Preserving the summer and fall harvest for the winter can be overwhelming. This beginners guide to preserving will help you save time, energy and money all while stocking your pantry and freezer for the winter!
Once you’ve grown your own food, theres no going back to grocery store quality. Feeding your family healthy organic food more often is a goal most of us homesteading moms try to work towards.
The only trouble is, it’s not easy finding the time to do any of this. Even if your neighbour allows you to harvest their apple tree or gives you all their green tomatoes its often that this organic food goes to waste and to rot.
The best way to use what we have is by eating seasonally. Then preserving for the colder months. Food can then be shared with livestock animals or composted. Food should never go straight to the garbage can.
Learning the skills to make this happen takes time and a drastic shift in our way of living back to old fashioned homesteading ways. But it’s thrilling, and I know you stumbled upon this post because you feel the same way.
You’re here because you want to preserve as much of the summer and fall harvest for yourself and your family much like a squirrel stashing away nuts for the winter.
In this post I’ll give you the low down on methods of preserving and my favourite tips and resources to help you get started ASAP!
BEGINNER GUIDE TO PRESERVING FOOD
USE A PRESERVING PLANNER
First of all, I’ve put together a free canning planner for my readers to help you get organized for the preserving season. Canning season always occurs when the harvest is ready, not when we are!
Go ahead and spend the time now planning out the perfect preserving season. From inventory lists, shopping lists, a seasonal canning guide and tips for putting it all together, I’ve got you covered this year!
When I look back on my first garden and preserving, I’m totally embarrassed about the amount of organic produce I threw out.
This planner help you create a plan to save time and especially money.
DOWNLOAD THE PLANNER BELOW
If you’re new to canning and preserving then you’re also in the right place. You can easily apply the tips from this post below to help you plan our your preserving and canning season using the planner.
Hot water bath canning is a method of preserving highly acidic fruits and vegetables. This is the method for making jams, jellies and sauces. Hot water bath canning is perfect for making fruit jams, salsas, and tomatoes sauces if your tomatoes are acidic enough.
Learn more about how to hot water can in this post.
I’m able to preserve a whole tree full of apples using the Hot Water Bath Method. Learn more about how to preserve your apples in one weekend in this popular post.
GET THE KIT!
METHOD #2: PRESSURE CANNING
Pressure canning is another canning method that is not as safe as the hot water bath method. I highly recommend learning how to pressure can first before diving in. Victoria at A Modern Homestead has the perfect ebook on Pressure Canning.
This book helped me gain the confidence I needed to can vegetables and meat!
We now can potatoes, tomato sauces, salmon and other tasty recipes.
If you’re still not sure about pressure canning, one option is to can in your instant pot following the guidelines for the product. This is a great way to preserve small batches at a time.
METHOD #3: DEHYDRATING FOOD
Dehydrating is an often overlooked opportunity to preserve food. There are a few methods, either dehydrating food in the summer sun on drying racks, or in a dehydrator.
I love to have my dehydrator going while I’m in the midst of hot water bath canning because it’s easy to prep and start at the same time and doesn’t need much close care.
This is the dehydrator that I’m loving lately. I’m often making fruit leather and apple chips in the summer for the toddlers. I also use it for dehydrating Chantelle mushrooms in the fall for soups and stews all winter long!
This dehydrator is great for beginners. It fits a good amount of food, doesn’t take up to much space and the air circulates very well so you don’t have to adjust the racks. it also has a heat setting which makes it super helpful when dehydrating a variety of foods.
METHOD #4: FREEZING
Freezing food has to be the easiest method for preserving food for beginners, but it’s often not done correctly. It’s important to know how exactly to freeze food to keep the nutrients and flavour at its peak. It’s also a good idea to freeze foods in proper baking portions.
I suggest reading our individual guides below, and taking stock of what you have in your freezer to ensure it’s actually used before it spoils! Nobody likes freezer burnt food!
METHOD #5: SMOKING
Smoking food for preservation is something we are just starting to really experiment with on the homestead. We use a Bradley smoker to smoke our own fish, and just started smoking meats and eggs! Yum 🙂
PRESERVING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
#1. CHOOSE THE BEST EASY FOODS
When preparing for canning season, it’s best to start with easy foods to preserve. What do I mean by that? I recommend choosing fruits and vegetables that you can either grow, glean or purchase during the peak of the season when it’s in excess.
My recommend easy fruits like berries, apples, pears and plums. These are foods that almost everyone in the zone 8 gardening area could find access to.
Vegetables that grow in excess and are easy to can like tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers.
I’ve put together all of my favourite easy foods to preserve into a helpful canning planner cheatsheet. Stick it on your fridge and you’re good to go for canning season.
Including the TOP 5 BEST Easy Fruits to preserve, TOP 5 BEST Vegetables to preserve, and 5 recipes for each!
Don’t forget to download your free preserving and canning planner from Wandering Hoof Ranch !
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