50% off One Month Pack from Augason Farms

Augason Farms is having a 50% off sale on their “One Month Pack”. (No idea how long the sale is running.) I bought a couple of these a while back and it is an excellent way to get introduced to their product. Foods are in #2 cans, which are far more practical than #10 cans, and when you factor in the price ($128.50 / 48 cans) you wind up getting a great assortment of stuff to try for, on average, $2.68. Nice fire-n-forget package for tucking away in cabins, RV’s, bunkers, caches, and relative’s houses. They also make great gifts if you’re the kinda guy who is willing to spend that kinda money on other folks.

My experience has been that when they have these sales it may take a week or two for product to ship, but to me it’s worth any delay to save a hundred bucks.

Since my food prep needs are small, two people, I find the #2 can (Augason Farms calls it their ‘Everyday Size’) to be a more practical size than a #10 can. A #10 can is a lot of food and if you don’t consume it fast enough you wind up wasting it. The #2 cans are just about the right size for one or two people.

I wound up buying a few other #2 cans of product to ’round out’ the ‘One Month Pack’ more to my liking. In conjunction with some canned/freezedried meats you can put together a pretty nice menu.

Anyway, they sent me a notice in email about the sale and I’m passing it along.

CostCo hashbrowns

There are some combinations that are just counter productive – black Klansman, blind tattoo artist, deaf piano tuner, claustrophobic escape artist, that sorta thing. Sadly, my particular dead-end combination is that Im a person who really likes to eat but doesnt really like to cook. In short, Im a lazy cook.

For example, I can make a very nice red sauce from scratch. Fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, a bit of onion, a long time on the stove and – voila – terrific homemade spaghetti sauce. But nine times out of ten, I’ll just crack open a jar of prepared sauce because I want to eat, not cook.

As a result of this, I’m always on the look out for food that tastes good, keeps well, and requires minimal effort. As I was strolling through CostCo the other day I came across these:

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Yup, another crappy cellphone pic. Brand is “Golden Grill Russet”.

Now, to my way of thinking, nothing is going to make an apocalypse more bearable than a decent breakfast. The cheap and easy way out for most of us is a bucket full of those little packets of Quaker instant oatmeal. And, yeah, its better than nothing in a pinch. But when you’ve got a long day shooting looters, moving debris, scavenging the ruins, and running for your life ahead of you it might be nice to have a real breakfast. Fortunately, with a little pre-planning you can have eggs, bacon, fruit, hasbrowns, coffee, and orange drink for breakfast.

CostCo had these hashbrowns in little pint-size cardboard cartons and, being a sucker for ‘individual serving size’ packages, I threw ’em in the cart. Figured I’d take a chance on them. The instructions say to open the container, fill with really hot water, close container, let sit for twelve minutes, drain, then fry in a pan. Okay, followed the instructions and twelve minutes later there was a huge pile of hash browns ready for the pan. I mean these things increased in size exponentially. I’m not a shy eater…. ‘two servings’ is what I’d consider single serve. But there was a lot of hash browns coming out of that container. Easily enough for two hungry guys and probably enough for at least three average people.

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Theres nothing in this pic for scale, but trust me…thats a LOT of hash browns. And they’re yummy.

Fried ’em up in butter, added some salt and some ketchup, and they were really good. Highly recommend. Im going to have to pick up another one or two packages of them. Eight cartons to package so one or two should handle most short- to mid-length crises. They’d also be an amazingly good choice for camping if you break it down to a smaller package.

The packaging is about the same as a pint of milk – a treated, coated cardboard container. Expiration date is about a year, but as is usual in these sorts of things that date is probably very conservative. Unless the packaging takes some damage these should have years on them. I found them at CostCo but it turns out they’re available on Amazon as well (where they get very high reviews.)

Case of these, a can of bacon, some freeze dried eggs, big tub o’ Tang, and a couple cans of fruit, and you’ve pretty much got the long-term-storage breakfast thing under control. But, they’re also quite good to the point you might just use ’em on a Sunday morning where you don’t feel like making a lot of effort. One of the rare ‘storage foods’ that really is good enough to eat during ‘normal’ times.

