With the way the economy is today, a lot of people are turning back the clock to try and find ways in which to preserve foods, in order to save money. Let’s face it, we all want the food we buy and make to last us the longest it possibly can before spoiling and getting thrown away; that’s money just being thrown down the disposal after all.
Perhaps the oldest method of preserving food, and the one that our ancestors tended to use, and hand down from generation to generation was canning. By canning our food, we can store it in such a way, sealed, that it can last a lot longer, and generally without the necessity of refrigeration.
Canning is the original process that is used to make the various canned and jarred foods that we buy at the store, but it is a process that can be accomplished at home as well. In order to can at home, you need a source of heat, generally, salt or sugar as a preservative for the food your to can, canning jars, a good pot in order to prepare the food to be canned usually, and some paraffin or bees wax as wax was often used to top off canned goods, not only to add another seal to protect the food from air getting in, but also as a neutral substance that wouldn’t alter the flavor of the food, but that could take up the excess space when your canning foods did not fully fill up the jars.
Now, other forms of food preservation include drying or dehydrating foods. This is another tried and true method, and generally doesn’t take much extra equipment, although you can of course buy special dehumidifiers and dehydrators if you are inclined to. In most cases, you can actually use your oven to dry most meats, or to make granola and other dried fruits and grains. If it is herbs you wish to dry, its even simpler, as you just tend to tie them in bundles, and hang them in a cool, dry place until they are dried. Again, no specialized equipment needed.
Finally, the newest fad that has hit the food storage market is vacuum sealing. For this, you need a vacuum sealer of some kind, and there are several brands on the market, as well as the vacuum sheets/bags that are used to seal the food in, air tight, so that it will last longer. Let’s face it, its oxygen that gets to the food allowing such things as mold to proliferate and spoil our hard earned provender. One method I use, for short term freezer storage, when I’m separating meats into ziplock type containers, is to get a drinking straw, and after putting the separated food into the ziplock bag, close the top of the bag as far as it will close with the straw sticking out, then suck the air out of the bag, until it tightly conforms with the food inside, then holding your breath, close the bag while drawing the straw out. This in no way gets you the perfect seal that the machines do, however it does tend to stave off freezer burn on my meats as I store them in the freezer. This is especially important for me, being a bachelor, as I don’t need to cook a full package of meat from the grocery store hardly at all, and oftentimes meat I’ve purchased may spend quite a bit of time in my freezer prior to my utilizing it.
Whether its canning your food, drying/dehydrating it, or vacuum sealing it, eliminating waste is the name of the game when it comes to food storage. Even basic food storage can be done with the use of aluminum foil, seranwrap, tupperware type products, and parchment or wax paper. Just have the right tool for the job, each type of food and preparation of food has its own specifics for safe storage, so be sure to check with an expert, if your in doubt as to what exactly is the shelf life of your various perishables.
Good cooking, eating, and preparation to you.