Food and survival are symbiotic things, I mean, you can’t consider surviving without food, water and shelter, right? And, when confronted with a survival situation when SHTF, what’s the most effective issue you can do?
If you ask me, the solution is pretty straight forward: you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just look back into our history. How did individuals used to make ends meet, thousands of years before internet, electricity and combustion engines? It looks pretty improbable these days, right, even amazing?
Well, that’s just because we got used to our modern, care-free, hi-tech life, when everything is just a click or a phone call away. However keep in mind one issue folks: back in the day, survival wasn’t a punch-line, it was a way of life. So, just by finding out how our ancestors used to live would be awesome, prepping-wise.
In today’s article, I will attempt to increase your knowledge base with a few ancient European food recipes for your survival kitchen.
Remember what that ancient guy used to say? You don’t live to eat, however you eat to live? I don’t fully agree with Hippocrates on that issue, as a result of I like to eat, and also I permit my food to be my medicine and my medicine be my food (that’s another paraphrase of Hippocrates).
The best issue regarding old-school food recipes is that they’re fairly easy to DIY, they need a minimum amount of skills and raw materials, they’re as healthy as they come (everything’s natural and raw, without chemicals, additives and stuff like that) and they’re dirt cheap to manufacture. Oh, and I almost forgot: they’re very tasty!
Also, being capable of cooking nutritious foods from scratch would come back pretty handy in a survival scenario, and more! I mean, these things are amazing, I eat some of them on a daily basis.
Let me begin with a tasteful and healthy do-it-yourself beverage, called bragă. I can bet you’ve never heard of that stuff before, and I’d be like ninety nine right. However, braga used to be very popular back in the day, especially in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Macedonia, Herzegovina and Bosnia, not to mention Turkey and Albania, where it’s still very trendy and it is known as boza or bosa.
Braga is produced by the fermentation of cereal flour, being a malt-based refreshing drink and it is manufactured from fermented maize, wheat or millet. Being a product of fermentation, it also contains something like 1-dodecanol, which is negligible, unless you drink a lot of it.
There are mentions of braga and its manufacturing process dating manner back to the eighth millennia B.C., in the ancient Mesopotamian and Anatolian kingdoms. Since then, it became hugely popular in the Ottoman Empire, where it was served with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas, and even laced with opium and what not.
The general idea is that braga may be a very tasty and healthy beverage, which can be simply made at home using basic ingredients. This beverage includes a thick consistency, a sweet flavor and it’s slightly acidic.
Speaking about health problems, according to research performed by a Turkish Science and Technology institute, a liter of braga can offer you with one thousand calories, that means that energy, which comes handy in survival situations, vitamins A, B and E, along with lactic acid, this helps with digestion. Basically, you should drink braga each day, for your health’s sake; it’s all natural and very tasty, and it’s also a pro-biotic drink.
So, how is it made? Braga, the beverage of Sultans, needs the following ingredients (this is the easiest way and the cheapest, nota bene):
For the yeast:
- 1-2 tablespoons slightly roasted flour
- 1 cup tepid water
- 1 spoonful sugar
For the braga:
- 5 l water
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup home-made ferment (yeast)
The yeast must be ready one or two days earlier. The process is very easy, all you have to do is to combine the ingredients and leave them to ferment in a bowl for a couple of days at room temperature.
For the Braga itself, you’ll have to bake the flour in a dry pan till it changes its color to rosy, then you’ll have to let it cool in a huge pot. Then, poor the five liters of water over the brown stuff and blend it really well, without making lumps. Then you must add the sugar and boil the combination for eight minutes, combining it properly all the time. Let it cool, then add the pre-made yeast, and let the stuff ferment for 2-3 days, then store it in the fridge.
Voila, you’ve made yourself five liters of braga! You can flavor it with anything you prefer, cinnamon for example, and you may add sugar or whatever to suit your taste.
The next ancient European recipe for your survival kitchen is named borş and it’s very similar to braga in terms of preparation and advantages. Borş will be described as a sour-fermented juice traditionally used in Romania in soups, and it’s made by fermenting wheat bran. When we add it to soups, the result is what we know as borsch.
Also, hard-core Romanians generally drink it raw, as a hang-over remedy. Borş is full of probiotics, similar to braga, and also contains the b vitamin complex, which makes it very healthy.
