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Preserving Food

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posted on Mar, 22 2008 @ 05:35 PM
I've searched ATS and can't find a thread that lumps all of the ways to preserve and store food together so i thought i'd start one. If there is one already then please feel free to delete this.

The idea of this thread is how to preserve food when you don't have electricity, so no refrigeration (unless you live somewhere cold and it's natural). How you preserve things depends on what you're preserving of course. So i wanted to start with meat.

Salting, smoking, canning and drying are i think the most common and safe ways of preserving meat. I love smoking meat but i have no idea how long it lasts, we eat it far to fast to know. Safe canning shoud remove all bacteria froma can and should therefore make it pretty much safe for many years.

Fruits are very difficult, they are essential are they contain hard to get vitamins like vitamin c. Preserving them is therefore very important, jams are good but require a lot of sugar which may not be available. I have read honey can be used but the results are sometimes less than satisfactory.

Vegetables can be stored in many ways. Completely drying them and grinding them down can be done but you remove a lot of their vitamin and mineral value. Some vegetables can be stored for quite a long time as they are. Onions for example can be hung in a dry area and last a decent amount of time as they naturally repel bacteria. Potatos of certain varities can be left in the ground for a while before you harvest them. I know each year we grow pocasso potatoes, these are harvested late summer/mid autumn and we harvest them all the way until February.

Last year i found a variety of carrot that could be left in the ground all winter, we're still harvesting them now and they are honestly great. They taste lovely, the only problem i've found is that after February they tend to split open as they're so big, they're still perfetly edible though. People are far to squamish abut how perfect produce should look, what you see in the supermarket is far from the norm believe me.

Pickling is a great way of preserving food but again finding something them to pickle in would be tricky, alcohol could be used for some items of course. I have several jars of pickled cherries, bullaces (a sort of wild plum) and goosberries in alcohol. The goosberries are an experiment and are ready for opening next year, i'll let you know how that one goes

This is just a quick and basic list and i would love to hear the views of others, i'm hoping to make this a long thread containing all the methods of preserving food we can find when you have no power and limited resources.

My personal favorites are drying, smoking and salting. If you live near a coast then you have a constant supply of salt, simply boil some sea water until the water is gone.

posted on Mar, 22 2008 @ 05:43 PM
I learned how to can foods last year, and put up 50 quarts of meals.

I started by using this website. It's a good way to start the process.

Another good source is "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving."

It may come down one day that some people will have to grow it, and some people will help preserve it.

The world is unstable these days. I vote to error on the side of having something set aside.

posted on Mar, 22 2008 @ 05:49 PM
Ahh yes a great website thanks for bringing it up, they do very good work there.

If someone could provide an idea of how long smoked meat would last i would be grateful, most of ours gets eaten pretty quickly and i never knew how long it lasted. At most it's only spent a month hanging in my garage before it's eaten.

posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 08:35 AM
I know for a fact that properly cured meat can last over a year. Yesterday for Easter dinner we had a ham that I cured over a year ago...It was GOOOOOOOOD. It was cured in salt and smoked for several days then wrapped in cheese cloth and then a heavy canvas like material and was hung from the rafters in the garage. It was the same way my Grandparents did theirs back in the old days. I have one ham left and I will wait until thanks giving to try that I found a book and I will have to look up the exact title when I get home but it is all about living off of the land. It isn't a survival book but more of a this is the way it used to be done book. It teaches you how to perserve vegetables in the garden through winter....It has a load of information that is useful....It tells how to make soap...which I did and it turned out great.

The information is out there but it is a very big "out there". If you are interested in knowing what the title is just let me know and I will put it up here. Like I said it isn't a be all end all book but it has a load of very useful information in it.


posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 09:43 AM
reply to post by kaferwerks

Hi KW,

I would love to read the book you referred to, please let us know the title, it sounds like just the guide I need for all the surplus. I'm almost finished planting our family's new vegetable garden and it is much larger than we usually plant.



posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 10:54 AM
I admit that I probably went a little overboard on the size of the garden, also I planted some veggies that I've never grown before, and I thought that at harvest time you dig up ALL the potatoes, ALL the carrots and have them stacked up somewhere to use when you need them. Lol, I'm so glad you started this thread. Here's the list of what we've got growing, please let me know any tips you have to preserve the extra:

