Food preservation

Hand in hand with changing a garden over to more food production comes the thought – if we grow more than we can eat, how will we preserve it? (Like how I’m thinking very positively? Or am I just being delusional?)

So now might be a good time to put up a bit of a summary of some different types of food preservation, and if I’ve posted about them before, include a link. Our local group wil be having another brainstorming session on this topic, and after that there should be a lot more info on this page.

Root cellar

Some vegetables can be stored just as they are in the right environment, such as a root cellar. This is a new area for me, as we’ve never gown more than we can eat before, so way more info to come.


This one is in many ways the easiest, if you have storage space. If you choose to freeze already cooked food, it will be easy to use that in an emergency situation. But a lot of things can be frozen raw as well. My best tip is – keep a list! I couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve cleaned out the freezer and thrown away things that last saw the light of days several years ago. You know the story – you do it too, right?

There are a bunch of resources online about how to freeze produce, so I just picked a couple at random:


This comes in next on the list because if you’re prepping, things that take up less space are a bonus. And dried food is a great space saver.

The best method of dehydration is freeze drying. Apparently things then keep forever. A few people I know have sighed and said “I wish I could afford a freeze drier” but they are around $2k in NZ, so not within most people’s budget. It’s maybe within your budget to buy some commercaially freeze dried food, though. But go for things you’ll eat anyway, even if there’s no earthquake / food shortage / power outage / loss of income. If life is good, nobody is going to eat up 3 years worth of tramping meals, but you might snack on some freeze dried fruit.

If you want to DIY though, a dehydrator is more affordable, or you can use your oven on a very low temp. It’s vital though to make sure things are fully dehydrated or they will still go off.

Some things can just be hung to dry, before being stored.

The meat recipes below also use other components such as salt and fat to complete the preservation process.


Some of these recipes make the food more nutritious and will preserve it for a limited amount of time.

Sauerkraut is probably the only longer term storage solution.

Brining & Pickling

I don’t have a lot of experience with either of these methods, but will add to this as I learn more.

To use vegetables as an a example, if I understand the differences correctly:

  • Fermentation (eg sauerkraut) uses salt and the juices from the cabbage to create lactic acid bacteria. These make the vegetables more nutritous and destroy harmful bacteria.
  • Brining uses salt and water (brine) for preservation. It will ferment a little, but mostly salt and lack of air inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. You do need to make sure your vegetables are safe to start with though, so a thorough wash and an initial treatment with a salt rub might be recommended.
  • Pickling uses vinegar and changes the flavour and texture more than brining does.

In all cases, the results need to be stored in an airtight (sterilised) jar for long term storage.

I’ve learnt a bit about brining, so sharing these posts:

Bottling (aka Canning)

I haven’t done any bottling myself for decades, and then it was more a process of being a kitchen hand and peeling or chopping while Mum did the actual preserving. We always preserved fruit in the form of jam or maybe stewed peaches, so my understanding of bottling is more of a sugar based method of preservation. Though again, a sterilised jar and complete lack of air are vital for long term safety and storage.

More info to come.


My only experience with smoking food is eating smoked fish. This typically has BB dates that are only a month or two away. So is that as long as smoked fish keeps? Or is it a marketing ploy? More research is needed on what is needed, apart from a smoker, and how long foods typically last.

Storing in fat

The pemmican recipe above utilises fat as one of the preservation methods. But more simply, melted fat (probably tallow that is pure with nothing else in it, like meat scraps) poured over food will keep out the air and keep it for a very long time.

More research and recipes to come.

Anything else?

Does anyone know of any other methods we need to look into?