Safecastle | One Shop For All Emergency Essentials: July 2012

Food Storage, Emergency Preparedness, MRE's, Freeze Dried Food, Water Storage, Dehydrated Food, Survival tips

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Inside Look at Mountain House Foods

by Ben Rantala, Operations manager,

Last week I was afforded the opportunity to visit Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc.--the parent company of the premier freeze-dried food producer in the world, Mountain House.

This invitation to a select few of OFD’s retail dealers doesn’t come around very often at all. The last time they brought in some of their dealers was 15 years ago. Needless to say, lots of things have changed since then.

Before my visit to OFD, I knew very little about the freeze drying process. After all, I am a “bean counter,” as my father likes to say.

I didn’t really know what to expect from my visit to Albany, Oregon. What I walked away with was a greater understanding and a higher appreciation for OFD and Mountain House. Their attention to detail and determination to be the best was quite noticeable right from the beginning ...
Read the entire article and see the OFD facility.

Some Key Factoids:

  • OFD got their start in the cereal business and the idea for Mountain House came about near the end of the Vietnam war - when the troops were returning, they were asking where they could buy the LRP's for personal use
  • Mountain House is the only brand on the market that consists of fully freeze dried food. Other companies market theirs as such, but they have dehydrated components as well, which will not last as long as advertised.
  • Mountain House foods are fully cooked, then cooled in three stages, and then freeze dried. This helps to trap the flavor in, as well as the nutrients. Other companies will blast-freeze their product, which essentially evaporates the nutrients and the food will never be able to fully reconstitute.
  • The pouches of a major competitor essentially have only two layers (not including the outer print layer). Mountain House pouches have 7 layers, including a nylon layer which prevents high oxygen transmission. Not having enough layers will allow UV light to penetrate, and advance the rancidity of the food much quicker.

Firebox at

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mountain House Products are Exceeding 30-Year Shelf Life

My operations manager was at Mountain House yesterday and took part in some blind taste testing between MH foods and several other branded dried storage foods. He reported that in every variety compared, the MH foods turned out a slam-dunk winner in both taste and appearance. As a matter of fact, he also tasted some of this pictured 30-year-old Mountain House freeze-dried Rice & Chicken. He said it was "quite tasty"! 

Mountain House Results Show That Products Are Exceeding 30-Year Shelf Life
Industry-Leading Freeze-Dried Food Manufacturer Continues to Set Shelf Life Records
ALBANY, Ore.--()--Mountain House, the leading domestic brand of freeze-dried food, conducted an internal taste test to compare the quality of new pouches of food versus 30- to 31-year-old pouches from the company’s archives. Six products were scored on a nine-point scale by 12 participants. Despite the fact that archived pouches trailed the new pouches in each case, the resulting average score of 6.6 surprised even the most seasoned of taste testers in the group.
“We know that packaging in cans is a great way to preserve freshness over time, and we will continue using this method”
According to Norm Jager, head of research and development for Mountain House, the fact that the archived pouches scored this highly after 30 years indicated to Mountain House a need to re-think how it communicates shelf-life to consumers.
“Mountain House is the only brand that determines shelf life by testing its own archived products. It is increasingly clear that our products are performing well beyond the shelf life displayed on our labels. As a result, we are going to move from a ‘use by’ date on our products to a ‘manufactured on’ date because, frankly, the ‘use by’ date keeps getting pushed out into the future. In other words, we’re not just guessing that our products will last over 30 years, we know it and we want our customers to know it as well.”
As the industry leader in freeze-dried food, Mountain House attributes the ever-increasing shelf life of its pouches to rigorous end-to-end manufacturing processes and quality control. This includes everything from ingredient sourcing, recipe development, blending of seasonings, cooking, and freeze drying to packaging and distribution. These facts, in tandem with ongoing taste test findings, could have significant meaning to consumers looking for maximum longevity.
“We know that packaging in cans is a great way to preserve freshness over time, and we will continue using this method,” said Jager. “However, it’s great to know that our pouch packaging is nearly as durable, when stored properly. When you eat 30-year-old Mountain House food you will more than just survive on it, you will enjoy it and get almost the exact same nutrition as freshly made product. We carry that confidence with us as we continue developing our product offerings this year.”

