Building a stockpile is one of the main goals of a prepper. You want to have a stockpile created to last through an emergency scenario. That scenario might be a job loss or something catastrophic, such as an EMP. No matter the situation, a stockpile still has the same goal – to feed your family.
Homesteaders tend to have the same goal with their stockpile. We preserve our produce and extras to allow us to feed our family. Many try to stockpile the extra produce in anticipation of a bad harvest. My great-grandparents ran a cattle farm with a large garden. They told me that they always preserved enough for two years because you never know what the next year would bring! Preparing for the future is smart.
You have two options when it comes to creating a stockpile. You can purchase everything at the store, which is the fastest choice. The second option is to build your stockpile by preserving everything yourself. It takes longer, but it is the more economical choice. Preserving everything in your stockpile also allows you to control the ingredients you are feeding your family.
There are 12 months ahead of you to get started building your amazing stockpile. If you don’t have a large garden, don’t worry. Watch your local sales at grocery stores. Check for marked down meat. Go to farmers’ markets and ask if you can buy in bulk. Farmers are happy to accommodate those needs. Most veggies and fruits can be purchased in large quantities, like by bushels!
Chances are you don’t have much fresh veggies or fruit growing at this time of year unless you live in a very southern zone. Now is one of my favorite times to focus on making soups. Soups are easy to can or freeze. One thing to remember is that freezing is practical, but it is dependent on electricity. If the electricity goes out, you can lose all of your hard work!
If you want to can soup, you will need a pressure canner. Don’t can soup in a water bath canner! It can lead to the growth of botulism because the temperature isn’t hot enough to kill the bacteria. Don’t risk it!
- Chicken Soup – Don’t add noodles! All you want to do is can shredded chicken, carrots, onions and celery in chicken broth. Later, you can add noodles.
- Chicken Broth – Everyone needs plain jars of chicken broth in their stockpile. I aim to make sure I have at least one-pint jar per week of the year.
- Beef Broth – Beef broth is important as well! You might use it less than chicken broth, but it still packs a powerful health punch. It also makes delicious dishes.
- Potato Soup – No cream, you can add that later. I can chicken broth, diced potatoes, ham, and carrots together with some onions. Later, I add cream and puree.
- Beef Stew – Beef stew is a hearty dish to have in your pantry. You want to add cubed beef, beef broth, carrots, onions, celery and spices to make a yummy soup for your family.
Photo: canned beef stew
- Vegetable Soup – Do you find yourself with extra veggies leftover? Freeze them until you have enough to make a large batch of vegetable soup. Vegetable soup is chicken broth with tomato sauce or juice and veggies cooked together. You can add noodles afterward, not during the canning process.
February still doesn’t have much fresh fruits and veggies ready, but you are getting closer! Around this time, you are considering what seeds to order and making your plans to garden.
Depending on your area and weather, maple syrup time might be beginning. We tap our maple trees on our property. Typically, we can get enough to last a year or more, with extra jars to sell.
- Maple Syrup – learning how to tap your trees is easy! Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. You can use maple syrup in coffee, baked goods and more!
- Maple Sugar – you can make maple sugar as well, which is a great alternative to have. You can even learn how to make maple candy, which is a huge treat for children.
Maple syrup and maple sugar don’t have a shelf life unless you forget to store in airtight containers!
If you’re interested in raising chickens, March is a great time to pick up baby chicks. Chickens allow you to have fresh eggs to preserve. Meat birds will fill your freezer!
Another thing that you should do is look at what you can legally hunt in your area. Every state is different! Some have open deer seasons in March, which will give you the opportunity to fill your freezer and pantry even more.
In March, you might notice pretty, purple flowers doting your yard. These are wild violets, and they are delicious! Believe it or not, you can preserve these wildflowers in the form of jelly. Violet jelly is a specialty jelly, perfect for gift baskets! You can also add violets to your salads.
April, for most zones, is when you can start planting in your garden. It is also a great time to start learning about local wild plants that you can forage.
- Dandelion Jelly – Those little flowers in your yard serve a purpose. They make delicious jelly! Send out your kids and give this recipe a try.
- Dandelion Wine – Not only do dandelions create jelly; you can make wine with them. Dandelion wine is sweet and delicious.
Mushrooms and April go hand in hand, at least for our region. During this time, Morel mushrooms are ready to be picked. Head out into the woods and find yourself some mushrooms! You might think that you cannot preserve them; you would be wrong. Mushrooms are wonderful canned; here are some instructions.
Do you love to fish? April brings trout season for many regions in the United States. Make sure to check with your state’s wildlife website before assuming the season has begun. You can smoke, freeze or can trout! That’s a great way to add some protein to your stockpile.
