Category Archives: Food Preservation

Top 10 Homesteading & Preparedness Books


With Homesteading, self-sufficiency & survival preparedness on the rise; it’s no wonder that so many great books have been published on these subjects. Here is a list of my personal top 10 favorite books to ensure your homesteading library is well rounded and complete.

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Country Wisdom & Know – From the Editors of Storey Books

This book is in my opinion the bible of Homesteading. It boosts a whooping 8,167 useful skills and step by step instruction on various topics including animal husbandry including slaughtering, home brewing, basic construction, maximizing your garden harvest, food preservation methods,  building root cellars, basket weaving, making toiletries, and even home remedies. I think my favorite part of this book is that all the skills and crafts provided are shown in multiple how to diagrams and picture illustrations. If the apocalypse happened and my house was on fire, this would be the one homesteading book I would go in to retrieve. Trust me, you will want this one on your bookshelf!

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The Kitchen Table Book – From the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing

This book has blown me away. No where else have I found a more accurate and  complete collection of home remedies and kitchen cures for just about every heath and household problem. Packed full of recipes and remedies from helping depression to boosting brain power this book has it all!  Not only does it feature individual fruits and vegetables including their healing properties; it also features a database of healing herbs and medicinal cures.  Each section has several processing recipes for each food mentioned. Healthy fruit smoothie anyone?Super fabulous bonus: Dabbled throughout the book are interesting tips and tricks to common household issues like how to clean a fireplace the right way.

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Made At Home Eggs & Poultry – Dick & James Strawbridge

This is an excellent introduction to raising chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys for eggs and for eating. From hatching to slaughter to carving and cooking this book offers it all from start to finish. With insights and wisdom, this resource is riddled with lots of delicious recipes to inspire the cook in all of us. With vibrant full color pictures and step by step instructions, this is a beautiful addition to any homesteaders library.

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Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners – C.E. Spaulding D.V.M and Jackie Clay

This book is a comprehensive easy to use reference guide that provides everything you need to know about caring for and treating pets and barn yard animals. It covers in depth information on sexing, breeding and disease prevention and treatment. This book has helped me take over tasks that normally require a vet appointment. With this book you can become proficient in administrating medications, assisting animal delivery and much more. A glossary in the back, helps with learning unfamiliar medical terms and procedures.

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading – Sundari Elizabeth Kraft

Despite my disliking for the title, this book was one of my first and has grown to be a personal favorite. It is well written and full of useful information on small scale homesteading. Subjects include how to sell your excess harvest, raising animals for food, beekeeping, utilizing aquaponic techniques, small batch food preserving, soap making, homemade cleaners and my favorite topic: urban foraging. Each chapter includes several bonus tips and tricks to increase your success.

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Extreme Survival – Akkermans, Cook, Mattos, & Morrison

Self-sufficiency in the wild, making tools, self protection and much more – this book covers it all! From how to survive a car accident to assessing dangerous environments, you can learn everything you need to know about survival. Living off the land is one of the key components of homesteading. Living off grid requires skills and knowledge of the environment including possible threats. This book covers topics such as foraging, bushcraft techniques, street smarts, and how to make escape and rescue plans. I highly recommend this book to anyone considering rural homesteading or off grid living. Plus it’s a beautiful large coffee table book that features color pictures and life saving insights.

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The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving  – Elle Topp & Margaret Howard

I can honestly say that this book should be in every homesteaders library! This is by far my favorite cook book. Working on a mini farm, small batch recipes and the knowledge with this book are priceless. There’s tons of delicious recipes from butters to jellies to marinades and oils. This book is an easy reference to process and preserve your fruits throughout the year. It’s saved me countless hours in the kitchen!

