Part of the 30 Days of Preparedness Series of Posts for September 2014. This post will be listed under September 21.
Canning and Preserving the Harvest
When we consider preparing, for anything, food is often a subject that comes to mind. Whether we are preparing for a gathering, an event, or something more vague, food is a necessary item. Preparing for what MAY come and not knowing how or what that could entail, adds another facet to the preparing. How long will we need to store it? How much will we need to store? How will we keep it fresh? All of these questions need to be addressed, in order to successfully prepare for food in an uncertain, what if, situation.
Why Store Food
On the one hand, this may seem like a ridiculous question. We all need to eat. And we need to eat everyday in order to stay strong and healthy and do our work. It may seem unnecessary to store food in any quantity, if there is a local grocery store on every corner. But what if a prolonged emergency situation develops? Stores run out of food quickly, and if roads are closed or destroyed then deliveries will not be made. So, having a weeks worth of food stored at home, can give you peace of mind. Some people will choose to have even more food on hand. Preserving and canning food will give you garden fresh foods to enjoy, all year long.
Ways to Store Food
The most common ways to store fresh food for the future are canning, dehydrating, and freezing.
Canning refers to both preserving food with a pressure canner and with a hot water bath canner. When the foods are fruits, and other high acid foods such as pickles, the hot water bath canner is appropriate. This method normally takes less time. The food will be safe to eat for at least one year, according to USDA guidelines.
Pressure cannning must be used for non acidic vegetables such as green beans, corn, beets, and vegetable mixtures. In addition, meats and complete meals can be preserved using a pressure canner.
Canning requires some equipement. Pressure canners will be the largest cost expenditure, with hot water bath canners being considerably less expensive but not as versitile. Glass jars, commonly referred to as mason jars or Ball jars are used to store the food. The jars can be reused, in canning, but it is strongly recommended that a new lid be used each time you can in the jar, to prevent a bad seal.
Dehydrating requires dry heat over a longer time to slowly draw the moisture out of the food. Food that is dehydrated has an unlimited shelf life if it is done properly. Meat, fruits and vegetables can all be dehydrated. After the food is dehydrated, the food should be stored in an air tight container.
To dehydrate food, you can use a commercial dehydrator like the one made by Excalibur or the one made by Nesco. It is also possible to use a screen, the sun, and dry air to dehydrate food. Herbs can be hung in bunches in a dry spot with good air circulation. The oven can also be used, on an extremely low heat setting.
The third method to storing food is freezing. Freezing requires that the food be protected by appropriate wrapping material to keep air from reaching the food. Air, along with subfreezing temperatures can lead to a process called freezer burn. Freezer burned food is not attractive, may not cook correctly and has lost taste and nutrients. Another concern with using strictly freezing as the method of food preservation is that if the power fails, your food must be cooked or eaten. Finding out that a freezer full of food has thawed is a very rude awakening. Take steps to prevent this happening. We check our freezer daily, ensuring that it is working properly and that the door is closed tightly. Why do we do this? Because we have learned from experience when our freezer door was left open once, resulting in food thawing and spoiling. Another time, a hurricane and a subsequent power outage for over a week, led to our freezer thawing. We had to give the contents of our freezer to our friends, who still had power, so that our food would not spoil.
Step by step instructions for freezing various types of meat are described in this post from Survival at Home.
How do I Prepare With Stored Food?
My plan of action now is to utilize all three methods of food preservation. I can some, freeze some and dehydrate some. This way, I have the convenience of frozen food, which is less time consuming to store, the freshness of canned foods, and the dehydrated foods with the long shelf life. Everyone will make the decision that works best for them. If you don’t have a large freezer, just choose one or two foods to store in the freezer. We do not live in a remote, off grid, area, yet I have lost count of the number of times our power has been out for extended time periods of days or weeks. I learned early, that having the right foods for our family, and various ways to prepare food, allowed us to stay in our home and weather the circumstances.
Storing Dry Foods
One last note on food preservation. When storing items like pasta, flour, rice, grains, sugar etc, be sure to use bug proof, airtight containers. How disappointing would it be to go to your stored food, thinking that you are all prepared, only to find that the bag of flour has been chewed into by mice and now has a family of insects living inside. Even when using air tight storage containers, make a point of checking your stores regularly to ensure they are remaining pest free.
For more detailed instructions on canning and preserving your food, please check out some of these websites.
Homestead Chronicles also writes frequently about Dehydrating
Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape.
Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.
Day 1 – Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 2 – The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 – I’m Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 – Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 – Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 – The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 – It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 – It’s a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 – Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 – Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 – The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 – The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 – Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 – How We Choose The Right Gear – (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 – Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 – Food and Water for a 72 Hour “Go Bag” from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 – 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 – Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 – Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 – Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 – Preserving and Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 – Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 – KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 – Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 – Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 – How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 – How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 – Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 – What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 – How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness