Shalayne Smith Needham- Food preservation is important for those wanting to enjoy food for a longer amount of time without spoilage. Melanie Jewkes, an associate professor at Utah State University teaches food preservation to members of the community. And with many people buying their produce directly from farmers this summer, how can we make our farm fresh food last longer?
Melanie Jewkes- There are many ways you can make that produce last longer. So, the first thing I would recommend is to look at what you're going to do with that product and how quickly you're going to eat it. And then if you're going to refrigerate it for consumption in the next week or two, there are containers or even the way you place them in your refrigerator-that can help extend that life. For example, there are containers you can buy for produce that have a little bit of air breeding room that allows those to breathe without building up condensation which can rot or decompose the food quicker.
Outside of that, looking at what you want to do with it in the long run. Do you want a canned product? Do you want a frozen product for later? And thinking about those kinds of things as you buy, it will help you to maximize your money so that you're buying what you need and what you can use.
SSN- And what are some of the best methods for long term preservation?
MJ- There are probably more options than people think. Often, we think of maybe just canning, whether that's pressure canning meats or vegetables or boiling water canning fruits.
But there's also dehydration where you can dehydrate the food, and that is excellent for storage space because the food shrinks so much. Freezing is also a great form of food preservation that, if you have the freezer space, is usually simpler, less complicated, and faster.
Recently, in the last six years, it is actually possible now to own a home freeze dryer and to freeze dry food and that's another method.
SSN- And tell us some of the differences in preserving needs versus fruits and vegetables?
MJ- Meats and vegetables are considered low acid foods. They don't have the acid level of sufficient enough to protect against microorganisms that can cause botulism, which can be a deadly toxin.
So, vegetables and meats do need to be properly pressure canned for the adequate amount of time that is already set by scientifically tested recipes. However, they can also be frozen and dehydrated in similar ways that you would freeze and dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
SSN- Where can we go for more resources on this topic?
MJ- You should be aware that a simple Google search might not bring up the safest recipes that have been scientifically tested to ensure adequate times and altitude adjustments.
So, make sure you're going somewhere that will have those safe places such as Utah State University, and our website is canning.usu.edu. That will take you to a bunch of food preservation resources, not just canning information.
We Also link to sites like the USDA Complete Guide To Home Canning, as well as the National Center for Home Food Preservation, which can be trusted and they are safe procedures to follow.