Some of you may have read my other posts about normality and the importance of some reminders of regular times for getting through a long term SHTF situation. Well in honor of Valentine’s Day I thought it would be interesting to explore some good options for chocolate and alternatives to put back for a long term emergency. I also wanted to touch on possible sweeteners for SHTF.
Benefits Of Chocolate
There is a big difference between raw chocolate and many of the candy bars you may have in mind. Pure chocolate or chocolate that has a high percentage of cacao has a lot of health benefits. When you start to mix in other ingredients like a lot of refined white sugar, caramel, and other candy, the value goes down. High cacao content chocolate is something a lot of people can enjoy even if they cannot eat many of the sweets on the market today.
- Pure cocoa and cacao contains a lot of valuable antioxidants
- Important when maintaining a sense of normalcy. Chocolate is extremely popular during regular times, during an SHTF situation it will seem like something from a different world and be considered a desirable luxury.
- Versatile way to add flavor to bland foods like non sweetened cereals or very basic granola
- Luxury trade item if you are in a position where you need to barter
This is a good thing to throw in your cart for stashing back. A single bar and some sweetener can go a long way. You can bake brownies, cookies, make sauces or melt it and mix with sweetener to make individual chocolates. It stores well and the concentration factor makes it a great choice. I would still recommend vacuum sealing multiple bars just to prevent any spoilage. The packaging is paper with a wax paper liner which while tough, I wouldn’t want to trust it for a long term situation. You could fit multiple bars in even the smaller pint vacuum seal bags.
Less dairy can help extend the shelf life
I used to love milk chocolate but I cannot eat uncultured milk products so I had to give it up, unfortunately. On the plus side I can still at least eat dark chocolate which usually has very little dairy and if it does, it is butter which is fine with me. If you want the longest shelf life when it comes to chocolate, get the darkest chocolate and make sure to have some sugar and vanilla put back with it. By breaking a delicious chocolate bar into components and storing, you will not have to deal with as high of a spoilage rate. Vanilla and sugar are useful for a lot of things too so by having everything individually, you can maximize the versatility of your food stash.
Dried milk powders and dried or canned butter are options for adding creaminess to chocolate at a later point. Check out my post on powdered milk and alternatives for a list of dairy products that are easy to store and go a long way.
Cocoa Powder and Cacao Nibs
I like Cocoa powder because it is concentrated and easy to vacuum seal. You can get very high-quality cocoa powder for a reasonable cost. While you will want to add some sweetener and vanilla to get a more traditional flavor, cocoa is versatile and stores very well. I have used the same tin for several years before and there was nothing wrong with it at the end.
Cacao nibs come in different textures and are popular for smoothies, garnishing desserts, or adding to cereals.
Cacao nibs are full of antioxidents and can be consumed by those that are sensitive to dairy and that need to refrain from a lot of sugar.
Special Treat Chocolate
I don’t eat a lot of sweets anymore, but once in a while when I am doing an online grocery order or just walking through the grocery store, I buy a bar of my favorite chocolate. I might just have to break down and buy a 12 pack to put in my normality box for SHTF.
Hersheys Tropical Chocolate is not made anymore but you can make your own C-Ration Style Chocolate to stand up to a hot climate, and it has a lot of nutritional value.
During WWII and Vietnam, Hershey’s made Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar. It was designed to keep its shape for an hour at 120F! Unfortunately, they do not make this anymore. My father did tell me it was actually not that good, but during a war, anything tastes good when you are used to whatever you can get or no sweets.
You can make your own heat resistant chocolate with a few ingredients. The shelf life is going to be limited by some of the additions so you may want to have the raw ingredients and then make some bars here and there. Stored individually and vacuum sealed, things like oats will last 25 years but when made into something, you can only expect a year or two based on the storage conditions. If you vacuum seal your heatproof chocolate bars you may get more than two years. Store in an area that is as cool and dry as possible to maximize the shelf life and how good it tastes when you get around to eating it.
Note: I am not sure what the shelf life of this recipe would be, but it is floating around various message boards and sites. I have changed the recipe so that it makes more so you can do a decent sized batch at once.
Homemade Tropical MRE Style Chocolate Recipe
12 oz of milk or dark chocolate chips or bars (this is the equivalent of 3 whole 4 oz bars of baking chocolate)
4 oz of Sugar (If using non-granulated sweeteners like syrup, you will need to add more of a solid ingredient to make up for the texture
1 1/3 oz of Nonfat Dry Milk
12 tablespoons Oat Flour
8-12 drops Vanilla Extract or Flavoring of Choice
Paraffin or soy wax as needed
Mold for your chocolates. You can use anything but it is probably a good idea to have something that allows you to mold chocolates to a reasonable size.
