Elderberry For Colds & Flu

Among the remedies I recommend storing up, elderberries are right up near the top. They are well known to help prevent colds and flu, especially being beneficial for flu viruses.

Where I live elderberries grow wild (and no one seems to want them or know how valuable they are). I recommend you keep your eyes open as you’re driving down country roads, especially near water during the late summer months. You will begin to see flowering trees with slightly drooping clusters of off-white blooms like these:



The cluster on the top is already beginning to form the berries, which will turn dark purple when ripe and have a whitish film over it (like the berries below) after a frost in the fall.

The branches with the berries on them are fairly easy to break off, but you may want to take some shears with you when you’re harvesting and plenty of containers to hold them all. We take plastic grocery bags to go to the harvest site and keep a box in the back of our car.


Make sure to pick only the dark purple/black ones, as the red ones are said to be toxic.






Here’s what I did with the box we gathered. I made elderberry syrup, frozen blocks, and extract/tonic.

For the syrup and frozen blocks, I first placed the berries, stems and all, in the freezer. I had read that this would make the berries easier to remove from the stems. It worked well, and I had my entourage help me pluck the berries (which they were happy to do!). After plucking them off, I then washed them thoroughly in a colander. Then I just covered with water in a saucepan, bringing them to a boil.

I cooked them until they were soft, and the whole mixture was very dark purple (almost black). Next came the very messy part! I pressed them through the strainer, but I got a lot of seeds through, since my strainer is not fine. I then used a screen-type strainer with cheese cloth layered in it to strain out the rest of the seeds. Everything that the berries came in contact with became dark purple – so beware!

I then canned 3 pints of this elderberry juice/syrup and filled 2 ice cube trays as well. After the ice cubes were frozen, I popped them out and sealed them in a freezer bag. These will be handy to add to hot tea in the winter to add flavor and immune-enhancing properties.

I also made an elderberry extract/tonic with vodka. This was more simple, as it didn’t require any cooking or straining. I simply plucked and washed the elderberries as above. Then I filled a quart jar halfway with elderberries, followed by vodka added to the top.

This mixture sat in a dark place for about a week until it was very dark in color. I then strained out the berries and added 1/3 cup sugar, shaking vigorously. I then returned it to the dark cupboard. Over the next couple days, I checked on it and shook it again as needed. It was ready for drinking after 2 weeks, but will last indefinitely without canning or refrigeration (as the vodka preserves it).

I plan to drink a small amount when feeling “under the weather.” In order to remove all or most of the vodka, it can be added to a hot drink as well.

Note: I have since found an easier way to produce the elderberry syrup without all the straining and mess, and I produced this video below to guide you through it.

If you don’t have access to elderberries or it’s the wrong time of year and you didn’t get any, you can purchase dried elderberries and make the syrup the same way. I recommend Starwest Botanicals for purchasing dried elderberries and all your herbal needs. You can also purchase already-made syrup from them as well.




Bug Out And In Bags

A bug-out bag in its simplest form is a 72-hour (or 3-day) kit that includes everything you may need if you have to leave your home in a hurry.

Foods in your bug-out bag would ideally be light weight, highly nourishing, quick to prepare, and not take up a lot of room. MRE’s, foil pouched foods, and protein bars are ideal for a bug-out bag.

You can purchase a 72-hour kit that’s already put together, or you can put together your own custom kit with food items you like. Meat pouches such as tuna or salmon are good choices as well as nut butter pouches (found in health food stores). If you’re on the go, you want to have access to as much protein as possible to keep your energy levels up. Water is crucial, so having light-weight water pouches as well as a portable water purifier in your bag is a must. Keep in mind when planning that MRE’s that need water added will take away from your water supply. Best to keep it as simple as possible.

15 Essentials For Your Bug-Out Bag

The following are some more important items for your bug-out bag, but your needs for your family may vary. Just remember to have a high-quality back pack to hold it all, and focus on lightweight items.

It’s a good idea to have practice sessions with your pack in order to realize how heavy it would be in an emergency situation.

1 – Fire source. Waterproof matches are a good idea, are light weight, and don’t take up too much room. You could also consider a fire starter in case you run out of matches.

2 – Water and water filter. Having some water pouches along with a portable water filter is essential. You can’t hold all the water you would need, but a high-quality filter can filter any water you find along your journey.

3 – Food. This could include protein bars, jerky, nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and MRE’s. The more nutritious and light weight the better.

4 – First aid kit and vital medications. A simple first aid kit along with any medications that you take on a regular basis. Pain relievers would be a good idea to have on hand as well.

5 – Knife and/or multipurpose tool.

