Canning, freezing, and drying foods aren’t the only ways to preserve food at home. There are other methods, but because they’re less precise or require greater skill and more experience to perform, they’re less friendly to beginners.
When we hear the word fermentation, we automatically think of alcohol. Sure, you can make beer or wine out of grains and grapes, but there are other methods of fermenting too. Lacto-fermentation is one method that many people are familiar with, as it’s how sauerkraut and kimchi are made. Lacto-fermentation takes a low-acid food like cabbage and turns it into a high-acid food just through the fermentation process.
You might want to experiment with small batches of food because if temperatures aren’t quite right or you expose your food to too much air, you risk growing unhealthy molds and bacteria and spoiling food rather than fermenting it. Other foods that you can make through different methods of lacto-fermentation include yogurt and kombucha.
Preserving in Salt and Sugar
In the days before refrigeration, the primary means of preserving meat was through salting it. Salt and sugar both draw out water from foods, leaving them drier and less susceptible to bacterial growth. If not done properly, however, foods can remain too moist, leading either to spoilage or to growth of dangerous and potentially fatal bacteria.
Preserving in Alcohol
Preserving foods in alcohol is another method of preservation. There aren’t many bacteria that can survive in alcohol, and the higher the alcohol percentage the better. Too much food in too little alcohol is unsafe. Preservation in alcohol is best done with fruits, but be careful. Some fruits will lose all of their color in alcohol, with the alcohol absorbing most of the fruit’s color and flavor. While that’s good for making flavored alcohols and fruit extracts, it’s not the best method if you intend to eat or cook with the fruit in the future.
Pickling with Vinegar
While lacto-fermentation is traditional method of pickling many vegetables, using vinegar can achieve similar results. Most microbes can’t survive the low pH of vinegar. Because vinegar is providing the acid to prevent bacteria from surviving, vinegar pickling can be used to preserve low-acid vegetables.
Preserving in Olive Oil
Immersing foods in oil keeps air away from them to preserve them. The problem here is that low-acid foods still represent a botulism poisoning risk. Oil preserving is really best for preserving herbs in order to make herb-infused oils.