TO PRESERVE FOOD
In the past, the arrival of fall meant a scramble to harvest and
preserve as much food as possible before the cold weather set in.
Most families would spend many long hours working on this enormous
task because their year-round access to food depended on it. Only
in recent decades have we become reliant on the convenience of
refrigerators, which are wonderful for keeping food fresh -- until
the power goes out. Then a mad scramble of another sort ensues Ė
trying to eat as much of the food before it goes bad within a day
Since outages happen all the time and increasingly violent storms
keep the power out for longer, we could do well to relearn the food
preservation techniques of our ancestors that do not rely on
electricity. There are several great and effective alternatives to
refrigeration that are easy to learn.
Canning is a traditional method of preservation that partially cooks
food to kill bacteria and seals it up until youíre ready to eat it.
The food can be eaten right away, unless you make pickles, which
usually require a couple weeks for flavour to develop properly.
There are multiple stages of work required for canning, i.e. preparing
the food and any additives such as brine or sugar syrup, sterilizing
glass jars and lids, filling and processing, wiping down and storing
the filled jars. It can take a long time, but itís a skill that becomes
quicker the more you do.
While the upfront cost of jars can be expensive, they have an extremely
long life span. (My grandmother has been using the same jars for decades.)
All you have to replace is the snap lids that seal in the food, and those
donít cost much.
9 reasons to try canning this summer
Drying is considered to be the easiest and least labour-intensive way
to preserve food. Since mold, bacteria, and mildew thrive in a moist
environment, drying is effective for food storage because it removes
all water and can be stored safely for a long period of time. You can
buy a food dehydrator or use a low-temperature oven, although the
latter can take many, many hours to accomplish the task.
Dried food, especially fruit, can be eaten as is, or you can rehydrate
it by soaking in water for several hours. You can also make delicious
snacks such as fruit leather and beef jerky. (Here's an excellent recipe
for jerky that I like to make.)
Recipe For Homemade Beef Jerky
Fermenting is somewhat similar to canning, although it doesnít seal up
the food, allows entry of Ďgoodí bacteria, and uses acidic brine. Paul
Clarke of Resilient Communities explains:
What to Do with What You Grow After The Harvest
ďThe brine allows for controlled fermentation of your food by select
anaerobic bacteria, killing off potentially harmful molds or bacterial
strains while preserving your harvest against future breakdown.Ē
Lately Iíve become hooked on making fermented kimchi, a spicy Korean
condiment. A huge head of cabbage reduces to fit inside a single
1-quart jar. The recipe I use comes from Alice Waters' cookbook, "The
Art of Simple Food II." Itís quick to prepare and only takes two or
three days before itís ready to eat. The fermentation continues to
deepen the flavour until itís all been eaten.
4. Salt Curing and Brining
Using salt to preserve meat is a very old method, as salt creates an
inhospitable environment for bacteria and most microorganisms cannot
tolerate a salt concentration of more than 10 percent.
Curing involves rubbing a mixture of salt and sugar into pieces of
fresh pork, packing it tightly into a crock, and then storing it a
stable, cool temperature. Brining starts out the same as salt curing,
but uses an additional salty brine solution that must be changed on a
Preserving Meat Without Refrigeration
Salt-cured meat requires a lengthy soaking in water to remove the excess
salt and bring it down to edible levels.
This is similar to salt-curing, but goes one step further to create a
finished product that requires no further cooking. On his award-winning
blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.
Hank Shaw explains why curing meat is an essential part of the
hunter-gatherer lifestyle and why you should start with goose
or duck prosciutto: ďItís probably the easiest charcuterie
project you can undertake.Ē You can find his directions here.
5 ways to preserve food without refrigeration
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The Grocer's Encyclopedia
Fermentation in food processing
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