When you are homesteading preserving food is important. You
may even have a backyard groaning with produce
during the summer and autumn and if you don't start preserving this
produce, it will spoil and go to waste. Therefore, home-preserving is
the must if you have excess food and produce.
Before freezers and refrigerators were around the only way to preserve
food was to salt, smoke, bottle, store live or air-dry. These methods
are still used today, in conjunction with our freezers and fridges that
are handy to have when preserving food.
Why do we need to Preserve Food?
Well, if we don't preserve our food, as mentioned earlier, food spoils.
There are 2 ways in which this happens. The first is because of
bacteria, molds or yeasts that exist in the air and decay the produce.
The other is the chemical reaction of naturally occurring enzymes that
ripen the fruit but then continue to decay and rot the fruit so that it
loses both texture and flavor.
By preserving food we not only retard the spoiling process but we
also maintain the texture and the flavor. And we can
if we choose the correct method of food preservation with the right
containers to safe guard against bacteria and other harmful organisms.
The key to good food preservation is cleanliness. This means clean
hands, clean surfaces, clean utensils and clean bottles, if used.
your produce should be fresh and at its prime. It should not be at the
point where it is starting to spoil or deteriorate.
There are several methods of food preservation, the most common we will
Preserving Food by Salting and Air Drying
One of the oldest methods of food preservation is salting and air
The pioneers used this method to dry meat. In South Africa it is called
biltong, in Australia and America it is called jerky. Fish
was another food that was dried this way, as is today's pork in the
form of Prosciutto. Drying food like this was done because
when people traveled long distances they weren't sure when next they
would get another supply of meat or fish, and this was one way of
making sure that they had a steady supply of protein. Curing ham
can be done at home
with these instructions.
Preserving Food by Live Storage
Another method of preserving food is called live storage. This is when
fruits and vegetables are placed in either boxes or earth mounds in the
garden where temperatures are between 2° - 6° C or placed in a cellar
during the winter months. The one problem you will have with this
method of food preservation is rats. Make sure that your food is safe
from the rats at all times, because if not, they will have a field day!
The early ripening apples and pears do not store well, and should just
be eaten as they appear. However, the late-ripening varieties are worth
storing. Leave on the trees until well ripe, but not blemished. Remove
and allow to dry in a single layer overnight. The next morning, wrap
individually in paper and store in a dark place.
Potatoes can be successfully stored by storing with straw. Take a large
wooden box, place a layer of straw and then fill with potatoes or any
other root vegetable to a depth of about a foot. Cover again with
straw. Continue in this way until all your vegetables are stored. Cover
with a stout lid that will allow air in, but keep rats out.
is one way of Food Preservation
Onions can be preserved by stringing them, or lying them on slats.
Before they are stored they must be thoroughly dried first.
When stringing onions start with 4 onions with long stalks.
Tie them together and then tie on a long length of twine or bailing
string. Add each additional onion to the bunch making sure that the
stalks are well secured and plaiting the knotted stalks around the end
of the bailing string so that the onions hang evenly when you hold them
up. Onions strung like this will keep indefinitely.
An old way of preserving food using live storage is clamping. This is
when vegetables like potatoes are lifted and allowed to dry for 2-3
hours. Then they are placed on a thick bed of stray and placed
carefully in a triangle shape. More straw is used to cover the potatoes
where a couple of days are given to allow the potatoes to finish
sweating. After they have stopped sweating the potatoes are then
covered with soil, 5-6 inches deep. Allow some of the straw
to be seen protruding from the soil so that the vegetables can still
Apples, carrots, cabbages, onions, parsnips, pears, potatoes, pumpkins,
radishes and turnips can all be stored and preserved in this way.
Preserving Food by Freezing
If food is stored in a freezer at -18° C it will keep well for at least
6 months. Freezing meat and freezing vegetables are two ways
we can preserve our food. Vegetables can be blanched first and then
frozen. Some fruit
can also be preserved in this way. Meat and fish can also be frozen,
but they do have a shelf-life. Fish should not be frozen for more than
3 months, and meat should not be frozen more than 6 months.
