Monday, October 28, 2013

Early Homesteading Skills: Preservation

Whether living in a small apartment or renting a plot in town, my home kitchen has always been a place for preparing and for preserving. Here in we make the best use of the seasons and our local sales allowing our dollar to stretch well beyond the moment.
During times when a garden wasn't possible, productive, or just not enough local store sales were my suppliers- and preservation was how we made it stretch. One store often has bulk produce bags, bruised fruit specials, or the bulk quantity special. Those are perfect opportunities to spice up the canner or the dehydrator and get busy 'putting up' for later. 

1. Freezing
    In the heat and humidity of our southern home freezing is my top method of choice. Produce is picked at its peak, mildly processed (if at all) and frozen quickly. Safe in the freezer, mold and pests don't stand a chance. The down side of freezing is space; with broilers and turkeys also stored in the freezer, space is precious and must be used wisely. My food freezing musts are: cole crops, greens (chard, spinach), okra, corn and squash/gourds.

2. Canning
    Second in line and next on the list is canning; water bath and pressure methods. High acid foods, jams, jellies and relishes and pickles hold well with a gentle water bath set up where as sauces, veggies, and pie fillings require the intensity of a pressure canning. Space is not quite as competitive with canned goods since they store easily in the top of a pantry, under a bed, or in any cool dark place.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and carrots along with berries of all kinds are excellent canning candidates.

3. Dehydrating
    Last, but not least I love dehydrating. Dried goods are space friendly and easy to incorporate into everyday cooking. Some items lend well to a simple open air drying method: hot peppers, garlic, onions and herbs are a few...while some require a bit more intensity. My electric dehydrator is perfect for putting up apples, bananas, bell peppers. We love the tasty tang of kale chips and the chewy zing of a dry pineapple. Dried foods need airtight conditions to keep well; canning jars or sealed bags work very well and store right alongside other canned goods. 
     Admittedly, organic produce hasn't always fallen within our budget. With that in mind, we started washing our produce in a sink of water with one tablespoon of lemon juice. This tip was given to me years ago by a nutritionist my pediatrician recommended. The acid in the lemon cuts pesticides and wax additives. Even now, I prefer to do this with my home grown produce as a means of removing dirt and pests.
     Homesteading means so many different things to many different people, but in my early years it meant doing what we could, with what we had, to the best of our ability and financial means. In whatever situation you are placed in, consider the steps you can take and take them. Each step counts!


Michelle said...

I use all three methods. We have a garden which helps a lot. But I also love as good sale.

Dicky Bird said...

Very well said! Good post - I'm so enjoying these. You have the right perspective about Homesteading.

Dolly Sarrio said...

I think that is what was instilled in us. I know my ancestors have always preserved it was a way of life. Like you whether I was in a tiny apartment or variety of homes have always done that. I love your posts.

Simply Scaife Family said...

It is so encouraging and inspiring to hear from each of you! Kindred sisters, no doubt:)