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Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing

Food PreservingAfter reading America’s Cheapest Family yesterday and reading about how they freeze much of their food purchases I got the urge to read a book that has been on my shelf for many months. I probably should have read this book before spring and the growing season but hey I am studying up for next season right? The book is Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing -Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation.

The basic concept of the book is to show we can preserve food in MANY other ways besides freezing and canning. This is important to green/health conscious people because traditional canning sterilizes your food and kills most of the nutrients and all of the enzymes. Freezing does cause some nutrient damage but the issue there is that freezing requires constant energy. This book shows us all the ways we can preserve food without sterilizing it, hence keeping it a live food, and without using too much energy.

The first preservation method discussed is preservation in the ground through a homemade silo. It basically involves digging a hole in the ground and storing certain veggies inside it…covered with sand and then covering the mound with straw to keep them very cold in winter but not frozen. This is a common method of storing potatoes and other root vegetables. Then it goes on to discuss all the fruits and veggies you can store in cold cellars. I especially liked the info on preserving blueberries…it looked very easy and they are supposed to keep for up to a year.

Next up was preservation by drying. Fruits and veggies can be dried outside in the sun or with solar or electric dehydrators. One great benefit of drying fruits is that the sugar is concentrated so the dried fruits make great sweeteners. One very interesting method discussed was drying apples in elderberry flowers. It has instructions for drying peaches, plums, berries, persimmons, cherries, tomatoes, mushrooms, turnips, and so much more.

The lactic fermentation chapter was new and appealing to me with recipes for vegetable medleys, tomato sauce, pearl onions, and sauerkraut. The recipes for storing in oil and vinegar were also great but I was most interested in reading about preservation in salt. I have eaten fish and beef preserved this way and they were deliriously yummy. There are recipes for salt preservation of green beans, anchovies, tomatoes, and lemons.

The chapter on preserving with sugar was basically a collection of jam recipes that require cooking. They sound divine but I was a bit disappointed that there were not many options that did not involve cooking and therefore destroying much of the nutritional content. But all in all a very good book and one I will be referencing like crazy next spring and summer when I load up on fresh produce at the farmer’s market.

  • Does preserving in salt make the food incredibly salty? And how do people without dirt basements make a food silo? in the back yard? do these questions get addressed in the book?

    Lia Mack
    Stirring Up Trouble!

  • Lexi

    how interesting tiffany! we have a lot of salted foods back in the philippines but i didn’t eat them a lot because of the saltiness and kiddos didn’t really like them i do like the idea of drying food, especiallt fruit. do you have any recommendations for electric food dryers?

  • Lia,

    The food is a little salty but not very…salt just sucks the water out of the food it doesn’t really get abosrbed in it.

    The food silos can be put anywhere outside. Most farmer’s usually dig them right next to their gardens.

  • Anita

    Funny I was looking at this very book today and wondering what the deal was with it – and I thought the very same thing that food preserved in salt woudl be way to salty – great to know it’s a worthwhile read!

  • Interesting! I have always canned but this sounds great, and less time consuming!

  • Interesting information :)

    I love using my dehydrator on a regular basis for this!

  • Rita

    Love the book reviews! I’m going to look for those books, especially the cheapest family one… my goal for 2009 is to see how cheaply I can live and still live well.

  • Ang in TX

    I would imagine keeping produce in the ground would depend on your region. In Texas I’m not sure it would not be an option unless you wanted to bury the vegetables quite deep.

  • The cool thing about lactofermentation is that it adds so much interesting nutrition to the final product. Right now I have kombucha and kefir brewing in my kitchen. Homemade sauerkraut is super easy and so good for your stomach, digestion, bowels, immunity, etc.

  • Thank you for the great info!

  • Sandy Cooper

    Just found your blog…love it. I’ll be back.
    Sandy Cooper

  • beeman

    When I was young my grandparents used to store root crops in the basement and in mounds in the garden. They had a picklebarrel that was always in use. Fresh vegetables went in and pickles went out.They would start it with saurkraut and then move on to low acid veges.

  • Great post Tiffany, as always. You have me very interested in doing this type of preserving! My dad buys salted kippers occasionally and soaks them in milk for a few hours before eating. He said my Swedish grandmother (his mom) did this when he was growing up, to leach out the excess salt. I have to say they are delicious!
    Thanks again for the great review on this intriguing book.

  • Thanks, Tiffany, for the information about this book.
    I do some dehydrating but want to try some of the other methods of preservation written about in this book.


  • Margaret

    Great information!  I’m going to check it out.  We do a lot of jams and such, and I think it’s time to branch out into other preserving!
    Two in the Nest