My Journey with Food Preservation

I talked in a previous post about my original experience with food preservation. I’d now like to share with you the journey I have gone through in regards to food preservation, and the goals I have to continue and expand my food preservation capabilities in the future. And, of course, I’ll make future posts detailing how to do each of the food preservation methods listed so that you can try them for yourself.

So, I learned from a young age how to get large quantities of chile roasted and then portion them out into smaller quantities for freezing. The smaller portions were then used in cooking for the rest of the year. That was all the food preservation I did for about twenty years. Once I was living on my own (with roommates), I grew tired of cooking every night for one person. My cooking skills were minimal, but I challenged myself to start making big batches of soups to freeze in upcycled containers such as yogurt tubs. Having ready made meals in the freezer took a lot of stress out of my life during busy weeks where work and school were occupying most of my time. It also helped out financially, as my budget was minimal during those years.

Photo by Milada Vigerova:

As my cooking skills improved I started noticing trends in my cooking habits. For example, some weeks I would use lots of onions, so instead of chopping onions every time I cooked, I would chop several onions at once, portioning them out in different containers to use over the next few days and even freezing an upcycled jar of onions to use when I hadn’t managed to get groceries. I did the same for beans, cooking up large quantities of dried beans and using upcycled 16 ounce glass jars to freeze a can’s worth of beans for future use. Honestly, I was doing all of these things for my own convenience and to save money.

Only later did I realize that these small actions were also benefiting the planet

I started perusing the freezer section at the grocery store, realizing I could likely freeze whatever was in those sections and potentially save myself some money in doing so. Big batches of rice were cooked and frozen in smaller quantities along with small portions of sauces, sliced clearance bell peppers, etc.

Next I tackled my half used cans. I bought a small silicone freezer tray from a thrift shop and started freezing the leftovers from cans of coconut milk, tomato sauce, and lemon juice for future use.

Photo by Eva Elijas:

At this point, I felt like I had learned a lot and was invested in expanding my food preservation abilities. I started pickling things and making homemade sauerkraut, and lastly I taught myself how to water bath can acidic foods (with lots of help from library books and Youtube).

I’ve learned a lot and preserve a lot now, but I still have goals to further my abilities. This fall I plan to can or freeze all of the applesauce that my family will need for the following year. I also intend to make much if not all of the jam we will use with locally grown or foraged fruit.

Photo by Hannah Grapp:

If you asked me ten years ago, I would have never expected I would become so excited or passionate about food preservation, but people change over time. You never know what will inspire people and how it will change the way they go through life. Any reason people come to a lower waste lifestyle is a good one. Any step forward is still a step forward no matter how small, and it is worth celebrating.