5 - 40 year old pecan trees - different varieties - excellent harvest last year
2 - Santa Rosa plum trees - 3 years old - just beginning to produce
1 - Peach tree - 7 years old - very sweet cling peaches
1 - Fig tree - 7 years old - produces all summer
1 - Thompson seedless grape vine - 7 years old - very good producer
2 - Summer Royal grape vines - 3 years old - a seedless concord - no production yet
4 - Austin Dewberry vines - 4 years old - just beginning to produce
2 - Tiffblue blueberry bushes - 4 years old - just beginning to produce
1 - Pomengranate? - Wonderful - just planted a couple of months ago
1 - dwarf banana tree - brand new - produces small sweet bananas if not allowed to freeze, it is in a half whiskey barrel
1 - Chiquita banana tree - brand new - too big for a container but if not allowed to freeze it should produce well here. Btw, we're in Austin, Texas.
2 - Key lime trees - 4 years old - in half whiskey barrels - are already covered with small limes, should produce continuously
1 - Improved Meyer's lemon tree - 4 years old - already has small lemons on it - in a half whiskey barrel.
1 - 3 year old - satsuma orange tree (tangerine really) in whiskey barrel - has some blooms

1 Bay tree - 7 years old - 5 feet high covered with bay leaves
7- different kinds of rosemary - they grow like weeds here
3 - kalamatra and one pollinator olive trees, very small, in containers still
8 - different kinds of lavender along fenceline
passion flower vine
dwarf pomengranate
bee balm

bell peppers
banana peppers
20 - different varieties - tomato plants
white potatoes
red potatoes
sweet potatoes - will be planted in about a month
red onions
bunch onions
butter beans
green beans
corn - will be planted in about 2 weeks
two types of lettuce - heat varieties
gourds - will be on trellis next to garden
butternut squash
spaghetti squash
acorn squash
cantaloupe - two types
watermelon - small variety

Lol, you can see I'm in over my head on handling all this. My son stops by and helps along with my 3 year old grandson. And just for the record, this was my son's idea, he's worried that something is going to happen, he doesn't know what, but he feels better knowing that we all have a food source just in case.

Also, I noticed that several propeller heads on our street (not an insult, it's the common name here, almost half of Austin works in the hi-tech field), who usually live on their computers full time are putting in gardens too, somethings definitely in the air. These guys haven't seen the sun in years but they're out there digging and tilling. One even made his garden with Pi symbols surrounding it. Even odder, a young man a few streets over stopped by to look at our garden and he also was using the Pi symbol in his garden just like one of the guys on our street is doing, and he has never met him and had not seen his garden yet. His also includes the infinity symbol, the celtic knot one. Odd that they would put in similar unusual gardens.

As for storing all this, well I have a big garage, I could probably set up some sort of storage bins/areas in there, can't wait to read that book and also gather any tips ya'll have,

Thanks for the thread,


[edit on 3/24/2008 by seentoomuch]

posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 11:32 PM
Seentoomuch uhm holy bejezuss!!!!! nice stockpile. Only have a small portion of the yard that I can get away with fo a garden etc. Looking at roughly a 10'-10' area. Anyone know of any good books related to maximimizing a garden out of very small area?

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 07:40 AM
Very nice seletion of food, i wish i had 40 year old pecan trees

I'll do my best to cover what i would do with that food. I am not an expert in preserving though and my big problem is not knowing how long things will last once you've preserved them. So i'm just covering the thigns i know about.

Pecans - Drying sounds the best way to me.
Plums - Jams or liquers.
Figs - I'd eat these as they arrive, if there are to many then drying is excellent for figs
Grapes - Wine is the traditional way of preserving grapes, other than that i suppose you could dry them but i'm not sure if it only suits one variety of grape.
Blueberries - Drying, jams, eating fresh
Bananas and oranges i would eat as they arrive to be honest
Strawberries - one of my favorite fruits, jams are prefect for these

Bay leaves are very good with fish, you don't ned to preserve them really, just pick them when needed
Herbs can all be dried, put them in glass containers with tight tops and keep them in a dark place, they should last years
Lavender - Making it into an oil i suppose but i have no real clue here
Eucalyptus - oooh i love this plant and happen to know a good deal about it. Its oil can be used to deodorise clothing and your body, in can be used in sweets, it's a mild antiseptic, it repels insects and if you grind the leaves with water it can be used to dye things (although i know little abut dyeing with it. Basically it's a very useful plant.

