Preserving the Harvest
What is preserving?
Preserving is about processing plants, fruits and other produce to extend their shelf life for later use.
There are preserves for eating, preserves for healing and preserves for household applications.
Bottling, drying and freezing are popular methods of preserving.
Many crops are seasonal; preserving surplus for quieter times ensures ongoing supply.
Preserving at home saves you time and money!
Preserving is better for the environment – less, if any, transport miles and resource are used.
Unlike store-bought alternatives, preserved foods are usually higher in nutrition and free from pesticides and artificial preservatives. Not to mention they also taste better.
Common preserving methods:
Many foods, especially fruit, can be bottled in water, juice or a little sweetener. They can also be prepared and jarred as jams, chutneys, and sauces.
Bottling food produces a vacuum seal, which keeps the goodness in and bacteria out. Bottled food can be stored for up to 12 months in ideal conditions.
Some foods should not be bottled unless a preserving agent such as salt, vinegar or sugar is used.
You can also preserve foods by drying them in the oven, air drying them indoors or outdoors, or with a purpose-made electric dehydrator.
Dried foods are longer-lasting and take up less space than when stored in their natural state. They also retain maximum nutrition and flavour.
Ensure foods are completely cured and free of moisture before storing. Food for dehydrating needs to be free of blemishes.
Store dried foods in airtight containers, preferably glass, and in a cool, dark area.
A range of foods, herbs and liquids can be preserved in your freezer for up to 12 months, depending on what it is.
Zip lock bags and ice cube trays are handy for freezing foods, including liquids.
Preserving tips, tricks & resources
The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest. Carol W. Costenbader (2002). ISBN: 13:978-1-58017-458-9.
Herbs: How to grow or gather herbal plants and use them for cookery, health and beauty. Roger Phillips and Nicky Foy (1992 Ed.). ISBN: 0-330-32600-7.
The Secrets of Preserving. Fowlers Vacola. www.fowlersvacola.com.au.
Complete preserves: easy and delicious recipes for making and using your own preserves. Sally Wise (2015). ISBN: 9780733334061.
Grown & Gathered. Matt & Lentil (2016). ISBN: 978-1-74354-741-0.
Practical Self Sufficiency: An Australian guide to sustainable living. Dick and James Strawbridge (2011 Ed.). ISBN: 978-1-74033-770-0.