Preserving your own food is the best way to take fresh food and be able to feed your family all year long. Here are my 4 best food preservation methods I use here on our homestead all year long.
Whether it is food from the garden or food I was able to get in bulk at a good price, learning different ancient times methods is so satisfying and your wallet will thank you as well!
There is this misconception that you have to grow your own food in order to preserve it. That simply is just not true! Finding foods that are good priced that I can buy in bulk to put up is almost as satisfying as growing it.
Either way when you are putting up your own foods, you are staying out of the grocery store and that is HUGE in saving money.
How I got started preserving foods.
When I first started bulk buying, it was solely out of hatred taking my two small children (at the time a baby and 2 year old) to the grocery store. I started with shopping every 2 weeks and eventually moved to monthly for a bulk run and then maybe 1 or 2 small runs in the middle of the month for milk and fresh produce.
However, when my middle daughter suffered from extreme eczema (read my story here) my views changed completely. I started preserving foods for health reasons, on top of wanting to stay out of the grocery store. I started diving into our every day diet and learning as much as I could about what’s in our ingredients and foods.
During this time, I gained a strong desire to grow, raise, and preserve as much of our own food as I could.
I wanted long-term storage of food that I could pull from for months if I had to. I wanted to know that I had a strong enough food storage to feed my family good wholesome foods no matter what the world threw at us.
Over the past 5 years my abilities have grown and so has my food storage!
4 of my favorite method of food preservation:
These 4 home food preservation methods that I am about to share with you are ones that I use every single year. Different foods call for different ways to be put up and you will notice that the same foods are sometimes on all the lists. This is because I like to preserve in many ways to be able to use them up in different ways all year long.
Using various food preservation methods makes this easier.
For example, I preserve my tomatoes by canning them, freezing them, and also by dehydrating them. If I only used one of those methods, that would be the only way I could use them all winter. By doing all 3, I can pick and choose which way I need them depending on what I am making.
Remember, food preservation doesn’t have to be one way or complicated. Let’s get started with the simplest and least time consuming first!
#1 Freeze your foods
We are going to start with the easy way first. Freezing your foods is a perfect way to put up a lot of food and put it up quick. When I know we are going to freeze bulk produce coming in, I call in all the troops. Everyone has a cutting board and knife and we get to chopping!
The best way to freeze your produce is to flash freeze it first. This simply means you want to freeze your food in a single layer first so then you can put them all together and they won’t stick together.
Some foods need to be blanched first before freezing so they don’t get soggy. But for the most part I like to slice it, lay it on a baking sheet in a single layer, freeze it for 20-30 minutes or until completely frozen, and then pour into a ziploc bag. Label your bag with the content and year and stick it in the freezer to use later!
Foods I freeze:
- green beans
- bell peppers
- bone broth (if you don’t have a pressure canner)
- fruits (like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, bananas)
- peanuts, almonds, cashews
#2 Dehydrate your foods
This method isn’t the quickest method but it is rather simple. You are going to want to grab some of those extra hands to helps cut up your produce, but then you can slide them into the dehydrator, set it to the appropriate temp, and let it go!
I love having dehydrated foods on my shelf because it can last for so long. Once you dehydrate long enough that all the moisture is out, you can store in an airtight container on your pantry shelf and you will have food all year long!
I love to use my 9 tray Excalibur food dehydrator for all my dehydrating needs. Not only do I use my excalibur for dehydrating foods, I also incubate yogurt and rise bread in it too! Since I only have one oven, my dehydrator is a great spot to do those projects and not use up my oven space.
The shelf life for dehydrated foods is between 4 and 12 months. I will say, I am kind of a rebel when it comes to food storage. I have dehydrated peppers in an airtight jar on my shelf from last year and it is still just fine! Definitely use your best judgement and what you feel comfortable with.
Food I dehydrate:
- Jerky (beef and deer)
- apple slices
- tomatoes (then ground into a powder)
- beef liver (then ground into a powder)
- fruit leathers
- dehydrated fruits
- bell peppers
Make sure you are following the directions on your specific dehydrator for temperature and length of time for each item. On my excalibur it tells me the type of food and the temperature to set it at. I use my best judgement on the length of time.
#3 Can your food (pressure can and water bath can)
Canning my food is probably my favorite way that I preserve food at home. The reason I love this method so much is because all the work is done up front but I have a product that is ready to go when I need it. There is just no greater feeling then pulling a jar off of your shelf to serve to your family.
My favorite canning method is water bath canning because it is much quicker to process. You do not have to wait for your canner to rise to pressure, processing time, and then cool completely before removing the lid. With water bath canning it doesn’t take as long.
