Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Save on Your Food Costs With Home Preservation

No food connoisseur will deny the scrumptious taste of fresh fruits and vegetables even throughout the winter season. But purchasing produce from your local grocer during this time can be a pricey venture. Luckily we have the option of applying for financial assistance to increase our budget and there are several methods by which you can cut down rather significantly on your monthly food expenditures by simply employing traditional and even primitive methods of home food preservation. Whether you grow your own food during the warm season in your back garden, or whether you come across a surplus of apples, gooseberries, or peas from a friend or grocer, it is easy to use canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting or pickling to put away large amounts of fruits and vegetables during the season of abundance to save for later times of need.

Using Canning and Freezing to Keep Food Fresh
If you have a great quantity of produce that you would like to store for months or even years, both canning and freezing are excellent ways to keep your food with its full flavour profile and texture. Canning is a fairly simple process that you can accomplish in your home kitchen with just a few key pieces of equipment including wide mouth glass jars with lids and rings, a pot large enough to place several jars in, and a canning stand to go within the pot. By sealing the jars with heat from boiling water, you will contain the freshness of the food within the glass and prevent the fruits or vegetables from spoiling for years.  For shorter term storage, freezing is a good option to consider if you have the space. Most vegetables and fruits will need to undergo some steps of the blanching or other preparation process in order to keep their qualities in the freezer. Freeze pre blanched fruits and vegetables in tightly air sealed plastic bags or storage containers. This makes for easy recipe preparation when it comes time to use a handful of thawed berries or a quantity of summer squash in a dish.

Food Fermentation and Pickling
Another ancient practice of food preservation for the winter months is done by making the food alive, quite literally, with good bacteria. Often using salts and vinegar to create a brine, pickling and fermentation keeps food and makes it even more nutritious by essentially cooking it in its own liquid. There are many resources through books and online for detailed instructions on fermenting ingredients like carrots and cabbage to make sauerkraut, or cucumbers to make pickles. Fermentation of a large volume of produce takes just a few hours of work in the kitchen which will allow you to enjoy your produce in a unique form in the months ahead. Not only will you save money by storing your fresh food in this way, but you will also improve your health by leaps and bounds by consuming these fermented foods, which will save you money on expensive vitamins, supplements and probiotics, and other health related costs.

Dehydrating Your Food to Save
Dried or dehydrated fruits and vegetables are generally quite pricey when purchased from the supermarket. But by drying your own produce that you have an over abundance of, you can save money and eat well at the same time. Dehydrating machines are a relatively inexpensive and worthwhile investment to acquire if you are intending on drying a large amount of food. Or, you can use your home oven at a very low temperature to accomplish the same process in a different amount of time. Whether you decide to freeze, can, ferment, or dry out your harvest to preserve your food, you will be saving big when you pull out a can of pears or a store of frozen corn in the winter and therefore avoid buying expensive pre packaged goods.
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