9 Common Spices to Stock (and 5 Uncommon)

MRE’s, mac and cheese, powdered potatoes, and canned vegetables are going to get really old, really quick after the SHTF. If you have dedicated spices, herbs, and seasonings in your food preps your group’s morale will be all the better for it. These were all chosen for their wide range of possible uses.

I’m a big fan of “throw it in, how bad could it be” cooking, and with most of these, it would be pretty hard to ruin a meal by adding some. (Which in a survival situation you really don’t want to do.)

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Bay LeavesCommon

  1. Salt
  2. Black Pepper
  3. Chili Powder
  4. Garlic Powder
  5. Onion Powder
  6. Cinnamon (also great on fruit)
  7. Bay Leaves
  8. Parsley
  9. Oregano

Uncommon

HoneyThese mostly include ingredients mentioned above and are way too high in sodium, but they sure can turn bland food into something great. You have to enjoy the little things.

  1. Meat Spices ( those mixed spice things that are made for grilling)
  2. Mrs. Dash
  3. Cajun Seasoning
  4. Wasabi Powder (admittedly not everyone will want this, but I usually feel if food is good making it spicy only makes it better and if the food is not good, well making it spicy still makes it better.)
  5. Honey (I know, not a spice, but it is one of the best all around food additives for almost anything. Plus it has a virtually unlimited shelf life.)

I would put stocking these spices and ingredients on the Long Term level of the Survival Food Pyramid.

What Else?

What other spices and seasonings would you most want to stock to keep your meals flavorful?

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88 thoughts on “9 Common Spices to Stock (and 5 Uncommon)”

    • For the best antibacterial effect, you need raw honey. Once it is processed or has additives, it is not of much use in medicine. The best honey is local honey, if you can find it.Wild flower honey will have more different pollens in it as a help with allergies. A cure would take probably 9 months use, but some relief can come much quicker.

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  1. Also, honey can be used for first aid in an emergency. It is antibacterial, and under certain circumstances, it can have a chemical reaction that slow-releases Hydrogen peroxide!

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  2. Dewey,

    Good call. I need to do an entire article all about honey. It is really amazing stuff.

    I've heard if you eat enough of it that is from the area where you live you can cure allergies because all of the pollen is in the honey.

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    • You actually need to get the honey "still in the comb" for the whole allergy fighting thing. Years ago I went to an allergist that recommended it. You can usually find honey comb at a organic market or "all natural" food store.

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  3. when you pack your spices dont forget oregano oil!!!!! it kills foot fungus on contact and when put in a ( softgel ) can be taken to kill stomach bugs or flu bugs !!! i use it alot and also raw garlic to clear up colds and sorethroats !! they really work !

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    • Shadow, thanks for your posting. I tried oregano oil on my foot and the stuff works. Better then store bought antifungal spray. Again thanks this stuff is now part of my medical kit.

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  4. Nutmeg and a planer is also good. You can shave just a little and it keeps for a good while. Also any form of peppercorn (White, Black, Pink) will keep quite a while in their whole form versus the preground stuff.

    All Mrs. Dash blends are sodium free if that's a concern.

    One item I will include for me is Seasoned Salt. Relativly cheap for larger bottles and has more flavor to it than regular salt. Also, if you have the inclination, make your own spice blends. You can combine and carry a simple blend of 4-1-1 ratio Salt – Black pepper-Garlic podwer (or granulated garlic) that will add flavor to any dish.

    I went to culinary school so this is more my expertise lol.

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  5. Take the time to put aside some wine, cotton wrap and iodine with the honey. Use the honey to put on rashes and scrapes (even puncture wounds) after you use the iodine. Then after you wrap pour the wine over the cotton and place another wrap over the top. It is great for stopping and even healing infections.

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  6. Have to tell you..if everyone in the U.S. stocked up and was prepared we would be invincible. It makes so much sense to be prepared for everything. Some people think the government will step in and help..well good luck with that one. I love being prepared and am recommending this site to all of my friends.

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  7. Add dried Thyme and Basil and sugar to that list, essential.
    Oh, and coriander.
    Any dried ground chilis will fill the void in taste as well, not just chili powder which is a combo of spices.
    Me, partial to ground Ancho, Chipotle, and Cayenne.
    With the other ingredients, your good to go anywhere.