Fun with eggs

Have you ever actually eaten powdered eggs? I know theres all sortsa stories from military folk talking about the horrors of such tings, but those stories are also usually pretty dated. Food preservation (and fabrication) technology has changed a bit.

Being an unapologetic bargain hunter, I always peruse the ‘marked down’ shopping carts in the back of the store where my local supermarket dumps the stuff it wants to sell now. Usually it’s things no one wants like sugar-free cake frosting, squirrel-flavored olive oil, dill pickle flavored barbecue sauce, and other ‘food’ items that are obviously not moving and taking up valuable shelf real estate.

So, the other day as I was sifting through the cart I found this:

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My history with powdered eggs is a long one. I originally wanted some back in the late ’90s but had no idea for a source. I found this particular brand, Deb El, but found out they did not offer any larger quantity of them than these cans and some industrial-sized 50# bags that I was in no position to repackage. A few years later I discovered ‘Wakefield’ powdered eggs (an excellent product) but its availability was spotty since it was basically manufacturer overruns from .gov contracts (they can sometimes be found through REI). Finally, I found that Mountain House offered #10 cans of eggs and I picked up a few cases of that. Later on I found that Augason Farms offers whole eggs in the far more convenient #2 size cans…and scrambled egg mix in the larger #10 cans. I got a buncha those as well.

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The first time I used powdered eggs I was extremely skeptical… the powder, when mixed with water, made this foul-smelling, orange-colored, pancake-batter-consistency mix that looked amazingly unappetizing. but, after a couple minutes in a frying pan with some butter it was like some sort of culinary magic trick – the orange turned into that lovely scrambled-egg-yellow that we all know and love, the smell was just like regular scrambled eggs, and the texture, while quite uniform, was also very similar. In fact, the giveaway that fresh eggs were not used came from the even coloring of the eggs….’real’ scrambled eggs have random flecks of white among the yellow. These were an even yellow across the board. But….absolutely delicious and indistinguishable, taste wise, from fresh eggs.

The powdered eggs are a bit more orange-y colored that fresh eggs, but in the half-light of your average apocalypse-induced power failure you probably won’t notice the difference. However, here’s a comparison of the powdered egs [first photo] cooking versus the fresh eggs cooking [second photo]:

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Takes about two  minutes to cook. Powdered:

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Side by side on a plate you can see the color difference. (Too be fair, I used much more butter with the powdered eggs and virtually none with the fresh, so that may contribute to the color difference.) However texture is identical:

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The powdered eggs come out looking not as good as the bright-yellow fresh eggs, but they have a far greater shelf life and lend themselves to mass feeding. Ever go to a hotel that has a breakfast bar and you can get all the omelettes you want? Notice the cook often has a juice bottle or container full of egg mix he pours or dips from? Yeah. Thats powdered egg (or liquid egg mix from powder) that he’s using.

So what good is this stuff? Well, for starters, if your breakfast includes scrambled eggs, french toast, or anything that requires an egg….well, heres your egg. No refrigeration necessary (although refrigerating eggs is, I am told, a mostly American notion. In Europe eggs are left at room temperature.) When Hurricane Sandy knocks out the power and the morning promises a long day of grunt work it’d be nice to be able to have scrambled eggs to go with the canned bacon, canned hash, or other breakfast fare. (According to my research, a post apocalyptic breakfast can be pretty impressive – scrambled eggs, hash, bacon, breakfast cereal with milk, oatmeal, canned fruit, orange drink, and coffee….a better breakfast than I have now.) And, of course, anything that requires egg like pasta dough, breaded foods, etc, etc, are going to be needing this stuff as well.

