The traditional beliefs of the Amish people prevent them from using modern electrical appliances that many people take for granted; in many Amish communities, fridges and freezers are rarely, if ever, used. As a result of this, the Amish have become adept at producing and preserving foodstuffs using long-established methods learned from their ancestors. Amish foods, therefore, have become popular as "survival foods" because they can be stored and relied upon in the event of long-term electrical failure or in hostile environments.
Sweet sorghum (or sorghum molasses) is rated by some as the number one survival food available. It is grown by many Amish communities across America and is a survival food in two ways. The sorghum crop can be grown in much harsher conditions than traditional corn and can survive on much less water. In the event of environmental disaster, for example, the sorghum crop is much more likely to survive and provide a food source. The sweet sorghum that is extracted from the sorghum crop is an excellent provider of minerals and is extremely easy to preserve. It is claimed that a person could survive for as long as needed on 1 tbsp. of sweet sorghum in a glass of water if taken every day. While this advice is popular on survivalist websites, there appears to be little existing medical research to support these claims.
The Amish are experts at preserving and canning foods as they mostly rely on their own produce; any surplus is stored for the winter. Recipes have been perfected over several generations so that the foods not only last for several years but also taste good. There are several Amish companies that supply canned foods, ranging from fruit juices to entire meals.
Traditionally, livestock is slaughtered during the winter months, and that which is not eaten immediately is then cured and smoked prior to being canned. As the food is boiled in the jar during the canning process, it cooks completely, meaning that meats do not require reheating before eating. This makes the finished product excellent as a survival food, as no preparation is required whatsoever.
Dehydrated foods are commonly known as "space foods" because astronauts are provided with meals that are dehydrated in order to preserve the food in space. The Amish actually perfected the technique by dehydrating apples and corn generations before the idea was used by astronauts. Dehydrated foods provide another excellent survival food as they are easy to preserve, simply drying and storing them, and easy to prepare by soaking in water.
- "Amish Society"; John Andrew Hostetler; 1993
- amish farm image by Tracy Horning from Fotolia.com