Once your Survival Garden is healthy and thriving, you may wonder how to store fruits and vegetables from your harvest. The most common storage methods are freezing, canning, and dehydrating. Some vegetables will last quite a while in a root cellar if you have one. You can also brine some types of foods (think pickles) or pack some veggies in salt to preserve them.
Different fruits and vegetables store best in different ways. Learn about the foods you plant (or may purchase) so that you will know the best ways to grow, store, and prepare them.
Freezing is a quick and easy way how to store your fruits and vegetables. You need the space to do it, of course. Many people buy an upright or chest freezer for the express purpose of storing extra food. The drawback to this method of storage is that if power is lost, all your food could be lost as well.
Choose firm, ripe fruits and veggies, and freeze them as soon after harvesting as possible. Bags should be airtight to keep away freezer burn and should only be filled with about as much as you will use per meal or recipe. This reduces waste and helps speed thawing.
Some fruits and vegetables need to be blanched before freezing or they will thaw out soggy and limp. To blanch, plunge the produce into a large pot of boiling water for about a third the time you’d boil it normally to cook it. Then immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and freeze.
Canning is a method of preserving food where it is processed and sealed in an airtight container. In a home environment, we use glass jars for this. Fruits or vegetables are cooked in the jars at high temperatures, which stops spoilage by destroying contaminants and removes air from the jars. As the jars cool, a vacuum seal forms and the jars are sealed shut.
There are two methods of home canning: water bath and pressure canning. A water bath is easier and cheaper, but pressure canning is more versatile.
If you are a beginner to the world of canning, it is easy to learn. While canning seems a bit intimidating, people have been doing it for centuries, and you will find lots of resources to teach you and help you succeed.
Dehydrating, or drying, your food is easy. You can dry fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats with a food dehydrator, in the oven, or even in the sun. Dried foods usually last a long time. Just remember that you will have to rehydrate some things before they can be eaten.
Every survivalist wants to have a large stockpile of food in case of an emergency. Learning how to prepare and to store fruits and vegetables on your own is an important way to be self-sufficient. It will ensure a continuing source of food for you and your loved ones.