Hi friends! Welcome back to the Gubba Podcast. One of these days I’m going to get a proper podcast opening jingle. Until then, I’m Gubba, a first time homesteader following in the footsteps of my homesteading forbearers. AND Today, I want to discuss different methods of food preservation. I think it’s a good idea to utilize a variety of food preservation methods, so you aren’t relying on only one method.
How do I preserve my food?
One of the most common methods of food preservation is freezing. I feel like we all utilize it in some way, shape, or form. I know I do! Freezing slows down the spoilage process of food. AND because of the low temperatures, bacteria and yeast growth is slowed keeping our food safe and edible for longer periods of time as compared to just storing it in the fridge or on the counter.
How do I freeze food?
I have four freezers on my homestead. I have a chest freezer, a stand-up freezer, and two fridges equipped with freezer space. One of the fridges and the chest freezer were left behind when I purchased my homestead. I utilize the chest freezer for meat for the dogs, dog food, and dog bones. And I use the fridge they left for just the freezer space because the main part of the fridge needs to be cleaned out, and I just haven’t gotten to it. My upright freezer is used for meat, frozen vegetables and fruit, dog food, and lots and lots of butter. I did a meat tour on my YouTube which shows all of the meat that I store in the upright freezer, and I had a lot of fun filming that because I had just picked up the meat from the farmer. There definitely Is not a meat shortage on my homestead.
A useful tool that goes hand-in-hand with freezing is a vacuum sealer. Using a vacuum sealer to seal your frozen food helps keep the food longer. I got my vacuum sealer from Costco on a sale, so I would suggest looking there. You will also want to purchase gallon plastic bags and butcher paper for storage accessories.
Freezing is easy and I love that you can even do freezer meals where you make meals ahead of time, freeze them, then pull them out of the freezer later and have a meal ready to go—you just need to thaw and cook it.
Check out my weekly episode to join the conversation.
What do you do with frozen goods when the electricity goes out?
One downfall of freezing as a food preservation method is that if the electricity goes out or the grid goes down, your food now is at risk and you need to make a plan for this kind of situation. I wouldn’t suggest using this as your only method of preservation because if you lose electricity for a long period of time, imagine all of the food that will be ruined. That would be a sad day. I would suggest making meal plans, canning, or if you have a freeze dryer, make plans to freeze dry the frozen goods.
How do you blanch food?
Keep in mind that some foods like vegetables will have to be blanched before you throw them in the freezer. Blanching is a process of scalding the food in boiling water to stop enzyme actions. If you don’t blanch your food that needs to be blanched, it can result it loss of flavor, color, and texture. It’s kind of weird how that works, but blanching is easy and makes it so you can enjoy your food later. Don’t skip blanching. I’ll have a chart in the show notes to get your started and familiarize yourself with how to blanch and what needs to be blanched.
What are the different types of canning?
Another popular food preservation method is canning. In order to safely preserve your food, you have to use the correct method of canning. There is water bath and pressure canning. If you don’t properly can your food, you can end up with spoilage and botulism, so make sure to always use the proper method according to what you are canning. Typically, high acid foods like fruit can be water bath canned and low acid foods need to be pressure canned. Like asparagus and meats.
Water bath canning doesn’t require any special equipment besides jars and stock pot whereas pressure canning you need an actual pressure canner. A water bath can only heat the food to the temperature of the boiling water but a pressure canner can heat the food at much higher temperatures. In a water bath, the acidity and the heat created during processing that allows the food to be safely canned. A pressure canner reaches higher temperatures than boiling water allowing for low-acidic foods to be safely processed.
What is a steam canner?
You can also use a steam canner in place of a water bath. I actually prefer a steam canner because you use less water and it takes less time because you don’t have to bring a massive pot of water to boil. I have also found water bath canners to be messier with water spilling out, so I prefer the easiness of a steam canner.
What can you can?
Canning is a great way to preserve foods. You can make soups, pickled goods, canned meats, beans, vegetables and so much more with canning. Nothing like lining your pantry shelf with your own canned items. Also, having meals ready to go when you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like cooking is so nice. I’m all about efficiency when it comes to cooking so that’s why I love freezer meals and canned meals—they save me time.
