How to Preserve Food at Home
We have a new writer that has joined our team here at UK Survival Guides and she is going to be our resident food blogger.
She has a list of some great articles that she wants to share with you all in the coming months but today I wanted to write a short introduction to the different methods of food preservation to get you started.
What does this have to do with prepping? Well quite a lot actually and by learning how to preserve your own food, you can save yourself a lot of money.
All you need to do is look at the receipt from your last grocery shop and think back to the prices that you used to pay for the same things. You will clearly see just how much those prices have risen and it won’t get any better.
Growing your own food at home is great but to really benefit, you need to learn how to preserve food at home.
This guide is by no means in-depth but it is a starting point to hopefully help you better understand Dessies articles when she writes them up.
Alright, let’s get started…
How to Preserve Food at Home
There are many foods that you can freeze that you may not have even realized. Items such as butter, milk, cheese, and even eggs can be frozen to extend the life of them.
This method is one of the most popular for food preservation and it is an incredibly easy way to get started as it doesn’t require any specialist equipment.
Once defrosted, frozen foods are similar to fresh foods in texture, flavor and color.
Most vegetables and some fruits benefit from pretreatment techniques like blanching (heating in steam or water for a specific time, then cooling quickly). This will help to set the color, slow enzyme action, and kill many spoilage microorganisms.
Many people that are familiar with home food preservation know of, and are concerned about botulism which is a toxin produced by C. Botulinum bacteria. This toxin cannot survive in an acidic environment which is where lacto-fermentation comes in handy.
The acids produced by fermentation protect against the toxin which helps to make lacto-fermentation one of the safest methods of food preservation that there is.
There are actually two methods to canning your own food at home. The first method is the water bath which can be used for food items such as acidic fruits, jams, jellies, syrups, and pickling. With this method you immerse the canning jars with food in a bath of boiling water.
The second method of canning is to use a pressure canner which can be used for food items such as non-acidic food, vegetables, salsas, meat, soups, and sauces. This method allows the jars to reach a higher temperature than the water bath.
4. Vinegar Pickling
In most cases, the vegetable rests for a short time in a brine which adds flavor and crispness. It would then be drained, brought to a boil in a vinegar solution, packed into jars, covered in the remaining hot vinegar solution, and water bath canned for long-term preservation.
5. Salt or Sugar Curing
Many people seem to be of the belief that salt kills bacteria which actually isn’t true. In fact, salt doesn’t preserve food directly. Instead, it plays an important role in a fascinating process called, osmosis.
What happens is that the salt draws out the moisture from whatever substance it comes into contact with – replacing the water molecules with salt molecules.
This process of osmosis dehydrates and in turn, inhibits any microbial growth. Without water, there is no life, bacteria struggles to grow. In other words, the higher the salt, the lower the bacteria. Sugar does the same thing.
Dehydration is a favorite method of mine for preserving food at home. The dried foods are tasty, nutritious, lightweight, easy to prepare, easy to carry and easy to use.
We use a food dehydrator at home but you can also use the oven, microwave or some foods can even be air-dried. This method does take some time but it’s well worth it.
Once dry, store your foods in a dark, cool location in containers that keep out moisture and insects.
7. Olive Oil Immersion
Olive oil can be used to preserve vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and herbs. It is a natural preservative that prevents spoilage by isolating the food from the air.
The foods that are best suited to this method of preserving is those that would usually be cooked in olive oil such as sun-dried tomatoes, sweet peppers, mushrooms, goats cheese, and tuna fish.
If the foods are going to be stored at room temperature then they will require cooking first (boiled in salted water or vinegar solution) to preserve the food safely.
8. Alcohol Immersion
Fruits that have been bottled in alcohol can make beautiful preserves. The trick is to use spirits that are at least 40 percent alcohol, the strength at which harmful bacteria and the like can’t survive.
Gin, rum, vodka, brandy and whisky all fit the bill. When ready you can eat the fruit, pour the liquid over ice cream or cakes, or just sip it!
The alcohol draws water out of food much like the salt and sugar method. inhibiting microbe growth.
9. Cold Storage
All that is needed for this method is a cool, damp, and dark area for root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, cabbage, and apples. Winter squash and pumpkins prefer it a bit warmer and drier.
Heat and smoke mix an exquisite flavor into fish, meat, ham, and poultry. It works by obstructing the growth of microorganisms that causes the food to spoil.
This is a very efficient way of food preservation, however, proper care must be done to prevent contamination and food related illness.