What about turkey? We tend to assume turkey and fall go together, but there is a spring turkey season that gives you an opportunity to stockpile more meat. Check with your state’s regulations. Now is a great time to learn how to smoke a turkey for a different flavor profile!
I love May! I have so many plants going into the garden. My planner is packed! It is also the time when strawberries come in season. We love strawberries. They are perfect for desserts.
- Strawberry Jam – Our family needs a lot of strawberry jam. We go through several jars per month.
- Strawberry Syrup – Since strawberries are in season, preserve a few jars of strawberry syrup. It is great for pancakes and sweetening yogurt.
- Strawberry Wine – Need I say more? It is delicious!
Another great thing that comes to season during May is rhubarb. Rhubarb is underrated, but it is great for muffins. You also can make strawberry rhubarb jam. Don’t let it go to waste!
Most people aren’t lucky enough to have salmon in their area. I wish I did! Salmon season starts in May for some regions. Now is the time to pack your pantry full of canned and smoked salmon! Yum.
June is a busy month for many areas of the country! What you can do will differ based on location and what you have on your small homestead.
- Honey – some southern beekeepers can remove the supers and harvest honey in June.
- Blueberries – Blueberries are in season from May to September, depending on where you live. You can use blueberries to make jelly, jam, and
If you planted things in your garden in April, you should see some harvesting starting in June. For example, most lettuce and greens take around 65 to 70 days to harvest. You can’t preserve lettuce, but you can take advantage and have salad all the time! Here are some other things that might be ready to harvest.
- Peas – Peas typically take around 60 days, roughly, to harvest. You can freeze fresh peas out of the pod, either allow or mixed with other veggies. Peas also can be canned!
- Carrots – Some carrot varieties are ready in June. Just like peas, carrots can be frozen or canned. Remember that you must use a pressure canner for vegetables!
- Spinach – Another crop that will start being ready for you to harvest is spinach. You can freeze spinach for soups later. Spinach will continue to grow and be harvestable throughout the next few months.
- Cabbage – Your heads of cabbage area ready for picking! Try freezing the cabbage heads for soups later. Also, make sure you stockpile a few jars of fermented cabbage – aka sauerkraut!
July should bring a bursting vegetable garden for most areas. You are going to be busy! Now is not the time to take a vacation from your small homestead.
- Honey – in northern states, you should be able to cap nectar and start to cool down hives.
- Raspberries – I love raspberries. Our raspberry bushes start to explode between June and August. Every year, we try to freeze whole raspberries for smoothies, but they also become jam.
Photo: canned peaches
Peaches come into harvest from late June to August, depending on the cultivar. So, for many areas, July is prime peach time. There isn’t much more delicious than peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. It is time to save some for the winter months!
- Sliced Peaches – It is easy to can sliced peaches in water or light That is delicious just eaten out of the jar!
- Peach Butter – Have you made apple butter? Peach butter is very similar!
Many veggies start to ripen in July. You will have plenty of extras to harvest and preserve for your stockpile.
- Green Beans – You can freeze or can green beans. We can dozens of jars using the raw pack method. You can also pickle green beans. Depending on your planting season, you should have green beans available until September!
- Garlic – Garlic has a long season, but you can typically harvest between June and August. Garlic is easily preserved. You can hang it in your basement, but you might want to consider dehydrating garlic then grinding into a powder.
- Cucumbers – Those cucumbers you planted in May should be ready to harvest soon. Get ready for cucumber salads and jars of pickles lining your shelves!
- Zucchini – While canning zucchini isn’t easy or recommended, you can freeze shredded or sliced for future recipes.
You are now at the end of the berry season. That will either make you happy or sad! If you’ve been busy prepping and preserving, your stockpile should be filled with delicious jams and syrups. Your freezer should have whole, frozen berries as well!
- Blackberries – The last berry to typically come in season is blackberries. You can make some blackberry jam, but you also might want to try mixed berry jam.
Tomatoes and August go hand in hand! In most areas, August is HOT. You are going to find that tomatoes are going nuts in your garden. It is time to get connected with that canner. You have a lot to do. Here are some things you might want to can this month.
- Tomato Sauce
- Diced tomatoes
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Tomato Soup
August’s heat also brings about fresh peppers. Chances are your pepper plants are going nuts! We love peppers over here. Here are some of the ways we preserve our peppers:
- Hot pepper rings
- Hot Sauce
- Cayenne Pepper – We dehydrate our cayenne peppers and then dried them into a powder. You might want to put the dehydrator outside; the scent can be overwhelming.
