Week 31: Dry Soup Mix
8 lbs of dry Soup Mix, 5 lbs of Lentils, and 2.5 lbs of dry Split Peas
After this week, you should have 8 lbs of dry Soup mix, 5 lbs of Lentils, and 2.5 lbs of Dry Split Peas stored.
These are the program goals. This is the only week we address dry Soup mix, Lentils, and Dry Split Peas.
This module provides an important and diverse part of our long-term food storage. Lets face it, long term food storage, depending on how much effort you have put into it, can be boring. Soup in general is a great way to get a lot of nutrients from a variety of ingredients, including meats and vegtables, and tastes really good. I encourage everyone to experiment with some dry soup mixes and, since it has such a long shelf life, store quite a bit of it. I recommend incorporating it into your regular routine. So while the focus here is primarily on the dry soup mix, we've included Lentils and Split Peas as they match so well with soups.
Dry Soup Mix
Soup is a food that is made by combining ingredients, such as meat and vegetables in stock or hot/boiling water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth. Commercial soup became popular with the invention of canning in the 19th century, and today a great variety of canned and dried soups are on the market. We specify DRY Soup Mix because it takes up much less space than canned soup for the quantity you can get, cost per serving is less than canned soup and all you need to do is add water to prepare it. You can always make it thicker by simply reducing the amount of water required and making it into a stew instead.
Types of Dry Soup Mix:
Pre-made (just add water)- There are hundreds of different types of soup mixes. You can purchase them in bags, boxes and even buy the mixes in the #10 cans.
Homemade: For a more cost effective method and if you have a garden with abundant veggies, you can even make your own dry soup mixes and vacuum seal them for later use. (Click here for dry soup mix Recipes)
Now that you know there are a variety of soup mixes, you know that the nutritional value of each soup can vary. Chances are, the more ingredients the soup has, the healthier it can be for you. Ingredients range from just the stock to include ingredients such as meat, beans, rice, barley, veggies and more. So obviously you can get in a good day’s worth of energy just from soup! Each country or part of the world also have different kinds of soups you can try.
The best thing about the commercial dry soup mix is it will usually last a year or more, depending on the soup. Just be sure to check the expiration date on the packaging. Usually the dry soup mix in the #10 cans lasts for years.
Click here for a list of soups.
The legume is a bushy annual plant that grows about 16 inches tall. The dried seeds of legume plants are called lentils. Lentils grow in pods (usually with two seeds to a pod) making them part of the legume family along with beans, peanuts, and peas. Many mistake lentils for being part of the bean family, but they are actually part of the legume family. That means, you don't need to soak them overnight like dried beans and they cook up in about twenty minutes. They can be used for soups and stews, salads and side dishes, and feature prominently in Indian cuisine, especially as the main ingredient in a dish known as dal. In the United States, they are frequently associated with vegetarian cooking as a non-meat protein source. They are inexpensive, highly nutritious, and can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. These features have made lentils a staple food in many cultures across the globe.
A variety of lentils exists with colors that range from yellow to red-orange, green, brown and black. Red, white and yellow lentils are decorticated, i.e., they have their skins removed. There are large and small varieties as well. Lentils are sold in many forms, with or without the skins, whole or split.
Lentils contain high levels of protein, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine, and are an essential source of inexpensive protein in many parts of the world for those who adhere to a vegetarian diet or cannot afford meat. Lentils also contain dietary fiber, Folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%). Lentils are also one of the best vegetable sources of iron. This makes them an important part of a vegetarian diet, and useful for preventing iron deficiency. Iron is particularly important for adolescents and pregnant women. Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly.
Lentils have an extremely long shelf life. Store them in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. An airtight container also keeps insects out, which can otherwise easily infest improperly stored dried grains and legumes. Cooked lentils stay good stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months, making them a good ingredient for a weekend meal prep plan.
Tip: Before cooking, always rinse lentils and pick out stones and other debris.
Split Peas are the dried, peeled and split seeds of a pod. They come in yellow and green varieties. They have been mechanically split so that they will cook faster. Did you know that dried peas have been a staple of the human diet since prehistoric times? Peas have been found in archeological digs in Egypt, Asia, and Rome.
Split peas grow well in cooler, high altitude tropical areas. Many cultivars reach maturity about 60 days after planting. Generally, peas are to be grown outdoors during the winter, and not in greenhouses. Peas grow best in slightly acidic, well-drained soils. So for all of us that live in Utah, we’ll for sure need to just buy them, because growing them just doesn't work well.
Split Peas are full of soluble fiber and help to bind up cholesterol-containing bile and move it out of your body. This can help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas in your daily diet provides 65.1% of the recommended daily fiber. They also provide a good amount of protein, two B-vitamins, and several important minerals. Peas also include isoflavones, which are helpful in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Peas can also reduce the amount of plaque in your blood vessels and help your heart remain healthy. If you are sensitive to sulfites, which are added to most deli foods and salad bars, the mineral molybdenum will help you detoxify them. Peas can provide you with almost twice the recommended daily allowance of this mineral from a single 1-cup serving. Signs of sulfite sensitivity may include rapid heartbeat, headache, or disorientation.
