Back To Basics: Making And Canning Homemade Butter

Butter: you use it to make baked potatoes delicious. You smear it on your biscuits and you make finger-licking sauces with it. But what on Earth is going to happen when SHTF and you no longer have access to a grocery store that provides you with it?

Nothing, if you’re a good prepper, because you’re going to know how to make your own. Today we’re going to teach you how to make butter at home. We’ll also touch on something that most people don’t know about: canning butter. Keep reading!


The Science of Butter

It’s always good to know how things work. Butter is formed from the milk fats in the milk. You use cream to make butter, and cream is made up of fat particles suspended in water. When you agitate it by shaking it, it turns to an emulsion of water particles suspended in fat.

Before you make butter, you have to let the cream ripen. You do that by letting it set at room temperature for several hours until it begins to sour. At that point, the fat crystallizes and a membrane forms around the fat molecules and further separates it from the water.When you agitate it by shaking it or beating it with a churn (called shearing), the fat globules merge and form balls of butter. As you continue to shake it, the fat continues to separate from the water and proteins left in the liquid and forms bigger blobs of butter, and eventually all the butter is one big clump and the liquid left is buttermilk, which is great to cook with or even drink, though it’s definitely an acquired taste!

Start with Good Cream

The best milk to use for making butter comes from cows that yield milk with a high cream content. These are commonly referred to as milk cows (versus beef cattle).Milk breeds include the Guernsey, Jersey, Holstein and Brown Swiss. Of course, all cows make milk but beef cattle breeds offer a lower yield with much less cream.

A good milk cow will yield several gallons per day and the cream separates easily and naturally without any special equipment. Though goats are popular animals for prepping, their milk isn’t ideal for making butter because the cream doesn’t separate easily without the use of an expensive separator

It also has a different flavor than butter made from cow’s milk. After you milk the cow, make sure to strain your milk to remove any impurities that may have fallen into the milk bucket, then put it in a large jar in the fridge. The cream will separate out within just a few hours.

Use a spoon or a measuring cup to skim the cream off the top of the milk.  If you skim off all the cream, you’ll be lift with skim milk. If you leave a bit, you’ll have the equivalent of 1% or 2% milk, just FYI.

[Read more…]

Back To Basics: 4 Types Of Homemade Cheese

Back To Basics 4 Types Of Homemade Cheese

Back To Basics: 4 Types Of Homemade Cheese

Without a doubt, life is made tastier by cheese. We put it on everything from burgers to macaroni and kids love it. We mix it in sauces to add flavor and texture and we eat it plain as a snack. It’s a great source of calcium and protein and most kids will eat cheese even when they won’t eat many other foods.

However, if SHTF, cheese is quickly going to a hot commodity because it’s not something that keeps for long. This is when your skills as a cheese maker will come in handy.

The history of cheese is a long one; some say cheese has been around for as long as 10,000 years! It started when somebody noticed that the milk that they stored in their vessel (a calf stomach) turned into a hard block. Some brave soul decided to taste it and found out that it was delicious. Thus cheese was born. Find out more about preserving milk here. [Read more…]




Biltong  is a great survival food that has his origins in Southern Africa and it’s a variety of dried and cured meat. You can use a big variety of meats to produce biltong like beef , game meats, chicken, fish or even ostrich. First you have to cut out the fillets of meat.

The fillets must be cut into strips or flat pieces following the grain of the muscle. Biltong is similar to beef jerky in a certain way because both are cured-dried meats. The difference between biltong and beef jerky is that biltong is sliced after the drying  process  not  before like the beef jerky. [Read more…]

Guide to Eating and Growing Insects

Guide to Eating and Growing Insects


Guide to Eating and Growing Insects

Insects, being the most numerous of any form of life on earth are not only easy to find but easy to catch, and a good source of protein! In fact, the bodies of insects consist of 65-80% protein, whereas only 20 percent of beef is protein. Thus when shit hits the fan insects will prove to be a valuable food source, regardless of how repugnant they may seem.

This recommendation however excludes the following insects from consumption:

  • Adult insects that either sting or bite.
  • Insects that are covered with hair.
  • Insects that are brightly colored.
  • Spiders.
  • Disease-carrying insects like flies, mosquitoes, and ticks, and caterpillars.
  • Any insect that gives off a strong odor.

[Read more…]

Cooking When the Power Is Out

Cooking When the Power Is Out


Cooking When the Power Is Out

If SHTF, you’re likely not going to be able to use your electric or gas stove to cook with. Don’t worry, though – there are many different ways to cook without power. Some methods are great to use inside but others aren’t.

