We Should All be Aware of the Values of Food Preservation
In this section, I hope to impress on my readers the values and benefits of preserving the foods harvested from your very own garden.
It is, in my humble opinion, one of the most rewarding skills we can have. Food preservation knowledge can truly make your life worry free when it comes to feeding your family.
My Early Days
I grew up in a rural area with wide open spaces. And, my family always had a backyard garden full of a lot of different vegetables. We were always able to harvest cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, green beans, eggplant, lettuce, onion, asparagus and a few other vegetables that I did not enjoy so much as a child.
The vegetables we grew were abundantly flavorful. Store-bought produce was no comparison to the home-grown veggies we put on our table.
Canning Was an Integral Part of My Childhood
I can remember my mother standing for long hours on hot summer days in a steamy kitchen. She would be canning from sunup to sundown. One day she would can pickles. The next day she would do tomatoes. Then, maybe, she would can some green beans or corn. This process would continue almost every day of the week.
I would pick so much produce from the garden that oftentimes my mother would need to use two canning setups and can vegetables twice a day. Needless to say, I would be in the kitchen helping her once I finished my other chores.
The one job I hated was blanching and removing the skin from tomatoes before canning. But, in the end, the flavorful spaghetti sauce and chili that we created from those canned tomatoes made all the preparation worthwhile.
Mother’s dill pickle recipe was “to die for!” Her canned dill pickles were a favorite of mine. They were so crisp and deliciously dill flavored.
Eating Our Canned Goods Out of Season
Where we lived, more than half of the year saw snow on the ground. Many of the vegetables we loved so much were either not available at the local grocery store or they were so tasteless that they were not worth buying.
But, we would go shopping in our basement storage cellar, picking out canning jars filled with vegetables from our last growing season. My friends loved coming to our house for dinner because they could eat many things that were not available to them at their own home.
Time Passed. I Grew Up. And, Became Inspired.
On many occasions, I fondly recalled my childhood days in the family garden and helping out in the kitchen. I can remember time and again trying to reproduce tasty dishes that my mother used to make. Eventually, when I got stumped, I would call her and sweet talk her into revealing some of her tips, tricks, and secrets.
Then, finally I became motivated. I committed myself to investing the time in learning more about food preparation and preservation. With mother’s help, I was going to become as competent and skilled as she was!
Reasons to Grow and Preserve Home Garden Vegetables
Through research and training from my mom, as well as friends and neighbors, I came to the undeniable conclusion that, even though it may seem simpler to make a quick trip to the supermarket, it actually is much more beneficial and time-saving to grow and preserve my own vegetables, fruits and herbs.
I have learned basic techniques for simple freezing, canning, dehydrating, and, most recently, freeze-drying. Each of these has unique features that are more suited to certain foods.
Why Do I Preserve Most of My Food?
We never know what types of chemicals and preservatives that commercial farmers use to grow and preserve vegetables, fruits, and, even herbs, before their harvest reaches the grocery store. Some customers try to avoid the poisonous insecticides and fungicides by buying “organic.” But, even organic is not a guaranteed way to avoid the chemicals.
Our page about growing carrots talks about how baby carrots are made. It shocked me to discover that they use chlorine to preserve the texture and the orange color. The growers say that most of the chlorine is washed off but, should we trust them?
Did you know that chlorine gas was first used as a weapon by Germany in World War 1? This is a toxic gas and, it will assault your lungs, eyes, and skin!
If we produce our own food, we know 100% what we are getting.
Food Costs are Constantly Rising
Have you noticed the rapid increase in food prices? Just in the last 5 years, the annual increases are listed to be around 3% and that is a lot. But, on closer inspection, the increases are even higher than that! Less than 5 years ago, I paid $1.00 for a 16 ounce package of frozen veggies. Today, I pay the same price but, the package size is now only 10 ounces. That is a 60% increase in cost. Isn’t that disgusting?
A visit to our local farmers’ market, which used to be a bargain shopping experience for me, reveals how much they have drastically increased their prices to try and generate revenue to stay in step with the bigger food chains.
We have discovered that we can grow and preserve food much cheaper.
Capture the Flavor
The processes of freezing, canning, dehydrating, and freeze-drying are all designed to capture and preserve the true, natural flavors and nutrition of the vegetables we grow.
The beauty is that, during the winter, we can still enjoy our garden harvest whenever we like.
Out of Work
Being between jobs can be very stressful. Without the security of that paycheck, you worry about where you will find the money to feed your family.
Having a garden and preserving your harvest can give you a food buffer that could carry you through a tough period in your life.
Unexpected catastrophic events can devastate a family.
Look what happened in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina or the horrible tsunami in Fukushima, Japan. Those families went weeks…even months…waiting for help to survive. Any food that they may have stored spoiled quickly because they had no electricity to run their refrigerators.
Keeping a food pantry stocked with foods that you have preserved yourself can definitely give you some peace of mind that you will not starve in case such a dreadful occurrence happens.
In a major disaster, there will be starving people everywhere. Don’t be one of them. Grow and preserve your food.
Convenience and Save Time
After a hard day at work…heading home…you realize that you have to go to the grocery store for ingredients to prepare the evening meal. I bet this has happened to you, hasn’t it?
Well, just think! With a storeroom full of a variety of preserved foods, you can skip the grocery store and just go straight home. You are confident that you have everything you need already to cook up a delicious meal for your family.
And, with your cupboards stocked with food, isn’t it much easier to plan ahead for meals and be able to minimize the trips to the store?
When I don’t have much time, it only takes a few minutes to gather some canned or dehydrated ingredients (beef or chicken, carrots, potatoes, onions, corn, etc.) and, along with some beef bouillon, I can place everything in the slow cooker in the morning. Then, when I come home from work in the late afternoon, there is a delicious dinner awaiting me!
It took only a few minutes to take everything out of the Mason jars and add them to the slow cooker. Look how much time I saved. It takes longer to order a pizza!
Does All of This Sound Too Good to be True?
Well, if I can do it, so can you! There are even more benefits to discover that the ones I’ve listed, too!
Come. Join me on a journey through the wonderful world of food preservation. Even though it may sound intimidating, it really isn’t.
We’ll start with baby steps, a little patience, and a desire for a much healthier lifestyle. And together, we will improve our future through all the amazing benefits provided by canning, dehydrating, and freeze-drying.
Let’s Get Started!
If you have any food preservation tips and tricks, please leave me a comment below. You can also email Jim: firstname.lastname@example.org.