For more information on this study, please visit:

About Mountain House
Mountain House, the #1 domestic brand of freeze-dried food, has been the leading choice of backpackers, hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts for nearly 50 years, and more recently has become a favorite long-term food storage solution for emergency preparedness. Mountain House products are convenient, easy to prepare and have an industry-leading shelf life. For more information and a complete list of product offerings, visit

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Case of Mountain House Food Awarded August 1: Winner's Choice, Value to $400!

We do this monthly--give away a case of Mountain House freeze dried food, winner's choice from among the Mountain House listings in our Safecastle store. You have to like your odds, don't you? ... given that the grand prize every month is valued to $400, and the pool of possible winners is still pretty small. Of course, our goal is to make that number of folks grow.

How do you get into the monthly drawing? It's a piece of cake. Just like our Safecastle Facebook page:

Remain on the Safecastle LIKE list and you will be in the drawing for as long as we do this.

I do have a challenge out there for all of you that can greatly increase your chances of being a winner in this next drawing. Right now we have 2326 likes on our page. If and when we reach 2750, we will be awarding an additional 5 Mountain House Best Seller kits. So if you SHARE our page with your Facebook friends, then we just might reach that goal in the next few days.

The next drawing is August 1, 2012.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

7 Reasons NOW is the Time for Your Mountain House Food Purchase

Mountain House freeze-dried food is the world's premier long-term storage food--shelf life of 30 years in #10 cans and award-winning quality, selection, and taste.

Occasionally, timing is everything. Many factors are currently aligned ... let's count the ways:

1. Numerous Mountain House #10-can discounts right now at Safecastle are at levels that have not been seen anywhere in more than 5 years (up to 34%)! Note: This sale ends July 18.

2. Free shipping on everything to the lower 48

3. Our buyers club member rewards are providing $30 gift certificates for every 3 MH can cases in a transaction!

4. Many MH manufacturer can prices are going up 5% on Aug. 1, everywhere MH is sold.

5. In July only, we are making the unprecedented offer of a FREE lifetime buyers club membership and a $20 coupon code (one-time use)!

6. Have you seen the news release about the independent study comparing the oxygen present in Mountain House food vs. Wise Food (a crucial factor in determining actual shelf life)?

7. And how about those global headlines? Take your pick ... the economy, international tensions, crime rates, and the social and political head-butting that is stoking the flames of class warfare ...

Now is the time. Get your gear in place and supplies topped off. The hourglass may not be flipped again.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Third Party Lab Study Finds Oxygen Levels in Wise Co. Foods 110 Times Higher than in Mountain House Foods!

ALBANY,Ore.- July 12,2012- Mountain House, the leading domestic brand of freeze-dried food, released the results today of a study designed to illustrate how different brands handle oxygen levels in their long­ term food storage products. The study, conducted by Columbia Food Laboratories, focused on oxygen levels found in pouches of Mountain House freeze-dried  foods compared  to those of a competitor.

"For proper long-term food storage, it's important to maintain  oxygen exposure as low as possible," said Lee Goin, laboratory director  at Columbia Food Laboratories. "Oxygen causes rancidity in foods containing unsaturated fats. Even slight rancidity  can make a food undesirable. Oxygen causes nutritional value to be lost, especially vitamins A, C, D and E. Removal of oxygen will kill any insects, larvae and their eggs that may to be present."

Consumers should be aware that there are four main contributors to food spoilage: water, heat, light, and oxygen. Freeze drying removes 98% of the water in food, while dehydrating removes between 80% and 97%. Storing food in a cool, dark place helps to avoid heat and light exposure. However, the fourth factor, oxygen, can only be averted through  quality processing and packaging, which is where the study found competitor's products falling short.