6 – Clothing/shelter. Extra clothes, hiking boots, light-weight thermal blanket, tent, etc.

7 – Rope and/or paracord.

8 – SAS Survival Guide book

9 – Flashlight with extra batteries

10- Maps/compass.

11 – Wire saw. Light weight and works well on small branches and other materials.

12 – Radio with extra batteries. You want to make sure you keep abreast of any pertinent information concerning where you’re going or what you might encounter on the way.

13 – Bandanna. Can be used to tie up long hair, pull hair back, wipe sweat, as a wash cloth, face mask to shield from smoke or foul odors, etc.

14 – Duct tape. Duct tape is strong and can bind many different materials together. You can use it to hang things up (a clothes line, for example), hold a tourniquet in place if someone is injured, repair or cover holes or breaks in your backpack, tent, garbage bag, boots, etc.

15 – Garbage bags. These can be useful in many different ways. Rain poncho, water collection, keeping things dry, etc.
Besides a bug-out bag, may I also suggest that you have a bug-in bag or kit as well.

A bug-in bag (or box, which we use) is useful to help ease stress during an emergency you don’t need to leave home for. Ideally, the foods would be quick to prepare and need no heating or cooking. If you have canned chili, for example, you wouldn’t really need to heat it unless you want to, as it’s already cooked and safe to eat right from the can. Other canned meats are also just as handy to have in your box.

A bug-in box doesn’t need to be portable or light weight and can take up more room. You can use canned and boxed foods. Here’s how I did my bug-in boxes for our family of four. I used 3 medium-sized boxes and labeled them on the outside with the date and Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. This may seem unnecessary now, but if you have an emergency, the more you can over-think things the less stress you will have at the time.

I used identical foods in my three boxes and labeled them Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. My boxes contained enough for my family of 4. I thought about 3 meals per day per person, trying to incorporate protein and foods with a high nutritional value. No need to be concerned with weight since it’s a kit for staying put. I concentrated mostly on foods that are filling, easy to fix, and that my family likes. I realize some nutrients are missing (such as veggies), but for 3 days I believe this kit will be nice to have in an emergency.

Here’s what I have in each of my 3 boxes:

– Tuna in pouches (2-3 pouches per person)

– Salmon in pouches (2-3 pouches per person)

– Mayonnaise (small – one is probably enough for the entire 3 days)

– Crackers (large box)

– Peanut butter (small to medium jar)

– Canned pineapple (1-2 cans per person)

– Canned chili (1-2 15-ounce cans per person)

I have crackers in lieu of bread. So the plan is to eat the salmon and tuna mixed with mayo with crackers – as a sort of sandwich. Peanut butter can also be used on the crackers or with the canned chili. My goal is to have foods that I don’t have to heat or do a lot of prep with in order to have quick meals and snacks if an emergency has occurred. This box ensures that we have 3 days worth of protein-rich foods on hand in case of emergency or power outage.

Note that you can easily add more to your boxes, and, of course, you should customize them based on your family’s preferences. And make sure you date them in order to rotate every 6 months, as the crackers and peanut butter will have fairly short expiration dates.

Note also that you will need plenty of water in an emergency, but I’m assuming here that you already have that covered.

Alternately, you could just purchase 3 days’ worth of freeze dried foods for your family. These you wouldn’t have to rotate. Buy Emergency Foods has some excellent choices. (Note that if you purchase through one of my links, I will get a small commission; however, you will still pay the same price. Thank you in advance for your support!)


Freeze Dried Food

Foraging & Using Rose Hips

The lowly rose hip – highly underrated and extremely nutritious.

In fact, rose hips have an incredible amount of vitamin C, which is very beneficial for preventing colds and flu and helping the body to withstand stress.

Rose hips are the “fruit” that is produced after the rose finishes blooming. Just as a fruit tree blooms first and then produces fruit, so does the rose bush. This fruit is very beneficial and should not be ignored if you’re serious about your health and enjoy foraging natural and free sources of nutrition.

In this post, I want to tell you (with words and pictures) how I have foraged and used the abundant rose hips in my area and show you how to do the same. No one else seems to know how rich they are in nutrients, or perhaps they simply don’t want to bother to do the work involved with picking and processing their own rose hips for the vitamin C benefits.

I thoroughly enjoy the whole process. But if you don’t, or if you don’t have access to wild rose hips in your area (or hips that have not been sprayed with pesticides), you can purchase dried rose hips for processing here.

Make sure that you pick rose hips only from areas that you’re certain have not been sprayed with chemical pesticides or herbicides. I picked mine in fairly remote, wild areas from wild rose bushes.

