For some people, canning their own fruits and vegetables is a hobby, but for preppers and survivalists, it’s a way to ensure that their family eats during an emergency situation. This method of food preservation allowed our ancestors to keep food stores during the winter months and kept them from starving when the landscape becomes cold and barren. Although it might be a method that seems old fashioned, most preppers have rediscovered the process to prepare themselves and their families.
Canning fruits and vegetables aren’t the only ways that preppers can store food, however. They can also pickle their foods, or dehydrate them. Of course, if they don’t feel comfortable doing any of those things, then they can buy commercially-prepared freeze-dried food, which is always a good option, but we also think that preppers should know how to preserve food for themselves. And that’s why we’ve decided to write this guide.
In this guide, we’re going to explore three different food preservation methods: canning, pickling, and dehydrating your food. These are methods that can be used by homesteaders, survivalists, and preppers of all stripes to increase their food security and to prepare themselves for any emergency that might arise. Okay, let’s get started with a quick primer on canning first.
A Quick Guide To Canning
Before you begin canning your own fruits and vegetables, it’s a good idea to inform yourself on the subject. Fortunately, there are several resources out there that the homesteader, prepper, or average homemaker can use to learn more about the process and how to do it safely. One of the best resources is the National Center For Home Food Preservation. This website has a downloadable guide on the subject from the USDA. This free guide gives the consumer plenty of tips that will enable you to get into canning quickly and safely.
Using Proper Canning Practices
The first step to the canning process is realizing that there are some canning practices that you might have to follow. Below are some of the things that may (or may not, depending on the food) have to be done to the food for proper preservation. Proper canning can include:
- Using the right jars and lids
- Processing jars, lids, and equipment in pressure canners or boiling water to ensure they’re sterile.
- Selecting the right fresh foods
- Properly washing and/or peeling those fresh foods before canning.
- Hot packing some foods.
- Adding acids to some foods.
What’s the purpose of the above methods? The purpose of all of these methods is to reduce the growth of undesirable bacteria, mold, or yeasts; to destroy harmful enzymes that can cause food to spoil, and to remove oxygen from the foods. This gives the foods longer shelf life and keeps them from spoiling before you can use them.
Equipment That Will Be Needed
Although there is an almost endless variety of canning machines available, the consumer doesn’t always have to purchase one. They can also use a pressure cooker or even a big enough pot for processing the jars and equipment needed for the process of canning. Speaking of equipment needed, below are some things that you’re going to need for canning food.
- Large Pot, canning machine, or pressure cooker.
- Jars, lids, and sealing rings.
- Jar lifter
- Oven Mit
Although it’s beyond the scope of this guide to go through the entire canning process, we do recommend that you download a good guide on the subject to ensure that you’re canning your food properly. Now that we’ve given our readers a primer on the canning process, we’d like to turn our attention to pickling next.
A Quick Guide To Pickling
Pickling is the process of storing vegetables in a salty, acidic brine to preserve them. When most people think of pickling they naturally think of pickles, but a variety of vegetables and even fruits can be pickled. Some of the more common fruits and vegetables pickled are onions, peppers, carrots, watermelon, tomatoes, peaches, and of course, cucumbers.
We don’t have enough space to go through the entire pickling process, but we do recommend our readers to find reliable information on the subject. What we can do is to give our readers a few tips that will help them once they do learn how to pickle.
Helpful Pickling Tips:
- Select young, fresh, and quality fruits and vegetables for pickling.
- Make sure to clean produce properly.
- Remove soft spots and cucumber blossoms entirely.
- Use quality pickling salt.
- Choose vinegar with 4-6% acidity levels.
- Use proper jars, lids, and sealing rings.
- Properly sterilize all pickling equipment.
A Quick Guide To Dehydrating Foods
The next method of food preservation that we’d like to explore is dehydrating food for long-term food storage. Dehydrated foods not only last longer than their non-dehydrated counterparts, but they also make great snacks. And the process of dehydrating food is probably one of the easiest food preservation methods. Below are some of the things that you’ll need to start dehydrating food.
Items Needed For Dehydrating Food:
- Quality food dehydrator
- Sharp knife
- Plastic storage bags
What Foods Can Be Dehydrated?
A common question many people ask us is what types of food can be dehydrated, and to that question, we say that almost anything can be dehydrated—if done properly. Some of the most common dehydrated foods include, but aren’t limited to, the following foods:
- Pasta & legumes
How Does Food Dehydration Work?
Although everyone should follow the directions provided with their favorite food dehydrator, the following is a brief overview of how food is dehydrated. The following will give our readers an idea of how easy dehydrating your food at home can be with the right equipment.
- Food is cut into smaller pieces to increase surface area.
- Place into the food dehydrator’s racks.
- Set the proper temperature and setting for the type of food being dehydrated.
- Once the food has been dehydrated, place it into the appropriate storage container.
- Store the food containers in a cool, dry location out of the sun.