Some Food Storage Links

Given the current issues with potential lockdowns and quarantines, I thought it might be useful to point at some food preservation links. While the easy thing to do is just buy a bunch of shelf stable foods, dry goods, and canned goods, then stack them somewhere cool and dry; it can be much cheaper to do some food preservation yourself.

For example, I canned a dozen or so jars of chicken legs and thighs. Better flavor by far than the dry commercial stuff and 80 ¢/pound instead of $ something per 8 ounce can.

So here’s a collection of useful resource links.

https://extension.usu.edu/canning/food-preservation-fact-sheets

Lots of goods stuff there. Each of the lines below is a link to a page in the original.

Food Preservation Fact Sheets
Freezing Fact Sheets
Fruit Freezing Methods
Vegetable Freezing Methods
Other Preserving Fact Sheets
Avoiding Common (Major and Minor) Canning Mistakes
Canning Bread or Cake is Unsafe!
Vegetable Canning Methods in the Pressure Canner
Home Drying of Foods
Reduced Sugar & Sugar-Free Food Preservation
Canning Salsa in a Boiling Water Canner–Generic Recipe
Getting Crisp Home Pickled Vegetables
Principles of Boiling Water Canning
Principles of Pressure Canning
Cook Surface Precautions for Home Canning
Pressure Canning Hydrated Wheat
U.S.U. Steam Canning—Position Statement
Canning Gauges —Important Announcement
Hazardous Food Preservation and Storage Advice
Boiling Water Canning Lemon or Lime Curd
Utah Home Food Preservation Update

Here’s a sample of their intro:

https://extension.usu.edu/foodstorage/store_safely

Storing Food Safety
USU Extension only provides science-based recommendations. In all cases processes are proven safe using science and are recommended. If processes are not proven safe, not researched, or lack quality scientific data we will not recommend them. There are two separate issues to consider as foods age: food safety and food quality. Food Safety: Foodborne illness can come from three sources: physical, chemical, and biological. The biological hazards include all of the microorganisms that cause foodborne disease, including botulism. Chemical hazards include non-food grade containers, cleaners and pesticides. Lastly, the physical hazards include things such as stones or rocks. Food Quality: Foods naturally deteriorate as they age. The science of food storage and preservation has evolved from our attempts to slow that deterioration. The prime concern with shelf life quality of foods is preventing spoilage microorganisms from growing. This is done through food preservation methods (drying, canning, etc.). Oxygen is the next factor. Oxygen catalyzes chemical reactions that lead to rancidity. Removing oxygen in most cases will extend the quality and shelf life of foods. However, great caution must be used when removing oxygen from food environments, since this creates the perfect growth environment for botulism-causing bacteria to grow.

USU Publications – Food Storage in the Home

https://extension.usu.edu/masterfoodpreserver/index

Master Food Preserver Program
Enjoy a multi-session course and develop expertise in food preservation: Take it all or take only the individual sessions you need. Courses are taught at Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah Counties; all provide this 20-35 hour course.

You Will Learn:
The latest information on food safety and food preservation
Prevention of food-borne illness
Food storage and safety
Canning basics
Canning high and low acid foods
Pickled and fermented foods
Preserving jams and jellies
Freezing foods
Drying food products

Each of those topics can take a chapter or two. But just the chapter headings tell you how to preserve foods, or what to buy that stores well. Things that are dry, like flour, pancake mix, dry beans & rice. Jams, jellies and other sugared preserves. Dry salami and dry cheeses. Pickles and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Canned goods.

There is also a method that stores meat under fat. Rarely seen these days other than as confit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confit

https://permies.com/t/2258/kitchen/preserving-meat-crock-lard-fat

I bought a block of tallow (beef fat) today. It is about 35 pounds, so I’ll need to preseve most of it. Why buy it? Supposedly it makes the very best french fries 8-)

It has a best by date of September 2020, but I’ll not get through it that fast. I’ve canned lard before and that works well. Supposedly tallow canning is the same. It can be done by pressure canning, or some folks just pour it into jars at over 240 F and seal the lid.

https://www.homesteadingtoday.com/threads/canning-lard.494817/

For dry beans, just put them in a water and bug proof container. Similarly rice. I will process a few pounds at a time into cooked jars of beans ready to use. Basicalky, soak, cook about 30 minutes, change the water, and can them.

https://www.simplycanning.com/canning-dried-beans.html

Beans are so easy to store in their dried state that it is easy to just leave them there and use dry. If you are looking at long term storage, don’t can your beans. Dry beans will store much much longer dry, vs wet like these directions.

But how many times have you wished you had thought to soak your beans ahead of time so you could make chili? I’ve done it often! Having precooked jars on the shelf is a great convenience food. Canning dried beans yourself is so easy it makes no sense to purchase canned beans from the store. The cost savings is huge!

Recommended shelf life is one year. After that the nutritional value goes down. It is not intended for long term storage. Just short term storage and convenience.

This link has an interesting discussion of various different ways of preserving food that can be less approved, but interesting in theory.

https://permies.com/t/112904/kitchen/Weekly-canning-lieu-refrigeration

Here’s one of the comments:

Debi Baker wrote:
Then, we take the heads, feet, bones, skin and cook for a long time to make broth, put in some cider vinegar to help get minerals out of bones. Let it strain, let the broth cool and take the fat off of the top, that fat needs to be used, refrigerated to use, or frozen, you don’t want to can with alot of fat as it can migrate up and ruin the seal on the jar. There will be some fat left in the broth. So this broth can be pressure canned to use later. Then you can take any meat that you strained out and use it or feed it and the skin to the dogs

I use this method to make dogs food. I pressure cook a load of carcasses and feet as you describe, and after 2 hours or so the bones are so soft they can be safely added to your dogs’ food without any problems. I mix the resulting boney soup to white rice, lentils, vegetables and can it for dog food. They love it, even the cat cries when we are opening the jars.

When canning whole chicken legs, skin on, I leave a bit over one inch head space and fill the canner with water to that line on the jars. This helps prevent spatter in the jars as the temperature and pressure drops slowly. That keeps fat out of the seal and so I don’t have to deal with defatting the meat. Tastes a lot better too :-)

This one has interesting discussions too:

https://permies.com/t/57622/kitchen/hard-canning

Waterbath canning is very straightforward as long as you follow the very simple rule that the food needs to be in a high-acid environment.

The National Center For Home Food Preservation is an essential, free resource:
http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_home.html

As far as books go, I use this: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

The Blue Book is the other standard reference. Also get to know http://www.foodinjars.com

Fair warning, it’s easy to get carried away with jams and preserves the first year. Nothing wrong with having a lot around, but the savory side of things often proves more useful for daily eating, i.e. tomatoes, pickles, and condiments.

I haven’t done much pressure canning, but that opens up a lot of doors and comes with its own basic set of rules.

Invest in the basic tools right off the bat. I spent the first two years trying to do everything with a pair of tongs and burned myself repeatedly, all for about $20 of basic tools that last for years.

The Ball Blue Book is THE place to start, though the $17 price at Amazon seems about $10 over what I paid at the hardware store:

https://www.amazon.com/Ball-Complete-Book-Home-Preserving/dp/0778801314/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1468332634&sr=8-5&keywords=ball+blue+book+of+canning+and+preserving&tag=pfa12-20

https://foodinjars.com

Looks interesting too.

I have a food dryer I got a year or three ago, but I’ve not used it yet. Basically you slice things thin, put them on trays, and turn it on for hours. Pack the result in jars or plastic bags.

There’s also smoking meats and making jerky, but those require a smoker or smokehouse along with considerably more work than simple canning or drying. Still, jerky can be made in your oven on low:

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Beef-Jerky

Dry beef jerky in your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator. If you don’t have access to a food dehydrator, that’s okay. You can still easily make beef jerky in your oven. Preheat your oven to 175 °F (79 °C)

As I’ve got a full freezer and fridge, and most of my jars are now full, to store more meat I’ll likely need to make it jerky.

In Conclusion

There’s a few thousand years of experience in food storage and preservation. People have done these things with little more than stone tools and sticks. It isn’t all that hard. Things like corning beef (grains of salt called corn suck water out and salt preserves) started as preseving methods, though now are mostly a flavor style. Similarly, BBQ started as smoked drying fish and meats to preserve them on wooden racks over open fires.

It is valuable to have some skill at canning, salting, sugaring, jerking, drying, etc. And it isn’t hard. DIY also can be much cheaper in some cases. Just pick one and get started trying it!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in cooking, Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Some Food Storage Links

  1. tom0mason says:

    When bottling fruits and pickling vegetables I use a little (1-2 grams per 1lb jar) of vitamin C powder with the syrup, salt solution, or vinegar (added just before canning the produce). Even at this low quantity it is still a good anti-oxidant and preserver without tainting the flavor.
    I also use about the same measure when making bread (added with the yeast).
    There are plenty of sources online for catering sizes of pure unflavored Ascorbic Acid (e.g. https://www.amazon.com/Pure-Ascorbic-crystalline-Powder-0-55lb/dp/B07FC462G4 )

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @BethTheSerf:

    You’re welcome! I wasn’t sure this would be new or interesting enough for most folks, so nice to have the confirmation.

    When & where I grew up, there were lots of folks doing home preserving. Much of the town had sheds full of canned goods. THE big local industry was a canning company processing local fruit. It was “strange” if you did not can your own stuff. Now, in Silicon Valley, nearly nobody does any food preservation. The skills just are not being used.

    My sister-in-law even has a near empty fridge, freezer, and cupboards. Entirely dependent on a weekly grocery run and mid-week fresh bits.

    I find the convenience of never running out, and the lower costs of bulk buys well worth the inventory space. Then there is the feeling of accomplishment looking at a cupboard full of your own canned goods…

    @Tom0Mason:

    Thanks for the tip! Does ascorbic acid just let it keep longer? Better flavor?

    FWIW, my attempts at canned pickles were soft disappointments until I started doing a lime soak. Sometimes small things make big differences.

    I’ve typically used Knorr bouillon when making canned soups. To appease a vegan in the extended family, I made a batch with a vegan brand. Tasted great in regular use. When canned, some herb in it became bitter. Not horribly so, but enough to be noticed as “not quite right”. Watch out for herbs that bitter if overcooked…

    @All:

    One pet peeve of mine is the “Experts” who baldly state that if They have not approved via lab testing for any exact mix of stuff, it is forbidden. What about decades of “Existance Proof”? These were the people keeping prosciutto ham out of the country for decades despite it being fine with hundreds of years of Italian experience.

    Some they pronounce “Not Safe!” on all sorts of canned stuff that works fine; shilling for grant money to test and develop approved processes.

    Take peas, for example. You will find it stated all over that you can’t can peas. I make a very nice canned pea soup. Peas (dry), ham or spam bits, onion, celery and carrot small dice, salt, pepper and bouillon in the jar. Can as though it were meat.

    The silly thing is that we know how to (proven safe) can fish and meat. 70 minutes at 10 lbs for pints, 90 minutes for quarts, IIRC. Fish in smaller jars. Meat has all the difficult properties and fish are loaded with bacteria. The process is to use small jars and cook long. Dense food of low thermal conductivity, neutral pH. So they accept you can can meat that way, but suggest doing peas soup in pints for 70 minutes and watch the hollering start. My basic rule of thumb is just to can at the time and temp of the hardest component of a mixture. Typically meat bits. Adding a bit of acid will add insurance and often better flavor. This can make vegetable bits mushy, but that’s fine in soups.

    I just wish they would realize lots of folks know what pH is and can buy pH meters. I’d love to stsrt doing pH adjustments with known data charts and get better soups with non-mushy bits. In the Stanford bookstore, decades back, I saw a text for their food science program. Beautiful nomograph of time vs temp vs pH for killing botulusm spores. That’s “the thing” they think you can not do at home, so never show you. Measure pH. Read off time at temp on the graph. It was about $100 bucks then, so I didn’t buy it. Been looking for that nomograph on and off ever since.

    Oh Well.

    Just realize that some of the “warnings” are excessive. Like they admonish against “steam canning” in the first link. I have a steam canner. Works fine. Theory is fine too. Any jar below boiling point will have steam condense on it rapidly raising it to boiling. Heat transfer via steam is often faster than via liquid. Heat of vaporization being higher than specific heat. Yet because the steam canner company refused to pay them to study it, they diss it.

    There is room for reasonable extrapolation in food preservation.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and probably ought to link to these prior posts:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/canned-crackers-dry-canning-say-what/
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/dry-canning-1-year-report/

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/canning-split-pea-soup-dry-beans/
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/more-canning-soup/

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/old-cookbooks-canning-tomatoes/

    Don’t know if it is still up anywhere, but at one time I’d found water bath recipies for the Victory Garden era. Many not approved now. But in theory usable if desperate. Essentially very long extended times, like hours, for neutral pH vegetables. Much preferable to use a pressure canner or acidify to kill botulism spores as boiling water (especially at higher elevations) can have failures. But if your choice is starvation… desperate times and all that. So I’ve got a copy saved off somewhere. This looks like maybe it:
    https://archive.org/stream/communitycanning544unit#page/n5/mode/2up

    Interesting historical pictures here:
    https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/ipd/canning/exhibits/show/wartime-canning/world-war-ii

    And while I’m thinking about it:

    The KFC Secret mix may be not so secret. Egg and milk wash, dredge in flour & spice mix. Fry (preferably in pressure fryer but 350 F is ok in a pan)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KFC_Original_Recipe

    It is well attested that Harland Sanders asked Bill Summers of Marion-Kay Spices in Brownstown, Indiana, US to recreate his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. While alive, Sanders recommended the Marion-Kay seasoning to franchisees over the corporate version, as he believed the latter had been made inferior by its owners. In 1982, after Sanders’ death, KFC brought a lawsuit against Marion-Kay and the latter was barred from selling its mixture to KFC franchises.
    The Marion-Kay seasoning is still sold under the name “99-X,” and according to Sanders biographer Josh Ozersky, it is indistinguishable from the original KFC recipe.