Peppers I have no idea about bell peppers but hot peppers can of course be dried and ground down. They'll last absolutely ages, i have some from 2 years ago which i still use. People take taste for granted, in winter food is scarce in nature, tastes are often bland, being able to flavour your food is very useful and can really cheer people up.
Tomatoes - Not my favorite thing to be honest but you can obviously make it into sauce. I would actually can these, strip the skin and can them in their own juice. The problem is that again i have no idea how long they would last but the ones i buy from the supermarket in cans without additives say they last over a year.
Potatoes can be stored in a lot of ways. You have dry stacking of course, but don't be to fast to harvest them. What we usually do is harvest them as we need them, they keep in the ground for quite a while depending on your variety. Farmers harvest them all at once because of the size of their operation, small growers don't have to. It takes a little bit of experience learning how long they can stay in the ground, take note of your varieties and see what happens.
Sweet potatoes - I'm not sure if sweet potatoes are different to normal ones in storage sorry.
Carrots - A lot depends on your variety, what we did was get several varities that are ready to harvest at different times of the year. We finished our winter ones a little while ago, they'd been in the ground so long they had split open, the last month they were slightly woody and so we used them more in stews and things like shepards pie. They still tasted great of course.
Onions - These can be hung dry in a storage shed for quite a while. They can also be pickled.
Beans should be canned, i would say frozen but when i started this thread i said i wanted to avoid the idea of frozen stuff in case there is no power available.
Corn - Canning is the only really good way of storing corn i can think of.
Lettuce - The lettuce i use is perpetual lettuce. It grows throughout the year and we harvest it as it produces more leaves, the root stays in the ground. It's not really a storing vegetable i don't think.
Sqaushes - Absolutely no clue how long these last

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 07:46 AM

Originally posted by drift393
Seentoomuch uhm holy bejezuss!!!!! nice stockpile. Only have a small portion of the yard that I can get away with fo a garden etc. Looking at roughly a 10'-10' area. Anyone know of any good books related to maximimizing a garden out of very small area?

I don't know any books but there are a few tips i can give you.

Firstly look for climbing plants, growing upwarsd maximises your space. Beans and peas being key climbers. Strawberries can be grown in hanging pots attached to your house.

Containers of all kinds can be put on any paved area to grow all sorts of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Window boxes also can be used for it on the outside of your house.


Dont' forget the inside of your home! A kitchen window is the perfect place for herbs to be grown in a long pot.

[edit on 25-3-2008 by ImaginaryReality1984]

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 08:46 AM
I know this is a post on preserving foods w/o electricity but I think dehydrating would work the best. It would be lightweight enough to carry with You if need be and easier to store by maximizing Your storage space. You can basically have a whole meal in 1 pouch. Just portion out meats and veggies with seasoning, name and date and add boiling water or cook over fire when ready. Like Your own MREs but actually palatable!! Fruits such as apples and berries can be used for desserts/nutritional value. I too worry about a possible shortage of food and any vitamins/minerals My family may need. I try to see that we all get Our nutrients through food itself but have bought supplements along the way and have 1/2 bottles laying about. I've condensed each type into separate bottles and labeled for future use if need be. They may lose some of their value but will offer something in a pinch. I've also put aside some new syringes, antibiotic creams, anti-emetics and such. While on the topic of maximizing garden space growing tomatoes upside down in a bucket works exceptionally well. Drill/cut 2"-3" hole in center of lid and bottom of bucket (5 gal). cover bottom whole with coffee filter/newspaper so soil won't spill, turn over & fill with light weight soil. Place another filter over soil to keep it from spilling out of the hole on the lid. Turn bucket upside down, cut small opening in filter and plant Your tomato. Hang Your bucket upside down from a deck or clothesline pole and water thoroughly. This process allows for better air circulation so it lowers the risk of disease, animals can't reach it as easy and fruits off the ground wont break limbs or rot as fast.

Peace. K*

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 11:37 AM
Great tips on that ImaginaryReality will check into that. My only concern being I live in a rather hot climate will try and cross-refrence what you suggested with what can be grown in my region.

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 11:53 AM
When it is in season, I purchase gallon glass jars of apple cider... good stuff; and so is the gallon jar. I have restaurant industry friends that also give me gallon wide mouth pickle jars.

I have a collection now of about 60 gallon glass jars and I use them to store dried beans, grains, and cereal. Each jar holds about 5-7 pounds of dried grain. I use the metal lids that come with the jars, but I place a paper napkin between the lid and the jar when I screw it on to keep bugs out, and then I either dunk the lid in bees wax or wrap with electrical tape.... once sealed in this manner, dried beans are good to go for over a year in a cool, dark, dry location; under my house.

6 months of food in storage for 2,

Sri Oracle

posted on Mar, 26 2008 @ 11:03 AM
reply to post by ImaginaryReality1984

Thanks for the advice, ImaginaryReality!

After reading your post I can see that canning is going to play a big part in preserving all the surplus. I went back to Seawolf's post with the link to and have been immersed in it, making lists of canning tools, reading recipes, etc. After seeing the cost I'm going to use the list I made and try to find the same items discounted, maybe on craigslist. Also, from now on when I see unused canning jars at garage sales I'm gonna scoop them up, all sizes, all types.

Also, I'm looking at the various methods for drying some of the food as you and some of the others have suggested. I found a method of making my own dehydrator that sounds do able, Lol, I'll do my best. I think I'll get some of the kids on our street to help me with this as it involves solar working for us, which they've been teaching to the kids in school here. They'll probably teach me!

