Last week I wrote about food preservation, and how this is the time of year when all of us urban homesteaders ought to be full-on, all-out, non-stop stockpiling. Because right now the produce is abundant and the prices can’t be beat, which means right now is the best time to acquire as much organic, nutrient rich, perfectly-in-season-and-therefore-perfectly-delicious fruits and vegetables. It’s such an exciting time of year!
In my post last week, I shared my very favorite food preservation technique – freezing! – and in this post I’m going to share the other two methods that I love and use on a regular basis. First up:
Dehydration is one of the absolute easiest ways of saving food (which is why it’s been a part of home preservation for ages and ages). You can do all sorts of amazing things with a dehydrator, and you don’t even need the fancy one (though I gotta say, that thing is freakin’ amazing). But really, you can totally do what you need to do with those little round ones you see around.
When most people think of dehydrated foods, they imagine fruit, or maybe kale chips. And that’s understandable since dried fruit and kale chips are both awesome. I mean, freezing food is great, but it does take up a lot of space. One thing that I love about dehydrating is that it shrinks the food and makes storage way more convenient.
And there’s so much more to dehydrating than just plain fruit or kale chips! You can do jerkies (like eggplant, portobello, or other mushrooms) in fun and flavorful marinades. Or you can make veggie chips by seasoning thinly sliced rounds of zucchini, cucumber, or beets. You can even dehydrate soups for easier storage and weight reduction, which is what my godfather is doing with my dehydrator as I write this (he’s going on a long backpacking trip).
Really, there are so many cool things you can do with a dehydrator. Like for example, that homemade smoothie-boosting green powder up there ^^! (recipe here) I didn’t ever realize how much I’d love my dehydrator until I got one, and now I just can’t imagine living without it! But, moving on . . .
Of course! You all know how much I adore my fermented foods. I’ve even written entire love letters to them, and I credit them with changing my health forever. Probiotics are powerfully nutritive, but they’re also great preservatives! Once fermented, your veggies will last for years (literally) in the fridge.
And I know, fermenting seems scary. It’s really not. I really promise. Ferments are totally safe – so much safer than, say, canning, because the same bacteria that make them so good for us, also keep away the bad bacteria that can hurt us. Fermented foods – again, unlike canned foods – will always tell you if they’ve gone off. They’ll smell rotten or look scuzzy. And if they don’t, you can rest assured that they’re safe to eat.
So maybe this year try out a little fermenting? If it’ll help put your nerves at ease, you should buy the fermentation bible. That’s what I did so many years ago, and I read that thing cover to cover, and I’ve never looked back!
So now I’m dying to hear from you – what are your favorite food preservation methods?? And please – share recipes!