"Our curiosity  was piqued when we saw brands such as Wise Company implying that their pouches have up to a 25-year shelf life, which is rarely found in pouches of freeze-dried foods," commented Norm Jager, head of research and development for Mountain House. "Freeze-dried meals serve families in times of dire need when emergencies hit, which means that it's imperative that these foods deliver on the promises made. So instead of just sitting on the sidelines, we decided to test their products in an effort to educate consumers across the U.S. on the importance of oxygen, which should ideally be less than 2 percent for long term food storage."

Oxygen Levels in Wise Company Products were 110 Times Higher Than Mountain House
Mountain House commissioned  Columbia Food Laboratories to test 30 samples of dehydrated  and freeze dried meals from Wise Company as well as 30 samples of comparable  Mountain House freeze dried meals. The results were staggering. Average oxygen levels in Wise Company products  were 18.25%, nearly the 21% level found in the atmosphere  and 110 times higher than the average 0.16% oxygen found in Mountain
House products. The most alarming part is that Wise Company products were manufactured in April of 2012 and already exhibit  near-atmospheric levels of oxygen, which would not provide a 25-year shelf life.

In distinction, Mountain House has a long-standing history of excellence in the freeze-dried foods industry, pioneering the necessary technology  and processes for more than 40 years. As part of a rigorous, ongoing quality assurance program, Mountain House regularly tests its own archived products from as far back as 35 years. For additional information on products offered  by Mountain House please visit

For more info, including links to data graphs, go here.

About Mountain House
Mountain House, the #1domestic brand of freeze-dried food, has been the leading choice of backpackers, hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts for nearly 50 years, and more recently  has become a favorite  long-term food storage solution  for emergency preparedness. Mountain House products are convenient, easy to prepare and have an industry-leading shelf life. For more information and a complete list of product  offerings, visit

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prepper Gut-Check

Anyone else feeling the hairs starting to rise?

I've been in the crisis preparedness business a long time now. I've been through a lot of periods where genuine crises, catastrophes, and tragedies have twisted the macro guy-wires about as tight as they will go. But we are in uncharted territory here.

Today, if you are still paying close attention, you recognize that the tension on society's many key guy wires are at the breaking point.

"If you are still paying close attention" is an important qualifier here. Over time, even conditions where overly taut, massively stressful environments can assume the position of the new normal and you can ease into a comfortable pocket of denial.

  • The global economy has been massaged, reshaped, and painted over to the point where it quite simply is now a giant, unyielding brick teetering toward its long-delayed, earth-shaking tumble over the edge.
  • International tensions are gearing up to levels not seen since the Cold War ... and hot wars without boundaries are quite possibly imminent.
  • Social, racial, political, and religious confrontations are extending beyond acceptable restraints into the realm of criminal assaults and incendiary media driven cheerleading.
  • And speaking of criminals ... is anyone else having a hard time separating the good guys from the bad guys?

Today, our own country's power complex has assumed the attitude that its own people ... the traditional, conservative backbone of America ... pose the greatest "terrorist threat" to their own continuity.

Gut-Check Time

I don't really know where the breaking point will turn out to be or in what order the cascade of society will hit bottom. But if you have managed to keep from being lulled into a sense of ill-timed complacency, then you will likely agree with me that we are now well into a period we might call a "pre-crunch prepper gut-check."

Clearly the bottom is falling out. Our support structures are failing and any social safety nets will be torn away. If you haven't gotten all your gear and supplies squared away by now and started focusing on critical security and self-defense issues, then you are behind the curve, my friends.

At least that's what my gut tells me.

A sudden and unexpected attack on reality will result from an economic collapse or other potential sources and will be devastating for most.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Mountain House Discounts Not Seen in at Least Five Years: Up to 34%!

1. Mountain House just contacted us last night--they are offering a special discount for the rest of July on their canned freeze dried fruits and vegetables. That means we can offer you those products at a discount not seen in at least 5 years ... up to 34% off SRP! And of course, the rest of our MH can listings remain at the maximum-allowed 25%-off thru July 18. Shop the MH sale here.

