The Ultimate Guide to Food Preservation
(Page 2 of 9)
1. Gather freezing equipment: bags, steamers, and pots. Turn the freezer temperature to -10° F a day ahead of time.
2. Boil vegetables (or blanch if necessary), then chill in ice water. Use only the freshest and best food, and smaller is better—use not-quite-full-grown vegetables such as baby carrots and half-grown beans. Fruit can be treated by adding a bit of lemon juice, or adding 1/2 cup of sugar per 1 pound of fruit.
3. Cut as needed and put in plastic freezer baggies or wide-mouthed jars (leave 1 inch to spare at the top). Label them with type of food and the date.
4. Put bags in the freezer, and once they are frozen, turn the temperature back to 0° F. Frozen fruits and vegetables last about year (except onions), and baked foods last 6 months. Animal products and meat only last 3–6 months, so be careful.
Running a freezer:
The best temperature is -5° F, but to save energy you can go as high as 0° (but no higher!). Put cartons or buckets full of water into the bottom of your freezer, so if the electricity goes out, food will last longer, and you will have a small water supply. Keep the freezer in the coolest room of the house, but not where it freezes since it can withstand hot temperatures but not cold.
Food preservation if the electricity goes out:
Keep the door closed, and cover the freezer with blankets except for the motor vent, if you know the power is coming back on soon. If it isn’t, you will have to pull everything out and use non-electric food preservation.
1. The first thing to do is to build an outside refrigerator using a cooler. Dig a big hole in the ground, stick the cooler in and insulate it with materials like straw and bricks and then cover it up with something very heavy so animals don’t get in. I would also move lots of stuff from the fridge into the cold storage. If you have a running stream you can try to create a waterproof container for food, which would keep it even colder.
2. However, meat won’t keep long in a cooler. Use a fire or barbecue to cook some of the meat that you plan to eat in the next week. Cooked meat will stay good just being refrigerated much longer than raw meat, probably 5–6 days. The rest of the meat you need to salt and dry. You could smoke the meat, but to do this properly takes a smokehouse and several weeks of time and constant vigilance. If you suddenly have to take care of all your meat, salting is much more practical.
3. Clean the meat, and cut off anything you don’t like, but you might want to leave the fat because that can be valuable later. Dry it off thoroughly and you can leave it whole, but it is easier to cut it into smaller strips to make it more likely to preserve in the middle. Rub spices into them, and then rub tons and tons of salt into them.
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