5 Ways to Preserve Food at Home

It seems you can't get through a news cycle without some terrible end of the world crisis in the making.  Whether it's bellicose wars of words between nuclear armed states, global warming or outright collapse of the biosphere, it can be hard to shake off a progressive sense of doom. For the more pragmatic minded, the end of the world isn't necessarily the end. For such unfazable souls the question of the day after the end is nothing more than an abrupt, "What now?"

Amongst the many concerns in a post disaster scenario, food and water rate at the top of our priorities because they are amongst our most fundamental human needs. However, this is really not something new. It is is easy to forget that it has only been a few decades where we have been able to rely upon great warehouse sized supermarkets, brimming with food. Less than a century ago managing unpredictable food supplies to make them stretch was an essential household skill.

This is great news both for the would-be survivalist and those who just want to live a bit more self-sufficiently. By learning the methods of the past any larder can be stocked with tasty, durable food. Some essential foodstuffs worth considering for anyone of these mindsets would include:

Bread Baking

loaves of crusty bread, freshly baked

Although bread itself has a relatively short shelf-life the main ingredient, flour, keeps for a very long time. Properly stored, flour can stay usable for a year or more. A skilled baker can create a huge variety of different breads and similar products based on whatever is available but the core methods of kneading and preparing dough is one well worth learning.

Jams

6 jam jars lined up on a shelf. Jars filled with preserves and sealed with wax paper and string

Making Jams  is another excellent way to make the most of foodstuffs beyond their natural expiry date. Jams and marmalades last for ages so long as they are kept in proper conditions and are relatively easy to make. The secret here is the sugar which can keep for years in the right storage.  

Pickles

3 jars of preserved vegatbles. At the front is a jar of pickled tomatoes. On the left, a jar of plum tomatoes and to the right, a jar of pickles

Similar to jams, pickles were a traditional way to make the bounty of summer and harvest last all year. Pickling is generally done by fermenting a food in brine or immersing it in vinegar.  Common candidates for pickling include meats, vegetables, fruits and eggs. Again these foods can keep for months making them an excellent way to extend a sparse diet in difficult times.

Drying and Curing Meat

cured ham on a wooden chopping board, with the top right cut off to display the red meat

Drying and curing meat are methods of preserving meat that were more popular in the past before refridgeration.  In both cases, the idea is to remove as much moisture from the meat and to cover it in salt which makes it inedible to the microbes that would otherwise eat it.  Beef and pork are traditional choices as they take well to the process.

Canning

four jars of preserve canned with metal lids and updside down

Canned food was a revolution in food technology when it first came out and is still a major method of preservation today. The shelf-life of such food is legendary – with some varieties allegedly still good to eat a hundred years later. With the right know-how it is even possible to create canned vegetables and meats at home. Those concerned with making the most of limited resources can appreciate not having to throw foods away.  

This is just the begining of self-sufficiency where food is concerned. Human beings had to go for millenia preserving their food in environments as diverse as rain sodden northern Europe to scorching Africa without our modern comforts of refridgeration. And if our ancestors could do it, so can we!
   

 

 

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