Thriving, not just surviving

18 Aug

Many of the articles posted here have been about storing the basics for survival. Survival is good. Now let’s concentrate on not merely surviving, let’s work on ways to thrive, and enjoying our survival pantry. Hopefully, I’ll get around to posting recipes for tasty food made with shelf stable foods over the next few weeks.

Baking will be something you will have to learn to do if you don’t know how already. Storing baking supplies is a very good idea, although you most certainly could just grind some wheat, mix with water and salt, and bake on a heated flat rock.

Storing baking powder and baking soda, along with salt is an excellent idea. Because there is some link to aluminum and Alzheimer’s syndrome, I quit using it some time ago, and no longer purchase anything stored in aluminum, nor use aluminum pans. Some of the commercial baking powders contain aluminum, and some do not contain aluminum.

You can purchase and use baking powder, remembering it add more than the recipe calls for if it is out of date, or deal with slightly flatter baked products. But you can make substitutions, and you can make your own.

Homemade baking powder


  •   1/4 cup cream of tartar
  •    2 tablespoons baking soda

Sift cream of tartar and baking soda together three times.  Transfer mixture to a clean, tight-sealing jar.  Store at room temperature, away from sunlight, up to 6 weeks.

smaller batches

  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  2 teaspoons cream of tartar

To store baking powder: Add a tsp or two of corn starch to the mixture, and stir. This will absorb any moisture from the air, and prevent the baking powder from reacting before you need it. Store in an air-tight container.

Baking powder only has about a 2 year shelf life, but baking soda, kept in a dry place has an almost unlimited shelf life. I purchase it in the 13 lb bags at Costco – to need to mess around with little boxes. Baking soda can be used instead as long as you adapt your recipe for its use, adding acidic ingredients.

Substituting baking soda for baking powder

Use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (plus an acid) for every 1 teaspoon of baking powder in your recipe. Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) is an ingredient in nearly all substitute baking powder recipes. Baking soda acts as the base in the acid-base reaction that recreates the leavening effect of baking powder. You may choose from a variety of acidic ingredients such as lemon juice (pineapple, orange), cream of tartar, buttermilk (yogurt, sour cream), molasses, cocoa, and vinegar. When substituting baking soda for baking powder, know that baking soda is about four times as powerful as baking powder, so 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda equals 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda equals 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and so on.

While the amount of baking soda you will use as a substitute for baking powder is always 1/4 of the amount of baking powder called for, note that the volume of your acidic ingredient will vary from recipe to recipe.

Use an acid that compliments your recipe. As noted above, each substitution option uses baking soda as a base. However, each substitution option uses a different ingredient as its acid. The reaction between the baking soda and the acid will effectively neutralize most of the sour taste of the acid, so you don’t have to worry, for instance, that using the baking soda and vinegar method will leave your cake with a disgusting sour taste. However, other aspects of the acid’s flavor will remain, so try to pick a substitution option whose acid compliments the other ingredients in your recipe.

For instance, if you’re making sweet, delicious cookies, you might opt for the baking soda and molasses method, which will give your cookies dark, decadent molasses undertones.

Add your baking soda to the dry ingredients and your acid to the wet ingredients before combining the two. The acid-base reaction between your two ingredients substituting for baking powder will begin as soon as they are combined, and, over time, the reaction will slow and eventually peter out. Because of this, it’s important not to combine these two ingredients until just before you’re ready to put your dough or batter in the oven. Luckily, most baking recipes call for you to combine all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) and your wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla, etc.) separately from each other before combining the two. Use this to your advantage – add the baking soda to your dry ingredients and add your acid to your wet ingredients so that they combine as soon as possible before putting your ingredients in the oven.

Use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar for each 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Cream of tartar is a common powdery ingredient that, combined in a slightly greater than 2:1 ratio with baking soda, makes a good substitute for baking powder. Though cream of tartar itself is a dry ingredient, add it to your wet ingredients as you would any of the other acids used in this article.

Optionally, you may create and store a powdered baking powder substitute for use at a later date. Combine your cream of tartar and baking soda in a 2:1 ratio as you normally would, then add a quantity of cornstarch equal to the amount of baking soda you added. The cornstarch will absorb moisture from the air, preventing the baking soda and cream of tartar from reacting prematurely.

Use 1 cup of sour dairy for 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Another useful acid-base leavening combination is that of baking soda and any form of sour dairy – buttermilk, yogurt, or completely sour milk will all work. The dairy’s sour taste is a result of its acidity, the same property that causes it to react with baking soda and produce the leavening effect. Use 1/2 cup of dairy for every 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, or, in other words, 1 cup for 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, etc.