You need to be sure that regardless of what method you use, you do it safely. You don’t just have to worry about fire, but about fumes as well. Carbon monoxide poisoning will kill you much faster than starvation! [Read more…]

9 Common Poisonous Mushrooms and their Toxicity

 Poisonous Mushrooms


9 Common Poisonous Mushrooms and their Toxicity

When foraging in the wild or after a disaster and it’s safe to go outside to look for food, edible mushrooms can be a good source of nourishment. But there are mushrooms that are not meant to be eaten. Be sure you know how to differentiate these from the edible ones.

These are 9 common poisonous mushrooms that you might come across when looking for food. [Read more…]

Food Storage Ideas in an Urban Area


download food storage

Food Storage Ideas in an Urban Area

Most grocery stores have approximately three days worth of food on their shelves; and as experience has shown, when a known emergency event is coming, these shelves will be depleted rapidly within a matter of minutes. So, to prepare and secure your families survival a food storage plan should be part of your overall emergency preparedness planning. Living in an urban area presents unique challenges to preparing for these events; one of these is growing your own food for food storage in the event of a long term emergency. [Read more…]


plant medicine



Gardening is a great way to become self sufficient and save money on things you need like food and medicine. Home gardening keeps the ecosystem happy as well as your wallet, body and mind. The cheapest and healthiest way to reduce your potential health problems lays in preventative medicine and minor care. With that being said here are the top ten plants with great health benefits and medicinal qualities. [Read more…]

The Top 10 Best Survival Foods to Stockpile

city_storm survival

Preparing for a disaster, what makes the best survival food for an emergency?

The Top 10 Survival FoodsWhen All Hell Breaks Loose. The top foods to stockpile in an emergency that you can find in local stores. What to grab from your local grocery store before it’s gone.

What makes the best survival foods for an emergency? [Read more…]

10 Winter Wild Edibles


wild edibles

Winter Wild Edibles

There is not a lot of green in the winter. Wild foraging dries up. If you know where to look you can still find winter wild edibles. Today I’ll share with you 10 winter wild edibles that you can forage on. Knowing where to find food all year is important. You can supplement your food and save money. If you are lost they could keep you alive.

As a disclaimer make sure you properly identify any wild edible. Some wild edibles have poisonous look alikes. Do not eat it if you are not sure. [Read more…]

Raising Goats for Prep | The Perfect SHTF Livestock

In a situation where you are looking to prep for maximum self-sufficiency, you are probably considering adding livestock to your plans. Properly managed and raised, livestock can provide generations’ worth of value to your homestead. Raising goats, chickens and other livestock is an essential part of homesteading.

To get the very best ‘bang for your buck’ (no pun intended!), an animal which can provide meat and milk, and which has a relatively short gestational period, with multiple births common, is the ideal. An animal which can give both meat and milk provides all you need in the way of protein for essential survival. This is a good explanation of why your body needs protein: [Read more…]

How About Cooking Bacon & Eggs In A Paper Bag?

Tired of the same old camping food? Don’t you want to compliment the whole camping experience with some great grub? If you are going to hit the trails this weekend and will camp at some point, check out this [Read more…]

Can We Eat Grass?


Timothy Grass, a good food for horses and a sweet nibble for man.

That simple question has a complex answer: Yes, no, and maybe.  It’s a topic I explored in a recent Green Deane Newsletter and the basis for this article.

Strictly speaking we eat a lot of grass, but in the form of grain: Wheat, rice, rye, barley, millet, sprouts et cetera. What most folks want to know is can you eat the culms and blades (stems and leaves.) What you just read — culms and blades — is one of the impediments to learning about grasses; it has an argot all its own, a specific vocabulary worse than mushrooms. More so, often with grass key identifying characteristics can only be seen with a microscope. In fact I attended a grass seminar a few months ago in which the lecturing professor said if you want guaranteed employment become a grass taxonomist. He said they are very rare and very well paid.


Crowfoot Grass

As for humans eating grass, we are not multi-gastric (or in theory large-gutted). We aren’t designed to break down the cellulose in grass to get out the nutriments. Cows have a four-chambered stomach for that purpose, horses have a huge large intestine, even the gorilla has a gut that can accommodate large amounts of vegetation. Humans don’t. However, what we can do is dry the grass, grind it into a powder and use it as a bulking agent in food, such as breads, soups and stews. We don’t get much nutrition from grass prepared that way but it does add to the sensation of satiety and reduces hunger. But there are even issues with that, such as how often. There is the problem of cyanide.

Barnyard Grass seed can be used like wheat.

Barnyard Grass seed can be used like wheat.

