Sometimes you just want a certain type of fresh food, whether it’s for a recipe or simply because you’re craving it. Unfortunately, our favorite fruits and vegetables aren’t available year-round. We’ve discussed options for having fresh food in the winter, and preserving foods is a way to do so. It is much healthier than opting for store products that sometimes contain less than desirable ingredients. Preserved food is more nutritious – you’ll save money and flavor!
There are six general food preservation methods: fermentation, acidification, drying, root cellaring, home canning and freezing. Here’s a little more about them:
You ferment foods by allowing one type of microbe to act on a food substance. This allows the food to convert some of its components into alcohols or acids.
Acidification involves dunking fruits, vegetables, and herbs in vinegar.
The preservation method of drying includes removing the water to help concentrate flavors. Food dehydrators are available to make this process easier, and the food should then be stored in an air-tight container.
Cellaring is a method that refers to storing for a long period of time by keeping it in a cool, dark spot. This spot can be in your garage or basement.
You can preserve food by home canning it. The easiest method of canning is called water-bath canning, in which you sanitize the can or jar in water so you can safely store food.
Freezing is one of the easiest methods of food preservation. Berries are the easiest to freeze and require very little preparation.
When preserving food, be sure to do so at the peak of harvest so that you can save it for the colder months or when the food isn’t in season.
Tips and Methods for Preserving Foods: 5 Easy Choices
Apples: You can easily make apples into applesauce to can for later use. You may also want to try preserving them to make dried apple rings as an easy after-school snack for the kids. If you want to preserve apple slices, be sure to use the water-bath method.
Greens: Hearty varieties of greens, including kale and spinach, can be easily frozen. You can also dry them into chips and store for later. They can make a great snack in between meals!
Peppers: The only downfall to peppers is that they don’t always last very long. If you want to keep your homegrown peppers, be sure to freeze them as slices or chunks. For hot peppers, dry them whole before stringing together and fermenting in hot sauce.
Beans: The best way to preserve wax, yellow, and green beans is to pickle and water-bath them. You may also want to try drying and freezing the beans. If you want to preserve lima beans, make sure you dry them before freezing. As for any other bean, drying works well for preservation.
Berries: You don’t need to do much to berries in order to preserve them. Just make sure that you wash them, pat dry, and then freeze with or without sugar. If you want to stock up on homemade jam, use the water-bath method.
Have you ever tried preserving food? Which method did you use, and how did it work out?