Thanks for getting me on track, I'm mean it's easy to put in a great big garden, and it would be easy to just give away all the extra, but to be true to the purpose of growing all this food it's just as important to learn how to preserve it, just in case. I'll be following this thread to gather up more tips, thanks ya'll,


[edit on 3/26/2008 by seentoomuch]

posted on Mar, 26 2008 @ 10:13 PM
reply to post by seentoomuch

Wow!!! Impressive to say the least, especially the Pecan trees. That, in my opionion is a super plus. It takes so long for them to produce, I think it is 15 years. Because of that, I opted for an Almond tree which is self-pollinating and takes about two years to start producing. I also have a fig, pear, apple, a few bush cherries, strawberries and the blueberries are going in this week, hopefully. My peach tree died and I have not replaced it.

I planted my banana (dwarf, full size fruit) indoors and I have two coffee plants and an orange plant. The coffee is a new purchase and is small. The banana and orange are 1 year and are growing fast.

I have dried herbs before by stringing them up side down in my kitchen window. I clean them first and then dry them. After they start to crumble, I pick them off the stems. I put the picked items in the blender for a few pulses (speed) to grind them. Then I store them. Some I stored in glass jars and some plastic (used seasoning containers).

I did not plant herbs in a few years, so I am plotting now for my new herb garden and plan to include some mint. I am on disability, so I can only work the garden on good days and I need to keep it simple and small.

I am new at canning and started about two years ago with butter. I still have a jar left for testing longevity. So far, so good.

[edit on 26-3-2008 by Siren]

posted on Mar, 27 2008 @ 10:14 PM
Could i again request that if anyone has information on exactly how long foods last when preserved in different ways, could they please post it as i honeslty have no idea. I'm going to just post some of my experiences with food.

Herbs and spices

I have had herbs and spices of all kinds in small glass containers, kept in a dark spot with minimal heat changes for over 4 years. The only problem i've had is that the powders (chilli for example) have formed one large block. Once ground down again though they are perfectly edible.

Smoked, salted and dried meats.

I have never had meat salted, smoked or dried kept longer than maybe 3 months. It just doesn't last long here we eat it to fast, the reason for this is we only get small amounts at a time. We aren't masive meat eaters we just don't shoot many at a time.


Same for meat mostly, in the summer we do get a shocking amount of mackerel, all of which is smoked or salted. I give it to friends and family and the local pub landlord (he gives me some of his home made brew in return


We actually harvest vegetables as we need them for the most part. The only exceptions i can think of are beans and peas which are all harvested at pretty much the same time. They last months frozen but as this thread was about not using electricity i'm not sure how long they'd last when canned or dried.


Blackberries, gooseberries, strawberries etc which we make into jams mostly. The jams i've had last about 6 months, at that point we have very little left but they seem fine so would probably last a good deal longer. When you deal with fruit remember they often contain high levels of anti-microbial chemicals. Vitamin C is a natural preservative.

I've used bullaces in alcohol (a sort of wild plum) and it makes an excellent liquer. I also made a liqeur with gooseberries but i havn't sampled it yet, bit of an experiment that one. As these are full of alcohol they should last an absolute age, i actually had one left undrunk for 4 years. We opened it and tasted, it was perfectly acceptable, didn't make us ill. The only problem i had with it was that the taste of the fruit was so strong i couldn't drink much.

Would be grateful if anyone else could post the time lines of their preserving adventures. I'm especially interested in meats and fish.

posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 09:29 AM
So I fanally found the book I mentioned in an earlier post it is: Country Living and Know-How. It covers a lot of different topics from preserving food to planting to soap making to raising livestock to making crafts.
It is a good one to add to the library.

posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:03 AM

Originally posted by kaferwerks
So I fanally found the book I mentioned in an earlier post it is: Country Living and Know-How. It covers a lot of different topics from preserving food to planting to soap making to raising livestock to making crafts.
It is a good one to add to the library.

My only questin is does it give the times things are meant to last for when preserved? Great sugestion on the book i'll try and find a copy

posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:38 AM
Actually I believe it does on some things...I will look this weekend and see what I find in it and let you know.

posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 11:52 AM
Thanks for the title Kaferwerks, I just ordered it from Amazon.


[edit on 4/4/2008 by seentoomuch]

posted on Apr, 11 2008 @ 06:41 AM
Ok read in one of my books last night that the "shelf life" for meat that is dried at home is 6 months if kept in airtight containers at temps around the low 70's. Longer if it has been commercialy prepared or frozen afterwards. It reccomends only beef for drying(or large game animals) due to fat content.

Cured meat could last indef if kept in cool dry storage.

I seem to recall reading somehwere the storage time on different canned goods too but that escapes me now.

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