First, I am not an expert at food preservation. Second, if you’ve already read all there is to read about one method or another, and you’re happy with it, that’s your decision. If you’re happy . . I’m happy. 🙂
One word of caution – there are all kinds of groups online who promote various canning techniques/recipes and many of them will admit they are rule breakers. When it come to canning, I do not break the rules.
Botulism can occur in improperly canned foods. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it. The risk is too high.
If there’s something I want to can and I cannot find a recipe I trust, I’m probably not going to can it but if the recipe contains all items I know are safe to can, then I’ll likely do it. Just because you cannot find a recipe for canning ground meat and dry beans doesn’t mean it’s unsafe so long as you know the safe method for canning ground meat and dry beans separately.
Sites I Trust:
Methods I Use and Trust:
This is my preferred method of preserving meats and some veggies. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than home canned chicken. I can open a jar of chicken and make just about anything (except fried chicken) that I could make with a fresh chicken. When I find chicken on sale, I usually buy a lot (before there were limits!). I can make a huge, nasty chicken mess in the kitchen, have lots of stinky chicken scraps in the trash but when it’s all done, I may have 50 jars of canned chicken and I don’t have to deal with nasty, stinky chicken juice for a very, very long time.
Beef roast, venison, pork loin – those are all great canned – ready to heat and eat.
The process of pressure canning is not hard. It’s scary the first time you do it. I always recommend doing with a canning friend the first time. Once you see how easy it is, the fear is gone. In a nutshell, here’s how you do it:
- Make sure your jars and lids are clean.
- Follow instructions from whatever site you’re using to get the food prepared as it should be and into the jars.
- Wipe the tops of the jars to make sure they are clean and free of grease.
- Place the lids and rings on the jars.
- Place the jars in the canner with the required amount of water (hot water in the canner if you’re using hot contents in the jars).
- Close it up, get the heat going.
- Wait for the stream of steam to come out the vent pipe.
- Place the weighted gauge on the vent.
- Start timing when the pressure comes up to the recommended psi.
- Do not let the pressure drop below the recommended psi or you have to start your timing back from zero.
- Once it’s done, turn off the heat.
- Let the canner sit there til the pressure is back down to zero.
- Remove the weighted gauge.
- Open the lid.
- Remove the jars.
You really need better instructions that what I’ve just given you but it’s not difficult.
Water Bath Canning:
Water bath canning is simply covering the jars with a couple of inches of water and boiling for a prescribed amount of time – no pressure. This is only for high acid foods – definitely not for meats!
Freeze drying isn’t for everything. Anything that has seeds (tomatoes) or a thick skin (blueberries) is not a great item to freeze dry in the home freeze dryers. They say to poke holes in EACH blueberry if you’re going to freeze dry them. No way! I have put some in the blender, poured it out onto the trays and then broke it up to have a blueberry snack. Not worth the effort if you ask me.
Once the foods are freeze dried, they have to be stored. My preferred method is jars that I vacuum seal. Many people prefer mylar bags with oxygen absorbers or desiccant packs.
Things like rice, flour, beans, cereal, oats are great vacuum sealed in jars. I love the half gallon jars for this. I sometimes use an oxygen absorber but rarely. I have cereal that has been stored in seal jars for 14 years and every now and then I open a jar just to see if it’s still good and it is as good as the day I bought it.
Rice and flour are not going to last as long as some things. About the only way to keep rice or flour long term is vacuum sealing it – get the air out!
Most anything we buy as far as rice, beans, oats, flour will have bugs or bug larvae in it. I always freeze it for a couple of weeks, then take it out, let it come to room temp before vacuum sealing it in jars.
Freezing for me is a last resort. You have to worry about power being off and things just don’t last, even vacuum sealed, as long in a freezer.
For those who feel the whole house generator is your insurance against loss of power – more than likely it is but not always. I’ve had friends in Louisiana who have not been so lucky with their whole house generators.
First, there’s a major brand that had LOTS of failures over the last month.
One friend kept her “whole house” running – central a/c and all, til she learned it was going to cost her $6,000 in propane costs to keep it running for one month.
Another friend has a generator that runs off natural gas but with so many trees uprooted in the hurricane, a lot of gas lines were damaged and gas in some places was shut off.
I would guess that a very good percentage of the time, the generator will keep your freezer going.
We do have freezers and we do keep small generators to keep the food from spoiling. We would run them a few hours per day to keep the food frozen. I love air conditioning as much as anyone but knowing that there are no guarantees to keeping the lights on when the power is off, we’ve come up with ways to do just about everything we need to do if we were without power for a short time and I pray it never comes to that but I know we will be ok if it does.
Canned and freeze dried foods – no problem. They don’t need power to stay good.
One method I do not recommend is dry canning. A reader shared a link yesterday to this article, Just Say No to Dry Canning. The reasons why they say we should not dry can are the same thoughts I’ve always had.
This is just meant to give you some ideas . . not a complete treatise on food preservation. Use your head. Read. Talk to others who have been doing this for a long time. Some things are going to work better for others; some things will work one time and not the next time!
Here in Texas, we have almost no humidity. In MO, there’s a ton of humidity. That will change some things about the way I store some foods. Having a basement that stays cool will make a huge difference in where I store foods.
I do not have a lifetime supply of food. I do keep enough that if there are reasons we don’t want to go out for a month or so, we’re good. We may not have everything we want but will have enough to keep us comfortable.