The pros and cons of different preservation methods

This article was originally published by RJ Jhonson  on www.bugout.news

Food preservation is one of the most important life skills, particularly if you live off the grid, are preparing for SHTF situations, or simply do not want to depend too much on grocery stores for your meals. There are different ways to do it and, needless to say, understanding the pros and cons of each method will help you get the best results.

Here are some of the most common food preservation methods:

Dehydration

This is a great all-around method for preserving food, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meat. You can even dehydrate liquids (such as milk) and turn them into your very own milk powder. A standard home dehydrator or an oven will work just fine, but if you don’t have the machine, you can do it the way the people of old did – by using the heat of the sun.

  • Pros – This is one of the simplest food preservation methods. Plus, it’s a great way to diversify the texture and flavor of your food, especially your snacks. Dehydration tends to shrink food, so they require less storage space, too.
  • Cons – Dehydrating may not be ideal if you value taste and texture because it tends to alter these two aspects of food a lot. You may also have problems if your area doesn’t have too much sunlight, as using an oven to dry out food can be too expensive.

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Salting

This method is used not just for meats, but also for fruits and vegetables. Curing salts (table salt and sodium nitrite) are often used, although some prefer to use either Kosher or sea salt. The method works by absorbing moisture from the food and inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

  • Pros – Salt is undeniably effective as a preservative as most foods do not need refrigeration after they have been salted. Salting is a very simple process that uses very few ingredients.
  • Cons – The biggest criticism of salting has to do with salt’s effects on your health. Too much salt harms your heart, damages your bones and liver, and makes you prone to kidney stones.

Smoking

Like salting, this process has been used since time immemorial. It is ideal for meat products, be it pork, beef, chicken, game, or fish. Again, like salting, it preserves food by drawing out moisture and preventing bacteria from taking hold and causing the food to spoil.

  • Pros – The biggest advantage of smoking has to do with how it adds that characteristic smoky taste and aroma to your food. You can even modify or improve this effect by using different types of wood to create the smoke.
  • Cons – The process of smoking requires constant attention as you have to take careful note of factors like time and ideal temperature. Smoking also leads to the loss of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, and has been linked to raised risks of cancer.

Freezing

This process subjects food to extremely low temperatures, preventing the growth of bacteria. It can be done using either a freezer or your very own ice house.

  • Pros – It’s a foolproof process that does not require any special ingredients. It can be done quickly, too.
  • Cons – Freezing might change the texture of your food. This is particularly true with fruits, berries, and certain vegetables. Freezing may also be very costly, especially if you use freezers that often use lots of power. If you live off the grid, it might suit you better to build your own makeshift ice house instead.

Pickling

Fermenting by pickling is one of the most excellent ways to preserve your food. It can be used for meat, fruits, and vegetables and does not require the machinery needed for canning.

  • Pros – Fermenting works as well as canning and drying and can be accomplished using easy-to-find ingredients. It adds a different flavor and makes your preserved food more nutritious, too. Pickled food items are noted for their ability to support the friendly bacteria in your gut.
  • Cons – If you like the natural taste of your food, you may not like how pickling changes its taste permanently. It also contains high sodium levels, which may not be good for your heart.

Canning

This process seals your food in airtight containers, preventing bacteria and food enzymes from causing spoilage. Contrary to what its name implies, you can food using Mason and other canning jars.

  • Pros – The main benefit of canning has to do with its sheer effectiveness. Canned food can last for more than a year unopened. This makes it one of the best ways to preserve food, especially those you picked from your own farm or garden.
  • Cons – Although there are simpler ways to do it, canning may require investments in dedicated equipment and containers. There are also several ways it could go wrong. For instance, the failure to properly seal your food could contaminate it with Clostridium botulinum, which produces a potentially lethal toxin. That said, it’s important to strictly follow instructions when canning.

 

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