Food Preservation - Fighting Food Waste

Most of us have thought about what to do with leftovers at some time in our lives. Other issues of dealing with excess food can occur with large yields from your garden or shopping while hungry. What do you tend to do with the extra food? Should you take it for lunch the next several days? Do you freeze your leftovers, give the excess food away, or refrigerate them and eat the foods until you tire of that item and eliminate it from your diet for months? As mentioned in previous posts, some food pantries accept donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, so keep the option of donation in mind. Some people don't like leftovers, or quickly tire of them, and throw the extra food out. Food waste is the worst way to address leftovers or excess food supply.

A friend recently gave me 18 ears of sweet corn, some fresh dill, a bunch of tomatoes, and a bag of pickling cucumbers. What a wonderful gift! However, as a single individual, consuming that much sweet corn is an incredible feat! I do anything I can to safely save foods and preserve the flavor and nutrition of the item(s). Spending time in a hot, humid kitchen making homemade spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, and blanching and freezing the sweet corn was worth the effort.

Preserving the flavor and nutrition is the focus, especially with sweet corn, as it loses flavor the longer it sits between harvesting the ears and eating the corn. The image in this post displays part of my recent food preservation work. Some vegetables and starches (corn is a starch, though most people view it as a vegetable) require blanching before freezing. Blanching involves boiling the food item for a certain amount of time, then cooling it in a water bath, before you trim the unwanted pieces off and save the kernels or other fresh foods. After cooling, the next task is distributing the corn into bags for freezing.

What options are available to avoid waste and save your extra food? The answer to this question will change based on the type of food you want to preserve. Common food preservation methods include:

  • Blanching and freezing
  • Canning
  • Making Refrigerator Jams
  • Smoking and/or curing meats and fish
  • Dehydrating 
  • Sugaring
  • Pickling and salting

There are many more food preservation processes, though others do not appear on this list due to space availability and less frequent use of some of those methods. I encourage you to take the free food safety course or read the information on safe food preservation available through Foodsafetyhelpline.com. Keep the garden goodies and other foods you save using the correct methods will make it less likely to have bacterial, fungal, other contaminants that can make you ill. I am looking forward to learning more about this important issue! Join me in my quest to safely preserve and use food!

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