So…for those of you who may be curious about powdered eggs but don’t feel like cracking open a $40 #10 can of them for an experiment…well, I risked $4 to show you what to expect:

My suggestion to you? Buy the long term eggs in the smaller cans (because once you open a can of powdered eggs it’ll start drawing moisture and if you dont use it soon it’ll cake solid). Don’t expect it to taste/look exactly like fresh eggs, but don’t be terrified about it either. Its about the same quality as fastfood/breakfast bar/college cafeteria eggs.

 

Crasche not-a-helmet, Sony radio, seeds

These look interesting. They’re knit caps that incorporate lightweight protective inserts. No substitute for a PASGT or similar helm, but when you want to have your melon protected from casual abuse and want to be discrete, these look like an interesting choice. Looks less dorky than your average bicycle helmet.

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Picked up one of these the other day. (Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception, plus External Plug-in Antenna) I’d been wanting a relatively inexpensive portable battery-powered radio that would also pick up SW and this one seemed to get great reviews. I’ve been playing with it for a few days an am liking it quite a bit. At some point I’ll spend the big bucks for a more ‘serious’ receiver but for now this’ll do. I like listening to news broadcasts from other countries. It’s just good sense to get your news from as many sources as possible and I especially like foreign news services’ take on things.

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Our shipment of seeds from Victory Seed showed up last week. Personally, I like starting them indoors as early as possible so I need to get off my butt and get them going. Peppers and tomatoes FTW. Sometimes I am amazed at the size and productivity of plants that I can grow out of a 5-gallon-bucket. I have a fantasy about someday having a piece of property with a natural hot spring on it. One thing I’d do is run that water through some piping and heat a nice glass-block greenhouse with it. Year-round vegetables, baby. Man, that’d be sweet.

 

Experiments in storage food

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

A few weeks back I was straightening things up, bunker-wise, and was moving stuff around. One of the things I came across were a dozen #2.5-size cans of old AlpineAire food that I purchased back pre-Y2K. When I bought them they were already a couple years old…but they were being closed out by a local surplus store so I figured for one or two dollars a can…what the heck.

A few months back I opened one that consisted of crackers, peanut butter, and some hard candies. The candies were stale, the crackers decidedly so, and the peanut butter looked like something from the south end of a very sick northbound dog. Well, since I bought that stuff, back around ’99, I have significantly upgraded my long term food supplies. Seemed like it might be worth cracking open a couple of these and seeing how they fared.

I pulled two cans out of the bin. Both are #2.5 sized and have scored pull-top lids. ALthough I’m sure that they aren’t a risk factor, I prefer cans that do not have pre-scored lids. I have had occasions where one can has fallen and hit another right on the scoring and wound up compromising the integrity of the can. Anyway, here’s what I pulled out for this experiment:

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I’d heard of apple flakes but had no idea what they were. If this package is anything to go by, it appears to be granulated apples. Silly me..I was thinking of, you know, flakes. Both products smelled okay and there were no signs of spoilage. On the other hand, I had no idea what this stuff looked like back when it was new so I may be just guessing at this point. Both packages had an oxygen absorber in them. The flakes made for a much denser amount of apples than the little dehydrated cubes. Both tasted ok, although a little bland. The little bits of apple were actually rather nice to just pop in the mouth and crunch on.

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I took two teaspoonfuls of each of these and put them in a bowl with 1/3 cup of boiling water and let them sit for ten minutes. The results:

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The apple flakes reconstituted into a paste that was pretty similar to applesauce but wasn’t terribly flavorful. It definitely would have benefited from a dose of sugar. The apple bits reconstituted nicely but were also a little bland. I think both of these, esp. the flakes, would have been excellent for use in something like some cream of wheat cereal or oatmeal…or perhaps in some sort of baking application.

Did the product last these last fifteen years well? Seems to. I have #10 cans of dehydrated apples from the LDS cannery (at a much better price, I might add) so I don’t mind sacrificing $5 worth of Clinton-era storage food for some empirical testing. AlpineAire, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t offer these little cans any more but the same packaging is available in the Augason Farms products which I’ll be posting a review on in a few weeks.

