How To Survive A Long-Term Power Outage Or Blackout

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Outdoor Cooking Options For Survival And Camping

So you stockpiled enough food to last you at least a year. Now what? In an emergency situation, there are going to be water and energy shortages that will prevent you from cooking your food. Things like rice and beans and pasta, the pillars of a long-term survival stockpile, cannot be eaten raw. You need alternative cooking methods and you need them immediately after disasters strikes as opposed to using them once you go through your canned food, MREs, and any anything else that is similar.

Reason? Once the power goes out, the food in your refrigerator and freezer is going to go bad within days. Needless to say, that food needs to be cooked and eaten first.

So, whether you need to cook indoors on your woodburning stove or in your backyard because of a long-term power outage, in the wilderness while you are bugging out, or while you are safe and sound at your bug-out location, you need the following alternative outdoor cooking methods. You never know which one of them might save you from starvation when the time comes.

Cooking On An Open Fire

The most obvious choice, particularly if you are out in the wild, is to simply start a fire and cook directly on it, around the fire, or using a grill.

If you do not have a grill or any cooking utensils, you can cook on one or several rocks placed near the fire. You have to let them pre-heat first before you place the food directly on them. Think veggies, onions, burgers, steak, fish, they will taste great. The steps to cooking on a flat rock are:

  1. Find a nice sized flat rock that is dry and clean
  2. Clean the rock thoroughly (use a little bit of water and some dried grass or a something to scrub it)
  3. Place the rock right next to the burning fire (without the flames touching the rock)
  4. When the rock is sufficiently hot, place the food directly on the rock, and watch it cook start cooking

Pretty easy, right? Hold up, we can complicate it a little bit. If you can find some really thin flat rocks, you can stack them up in two mini-towers on opposite sides of the fire and put one above and resting between them. Careful, though, if the rock is too thin and the heat too strong, the rock might explode! Make sure you get a rock that looks dry and avoid the ones found inside or near rivers and other bodies of water.

Tip: you know when to flip the meat on the other side when blood starts coming out.

Of course, a more hygienic way of cooking is to use a grill on that open fire, but there is a fundamental difference between cooking on a grill versus on a rock. While the rock-cooking should be done while the fire is burning and at its peak, cooking on a grill requires you to wait for flames to die down and cook only or primarily on the coals. Very important.

Tip: to know whether a fire is good enough for grilling, place your hand on top of the fire at the same level the meat will be. If it is not hot enough, you need to make a bigger fire. If you can hold your hand for 5-6 seconds then it is probably time you start cooking.

Cooking With A Dutch Oven Or A Cast Iron Skillet

If you are serious about being covered when it comes to cooking, you should not forget the old Dutch oven that works wonders on an open fire, on coal, or even on a propane stove, on top of a Dakota fire pit - you name it.

Making a Dakota Fire Hole

The Dakota fire pit method is yet another way of cooking over an open fire. This method uses minimum wood and requires a hole in the ground with a tunnel that lets extra air into the fire pit.

The downside? Well, you have to do some digging. The main hole should be one foot deep and one foot in diameter. The tunnel should be dug starting from a distance of 1 foot down and at an angle until it reaches the main hole. Ideally, you want to build it so that the wind blows right into it.

From a survival standpoint, a few problems with cooking on an open fire may arise in an emergency situation. You might:

  1. not be able to light a fire, so plan at least 3 optional ways to cook
  2. get spotted by other survivors due to all the smoke from the fire
  3. cause the fire to spread if you leave it unattended or if you do not put it out when you are done

Solar Ovens

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of solar ovens out there in all shapes and sizes. The main downside? Time. The main upside? They are no too expensive.

The types of solar ovens:

  1. Solar box ovens (similar to traditional ovens, they trap heat inside)
  2. Parabolic ovens (they converge the sun rays into a single point)
  3. Solar panel ovens

Note: The modern ovens use a combination of boxes and reflective surfaces so they are becoming more and more efficient although you might need to build an oven on your own some day.

Solar Box Ovens are the easiest ovens you can make yourself. They work similarly to the green house effect. The sun rays are trapped inside the box (where the food is placed), by means of a reflector. The sun rays pass through the box and get transformed from UV rays to longer length rays (which can not get back out), thus increasing the temperature inside.

