A big part of off-grid living is learning to be as self-reliant as possible. One of the many ways to become more self-reliant is to grow, harvest, forage, and store as much of your own food as you can manage.
Every season brings about different wild foods to forage and harvest. Now is the time to be out searching for many of the producing nut trees in your area. There are a lot of people who have black walnuts growing in their yard who just let them drop and never think twice about picking them up. One of the reasons they are left on the ground is simply because black walnuts can be a little bit of a chore, somewhat like acorns, but the work is worth it.
Vegans and vegetarians can live off the land without any hunting, fishing, or raising their own meat, but meat eaters have a bit more work to do when it comes to stocking up. Whether you are on the hunt for vegetables or on the hunt for meat, in order to fill your pantry you must grow, raise or harvest your own foods. It is a wonderful and fulfilling feeling when you know you can walk the Earth, through the forest, across a stream foraging the whole while. When you sit and enjoy your meal it brings about a sense of security and happiness.
3 Ways I Fill My Pantry
- Canning – I like to can a bigger portion of my produce to store for the winter months to come. Not only is canning a good way to store your harvest but it is also a nice way to store precooked meals, such as chicken noodle soup or stew. Making jams and jellies is a great way to preserve some of your fruits. When the tomatoes and peppers are growing right I have to reserve a whole shelf for an array of salsa.
- Smoking – One of the best ways to preserve meat off the grid can be smoking it in a smokehouse. If it is done properly your meat can last a while. For every deer my family would get when I was a kid they would set aside a big portion for smoking jerky.
A smokehouse is not only used for meat. A nice smoked goat cheese or cheddar cheese makes for great meals. If you make your own spice rubs and things of that nature some smoked peppers and paprika add some amazing flavor to a great meal.
- Drying/Dehydrating – Some fruits and vegetables are better kept if they are dried out or dehydrated. Keeping mushrooms fresh throughout the winter is impossible but if you dehydrate them you can add them to your dishes any time of the year. Even all of the nuts I gather go out on a drying rack. *The dryer the nut is the easier it is to crack.*
Just as there are various ways to store and keep food for the pantry, there are also different methods to each process. You can use the power of the sun, an oven, or a dehydrator to dry out and dehydrate food for preservation. When it comes to canning, some foods require the use of a hot water canner, sometimes called the hot water bath, while other foods require the use of a pressure cooker to ensure the proper sealing necessary.
Being self-sustainable and self-reliant are very important in my opinion, whether you live off or on the grid. Either way, knowing how to take care of your own needs is incredible. When you know how to get fresh water and food, how to make a shelter, and how to start a fire, you know you can survive. I encourage as many people as I can to grow their own food and learn how to forage for wild-growing food because one day your life might depend on it.
Fill your pantry with food you’ve found, foraged, grown, and raised. This allows you to know how the food is taken care of, what (if any) chemicals or trace chemicals may be in it, and you get to watch your pantry grow and flourish with wholesome foods and snacks in the meantime. Be your own grocery store!