Oct 30 2007

Long Term Storage

Published by at 7:18 pm under Fire and Camplife

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In a camp you are planning on staying for an extended period of time or return to later, you might want to store some food. Even if you don’t expect to return, store any surplus food so you have something to turn to if famine strikes. In addition, all equipment you make and need can usually not be carried with you at any given time.

Equipment, like fishing traps, nets, empty containers, sledges and similar, don’t need to be stored particulary protected. A overhanging rock, to keep it dry is enough. The indicator to look for is no vegetation whatsoever. Make sure there is enough space, so that no snow comes in. Things of hide, raw or tanned, can be left, but not indefinitely. Keep it as elevated as possible. A common way of storing things away from mice, is to keep it suspended from the roof. This will at least reduce the amount of chewing on winter garnments, hides or whatever you should be storing. Bigger animals will come in and can destroy the hides, so if you are going to store animal matters, close the rockshelter with a wall. If there is no fat or meat on the hides, during the snowfree season you can store hides and similar without any damage to it. During the winter, when things are at a pinch for the animals, nothing is safe. Photo: I left a fishing trap, some knapping rock and a few containers in a natural cache on the site, for later use.


Any foods must be protected. Rodents and moisture are your worst enemies in this regard. You can’t store any food on the ground, where both of these factors are too great. The exception seems to be this particular type of storing fat for later consumption. Marrow will go bad when stored in bone, but within a year’s time frame or so, the fat will not be leached out. When you have shot a great animal, you have consumed and/or dried the meat and want to move on, take the remaining bones that you have not cracked open. Every bone, even if there is tissue on it, make a pile of them and pile rocks on top. The rocks will keep the larger scavengers at bay and the smaller ones can’t get through the bones. When you need the fat (usually in winter time), you go to the location, crush the bones and render off the fat. This method of piling food down can also be used for short time storage of meat, if you are coming back in a day or two only. I have not tried this method, but it makes perfect sense. It was appearantly used by Paleo-Indian hunters in America.

For regular storage of food, conserved in whatever method appropriate, needs to be stored in a raised cache built in a tree or between several trees. The Native Americans often took off all of the bark and branches of these trees, to make it more difficult for the bear to enter the cache. Food should be stored in relatively air tight containers (raw hide or birch bark for instance) regardlessly though, since any moisture from the air can destroy the food. Hazelnuts and other nuts are exceptions, since they have their own air-tight containers. Any containers will become wet and loose their protecting properties (rawhide in particular) if not protected from rain or snow. You will need a perfectly waterproof roof, of for instance bark, fully enclosed to the floor of the cache to prevent any birds or squirrels from entering. I have yet not had the need for making and utilising such caches, but the principle is the same as with the traditional storage houses in Norway (bur or stabbur).


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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Long Term Storage”

  1. Marcon 30 Oct 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks for this topic Torjus, very important
    now the second question offcourse will be how to built a raised cache
    with airtight containers!!!
    What about burrial of food underground in containers? I remember somewhere some notice on how food was burried underground for storage.

    very helpfull mate!


  2. Sam_acwon 30 Oct 2007 at 10:35 pm

    A couple more ideas:
    -Food could be wrapped in clay and then dried
    -Rawhide “parfleche” containers could be used
    -You could use stones in winter and pour water over them so they freeze together

    I remember a couple of these ideas from Auel’s Earth’s Children series. I know it is fiction but they are a good primitive read!

  3. adminon 31 Oct 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks for your input guys!

    Regarding the storage under ground I don’t know anything about it. Except that you can do it with grain. There are several other methods worth investigation though. You can supposedly sink meat under the ice in winter to store it. You can ask though… Why not just freeze it?

    Also, an ancient Norwegian method called “graving”, formerly involved burying the fish in a bog to make it preserve and get a rather pungent taste. Another way of getting such taste is the Nunamiut’s method of short term storing fish. They just hung them up, intestines and all for a few weeks. Don’t try these without further investigation though. I for one, am not going to.


    I’m a little uncertain of what you mean:
    – The clay wrappings, was the food dried first?
    – Rawhide “parfleche”, what is that?
    – What do you mean with stones and the water? Where does the food come in?


  4. Sam_acwon 01 Nov 2007 at 9:58 am

    I think the clay is intended to go around fresh food to keep it cold and protected for a while.
    The rawhide containers are similar to those used by the Native Americans see wikipedia here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parfleche
    For the stones there is a layer on the ground then the food is placed then there is a pyramid of stones built over the food. After this water is poured over the stones so it will freeze them together. This way it will keep food safe as long as the weather is cold.
    For underground storage look at http://waltonfeed.com/old/cellars.html

  5. adminon 02 Nov 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Great Sam! Thanks!

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