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Canned fruits and veggies? Check.
All of the above are excellent choices for a survival pantry. And you probably have a good handle on the other foods that work well for long-term storage. However, there may be a category of meal supplies you are neglecting – spices.
Survival foods are calorie-dense, nutritious, and shelf-stable. Yet, by their very nature, they are bland to the tastebuds. Adding herbs and spices to your pantry shelves not only will help you prepare more palate-friendly meals but, in some cases, seasonings can help preserve a precious fresh food supply and help you maintain your health and well-being.
For optimal freshness, the general rule of thumb is three to four years for whole spices and one to two years for ground spices. Writing the date on the bottle or label will help you know when to rotate out your supply.
Can they last longer? The answer is a definite yes. When stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry environment, many spices can outlast their expiration date. They just may lose their potency. Trust your senses when it comes to seasonings. If they smell or look “off,” it’s time to toss them in the trash or into your compost pile.
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Here is a list of basic seasonings you may want to add to your survival pantry shopping list.
1. Salt. There’s good reason salt has been highly valued and traded as currency throughout history. Long-lasting and easy to store, salt adds flavor to and can help preserve meat. For more reasons to have salt in your survival pantry, check out this article.
2. Black Pepper. A sprinkle (or two) of pepper can perk up just about any food. The strength and flavor of ground pepper will diminish over time, so you may want to consider storing whole peppercorns along with a pepper mill for a fresh taste.
3. Cinnamon. Cinnamon adds a sweet flavor and aroma to foods and beverages. Consider stocking up on cinnamon sticks for more extended storage than ground cinnamon. Cinnamon has potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties.
4. Cayenne. This spice delivers a healthy kick to soups, stews, chilis, and other bean dishes. Cayenne helps boost the immune and circulatory systems system, and it has anti-bacterial properties.
5. Ginger. Ginger is a tasty addition to many Mediterranean and Indian dishes. It also aids in the digestive process and can help ease nausea and upset stomach.
6. Garlic Powder. You can use garlic powder to add flavor to pasts sauces, casseroles, and many tomato-based dishes. One 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic powder equals one fresh garlic clove in recipes. Studies show that garlic has many health benefits, ranging from boosting the immune system to lowering bad cholesterol.
7. Sage. As a member of the mint family, sage adds flavor to cured meats, sausage, chicken, casseroles, and creamy pasta recipes. For centuries, sage has been used to settle nerves, calm upset stomachs, and ease bloating.
You may want to consider growing fresh sage in your garden. It is a hardy plant that doesn’t need a lot of attention. Another plus is that sage, unlike many other herbs, does not lose its flavor after flowering. Here is more info on growing sage.
8. Turmeric. Proven to work as an anti-inflammatory, ground turmeric is a potent spice that adds flavor to dishes made with cauliflower, potatoes, and root vegetables. You can also use turmeric (and many of the other herbs on this list) to make a soothing, healthful tea. This video shows you how.
9. Rosemary. This herb can turn ordinary roasted potatoes into something aromatic and delicious. Rosemary also pairs well with other herbs for meat rubs and stuffings. The main active ingredient in rosemary – rosmarinic acid – helps reduce nasal congestion and other allergy symptoms and can boost mental alertness.
10. Cloves. This potent spice is in many treats, ranging from gingerbread and pumpkin pie to mulled cider and chai. Crushed whole cloves also are an emergency treatment for toothaches. This article explains the simple procedure.
11. Parsley. Parsley helps liven up chicken, lamb, fish, and vegetable dishes. It also tastes great on pasta dishes. Parsley has vitamin A, which helps with skin and eye health. It also helps the body with blood clotting, promotes urinary health, and contains antioxidants.
12. Oregano. Known for the flavor and aroma it gives to tomato-based dishes, oregano contains antioxidants and can help the body fight infections.
13. Cumin. This ancient spice is a key ingredient in many Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes. It also is an ingredient in chili powder and other spice blends like garam masala and curry powder. Since beans and rice are survival pantry staples, you’ll want plenty of cumin to make things interesting. This article offers ideas for using and cooking with cumin.
14. Minced Onion. Another seasoning you’ll want to stock up on is minced onions. You can use them in any recipe that calls for fresh onions, including soups, stews, casseroles, and curries. They will rehydrate as they cook. Want to make your own for your serval pantry? Check out this video for the how-tos.
15. Mint Leaves. Mint leaves are great for flavoring foods, easing indigestion, and making soothing teas. This article explains how to prepare and store fried mint.
16. Lemon Balm. You can use lemon balm in baked goods, salads, and herbal teas. In traditional medicine, lemon balm has been used to treat anxiety and abdomen discomfort. This article shares other benefits of lemon balm and explains how to make lemon balm tea.
17. Cilantro. Cilantro adds nutrition and flavor to bean and egg dishes, salads, and salsas. It contains vitamins that are essential for hair, skin, and eye health. In North America, “cilantro” refers to the leaves and stalks of the plant. Its dried seeds are called “coriander.” Here’s how to dehydrate cilantro for long-term storage.
If your family needs to rely on what you store in your long-term pantry for survival, you’ll want to make things tats as close to normal as you possibly can. Having the spices you routinely use on hand may help you maintain some sense of normality when everything else has gone off the rails.
Depending on your family’s tastes and preferences, you may have other seasonings or spice blends to add to this list. You can buy your favorite spices in all sizes from retailers or grow and dry your own supply.
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Here are some resources to check out:
- Herb Gardening for Beginners by Marc Thoma
- The Greatest Guide To Drying Herbs: A Beginners Guide To Growing & Drying Herbs At Home by Sonia Maxwell
- How to Dry Herbs: The Ultimate Guide by James Batali
Big T says
My foundation is beans and rice, so herbs, spices, and bouillon are important. As far as fresh goes, oregano is VERY easy to propagate. Here’s how I do it. Once it starts to get root-bound, I pull it from the container. Then I cut it in half with a serrated knife, like a cake. Right down the middle. If it’s a larger plant (say, 2gal pot or larger), I cut into quarters. Replant each in its own pot.
I preferr mint with my mashed potatoes.
I also have a prepper bag full of an assortment of asians herbs and spices, Indian herbs and spices and a lot of herbs and spices from else where.
Some of these I already have, others I don’t and this article hase given me a few more ideas on what to get.