Having canners on hand are a great self-sufficiency tool. You can order them off of amazon, and I don’t see the prices getting any cheaper. I ordered my All-American pressure canner about a year ago at $320 and it is now $379, so it has gone up about $60. There was also a canning supplies shortage the past few years, so when you see supplies get what you need plus a little extra. You aren’t supposed to reuse canning lids, so it is never a bad idea to purchase more canning lids when you can find them. Tattler makes reusable canning lids, I haven’t used them yet but I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews about them.
What is the best canning cookbook?
I would suggest only using recipes from trusted canning sources like the Ball Blue Book of Canning until you get up to speed with canning. I still only use verified canning recipes, and they have been great so I haven’t had any reason to venture away from that.
What is dehydrating food?
Another method of food preservation is dehydration. Dehydrating is the process of removing moisture from food and bring the moisture content to low levels. By removing moisture, you extend its shelf life because bacteria won’t be able to thrive in the low moisture levels. You can dehydrate goods in the sun in the summer or purchase an actual dehydrator that you can keep in your kitchen.
How long does dehydrated food last?
Dehydrated food has been known to last up to 10 years, but it is best to use it up within a year so keep your dehydrated goods circulating through your food storage. You can store dehydrated goods in jars and then vacuum seal the jars to extend the longevity. I wouldn’t store dehydrated goods in mylar bags due to moisture still being present that could eventually cause spoilage. I would always keep my dehydrated goods in clear jars or clear vacuum sealed bags, so I can see how my food is doing.
What foods can you dehydrate?
You can dehydrate meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs, herbs, and more. Dehydrators range in price but even the cheaper models have great reviews and people have good luck with them. You can make beef jerky and fruit leathers through dehydrating and who doesn’t want some beef jerky or fruit leather? I know I do.
Dehydrating is similar to freeze drying except dehydrating doesn’t get all of the moisture out of the foods and freeze drying does. I did a whole episode on freeze drying, so check it out if you are interested in purchasing a freeze dryer and want to learn more. Freeze drying uses sublimation to extract all of the moisture from the food. So the liquid goes from a solid straight to a gas without going through a liquid phase—it’s pretty neat. Because all of the moisture has been extracted from the food, you can store for long periods of time like up to 30 years! You will need an actual freeze dryer to freeze dry goods, so I would suggest checking out Harvest Right because they made a home freeze dryer and I absolutely love mine. You can freeze dry just about anything. Meat, milk, vegetables, fruit, ice cream, and so much more.
What are the benefits of freeze dried food?
A benefit of freeze drying is that the nutrients are almost all preserved. Other methods of food preservation like canning and dehydrating lose nutrition value through their processes but the process of freeze drying preserves almost all of the nutrients.
How do you extend the shelf life of refrigerated food?
If you are looking to extend the shelf life of what you have in your fridge and other goods in your pantry, I would suggest a vacuum sealer. I have always stored my fruits and vegetables in glass jars in the fridge which extends their shelf life as compared to just storing them in the containers they come in. Recently, if I buy excess of fruit or cheese, I vacuum seal them. So I’ll vacuum seal the excess fruit in glass jars and they last for a long time or at least until I get to them. I could just freeze them, but this is for products that I intend to eat soon but not soon enough and I don’t want to freeze them and possibly lose their integrity if that makes sense? You can also vacuum seal cheese in a vacuum seal bag to help it remain fresh. I would suggest to vacuum seal up the products in your fridge to extend their shelf life or if you are heading on vacation—no need for wasted food.
I mentioned earlier but Costco has a vacuum sealer and supplies that you can purchase. It will go on sale randomly throughout the year so keep an eye on your local Costco. Amazon also has options as well. I got my lid accessory from amazon because it didn’t come with my Costco vacuum sealer. The lid accessory allows me to vacuum seal jars and I would definitely recommend getting one for regular mouth and one for wide mouth jars.
Times are getting a little wild, and it’s always good to take steps towards being self-sufficient. Learning how to preserve your food and procuring the necessary tools to do so may be something you will thank yourself for later. Check out these different options and tools and see what you would like to incorporate into your kitchen. Do you want to make some homemade beef jerky? Get a dehydrator. Do you want to make homemade ready-to-go soups? Get a pressure canner and start making some canned soup!
I hope you enjoyed this podcast and thank you for spending your time with me. Make sure to check out gubbahomestead.com for more homesteading and preparedness information!