We had 14 participants in our Zoom class! It was tremendously fun. All local TimeBankers except a new woman joining from New York! She was delightful. Here are Jan DeCourtney’s main concepts/ideas and learning points:

The main ways to prepare for disaster/urgent food needs are:

  • Store bought cans – watch dates and don’t worry about them EXACTLY. Most things are ok longer than the date on the can. Store in a good (that is not too hot or cold) place!
  • Root Cellar – You have to have your own land and make a big hole! No one on the call had one, but Bonnie Sundance said if you can keep one room in your house 55 degrees or colder, it can function as a root cellar.
  • Fermentation – This is stuff like sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt. Jan made beet kavas out of beets, water, and sea salt. This drink is sometimes fizzy, sometimes not, but it is always yummy. You do have to drink it pretty soon after you make it as it doesn’t keep very long.
  • Salting/smoking – this works with meats. Jan doesn’t do it herself, but it is a way to preserve meat or fish.
  • Freeze drying – Ideal way to save food! The quality is great and the shelf life is long. It is not easy to do and a freeze dryer is very pricey $2000-3000.
  • Dehydrating – This is the most versatile way to save your food. You can find dehydrators at garage sales or by hopping on line and asking if anyone has one they don’t use. You can dehydrate almost anything! Sauces, cans of food, mushrooms, onions, fruit, just about anything you can think of. Jan said, “Jerky is easy, just salt it and cut it into thin slices. Your butcher or the meat department in your local grocery store will even cut it up for you. All you have to do is ask.” This is Jan’s favorite! Fewer canning jars, less room, lots of fun, and it’s yummy!
  • Canning – This takes time, equipment, and jars/lids/caps etc. Once you get it all, you can can many different foods.
    • There are two types of canning: water bath or pressure. The show and tell of her canning equipment was fun! Then she talked about the difference in canning techniques depending on whether what you are canning is a high or low acid food.
    •   Still on the subject of canning, Jan suggested an electric pressure canner that does a few jars at a time as a plus if you live alone or don’t need much, and an immersion blender makes it easy to mix up whatever you’re canning right in the pan, avoiding pouring hot liquid into small containers to blend.

According to Jan, BULLET makes the best grinder for turning things into powder.  And the “Blue Book of Preserving” is an excellent resource, as are the many Facebook groups for canners. There are many helpful groups on FB discussing everything from dehydration to canning. There is even a Canning Rebels group; they experiment with stepping outside the regulations while still practicing food safety.  Speaking of food safety, you need to be on guard against germs and botulism when you are working with any food.

At-home food preservation makes good sense financially. It also insures that you know exactly what is in the food you’re eating. Need more convincing? It’s also great for anyone with any type of dietary issues.