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.
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:
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
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 high and low acid foods
Pickled and fermented foods
Preserving jams and jellies
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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!