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  8. Hi. My name is John . I live in Australia ' i love your coments. 50 yrs ago we used to put honey on
    the cuts on horses and they would heal up very quickly. Bacteriar can not live without oxygen.
    and that!s one of the things honey does. My wife had a golden staff infection on her stomach that would not heal; so i dressed it with honey every day.With in a couple of weeks the wound
    closed up and it heald completly.The best honey for cuts comes from New Zealand.
    John.

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  9. Hi. My name is John . I live in Australia ' i love your coments. 50 yrs ago we used to put honey on
    the cuts on horses and they would heal up very quickly. Bacteriar can not live without oxygen.
    and that!s one of the things honey does. My wife had a golden staff infection on her stomach that would not heal; so i dressed it with honey every day.With in a couple of weeks the wound
    closed up and it heald completly.The best honey for cuts comes from New Zealand.
    John.

    Reply
    • From what I've read, the anti-bacterial properties of honey come from its ability to draw water out of cells. That doesn't bother people, but single-celled bacteria are killed.

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    • You are wrong about the New Zealand honey being the best. Look for any honey in Australia that has a 3 red dot mark and you will find it is the cure, I know I live in Perth and use our honey for cures

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  10. What are the various shelf lives for the different spices? At what point do they lose their flavor or efficacy if used for medicinal purposes?

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    • This varies a lot. I think it depends on the form of the spice, and how you want to use them. While whole forms are great, they can be a hassle to process into the type of powdered form you may be used to cooking with. I see no reason not to have a little of both forms for the basics, especially since you might also want to use them for medicinal needs as well as cooking. Start using up your powdered forms first and keep the whole forms for long term storage. If that time comes, you will probably be okay with spending a half hour trying to grind up cloves, bay leaves or cinnamon, just for the blessing of having them!

      As a confirmation that ground spices can hold up fine over extended periods, in about 2007 I inherited my grandmother's spice collection, nearly all of which dated from the 1960s. Feeling sentimental, I decided to try cooking with them. In every case, they still worked fine for cooking. The only ones that weren't still fairly potent were the "green leaf" types – but they still were usable, you just needed to use a little more of them (like oregano powder). I'll also note that she had a can of dried cocoa powder from the 1960s that was also still excellent, and would thus be a good thing to store too. These were stored in a cabinet next to the stove in a typical kitchen setting, nothing special. That's 40 years' storage time.

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  11. I HAVE HAD A SURVIVAL BAG AT THE READY FOR YEARS . I TAKE IT ON VACATIONS AND WEEKEND TRIPS. IT CONTAINS MOST OF THE ITEMS LISTED, PLUS FIRE STARTING GEAR AND WATER PURIFYING TABLETS.TWO OR THREE SPACE BLANKETS. ALSO A SMALL TAKE APART SHOVEL, CANDLES LIGHTERS, 50 FOOT OF ROPE OR PARA CORD AND A SMALL TARP.ALL FITS IN A 20 IN BY 10 IN BY10IN BAG.

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    • Just dont give honey to infants under the age of one (12 months) There are conflicting reports at what age is safe but it has to do the the botulism spores/bacteria found in raw honey and can cause serious problems, even death to little ones. This includes adding honey to liquids or cooking with it as the spores are not destroyed – http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/infantbotulismho

      Been lurking for a while and not sure why this is my first comment but I thought it was important to point out. Great site and thanks for the great tips and pointers on all the topics.

      Reply
  12. Bouillon powder. Not really a spice, but a hot cup of broth after being in the cold all day is a treat. Lawry's is good on almost anything. The worst freaking part about an apocalypse is finding/making butter! Admit it. Any food you can manage to scrounge up WTSHTF would taste better with butter. I saw a documentary about a lake underneath Antarctica called Lake Vostok, and a Russian scientist that lives there said the best way to warm up is to eat a stick of butter.

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  13. I really like that some attention has been paid to food prep, it is so often overlooked or simply MRE centered. My problem however is that this list overlooks some very basic rules when it comes to spices and dried herbs.
    1. Powdered spices go bad way quicker that whole spices (for example, cumin seed lasts longer that cumin powder)

    2. Commercially packed rubs and seasonings (ie ms dash, cajun spice ect) are mostly salt. While salt is important, too much can require greater water consumption.

