The following five methods of home food preservation will enable you to not only be frugal (obtaining bulk foods on sale, etc.) but will help you build a food storage inventory (along with your dry and other goods).
‘Canning’ is a process in which foods are placed in jars or cans and heated to a temperature that destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. The heating (and subsequent cool-down) forms a vacuum seal which prevents other microorganisms from contaminating the food within the jar or can.
Acid foods such as fruits and tomatoes can be processed or “canned” in boiling water (also called the “water bath method”), while low acid vegetables and meats must be processed in a pressure canner at 240°F (10 pounds pressure at sea level). ALWAYS follow well-known trusted canning recipes and rules.
Freezing reduces the temperature of the food so that microorganisms cannot grow. Enzyme activity is slowed down (but not completely stopped) during freezing.
Even though food will freeze with a temperature at or below 32-degrees-F, you really should keep your freezer set to 0°F or less. The reason is that low temperature microbes will still develop below 32°F, but are very much stalled at 0°F or below – affecting freezer food storage times.
Drying or dehydrating removes most of the moisture from foods. Thus microorganisms cannot grow and enzyme action is slowed down. Dried foods should be stored in airtight containers (or vacuum-sealed) to prevent moisture from re-hydrating the food and allowing microbial growth.
Dehydrated food has been heated at low temperatures. Since there is no high temperature ‘cooking’ or other process such as boiling, etc., dehydrated food preserves much of the food’s nutrients. Shelf life will depend on the level of dryness.
Pickling is another form of canning. Pickled products have an increased acidity that makes it difficult for most bacteria to grow. The amount of acid present is very important to the safety of the product.
Pickled products are also heated in jars at boiling temperatures to destroy any other microorganisms present and form a vacuum in the jar.
These foods have a very high sugar content. The sugar binds with the liquid present, making it difficult for microorganisms to grow.
To prevent surface contamination after the product is made and thus possible yeast or mold growth, these are either canned, frozen, or refrigerated.
There are a wealth of resources available to learn how to properly utilize any of these food preservation techniques, including the internet, books, and experienced users.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and challenge yourself and try any of these methods so that you can store extra food while taking advantage of garden harvests or store sales. Not only will you enjoy these foods off-season, but you will become a better prepared person or family.
When it is time to preserve your garden bounty, or when taking advantage of food sales, or a time of year when purchasing certain foods are fresh and plentiful, an excellent method of food preservation is ‘canning’.
Before you fire up your stove and clean the dust off your canning jars, take a look at these 12 lifesaving canning rules, and then get to it!
If done properly, ‘canning’ is entirely safe; however certain precautions should be taken… For example, canning low acid food can be deadly if done incorrectly, so pay attention to, and follow canning instructions. You must follow the rules closely, and not experiment.
Canning instructions are designed to provide a wide margin of safety, such that food poisoning will not happen. When you follow the directions, you can be confident of safe canning.
Learn and follow these canning rules absolutely!
1. Don’t use jars larger than a quart. Home canning technology cannot guarantee that larger quantities will be sufficiently heated through for enough time. Rather, the food on the outside will overcook, while that on the inside won’t get hot enough. Botulism spores can boil awhile and still be fine.
2. Use water-bath canning only for high acid foods. High-acid varieties of tomatoes, fruits, rhubarb, sauerkraut, pickles, and jams/jellies are the only high acid foods. All others (vegetables, meats, stews) must be canned using a Pressure Canner.
3. Use only modern canning recipes from reliable sources.
4. Never reuse jar lids. Used lids aren’t reliable for sealing correctly. If a screw band is rusty or bent, it won’t work right and should be discarded and replaced.
5. Don’t use antique or ‘French’ -type canning jars. They aren’t as safe as the modern, regular ‘Ball, Kerr’ type.
6. Check the jar rims carefully every year by running your finger over the top of the rim and checking for nicks. Even the tiniest nick makes the jar unusable for canning. A nicked jar rim won’t seal reliably.
7. Raw pack is not safe for certain foods: beets, all kinds of greens (spinach, etc.), white potatoes, squash, okra, a tomato/okra combination, and stewed tomatoes!
8. You must allow the correct amount of space (head-space) between your food, together with the liquid that covers it, and the jar lid.
9. Don’t begin counting the processing time until after the water with the jars in it comes to a good rolling boil if using the water-bath method, or until after steam has vented for 10 minutes from your pressure canner.
10. Process the full recommended time.
11. Lift out each jar individually (not inside the rack) using a jar lifter; keep it upright and not tipped.
12. If a jar didn’t seal, discard the lid, put on a new one, and reprocess. Or put the jar that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use the contents within a week or so.
by Ken Jorgustin – modernsurvivalblog.com
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