The world is now facing severe economic crisis and in the coming months food shortages and inflated prices is to be expected. It is during such turbulent times like now, that we are looking to extending the shelf life of our food. If you are like me cooking all meals from scratch, then you are in the right place. In this blog post, I am sharing different ways to preserve food long term during times of crisis and food shortages.
WAYS TO PRESERVE FOOD FOR LONGER SHELF LIFE
If you have a garden like me, you will see the need to make your produce to last through the winter months. Nothing like the satisfaction of consuming your own produce. Before the invention of refrigerators and the mega supermarkets that is what people did for centuries. Our ancestors had to make food last longer without wasting a morsel. Even today there are many preppers in many western countries, who do that without a garden. I admit, I am not in that league of people who are doomsday preppers. But since we started gardening, I prefer to use my own produce until the next season. Because, I know exactly the amount of labor and love my husband has put in, to grow these precious foods.
There are many methods for preserving food, some of the most popular ones I will list here.
Canning dry or fresh foods is probably one of the best ways to preserve food long term during a crisis. There have been instances of people opening up canned food after 30 years. And the food was still as fresh as it was the day it was canned. Pressure canning is what I do to preserve our garden produce. If done properly you can make your fresh produce last longer. I have already shared this on an earlier blog post on Canning Tomatoes.
There are many preppers who actually can even dry goods. A little search online will give you more insight into canning dry foods.
How long can you store canned or tinned foods ?
Take a look at this website, that will answer all the questions you will have.
2. PICKLING – AN AGE OLD WAY TO PRESERVE FOOD LONG TERM
Pickling is the process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. I grew up with pickles since my childhood and we used the former method. Growing up in India, we are used to pickling our seasonal produce. We never really relied on refrigerating due to frequent power cuts. The typical vegetables we used for pickling were lemon, ginger, mangoes (mangoes are my favorite) etc. The list is endless. There is a slight difference to the Indian way of pickling, it is in their use of hot spices and oil. The older the pickle gets, the better the taste.
I recently pickled lemons which I got at the last minute before the shut down. I can always serve the pickles with rice or some flat breads. If you want to try some Indian pickles, there are a lot of recipes online. On the other hand, if you don’t have the required spices, you can just add salt to some organic cut lemons and let it sit at room temperature for a few weeks. Even this simple method works and tastes good.
PRESERVING IN OIL
This is another way to preserve food for long. Although this will produce a mixed result depending on the kind of vegetables you use. Plus this is an expensive way to preserve. Good quality organic oil is expensive. The only thing I preserve in oil is fresh red chilies with a little salt and oil. But I usually do only 1 bottle at a time. We love to add a little of the chilly oil to our pizza toppings. This tastes just great if you like a little spice to your pizzas.
3. PRESERVING WITH SUGAR
If you have a garden and are having an excess of fruits during season, then make jams and jelly’s with the ripe fruits. This way you can have summer in a jar even during the cold winter months. My jam making journey started many years back out of pure experimenting. I wanted to preserve the fruits in season to eat them during the lean season. Plus, my husband loves to have jam for his breakfast with my homemade bread.
I have a few jam recipes from my earlier posts. Links will be below.
4. DRYING FRESH PRODUCE
I am only trying to list the methods which are for vegetarians. Drying is another age tested method which our ancestors have done before they had supermarkets and food delivery at a click. Well hard times are coming and we have to adapt now.
The best and cheapest way to dry food, is to use solar energy. You can dry herbs, spices and store them in air tight jars or even vacuum pack them. On the other hand you could invest in an electric air dryer and dry produce from your garden like beans, peas etc. I have successfully dried herbs last year by hanging them and have been using them well into this year. We have also been making teas with herbs like sage and mint.
5. FERMENTING A HEALTHY WAY TO PRESERVE FOOD
What if the double benefit of preserving your food is also beneficial for your health. Lacto fermenting is an age old method and has been done for ever. There is a recent hype in probiotics for the benefit of our gut health and sauerkraut has undergone a revolution.
Sauerkraut is a good source of pro-biotic, due to the fermentation the cabbages undergo. The fiber and supply of pro-biotics improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract.
You can look up at Health benefits of fermenting. I will link below my older post with the full recipe.
Freezing is also another way to preserve food for a long time but not necessarily during a crisis like now. Because during an economic crisis or other natural crisis you may be facing long term power failure. Big freezers also consume a lot of electricity. Therefore, I wouldn’t advice freezing as the main way to preserve food long term during a crisis.
Other ways would be smoking, but this is mainly for meat and fish. So I will not be touching on this method as I have no experience with this being a vegetarian all my life.
On this note, I will end this blog post. Take a look at one of my earlier blog post on TOP 15 TIPS TO PREPARE FOR ANY EMERGENCIES, apt for the situation we find ourselves in now.