Natural food preservation is a skill set that has been lost in many families for a generation or so. This was a common skill that moms passed on to their children as part of growing up. It wasn’t just farm families that preserved food because, before grocery store chains, food was bought locally and raised locally for the most part. You knew who grew and produced your food and food didn’t usually travel more than 20 miles from source to your dinner table.
Families knew how to preserve food naturally and had preserved to draw upon year-round. Families dried fruit and nuts in the sun, meats were smoked and cured over fires, vegetables were stored in a root cellar or canned or pickled, and jams and jellies were made at the end of harvest each year. Families used natural ways to ensure that food was kept safe to eat and they had plenty on hand to feed their family. We were a society that was much more connected to the land than we are today.
If we compare what our grandparents ate compared to what most families consume today, we would notice a vast difference in ingredients. When you look at many food labels today you encounter many ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Some of these additives are safe for our bodies, but others are not. Tastealotta strives to offer the best products with the least amount of additives, so you can be assured that what you purchase is as close to natural a possible given the item you have purchased.
If you have health challenges you probably have gotten used to reading food labels for added sugar, salt, food colorings, and preservatives because they can affect you more than someone else. The closer you can get to the natural state of food, the better it is for your body. So we have put together a list of natural non-preservative ways to preserve your food without chemical additives.
We will start with the simplest methods, ones that you are probably already acquainted with, and then work up to ones that your grandmother probably used to use to preserve food for her family.
Freezing food is one of the easiest and safest ways to preserve food and one that all of us are familiar with. We are going to share some tips that give you the best outcome when freezing food:
Canning is a superb way to preserve food and not just relegated to grandmothers. Canning is actually so much easier than it sounds and not that time-consuming. The canning process involves putting food in jars and then heating the contents to a temperature that naturally kills food-spoiling organisms. There are basically two methods for canning food, the boiling water method, which works well for fruits, jams, and jellies; and pressure canning, which is the one I use the most and can be used for fruits, vegetables, jams, meats, and seafood.
Pickling was an art a few generations ago and a present of homemade pickles was a great treat to receive. You can pickle just about anything. Many grandmothers made their own pickles and sauerkraut. There are basically two ways to pickle food; the first is to soak the food in vinegar and our balsamic vinegar is great for this. The other method of pickling is creating salt brine to encourage fermentation. Fermentation allows the growth of good bacteria to kill off bad bacteria that can cause food to spoil. Try experimenting with different Tastealotta kinds of balsamic vinegar for pickling, each would add a great creative twist to your pickled food.
You may think that this takes a food dehydrator to perform, but it can also be done at low temperatures in your oven, but dehydrating fruit or vegetables can also be done in your oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours. If you are dehydrating in your oven, just flip the content over halfway through to make sure your food items dehydrate in a consistent manner. Electric food dehydrators, ovens, and freeze-drying are now speeding up a process that was traditionally done outside by the sun and air. Foods that dehydrate well are fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, meat, and fish. Once you have finished the dehydrating method, store your dried food items in an air-tight container in a dark place with a consistent temperature.
Some many people a few generations ago used to make an art of preserving with alcohol. Fruit has a long history of being preserved in alcohol. So many desserts and dessert toppings were made with peaches, cherries, and apricots preserved in brandy. Alcohol draws the water out of the food, much like salt and sugar while inhibiting the bad bacteria growth. This is a great method for making your own extracts and infused alcohols, like cordials.
Extra virgin olive oil is a natural preservative that prevents food from spoiling from the air while providing a seal that can slow down oxidation and molding. Olive oil can be used to preserve fresh herbs and vegetables. Tomatoes preserved in Olive Oil are an easy and tasty way to preserve the bounty of your harvest at the end of the summer. Basically, it’s just tomatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, and some fresh rosemary for seasoning. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, slice your tomatoes thin or use cherry tomatoes, spread in a single layer, drizzle with Tastealotta olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for about 20 minutes or so. Watch them carefully so they aren’t overdone. Use a spoon or spatula to remove the tomatoes from the cookie sheet and fill your jar till an inch is left at the top. Release any air from the jar and cover the tomatoes in olive oil, making sure all tomatoes are covered in olive oil. Store your gastronomical treasure in the refrigerator and enjoy!
This is a fun way of preserving cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, green beans, and zucchini. Place two cloves of garlic in the bottom of a quart-sized canning jar. Put 3 cups of vegetables, either one type or mixed, into the jar leaving about an inch of headspace. Add your favorite seasonings to the jar; such as peppercorns, dill, caraway, or dried rosemary. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in a quart of water and pour over the vegetables. Tightly seal the container and ferment at room temperature for about 5 days. This is much like kombucha and we recommend tasting along the way till the taste suits your taste buds. Burp your jars daily, very important, to release excess pressure. Once the process finishes move your preserved vegetables to the refrigerator for storage.
Be sure to visit Tastealotta to buy your vinegar, olive oil, and flavored salts for preserving your food. All of these food preservation methods are simple and with practice they become really easy and make for great family fun.