Now I don’t want to sound rude but seeing as pasta & toilet paper were the go-to items of the vast majority of Brits to stock up on in order to survive a global health pandemic, someone needs to have a word…
So in light of the seemingly imminent food supply/ cost of living issues (one of the many, increasing & purely coincidental ‘unavoidable consequences’ of yet another ‘unavoidable global drama’), I’ve appointed myself.
The idea of an armageddon pantry is not to assume that the end is nye & to panic buy us all out of wheatgrass, dried pulses & mooncups; more of an invitation to just calmly acknowledge that we’re now very much in the middle of an almighty shitstorm that’s likely to get a bit bumpier before the dust settles, & to perhaps add a few considered items to our weekly shop in preparation for the possibility of temporary difficulties, that’s all.
I’m a firm believer that all will come good. I’d go as far as to say that I know all will come good. I’m forever banging on about the crumbling & rebuilding of our beloved & disgustingly corrupt systems, but for this one I’ll do my best to stay on topic & discuss long-life vegetables.
Many people I know, myself included, are thinking about empowering themselves with self-sufficiency, which tends to start with growing vegetables.
To some it comes naturally. They’re incredible grafters who find themselves allotments, get their hands dirty, quickly learn to grow their own food & turn up at your door in dungarees holding up muddy beetroots with rosy cheeks & enormous smiles.
I love these people & would love to be one, but I’m just not. I’m notoriously bad at growing & foraging. I once had an allotment for a year & grew 2 pumpkins. The next year I went for ‘crops in pots’ & produced 4 x 2-inch carrots & a small bunch of new potatoes.
This year I went for a bag of dried beans & pulses, & hear-in lies the inspiration for my armageddon survival pantry…
1. Sprouted vegetables.
Not a lot of people know this, but if you sprout dried beans & pulses for long enough, they become vegetables… I fell off my chair when I found out.
There are so many pros & barely any cons…They last for forever, so you can buy them by the kilo if you like, they require no soil, no land, no dependency on British weather, no slug repellants, no cat repellants, no encyclopedias of which seeds ‘get on’ with others & which can’t stand each other, & best of all they’re fully grown & ready to eat in one week flat.
What’s not to love?!
Well, the downside is that they all taste pretty similar & as pleasant as they are, you need some pretty strong accompanying flavours to drown them out. Remember though we’re talking armageddon survival here, not MasterChef.
Sprouted vegetables are the main event because vegetables ideally make up at least 50-80% of 2 meals a day. Sprouted ones are extra incredible too as they are raw & are packed full of vitamins, minerals & enzymes. If necessary (i.e. you’re not sick to death of them), the beans & pulses can obviously be used as themselves; just soak them for 8-12 hours before cooking.
They can then be whizzed up into an endless array of houmous type creations, depending on what else you have available. If you’re either desperate or highly conscientious, sprouted seeds can even be dehydrated & blitzed into a powder to encapsulate or sprinkle over everything else for added nutritional oomph. (Instructions for sprouting at the end.)
2. Sauerkraut and/or kimchi
They’re both packed full of gut-boosting good bacteria, but I would opt for kimchi for this particular armageddon as it’s so amazing for immunity, it’s incredibly delicious & lasts for months (see kimchi recipe on my recipes page).
This is here as a padder-outer, mainly because I’m a mother of 3 children who would rather starve than eat most vegetables. It’s cheap, lasts forever, everyone likes it, it goes with everything & you can even make milk with it. Pulses & grains (e.g. chickpeas & rice) can also be combined to make a complete protein – great for vegetarians & vegans.
4. Sun-dried tomatoes
Who the hell puts sun-dried tomatoes on an emergency food list?
Well I do & I’ll tell you why… they’re unbelievably versatile; just soak them in boiling water & you have a salad accompaniment, whizz them up & you have a ready-made stir-in sauce for just about anything, then add water & you have a make-shift stock for a whole load of other dishes to use like tinned chopped tomatoes.
5. Dried fruit
Another staple mainly to keep my children alive in a potential time of crisis, partly because it’s a nutritional food that is enjoyed by all, but also because it’s a great quick-fix for flailing blood sugar levels whilst dinner’s cooking, so helps to stop people killing each other. It can also be rehydrated & used for smoothies & puddings.
I’m not the biggest fan of grains. Why? Well, you know people tend to say ‘dont feed bread to birds because it fills them up & stops them eating things they really need like seeds & berries’? That.
Plus they’re often high GI, causing blood sugar instability & are generally a lot more of a burden on the body than we’re led to believe. Much of this however is due to our over-zealous attachment to them; we just eat too many. I’m allowing them into my armageddon pantry though because of their versatility; they can obviously make porridge, flapjacks, biscuits etc, but also can be whizzed up into flour for pancakes & a million other things, as well as making delicious milk.
They’re also super cheap & last for ages.
7. Concentrated greens such as chlorella, spirulina or wheatgrass
These are amazing. The most alkalising foods on the planet (our bodies ideally are slightly alkaline for optimum health). Chlorella is my favourite as it doesn’t have a strong taste, so I can put it in my kids smoothies & get away with it, although it can be bought in capsules too. Bursting with vitamins & minerals, it’s also a good vegan source of omega 3.
8. Bee pollen
Due to its diverse & potent nutrient content, humans can survive on bee pollen alone…enough said.
9. Water filter
Technically not a pantry item but related & vitally important. I’d recommend something like the British Berkefeld, which is sizeable, stainless steel, the filters last for ages & it’s capable of filtering e.g. stream water if ever the need arose.
To be honest, most stream water is probably already favourable to the ‘clean & perfectly healthy’ stream of toxic chemicals coming through our taps at the moment.
I just gave this to my partner Graham to read. I hadn’t quite finished it, so I explained that obviously chocolate was going in at no.10. He’s known me for the best part of 20 years yet he still looked perplexed…
“What, like just as a nice thing? In an armageddon pantry? Really?”
BONUS: Sprouting instructions…
My favourites are chickpeas, mung beans, aduki beans, green/ brown lentils & fenugreek seeds. This combination sprout at a similar rate, so can be mixed together to sprout, or done separately.
You can also buy packets of already mixed ‘sprouting seeds’ if you don’t want to commit to several bags.
Sprouting trays do make things slightly easier, but are not necessary. All you need is a jar, approx 1 litre in size, & something to cover the top.
The sprouts will need rinsing, so you can cover the jar with muslin secured with elastic when standing, & empty the sprouts into a seive to rinse then put back in the jar, or you can use a jar with a screw-on metal lid & using a hammer & nail, bash some small drainage holes into it.
This is my preference as it works great & means you can recycle an old olive jar or something rather than buying a ‘special’ sprouting jar.
How much you sprout at a time is completely up to you, but remember they grow to approximately 10 times their original size.
Start by soaking them all day or all night, then rinse thoroughly & return to the jar. The idea is to have as little water in the jar as possible, to avoid mushyness or the sprouts sitting in stagnant water.
Repeat this process for approximately 3-4 days, until they have significant ‘tails’.
They’ll grow easily anywhere in the average house, but once they’re almost ready, put them on a window sill or somewhere light but not too hot, for the leaves to turn green & give you an extra punch of chlorophyll.
Rinse one last time & store in the fridge for up to a week.