4 Ways to Preserve and Store Food

Whether you grow your own vegetables or take advantage of farmers markets, you need a way to preserve and store that food for several months. Stocking up in September & October, when the harvest is plentiful is a great way to do it. Prices are lower and there are a lot of choice veggies available. Here’s a few ways to put that food away, to enjoy later in the year.

 

Harvested carrots and lovage

 

Storing some food is a great way to save money. Prices are definitely going to be higher all winter long, because of the lower supply and the same high demand. Starting your own stockpile of food is a way to save some money and start to feel more in control of your own personal food supply.

You can freeze some veggies or you could can them. You could dehydrate them (or most of them) if you like. You could store a few boxes of root vegetables down in the cool part of your basement. But what do you do if you live in a rancher home? You have no basement, so you have to start looking at other option.

You could look at building a small insulated and vented room in a corner of your garage. Another option is to have a root cellar. If you don’t have room for food storage inside your house, an outdoor root cellar is a great way to go. Built right into the ground, you can store all kinds of root vegetables inside. Mother Earth News has several plans for outdoor cellars and they range from the super simple to structured cellars.

You need to live in an area where there are cold winters. You also need to put in some time digging and setting up the root cellar.

 

Use Old Freezers to Store Livestock Feed

 

I have seen pictures of outdoor root cellars but instead of being boxed in with wood, the builder instead drops an old deep freeze in the ground. This is a great idea and would really work well. We use old freezers here down at the barn to hold animal feed. We don’t care if the freezers work or not. And we are keeping a few old freezers out of the landfill. Come to think of it, that’s where we got the three we have. A great way to recycle!

 

 

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Using a Pressure Canner

I’ve been using a pressure canner for years. Although some foods can be canned in a water bath canner, other foods NEED to be canned using a pressure canner. Food safety is so important to me and it should be important to you too.

 

Mirro Pressure Canner

 

I never want to open a jar of home canned food and wonder if it is good to eat. Sometimes you can see signs of spoilage, but sometimes you cannot. I don’t want to feed anyone food that has been unsafely canned.

 

Using a Pressure Canner

This makes me pretty ANAL about how I go about storing food. I take ZERO shortcuts, I make sure my equipment is clean and my lids and seals are in good shape. If there is rust on a ring, I toss it. Even though the ring is never in direct contact with the food, I still throw it out.

 

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When I look at my stocked pantry, filled with homecanned foods like lamb stew, green beans, carrots, beets, pickles, jams, jellies and a lot of other items, I get such a sense of pleasure. Pleasure because I know exactly what is (and what isn’t) in my homecanned food. Pleasure because I love the look of all those pretty jars on the shelf. Pleasure because I can feed my family good healthy food that is safe to eat.

Are you as anal as I am when it comes to putting your food by? If not, you should be! Never take a chance – it is not worth it if someone you love gets sick, or even worse, dies from incorrectly canned food.

Read about how I home can salmon to learn the process I use for using the pressure canner.  If you want to learn how to can food using a water bath canner, check out my post on canning cherries. After reading these posts, think seriously about buying a canning book. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a really good resource.

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I’ve had my pressure canner for over 10 years and it still works great. I’m replacing the gasket this year and ordered it through Amazon.

So, if you’re new to the idea of preserving your own food, don’t be afraid. If I can do it, you can too. Just remember to always think of Safety First and by the end of this year’s harvest, you will be able to put your own home canned jars of great food in your pantry. If you have questions, please ask away in the Comment section.