    In August 2016, the Chicago Tribune reported that Joe Ledington of Kentucky, a nephew by marriage of Colonel Sanders, had claimed to have found a copy of the original KFC fried chicken recipe on a handwritten piece of paper in an envelope in a scrapbook. Tribune staffers conducted a cooking test of this recipe, which took several attempts to get right. They had to determine whether the “Ts” meant tablespoons or teaspoons, and soon concluded the correct interpretation was tablespoons. After some trial and error, they decided the chicken should be soaked in buttermilk and coated once in the breading mixture, then fried in oil at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a pressure fryer until golden brown. As a pressure fryer was too big, a deep fryer was used alternatively to substitute the pressure fryer. They also claimed that with the addition of MSG as a flavor enhancer, they could produce fried chicken which tasted “indistinguishable” from fried chicken they had purchased at KFC.

    The recipe found by Joe Ledington reads as follows:

    11 Spices – Mix With 2 Cups White Fl.

    ​2⁄3 Tablespoon Salt
    ​1⁄2 Tablespoon Thyme
    ​1⁄2 Tablespoon Basil
    ​1⁄3 Tablespoon Oregano
    1 Ts Celery salt
    1 Ts Black pepper
    1 Ts Dried mustard
    4 Tablespoon Paprika
    2 Tablespoon Garlic salt
    1 Tablespoon Ground ginger
    3 Tablespoon White pepper

    Which has me wondering where to buy 99-X, or mix my own.

    But that’s not preserving… nothing seems to disappear faster than fried chicken. Especially fried in lard or bacon grease after some chicken fat has joined the mix…

  4. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    This past week I cleaned an unused (except of storage) closet and found a bag of rice, like seen here:
    plastic in Burlap rice

    … or search “images” with: daawat rice burlap bag

    I bought several of these at Costco. They have a zipper at the top and a plastic bag inside. This one is 15 pounds and has a use by date of Feb. 2010. The outside of the bag claims “Aged to Perfection” – processed by L. T. Overseas of New Delhi.
    So “perfection” + Ten
    I’ll try it later this week.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    It will be interesting to know how well it held up. FWIW, I’ve used many year old rice stored in glass jars and it was fine.

    FWIW the archive link above was about canning centers, not the home processing. I’ll need to search the archive here:
    https://archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A“Fruit+Preservation”
    To see which one is the DIY At Home one.

    This link does have times like canning pumpkin for hours in a water bath, so looks more like it.
    https://archive.org/details/CAT87202920/page/n49/mode/2up

    Again, pressure canning is much safer. But given that around half of all canned goods mid WWII were done at home with this level if tech, it clearly didn’t kill off everyone… so risky, but at a modest level.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    This is an interesting one. It talks about steam canning and oven canning (both now poo pooed)
    https://archive.org/details/CAT31298689/page/n5/mode/2up

    The oven canning has a reduced heat transfer rate from air vs water bath, but that just mens longer time needed to heat the middle. Looks like they use 250 F to 275 F to get good heat flow with low evaporation. Here’s a radio transcript discussing it:

    https://archive.org/details/CAT31306613/page/n1/mode/2up

    An interesting “Government Cookbook” with preservation included:

    https://archive.org/details/CAT11041773/page/n5/mode/2up

    Eight pages on making fruit butters:
    https://archive.org/details/homemadefruitbut00clos/mode/2up

    18 pages from 1868 on hermetic food preservation. How it started…

    https://archive.org/details/CAT31120322/page/n1/mode/2up

    From 1936, requires pressure canning for non-acid foods. Had not yet backed off to the risky method “allowed” during WWII advice during high famine risk. Has some times for 15 pound pressures:

    https://archive.org/details/CAT87205286/page/n38/mode/1up

    1919 era, 49 pages on farm and home drying of fruits snd vegetables.

    https://archive.org/details/CAT31292944/page/n1/mode/2up

    Lots of interesting stuff in those archives.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting perspective here:

    https://www.womenshistory.org/articles/food-rationing-and-canning-world-war-ii

    Women’s Land Army

    While the acreage under cultivation and agricultural yields increased throughout the war, many young men left the farm to join the military or work in another war industry. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) needed to identify new ways to fill labor shortages. On a tour of England in 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke with members of the Women’s Land Army about their work in agriculture. She was encouraged by the positive results these women had on the agricultural outlook of Britain. Upon her return to the United States, she began lobbying for a similar system to be put in place. The USDA was reluctant at first to enact such a program. However, in 1943, Congress passed the Emergency Farm Labor Program, creating the Women’s Land Army of America (WLAA), or as it became known, the Women’s Land Army (WLA). It is estimated that 2.5 million women worked in the WLA during WWII.

