can be taken internally as well as used topically. Ginger also acts as a natural antibiotic. It kills cold viruses, helps combat fever and chills, gets rid of congestion, and helps with nausea and vomiting, headaches, and indigestion, just to name a few. Ginger is also has the power to help prevent and treat or kill many types of cancer.

Use ginger in your muffin and sweet bread recipes. Fresh ginger can be sliced to make a tea out of it, or add fresh or dried ginger to smoothies and meals. Chew on a piece of dried ginger as an afternoon snack.  Stir-fries are delicious with ginger added, but expand your use of ginger and try it in other applications such as soup.

 

Mushrooms

Recent studies have shown that even the most common button mushrooms have beneficial properties. Perhaps even more than the shiitaki and other exotic mushrooms that have been touted as health foods.  In a study done on rats by Tufts University, white button mushrooms were shown to cause the body to develop significantly increased levels of natural killer cells. Cells that are ready to attack whatever invader comes into the body.  To get the best effect, it is best to cook the mushrooms rather than eating them raw.

Mushrooms are one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, a vitamin in which many people are deficient in, and that has been shown in recent studies to be beneficial in preventing disease and illness. Mushrooms are also an excellent source of zinc.

Consider eating mushrooms during the months that you do not get sufficient sun exposure to allow you to make enough vitamin D for itself. Add them to soups, salads, and stir-fries; saute them with onions to add to steak, burgers, or eggs; or include them in your shish kebabs on the grill.

 

Sweet and Hot Peppers

All peppers contain high levels of beta-carotene. The body transforms beta-carotene into vitamin A, an antioxidant that has the ability to protect the mucus membranes from getting infected. Peppers also contain a healthy dose of vitamin C.

Hot peppers contain capsaicin as an additional asset. Capsaicin has the ability to clear sinuses, encourage movement/excretion of mucus, encourage the release of toxins through sweating, and is a general antimicrobial.

 

Beef

Beef is another source of zinc, which is very important in the production of white blood cells. Our white blood cells work to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other illness-inducing culprits.  Many people are zinc deficient, and it can seriously slow down the production of white blood cells and lessen the body’s ability to fight off illness.

Put beef on the menu and incorporate some of the other foods in this list: saute with peppers, garlic, onions, and mushrooms; add to your shish kebabs; or use ground beef in soups and sauces.

 

Chicken Soup

No list of natural immune-boosting foods would be complete without chicken soup. It may be the warm broth that is comforting; it may be the noodles reminiscent of what mom used to make; or it may be the vitamins present in the vegetables that cause us to feel better when eating this soup.

Homemade chicken soup has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, in one lab test, chicken soup was shown to help stop the movement of neutrophils. These are white blood cells that feast on bacteria and cellular debris that the body produces when it is affected by a virus such as a cold. Neutrophils have the ability to increase mucus production and may be one of the causes of stuffy noses and coughs. Prevention of this process may be one of the main reasons chicken soup helps us to feel better.

One main component of homemade chicken soup is the homemade broth itself. It is most nutritious when both bones and meat are included in the pot of broth. The marrow from the bones, when cooked into broth, has the ability to help the immune system by carrying oxygen to the cells of the body. More about bone broth in a later article!

Now that you have been given some ideas of basic natural immune-boosting foods, you can sit down and build a meal plan. Make it interesting and make it simple so that you will keep these foods in your diet and maintain a strong and healthy body this season!

 

Do you have any tips on how you keep your family healthy this time of year? Please share in the comments below.

The post Natural Immune-Boosting Foods appeared first on Off The Grid News.

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