I have read and been told by those with Ph.D. after their name that all North American grasses are non-toxic. Many imported grasses, however, do have cyanide in some kind of chemical bond such as with hydrogen or sugar that gets separated on digestion. At the most basic level that means one has to know if the grass is native or not which also requires identification, and I’ve already mentioned grasses are a pain in the .. ah.. grass to identify. And while “natives” might not be toxic there are many grasses that seem to have very little edible value. The Andropogons come to mind which don’t seem to have any use beyond making crude brooms. As for common toxic non-natives Johnson Grass, a sorghum, is a good bad example. The large blades can be full of cyanide, depending upon the weather.  Crowfoot Grass is another. We eat the grain of Crowfoot Grass only after the plant has turned brown and the dry seeds are easily picked. Complicating the issue is that quite a few toxic grasses from Africa and Asia are naturalized in North America. Prime grain ones to look for are Sand Spurs, Barnyard Grass, and Panicums. Clover is not included here in that it is not a grass but in the pea family. Locally there is also sugar cane (non-native and native.) Sugar cane is easy to grow in warm areas but only for sugar which are empty calories but more energy than just the blades. Related native species are very fibrous and very low on sugar. Similar looking to sugar cane is Arundo donax , a controversial and wild-spread invasive in many areas of the United States. I have found only one reference to the plant’s rhizomes as edible (cooked) which makes me suspicious, and it definitely is not native, another reason to be cautious. While Arundo donax leaves and shoots are listed as edible practical experience says they are not.

Arundo donax is also called Oboe Grass because it's used to make reeds for woodwinds.

Arundo donax is also called Oboe Grass because it’s used to make reeds for woodwinds.

And now if you will permit, let me reminisce. I recently bought another book for my foraging library, A Guide to Florida Grasses, by Walter Kingsley Taylor, not the first book in my collection from this august author. I will say more about the book in newsletters to come. I spent an afternoon browsing through the guide and noted his entry on Timothy Grass. The picture alone erased more than 50 years and took me back to summers as a boy in Maine. That’s when I was impressed into service to harvest hay for our horses, most of it Timothy, Phleum pratense, a grass originally from Europe. Because of its high protein content and low dust factor it is preferred by horses. It is also good food for small rodents like Guinea Pigs, Chinchillas, as well as rabbits. We “hayed” every summer for some 20 years usually putting ten to 15 tons of loose hay into the barn. There is some irony in that most of the hay we got every year came from the Hayward Farm.


The main machine for cutting this hay was a horse-drawn sickle mower. Instead of two horses the tongue was extended four feet and was pulled by a stripped-down WWII Jeep, which I got to drive. As soon as I was old enough to reach the pedals I drove and dad operated the mower.  By the time I was legally old enough to get a driver license I had already driven thousands of miles in hayfields and across country roads. Most of my annual summer “vacation” was spent haying and driving.

Sand burrs are are food that follow you home.

Sand burrs are are food that follow you home.

The problems of haying became common. The cutter bar would break a tooth, a triangle-shaped replaceable cutting edge held on by rivets, which we replaced red hot from our own forge. At least once a season, more depending upon how thick the grass was, the piston arm would break, as it was intended to do. It was a piece of ash, called a pitman — the tan wood in the picture lower right — that pushed the mower blade back and fourth being moved by gears turned by the wheels of the mower. It translated forward mower movement into horizontal sickle blade movement. When stresses got too much the wooden piston would break saving the rest of the machine from damage. Two other problems were common.

Sicklebar Cutter

Often the cut hay would wrap around each of the Jeep’s drive shafts, build up like a wad of cotton candy, get hot and catch on fire, not far from the gas tank. This required quick stopping, crawling under the hot vehicle, putting out the fire, then removing the tightly wound hay, often, ironically, with a blow torch. The other issue, beside unpredicted rain, was ground hornets. The Jeep, pulling the mower, would run over a ground hornets’ nest — at least one per field. They were never pleased about that. The hornets would instantly swarm under the Jeep, then emerge between the back of the jeep and the mower where they would find both of us and attack. It was an excuse to change gears and drive like hell… It must have been much worse when the mower was pulled by horses.

Father and son scything hay

In places where the terrain was too wet or hilly my step-father, who was built like a heavy-weight boxer and did box, would take out a scythe and cut it by hand. He had two grim reaper scythes. One with a long thin blade for hay and one with a short thick blade for brush. Once the hay was cut and sun dried we would winnow it with a Jeep-adapted horse-drawn rake. Then it was loaded loose onto a hay wagon I would drive home. The hay was lifted into the barn by a rope-operated hay fork pulled by the Jeep which my mother drove. My job on those oh-so-hot summer nights was to go up in the high rafters of the barn with 100 pounds of salt for each ton of hay. As each forkful of hay was dumped into the barn I salted it to absorb any moisture thus preventing it from rotting, getting hot and starting a fire. And then throughout the winter I had to shovel and cart the …recycled… hay to the manure pile. No wonder I was a skinny kid.

