Can you do food storage if you have allergies? Yes! Yes! Yes! Of course you can. It just takes a little bit of planning ahead.
Let me tell you a little bit about the food situation in our family.
Our 7 year old is allergic to cow’s milk with a sensitivity to soy. The other three – the 5 year old, 2 year old and the baby – are all allergic to cow’s milk. And no, they’re not lactose-intolerant. That would be too easy. They are actually allergic to the casein protein in modern cow’s milk.
All of our children have difficulty processing simple sugars.
Their father is the lucky one – he can eat pretty much anything … except the Onion family. Yes, I still use onion and garlic. He’s willing to suffer a little discomfort. However, I do have to be careful with amounts, and the effect seems to be less with dried onion and garlic.
Me, though? Sometimes I wonder (and have been asked) if it’s simpler to list what I can eat. The children have their milk allergy from me – not that I realized it until after our youngest son almost died. My health is much better since cow’s milk stopped being a regular part of my diet. Like them, I have no problem with goat milk or butter. I am incredibly allergic to tree nuts, including coconut, and almost all seeds (hemp, flax, sunflower – I’ve reacted to them all). I can’t eat mushrooms without being violently ill.
I also have something called Oral Allergy Syndrome, which means I react with swelling lips, tongue and throat, and sometimes have intestinal difficulties, when I eat almost any fresh fruit or vegetable.
Safe ones, at this point, are potatoes, carrots, corn, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini. My mother, who has the same problem, warns me that I will eventually have problems with those, too. I jarred up a large amount of rhubarb and then tasted some. I had a bad reaction to it and had to take a fast-acting antihistamine – so boiling-water-bath canning will not always denature the allergen.
I can’t remember the last time I had more than a tiny amount of fresh fruit. Pressure canning seems to denature the allergens, as does pickling. The only way I can eat cauliflower without horrible pain is pickled.
We’ve learned to adjust to a diet without cheese and most dairy. We’ve learned to replace nuts with raisins or craisins. We’ve learned to focus on what we can have, instead of what we can’t.
Other households will need to deal with problems like gluten intolerance.
The Top Allergens In Food Storage
This does not cover all food allergens. If you have food allergies in your home, you already know that you need to think differently about food. It is likely that you already have experience with substituting. The problem is that every food storage list seems so …. pre-set. Take a step back and figure out exactly why each item is being stored.
Peanut allergies are often triggered by trace amounts or even the smell on someone’s breath! Luckily, it is easy to eliminate peanuts from food storage.
Although peanut butter is a good source of both protein and fat, it can easily be replaced by adding more solid or liquid fat and more dried or canned beans to the food storage.
When I was nineteen and had my first anaphylactic reaction to an almond, I wondered if I would ever again eat a normal life. Now, more than twenty years later, avoiding tree nuts is automatic for me.
Tree nuts include coconut, pistachio, brazil, hazelnut, almond, walnut and cashew. For the most part, eliminating tree nuts simply means increasing other protein sources.
In baking, toasted rolled oats and dried fruit like raisins both make excellent replacements for tree nuts. They also store better, since nuts can go rancid.
If the problem is dairy, determine exactly what type of dairy can and can’t be used in your home.
Milk allergies are either an allergy to casein or an allergy to whey.
As we can tolerate goat’s milk, which is not commercially available canned or powdered, I pressure can fresh milk when we have it in abundance. This is not USDA-approved, but I have found that it works for us.
This might not be an option. In that case, consider the end result. Perhaps you want milk for cooking – this can be replaced with a grain or nut milk. Almond, soy and rice are the three most common. A blender is generally necessary, but a Foley food mill or even a mortar and pestle will do the job, too. People made non-dairy “milk” long before electric blenders!
Butter can be replaced with ghee for many people. Besides, ghee stores better! But do not overlook options like pureed beans in baking, or other spreads for on bread and crackers.
If milk must be eliminated in your food storage, increase the amount of leafy greens and other calcium sources that you store.
Nutritional yeast is a good substitute for cheese, in many cases. It’s not perfect, but no cheese substitute is. My trick for using nutritional yeast? Mix equal parts nutritional yeast and fine breadcrumbs, then add garlic and Italian seasoning to make a delicious pasta topping. My children love it.
We avoid soy at our home, and it can be difficult to eliminate since about 2/3 of commercial foods contain soy. Soy allergy is common in young children.
To keep soy out of your food storage, avoid vegetable oil, lecithin and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Check carefully before storing dry cereals or processed meat as they often contain soy products.
This is another matter of simple avoidance. If shellfish is an issue, do not include shrimp or crab in your food storage. (Most people do not include scallops, oysters, prawns or lobster in long term food storage, regardless of allergies!)
2.3% of the population are allergic to fish. These people should not add tuna or salmon to their food storage, increasing the amount of other protein sources instead. Also take care with Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce and salad dressings.
1.5% of young children react badly to egg, with most outgrowing it by the age of three. Read package labels carefully when storing commercially prepared foods. Dried pasta often contains egg, as does mayonnaise, and some soups, broths and bouillons.
If you cannot tolerate eggs, but can eat seeds, store chia seeds. Yes, just like the chia pet! Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind 1 tablespoon chia seeds. Do this when you need them, and not in advance. Add 3 tablespoons water and let it set for 5 minutes. A goo much like raw egg yolk will form. Use this just like egg in your baking. A pound of chia seeds makes about 45 “eggs”.
This yummy-looking recipe for Caramel Apple Cookies from VegWeb uses “1 Chia egg”.
1/4 cup applesauce (or any other thick, pureed fruit) can often replace eggs in cakes, cookies and brownies.
According to Health Canada, people with an egg allergy may have an allergic reaction to influenza vaccines or the MMR vaccine.
Those who are gluten-intolerant look at the recommendations for 300 pounds of grains per person and wonder how they can possibly do that.
Of course they will not want to store wheat, but there are many gluten free options: millet, brown rice, quinoa, cornmeal and popcorn, buckwheat, oats (some people can not tolerate oats), sorghum, teff, amaranth! Get inventive.
In your wheat-free, or gluten-free, food storage, consider storing Xanthan gum as a binder and expander. Although expensive, a little goes a long way and it lasts indefinitely. Gluten-free baked goods without it will crumble and not rise.
There are other major allergens like sulphites, sesame and mustard, which take a little more label-reading, but are fairly easy to replace. In addition, there are people like me with Oral Allergy Syndrome who cannot tolerate fresh fruit. Most people like me can handle food that has been dehydrated or cooked, though.