    3. Chili powder (like Garam Masala, curry powder, and chinese 5 spice) is actually a mixture of ground spices. The thing about chili powder is it is composed of other spices that can be kept in seed form and ground to order or used separately for different flavors. chili powder is only ever going to be chili powder. a small amount of the component spices in seed form gives you far more options and will keep longer.

    4. some spices are left off that are light and go great with food that can often be foraged for in a majority of north america. Tarragon is simply the spice for mushrooms, while rosemary is great on both deer and rabbit.

    5. for the long term scenario a number of spices can be grown easily. Cumin, coriander, mustard seed, and fennel can be grown in a number of climates with little effort and in the case of fennel and coriander (which comes from cilantro) you get both a spice and either a veg or herb.

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  14. Has anyone thought about shake and bake? I know it's probably not a spice, but think about it. If you have a group of people and they've been eating plain flavorless meat (That is if you don't have any variety), Morale will go down the tube. Shake and bake can be cooked over a campfire (I've done it) and it helps boost morale simply because it shows you (or the cook) cares about the food rather than making just hwatever you have on hand.

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  15. Forgot to add, never let saliva come into contact with honey, unless your eating it. The enzymes in saliva break down the crystalline structure of the honey, put 1 drop of saliva into a gallon bucket of honey and in a short time (maybe a couple hours, maybe a couple days) it will be a nasty, smelly disgusting mass of useless garbage! The only thing it is good for at that point, is to pour it over a salt black and bait deer (or insects if your REAL hungry)!

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  16. As well don't foorget spices after SHTF will be a form currency, the word salary comes from salt which used to be one of the most valuable substances on the planet, people were paid in it! So don't forget aside from medicine, cooking, and preserving, it's totally barterable. Especially consider iodized salt, iodine is an essential nutrient a ton of people won't have regular access to at TEOTWAWKI, and we need it, so stocking up on it on maybe prove an investment worth far more than gold. And honey too, I've been using honey, hot peppers, and salt for wound treatment since I first heard about it in the boy scouts. It's awesome, as well I've heard but not tested the idea that most sugars can speed healing but idk from experience so take that one with a grain of salt(pun intended)

    Reply
    • Totally right on all counts!

      Sugar can be used as a coagulant. Honey may work for this also, I’ve never tried it, and it would have the antibacterial effects.

      I’m stockpiling large quantities of salt. It’s way too valuable as a food preservative. I’m also learning charcuterie. I intend to hunt my food, and want none of it to go to waste!

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  17. Do not forget some of the liquid additives that will greatly enhance you foods, like Worcestershire sauce and vinegars. These will last a very long time and do not require refrigeration.

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  18. My basics for cooking(all of these have great non-food uses as well):

    Various spices in whole form(I’ll be caching a good ole’ fashioned mortar and pestle, too)

    Salt, lots and lots of salt

    Honey

    Baking soda

    Vinegar(until I learn to make my own)

    My home-made still (alcohol is good for drinking, cooking, first aid, drinking, barter, and drinking. Did I mention drinking?)

    Yeast cultures, which are potentially inexhaustable.

    On the topic of spices, light and air are your enemies. That’s why whole spices last longer. So get ’em whole, seal ’em up in multiple small air tight bags, and cover ’em up. Keeping them cool, but not cold helps too. That will keep them fresh way longer. And for long term, seed packets are a must. Herbs are way easy to grow, unless you have a Black Thumb like me.

    Not a chef, I just love food. And so many things related to food are also related to medicine, which is really my specialty.

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    • Everyone is talking about mortar and pestle but no one has mentioned a hand cranked grinder for spices. You can still find old coffee grinders that will work. You can also find pepper and salt grinders in stores. These are a lot easier to use than a mortar and pestle.

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  19. I'm surprised you didn't include curry. It's historically an essential spice for flavoring (masking) meat that may be past it prime. Even if you don't like it, it's less about liking curry and more about making your available food edible.

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  20. A small bottle of powdered ginger is a good one also . Not so much for the flavor but because it gets rid of nausea very fast . Mix a tea spoon in with hot water and your good to go ! A guy told me about this and I tried it ……. Darned if it didnt work !

