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DIY Frozen French Fries
By servantheart, Editor-At-Large
Who doesn’t love “french fries”? But, have you noticed how expensive the good ones have become? Well, why not make your own? It’s easy!
Sharp knife or French fry maker
Parchment paper (optional)
You’ll need potatoes; good, fresh, firm potatoes. Grow your own and you’ll always have them, but in the meantime, you can buy them – just make sure they’re firm. Variety is up to you: Idaho are always a favorite, but red potatoes are great, as are Yukon Gold, and a whole array. Hey, why not mix them? I haven’t tried this yet, but, that could be the next kitchen experiment!
Wash your potatoes well. Unless the skins are green, don’t peel them – the peelings are food, and very nutritious food, at that. But green skins indicate exposure to light during growing, producing “solanine”, which is toxic. Peel the potatoes if the skins are green; otherwise, eat the yummy skins! Do not throw green potato skins in your compost – dispose of them.
Cut the fries to suit you; some people like thick wedges, some prefer thin, so, cut them into the shape you like. A good, sharp knife will do (I like my cleaver!); but, I have vintage hand-operated devices that will push a potato through (using hand power to push, of course) and give uniform french fries; you can buy new french fry cutters, as well, but, they’re made in China…go to ebay or shopgoodwill.com or etsy, etc., and buy a vintage one! They’ll work well and not poison you in the process with toxic paint, or break from defective metals, etc. Of course, there are always electric-powered food processors, and they will give very uniform results, but I prefer off-the-grid methods as often as possible.
Soak the cut potatoes (french fries) in cold, salted water (about 1 gallon cold water with 1/4 cup salt per 5 lb. potatoes should do it) for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. This removes a lot of the unwanted starch and produces a better product. Allow fries to drain on a cookie cooling rack or clean cotton towel.
- While draining, preheat oven to 425 deg. F.
Arrange fries on cookie sheets, single layers only. Parchment paper comes in very handy here. Spray (I bought a small, cheap hand-held spray bottle in the travel section at China-Mart, and it works great), or drizzle with your favorite oil – mine is olive oil (first cold press, extra virgin) for this project. Season with your favorite seasonings: we like sea salt or kosher salt, cracked peppers, lemon pepper, Cajun seasonings, etc. Bake @ 425 deg. F until “done” – how long will depend on the way you cut your fries, the size and calibration of your oven, etc. Just watch them, and keep a note on how long it took to get them where you want them.
When done, remove from oven, and allow fries to stand to cool a bit (try not to eat too many along the way here). When cooled just enough to be safe to pop in your freezer – still on cookie sheets, do this! Freeze completely (how long this will take depends on how you cut them, but a few hours should do it for any cut).
When frozen stiff, bag your fries up according to the portion size you want per bag, date the bags. You could also use your FoodSaver here (I use mine!) and they will, of course, stay fresher longer than in a regular freezer bag (won’t ice up in the freezer!).
To reheat: Oven @ 425 deg. F; bake until thoroughly heated through to suit your personal tastes.
Grace and Truth,John 1:14; 1:17; 2 John 1:3
Sha’alu Shalom Y’erushalayim (Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem)
by sevantheart, Editor at Large
You will need: a large (tall) pressure canner; a rack on feet OR 2 racks and jelly jars with caps and rings; quart jars with caps and rings, preferably wide-mouth, thick-sliced bacon, and parchment paper (or paper bags).
Get lots of parchment paper; I buy mine in rolls at Sam’s – much cheaper this way.
Get your jars ready - quarts will work best for this project, and wide-mouth will be easier to fill than regular mouth jars.
Remember that canning bacon works best with thick-sliced; most other will disintegrate or turn into a large blob of bacon.
Cook your bacon in advance (trust me when I say this works better than packing raw bacon, although, you CAN do that, too!). I microwave ours; but, cook it until it’s “crispy” (or, however you like it cooked). You will have to cook it up again to crisp it again when you open the jars, but, that won’t take much “cooking” when you pack it cooked.
Tear off a strip of parchment paper to hold about 8 slices, rolled up; if you get it too short, it doesn’t matter; you’ll just pull off another piece of parchment and keep going. Parchment paper cans just fine; don’t use wax paper – it does not. You CAN use paper bags, if necessary, but, parchment paper works best.
