If there’s one thing the worldwide quarantine and lockdown have taught us, it’s that everyone can make their food. Of course, some people rely on food deliveries. Still, the proliferation of baking videos and pictures on social media makes it seem that people have rediscovered the joys of working in the kitchen.
But one thing people are not doing much yet in their kitchens is food preservation. That might be because of modern conveniences, such as refrigeration and pre-packaged dried food. But many people have forgotten that food preservation is an ancient art, and you could make food preserves at home without fear of artificial flavors or chemical preservatives.
There are several methods you could do to preserve food, but all of them require proper storage. If you have canning equipment, make sure that your jars are thoroughly clean and free of residue. Ring bands should be washed and dried outside of the lids. Order such storage jars from packaging suppliers that also provide high-quality ring bands that you can easily remove and replace. Make sure that the jars you use could be sealed airtight to make sure that your food preserves will last for a long time.
This method is the oldest one of food preservation and often means making food lighter. Drying involves removing the fluids in the food, usually by exposure to heat and wind, traditionally. These days you can use spray drying, dehydrators, and even ovens; you can dry meat and fruits. Dried food should be stored in airtight containers or freezer bags.
This process has several methods. One involves salting food to remove moisture and eventually dry them. The second requires pickling, which means immersing food in a salt solution or vinegar marinade. Salt and vinegar kill microorganisms. Salted and pickled food needs to be preserved in vacuum-sealed jars.
Smoking is another ancient way of preserving food. You need to burn wood and expose food to its smoke. The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of smoke preserves, cooks, and flavors any meat. In times past, smoking was combined with curing and drying to extend the storage life of smoked food. These days, freezing is combined with this method, but that extends the food’s shelf life to only a few days.
Sugar in syrup or crystal form is used to preserve food to make fruits crystallize. Glazed or candied fruit are prime examples. Sometimes, sugar is combined with alcohol to preserve food, such as fruit cake.
This process preserves food as a jelly. The fruit is combined with pectin and sugar to create a gel or jam preserve. Very few people make jam at home these days, but jellying food could be a good cooking project for parents and children. Fruit jelly and jam should be stored in airtight jars.
The kitchen is not solely for heating or storing food. It’s a place where you can prepare, cook, and preserve meals that can last for months. It’s a place where families can share knowledge and skill in activities that can help you through the current global crisis.