Monday, May 13, 2013

Preserving 101

You may ask yourself why would we spend time canning, freezing, drying or dehydrating when the grocery store is just miles down the road.

My answer is simple.

I like to know what I am eating.

I know what I grow in my back yard and how we grew it. I love the process for growing and caring for your own plants, whether it is fruits, vegetables or flowers. I am greatly rewarded by a sense of accomplishment and enjoy the beauty of it.

Scientific advancements and food don't always make a great combination.
 I want ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup. I want Mexican rice without preservatives. I want yogurt without dyes.

I am frugal. I love using coupons to get great deals for my family but not at the expense of their health. Too often the majority of coupons are for convenience foods that are loaded with dyes and preservatives.

What is Canning?

Canning is saving your cooking efforts in jars. You choose meals to cook because you love them. Wouldn't it be nice to have the meal or sauces saved for the next time you want them? By canning you are simply preventing the food from spoiling by removing air and sealing the jar. 

What is Freezing?

Freezing is preserving your food in the freezer. Simple huh? You basically can freeze anything but there are a few suggestions you will want to follow. You can not freeze things in cans or eggs in shells, unless you like explosions of these items in your freezer. Just because you can place any food in the freezer doesn't mean you want to consume it once thawed. Mayonnaise, any cream based sauce and lettuce will not preserve well. Personally, I also like to avoid freezing block or shredded cheese, as it becomes soft and has more moisture in it.
You want to protect your food while it remains in the freezer by wrapping the item is plastic wrap, plastic bag, wax paper or foil. 
Here is our tutorial on how to prepare your vegetables for freezing through a process called blanching. 

What is Drying?

Drying is removing moisture from the food through sun light. This is the oldest method of preserving your harvest. This method has such a low amount of moisture remaining in the food that microorganisms can not survive on the food and does not spoil. This method also uses much less space than canning or freezing does. Drying is great for herbs and vegetables. When this process is completed you can store your food in plastic bags or a sealed container of your choice.

What is Dehydrating?

Dehydrating is drying out the food with the help of your oven or dehydrator appliance. If you decide to use your oven, this method can take all day depending on the food. So be sure you are planning to be home. You can purchase a food dehydrator that can be keep plugged in and working while you are away. The food dehydrator does take longer to dehydrate than the oven but you can set it up and simply proceed with your day.

For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.    Deuteronomy 16:15