Nothing lasts forever. The same could be said about your favorite foods and ingredients too. But, what if you wanted to have them last a bit longer? Why do waste your favorite foods when you could simply preserve them? One of the problems virtually all of us have to put up with is how to preserve food and save money at the same time. It’s the equivalent of killing two birds with one stone, but we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves on how you could kill three birds with one stone. The first bird is preserving quality, the second is preserving taste, and the third is saving your bucks.
The first lesson to be learned is most foods are seasonal. This means they’re only in stock for a specific period. And the not-so-good news is while their prices are low at the time; you only get to relish them within that short window of time. What happens when they go out of season? Their prices spiral up as their taste, and quality gets shot down by the new season. Here are four practical ways to preserve food and save money.
The first on the list is drying. Drying is another name for dehydration and is as old as mankind. You can extend the usability of fruits, herbs, and vegetables for a long time using drying. Plus, one good advantage of drying is it doesn’t require any special equipment except an electric dehydrator which is not “special” in the real sense. While some dried fruits such as carrots can be rehydrated and consumed, some such as tomatoes can be consumed in their dried state.
PS: Dried foods are lightweight and take up little storage space.
Freezing slows down the enzymatic activities of many fruits. These enzymatic activities reduce nutritional value, taste and are the main reason why our foods go sour. Fruits such as berries, apples, tomatoes, etc., can be sliced and frozen in a freezer on a cookie sheet. Vegetables like cucumber require a special freezing method, and you can find out all about it in this detailed Prepared Cooks article. One good thing about freezing is you just need a freezer to get started. But here’s the catch, you need a constant supply of electricity. Notwithstanding, you no longer need to be afraid of winters!
PS: If done properly, you could store foods for months or even years using the freezing method.
Here’s a little story about canning. Sometime in 1974, samples of canned foods were discovered at the bottom of the Missouri River. The samples came from the wreck of Bertrand—a steamboat set out for the gold mining camps in Fort Benton, Mont, in 1865. After the foods were analyzed by National Food Processors Association (NFPA), the foods were safe to eat despite losing their smell and color. And despite being in a canned state for more than a century at the bottom of a river! Such is the power of canning.
Canning is carried out in place of refrigeration and requires minimal or no special equipment. All you need to do is get a jar or an airtight container that’s resistant to high temperature, seal it up, and then heat it to a very high temperature until the microorganisms in it are destroyed.
PS: Canned foods can last up to 30 years and more if done properly!
One excellent way of preserving your pork, beef, and fish is through salting. Long before refrigerators existed, salting was used to preserve meats. Salting relies on the principle of diffusion. How? It helps keep your meat dry by drawing water out of it. You could also add nitrates and nitrites to further preserve quality and color.
PS: Salting is a very cheap way of preventing microbial growth in your foods.
And there you have it. Use one or more of these four proven methods to preserve your favorite foods for a long time—in season and out of season. What preservation method do you think we left out? Feel free to let us know.