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Soapmaking For Fun & Profit By Maria Given Nerius

This book is hands down awesome! It’s got amazing recipes with easy to understand instructions and is packed with information on soap making! I picked this book up at a garage sale for a quarter and it’s money well spent! This book will not only help you understand the concepts behind soap making but will allow you to create beautiful and wonderfully smelling gifts for family and friends. You can even make a profit as it teaches the business aspects of soap making. I found this book to be especially helpful by creating lovely soaps that I could barter or trade with friends for their homemade items. This book started my interest in soap making which has since expanded into homemade toiletries and household cleaners.

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Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook – Skyhorse Publishing*

Anyone interested in surviving an apocalypse needs this book in their library! This is hands down the most extensive and complete collection of medical information that’s easy to read for the average Joe. This covers everything from medical triage, birthing babies, treating diseases, wrapping wounds and so much more! It’s packed with pictures and step by step instruction to handle the most common elements and beyond. There’s also several handy reference sections for easy look up. I have read this randomly section by section and I’ve learned so much about medical care. In a situation where no doctor or medical professionals are available this book is a potential game changer.

*Disclosure – I’m not a medical professional and this should not be considered medical advice. It’s best to consult a medical professional before trying any medical care from this book. This post is purely for entertainment purposes only.

This concludes my list of some of my near and dear all time favorite homesteading and preparedness books. I hope you found this list complete and informative. As my collection grows, I will be posting an updated version every few years!

If you have any must have books that I need to add to my collection, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear which ones are your personal favorites! Enjoy!!!

Introduction of Our Fruit Trees: Part One


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We LOVE fruit trees here on our little homestead! We have lots of fruits and lots of information to gave so for this reason I decided to break this post into two parts. Part 1 will be an introduction to our well established, in ground top producing trees. Part 2 will cover our potted, younger fruit trees we have on the property.

When my husband first moved here there were many trees already in ground, established and produce yearly if not year round. These include a walnut tree, a dwarf lemon tree, two apricot trees, 3 plum trees, a cherry plum tree, a peach tree and two tangerine trees.

The walnut tree (pictured above) is great! It produces a massive amount of walnuts every year! Unfortunately, we haven’t tried to harvest it yet but will when it’s in season again.

Our established dwarf lemon tree produces silver dollar sized lemons. Lots of them! It would take forever to make lemonade but they are great for add a little flavor to a dish or I enjoy using them in my own homemade household cleaners.

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We have two apricot trees, one big and one little. The big one is the heavy weight champion on our property! It comes in at a whopping 75+ pounds of apricots every season!!! The smaller one produces probably around 15 pounds. It’s because of this tree alone, that I’ve mastered making and canning apricot jam! We are still working off 2014’s fruit season even though I make it yearly.  I tend to give away lots of fresh fruit and canned jams as gifts to our friends and family. That’s one of the blessings of this lifestyle. You can be extremely generous with your goods. If you’re interested in my canning adventures, click here.

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Next we have 3 plum trees and a cherry plum! The largest plum tree is our biggest producer. It produces a heavy load of 45+ pounds of sweet, wonderful plums. We don’t can these because for some reason that get eaten way too quickly and are often a family favorite.

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The cherry plum is a special treat too! The cherry plum has a sweet, full taste of plums only slightly smaller with a cherry pit. These are the best to eat right off the tree!

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Rain rinsed ripe and ready to pick cherry plums! So delicious!

Our peach tree is another wonderful blessing. While it doesn’t produce much, what it does produce is amazing! We only get a few pounds per season but every season we consistently get more every year. Go. Peach. Go!

Next we have two awesome tangerine trees. We don’t know much about what type of tangerine they are. They both produce silver dollar sized fruit. One tree’s fruit has no seeds and tastes great. The other tree’s fruit has seeds and tastes even better than the seedless. Both produce fruit literally year round. Here’s a picture of each of the two trees!

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Well, now you’ve got the skinny on our established and producing fruit trees! I hope you enjoyed hearing all about them. Stay tuned for our part two covering all our new additions as well as our top secret best place ever to buy fruit trees on the cheap!