Double boiler or at least two pans that vary enough in size that you can set one inside and have some room for water. This allows you to gently melt and blend ingredients without scorching your ingredients.
Blender or food processor
- Add oat flour, sugar, and dried milk to a blender or food processor and mix until ingredients are as fine as possible. This step ensures that your product will be smoother and not taste like you have added sawdust or grit. If you can get really fine oat flour and sugar, you may be able to just mix it together by hand and get a good result.
- Melt chocolate using the double boiler method. Be patient with this step. Scorched chocolate is not good. Stir frequently. Some people add a little wax to help with melting but it is not necessary, especially if you are there to stir the entire time.
- When chocolate is entirely melted and smooth, stir in 1/2 of the oat flour, sugar, and dried milk mixture. Stir constantly until it is mixed well and then add the other half. By not adding it all at once you get a smoother result.
- Reduce heat if needed and cook chocolate for 10 minutes, stirring often enough to avoid sticking. Add vanilla or flavor and mix well.
- Pour into molds and freeze or refrigerate until set up.
- Remove from mold. The chocolate is a bit crumbly and can be cut and sized down if needed.
Store your chocolate in a cool dry place when possible to extend the life of the chocolate. A dark chocolate version of this recipe will keep longer and be more heat resistant.
Chocolate on a budget
When researching for this post, I was a bit shocked at the huge price range for chocolate. I wanted to share the best option I found for very shelf stable chocolate without a big price tag.
This chocolate is easy to find and stash back. The link above is for the 4.25 oz size bars but you can get it in a bunch of sizes so it is worth it to compare. You may catch a deal on a specific size. Since this is dark chocolate you can enjoy a good shelf life. Hershey’s does a decent job with packaging too. Special Dark is an excellent base for making the tropical chocolate or MRE style chocolate discussed in this post. Some people don’t like Hershey’s practices but if you want something inexpensive and from a brand that everyone recognizes, it is hard to beat.
There are a lot of different sweeteners out there. I am going to list a lot of options. I do want to point out that some sweeteners on this list may not be for everyone. There are a lot of studies out there so you may want to do a little bit of research to decide what you are comfortable with.
- White or brown sugar
- Agave Syrup
- Stevia drops, powder, etc.
- Cane syrup
- Corn syrup ( I never recommend High Fructose Corn Syrup for anyone but there are some corn syrups out there that may be acceptable to you
- Maple Syrup
- Sorghum Syrup
- Malt extracts in liquid or powder form
Artificial sweeteners are abundant but if you can eat a natural one, it is for the best. It seems like artificial sweeteners have a lot of things going against them. I also don’t like to have sweet stuff around that may poison a dog or other pet. Sorbitol and Xylitol, for example, are toxic to dogs. There have been cases of small dogs dying from eating chewing gum that contains artificial sweeteners. It is a dose issue. A big dog may just get a bit ill if they eat the same amount. Natural sweeteners are not always good for dogs either but usually, the effects are mild to moderate and go away quickly with no major damage.
Carob: The Chocolate Alternative
I have only met one person in my life that was sensitive or allergic to chocolate. I imagine it is a pretty rare thing. For those that are sensitive, there are a lot of carob based substitutes out there.
What is Carob?
The Carob Tree produces pods that are ground up to make a cocoa powder substitute. The pods are naturally sweet and the resulting powder is inexpensive.
Carob Tree growing in Italy. They are really beautiful!
Frontier Co-Op sells a reasonably priced carob powder in a mylar bag.
So why is heat proof chocolate so hard to find commercially?
Apparently, it is very challenging to create chocolate that tastes good enough for people to want to buy while being heat proof. While the standards the military set were that it just had to taste better than a boiled potato, that is not a marketable taste profile for nowadays. Several major chocolate companies have patented processes, but it is still not a mainstream product.
This video shows one of the processes Barry Callebaut Group is working on to create melt-resistant chocolate.
Do you have a favorite chocolate that you have put back for tough times? I would love to see alternative recipes for making “survival” chocolate that tastes good. If there are particular brands of chocolate that you have found to be more heat resistant or that maintain their flavor longer, please share in the comments. With so many types of chocolate out there it is hard to know which one stands up best to long term emergencies.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Backdoor Survival!
Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]