Factors to consider when preserving food
The kind of food your family regularly eats: Think of what food your family eats. From this, you will have an idea of what kind of food you would want to preserve and what method to use. For example, green beans can be frozen, canned, fermented, or dehydrated. Bananas can be frozen and dehydrated, but are not supposed to be canned or placed in cold storage. Apples can be dehydrated well and placed in a cold storage. For berries, they can be frozen, dehydrated, or made into jam. (Related: How to Preserve Food and Storing Food Safely and Naturally.)
How you will use it later: Once you know what you can do with a specific food, think of how will you use it later. If you love to add dried fruits to your oatmeal, you may dehydrate your fruits like berries. But if you prefer them in smoothies, it’s best to freeze them. If you prefer your vegetables as a side or on a sandwich, you pickle them. If you like them steamed or made into soup or mashed potatoes, it’s best to freeze or dehydrate them.
A storage space: Consider where you will put your preserved food. Each preservation method has different space and storage requirements.
- Frozen goods: One option of storage spaces is the freezer. Keep in mind that freezing changes the texture of most fruits and some vegetables. The ideal foods to freeze are green beans and berries. One way to freeze berries is to scatter them on a tray, then put it in the freezer. After they have frozen, put them in a bag. Freezing berries in batches will prevent them from clumping.
- Canned, pickled, and fermented foods: Canning, pickling, and fermenting are the food preservation methods that usually require the use of jars. You will also need a cool, dark place to store these finished jars full of canned goods. When you run out of storage room in the pantry or freeze, you can store certain preserved foods in your basement. Your basement can serve as a cold storage area. If you do not have a basement, you can consider storing your jars in a closet or even under the bed. If you can and you live in the right climate, you can consider building your own root cellar to store your fruits, vegetables, nuts, or other foods. A root cellar needs four specific elements to be able to store food properly: ventilation, darkness, humidity, and shelving.
- Dried or dehydrated food: Drying or dehydrating your food is probably the best option when you have limited storage space. Dried or dehydrated food will take up the least amount of room and will store the longest. This method is arguably the oldest food preservation method. It is an ideal way of preserving herbs, fruits, vegetables, and meat. However, keep in mind that you need a plan for consuming all this dehydrated food. Store dehydrated food in airtight bags, plastic containers, or glass jars with oxygen absorbers.
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