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    • Possibly works on the old standby of using ginger ale soda on upset tummies for little kids. My mother used to recommend it every time with me. I hear they also use ginger for sea sickness as well. Just goes to show you how much the root can do.

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  21. Honey was used by the Ancient Egyptians for wound treatment . Like some of you guys mentioned , it has natural antibacterial qualities . A show on PBS showed modern people putting this to the test with good results , only drawbacks they mentioned was that the wound got uglier slightly before it got better and the treatment was highly uncomfortable on your skin for the time it took to work ( but it did ) .

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  22. Wow! Thanks folks, very, very helpful. I've been a 'preper' since the Boy Scouts in Europe when my father/family was there when JFK got shot and we were only 50 miles from the Iron Curtain –
    He was Air Force on Command Staff and didn't see him again for 3 weeks – when first we arrived were told the 'facts of live' tho' pre-teen (like shoot the house hold pets – due to the spread of disease by cats during WW II it was required for many years following that if hunting deer and had a choice between feral cat or deer HAD to dispactch cat over deer to get undr control again). Dispite my years had never considered spice xcept salt/peper/garlic – ya'll really opened my eyes – have already started list, revised several times. It's this kind of spirit of comradere that wil help us overcome.

    Namaste' – East Texas

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  23. I'm a huge fan of Rosemary on many meats, escpecailly wild game. I just sprinkle it whole, a piece every 1/2 inch or so over the top and cook. Many people that would not normally eat wild game are surprised when I tell them theat they just ate ….

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    • I am with you on the rosemary. It is a rugged little herb and the flavour of it is wonderful. It is nearly impossible to screw up a dish with it. Soups, meats, hell, even salads are good with the stuff on/in it.

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  24. I wouldn’t recommend using Curry or Cumin outside as both smell like a fat man on a treadmill lol . You can smell it for a mile away !

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  25. Wild herbs are good too. Start now, and plant local plants and herbs in the far corners of your property. I personally have assloads of strawberries, raspberries blueberries and blackberry bushes around my property, not to mention wild apple and plum trees, all alongside wild mint plants and juniper bushes. All of these within about forty feet of one another. They require no maintenance except for the blueberries, which still don't need that much attention, just a little water when its dry.

    Wild spices and fruits are, in my opinion, one of the best ways to flavour up the meals available.

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    • I agree….we have several blueberry and strawberry plants that come back year after year without much maintenance. I just wish my dogs didnt enjoy them as much as we do!

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  26. For long term, when these giant containers of a spice turn into a huge block, all stuck solid, how do you get a teaspoon out?! I was thinking perhaps a fine grater? Any experience on this?

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  27. dried parsley and oregano tend to lose flavor quite fast (6 months or so).

    i love using cumin and paprika. paprika can be used on anything and has a mild smokey flavor. cumin is great for anything cooked over an open fire. has a great mexican/SW US taste to it.

    btw…. many herbs grow like weeds in most climates and it would be great to keep seeds on hand. you could easily plant seeds for basil, mint, rosemary, etc. and in a very short time have more than you could ever use. not to mentin some of these help to deter things like scorpions.

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  28. I am of the same mindset of "Throw it in, how bad could it be?" That said…

    I, personally, over wasabi powder would choose Red Pepper. It is light, far less expensive, quite hot as well and as an added bonus, it is wonderfully more common, meaning you are more likely to replenish your reserves of it somewhat easier. Also another benefit to it is if you wanted to trade with it with someone else, most people are familiar what they are getting themselves into with red pepper, meaning they may be more readily willing to part with some of their resources over something that is alien to them.

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  29. Garlic, Garlic, Garlic! The best natural dewormer, and if you plan on butchering livestock or game there is a real chance of parasitic worms.

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  30. It's funny but one of my fellow survivalist and I were just discussing this very subject today. And one thing we both agreed on was catsup and mustard, how many of you have a drawer in your kitchen full of those little condiment packs you get at the fast food joints? I really agree on the honey because if it is properly stored it will never go bad! Just because your in a bad sitiuation doesn't mean your food should taste bad, so pack those spices and practice preparing survival meals .

