Four Ways to Preserve Food

This time of year, much produce is coming out of the garden that, to last, needs to be preserved. I grow a lot of the food I preserve myself, but I also purchase food from local farmers and market stands, which is a great way to prepare food for the winter, even if you don’t grow it yourself.

Canning is probably my favourite way to preserve almost anything I grow, from water bath canning pickles, jams and other high acid foods to pressure canning meats, beans and low acid foods. 

I always recommend starting with water bath canning, pickles or jam; both are relatively easy and foolproof as far as spoilage goes. 

My favourite canning book is the Complete Book of Home Preserving from Ball, which has a wide variety of recipes and very detailed instructions for beginners.



Next up up would be fermenting. The benefit of fermentation over canning is that many enzymes and good bacteria aren’t cooked out of the food as they are with canning.

However, it does have the disadvantage of not storing for as long, averaging 3-6 months in a cool, dark place compared with a year or more with canned food. 

If you have never tasted fermented food, it can take a little bit to become accustomed to the sour flavour. I generally focus on ferments for the summer and canned goods for the winter, with sauerkraut being a favourite!



Dehydrating foods is an excellent option for most people as it requires little more than an oven or a shaded, warm place to dry the food. As with jerky, many foods can be dehydrated, including fruits, berries, vegetables, and even meat.

My favourite dehydrator is the Excalibur, which has pre-set temperature options for most things which help take the guesswork out of dehydrating. Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning is an excellent book for learning dehydrating and many other fantastic preserving techniques.



Freezing is a preservation option we are all familiar with, but it has some principles that can help extend the quality of your frozen foods if followed. The biggest is to remove as much water and oxygen from the package as possible. 

Make sure you use a towel to dry whatever you’re freezing, and remove all air via vacuum sealing. If you don’t have access to a vacuum sealer, remove as much air as possible by hand, close your bag until only a tiny opening remains and use a straw to suck out the remaining air. Of course, it won’t remove it as well as vacuum sealer, but it does a pretty good job.

If you have spent time looking up food storage, you have probably seen Freeze Dryers advertised. They are hands down the best way to store food long term with minimal, if any, degradation to the quality of the food. There are a few downsides, not so much with freeze drying itself, but the upfront cost of a freeze dryer, the cost to run one, and the physical space it takes up. For most people, they aren’t a practical investment, but for the serious food preserver interested in long-term storage, I think they would be worth the investment.

Happy Preserving!

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