Learning how to preserve food properly is easier than you may think. Long term food storage allows you to prepare for emergencies, but can also be ideal when used on homesteads where self sufficiency is a goal. If you aren't a homesteader, there are some alternatives to consider for storing food in the case of an emergency. Finding the method that fits your needs will allow you the security net you want while also fitting your personal needs perfectly.
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According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, found online at http://nchfp.uga.edu, canning is a safe way to preserve foods when safety measures are followed. Canning is a process that includes cooking food and storing it in airtight glass jars for later use. Home canned food is an excellent option because it preserves the flavor of fresh fruits and vegetables and is also an inexpensive way to store foods from your garden for use during the colder months of the year. You will need some supplies for canning, including tongs, a large pan to boil jars and lids in, and a large pan or pressure cooker to seal your jars in once they have been filled.
Dehydrated and freeze dried foods are both simple alternatives for those with limited time and space for storing their own emergency food supplies. These types of foods have been a staple for soldiers, hikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts looking for a lightweight food that can be carried easily. Gallon sized, or larger, containers of dehydrated or freeze dried foods can be purchased for an instant supply fruits, vegetables, soups, and more.
There are some disadvantages to opting for freeze dried or dehydrated food over other options, as well as some advantages. Freeze dried foods are usually already packaged for long term storage when you buy them so there is no need for containers. Freeze dried foods are a little more expensive than dried bulk foods or canning your own homegrown vegetables and fruits, but are definitely a good option when you want an easy alternative to other methods.
Dry storage usually includes storing items such as grains and beans. Waterproof, airtight containers are the only thing you need to preserve these types of dried foods for emergency situations. One added benefit of opting for long term dry storage is that most of these items are very inexpensive and can be stored for an extended time without the quality of the food being affected. Typically, when you think of dry foods you will think of things like beans and other legumes or grains like oats and rice.
These types of foods can be purchased in bulk quantities and stores in large food safe buckets. You will want to look for containers that close tightly and that are waterproof for long term storage. Buying dried foods in bulk does require a cool, dry storage space that can be easily accessed from inside the home.
Freezing is also a good option for long term food storage. One thing to consider is whether or not you have a deep freezer, or space for one, in your home. Foods needs to be stored at a very cold temperature and wrapped well to prevent freezer burn over longer periods of time. This solution is nice when you want to opt for bulk meat, however. Rotating your frozen food stores is also a good idea. Write the date of purchase on the outside of meats and frozen foods using waterproof marker. You will want to use the oldest items first to keep a fresh supply of frozen foods with little waste. One disadvantage is that you may not have electricity in an emergency situation.
Drying Your Own
Owing a small home dehydrator is an excellent way to make jerky, fruit leather, and other items that can be stored for long periods of time. A dehydrator is usually less than $150, but can be more costly if you want a specific brand or model. Dehydrated foods will also need to be stored in airtight containers for long term storage and kept in a cool, dry area in the home.
Nick Lamar is avid gardener and blogger who writes for 3 LB Soul.