January is not a month that evokes thoughts of preserving local fresh food in most of our country. However, January is a month in which we are consuming quite a bit of preserved foods, as we have less access to quality fresh foods. Now here's where home food preservation comes in for the win! Imagine if you were to preserve your own locally produced foods when it's harvested at peak ripeness then you could consuming quality local food year-round, despite it not being in season. Winner, winner locally produced chicken for dinner!
Preserving your own food is not a difficult undertaking. Once you gain knowledge on the topic as well as invest a bit of your time & money into the task, you are well on you way to consuming a rewarding diet of locally produced products year-round.
There are loads of ways to learn about the topic of food preservation. We are good at seeking out resources and teaching ourselves when we want to learn about new topics of interest. We also enjoy sharing the resources we have utilized. One of the most comprehensive resources we have used for gaining knowledge regarding preserving our own food is The National Center for Home Food Preservation website. Although, when it comes to canning The Ball® Complete Book of Home Preserving is our most trusted and valued resource. However, we do cherish our entire collection of canning/preserving books along with all of the bookmarks & sticky notes in them.
Now, if you are a hands-on learner or would prefer to have a mentor when venturing into new learning experiences we would suggest that you make contact with your local extension office or reach out to a community learning group such as Ladies Homestead Gathering (LHG). Armonda is a member of the Sullivan County Chapter of LHG. She is in the process of working with the board of the Sullivan County Chapter LHG on planning at least one presentation on home food preservation for 2019. Additionally, a "Preserve and Take" workshop is in the works for Fall 2019 as well. However you choose to obtain your knowledge on this subject, doing so is clearly an important and necessary first step that can be super fun and intriguing. Share in the comments if you have any other beloved and trusted resources on home preserving.
Time and money. Our family, as most of you will agree, would like to have more of both. Well, the hard truth is we don't. As a result, we treasure the time and money that we do have. In turn, we consciously choose to fund projects with our time and money based on the value and usefulness that each project will bring to our lives. Home preserving has been one project that we continue to fund with our time and money. We hope that you will also see the value in preserving your own food and give it a go too!
Once you are ready to commit the time & money to the project, you will need to purchase equipment that you may not already own or have access to. There are a plethora of equipment pieces you may need to purchase which might include a dehydrator, containers for freezing, a smoker, a water bath canner, a pressure canner, glass preserving jars, lids, and bands as well as a couple other tools for water bath and pressure canning. What equipment you choose to purchase truly depends on what type(s) of preserving you intend to implement. If you still are not convinced on committing to spending you hard-earned money, especially on the larger pieces of equipment, you could always ask to borrow or rent the equipment from a family member, friend, or neighbor who already owns the equipment. Additionally, you could even pitch in together with one or more of your like-minded peeps to purchase & share a piece of equipment. It's all about what's going to work best for you and your needs.
Now you are ready to put your knowledge and equipment to work for you! Have fun shopping at a farmers market near you and/or growing and harvesting your own food. Using local food is truly the best option when preserving foods. In the end, it is extremely gratifying to preserve and consume the fruits of your labor. Please share with us any of your amazing home preserving recipes. We enjoy hearing from you all!
Have fun looking though the slideshow below of the food we preserved in 2018. Almost all of the food in the pictures either we grew or was grown in a surrounding county.
We are Four Flags Farm, Armonda & Ben Riggs!