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Simple Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice Recipe


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Fresh squeezed orange juice is a delightful morning treat! The nutritional benefits are incredible and you’ll love the boost of energy that accompanies each glass. Oranges are in abundance right now. Check out our simple juice recipe to make your own!

Need free fruit? Check out our article on urban foraging.

Warning: Wear gloves when peeling oranges! Especially if doing a large quantity! I learned first hand that orange oil/juice burns the skin and changes the ph of your skin to uncomfortable levels. If your skin starts burning or stinging, wash well with soap and water. Rinse as needed. Ice can relieve the pain.

  1. Roll the oranges with your palm to soften them.
  2. Peel the oranges, juice whole or  in large chunks.
  3. Add oranges to blender or juicer. Cut in half if juicing by hand.
  4. Run the blender/juicer. 12 large oranges gives approx. 24 oz of juice.
  5. Let sit for a few minutes to settle, chill & serve chilled!
  6. Add sugar if needed.

Fresh orange juice will separate in your pitcher. Shake or stir before serving. If stored in the refrigerator, freshly squeezed orange juice can last between 2 and 3 days. To keep fresh orange juice for a longer period of time, one has to freeze it.

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Have more than you can use? Oranges going bad? Juice it and pour extra juice into jars. They make excellent gifts for friends, family or neighbors! They will love you for it! Enjoy!

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Gather Healthy Fruit For Your Family For Free


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Every time I go out I’m reminded of the massive amount of food that goes to waste in lawns and yards across America. We see it all the time. Fruit trees with fruit rotting on the ground because no one was there to pick it. Well, I do. I am an urban forager.

The concept is simple. Occasionally my friends, family, neighbors and even strangers will grant me access to their homegrown unwanted fruits and vegetables. Other times I find fruit trees or wild berries on public property. More often than not people have much more growing fruit than they can use and that’s where I come in.

I offer to come harvest whatever they give me permission for and bag it up. I provide my own bags, fruit picker and woman power. I even clean up all the fruit that’s uneatable on the ground and give it to my chickens. They are more than happy to do their part and don’t mind bruised or buggy fruit.

Sometimes people will do the heavy lifting for you! Often people will offer to bag up their fruit and leaving it on their porch for easy pick up. Others will be so willing to pass the fruit along that they will bag it up and drop it off themselves. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get massive hauls a few times a week like the ones pictured here.

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Note: Be prepared and plan according. Processing fruit can be time consuming and homegrown food goes bad more quickly than store bought.

The benefits of doing this are endless! Since I don’t have a traditional career, this is one of the many ways I contribute to my family’s household. Fruit is expensive and the nutritional benefits speak for themselves. As you can see below it’s very easy to collect large quantities of quality foods for free!

To make the most out of my hauls, I preserve or process the fruit using various methods including baking, juicing or canning. See my yearly canning list for more details!

If you get way more fruit than your family can use; barter or give it to your friends or family. Also remember that ALL local food pantries accept homegrown foods. Search here to find a food pantry or soup kitchen near you!

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To get started, I recommend following these 3 guidelines:

  1. If it’s on private property ask permission! Most people will say “yes” and if you do get a “no” move on there’s plenty of trees out there and people that will give you the green light. Post a request on social media, Craigslist, or NextDoor.com. If it’s public property, go for it!
  2. Only take what you can use! There’s plenty of fruit out there! There’s no use in saving fruit from rotting on the ground only to have it rot in your kitchen. Be courtesy and leave some for others. If you get more than you can use, share it with your friends, family or donate it to the local food bank!
  3. Have fun! It can be hard work, but it’s also very rewarding! Plus you’re getting a work out. Bring a friend or two to help ease the load, and split the rewards. Keep an eye out for public fruit trees on your walks or next trip to the park.

Check out my foraging expeditions here. Hopefully they will inspire you to make some of your own. The potential is limitless.