Drying and Storing Food

In regards to food storage there are several different methods all with their own relative pros and cons.  One method stands out above them all in regards to being sustainable, it is dried food in vacuum sealed containers.  This method uses the least amount of energy to preserve the food, maintains food as living when done properly, and has the longest storage life of all other methods.  The following is a brief introduction to storing dried food using some raspberries I harvested.

Setup and tools

Some of the tools I use are very simple – they include canning jars, canning lids, a vacuum pump, and optional lid label.  Canning jars are fairly basic, can be wide or narrow mouth – I recommend wide mouth for larger dried items and narrow mouth for small things like berries.  The canning lids in general don’t get used more than once, but when doing vacuum canning you can use them year after year until they just don’t hold a vacuum anymore – this can be years and years with many many times used.  I have two vacuum pumps – one is manual (shown in the picture on the right with the red handle) and the other is electric.  The lid labels I make from recyclable card board (cereal boxes and similar) .

Lid labels

I like to label my dried food, even though you can see it through the glass jar there is something comforting about having the name on it and it also does good to have the date on it.  I simply trace the lid onto the cardboard and cutout as shown in the pictures on the right.

Storage

Now just simply put your dried food into your glass canning jar.  Glass is a highly sustainable material – it has a great number of benefits such as being clear, non-porous, easy to clean and disinfect, comprised of natural materials, and reusable.  You will want to leave a little room at the top, I recommend just filling up to just below the threads of the jar.

Vacuum Seal

Once your jar is filled, simply place your lid on and then vacuum seal the jar.  The attachments I use can be found easily on-line – mine are food saver jar vacuum attachments.  I have two methods for sealing – one is the hand vacuum pump, which I found at an automotive store – the other is using the electric food saver sealer unit with the vacuum port.  Either one works just fine and gets the same result, only difference is time and energy.  After the jar is sealed, remove the vacuum attachment and lightly test the lid to make sure it sealed properly.  If it sealed then you are good, if it did not then you are gonna need to try again and if it doesn’t seal for the third attempt then try another lid.

Done

Once the jar is sealed, put on a lid label and a tighten a band.  Your done, you now have living food well preserved and ready for your use anytime you need it.  Just think of how sustainable of a choice you just made – you don’t need any energy to store it, no fridge, easily used in recipes, last you through the winter, and so much more…

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