How Start Preserving Food

5 Easy Steps to Start Storing and Preserving Food

  1. Make some space for food in your life. This can be as simple as taking the heart-shaped cake pans and bundt pans you use only three times a year and moving them to a back shelf, or it could involve getting rid of a bunch of stuff in a closet or building shelves into a basement area. You want it to be somewhere away from light, reasonably cool, ideally, not too moist and without critters in it. Stable temperature is more important than cooler temperatures. It is better that the place not swing between 20 and 90 degrees and that it be more like 65 degrees all year round. This applies to dry foods like beans, grains, spices and canned goods but not to root-cellared veggies, which we’ll get to later in the book.
  2. Inventory of what you’ve got. Figure out what you already have in your pantry. I know, it is boring, but sit down and figure out how much food you have. You can then compare quantities roughly with the lists in the previous section.
  3. Start eating from your pantry. Pick some recipes that rely primarily on storable ingredients and make them. Do you like them? Do they need jazzing up? Then do the jazzing. Then consider buying larger quantities of the components of this recipe. My family, for example, always has the ingredients for a Thai-style noodle dish we like: tofu (we make our own but you could buy shelf-stable), rice noodles, vegetarian oyster sauce, chili garlic paste, etc. The only thing we need to add are greens, and we usually have those either in the garden, in the root cellar (cabbage mostly), lacto fermented, or as sprouts. Now try some more recipes. What do you like for breakfast? To drink? As a side dish? As you add pantry-compatible recipes, add some more of their ingredients to your stores.
  4. Start to check out bulk resources. If you have a local co-op, buying club or bulk store, you can go through them. Don’t forget local farmers. Even if you are part of a small household, consider dividing bulk purchases with others, since they minimize packaging and have a smaller environmental impact.
  5. Begin experimenting with preservation techniques. Consider making a little apple butter out of those apples that are going mealy, or lacto fermenting some of your greens. And begin thinking about what foods, both homegrown and wild or gleaned, you can add to your stores. Remember, it isn’t that big a project if you do just a little at a time. Now is also a good time to keep an eye out on free cycle and online for equipment like canning jars or dehydrators, or to start building projects. 

These are all great steps to ensuring you eat a more seasonal and local diet which is better for you and the environment. Click here for more information and food preservation and canning


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