Have you been wanting to learn about home food preservation? There is no better time than now to learn! Preserving your own food helps you stock up your freezer or pantry and save you money- whether you are growing your own food or buying it in bulk. Home preserved food is so much more flavorful than store-bought canned or frozen food.
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Home Food Preservation: 10 Ways To Preserve Food At Home
There are lots of great Home food preservation method’s to preserve your harvest and give you peace of mind, from canning to infusing and everything in between. These 10 food preservation methods are sure-fire ways that you can use in your home.
Why Bother With Home Food Preservation?
Why bother with home food preservation? We preserve our harvest through a lot of these methods so that we have goodies from our garden year-round. If this virus scare taught us anything it’s that depending on the store for everything you need isn’t a great idea.
Having a pantry full of food gives you peace of mind- and it’s wonderful because you know exactly what is in your food. Does your family have food allergies? You can make sure that those things aren’t in your food, so it is safe for your family.
Preserving The Harvest: Home Food Preservation
Home food preservation has been around for years, so many of these methods you may have heard of before, but some may be new to you. Some of these are for people who are wanting to preserve a ton of food, some of them can be scaled down to meet even the smallest gardeners needs.
Root Cellars, Cool Storage, & Room Temperature Storage
Cool storage or room temperature storage is the easiest way of home food preservation, we use this method for our winter squash and pumpkins. These methods can include:
- root cellars
- unheated basement space
- crawl space
- cool pantry
Some good options for this storage would be pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, garlic, onions, apples, beets, shell beans, dried corn, and other root vegetables.
Drying & Dehydrating
Drying food is one of the oldest methods of home food preservation. There are a lot of ways that you can use to dry food including:
- Dehydrators (they come in all sizes!)
- Sun Drying
- Baking Sheets In The Oven
- Air Drying/Hanging
- Solar Dehydrator
You can dry all kinds of stuff, but some of our favorites are fruit like apples, bananas, berries, herbs. Some other options would be fruit leather and jerky. Just bear in mind that not everything dehydrates well. Make sure you store dried food in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
Waterbath, Pressure and Steam Canning
One of the most common ways of home food preservation is canning! Canning is a great way to preserve lots of types of food. Although there are still some things that shouldn’t be canned- make sure you check
Waterbath canning is the easiest of the canning methods and my personal favorite. This method can be used for preserving high acid food such as:
- Pickles & Relish
Pressure canning tends to make people nervous but it really isn’t that much different than water bath canning. We pressure can lots of stuff over the summer while our garden is in full force like:
If you have a pressure canner you can use it as a water bath canner (just be careful because steam can build up inside and be released when open. Don’t lock down the lid.) You can not, however, use a water bath canner as a pressure canner and a pressure canner and pressure cooker are not the same thing.
Steam canning is another method of home food preservation that’s was presently re-approved for home use. Using a special canner that heat processes with steam but not under pressure. This method can be used with high acid food.
- Pickles & Relish
Unsafe canning methods can lead to botulism so it’s very important to use safe canning methods, and keep a clean working area. We like to keep a Ball Canning book on hand at all times!
Freezing is a really easy method of home food preservation, that is perfect for a beginner! We freeze lots of what we harvest each year including:
- Herbs (like basil and cilantro
- Soups & Stew
Most vegetables will require blanching before freezing but often has a freshness the closest to straight from the garden. You don’t need a lot of specialty equipment to freeze your own food. Fruits are frozen as is without blanching them.
We like to freeze our food on cookie sheets or even the racks to our dehydrator so that everything is frozen individually and not stuck together. This makes it so much easier when you want to use what you’ve frozen. Once the food is frozen you can move them to a ziplock bag or use a vacuum sealer to make them last longer. Vacuum sealing your food helps to prevent ice crystals from forming and can make your food last 3-5 times longer.
Home freeze drying is also an option for those looking at home food preservation, this is a great option if you are trying to preserve a large amount of food. Freeze drying allows you to preserve foods that do not store well like:
- Dairy products
- Full meals (like cream-based soup)
- and leftovers
You can also store thing like:
Fermentation takes low acid food to high acid, giving them a longer shelf life as is or you can them in a water bath canner instead of a pressure canner. Food is fermented through whey, salt, or a specific starter culture this makes the food more nutritious and easier to digest.
Fermenting foods involves acidity and microbes “pre-digesting” the food. The flavor of the food and texture all change while fermenting. Fermentation helps create things like:
Preserving In Salt & Sugar
Preserving things in salt or sugar was much more common before modern home food preservation techniques then it is now. Salt and sugar draw out liquids from the food, which helps prevent the growth of microbes and mold because they need moisture.
Salt and sugar both dramatically change the flavor of the food you are preserving, so they are great for those that like experimenting. Herb infused salt and sugars are a fun way to preserve your harvest and also make great gifts.
Immersion in Alcohol
Much like the last method of home food preservation, this method also removes draws the water out of what you are trying to preserve and prevents the growth of microbes. Submerge food in the hard liquor of your choice and it can store almost indefinitely. *Don’t try to put too much food with too little alcohol, it can only draw so much water*.
This method works great for making flavored extracts and tinctures like:
and preserving high acid fruits.
Vinegar also keeps microbes from growing which makes it a perfect method for home food preservation, which doesn’t require heating or canning. We use this method to preserve tons of pickles every season to enjoy for the rest of the year.
Some other ideas:
Immersion In Oil
This method of home food preservation is quite common in parts of Europe, but you do need to know what you are doing before attempting. Using low acid foods can run a serious risk of botulism.
Check out these resources:
- Flavored Cooking Oil Recipes
- How To Make Herb-Infused Oil
- How To Infuse Herbs In Oil, Vinegar, Water, Honey, Or Alcohol
- Hot & Cold Method For Infusing Herbs Into Oil
What Is The Best Method For Home Food Preservation?
Honestly? All of them! We don’t like to rely on just one home food preservation method like the freezer because if the power goes out for a long period of time you lose all that hard work. So mixing and matching and using lots of different methods to preserve your harvest is the best way to go about it.
Our favorite two methods of preserving food are freezing, room temperature/or cool storage and canning, but we also do a lot of drying and preserving in oil (especially with our herbs. These methods work really well for us, but find ones that work well for you.
Resources For Home Food Preservation
Some of our favorite home food preservation resources:
- Check out our Amazon Storefront for all of your home food preservation needs!
- Try our Homestead Recipes for more home food preservation.
- Learn more about home food preservation from the National Center For Food Preservation.
- Another great book to keep on hand is Ball’s Complete Book Of Home Preserving.
Have a question about home food preservation? Leave us a comment below and we will try to answer it!
Before you go, check these out!