So, succinctly, although the “Lunch” tin of crackers, spread and candy did not last well over time, it appears that these two varieties of long-term fruit did pretty well. Although you could eat these on their own, it seems their best and most palatable application would have been as a complement to some cereal or porridge. I hvae a few other similar cans of product from this company laying around that I’ll wind up testing over the next few weeks as well. Fifteen years isnt much on storage life, but since most cans are rated for around 25-30 years it’s interesting to note which ones at least make it to the halfway mark.

 

Augason Farms arrival

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

As events in NYC point out, when the power goes down, the refrigerator becomes a petri dish, and Tony-&-Sal’s aren’t delivering any more chicken parms, it’s time to go with what you have in your cupboards.

While we store a decent amount of food, much of our long-term food supply is packed in #10 cans. These cans are great, but unless you can use up the contents before the open container goes bad you might wind up wasting food. I never really gave that much thought because in my mind a #10 can of chicken-and-rice would probably be consumed within three days or so…well within the threshold of safety. But lately I’ve been thinking that smaller sized cans would be useful…especially for handing out to friends or, more importantly, for creating ‘custom menu’ food packages.

Mountain House is obviously the benchmark for this sort of thing. The food is pretty tasty and should last for the rest of my life. Trouble is, it’s expensive, the menu is limited, and they really pissed me off with the screw-the-small-dealer program a few years back. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with the Augason Farms brand products. I am especially interested in their ‘everyday size‘ cans. These are cans that are much smaller than the #10 so you can use up the contents much more quickly. I decided to take advantage of a sale and order a bunch of stuff to try out and feed to the unsuspecting wife. Depending on what seems good (or not good) I’ll probably wind up ordering more to supplement ,round out, and add creativity to our long-term stored food supply.

First off, here’s the difference between the #10 can and the smaller ‘everyday size’ which, according to industry specs, looks to be a “#2.5″ size. Here’s a photo for size comparison. The Coke can is for scale.

l.-r.: #10 can, #2.5 can, Coke can

As you can see, the #2.5 size can might be a bit more practical in terms of ‘dinner for two’. Of course, some stuff is gonna be just fine if you open the #10 can and then put a plastic lid on it…rice, vegetables, etc. But some stuff will draw moisture like crazy and cake up (eggs, for instance). So it might be nice to have those in smaller ‘single serve’ cans.

I picked up some soup mix, egg mix, cereal, etc, etc, and will be trying them out over the next few weeks and reporting back on what I thought of them. While I’ll be trying these things ‘standalone’ I’ll also be incorporating other long-term foods into them to see how well they integrate…like adding some canned chicken to the chicken soup, for example. Or using the freeze-dried strawberries with some sugar and other ingredients to make syrup for the pancakes…that kinda thing. What’s nice is that the #2.5 cans give me a chance to try a product without having to spend the coin on the #10 and then find out I don’t like it.

I’m rather looking forward to trying this stuff out. They have daily specials on the website and also on their Facebook, so if this looks like stuff you might be interested in check those venues for sales.

 

 

Local sale

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Local LMI…..

Rosauers on Russell & South has the Augason Farms storage food on sale at 25% off. Selection is limited to only about a dozen different items, but thats still a good deal. Apparently it runs from 10/17 to 10/23.  A quick check at Augason Farms website shows these prices to be better (in some cases much better) than the price from the website.

My thanks to the fellow valley-dweller who emailed me this and brought it to my attention.

Snow, Jarbox, Coke increase

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Well, it went from 75-80 degree days to snow like *that* [snaps fingers]. Guess it’s time to pull out the cold weather gear and do all the ‘winter is almost here’ stuff.

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The wife brought this product – Jarbox – to my attention. Definitely one of those ‘why didnt I think of it’ kind of products. I figured if you had to transport canning jars you could just get some foam pipe insulation, cut it to length, and make little beer cozies for each bottle. This seems handier, although a good bit more expensive. I’ll have to see if theres some sort of discount program available or something. Be nice if they had it in a size to accommodate pint jars as well.