A modern “Ben Franklin”

And all the time — driving or shoveling — I had a stem of Timothy Grass in my mouth, chewing away enjoying the mild sweetness in the stem. It is a grass I would dry, powder, and use. Being a farm kid and chomping on Timothy was part of the same existence. It’s one grass that I know beyond any doubt. Timothy was unintentionally introduced to North America. In 1711 John Herd found the Eurasian native growing wild along the Piscataqua River near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He called it “herd grass.” That’s almost clever. He talked it up and it was grown in southern Canada, New England area and New York. In 1720 a Timothy Hanson moved from New England to Baltimore and began to cultivate the seed and sell it.  He was the first person in the new world who grew, bagged and sold hay seed. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were admirers of the grass and Franklin is credited with calling it “Timothy Seed” in a latter dated 16 July, 1747. The name was shortened to Timothy and it stuck. It is found nearly everywhere in North America and even in Greenland though here in Florida it is naturalized only in the Miami area. I sometimes wonder what my youth would have been like — and adulthood — had Messers Herd, Hanson, Washington and Franklin not known good grass when they saw and tasted it.

the-shape-of-things-to-comeWhile there is no shortage of people on the internet who say grass is edible and nutritious — one Indian claims to only eat grass — the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-49 shows otherwise. Folks were reduced to eating grass yet they died, often with grass stains still on their mouth. Another problem with a grass is that it contains a lot of silica, which wears down teeth. Silica is also not good for our digestive track with a history of causing oesophageal cancer. There is some molecular evidence that our very distant ancestors ate grass, or things that ate grass. It’s a debate but those who study the topic say humans did not begin to advance greatly until they good access to protein, meaning meat. These days grain, the other part of grass, is accused of contributing to bad health and obesity particularly in America. Lastly, in the for-what-it-worth department in Japan men who are not the expected Alpha Male type are called soushoku danshiliterally translated “grass-eating boys.” If you sprout wheat grass you might want to be careful just who your tell.

So, are grasses edible? As I said, yes, no, and maybe.



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Zeer pots: Off Grid Refrigeration


Zeer pots have been used in areas without electricity to cool foods for generations. They are cheap, simple to construct and extend the life of perishable food in hot weather. They are not as convenient as having an electric refrigerator in the kitchen, but it’s definitely worth having a couple ready to go in case of power outages.

They can be as big as you like, just remember they are going to be heavy so if you are making a large one build it where you intend it to stay.

The principle is very simple, they work because of the cooling effects caused by water evaporating.

To make your Zeer pot:

Get a hold of two terracotta pots, a two to four inch difference in size is ideal. A saucer to fit the bigger pot makes keeping the sand wet easier.

Put enough sand in the bottom of the larger pot that when you sit the smaller pot inside the rims are at the same level.

Fill the gap between the pots with wet sand.

Put a damp cloth over the top and cover with a light coloured board. ( A dark one will soak up heat)

Tah dah…your done.

As the water evaporates, the inner pot is keep cool, several degrees below the ambient air temperature surrounding the pot. Site it in a shady place for even cooler temperatures.

You need to keep the sand wet to keep the cooling at it’s optimum level so wet the sand regularly to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Put some in the saucer and some on the top of the sand to ensure it’s wet through.

You can put your food in a plastic bag before putting it in the pot, it keeps the moisture off the produce and makes no difference to the cooling of the food.

Take care



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How to Find, Identify and Cook Fiddleheads

Take a look around your local farmers market or health food store this time of year and you might find some strange looking, green quarter-sized, coiled vegetables known as fiddleheads.  They’re named for their resemblance to the ornamental ends of fiddles and other stringed instruments.

But don’t blink.  Because before you can say “fiddleheads” they’re gone!   And that’s why I’m writing this blog now.  Because NOW is the time to get them!


What are fiddleheads?

Fiddleheads are ferns before they become ferns.  They are the furled up stage of a fern when they just start to shoot through the ground in spring.  As they emerge through the fertile, wet April soil, they grown and unfurl quickly, sometimes lasting just a few days in their furled up stage.

Though all ferns have a fiddlehead stage, it’s the Ostrich fern, a specific edible species, that has become synonymous with the word “fiddlehead.”  Their taste is often described somewhere between asparagus, broccoli and spinach.

