Preserve your garden bounty for later use with these simple, tried & true home food preservation methods…
It’s that time of year! If your kitchen counter is groaning under the weight of all the fresh garden produce, it’s time to start preserving some of the bounty for the less plentiful months ahead! Humans have been preserving food for thousands of years, and there are many different simple, safe, and effective food preservation methods that you can use to keep enjoying your harvest long after your gardening season is over.
Keep in mind that each food preservation method varies, and some may be better suited for certain types of produce than others. You will also want to make sure to closely follow all instructions and safety precautions for your chosen method of preservation, as some preservation methods may allow food to spoil if done incorrectly.
Here are some of the most popular food preservation methods for home gardeners:
Drying or dehydrating is one of the simplest and oldest methods of food preservation. All you really need is air and some time, although you can speed up the process significantly by using the oven or a dehydrator (there are many affordable options available these days).
This method helps to intensify the flavors of your food, while reducing its size so that it takes up less storage space.
Drying works best for herbs, fruit, and thin-walled vegetables such as peppers. Using a dehydrator can increase the range of foods that you can easily dry.
Freezing is also easy and cost-effective and doesn’t require any special equipment or much preparation, although some vegetables may need to be blanched first to preserve flavor and prevent freezer burn.
This preservation method works great for produce like green beans, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, corn, and most types of fruit. (Tomatoes, peppers, and fruit can be frozen without blanching – simply slice or dice, and store in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.)
The main drawback of the freezer method is that it requires plenty of freezer space, so be sure to carefully consider your available space and if space is limited, prioritize items that will be best frozen, and use another preservation method for the rest.
Canning remains one of the most popular food preservation methods, as it produces shelf-stable food that can keep for months or even years. Canning isn’t difficult to do, but it does require some safety precautions.
There are multiple methods of canning, but the simplest and least expensive is water bath canning, which only requires a big pot of boiling water. However, this method is only safe if canning acidic foods such as pickles or fruit. (Tomatoes are often considered borderline-acidic for the purpose of canning, and an acidifying agent should be added to be safe. Bottled lemon juice or citric acid both work well.) If you plan to can non-acidic veggies, you will need to invest in a pressure canner.
Make sure to follow a canning recipe that is specifically for the item you are canning, and closely follow the instructions. There are many helpful books out there to guide you. I like the classic Putting Food By, by Ruth Hertzberg, which covers multiple methods of food preservation for each fruit and vegetable. You may also wish to check out the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.
4.) Root Cellaring
This method is probably the easiest way to preserve food for later use, as it doesn’t take any work other than packaging your foods properly for storing. However, it only works well for certain foods, and of course, you have to have a root cellar, which many people in the modern world do not.
Root cellars basically function like a refrigerator, but without the use of electricity. Instead, they use the insulation and cool temperature of an underground location to keep foods cool.
If you do have access to a root cellar, the best foods for root cellaring are root vegetables like carrots, onions, potatoes, and beets. Cabbage and winter squashes may also store well in a root cellar.
Source: Fix.com Blog