Corn will also be in season starting in August and lasting through September. Try freezing and canning fresh corn for a variety. You can also can peppers and corn together for a real treat.
Depending on when you purchased chickens, September might be an ideal time to butcher your meat chickens. Yes, that can be sad, but it is necessary. You might have to move this date to August or even October. It all depends on the breed you selected and their age.
- Butchered Chicken – Most people put their freshly butchered chicken into the freezer. We do this too! However, remember that you should can some shredded chicken. Consider also freezing shredded chicken for later use in soup.
Apples are starting to ripen during September and October. Now that most of your garden is in the canning jars, it is time to focus on apples. Apples can be stored whole in your root cellar, but there are some other ways we like to preserve apples.
- Applesauce – try different varieties like sweetened and unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon applesauce and chunky applesauce! You can even mix some with the berries you preserved earlier this year.
- Apple Jelly – Yes! You can make apple jelly by using the apple skins.
- Apple Pie Filling – Canning your apple pie filling now makes it easier to create delicious pies later. Plus, the filling is the best part, and you can eat it out of the jar.
- Apple Butter
Grapes tend to come in season during September for most areas of the country. Who doesn’t love grapes? My kids sure do! The best thing you can do is make a bunch of grape jelly. However, don’t forget about wine!
- Grape Wine – You should make a few batches of grape wine. If you can’t find a place to pick your grapes, try making wine from frozen juice.
In your garden, things are slowly winding down. One of my favorite veggies come into season around the beginning of September – brussel sprouts. You can freeze them for later use, or you can pickle them! That is a tasty treat!
Around August or September, the chickens that you purchased in March will start to lay eggs. It will depend on their breed. There are several ways to preserve eggs, but one of the most common is using oil. Eggs covered with mineral oil can be stored up to three months at a regular temperature or up to a year in a refrigerator!
October also brings apples. Use this time to continue to preserve apples. Some other ideas are:
- Apple Cider Vinegar – You can make ACV at home. It is great for home remedies.
- Apple Cider – Who doesn’t love a large glass of apple cider?
Pumpkins are readily available in October. One thing to note is that you cannot safely can pureed pumpkin or pumpkin butter. The USDA does not recommend it. The best method is to can pumpkin in chunks, then puree later when you need it.
October brings the end of most fall gardens. At this time, you want to harvest whatever is left in your garden and preserve. That might mean a second round of peas, radishes, brussel sprouts, kale, and cabbage!
November brings deer season for many areas of the country! If you hunt with a bow, the season is much longer than gun season. My husband hunts each year. November is the month when we can fill our freezer with deer meat, but that also could extend into December. Here are some other ideas that you can do with venison.
- Deer Jerky
- Venison Chili
- Ground Venison – frozen and canned
- Venison Stew – just like beef stew, but made with venison!
If you live in the United States, November is Thanksgiving. That means turkey! This means you have plenty of leftovers. Instead of letting those leftovers go to waste, preserve the leftover meat! You can freeze shredded turkey. Another idea is to make soups with turkey rather than chicken.
Cranberries also go hand in hand with November. They are a typical side dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. While most of us don’t grow cranberries, the prices in the store are unbeatable around this time. Here are some ideas.
- Cranberry Sauce – can your own instead of grabbing it at the store!
- Cranberry Juice – Do you love cranberry juice? Make it yourself!
- Cranberry Jam – you can find dozens of recipes, even spicy cranberry jam! Give some a try this season.
You’re at the end of the year. You survived! December is a great month to focus on relaxing and making plans for the following years. That doesn’t mean you can’t preserve. Here are some ideas!
- Christmas Jam – Those cranberries come in handy once again! Mix cranberries and strawberries together for a delicious treat.
- Orange Marmalade – You might notice that oranges are on mega-sale around this time. Oranges make a delicious marmalade for your morning toast.
- Mandarin Oranges – Do you kids love those mandarin oranges in the containers? Make your own!
How Long Do Home Canned Goods Last?
Don’t worry; all of that hard work you took won’t be wasted quickly. The optimal time to use any home canned goods is a year. That doesn’t mean all of your jams are bad the second year. For optimal flavor, you want to eat within a year. However, all home canned goods, with a proper seal, last for at least two to three years!
Preserving All Year Round
As you can see, there is always something you can be doing to add to your stockpile. Some months are busier than others. That means you should be preparing and planning during those months to prepare for the busy summer months. Check your local hunting and fishing regulations. Take full advantage of the seasons! Learn what you can grow and what grows wild in your area to extend your pantry.
Bethany Hayes is a mother of three kids who has a small, suburban homestead. When she isn’t homeschooling or gardening, she might be focusing on building up their homestead or preserving the harvest.