    I can't say this enough, all the prep in the world wont mean a thing without some practical traing and practing your survival skills!!!

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  31. As far as the effectiveness of honey as an antiseptic. Osmotic pressure of the sugar contained within is the explanation. Placing a sugar compress inside a wound causes the bacteria within to lose their water content through the creation of a hydrophilic environment outside the cell wall. Basically, they get sucked dry and die, denying their ability to reproduce. Absent of their reproductive capabilities and the toxins they produce, healing can occur uninterrupted. This technique has been used for hundreds of years and only recently re-discovered by mainstream medicine operating in third world countries with no access to antibiotics. The technique involves packing the wound, flushing it constantly, and letting internal healing build outward, keep in mind, sewing up a wound is NOT always the best way to heal it. Research this technique, it may save your life.

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  32. As far as additional spice, military food has always been improved by Tony Chachere's (spelling?). The multi-seasoning will make tree bark taste like some kind of cajun oatmeal, seriously. Give it a try.

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  33. Cayenne pepper – a natural blood thinner, acid reflux, a pinch in a glass of water or 1/2 buttermilk and half water and stomach aches, cramping, gas, varicose veins, allergies, and constipation, also stops heart attacks claim Ayurvedic healers in India.
    Chammomile tea – Insomnia and other sleep disorders, Anxiety and Panic Attacks, Muscle twitches, Wounds, burns, scrapes, psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, diaper rash, stomach problems such as menstrual cramps, stomach flu, and ulcers
    Tumeric powder – anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, 1/4 teaspoon mixed in a cup of warm milk helps with heartburns, cooked in foods acts as an
    Ginger – upset stomach, nausea
    pork fat – burns, also colgate tooth paste for first degree burns, must be applied immediately
    Cinnamon – half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day lowers blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes and 2 x500mg capsules gives stable energy throughout the day

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  34. Jerk seasoning. I know sounds stupid, but if you can get into a Jamacan spice shop (Thats where i have found it here) It can completely change the taste of your food. A good friend of mine got some of this and we made Jerk Chicken, Jerk Shrimp, jerk steaks, we put it on everything. It has a good bit of kick for a small amount but it is a great thing to have. May Be a little more pricey in some areas. so if you find it for a good price, stock up on it. One bottle will last you awhile, depending on how much you use it.

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  35. according to"Bragg Apple cider vinager" book …
    "A.C.V", is a naturally occuring antibiotic, and antiseptic that fights germs, bacteria, mold and viruses"…
    The Egyptians had urns going back to 300 b.c., julius Casear's army used it to stay healthy, and fight off disease…
    was used in biblical times as antiseptic and healing agent.
    sold in Paris in barrels …
    Christopher Columbus had vinager barrelsfor prevention of scurvey, as did U.S. Civil War soldiers.
    buy A.C.V. only with the"mother"….(the stuff that settles to the bottom/sediment.
    according to braggs book….
    white vinager was made by a food chemist….FROM COAL TAR!!!!!!!!!!
    WHITE VINAGER HAS NO HEALTH VALUE!
    APPLES ARE RICH IN POTASSIUM AND ENZYMES!
    I SUGGEST HAVING A FEW GALLONS OF A.C.V. IN YOUR CACHE!
    IT HAS HEALTH /COOKING/AND A HUGE AMOUNT OF OTHER THINGS IT CAN BE USED FOR!
    I DRINK SOME EVERY DAY.
    seems to me white vinager should be avoided like the plague!

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    • No, White Distilled Vinegar is made from grain alcohol.

      Any natural vinegar has health benefits (Wine Vinegar for example) will be basically the same.
      Granted it is easier to find Natural apple cider vinegar.

      A Vinegar mother doesn't grow in all natural vinegar's, and you can just add a cup of any UNPASTEURIZED vinegar to start one, the mother will be a film a bit like a kombucha SCOBY.

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  36. Has anyone mentioned Tumeric? This is a yellow spice used in asian/ Indian curry dishes. Turmeric is used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine. It is very potent as an antibiotic/ antiinflammatory/ blood clotting agent. It can help fight the flu, intestinal infections, and if you have a bleeding wound, dry turmeric powder poured into it will stop the bleeding immediately and prevent infection and swelling at the same time. Mixed with other spices it can help preserve food and protect the digestive system from parasites.
    Turmeric mixed with spices like cinamon, cloves, powdered ginger and black pepper can help relieve cold and flu symptoms (especially when mixed with honey.)