Meat should be well-wrapped because if it comes into contact with the
cold air inside your deep-freeze the meat will spoil and get
Apples, apricots, asparagus, beans, blackberries, broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, capsicums, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries,
citrus fruit, corn, figs, grapes, nectarines, parsnips, passion fruit,
peaches, peas, pineapples, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, spinach,
and tomatoes can all be frozen.
Preserving Food by Canning and Bottling
and bottling are used
to preserve food. The food is heated to a
high temperature which aids in killing off any bacteria present and
disarming the enzymes. This method is perfect for fruit and vegetables
that have a high acidic content. However, any foods with a low acidic
content such as fish, meat, seafood, poultry and most vegetables, then
it is advisable to freeze these foods as a method of preserving them.
If canning and bottling is used instead and the process is mishandled,
one can end up being very sick as the bacteria has not been effectively
Ideal bottling conditions are being able to place your bottled produce
in a dark room in order to prevent vitamin loss and at a temperature
below 18° C.
Apples, apricots, beets, blackberries, capsicums, cherries, citrus
fruit, figs, grapes, mulberries, nectarines, passion fruit, peaches,
pineapples, plums, raspberries, rhubarb and tomatoes can all be
preserved by this method.
Preserving Food by Pickling
Many foods can be preserved with pickling and making your own pickles
effect of the pickling
liquids on both fruits and
vegetables in your pickle recipes is very
similar. The salt in the brine or the vinegar hardens the cellulose of
the foods to such an extent that they are impervious to the action of
bacteria. While this permits the foods to keep well, it also makes them
difficult to digest, a fact that must be remembered when pickled foods
are included in the diet.
beans, beets, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, pears, tomatoes
walnuts, and watermelon are just some of the fruits and vegetables that
can be preserved by this method.
Preserving Food by Jams and Jellies
out of excess fruit is
another food preserving
method. The addition of sugar and the evaporation of water in
the process allows for the fruit to be successfully preserved.
Apples, blackberries, apricots, cherries, citrus fruits, figs, grapes,
mangoes, mulberries, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums,
raspberries, and rhubarb can all be preserved using this method.
Preserving Food by Drying
such as tomatoes,
peaches, grapes, apricots and prunes
can either be done naturally using the sun or dried using a slow oven.
Reducing the water content of the fruit reduces the chance of
bacteria growing. Although food drying has been done for centuries the
vitamin content of the food dried this way is often compromised.
Firstly, Vitamins A, E and some B-complex Vitamins are lost if the food
is dried in full sunlight. Secondly, Vitamins A, C, and E is lost
through the oxidation process when stored for any length of time.
To dry apples, core them, slice them, string up the slices and hang
them over a stove or in a solar-heated drier for 5 hours at 65° C.
When crisp and dry put them in an airtight container.
Preserving Food by Smoking
Finally, we conclude this article on preserving food using methods of
smoking. This is very successful using fish and meats. You don't
actually need a fancy smoker to smoke your fish or meat. If you have a
fireplace that you use every night, then you can make good use of the
chimney. Hang the meat high up in the chimney so that it is
out of the way of the fire, and leave it there for about a week, making
sure that the wood fire doesn't go out during that period of time.
If you want to build a smoker there are two methods of smoking meat,
one is a cold smoking method, and the other is a cooked-smoking method
that is more common in America and Germany. With the
cooked-smoking method the meat is smoked at high temperatures from 65 -
93° C. Here, due to the high temperatures, the meat is cooked and
smoked at the same time. Meat cooked this way has to be eaten fairly
shortly after production, unlike the cold smoking method that allows
one to keep the meat a little longer.
For those of you who would like to smoke your own meat, smokehouses
can be built or
devised out of barrels and charcoal cookers. If you are wanting a
concrete smokehouse and looking for smokehouse plans
then look no
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