When was the last time you had too many fruits or vegetables on your hands and didn’t know what to do with them? If you’re like us, it probably wasn’t that long ago. Preserving your own food – perhaps like your grandparents used to do – is a great way to solve this problem and cut down on waste. People have been preserving food throughout all of human history, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, but some useful techniques have lost popularity. Rediscovering those techniques may help revive both food preservation and your kitchen.
Perhaps the most famous form of food preservation – and also the most complex – is canning. Canning is a very effective method because foods can be kept for a long time without spoiling. The canning procedure kills bacteria that causes food to spoil. It also creates a vacuum seal, which keeps air away from the stored food.
There are two methods of canning, and at home you will use jars for both. The first method, called boiling water bath canning, involves filling jars with food and then boiling them in a pot on the stove. This method only works for certain foods, such as fruits and tomatoes, which are acidic and naturally prevent the growth of some bacteria.
For less acidic foods such as vegetables and meats, Pick Your Own, a resource for food and farming information, instructs home food preservers to use a pressure canner, which will ensure all microorganisms are out of the picture. Their website offers extensive information on choosing a processing method for canning, so consult them for recommendations.