Have you ever had those Datrex or Mainstay Emergency food ration bars? If so, you may have realized that they aren’t the best of survival rations for taste but they will keep you alive. Nuff said. And hard tack? Yikes! You may as well be eating a brick. 😉
Well, I came across this article a while back on making survival bars and I thought I would give it a shot myself to see what they tasted like. Please read the original article if you like, though, I will post the ingredients and steps below, as well as my own experience making them.
Also note that according to the original article the entire batch makes approximate 2000 calories, NOT just a single bar. Depending on how you cut it, a single bar will be a few hundred calories at most. This is about the same as the Datrex or Mainstay rations.
As for taste, they’re not bad at all. In fact, I was surprised that they tasted so good.
- 2 cups oats (I used regular oats)
- 2 1/2 cups powdered milk (I used nonfat from LDS storage)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 3-oz. package lemon jello (the recipe says you can use orange instead)
- 3 tbsp water
- Mix oats, powdered milk, sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Mix water, jello, honey in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Add jello mixture to oats mixture and blend well.
- After being thoroughly mixed, press into a lined (with parchment paper) 9″x13″ pan.
- Cut dough into bars and ensure they’re completely cut through.
- Bake bars at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1.5 to 2 hours. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Alternatively, you can dehydrate them at 145 degrees for 4-6 hours.
- After dry and cooled, separate bars and package in a foodsaver bag or mylar bag.
I choose to bake half the batch in the oven for two full hours and I would say that was just about right. The other half I choose to dehydrate for about six hours. Either way, when I was done the bars broke in half with a crispiness that tells me they were done.
I should also note that there was a noticeable difference in the color of the baked versus dehydrated bars, in that the dehydrated bars were significantly lighter in color than the oven bars. The taste seemed the same.
- If dough is dry add water 1 tsp at a time until the dough is still crumbly but able to stick together when pressed. I ended up using about two tablespoons and that worked well for me.
- Do NOT purchase Jello instant pudding mix. That’s what I bought the first time I tried this and it didn’t work out well. My wife laughed at for a minute or two. 😉 When finished laughing, she told me I needed the actual lemon Jello packet that says “Gelatin” on it. In my defense, the box said Jello right on the front.
- Remember, the drier the better because moisture will cause them to go bad and possibly even to develop Botulism depending on how you package them for the long term. My advice: take your time drying!!
I decided to do my own math and found that the entire batch made up over 3000 calories. If cut into 12 roughly equal bars that’s 260 calories per bar. Unless I did my math wrong here’s what I found:
- Oats = 560 calories (at 140 calories per 1/2 cup)
- Milk = 1333 calories (at 100 calories per 3 Tbsp; there are 40 Tbsp in 2.5 cups)
- Sugar = 720 calories (at 15 calories per 1 tsp; there are 48 teaspoons in 1 cup)
- Honey = 180 calories (at 60 calories per 1 Tbsp)
- Jello packet = 320 calories (at 80 calories per serving, 4 servings per package)
Well, that’s about it. I packaged mine in foodsaver rolls, marked the date, and stashed them in my workshop for a while to see how they do over the long term. Compared to what you can purchase commercially made and certainly when compared to hard tack, these are winners!