Our March/April 2012 issue featured an inspiring essay by Joel Salatin about how his family enjoys a diet based on the changing seasons, including preserving foods during their most abundant season so they can enjoy them later. If you've gotten jazzed about eating this way, it's time to bring in reinforcements. Here’s a roundup of great tips and resources for planning all your food preservation duties in advance.
There are so many lovely ways to keep food around longer, some easier than others, and here's a list of the major techniques — in my favorite order!
With the science of fermentation, you can "control spoilage." In other words, the foods you preserve this way will still spoil or age, but they'll do so with friendly rather than nasty bacteria, yeast, mold, etc. This family of preserved foods includes many of the world's greatest culinary treasures: beer, bread, cheese, chocolate, coffee, wine and a whole host of cured meats, to name but a few.
2. Root Cellaring
The practice of "putting food by" often includes simple storage ideas. Many foods will last weeks or months if kept in a cool, dark spot. You can build a fancy ventilated root cellar if you've got the space, time and inclination, but a corner of your garage or basement will probably do nicely.
Dehydrating food robs it of its attractiveness to moisture-loving bacteria. Removing the water also concentrates flavors in a mighty tasty way, and it's a fitting trick for fruits and veggies of all kinds. Dried foods take up the least pantry space of all the preserved treats you might make.
Plain and simple, freezing food helps prevent it from spoiling before we're ready to eat it. Many foods freeze well, but a few really just don't. It's helpful to know the difference. Plus, there are a lots of tricks and tips for improving your freezer strategies.
From simple water-bath canned pickles to pressure-canned homemade soups, canning is a great way to preserve the peak-harvest flavors of a many fresh foods. It is extremely important, however, to do it right, so be sure to check out all the super resources below.
Back to Basics: Traditional Kitchen Wisdom by Andrea Chesman
The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving Food at Home by Janet Chadwick
The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader
The Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
The Complete Root Cellar Book by Steve Maxwell
Food Drying With An Attitude by Mary T. Bell
Home Brewing by John Parkes
Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon
Making and Using Dried Foods by Phyllis Hobson
Preserve It! by Lynda Brown
Put 'Em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
Recipes From the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman
Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel
The Solar Food Dryer by Eben Fodor
Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes by Kelly Geary and Jessica Knadle
Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
The best way to discover what's in season where you live is to frequent your local farmer's market. To find a farmer's market in your area, visit the United States Department of Agriculture's Farmer's Market Page. You might also want to connect directly with local farmers via their websites. Check out How to Find Local Food and Farmers for a list of handy databases to help you in your search.
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