Roll your bacon, one cooked strip at a time, in parchment, making sure each strip is rolled and protected from the next strip by paper; if the bacon is wrapped meat-to-meat; it will all stick together after processing and cooling, and you will have one big lump of bacon. Good luck getting that out of the jar!
When you have about 8 strips (you may be able to get more in there!); fold the strips of wrapped bacon in “half”; trim the ends of the parchment, leaving about one (1) inch at either end of the bacon (one inch parchment paper hangover on each end).
GENTLY stuff the folded strips down inside your jars. This is where you will understand why I tell you wide-mouth is best here. You CAN use regular mouth, but, GENTLY work it down, using a spatula, or some such tool. And try not to mutter to yourself too much while stuffing regular mouth jars!
When the jar is filled (it’s o.k. if it’s not “full-full”, as in there are air spaces – that’s normal for this project), wipe jar openings with hot water. Each jar opening needs to be wiped down with VERY hot water and a fresh paper towel; fat is very easy to transfer. Wear protective insulated rubber gloves for handling the hot paper towels, but use one fresh paper towel per jar.
Sterilize your caps and place them; sterilize your rings and place them.
Now, you can process these down in the water, and the result will be “o.k.”. What I find works much better is to DRY CAN THE BACON. This is not running your canner dry – that will ruin your canner; what it means is the jars need to be held ABOVE the water line while processing. (BTW: you can use this method to sterilize tools and instruments, but, that’s another story for another day).
This is where the height of your canner is important, and thus, a bigger canner works better for this project – make sure you have three (3) inches of clearance between the top of your bacon jars and the top of your canner, when it is sealed. So, when you put in all your racks and your jelly jars of water, or whatever, then your next rack and the jars of bacon, you need 3 inches of clearance at the top.
Make sure you have about three (3) inches of water in your canner; you don’t want to run out of water.
Use a rack with legs that hold the jars above the water line (good luck finding THAT!), or – do this:
1. Place one rack in the bottom of the canner, as you always do.
2. Fill at least four (4) jelly jars with water and add lids and rings; you can either process good, clean water (not municipal, fluoride, nano-particle drug water!) and store it as sterile water (an excellent prep item – use for cleaning out wounds, etc.), or, just sacrifice a few caps for the sake of the project without saving the water – you can use the same jelly jars of water as many times as you need. Let them cool a little between loads. You’re going to use the jelly jars to build up the height for processing bacon; YOU CAN NOT DO THIS WITH EMPTY JARS – THEY WILL ‘FLOAT”, AND CRACK DURING PROCESSING. You can not process other food in the jelly jars at the same time, as jelly jars are much smaller than quarts; food processed in a jelly jar for that length of time will turn to mush.
3. Place jelly jars of water atop first rack that is protecting them from bottom of canner.
4. Place a second rack on top of jelly jars – this rack can literally lay across them
5. Set your quarts of bacon atop this SECOND rack. Check your water in canner – you need three (3) inches of water; if water laps bottom of jars, o.k., but you don’t want them immersed in water.
6. Seal your canner and fire her up!
7. On high heat, build your steam; steam it out for 10 minutes, as always (10 minute tornado from the vent pipe);
8. Place your counterweight on the vent pipe; bring to 10 lbs. pressure and process @ 10 lbs. for 90 minutes because we’re doing quarts. After 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure, turn off heat if gas, remove from heat if electric.
9. Allow to cool naturally; remove jars; if wide-mouth, remember, they don’t make the noise regular mouth make when sealing, and they don’t make the same sound when tapped. NEVER TAP THE CENTER OF THE CAP TO TEST – TAP AROUND THE EDGES.
10. When thoroughly cooled, wash your jars of bacon in hot, soapy water (fat everywhere!), rinse in hot water, allow jars to thoroughly dry; mark caps with contents and date and store away.
To enjoy: it’s already cooked; you could just set it out in the sun and heat it up, or, eat it straight from the jar. But, Yes! It will be greasy (the paper does absorb a lot of the grease). I like to throw it in a pre-heated cast iron skillet and just “re-crisp” it. It doesn’t take long at all!