Split peas come in two varieties: green and yellow. Both can be used for most recipes interchangeably. The most common way is split pea soup. This can be made with leftover ham or pork, or kept vegetarian. Soup again? What else can you do with them? Split pea dip can be made with herbs, a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, a few chopped olives, and some cilantro. It can be enjoyed with pita bread, just like hummus. A pilaf can be made combining split peas with brown rice and seasonings that could be a wonderful change of pace as a side dish. Indian cuisine uses a lot of yellow split peas, which they call daal. They are added to their soups, or used to make fava, which is a puree served with fish, salty foods, or dark leafy greens. They also add split peas to buckwheat or quinoa dishes. With added spices, these dishes can be mild or spicy, whichever you prefer.
Since we are talking about dried foods, this is probably a good time to address the difference between Dehydrated and Freeze-dried foods. Many people use the two terms synonymously, but there are some major differences. The main objective with food preservation is to remove moisture so that it doesn’t decompose or grow bacteria and mold. Dehydrating and Freeze-drying both do this, but in different ways and to different degrees. The best way to understand the difference between dehydrated vs. freeze-dried is by learning about the processes used for each of them.
Dehydrated vs Freeze-dried:
Dehydration- Dehydrating has been a food preservation practice for thousands of years, dating back to at least 12,000 BC. The Romans and Middle Easterners would dry fruits and vegetables in “still houses” which would use a fire to dry out and smoke foods. Modern-day dehydration isn’t that complex. Dehydration Machines circulate dry, hot air across the food, thus drying it out. It's that simple. And these home units are not expensive. A dehydrator's temperature is typically set between 95°F to 155°F, depending on the food being dried. Delicate items like herbs and flowers are dried at lower temps, while meat is dried at higher temps. Fruits and vegetables are dried between 125°F to 135°F. The temperatures are high enough to remove water, but not high enough to cook the food.
Freeze-drying- The Freeze-drying process is a more modern preservation process that requires more expensive equipment than dehydrating. Many sources say freeze-drying was created during World War II as a way to preserve blood plasma, medicine, and later food for the troops. Freeze-drying is actually a fairly simple process. Food is placed on large racks in a vacuum chamber and the freeze-drier freezes (hence the "freeze" part of freeze-drying) the food to 40 degrees below zero. Once frozen, a powerful vacuum pump reduces the pressure in the chamber to less than that of the material being dried. And then just a little bit of heat is added. Not enough to melt the food, but enough to cause the moisture in the food to sublimate, which means it changes from a solid to a gas, bypassing the liquid state altogether. It evaporates without ever being liquid. And this sublimation is the magic sauce behind freeze-drying. This whole process can take somewhere between 24 and 36 hours.
So the key to food preservation is moisture content. While dehydrating and freeze-drying both remove moisture, the process of freeze-drying is more efficient. Home dehydrators, depending on how efficient of a unit you get, will remove between 70% and 90% of the moisture from your food. Commercial dehydrators will get closer to 95%. The freeze-drying process, on the otherhand, will remove 98-99% of the moisture from your food. All of this equates to an increased shelf life. And since freeze-drying removes more moisture, freeze-dried foods are going to have a longer shelf life (much longer in some cases) than dehydrated foods. Most dehydrated products like dried fruits, vegetables, and powders have a shelf life of about 15-20 years, whereas freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, just-add-water meals and real meats will have a 25-30-year shelf life. Ideally, all of your food storage should be stored at a temperature of 60 degrees or lower.
While dehydration and freeze-drying both remove moisture, the way each does it affects the nutritional value of your food, and it really comes down to the heat. According to food experts, freeze-dried foods retain a big percentage of nutrients during the freeze-drying process, up to 97%, as opposed to the dehydration process during which foods retain approximately 60% of the original nutrients.
One of the main differences between dehydrated and freeze-dried food is how they look. Most people are familiar with banana chips (dehydrated) but not necessarily freeze-dried bananas (which become soft when you place them in your mouth). Weight is another difference. Freeze-dried foods are going to weigh a lot less than dehydrated foods. This makes them easier to haul or store. Unless you are eating them as chips, dehydrated foods will usually require cooking to reintroduce moisture back into it. The preparation time for dehydrated products can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours depending. However, with freeze-dried foods, you just need to add water. Adding either hot water or cold water will get the job done depending on what you’re eating. Freeze-dried foods will usually be ready to eat in less than 5 minutes. So whether you store dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, just make sure you know how to prepare it. Many people believe that freeze-dried foods taste better compared to dehydrated food because the heat used in the dehydration process is a little harder on the food. But the only way to know for sure is to try them out for yourself. Anyone selling dehydrated or freeze-dried food is going to let you sample them. If not, don't buy from them.
Freeze-dried foods retain all of taste, smell, texture, and nutritional value they had in their original form before the freeze-drying process. Dehydrated foods lose about 40% of their nutritional value because they’re subject to heating during the drying process and can become somewhat chewier, since the heating process affects them over a long period of time as they dry. Freeze-dried foods also rehydrate more quickly, usually in 5 minutes or less (dried berries, almost instantly), in hot or cold water. Dehydrated foods usually take 10-20 minutes to rehydrate, provided you use boiling water, requiring a longer wait and more fuel. Freeze-dried foods are going to weigh a lot less which is a huge plus for your 72-hour kits, or even hikers and campers. While freeze-dried foods definately win my vote, they are more expensive and the fact is, I can dehydrate at home any time I want. So for me, I mix and match.