    I would also recommend meat tenderizer- which is really just papain enzyme from papaya- this will immediately neutralize the pain and inflammatory reaction of any sting- from jelly fish to fireants to bees and wasps by breaking up and inactivating the proteins in the venom. And who knows, it might be possibly helpful with reptile venom in combo with a sawyer extractor.

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  37. On the topic of salt = pack both the iodized salt and the plain salt. You must have iodine to live but you cannot use iodized salt to preserve. I have a cache of both and have placed aside some extra for barter!

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  38. Try Mexican oregano- it's a different species and really adds to (what else?) Mexican food. Try it on spaghetti sauce, marinara, etc. At our local Mexican food store it's cheap.

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  39. All those Coke bottles can be used to store salt, baking soda, etc. They're heavy duty and what else are you going to do with 'em?

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  40. Herbs… sage, rosemary, basil, mint, etc…. These not only make food tasty but can be used as homeopathic medicines. Catnip is also a valuable herb to keep and dry for tea… it ebbs anxiety and panic which can be killers in a survival situation.

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  41. My apologies if someone already alerted to this; I didn't see it in the comments.

    A study was recently done which proved that over 70% of the "honey" marketed in the U.S. is NOT PURE HONEY. Apparently there is a huge scam that's been going on for a long time, involving China shipping pseudo-honey to India (since we busted China previously for this); and then India ships it to us. The big manufacturers and grocery stores all sell this garbage. Please Google "honey scam" (you'll find other honey scams too – amazing that something like honey generates so much fraud).

    Anyway – if you are stocking honey, be sure you get real honey, because that's the stuff that has the health benefits and will work as an awesome antibacterial wound treatment; the other stuff is either heavily adulturated with things like corn syrup, or it IS nothing but flavored corn syrup.

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  42. Re useful spices, I would consider adding extracts, such as vanilla, almond and lemon or orange. If you aren't going to do that, you could add dried lemon or orange zest. I would also add dried ginger, ground cloves, and bay leaves. All of these have very useful medicinal benefits (as do the ones on your list, notably cinnamon and garlic of course). They also will keep your aging food safer to consume. Indeed cloves are famous for their ability to keep even badly turned meat safely edible. Cloves are also a good painkiller for things like toothache, as we all know!

    I would also add seaweed; it keeps indefinitely, has many useful nutrients, weighs nothing and stores easily anywhere (it doesn't even seem susceptible to deterioration from heat etc.) and adds different flavor to dishes (but of course only if you like it). I would choose the kind that is dried into little noodle-like strips, rather than the flat sheets used for maki rolls. It's easy to throw a few dried strips into soup or whatever.

    Finally, you could throw in a single nutmeg, which will last probably for 1,000 years. You just have to grate a little bit of it, as it's strong. Very healthful and delicious of course.

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  43. Great post! Beware that people will smell your food and come around looking for it. This happens to my daughter all the time and we aren't even in shtf yet, obviously garlic or curry would have a strong aroma, but any food even Freeze Dried, has caused hungry folks to come around.

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  44. Tumeric in powder form either sprinkled on food or taken in capsule form will drain abcesses such as boils, abcessed teeth, etc. Also helps pain, asthma, etc. MANY uses. Bought recently in bulk and am making our own capsules and will include in our survival kits.

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  45. Just adding my two cents, but termeric helps add a good flavor and has antiseptic properties. My parents add it to damn near all meat we cook.

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  46. Soy sauce i can eat a month old dead rat if I have enough soy sauce.

    a lot of great info olive oil can get rancid as well as other oils do not throw them out add some essential oil like tea tree
    or eucalyptus some spices like rosemary and in the lamp GUEST123456789 mentioned it will repel bugs.

    It is good to recognize wild onions many peppers sage and bay leaf very common and can be dried easily.

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  47. Coconut oil has a lot of uses and will not go rancid fast. It can be used a moisturizer, food to stave hunger, lamp oil, has anti microbial properties and good for skin problem.

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