This works out great for camping (even though it is in glass). That glass jar comes in handy for storing other leftovers, as well, so, you’ll get more than one use from the jar while traveling.
It’s also convenient to have pre-cooked bacon at the ready for a quick breakfast, casserole, etc.
How long is this good? 5-6 years, if you store it out of direct sunlight, and away from heat sources.
And now you know: how to dry can bacon! If you don’t want to dry can, just use the standard method of one rack sitting in the water; all other instructions do not change.
I am an owner of a Solo Stove and performed a review on it on my other website – check it out here….http://modernsurvivalonline.com/equipment-review-solo-backpacking-stove/.
This is a super lightweight, portable, and useful cooking system which utilizes commonly available fuel such as sticks, pine cones, twigs, etc. Super easy to use – a fantastic addition to anyone’s preparedness system.
Glad to have Solo Stove on board and to 100% recommend their product. Check out their website HERE for more information.
Great video recommended by Bev. Think I might try this.
There are numerous way to cook without modern conveniences. Charcoal grills, gas grills, open fire, camp stoves, etc. These are but a few. One of my personal favorites it the Deadwood Stove. It allows the use of an endless supply of fuel that is available almost everywhere – wood. It is highly portable and useful. I highly recommend them.
Should you find the need to cook without any equipment, the “stove” featured in the video below would suffice. It is truly ”off grid”.
I remember living in Athens Georgia back in the early 80′s. I was in 3rd grade and an Aunt and Uncle of mine traveled from Massachusetts to visit and get away from the frigid North in December. Funny thing happened – a massive ice storm came though the day after they arrive and power was lost for a little over a day.
So much for their warm welcome.
My farther was cooking a thick steak in the kitchen when the power was lost. It was smelling so delicious and we all thought dinner was lost. Rather – he simply brought the steak into the living room and cooked it in the fireplace. I remember that as well as several other instances resulting in alternative cooking methods due to power loss.
Let’s first establish what I believe to be a “Preparedness Fact”: An alternative cooking method must be planned as part of any preparedness system.
OK – with that out of the way there are many methods of cooking without power and with redundancy in mind at least a couple should be included in planning.
Here are a few:
Grill – gas or charcoal -
This is grill which millions of people across America have on their patio, deck, and backyard. Whether it be charcoal fueled or gas – the grill is excellent for cooking without power. The issue is fuel must be available to get it to work.
Charcoal can be stored away in a shed or garage to protect it from the elements. A couple of large bags can provide many days of cooking. A can of lighter fluid should also be put back.
Propane grills also work exceptionally well. 20 pound canisters of propane can be stored outside as well as in a shed. I myself feel a bit unsafe storing canisters of propane in the house. A few canisters can provide several weeks worth of cooking.
Camp Stove -
Many of you may have used these Coleman camp stoves while camping. Not much I enjoy more than eggs and bacon in the woods while camping. In an off-grid situation they can work well. There are types that run on small propane fuel bottles such as this one as well as some that can run on a variety of liquid fuels like this.
Wood Stove -
When one says “wood stove” thoughts are likely to go toward the in-house large wood stoves that can be used to both cook and heat. These are fantastic and if the option is there – take it.
For the purpose of this article “wood stove” is referring to the device which utilizes wood to cook with outdoors and is somewhat portable. The Deadwood Stove is one excellent example of this type though there are others such as this. The stoves are easy to use with dry wood and tinder which is generally highly available. If area has recently rained then things get more difficult. Due to wood being an endless fuel supply these are excellent.
Backpacking Stove -
These are very small stoves which attach to the top of a small gas canister and can cook/heat a single pot or pan. When I say small – they can be VERY small and portable. Lightweight and excellent on the trail.
Solar Cooker -
Out of all the items in these lists this is the one have zero experience with. Solar cookers use reflective materials to reflect the suns light and generate tremendous heat. Obviously the need for bright sunlight is one drawback.
Open Fire/Fire Pit -
People have been cooking over open fire for hundreds of years – no reason to stop now. A simple fire pit can be made digging a shallow hole in the ground, and start a fire in it. Dutch ovens can be used to contain the food during the cooking process and many recipes are available to cook anything from stews to cakes.
When the power goes out – how will you be cooking?