You also don’t really need anything expensive. You can get a fairly cheap water bath canning set on Amazon or even simply use a large pot and just get a rack so your jars aren’t sitting on the bottom of the pot. This makes this method simple, easy, and affordable!
You can only water bath can high-acid foods. Mostly this is your fruits and a few vegetable. Anything that has to do with meat and most vegetables have to be pressure canned.
Water bath canned foods:
- pie fillings
- tomato sauce (we love to put up lots of spaghetti sauce!)
- apple sauce
Pressure canning foods is a real close second to water bath canning. It does take longer but you can virtually can anything this way. I love to have ready made meals on my shelf. There is nothing more satisfying then on a busy night pulling a meal off of my shelf to heat up and knowing it was made with good healthy ingredients.
Foods that are pressure canned are usually low-acid foods. It is not safe to can these foods in a water bath canner. I love my All American Pressure Canner Model 921. It is pricier then other brands however it is a great quality and a canner you can have forever and even pass down to your children!
Pressure canned foods:
- meals in a jar
- green beans
Always remember that a pressure cooker is different than a pressure canner. You can not can jars of food in a pressure cooker. With a pressure cooker there is no way to test the accuracy of the pressure that your food is cooking at. So you can’t guarantee even heat is being distributed to the food inside your jars. The only way for this to be accurate is by using a certified pressure canner.
#4 Store your foods in Mylar Bags
This is my first year using Mylar bags to store dry foods in and I am loving them! Like I mentioned before, storing food doesn’t have to just come form your own garden. This also includes the dry bulk foods you can get at a good price and store up for the months/years to come.
I love using these Mylar bags by Wallaby Goods for all my dry goods. These bags are light, water, and puncture resistant. They are heavy duty so they are fit to stand the test of long term food storage.
Every pack of Mylar bags comes with a card with step-by-step instructions, easy peel labels, and oxygen absorbers. The oxygen absorbers come in either packets of 10 or single so when you open them you don’t have to worry about opening a large quantity pack and they go bad.
There is no special expensive equipment needed to seal these bags for long term storage. You can simply use a hard straightener along the top of your bag and it will seal it completely.
Food I store in Mylar bags:
- rice (5-10 years)
- flours (5-10 years)
- sugars (indefinitely)
- pasta (20-30 years)
- oats (20-30 years)
- crackers (1-3 years)
- cornmeal (3-5 years)
- cornstarch (3-5 years)
- dry beans (20-30 years)
- salt (indefinitely)
- coffee beans (20-30 years)
Steps to storing dry foods in Mylar bags:
- Fill your bag with your dry food you want to store for long term food storage.
- Take one oxygen absorber and pinch it to treat effectiveness. If it is soft, it is in working condition. If it is hard, it’s no longer good and should be discarded.
- Add oxygen absorber to your Mylar bag with your dry goods.
- Seal the zipper, if there is a zipper closure. Some sizes don’t have a resealable zipper closure.
- Heat seal along the top, where the opening is or just above the zipper with a hair straightener, clothing iron, or an impulse sealer.
- Store in a closet or on a shelf.
- Store any open or unused oxygen absorbers in mason jars with a lid and ring.
- Always remember to not use an oxygen absorber when storing baking soda, baking powder, salt, or sugar. If you do, they will become a hard block.
Adding Mylar bags for my long term food storage program has been a great way to buy every day dry ingredients in bulk at a good price and store up for years to come. Use code stephanie5 for a discount!
Watch here my BEST food preservation methods on the homestead.
The best ways to preserve your food is to start small and grow. I didn’t do all these methods right from the start. As my garden grew, our needs grew, and my desires grew. That’s when I started learning new methods.
Different types of food requires different methods of preserving, which is why all 4 methods are so important in the long run. Like I said earlier, you will find that some food items I have on more then 1 list. This is because having foods preserved in multiple ways is so important to be able to use them up all winter long.
When I first got started I shared that I just hated going to the grocery store. Now this method of storing food has become a lifestyle. I realized that when I had a large backup food storage, I felt secure in knowing I can feed my family and feed them well no matter what life throws at us.
The other thing I noticed is that I was actually saving money. Yes, you heard that right! Buying in bulk does cost up front but I am not running to the store multiple times a week because I am out of things. And we all know that when we step foot into a grocery store to buy 1 item we always come out with 10 items.
It just happens. So the best way to save money, stop going to the grocery store. The best way to stay out of the grocery store, buy in bulk and only go once a month if possible.