This food preservation guide is inspired by the rising food costs and an overall desire to get back to our old ways. You are only about two generations away from someone who relied on preserved foods as a staple in their home.
What Is the Purpose of a Food Preservation Guide?
This guide is designed to help you get the most out of the food you buy or grow. Whenever fresh food comes into your home you can store it for a short time before the food starts to go bad. You can eat the food, or you will have to throw it away.
With the price of food going up consistently it only makes sense to practice some ways that can stretch that food and your hard-earned dollars a little further.
Our food preservation guide is all about a variety of techniques that will help you preserve food for much longer than its typical shelf life. Through techniques like canning, dehydrating, curing, and fermenting, you will be able to keep foods for months or even years at a time. Some of these foods can keep almost indefinitely!
Ways to Preserve Food
We have been preserving foods intentionally for 12,000 years! The earliest evidence comes from the Middle East and Asian regions where the sun was used to dry food. Humans have come up with all sorts of ways to avoid food spoilage.
In our food preservation guide we are going to focus on 4 methods of food preservation.
This is a process of using a hot water bath or a pressure canner to remove all the oxygen from food that is packed in mason jars. With the oxygen removed and the contents stored under pressure the conditions for spoilage are extremely limited.
Dehydrating food often involves using a machine that blows air or the sun and wind to help remove as much moisture from a food item as possible. The food behind dehydrated is often sliced thin to help with this process.
Fermenting is one of those processes that is so effective you don’t even realize that you use fermented products all the time. A great example is a pickle. Another very popular example of fermentation is the process of making beer!
Fermented foods are basically aged and sometimes soured with the help of things like salt, sugar, and vinegar. Fermented foods are also incredibly healthful for your body.
Curing is a meat preservation method that uses smoke, salt, or sugar, or a combination of them all to increase the shelf life of meat. Curing is another incredibly popular food preservation method that we do not really appreciate.
Hot dogs, bacon, and ham are all examples of cured foods that we eat regularly.
The first method in our food preservation guide is canning. If you are a gardener, then you need to be canning food. Well, if you are any good at gardening. You know that by the end of the summer you have a ton of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, eggplant and your other favorites to grow.
Canning gives you the ability to pack these all away in mason jars to be eaten at a later date. You can also can full meals or even just can the meats themselves.
The canning process requires that you understand two main concepts. The first is acidity. high-acid foods can be canned using the water batch canning method. Low-acid foods must be canned using the pressure canning method.
There are two methods of canning. You should learn how to do both and have the canning equipment necessary. Canning is also heavily based on recipes. These canning recipes will keep your food safe and free of bacterial growth. Follow the recipes carefully when you are canning.
Water Bath Canning
This type of canning is great for tomato-based foods and acidic fruit-based foods like jams and jellies.
Any foods that are not acidic are going to require the pressure canning method. This canning method uses a pressure canner that heats your canned foods under pressure for a specified period of time.
You will have to learn how to use your specific model of pressure canner and, as mentioned previously, follow the canning recipes
Juice from 2 Limes1 Large White Onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers
5 Garlic Cloves
Handful of cilantro
1Tbsp Each Cumin, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, Salt
2 Tbsp Sugar
Bring to a simmer.
Simmer 10 minutes uncovered blend but not smooth
Hot water bath can
Cover the jars with at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a rolling boil and process for 15 minutes (adjust for altitude, if needed: 20 minutes for altitudes 1000 to 6000 feet, 25 minutes above 6000 feet). Then turn off heat and let the jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes.
Food Preservation Guide Takeaways – Canning
Canning is an incredibly effective food preservation method that allows you to store vegetables, fruits and even meats for years in your pantry. It does take some basic equipment like mason jars and a pressure canner.
You will also need a canning recipe book and follow these recipes to keep your family safe and give your canned foods the very longest shelf life possible.
Dehydrating is kind of like the opposite of canning in that much of it happens without us doing anything. It was very common for colonial Americans to simply hang food, sliced thin, using string and the rafters and allow it to dehydrate there on its own.
Now we have modern dehydrators that are affordable and allow you to dehydrate a lot of food in 12 -18 hours. You can even build yourself a solar dehydrator that will work without electricity.
Things like fresh herbs can be hung upside down outside in bundles and they will dry without issue in the sun. Dehydrating is a very effective and underutilized food preservation method.
I store most of my dehydrated foods in smaller mylar bags.
Food Preservation Guide Takeaways – Dehydrating
Dehydrating fits right into our food preservation guide because it can take little to no energy and works on so many different kinds of foods. Having a food dehydrator can really make the process simple.
The next method on our food preservation guide is fermentation. Kimchi is a great example of fermenting and how effective it can be. This is a food that was fermented and buried in the ground in clay pots to allow for long term food preservation.
This Korean food was buried to deal with harsh Korean winters while still keeping the bacteria responsible for the fermenting process alive.
Fermenting is a process that uses salt, sugar, and vinegar to create a process that can actually benefit from time without refrigeration. That is the biggest benefit and one of the big reasons we put this method in our food preservation guide.
Food Preservation Guide Takeaways – Fermenting
Fermenting foods starts with fresh vegetables that are salted or brined and then left at room temperature to start the fermentation process. Even drinks like beer and Kombucha are made from the fermentation process.
Fermenting spans the globe and is practiced by nearly every culture. The best way to familiarize yourself with the process is to try it. It is actually one of the easiest methods in our food preservation guide.
Curing is a rare food preservation method that is designed to preserve meat. This is why understanding how to cure is such a valuable skill. Protein is an important part of human survival so being able to stretch the shelf life of fresh meat is certainly a survival skill.
This process usually starts with the salting of meat. The meat can be salt cured, or you can add sugar and flavorings to the cure. The larger the piece of meat the longer it will take to cure.
You cannot have a food preservation guide without the curing process.
Salt can cure on its own because it draws the water out of the meat and the microorganisms that would spoil that meat. It does this through osmosis which severely slows down the growth of those microorganisms.
Sugar is not used to flavor the cure as much as it is used to balance out the harshness of the salt. Cured food could wind up too salty and then you won’t want to eat it. Sugar also helps feed beneficial the beneficial bacteria.
Smoke is used in a number of ways when it comes to the curing process. Hot smoke can slowly cook a cured piece of meat. Smoke in general will create a skin on the outside of the meat.
Simple Bacon Cure
2 pounds Raw Pork Belly
4 tablespoons white sugar
3 ½ teaspoons salt
Mix together the salt and sugar. Cover the pork belly with this mixture completely and store in the fridge for a week. After a week rinse off the bacon and cold smoke if you desire that smokey bacon flavor. Otherwise, you can allow it a day in the fridge to dry a bit before slicing thin and cooking.
Food Preservation Guide Takeaways – Curing
Like many of the methods on our food preservation guide curing is reliable and ancient. It can be done with just salt but the addition of sugar and even smoke can make the end product much more delicious.
Wrapping Up the Complete Food Preservation Guide
Food preservation has been a skill of the human for thousands of years. We have only recently lost touch with these skills. I believe that after our brief hiatus with convenience and comfort we should embrace these lost skills and hang meat to cure, pickle our own cucumbers, and dehydrate some strawberries when they are on sale at the supermarket.
Use the recipes we have given you in this food preservation guide to combat food spoilage and start your own journey with food preservation. While you’re learning about food preservation, check out How to Organize Your Survival Food Storage.