I always think of ways to preserve food, as you know it is one of my favorite activities and passions. However, I know most people don’t have the experience that I do, so I decided to make a list of all the easy ways you can preserve food at home.
There are many food preservation methods, including ones that you do daily and don’t even realize. To keep food safe, you can begin by refrigerating, freezing, drying, fermenting, canning, and more.
While not many of us think that it is necessary, preserving food can save you money, time, and ultimately, turn into a fun hobby.
Here are the 6 ways to preserve food at home
Method #1: Cool and room temperature storage
Storage in a cool room is probably the easiest and most common preservation method. In this preservation method, these places are called root cellars because they are cool, dry, and don’t have any heat or A/C vents. Some of the spaces to use for this storage are unheated basements, pantries, or food trenches.
The following foods are good for dry storage:
Method #2: Drying or dehydrating foods
As you may already know, drying or dehydrating foods has been a preferred food preservation method for centuries. You can do this by using commercial dehydrators, using the sun, ovens, or air-drying.
There are many foods you can dehydrate, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meat. One of my favorite all-time snacks is beef jerky that I prepare at home, but I also use my dehydrator for things like herbs or fruit leather.
Method #3: Canning
Home canning refers to the process of heating food in glass jars to safely store them. This is the process used commercially to get food readily available in cans. However, now you can do this at home in three ways:
- Water Bath Canning: this method refers to using a large stockpot or kettle. The jars are placed on a rack, so they never have contact with the pot, then they are covered with at least 2 inches of water. This method is only safe for highly acidic foods (pH 4.6 or lower).
Some good foods to can using this method are acidic fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, and tomatoes with added acid.
- Steam Canning: this method of canning uses a special canner with a gauge that allows the temperature to rise higher than the boiling point. You can use this method to can high acid foods.
- Pressure Canning: when canning low acid foods, like meats or certain vegetables, you will need a special pot called a pressure canner. This method processes the food using high temperatures and steam.
Some foods that should be canned using pressure include carrots, beans, corn, soups, broth, and meats. Canning meat should always be done in a pressure canner. I like to use this method for other foods as well, like tomatoes, as it is safer.
Method #4: Freezing
You know this method already, as it just refers to keeping food at freezing temperatures to prevent spoilage. Most vegetables need to undergo blanching to preserve their color, texture, and flavor. Some fruits, though, can be frozen as they are due to their level of sugar.
I like to preserve all sorts of food in my freezer, like corn on the cob, which I buy in bulk and save for later. Make sure you freeze your food separately and in the adequate bags or containers.
Method #5: Fermenting and Pickling
Fermenting refers to the process of changing low acid foods into high acid foods through the use of salt, whey, or starter culture. After a few days, these bacteria will cause the food to change acidity and texture. Some common fermented foods are cheese, yogurt, and kombucha.
Pickling, on the other hand, is simply the process of preserving food by immersing them in an acidic liquid that changes the flavor and pH. This can usually be done by cooking in brine, which is a solution made up of salt and water, or by using vinegar. Some foods I tend to pickle include sauerkraut and dill pickles.
Method #6: Making jam and jellies
This method of preserving turns fruits and vegetables into sweet compotes that last longer. It is a mix of cooking the food and then canning. You can use any fruits, from berries to apples, but some of them will need the addition of acid if they have a high pH. After you cook them, you can safely use a water canner to can them.
I make jams and jellies all the time, such as this peach and almond jelly or this delicious fig jam. These preserves keep better in the fridge but can be repurposed for desserts, sauces, and more.
Save money and time with preservation!
Now that you know all about the preferred home preservation methods, what are you waiting for? I suggest you start with some easy recipes, but the truth is, once you start, you’ll want to do it forever.