Canning and preserving your Food|Planting, Growing, Canning, Food Solutions|Community Discussion|MPN Community
There are a ton of reasons to learn to preserve your own food! Some can be in order to prepare for harder times in your life while others are more “save the world kinda reasons”. Chances are you and your family have or will experience a time of hardship. What would happen if you were unable to work or lost your job for a few months? What would happen if your vehicle breaks down or you have another costly emergency? What if you weren’t able to leave your house? Would you and your family be able to survive? What if we experience a second Great Depression. There are a million reasons why preserving food could benefit you and your family.
Preserving fruits and veggies is a great way to ensure you are getting proper vitamins and nutrients even during the winter. While the market may have all sorts of fruits and veggies in store all year round there is no denying that some are definitely better when they are in season. For example, I cannot get a good peach at my grocery store unless it’s between April to July. However, peaches are my favorite food so what do I do for the rest of the year? I use peaches that I preserved. The type of technique I use depends on what I want to use the food for. If I am making smoothies I will freeze small chunks of peaches on a sheet pan or a silicone mat and then pop them into freezer bags for when I want to use them. If I am making a peach pie or cobbler then I use canned peaches. If I want a sweet snack or a topping for my cereal I will grab some dried peaches. There are endless ways to both preserve and use food and this is something that we as a nation MUST utilize. Did you know that America wastes 30 to 40% of its food? If we utilized this waste thru preservation and other food-saving and utilization methods we could solve hunger in America!
As you may know, experts are predicting the next great depression in our near future! Studies have shown that people who utilized food preservation were more likely to thrive and fight off hunger in times of financial hardship. Most survivalist or disaster preparedness organizations advise that you keep at least 2 weeks of food in your home at all times. I feel as though this number should be much much higher. I try to keep at least a month of complete meals in my pantry. While it is easy to grab and store things like flour and sugar, store-bought canned foods, and pasta from the supermarket, these things can be incredibly unhealthy. Most store-bought food is full of preservatives, high in empty calories and low in nutrition. If you begin researching some of the most common staples in an American pantry you might be surprised to find that the American diet is literally poisonous. Our diets have become so full of addictive sugars and high amounts of salt and fats that we are literally killing ourselves.
Then there is the fact that America wastes 30 to 40% of its food. If we utilized and preserved this food for use we could solve hunger in America. Aside from that utilizing sustainable materials such as glass jars used for storing as opposed to purchasing everything packaged would have a huge impact on our planet.
The more you learn the more you will see that preserving your own food is an amazing skill that everyone should have. Here is one of the best websites I have found and a few other good ones. Here you will find all of the knowledge you need to start preserving your own food.
I mean when I say this is a comprehensive website for canning info I mean it. Everything from equipment, to processing time, to temperatures, baby food canning, canning in a variety of ways such as a stovetop or pressure cooker, and troubleshooting. This site also includes some great information to help you stay safe. The scariest things about canning are getting sick from canned products, and the ever-popular exploding pressure cooker. However, if you read over these beginner guides you will not have to worry about these things. But canning is not the only one of the amazing ways you can preserve your food.
Freezing may seem simple you just put it in the freezer right? However, if you want your fresh foods to taste fresh after thawing then there are some great and ingenious ways to make this happen. For example instead of placing your blueberries in a freezer bag and calling it a day you can put them on a sheet pan and freeze them. This will prevent them from sticking together and then they can be placed in a freezer bag. This will allow you to grab the exact amount of berries you need when you go to use them. Blanching veggies is also a great way to ensure their fresh taste and texture remain after freezing. The articles also covers temperature and freezer maintenance and proper thawing procedures.
Drying foods is a way to create the most long-lasting as well as space-saving food preservation. It is also a great way to create healthy snacks for your kids with dried fruits and fruit leather, jerky, and seeds. It is also a great way to hide veggies in your foods for pickier eaters. Drying herbs allows you to have year-round access to flavors other than salt and sugar which are both super unhealthy in large amounts. There are also many great recipes for soups and dips that include dried ingredients all in one jar. This is amazing because you can just grab a jar and add a liquid and voila you have dinner on the table. This is an amazing space saver especially to save large quantities of food. I will include some of my favorite jar dinners below.
Fermenting is used for things like sauerkraut, and pickling can be done with fruits, veggies, and eggs. Both are great ways to preserve food and are nice additions to your pantry. Pickling can be a great way to handle your surplus of squash and cucumbers, cauliflower and peppers, onions, and eggs at the end of a season as well.
Last but not least Making Jam or Jelly
Every year my son and I go pick raspberries at this great spot I know and these delicate but yummy fruits must be preserved if you want to keep them for any amount of time. A great way to do this is by making jams or jellies. You can also make wine, freeze them or dehydrate them.
If you have never done any of these preservation processes you are not alone. However, it is never too late to learn. I recommend that you start with pickling, canning, or freezing. These are the least complicated or require the least amount of supplies. Good Luck starting your food preservation Journey I will be posting more information about being self-sufficient so keep checking back!