Learning how to preserve food is easy with a great book, some tips and the right equipment. It is very hard to learn how to preserve food in one small article, but this article will have many guidelines to help you learn the basics. Preserving food is not old fashioned as some may think either. Preserving food includes cheeses, meats, jellies and vegetables.
In order to learn how to preserve food you will need:
- A book to see the pictures and explanations.
- The food you want to preserve.
- The right equipment to preserve the food correctly.
- Get a Good Book. One of the best books to learn from is called, "Preserving," by Oded Schwartz. In this book you will learn how to preserve food with every kind of food imaginable from cheese to potted meats. This book has step by step instructions, pictures of every vegetable and fruit available and how to preserve many ways.
- Containers. Whether it is glass jars or earthenware crocks, you will need a suitable container to preserve food with. Many will buy new "Ball" jars with screw top lids to put vegetables and jellies in. For vinegar you can use a tall thin necked bottle with a cork top and some of the best jars that can be used are the lock down top jars. An assortment of containers is necessary.
- Equipment. Besides the containers you will need lots of equipment depending on the food you desire to preserve. You will need plenty of sharp knives, hand graters, grinders, mortars, peelers, measuring spoons and cups, strainers, metal spoons for stirring, colanders, funnels, sieves, wooden spoons, a food mill for veggies and let's not forget about the thermometer for candy and jellies.
- Cooking Pans and Bowls. A large assortment of heavy bottom pans is necessary to cook with. White aluminum type pans will never do. A good quality heavy bottom stainless steel pan will work the best for cooking with. An assortment of large bowls to mix all the ingredients in is necessary too. Avoid any plastic bowls if at all possible.
- Dehydrators. If you plan to dehydrate fruit and veggies, a dehydrator is imperative. Dehydrators can be fairly inexpensive to very expensive. Check around to see where you can get the best deals. You may try the internet auction houses also. Fruit is easily dehydrated and can be stored for months and months. Dehydrated apples, bananas and apricots are favorites of many.
- Sterilizing the jars. Before you can fill the jars with your preserved food, you must first sterilize the jars and containers. Clay pots and earthenware are not used this way. Bring a large pan of water to boil and place a metal rack at the bottom of the pan. After the water starts to boil gently drop the glass containers inside and boil them continuously for ten minutes. Remove them gently and place on paper towels to cool and drain.
- Filling and Sealing the Jars. After the jars are filled, you must seal them. If you have a lock and seal jar, then the sealing is easy. Other methods will include cork tops, wax filled tops, paper lined tops and dipping the top of the thin catsup type bottles in wax to seal. Sealing a clean jar is one of the most important steps in preparing the preserved foods.
- Heat Processing. The final step in processing preserved foods is the heat processing. With a large pan, place a rack at the bottom. Wrap each jar of preserved food in a few layers of cloth and set in the processor gently. Make sure the jars do not tough each other except by the cloth. Pour in enough hot water to cover the jars completely. Following the prescribed times in your recipe, process till complete. When the processing is complete, gently remove the jars from the processor with a set of large tongs.
Preserving food takes time and effort, but the preserved food in some cases has a shelf life of up to two years. By making your own fresh food, you are assured of exactly what is being fed to your family which are free of chemicals and preservatives.