Along with the nutritional benefits, rose hip tea has a very delicious, light flavor and can be mixed with other herbal teas easily if desired. It is also easily given to children, and my two young sons truly enjoy their frequent rose hip tea in the wintertime.

This recipe for making frozen rose hip blocks is especially useful for children, as the tea cools more quickly, but my husband and I use them in our tea frequently as well. The frozen blocks make a perfect portion size for potency and flavor and are quick for busy families.

Our yearly rose hip foraging habit began a few years ago when my family and I discovered tons of the bright orange/red jewels on a family walk in late summer by a nearby lake. It was evident that they hadn’t been sprayed due to their wild habitat, so we spent about 20 minutes picking as many as we could reach. We collected enough in a basket for a small pan full (approximately 3 cups).

First, let me show you my harvest, then I will show you how to make use of them.


Make sure to pick the hips when they are red but not shriveled. This would be in late summer, early fall when temperatures are cooling somewhat but no hard freeze has occurred. I picked mine in late August in the Northwest US.

The next thing you want to do after harvesting is to remove the blossom ends and stems of all the rose hips. The blossom end is the leafy-looking end where the bloom once was. At home, I proceeded to pick off the blossom ends (with the help of my sons again).


Be aware that your fingers may get a little stained during this process, so you may want to wear gloves.

Here are the hips in the strainer ready for rinsing.


After rinsing them thoroughly with water, I placed them in a medium-sized saucepan with just enough water to cover them.


I brought the pan to a simmer over medium heat, pressing the hips gently with a spoon.

Once the hips softened and began to break apart and the liquid was a nice rich amber color, I began to scoop out the liquid.

Be aware that you may see some worms among the rose hips. You will also see seeds from the insides of the hips.

Here’s a picture showing you the difference:


They are both white, but the worm is long and thin and the seed more rounded. No need to worry with either. You can scoop them out as you see them, but you will also be filtering the liquid through a strainer before use.

As you begin to scoop out the liquid, place a tea strainer over a quart-size jar and pour the liquid through to catch any particles.

As you remove the liquid, squeeze the measuring cup or spoon down into the rose hip mixture in the pan. Then add more water and continue to simmer, stir, and gently press the mixture.

Here’s the strainer after filtering:


Once you have a jar full, let it cool to room temperature before proceeding to freeze into blocks.

Then, I like to pour a small amount at a time into a measuring cup or other container with a spout for easier pouring into the ice cube trays.

Once the blocks are frozen, remove them and place in a freezer bag or other freezer-proof container.

Here are the completed frozen blocks:


Aren’t they lovely?

When ready for use, simply drop a block in a mug and pour boiling water over it. This makes the tea a perfect temperature for a child to drink fairly quickly. I like to add raw, local honey to sweeten. The flavor is mild, so it blends readily with other flavored teas as well.


Rose hips can also be used to make jelly, jam, syrup, or wine.

If you don’t have access to rose hips in your area (or it’s too late or early in the year to pick them), you can purchase them dried and ready for making into tea and blocks at Starwest Botanicals, one of my trusted affiliate partners here.  (These are also great for adding to your stockpile for later use.  Purchase dried rose hips here.)






10 Pantry Essentials to Jump Start Your Stockpile

One of the most important aspects of storing food for an emergency situation is to JUST GET STARTED. But for many (me included), it’s tough to know where to start. If that’s the case, this post is for you. If you’ve already started and have a decent foundation, this post is for you too. Don’t pass up the opportunity to get nuggets concerning what to store, how to store, or any other aspect of food storage. It’s an ongoing process – not a destination where one day you arrive. Make stocking up a habit and a lifestyle, and it will serve you and your family well even if no emergency occurs.

Not all these foods are long term and will need to be rotated.  I recommend having both foods that store long term as well as short-term items that you need to rotate, as preparedness is best done when you make it a way of life and not just a one-time event.

1. Grains. Including wheat, rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, dry corn, etc.  Start with 5-10 pounds. Grains can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Even if you don’t have a grinder to turn the wheat into flour, you can cook it like rice and eat it for breakfast or as a side dish with veggies.

For rice, choose white. I made the mistake of buying large bags of brown rice when I first got started with my food storage – then I found out that it doesn’t store well due to the oil content. If you’re like me and love the many delicious brown and red rice varieties available, you can store them for shorten periods in your freezer (about a year at a time), storing only what you will use during that time, but it’s not a good long-term solution.

Oats are great for breakfast, but you can also make them a savory addition to your meal just like you would use rice by adding butter, cheese, or any of your favorite seasonings as a side dish.

