Preserving food has long been a way to ensure that you stay well-fed throughout the winter months. We might all simply go to the supermarket these days to stock up on foods grown around the world. But when you own a homestead, being able to eat your produce year-round is a great opportunity. You, therefore, need to learn to preserve properly.
Everything You Need to Preserve Properly
Everyone has different ways of preserving but, in general. You are either going to add sugar to make a jam, add heat to dry ingredients out, add salt to cure products like meat, or add vinegar to create a pickle.
Sweet and delicious, jams, jellies, chutneys, and compotes can add a lot of flavor to our favorite foods — and a lot of sugar. But you don’t have to forgo your favorite fruit spreads; you can simply make your own healthier versions at home.
First, consider a fruit that’s high in natural pectin, like apples, cranberries, or citrus fruits, since the pectin helps the spread thicken. Using chia seeds as the base won’t only provide another thickening boost, but will also contribute heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, along with protein and fiber, all without altering the taste.
Natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, and honey, will help you achieve the desired flavor while using fermented fruit in place of some of your added sweeteners will bring forward some of the fruit’s natural sweetness while adding probiotics, vitamins, and immune support.
Get more information on making your own healthier fruit spread at home in this infographic.
Or you might simply batch cook meals and store them in the freezer! The important thing to remember is that everything from herbs to fruits, right through the meat can be preserved.
Whatever your method, you will need the right tools for the job.
Glass jars are ideal for storing most things as they can be sealed, labeled and reused over and over again. You could go for lots of small jars for things like jam. But if you want to preserve a large volume and then decant it, big Kilner jars are ideal. These jars will help you preserve properly.
Before you use a jar for preservation, you should always make sure that it is completely clean and sterilized. Even the smallest bit of dirt could cause problems. The best thing to do is to wash thoroughly in soapy water (or the dishwasher). Then dry your jars in a low-temperature oven. This is perfect for jam making. It is better to pour the hot jam into a warm jar to reduce the temperature difference.
Pots and Pans
The right pan can make a significant difference to the way your food is cooked. Lots of preserves require slow cooking for the best results. This brings out the flavors without burning the ingredients. A jam pan is always worth the investment for jams and chutneys. You might also consider getting ceramic cookware to slow cook in style.
Before you make your purchase, have a look at cookware reviews to see what the benefits of each pan type are. For your kitchen, you should be looking for a pan suitable for slow cooking. Look for one that can be transferred from the hob to the oven easily. Also look as well for other pans that will wash easily. Time is everything on a homestead! You don’t want to have to watch your pans obsessively. You want to be able to leave it to do the magic alone. Of course, this is as long as you are doing your preserve properly.
Once you have made your preserves you probably won’t be in any doubt what they are or when you made them. That is until you come back to find a cupboard full of similar looking things a year or so later! Labeling is more important than you might think!
Put the date you made the preserve and the contents on every single pot, jar, and box you make. You might also like to put the recipe you followed on the back just in case you are the experimental type and want to make the same thing again. Then it’s just a case of storing everything in a cool dark place and enjoying over the winter months.
By preparing your preserve properly, you will enjoy harvests of foods all winter long on your homestead. The tips above should help you on your way. For more information on canning see the Ball Canning Book.