How to Preserve a Year’s Worth of Food

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Learn how to create a food preservation plan to preserve enough food to feed your family year-round!

Part of living a self-sufficient homesteading lifestyle is learning to provide food for your family – not just in the summer months when garden produce is plentiful but year-round. This usually means learning how to preserve summers bounty for the leaner months.

Along with growing crops that can be stored for several months (potatoes, squash, various kinds of dry beans, etc.), you can also utilize various preservation methods, depending on your available resources – such as canning, pickling, freezing, and drying foods for later use.

In order to successfully preserve enough food for your family to eat for a full year, you will need to have a strategic food preservation plan, as described on Melissa Norris’s wonderful podcast.

Here are the first few steps Melissa says are essential to creating a food preservation plan to feed your family year-round:

1.) Decide what your mainstays are first. For us, that means tomato sauce, green beans, pickled asparagus, pickled green beans, cucumber pickles, salsa, jams and jellies, sage, mint, and dill. These are the items I never purchase from the store and make sure we raise and preserve enough of to take us through an entire year.

Go by the items your family is eating on a regular basis and focus on those items first. I’ll often do other smaller batches of other foods, especially if it’s a new item or new recipe, but those only get done when our main stays have been taken care of.

2.) Pick your methods of preservation. Each preservation method has pros and cons, but what’s most important is you pick the method, or methods, that work the best for you, regardless of the method make sure you’re following updated safety guidelines and food preservation safety, especially for canning.

The main home food preservation methods we use are:
**home canning (I put up over 400+ jars a  year if not more) water bath and pressure canning
**dehydrating
**fermenting
**freezing
**root cellar

3.) Decide which methods you’ll be using for each crop. This is important for a few different reasons, one, know how you’re going to preserve and how much of each type.

Example: I know I need at least 35 jars of tomato sauce to take us through a year and that’s the most important form for me because I can add it to chili, soup, turn it into pasta sauce, pizza sauce, BBQ sauce, etc. I make sure I’ve allotted enough tomatoes to make those jars before I go about canning tomatoes whole and dehydrating the rest.

I know I need at least 50 jars of canned green beans, that gets done first, then I’ll let the rest of the crop mature into seed/dry beans, and can vegetable soup.

Blueberries, I know I want at least 4 quarts of blueberry pie filling, 6 jars of blueberry syrup, and about 10 jars of blueberry jam. When I have enough berries either frozen or canned for these items, then I dehydrate the rest of the crop to add to quick breads, muffins, granola, etc.

Don’t forget your herbs, I mainly dehydrate most of mine but I plan on using some fresh herbs to turn into pesto and compound butters. I’ll dehydrate the minimum to keep my spice cabinet full for the year, then use the extra for pesto and butters. Dehydrated herbs will later get turned into infused oils. As you can see, you’ll often use several different preserving methods for the same food.

4.) Pick what produce needs to be preserved fresh. Hello, all of it… I know, I know, but here’s the thing, not all of it has to be processed in it’s finished form right now. You ready for this?

All of your berries and cherries can be tossed in the freezer to deal with later. Especially fruit that you plan on making into jam, jelly, syrup pie filling, or even dehydrating. For reals. It frees up your time and kitchen for the things that must be processed as they come on.

Tomatoes that will be made into sauce or canned can be frozen. This works especially well if you don’t have enough for a full run on sauce, time, or need to wait until it’s cooler temps outside. It actually saves time because those skins slip off when they thaw without a dunk in boiling water, score!

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Visit MelissaKNorris.com to learn the next 4 steps to a successful food preservation plan…

 

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