March is National Nutrition Month and the theme for this year is "Go Further with Food". Food storage is something that can help you go further with your food. You can take fresh food and preserve it so that it can be used later. There are several different ways that you can use to store food in your own home.
Some of the common ways to store food at home include:
1. Canning - canning is a relatively cheap and easy process to store food. All you do is use heat to sterilize and seal the jars that your food is put in to. The time and temperate of your process depend on the type of food you are canning. Most of our mothers or grandmothers probably canned when they were young, you should ask and see…they may still have the equipment!
2. Vacuum Sealing - vacuum sealing equipment can be easily purchased. In this process, you package your food and then pull all of the air out of the package. This helps prevent the oxygen in the air from reaching your food which can delay any decay that might happen. Once your food has been vacuum sealed, you can store it appropriately according to the type of food it is. You can freeze it, or put it in a cool dark place if it is shelf stable.
3. Dehydrating - dehydrating foods is a fairly simple process. You can use your oven to dehydrate or you can buy special dehydrating equipment. This process uses mild heat to evaporate the water out of food. Have you ever had dried apple slices? They are dehydrated. Once you have dried out your food, you will need to make sure that it is stored properly, in an airtight container. For extra protection from spoilage, you can even vacuum seal your dehydrated products!
4. Freeze Drying - for a more advanced person, and if you are willing to spend a little more money, you can buy freeze-drying equipment. This process is similar to dehydration in that it takes the water out of the food, but it uses cold instead of heat. Freeze dried products also tend to reconstitute (when you add water back to the product to bring it back to its original form) better than other methods. As with dehydration, you will want to make sure that you properly store your product in an airtight container.
5. Purchasing ready to go products - If you do not want to take the time to do food storage on your own at home, there are options out there to buy products that are ready to be stored. You can buy MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat), freeze-dried products, ect. You can find these things at outdoor stores, online, and even in some grocery stores!
There are other methods of food storage besides the ones listed above such as curing, smoking, and pickling. There are many helpful websites that can get you started with food storage, for instance, the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: //nchfp.uga.edu/index.html.
Food storage can help you take your everyday food experiences to the next level. It can help you save time, and money, not to mention it can be a fun hobby!