With just a bit of preplanning and our handout, you can decide what preservation methods to use for 50 different fruit and vegetable varieties.
When it comes to preserving fresh produce, you have options. You can freeze it, dehydrate it, pickle it, ferment it, can it, or place it in a root cellar. It can be confusing when you want to decide which preservation method to choose. If you have a sparse pantry and need healthy food on hand, it’s helpful to know the options ahead of time.
What preservation method you choose will depend on a variety of different factors. You may want to review the six methods of preserving food article before you begin.
What Food Does Your Family Eat?
Start by figuring out what kind of food that your family regularly eats and then you will have an idea about the variety of produce you want to preserve.
There are always several preservation methods to choose from, so don’t feel that you will have a pantry of canned beans and nothing else. You aren’t stuck with one thing.
- Green beans for example freeze, can, ferment, and dehydrate well, but don’t particularly lend themselves to root cellaring.
- Bananas on the other freeze and dehydrate well, but you don’t can them, or place them in cold storage.
- Apples dehydrate well and also do well in cold storage, but they have to be processed into applesauce or pie filling before you can or freeze them.
- Berries are delicious frozen, dehydrated, or turned into jam and processed in a water bath canner.
Use the handout Common Preserving Methods for 50 fruit and Vegetables and spend a little time doing your research. This will help you become familiar with the preservation methods that lend themselves to the variety of food you want to have in your home pantry. Enter your information below to receive it.
How Will You Use it Food Prep?
Once you know what you can do with a particular food, think about how you might want to use it later. If you love to add dried fruits to your oatmeal or granola in the morning, it makes sense to dehydrate those berries. If you prefer them in smoothies, freeze them instead.
The same goes for any other vegetable. If you love pickled cauliflower as a quick veggie side or on a sandwich, it makes sense to pickle and can this yummy vegetable. If you prefer vegetables steamed, or like to use it to make soup or mashed potatoes, freezing or dehydrating makes more sense.
Do you Have Storage Space?
Your last consideration should be space. Each of these preservation methods has different space and storage requirements.
The first place you’ll likely run out of storage room is in the freezer. If you think this may become an issue, keep it in mind as you decide how much of each item you want to have in the freezer, canned in jars, or added to pantry storage.
For example, if you have a bumper crop of green beans, you may find it quickest and easiest to freeze them. Be sure to consider putting up a batch or two with the canner also, so at the busy harvest time you can make sure there is room left in the freezer for other things. If you don’t plan, you may end up with a freezer full of green beans and not have room for anything else.
Canning, Pickling, and Fermenting
With canning, pickling, and fermenting your main restriction will be the number of jars you have. Thankfully canning jars are fairly inexpensive, and you can add a pack each year as needed.
Of course, you will also need a cool, dark place to store these finished jars full of canned goods.
If you live in an earthquake-prone area, plan for a way to keep the jars inside of their storage shelves, or you may find them on the floor at the first hint of shaking.
Root Cellar / Cold Storage
When you run out of room in the pantry, get creative. If you have a basement, you should be able to section off a portion and create some extra room for a cold storage area.
If you don’t have a basement, consider storing the jars of preserved food in a closet, or even under the bed. While those may not be ideal locations, they greatly expand the amount of room you have to store canning jars. Try building your own with the informative Root Cellaring ebook by Teri Page. If you live in the right climate, this is the way to go!
Dried or dehydrated food will take up the least amount of room. It’s also by far the lightest and will store the longest. Small shelf space and long storage life make dehydrating a great option when you’re starting to run out of storage room in the pantry.
Just remember that you need a plan for consuming all this dehydrated food down the road. You can store the dry food in FoodSaver airtight bags, or use plastic containers, or glass jars with oxygen absorbers.
Do you sometimes get into a rut when it comes to meal planning? We sure do! Dinners become the same old thing, over and over again. You think ‘if I could only find time to preserve my food, I could get some variety in my diet!’ Common preserving methods can help. It can be the foundation of your pantry planning. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about some ways to fit preserving into your busy schedule.
I’d love to hear from you! What are the challenges you have with deciding which preserving method to choose? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!
Other preserving articles from Rockin W Homestead
Which Preservation Method Should You Choose? (this post)