2. Beans.  Including pintos, lentils, navy beans, black beans, etc.  Start with 5-10 pounds.  Beans are a prepping staple, and for good reason. They’re delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and can be stored for a long time under proper conditions. I like lentils due to their high nutrition content and small size. Because they’re small, they don’t soak up as much water when cooking like the larger beans. However, I do like to store a variety of different beans because I just love to eat them – like pintos, navy beans, split peas, and black beans.

3. Vegetables.  Including broccoli, carrots, peas, cabbage, etc. – canned and/or freeze dried.  Make sure to stock up on plenty of vegetables as well. Start with 10-20 cans (or a case) and/or 1 -2 #10 size cans of freeze dried.  Some good choices include peas, green beans, carrots, and corn.  It may go without saying, but choose ones that you like and will eat.

You’ll need to rotate your canned goods, so they are more a short-term solution, so I like to stock up on both canned and freeze dried in order to get all my bases covered. The more variety and options you have, the better prepared you will be.  A can organizer (LIKE THIS ONE) is a good idea to help you make sure you are using up your oldest canned goods first.

4. Fruit.  Including pineapple, peaches, pears, etc. – canned and/or freeze dried.  Fruit is important to have not only due to its sweetness and varied flavors, but also for the vitamin C content in most fruits. I like to store canned pineapple in its own juice, but peaches, pears, and mixed fruit are also good choices. Get what you like and will eat (or can your own). For long term, purchasing freeze dried fruits is the way to go.  Start with 10-20 cans (or a case) and/or 1-2 freeze dried #10 cans.

5. Meats.  Including salmon, tuna, chicken, beef, etc. – canned and/or freeze dried.  Meats are an essential protein source for those of us who are not vegetarians. I make sure to have plenty of canned salmon and tuna in the house, as they typically have a very far off “use by” date (sometimes as long as 10 years out).

Freeze dried is a great option as well, although it can be difficult to find varieties that don’t have MSG or other additives. I personally want to purchase foods that are as healthy as possible, as that’s what I eat now. Canning your own meats and making your own meat jerky each year is another great option to make sure you have meat on hand. If you also learn to hunt, clean, butcher, and preserve your own meats – all the better for any long-term emergency situation.

6. Seasoning.  Including salt, pepper, garlic powder, taco powder, ketchup, hot sauce, etc.  Seasonings are crucial to making your food tasty when times get difficult. If you don’t know how to add seasonings to your favorite foods – now is the time to learn. Don’t wait until an emergency strikes! If you begin to learn basic cooking skills and discover what your preferences are in terms of flavoring, you will know what seasonings to stock up on and will do much better in a survival situation. If you wait, you may just end up having to eat bland, tasteless foods during a very stressful time.

7. Water. The most important item for you to stock up on. Start out by making 10-20 gallons your goal. You can add more later, but having this amount will be a good start. It’s advised to have at least one gallon of water stored per person per day, two gallons per person per day being ideal. We have and use these water boxes from Emergency Essentials. They are very sturdy, easy to fill, and stack nicely.

8. Beverages. Other than water, make sure to include other beverages such as coffee, tea, powdered milk, hot cocoa mix, Tang, or other powdered drink mixes, canned juices.  If you drink coffee, be sure to have a non-electric coffee brewing option as well, like an enamel or stainless steel percolator (LIKE THIS ONE). This can double as a tea pot as well or simply a pot you use for boiling water for whatever you need (MRE’s, etc.)

9. Oils.  Including coconut, olive, etc.  Oils will need to be rotated every year or two, so make sure you keep track of the expiration dates and store them in a cool place. Coconut oil can last up to two years, and it’s a very healthy oil to include in your diet (one of the best). The smoke point of coconut oil is higher than most oils, making it an ideal oil for frying. I also like to keep olive oil on hand, which typically has a one-year shelf life. You can store and use other oils as you like, but I recommend these two as the most healthy.

10. Sweeteners.  Including sugar, honey, etc.  I keep at least a few pounds of granulated sugar as well as several gallons of honey on hand at all times. Both keep for very long periods of time, so you don’t need to rotate them as long as you have them appropriately sealed and stored. It’s important to keep both tightly sealed to prevent insect or rodent invasion. We keep raw local honey, as it’s not only very tasty but also very effective for allergy and cold prevention.  Honey can be used to sweeten tea, coffee, and other hot beverages as well as syrup for pancakes or waffles and in baking (with proper knowledge of reducing other liquids in the recipe).

In conclusion, use this list as a starting point to make sure you have something stored up for future emergencies. None of us are immune to power outages or civil unrest – not to mention even more severe disasters. Having enough food on hand so you don’t have to fight the hoards at the grocery store can go a long way toward your family’s peace of mind.