Preserving food at home can be a fun and inexpensive way to stretch those food budget dollars. It can also be very satisfying to look at a cupboard of canned fruit or freezer full of frozen goodies. But whether you do it because of a desire to return to old fashion values or to save money, these five ways to preserve food are bound to help.
Salting and Air Drying Food to Preserve
This is probably the oldest method of preserving food, especially meat. While here in America we tend to think of beef jerky as the most common of this type of preservation, it is used across the planet for keeping all kinds of meat from spoiling. When combined with air drying this is a simple way to make many types of meat last a long time. With jerky, it is often oven dried with a fruit marinade first to add flavor and eaten as a quick protein snack.
Freezing Food Quickly
Today we have all kinds of great full sized freezers that allow us to preserve food at low temperatures easily. If you keep meat and all other frozen food below -18 degrees, it will keep for as long as six months. If you plan on freezing plenty of food, such as this year’s bumper crop from the garden, then getting a commercial vacuum sealer will be a big help in preparation.
For veggies, it is always smart to blanch what you will be freezing first, before sealing it up and storing it in your freezer. If you live in a part of the country where hunting is big, then I am betting you have a freezer waiting on your back porch for this year’s trophies and this winter’s stews.
Canning Those Beauties
Some of my earliest memories are off gazing in awe at the rows of golden canned apricots when winter meant deep snow. Those memories of golden summers were always welcomed at our dinner table. While it may have disappeared for a while, canning is making a comeback as part of the maker revolution. Just be sure that you heat that food up high enough to kill off all bacteria before putting it in those jars. Freezer jam, an easy combination of both, is when you cook the fruit but throw the jars in the freezer and pull out as you need them.
Getting Into a Pickle
While store-bought pickles are fine, I have always savored homemade pickles. There is just something about them, and you can pickle far more than just cucumbers. In fact, pickling a melange of vegetables is an old tradition and can be spicy or sweet, just like pickles. When storing them, you want to find a nice dark place that is cool, around 18 degrees centigrade, to protect against losing any vitamins in the veggies. Just grab a jar in the winter and crunch to your heart’s content!
Smoked Fish and Other Delicacies
If you have a smoker, even a little one like the Green Egg, you are in for a treat! Smoked fish, especially if you are good at catching trout, is a really wonderful way to preserve food. Of course, around our house the smoked trout never lasts long enough to be considered something we preserve. They are just too tasty! But you can in fact smoke fish and meat of all kinds and store it in a cool dry place. Cold smoking will allow you to keep it longer but hot smoking, the kind we do at home, needs to be eaten quickly.