Preserving: Basics

frozen food preservingIt’s not hard preserving food and doesn’t have to be especially time-consuming. You can freeze, can or dry foods for use later. It’s a good way to make use of harvest time when local foods are plentiful and cheap.

Nesco dehydrator on Amazon
Nesco dehydrator on Amazon

I know nothing about drying foods but there are plenty of books available. I’ve dried herbs with some success. Hang the plants upside in a dry place and when the leaves are fully dried, take them off (whole or crumbled) and put them in a jar. They keep pretty well as long as they are completely dry.

Freezing is probably the most fool-proof, but you need freezer space. It doesn’t have to be huge. This small chest freezer (top photo) can hold a lot of garden produce, bulk buys of meat and freezing of portions of bulk cooking projects.

Bernardin canning kit on Amazon
Bernardin canning kit on Amazon

Canning, or bottling, of vegetables and fruit is easier than you may think from reading canning books. But the books are invaluable because there are certain things you must know and precautions to take if you don’t want to lose your entire batch of pickles or get food poisoning. An advantage to canning is you only need shelf space to keep the product of your efforts. You don’t have to make vast quantities at a time. Small batches are easier to control, and once you get the hang of it, you can do a few jars of pickles or jam from start to finish while watching a movie on tv.

Canned (or bottled) meat is fabulous. If you ever have the chance to try bottled rabbit or moose, do it! Sell your soul if necessary. I have never made it and never will. It requires more knowledge to do properly and ensure its safety than I have. But the taste is to die for!

presto pressure canner Amazon link
Presto 23 qt pressure canner on Amazon


You need a sealing canner, like a big pressure cooker. The regular big canning pot works for high acid fruits, tomatoes and anything with vinegar. The sealing canner is needed for vegetables that aren’t pickled and all meats.

Be careful with meat preparation, sterilization of equipment and temperatures of cooking and bottling so you don’t risk having a tainted product. You don’t want to literally die for it. If you find someone who knows how to do it, I’d suggest learning from, and with, them. I’d never try it with only the help of a book unless you’re a Home Ec. or Chemistry student. (However, a friend who is neither a home economist or chemist told me he bottles meat all the time and it’s as easy as doing jam.) With the right equipment and care, I assume.

A theme in preserving and cooking that you will see throughout this section is: the reduced food bin is your friend. Look for what they euphemistically call “ready to use” produce, baked goods and meat in any grocery store at a discounted price. It has to be used quickly or be thrown out. Buy it. Cook or preserve it right away, and you’ve just stocked up your food supply at maybe half the regular price.

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