Whether you’re preparing for potential food shortages this winter or because you have a glut of fruit or vegetables from your harvest, preserving them not only avoids waste, but ensures you have a plentiful supply in the months to come.
If you still have apples, pears or raspberries left over, preserve them and you can be reaping the benefits all winter.
You can ‘can’ (using bottles or jars), freeze, dry, ferment and even vacuum seal your vegetables, herbs and fruits – also meats and grains.
Or try preserving fruit in alcohol, such as brandy or vodka, to keep the flavour or essence of the fruit for later use.
Home canning (or preserving in jars or bottling) has been popular since the early part of the 1900s. It peaked during World War II when people preserved their own food, saving the nation’s food production for the armed forces.
In the 1970s the move to try ‘The Good Life’ rendered canning part of a more simple, self-sufficient lifestyle, but after 10 years it declined again.
However, now there is a trend to ‘grow your own’ and canning is ‘naturally’ back in.
In addition, when we preserve our own food, we know exactly what is in that food – no GMOs, preservatives or chemical sprays.
There are health benefits to canning: it can preserve vitamins and eliminates the salt content found in factory processed foods. Soups, pickles, jams and jellies can all be prepared and stored.
Whilst your goodies may last for several years, it is best to use them within the year and repeat the process each year or they may lose some of their crispness and nutritional value.
Finally, home-made pickles and preserves make lovely Christmas gifts – friends and family will love the personal touch and you can make them look even more beautiful with a attractive fabric, a ribbon or a bow.