Because you must use a relatively large volume of dairy to balance out your baking soda, reduce the volume of your other liquid ingredients to accommodate the extra liquid. For example, if you’re using this substitution method and you put 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into your dry ingredients, you might want to remove 1/2 cup of milk from the recipe to make up for the fact that you will add 1/2 cup buttermilk.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. The acid-base reaction between baking soda and vinegar has gained fame through countless paper mâché volcano science fair projects. The reaction works identically here. Simply add vinegar to your wet ingredients in a 2:1 ratio to the baking soda you add to your dry ingredients and combine as normal. Lemon juice, because it is also quite acidic, may be used in place of vinegar.

Some thick, viscous kitchen sweeteners are acids and therefore will react with baking soda. Molasses, golden syrup, and treacle are all good choices when substituting for baking powder – add 3/8 cup of any of these to your wet ingredients for each 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda you add to your dry ingredients. As with the sour dairy method above, the volume of acid here is large enough to affect the overall composition of your recipe. So, if you use this method, remove 3/8 cup of liquid from your recipe for every 3/8 cup of molasses, etc. you add. Additionally, because molasses is very sweet, you may want to lower the amounts of other sweeteners in your recipe as well.


MapleineMost syrup you purchase in the stores contains High Fructose Corn Syrup and costs about $3.00 per 24 oz. Mapleine will run you about $3.50 but will make 24 pints of syrup. Mapleine syrup is easily made by bringing 2 c sugar and 1 c water to a boil then adding ½ tsp of Mapleine. Besides, hot syrup is great over your pancakes and waffles. Extra ‘syrup’ can be stored in the refrigerator (it will likely crystallize) just reheat when needed. It is also great when added to oatmeal.


Buttermilk, yogurt and cheese

There are several kinds of buttermilk, that milk which is left over from making butter, cultured buttermilk, or even 1TBL lemon juice (or vinegar) added to 1c of milk. I have dairy goats and get a LOT Of milk, so I like to make my own cultured buttermilk. I started by purchasing a pint of cultured buttermilk that was made with milk not treated with hormones or antibiotics (Lucerne, Tillamook and Darigold). Add about ¼ – ½ c to a quart of milk and leave on your counter for 12-24 hours. That’s it – tough, huh? Yogurt is pretty much the same thing, add a couple TBLs of unflavored yogurt to a quart of warm milk, and place in a warm area (like your dehydrator set on about 115 degrees), or on top of and near the back of your refrigerator, or pour your warm milk and culture into a thermos and leave it again for 12-24 hours until you get the taste and thickness you like. Greek yogurt is just yogurt that has been placed in cheesecloth in a colander and allowed to drain some of the whey out. You can store your own cultures for future use by placing them into an ice cube tray and freezing, then storing them in a freezer bag. To use, bring them to room temp before adding to your milk.

And, for those of you who like to make cheese, buttermilk is mesophilic culture, and yogurt is thermophilic culture, and rennet can be made by bringing about 1 quart/2 lbs nettles in 4 cups of water and adding a tsp of salt to a boil then simmering for about 20-30 minutes and straining the nettles out of the liquid. 1 cup of nettle rennet is used for 1 gallon of milk. Store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to a week or two.

You can also make buttermilk, yogurt and cheese from powdered milk.

To drink powdered milk, add a tiny bit of vanilla to make it better tasting.

Now, for the first of the recipes, I give you a shelf stable powdered mix, that will enable you to change it to your own needs, and make survival food into something much tastier.

 Dry Cream of …… soup mix

  • Mix 2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cup instant chicken or vegetable bouillon (regular or low sodium)
  • 2 Tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (any combination of basil, thyme, parsley rosemary, sage, marjoram) – optional
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Makes about 3 cups. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid (like a canning jar w/2 piece lid) in a cool, dry place.

To use 1/3 cup mix with 1 cup cold water, whisk until blended then heat on stovetop or microwave when ready to use.

This mix is equal to 1 can cream of… soup. Substitute the chicken bouillon for dried, powdered celery to make a cream of celery soup, powdered mushrooms for cream of mushroom soup or beef and dried mushrooms, instant mashed potatoes, etc. This can be easily customized to your needs!

Even reconstituted soup, or your choice, over noodles or rice would be a very tasty meal.

By Michele Cooper


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