The main ingredient in borş is wheat bran or corn meal. To make borş, you’ll first need to make the starter, for which you’ll need a sterilized jar, water at room temperature and organic wheat bran, so it doesn’t contain preservatives.
Place the wheat bran in the jar, about 1/20 of the jar’s volume, and then fill the jar with water, pure, sterilized, de-chlorinated, at a temperature between 106 and 118 F, and let it ferment for a couple of days in a cool room, at approximately 60 F.
After 2-3 days, you should check the magic juice, and if it doesn’t smell at all, then all the bacteria is dead and you have to make another batch. If it stinks too much, it suggests that it’s contaminated with bad/wild bacteria, and again, you need to prepare another batch.
What you’re looking for may be a faint, somewhat unpleasant scent, similar to how lacto-fermented pickles smell like, or B vitamins. The liquid itself is sour and if you allow it there for a couple more days, it’ll become even sourer, that’s actually the borş. What’s now at the bottom of the jar is your starter. To preserve the stuff, you can combine it with wheat flour and corn meal, in equal quantities and create patties, then let them dry in a cool room, for later use. The patties are best hold on in the fridge or in the freezer for long-term.
Now, with the starter taken care of, borş can be made as it follows: you’ll want one lb. of wheat bran, 1/2 lb of corn meal and a cup of the aforementioned starter. The ingredients will be mixed with pure/de-chlorinated water in a 1.5 gallon mason jar and the jar must be kept in a dry, cool area at sixty degrees F. the stuff will ferment in a few days and if you permit it an extra day, it’ll become even sourer. Don’t let it to ferment for over three days, or it’ll spoil.
Once you’ve acquired the desired taste for your borş, strain it and pour it in bottles in the fridge for later use. you may add lovage in your borş for health reasons, making it even a lot of helpful.
Next on the list is pastrami, one more ancient European recipe for your survival kitchen, delicious and nutritious, yet fairly simple to DIY. Similar to corned beef, pastrami was invented as a survival food, for long-term storage in the absence of modern-day refrigeration ways.
What is pastrami? Well, a decent old meat product, made from beef, mutton, pork or maybe turkey. The raw meat is the main ingredient, partially dried and seasoned with spices and herbs, marinated, and afterwards smoked and steamed.
How to make pastrami: brine is made by boiling one gallon of water into a giant pot, then adding juniper berries (5), garlic (6 cloves, smashed/peeled) , salt (3/4 cup), bay leaves (3 broken into pieces), brown sugar (1/2 cup), curing salt (3/4 cup), mustard seeds (1 tbsp.), and peppercorns (1 tbsp) if you prefer it spicy. Let it cool down and then put the meat inside (beef brisket for example, flat, cut to 1/4 inch), and refrigerate it for three days.
For the rub, mix coriander seeds (3 tbsp.), cinnamon (1 tsp), bay leaves (2) and black pepper (3 tbsp) in a spice grinder, then pulse till coarsely ground. After that add some sweet paprika (2 tbsp.), ground clove (1/2 tbsp.), and brown sugar.
The meat must be removed from the brine and rinsed in cold running water, then you must pat it dry using paper towels; now it’s time to put the aforementioned rub on the brisket, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit into the refrigerator for one day.
The next step is to smoke the beef brisket for three to four hours on a charcoal/gas grill over low heat (200 F to 275 F) or use a dedicated smoker. The pastrami should be smoked/cooked until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 175 degrees F, then allow it to cool down off at room temperature.
Pastrami is excellent when served with mujdei, the next European recipe for your survival kitchen. Mujdei is basically a garlic sauce and it’s used to flavor meat and fish dishes. Garlic is a wonderful health-booster, a natural antibiotic, and is filled with vitamins and minerals.
How to make mujdei? Well, it’s fairly easy: you’ll need 3.5 ounces of garlic, salt and five ounces of sparkling water. You must grind the garlic and mix it with a punch of salt, add the water and stir it till it becomes a fine sauce.
You can add a little bit of pepper into the mix or use vegetable oil instead of sparkling water. Another recipe uses garlic, punch of salt, pepper and one hundred fifty ml of tomato juice instead of water/olive oil. Also, you may use cream or yogurt instead of tomato juice. It all depends on what you prefer more; go experiment a little bit.
I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or if you tried any of these recipes and want to share your experience, feel free to express yourself using the dedicated section!