Survival Basics

Survival…..Baking?

Any major disaster is going to be accompanied by a power outage. That’s why we all figure on having to cook in “other ways” than what we’re used to. Mostly this means cooking with wood, whether inside or outdoors. But are you really ready for cooking on wood? Barbecuing some meat is one thing, but what about baking a bread for survival?

Considering that 50% to 60% of our survival diet needs to be carbohydrates, it seems to me that we’d better be ready to bake bread, at a minimum, as part of our survival plans. That not only means having the necessary ingredients, but also the know how for baking in a fire.

Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Baked Goods…

To start with, we’re going to need the ingredients. That means: water, sugar, salt, cooking oil, flour and yeast. For the flour, you’re better off storing whole grains, rather than ground flour, as the whole grains will store longer. But that means that you’re going to need to have a good mill for grinding the grain, when it’s time to use it. Don’t bother with a cheap one, as the resulting flour won’t be very fine.

Coming up with yeast may seem a bit harder, but it’s actually fairly easy. Yeast grows naturally, so all you have to do is encourage its growth. Actually, that’s what sourdough bread starter is, a naturally occurring form of yeast.

Most people don’t have a clue how to bake bread, yet they eat this food every day…Erwin Kemper

Survival Baking

You can make sourdough bread starter by mixing one cup of flour with ½ cup of water and leaving it to sit, covered, in a glass container, for 24 hours. Add another cup of flour and half cup of water every five days to keep the culture growing. After about five days, you’ll see it start to bubble and grow. When that happens, it’s ready to use.

Another way to make it uses raisins. Put three to four tablespoons of raisins in a jar that’s ¾ of the way full of water. Stir the contents daily and in three to four days you’ll see bubbles forming on the top. This is your yeast.

Grocery stores will NOT be open in the apocalypse…

It might take some experimentation to see just how much of your homemade yeast to use. Keep in mind that homemade bread, and especially the homemade bread of a couple centuries ago, is much more dense than what we’re accustomed to today. Our bread is mostly air, while their bread was something hearty to eat.

Okay, so now how do you bake it? I’ve seen a lot of articles about how to make pan-fry bread, but we want baked bread.

This is where the Dutch Oven comes in. I’m not talking about the modern Dutch Ovens, which are really nothing more than a small stock pot. I’m talking about the old-fashioned cast iron one, with legs on the bottom and what looks like an inverted top. The purpose of those legs is so that it can be set down into the coals of a fire, without putting the coals out and the inverted lid is so that more coals can be piled on top. This combination surrounds the contents with heat, a basic requirement for baking.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to bake in this manner, once you get used to it. As with learning how much yeast to us, you’re also going to have to learn how long it takes your bread to bake. Visually, you can look for the crust to turn a nice golden brown. But it’s best if you can keep the Dutch Oven closed until it is time to take the bread out. That requires a good sense of how long it takes the bread to bake.

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