A good solar box oven actually has two boxes, one inside the other, to prevent loss of heat through conduction as the space between the boxes can be filled with paper or fiberglass. How hot can they get? Box solar ovens can reach temperatures of 300F (or 148C), although you will need powerful sun rays to get to that temperature. A solar box oven is more like an oven and usually requires about 30 minutes to cook an egg.

Tip: Use dark pots with dark lids for best results. Don not use pots that reflect the light away.

Parabolic Ovens cook a lot faster than solar box ovens. The parabolic oven works by focusing the sun's rays into a single point that will experience very high temperatures. A parabolic oven is more like a stove top burner.

Parabolic ovens are a little more expensive compared to box ovens. However, you can make your own, though it is not simple.

The parabolic oven needs constant adjustment while you are cooking. As the sun moves across the sky, you must adjust the oven for maximum efficiency. Fortunately, this type oven has short cooking times (compared to other solar ovens).

Solar Panel Ovens are a mixture between the solar box oven and parabolic oven. It has several shiny surfaces to redirect the sun rays to the container where the food is stored.

Solar Oven Cooking

You can not cook anything with a solar oven if the sun is not shining. When the sun is shining, you can fry eggs, pasteurize water, make bean soup, puffed eggs, hard boiled eggs, hot dogs, fry bacon, cook Zucchini, lasagna, rice, and more. You can cook chicken (with garlic, onions, oregano, and other spices), teriyaki, and even make desserts!

A Few Quick Solar Cooking Tips:

  • Use black pots and lids to make sure they absorb more light or you can use canning jars instead (they withstand high pressure).
  • Use a potholder (a cloth or other material) to remove food from the oven.
  • Place the food inside the oven as soon as you can, do not wait for the inside temperature to rise (unless you are baking cakes).
  • It is better to cook food in several smaller pots than in one large pot.
  • Try to cook between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun rays are the strongest.
  • Schedule other chores while cooking as solar cooking can take quite a bit of time.
  • Always have the ingredients and the food ready before cooking.
  • Try not to add more water than absolutely necessary as it will only increase cooking time.

The Rock Boiling Cooking Method

Humans have used this cooking method for thousands of years and rock boiling cooking is probably a little weird. Nevertheless, heated rocks can be successfully used to boil water and cook food.

Never put moist rocks (such as rocks you find in rivers) on an open fire. The water inside them will turn into steam and cause the rock to explode. Very dangerous! Instead, pick rocks that are DRY. Avoid crystals and minerals such as quartz, sandstone or obsidian; plain old rocks will do.

Place the rocks on an open fire, leave them burning for at least an hour, maybe even two, then add them one by one to the receptacle that is holding the water or food. As each rock stops hissing, remove the rock to make room for a new rock until you bring everything to a boil.

Cooking Using A White Gas, Propane, Butane, Kerosene Stove

Propane is a by-product of natural gas and is used in central heating systems, engines and, of course, portable stoves. A propane stove is a great back-up particularly in a grid-down situation, meaning (among other things) no electricity as long as propane fuel is available.

Should you be worried about cooking with propane indoors? Well, if your house is really small or if you don not have proper ventilation, you should be concerned and cautious. As long as you treat flammable fuel with respect and caution and never leave the stove unattended, you should be ok to cook indoors in emergency situations. Also, have a fire extinguisher on hand as well as a carbon monoxide detector as a precaution.

Alcohol Stoves

If you are worried about propane, an alcohol stove may be just the back-up you need. Their biggest drawback is that it takes longer to cook something. You have to give it a while until it properly heats itself, at which point the flame will improve. The second biggest drawback is that they don not work well in cold temperatures. I would call these the back-up to your back-up outdoor cooking as long as alcohol fuel is available. Alcohol stoves are less expensive, lightweight, and use low cost fuel.

Woodburning Stoves

A wood burning stove is another great back-up to have next to your propane stove. You will need a supply of preferably seasoned, quality, and quantity of firewood available to you. And, a wood burning stove will provide generous and efficient heat as well.

Electric Stoves

Electric stoves might be your primary indoor cooking method. The electric stove or stove top will only work if you can generate electricity, otherwise they are useless. The exact opposite might happen, your gas utility might get cut off while your electricity might still be available.

How To Survive A Long-Term Power Outage Or Blackout

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