    Victory Gardens

    The USDA encouraged people throughout WWII to grow their produce in family and community gardens, known as victory gardens. People were urged to plant gardens in rural and urban settings to offset the food rations, add vitamins to their diet, and support the war effort. Use of food through effective production, consumption, and preservation, was presented by the government as patriotic acts to help the troops and the nation. Historians estimate that by 1943 up to 20 million victory gardens were cultivated, helping sustain the needs of the country. Although wartime propaganda tended to portray gardening as a masculine activity, a wide variety of the population helped to grow produce, including women and children.

    And…
    https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/ipd/canning/exhibits

    Canning Through the World Wars
    American housewives canned more than 4 billion cans and jars of food in 1943, and nearly 3 ½ billion quarts of food in 1944. The latter represents nearly one-half of the canned vegetables and two-thirds of the canned fruits that were available for civilian consumption that year.

    –Toepfer, E. W. & Reynolds, H. (1947). Advances in home canning. United States Department of Agriculture: The Yearbook of Agriculture 1943-1947. Retrieved from http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/naldc/catalog.xhtml?id=IND43894002&start=0&searchText=&searchField=&sortField=&yearFacet=1943&authorFacet=Reynolds%2C+Howard

  8. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    American housewives canned more than 4 billion cans and jars of food in 1943, and nearly 3 ½ billion quarts of food in 1944.

    How do they know that? My mother and the families of several sisters canned — both water bath and pressure. We even had canned venison.
    Did any of these ladies report any of this? Not that I know of.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    You do statistical surveys and extrapolate. You ask the canning lid maker how many they sold.

  10. tom0mason says:

    E.M. so far I’ve used in jams, jellies, ketchup and pickles, and at that concentration given there is no obvious flavor taint (to me). The color of jellies and ketchup also seem better to me, and pickles seems retain their crunch a bit longer — but like all things foody personal preferences and tastes vary.
    When making pickles I’ve found that it is not only the storage temperature but the acidity of the pickling liquor that determines how quick the pickles go mushy. You’ll probably have to do a bit of experimentation here as the actual ingredient types with their variability in acid/sugar content does matter. I allow for the additional acidity of ascorbic acid by adding a little water instead of the lemon/lime/vinegar to the mix.
    Yes many herbs go bitter when cooked and canned. I tend to keep the herbs low when cooling the recipe and add dried herbs (grown by me) when I open the jar. Yep it will have a different flavor balance, and overall slightly less herbs are needed — I’m still experimenting with some recipes.

    I got into using ascorbic acid about 10 years ago after reading about some health food providers moving completely away from other (artificial) chemicals to preserve food. Just about all of them were using various salt/ascorbic acid combinations. The use of ascorbic acid in breadmaking has gone on commercially for many years, often it is listed as a flour improver but it’s action on the flour allows the yeast to work better.

  11. tom0mason says:

    A note about the favor of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it is virtually nothing! Lemons and limes by comparison are very tart and sour, ascorbic acid is so much less. It has some sharpness but it’s very attenuated and apart from that I can not taste any definite flavor of it’s own.
    So basically it’s a neutral taste but very mildly acidic.
    Also note that heat will destroy vitamin C however it is not so much the temperature as it is the length of time it is heated. From https://blog.livonlabs.com/vitamins-and-nutrients/vitamin-c/keep-food-vitamin-c-rich-cooking-tips/

    The researchers found that it isn’t just water and heat, but time as well that plays a critical role in the Vitamin C content of these vegetables. Peppers began with 15.39 mg/25 ml Vitamin C in its raw form and saw its content drastically decline to 13.58 after cooking for 5 minutes, 9.96 after 15 minutes, and 5.43 after 30 minutes. The temperature was kept at a constant, low temperature of 140°F. The researchers concluded the study with this recommendation: “For high retention of vitamin C while cooking it is recommended that the vegetables are cooked in low heat and small amounts of water for short periods to minimize the loss of vitamin C.”

    Which is why I’ll add ascorbic acid right at the end of the cooking process.

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