Lest you forget, that's not all ... our buyers club members also are being awarded $30 gift certificates for every 3 MH can cases in a transaction, via our Royalty Rewards program.

And yes--everything ships free to the lower 48, as always.

Reminder--effective August 1, MH is raising the SRP by 5% on many of their canned items, so now is the time to move on shoring up your food stores with the best emergency food money can buy.

2. If you're not a buyers club member yet, you can now get a membership for free using our special offer.

And if you are a member, you have a gift from us in the form of a $20 coupon code (one use per customer). Get those coupon codes here:

3. New products in the store lately include some low-sodium Mountain House foods, the old-favorite MH 7-day kit (limited time availability), and a new premium MH 10-pack meal assortment in pouches. Shop all our new items here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Celebrate Your Independence; Exercise Your Liberty to Prepare

We are still at liberty to prepare for the tough times ahead. Those who are exercising those liberties today will be the ones who are in position to hold strong and to help others ... rather than having to be dangling on the other side of the wall when the bottom falls out.

Safecastle is pulling out all the stops this month to ensure the best opportunity for you to get squared away right now ...

1. If you're not a buyers club member yet, you can now get a membership for free using our special offer. And if you are a member, you have a gift from us in the form of a $20 coupon code (one use per customer). Get those coupon codes here:

2. Lindon Farms fruits & veggies are 44% off thru July 6 -- a heck of a deal!

3. A bonus Mountain House cans sale is now live, good thru July 18. We are of course offering the maximum allowed 25% off on all MH cans, as well as offering our club members their exclusive Royalty Rewards gift certificates ($30 for every three cases of MH cans in a transaction). As always at Safecastle, everything always ships free to the lower 48.

4. We've got a lot of new products in the store lately--to include some low-sodium Mountain House foods, the old-favorite MH 7-day kit (limited time availability), and a new premium MH 10-pack meal assortment in pouches. Shop all our new items here.

Stay free.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Options for Purifying Water

In a survival situation, clean drinking water is your most important resource. Depending on the environmental conditions and your physical activity, a person cannot safely go longer than a few days without water.

If you are embarking on a household preparedness effort, water needs to be at the top of your list. Plan for at least one gallon of water per person per day to satisfy drinking and food-preparation needs. Beyond that, additional water is needed for hygiene. If you can store purified or city-treated water in a cool dark area, that is an excellent start. Ideally, you want to use new water-storage containers or barrels that meet UN and FDA regulations. You should rotate/freshen your water storage every six months or so unless you treat that water with water preserver concentrate that can extend your shelf life to five years. (Household bleach is not a water preserver. In fact, bleach loses potency very quickly—any bleach that is beyond six months out of the factory is largely worthless for purification purposes.)


It’s good to have on hand several different capabilities for purifying water.

Boiling: The old standby and probably the best method is the ability to boil water. Boil for at least 10-15 minutes to kill most bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Chemical disinfection: The next best option is to use a proper dosage of a commercially produced water purification tablet, such as Katadyn Micropur, Coghlan’s, or Potable-Aqua. Iodine products such as tincture of iodine or crystalline iodine are also effective. (Important: iodine can be lethal if used in quantities greater than recommended and iodine-treated water should not be used by pregnant women or consumed by anyone for more than a few weeks at a time.) Note that cryptosporidium and other parasites may not be killed using chemical disinfection methods. Be sure to follow directions for each product with measured water volumes.

Portable water filters: The thing to look for with water filters is the filter’s absolute pore size. Filters are designed to remove parasites (Giardia/Cryptosporidium) and have an "absolute” pore sizes of 0.1 to 1-micrometer (the smaller the pore size, the better). They will also remove most diarrhea-causing bacteria. Most portable water filters do not remove viruses so chemical disinfection is recommended after filtration.

Chlorine (NOT a good option): Chlorine has been thought by many to be a reliable way of treating water, but it is risky doing so, since chlorine degrades so quickly and loses its efficacy. Iodine or other stable water-treatment chemicals are more effective.

For more info on water treatment options, visit: