This month the challenge is to learn and practice at least one kind of preserving, even if just something simple.Now is the perfect time. With gardens and farmer's markets overflowing with produce, you should be able to find inexpensive food to preserve for a rainy day. Ideas to try:
- Water Bath canning for all acidic foods - tomatoes, most fruit, salsa, pickles, jams. I use a Steam Canner for faster processing times. Check one out here: Steam Canner
- Pressure Canning for all non-acidic foods - beans, corn, meats. My favorite is a little pricey but worth the money if it's in your budget. I got mine for Mother's Day one year! All American Pressure Canner
- Freezing for most any foods. This is simple and quick. Make sure you learn about which foods need to be blanched before freezing to increase the lifespan of the food. Here is a good link about it: Freezing information
- Dehydrating is another simple way to preserve food. You can purchase a dehydrator (you can often find one used on ksl.com) or can use your oven or even the sun. Make sure to get info on how long to dry the foods and how to prepare them for dehydrating. Here's a useful guide Dehydrating information
- Root Cellaring is the way many of our ancestors preserved food for the cold months when they couldn't grow crops. This is a useful skill to practice now - I know because I've done it and made mistakes that I needed to learn from. You can preserve food anywhere that is dry and cool and below the frost line. You also need to protect the food from critters. Here is a basic starting document:Root Cellar basics
- Fermenting is a very useful skill to have, because it doesn't require anything other than a container with a lid and some salt. It also can be stored at room temterature for long term periods of time. Here is a basic guide. Fermenting basics
I want to talk about Fermenting for a bit.
Why Fermenting is the most predictable, most useful form of food preservation in a long term emergency...
In an emergency, the popular forms of preserving will be difficult, if not impossible. Freezing won't happen without electricity. Canning can work over a fire, but it would be very difficult and the handles will melt off the canners. Both require specialized equipment.
Dehydrating can be done with the sun, but not predictably and a lot of the food can be lost if not done correctly.
You can store in a root cellar, but not everything can be stored that way (not any of the soft fruits of veggies) and not everyone will have access to a cellar.
This leaves fermenting as the winner! You don't need anything but a jar and some salt. You can ferment veggies, fruit, meats, eggs, dairy (this is what yogurt is...). It is very healthy for your digestive system, and heaven knows in a long term emergency situation, anything that will improve health will be needed desperately.
Fermenting is the oldest form of food preservation and every indigenous society has their version of it (think salami and cheese - both are ferments). It goes WAY beyond sauerkraut!