Preserving and storing food is becoming a bit of a lost art and it’s a shame.
What do you do when you come across a great deal at the grocery store or the farmers market? What do you do when you’re offered a deal on a bushel of produce that you can’t pass up? What do you do when you have a bumper crop of green beans, squash or tomatoes? There’s only so much of any one food you can eat before you get sick and tired of it or it goes bad. If you know how to preserve it, you can put it up and use it throughout the year.
The Good Old Freezer
The first thing most of us do to store extra food is to freeze it. You can cook up your harvest in some of your favorite freezer friendly foods, or clean and precook them and toss them in the freezer. This is also a great way to store fruits like berries and peaches that don’t last long once they are ripe.
I have everything from meats, fruits and veggies to leftover chicken pot pie and lasagna in my freezer. I also freeze my extra oat, coconut and almond flours in the freezer. The only disadvantage to freezing food is that you’ve only got so much freezer space. Plus what happens if the power goes out for an expended period of time?
Tip: Be sure to get in the habit of labeling frozen food well so you know what it is before you pull it out to thaw and how long it’s been sitting in the freezer. That way if you aren’t gonna get to it quick enough you can thaw some of it out to use or pressure can to extend the life of the food.
Pressure Canning or Water Bath Canning
Canning is one of the most versatile ways to preserve food. You can make and can anything from jelly and pie filling to chili and green beans. I even can soups, stews, a variety of dry beans including homemade chili beans and meats. Yes meat! I’ve got pork, beef, chicken and venison canned in my pantry for quick and easy meals or emergencies.
Canning has the added advantage of not taking up any space in your fridge and freezer. You can store your canned goods in the pantry, on a shelf in the kitchen, or anywhere in the basement. Heck, I’ve been known to keep canned goods in our guest bedroom closet if I’m running out of room. Properly canned food also stores way longer than any other method.
Tip: If standing over a big old pressure cooker monitoring dials and adjusting your stove up and down to keep the pressure at just the right amount is too much for you, do what I do and use an electric pressure canner. It’s fool proof. Just set it and forget it. It’s how I’ve canned everything I can. My flat-top stove isn’t approved for canning. Plus one of the big bad stove top pressure canners intimidate the shizzle outa me!
I highly recommend this one.
If you don’t have a lot of space, consider dehydrating food. You can start by using your oven on the lowest setting. Try dehydrating some apple slices, or any type of food to use in baking and cereal throughout the year. Then explore further and come up with fun snacks like kale chips, banana chips and even dried veggies that you can use in soup. I love to dehydrate thinly sliced chicken thighs into jerky. It’s one of our favorite grab on the run snacks. I dehydrate mine in my air fryer.
Another favorite old-fashioned way to preserve food is to pickle it. Pickling involves submerging the produce in a brine made of salt, sugar, water, and various pickling spices. The most common pickled item is of course pickles and it’s a great place to start. But don’t stop there. You can pickle peppers, okra, cauliflower and a wide variety of other veggies and even fruits. Play with it and see what you like. Pickled veggies make a great addition to sandwiches and salads throughout the year.
Cold Store It
Last but not least let’s talk about the simplest way to store food. Things like root vegetables, apples, and cabbages store well in a dry, cool, and dark place. This used to the reason any house had a root cellar. Today your pantry might be a good place to store this type of food. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement, you can set up a cool spot with some shelves to keep a lot of produce for months to come.
We use 4 of these 5 main ways of preserving food at the Happypreneur homestead. We don’t have a basement so cold storage is out for us. How many of these ways do you use? I’d love to hear how you store food in your household. Leave a comment and let me know!