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I don’t have a lot of self-destructive vices…I dont drink, smoke, do drugs, etc. My biggest bad-for-my-health vice is that I suck down a few cans of Coke every day. Okay, maybe more than a few…probably about…mmmm….five or six a day. So when we go grocery shopping I pay close attention to the price of the little red cans of death. For quite a while now the best price I could find was $0.27/can at either WalMart or CostCo. Since both places had the same price I figured that was about the best price they were going to get from the company. Went up to CostCo the other day and, surprise, it was now $0.31/can. Headed over to WallyWorld and it was also $0.31/can there as well. Obviously the new floor price was $0.31….a 15% increase. Why the increase? Price of corn syrup going up, perhaps? Whatever. The point is that a 15% increase in the price of *any* grocery product is worth standing up and taking notice of. True, this only comes out to about a $0.24/day increase in my drinking habits but that translates into $7.20/month…which is about the cost of a case of Coke. In short, I’m paying for an extra case of Coke per month but not getting it.

I expect these sorts of revelations about groceries to continue as our economic …turbulence…continues. This is why, folks, you gotta make every dollar count.

Death of a dream

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Unfortunately, production of HORMEL® Hash Singles has been discontinued. Our decision was difficult and we are sorry to disappoint you.

We hope you will continue to enjoy our other products that are available in your area.

Gina
Consumer Response Specialist

Alright, I’m not too upset. They still have the small single-serve pop-top cans so I guess that’s what I’ll be socking away in the bunker. Sure, I’m disappointed but, hey, life goes on.

Dammit.

Wanna try your luck at finding a product online for me?

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

So, I was thinking about post-apocalyptic menu planning and I was ruminating about breakfast. It is, as they say, the most important meal of the day. Now, while I can appreciate the nutritional and caloric benefits of grain-based diets I am not prepared to go through the apocalypse as a grazer. I need meat. So….what are some traditional breakfast meats that lend themselves to long-term storage? The most obvious is everyone’s favorite – canned bacon. Plenty of it out there and it’s definitely on my list. But, while I enjoy bacon as much as the next guy what I really like for meat at breakfast time is corned beef (or roast beef) hash. Fortunately, this is also easily available in cans. Here’s the problem – most of this stuff is available in the #303-size cans…which is around 15 oz. I might eat half of that at breakfast and if no one else is going to have any then half a can of hash winds up being wasted since, presumably, there’s no refrigeration in this apocalypse. Ok, maybe there’s a way around that. Sure enough. Hormel (who makes the hash that I rather like) does offer their product in the small pop-top ‘single serving’ size. Awesome! As I perused their website to see if they had the roast beef hash available in that small can as well, I came across this promotional photo:

As you can see, there’s the convenient single-serving pop-top can up front. Nice, right? But..wait..are those…???? Yup, single serve ‘retort pouches’ there on either side of this family portrait of dead animal flesh. So, now it becomes interesting. See, while the small cans are good I would really like to have some of the retort pouches as well…they’ll travel nicely, fit MRE heaters, and should be a bit lighter and perhaps more durable (freeze/thaw cycles) than the can.

And, of course, that’s when my internet shopping experience fell apart. I can not find any place carrying the bloody things. Now, I’ve got pretty good Google-fu skills…I can find an ex-girlfriend or my kindergarten teacher like that :::snaps fingers:::. But…I’m pulling nothing but zeroes in my search for this product. I suppose it’s possible that it was a limited-time offering or an experimental packaging that they never moved into mass production…but if it’s out there, I want it.

So, my friends….I’m going to continue searching but if any of you out there wanna take a swing at this and find me a US source for this stuff (I found one in Japan. Useless.) I would appreciate it. Leave a link in comments if you come up with anything.

 

ETA: Yes, I know I can contact the company. Yes, I did that. But Im an instant gratification kinda guy and who knows how long it takes them to answer their email.