Because these fiddleheads appear for such a brief period in early spring and can only be foraged by individuals, they are considered a delicacy and can be quite pricey.   I’ve heard of some specialty stores selling them for $20 a pound!

But you can harvest them yourself for free!  You just have to know where to look.

And that’s what makes fiddleheads so special.

Where do I find fiddleheads?

Fiddleheads grow prolifically throughout New England and eastern parts of Canada.  But unlike many wild edibles that grow seemingly everywhere, like dandelions, fiddleheads grow in wild and wet areas.  And that’s why I love searching for them.  They’re more apt to take you a bit off the beaten path into Nature, along the edges of rivers, stream banks and swampy areas.

Though they are not hard to find, many keep their locations secret so they will not be over harvested.  And I feel the same way!  Part of the joy is finding them yourself anyway.  There’s nothing quite like stumbling across a patch that no one else knows about.  If need be jot it down so you won’t forget for the future. I have a notebook with about six locations I’ve found in the past few years.

How do I recognize fiddleheads?

I would recommend an experienced guide the first time to be on the safe side.  Some fiddleheads look like the Ostrich fern varieties and are not only not edible but can be toxic.   I did a few wild edible walks with some experienced herbalists a few years ago and they were very helpful.

Once you see them for the first time, fiddleheads become very easy to recognize.   They are bright green and can easily be seen amidst the dark soil, twigs, and leaves from which they emerge.  They grow in clumps of about about six.  Here’s some pics of some clumps just starting to peek through the earth:



These are probably a little too early to pick.  But aren’t they beautiful?  I think they look like tiny green sleeping dragons.  But once they peek through, they start growing fast!  Here’s a

few that are primed and ready for harvesting:



They will remain tightly coiled until they reach a height of about four to six inches.  When you come across a good patch there will be hundreds if not thousands of them growing together and some will grow quicker than others.  All the pics in this blog were take from the same patch on the same day.  But after a few weeks they’ll all unfurl.  Here’s a pic of a clump that is just beyond being harvestable:


As they grow a few inches from the earth, they have three defining features.  The first is the bright green stem which we’ve already seen.   The second is the feathery-brown, paper-like material that covers the sides of the coils.  Like so:


That material either falls off on its own or you can pick it off yourself.

And the third defining feature is the deep groove on the inside of the stem.  Like so:


How do I pick fiddleheads?

Pick them before they unfurl, when they’re about one to four inches in height.  You can simply pinch and snap the stem about a half inch to an inch from the coiled head.   Look for the more tightly wound fiddleheads and don’t be afraid to brush away leaves, twigs and logs.  Sometimes you’ll find the bigger ones in more hidden, cool areas.  Never pick a clump clean.  Leave at least a few unpicked fiddleheads.  Otherwise, the fern will die.

You can easily blow or brush off the papery brown material as you pick them or just wait and rinse it off when you get home.

How do I cook fiddleheads?

First, make sure you do cook them!  You can get sick if you eat them raw or don’t cook them long enough.

Rinse the fiddleheads.  Make sure you cook them well but don’t overcook them.  Boil in water for about five to seven minutes or steam for ten to twelve minutes. Then sautee lightly in butter.  Voila!

You can use fiddleheads like you use any vegetable.  They work beautifully with egg dishes like omelettes and frittatas, go great with pasta dishes, soups and stir fries but also work alone as a side dish to accompany meats and fish.  I had them the other night with lamb and mash potatoes.

They are best to use soon after picking but they will last in your fridge for at least a week.  You can even have fiddleheads in the middle of winter as they can be frozen for up to a year.

Have you ever foraged for fiddleheads?  Share your experiences in the comments!




By Craig Fear

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The Future of Food


The Future of Food: 25 Edible Insects

#1 Fried Hornworms

Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms may make you squirm but once fried, David George Gordon, author of ‘The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook’, claims their flavor resembles a combo of green tomatoes, shrimp, and crab! The plants they feed on are not good for people to eat, so the poor fellows need to be put on a “starvation” diet for a couple days until cooked. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Make Campfire Bread


breadThe experience of a woodsman can often be determined by the fire he makes and the meals  he cooks. One thing is cooking a freeze dried meal over a gas stove, but it is a matter all together different the ability to cook over an open fire meals made from scratch. [Read more…]

The Ultimate Urban Survival Food: Sprouts

The-Ultimate-Urban-Survival-Food-Source-SproutsSprouts have a number of qualities that make them especially useful as a part of a survival plan. One of their values is derived from the fact that the sprout stage of any plant is the time when it has the greatest concentration of vitamins and minerals, so they come in very handy when healthy food is scarce. [Read more…]