Canning and preserving food are time-honored methods that many people use to build a diverse and sustainable pantry. Here are some ways you can do it:


1. Water Bath Canning
This is ideal for high-acid foods like fruits, jams, jellies, and pickles. You’ll need a large pot filled with water, jars, and lids.

  • Sterilize your jars and lids by boiling them in water.
  • Prepare your food according to your recipe.
  • Fill jars with the prepared food, leaving the appropriate headspace.
  • Wipe the rims of the jars clean and place the lids on, securing the band gently.
  • Process the jars in a boiling water bath for the time specified by your recipe.

2. Pressure Canning
Best for low-acid foods like vegetables, meats, and poultry. This method requires a special pressure canner.

  • Sterilize jars and lids as you would for water bath canning.
  • Prepare and fill jars with food, again being mindful of headspace.
  • Seal jars loosely with lids.
  • Process in a pressure canner following the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular altitude and the specific food you’re canning.


3. Freezing
Freezing is a straightforward preservation method for many foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and baked goods.

  • Blanch vegetables before freezing to preserve flavor and texture.
  • Pack foods in freezer-safe containers or bags.
  • Label each package with the date and contents.

4. Drying
Drying or dehydrating food concentrates the flavor and extends the shelf life of herbs, fruits, and meats.

  • Use a food dehydrator or a low-temperature oven to remove moisture.
  • Ensure foods are evenly sliced for uniform drying.
  • Store dried foods in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.

5. Fermenting
Fermenting foods like cabbage to make sauerkraut or cucumbers for pickles adds beneficial bacteria and can extend shelf life.

  • Prepare your chosen produce by cleaning and cutting it as needed.
  • Submerge in brine or use a starter culture.
  • Keep the food at the correct temperature for the duration of fermentation.
  • Store in a cool, dark place once fermentation is complete.

6. Salt-Curing or Smoking
You can cure or smoke meats and fish for long-term preservation.

  • Coat food thoroughly with curing salt or a salt-based cure mix.
  • Allow it to cure for the specified time based on the type and cut of meat.
  • Smoking can be done using a smoker; follow safety guidelines to ensure food is cooked through.

By mastering these techniques, you can efficiently stock your pantry with a variety of foods that will last through the year, ensuring that your household has a reliable food source whatever the season. Remember that each method has its best practices and safety considerations, so always follow trusted recipes and guidelines when preserving food at home.