Putting up all that wonderful summer harvest to keep you eating all that bounty throughout the year is an important part of homesteading. There are so many safe ways to put up food that you can do right in your home. Here are five different food preservation methods you might consider trying this year.
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One of the safest methods of food preservation is freezer. The upside of freezing your harvest is that almost anything can be frozen to extend its like and often retains almost all of its nutrients. The only main issue with this kind of food preservation is the fact that if you lose power most of your food, if not all, will go bad. In this case you do rely on a regular flow of electricity.
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This can be through a generator if needed. Despite this, you can easily blanch and freeze many different vegetables and simply slice and separate a variety of fruits. One tip is to pre-measure. Then when a recipe calls for a cup of blueberries, you have that ready and pre-measured. Freezing is also the most popular method for preserving raw meat.
I have a small dehydrator that I keep on my counter top but you can also learn to dehydrate using an oven, its just a little trickier. There are many good dehydrator recipes. The key here is a relatively low temperature over a long period of time to draw out the moisture that causes rot. A few homesteaders also swear by solar dehydrators though I have never used one.
I have heard curing used in two main ways: vegetables such as sweet potatoes and winter squash and for meats, also known as charcuterie. The reason why you see butternut squash all year long in the grocery store is because it ships well and the outside skin has been cured to the point of toughness.
These squashes include pumpkin, butternut, acorn, hubbard and spaghetti. It is pretty simple, you just need a dark, dry, not too warm room for the the squashes to cure and you can enjoy them all year. Make sure that there is some air flow so that the squashes can dry well without holding on to the moisture.
This is a modern invention that requires glass, special lids and a large stock pot or pressure canner. I have both a water bath canner and a pressure canner. The key is to be a clean and sterile as possible as well as follow directions carefully to avoid botulism. Ball Canning Guide is an excellent resource as well as the National Center for Home Food Preservation. My favorite thing to can are jams and jellies. I especially love to forage for goodies and then make delicious spreads out of them.
I am excited that this year I have been delving into the world of fermentation. I had no idea it held so many health benefits. I’ve started with kombucha but you can ferment almost anything. In fact, that is the process that is needed to make many things we take for granted such as vinegar, yogurt, sauerkraut, sourdough, bread, coffee and chocolate! You can find many easily fermented vegetables as well. You can learn more about the process of fermentation and how it works here.
What is your favorite method? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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