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Updated: Jan 3

Did you that there are actually, including canning, 8 different ways that you can preserve your harvest? There's low budget ways, there's way that are going to take more time, there ways that may need more knowledge. But there is actually 8 different ways. Today you and I are going talk about each of these different ways and find out which one maybe for you! Let's get growing!

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Time Stamp

Intro 00:48

Cold Storage 01:47

Packed In Oil 05:38

Baking or Recipes 08:06

Tips and Tricks 11:10

Drying 14:11

Dehydrating 15:16

Freezing 17:45

Growing With God 21:37

Water-Bath/Pressure Canning 25:00

Fermentation 29:52

Recap 34:07


Welcome to the Pray, Just Plant Podcast, I am your host Crystal Mediate and today in season 3 episode 5 we are going to answer the question and dive into “ Is Canning the Only Way to Preserve Your Harvest?”. And the answer is No! There are actually 7 others, canning being the 8th, that you can use to preserve your harvest. Before we begin I do want to say that I did want to give a little order to this list. The first way is going to be the easiest, low budget way and the last is not necessarily the hardest but the one that is going to take a little more time and training or knowledge.

Cold Storage

The first one is cold storage. This is where you store your veggie in a raw whole state but at a cool temperature in a root cellar or fridge. Many fruits and vegetables do not need to be processed to be preserved as long as they are stored in an environment that is just right. Apples, dried beans, root crops, winter squash, cabbage family, all of these do preserve well in a root cellar type situation.

This does not mean you need to go out and build a root cellar but what it does mean is that if you do the research you may find a room in your home that can work. You could use a back storage room, a guest room, or something in your that you can keep a little cooler. Or even an old fridge that can be set at the right temperature. That is what we do here on the homestead. The biggest thing is that you need to look at the parameters for just the right spot.

You are going to need a place with low or no light. Because light can speed up decomposition and cause unwanted growth. Next is the right humidity and temperature levels. Too much or high and you can get mold. Too little or too low and your product will dry up and shrivel or even freeze. The goal of preserving our harvest is to slow the decomposition down. Decomposition can not be stopped, only slowed.

Here are a few tips for this method.

  • Don’t store any blemished produce

  • Watch your ethylene gas levels. This gas can cause produce to decompose faster and some produce like apples and squash naturally let off this gas as they age. Store these products separate if you can.

  • Root Crops are stored like they live underground. Low light, humidity, and temperature. You can store carrots and potatoes in sand, for example.

This method is the easiest just because there is less work in the process. You don’t cut up the produce. You are just trying to find an environment where you can keep your produce in its natural state.

We are currently working on building our root cellar. So one thing we use like I said before is an old refrigerator. This fridge is set at just the right temperature for our apples, carrots, and extra eggs that we store with this preserving method.

Packed In Oil

The next way is packing in oil. Yes, that is as simple as it is. Oil is a great preservative, the natural preservative this method has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Why is oil such a natural preservative because it doesn't allow air. Air rises out of it, it doesn't like to store the air inside of it.

When you put some of your produce, and we're gonna get into some common ones in just a moment, when you put that in oil, the air is not able to get to what is being stored and slows the decomposition cycle. And it also blocks out any harmful bacteria from getting into the oil because they can't go into it. The air like I said for lack of air doesn't allow harmful bacteria to grow, you'll still need to be sure to sterilize your jars. And the best jars to use are those ones with a hinged lids that snap over. They come in jars or bottles with those kinds of lids. And that is the best way to pack things in oil.

You'd also want to be sure to follow any reliable recipes because some things can be packed with oil and some things can't. The timing of oil is going to depend on what you choose to preserve. And what I mean is how long is that vegetable going to last and still be fresh. And still be safe for you to eat is going to depend on what vegetable you do choose to preserve and the guidelines of the recipe that you choose to use.

Some common ideas would be like sun dried tomatoes, you can find those in grocery stores, health stores, sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, garlic can be packed in oil, your herbs can be packed in oil. And this doesn't mean you pack an oil and then put it in the freezer. This means that you simply pack the sun dried tomatoes, you pack them into a sterilized jar then you pour oil over the top so that they all have this under tight tomatoes below the oil surface and you slowly just take the hinge jar over and you seal it. And that is how it is stored.

Baking or Recipes

The next way that you can store some of your produce and I think this could also include in your meat is to bake or make a recipe. So what this is talking about is if you have and you go buy a bunch of bananas, well what you could do is you could go and make a bunch of banana bread and then store and preserve that by freezing or some other means. Or you have a whole bunch of zucchini in your garden. Instead of just preserving the zucchini itself. You shred the zucchini, you make zucchini bread, or you make a Zucchini ratatouille and you store that in a container to freeze for a meal later.

But the gist of it is is where you make or make some kind of finished product and you freeze it full or you store it in some other way. So I think example would be that zucchini bread or you could do an eggplant lasagna and freeze that portion. For dinner you could make a big pot of chicken noodle soup and save that into portions and preserve in the freezing method. Or you can even go into the canning method. You are first storing that produce by first cooking it and then preserving the cooked product in someway. But this is just something like if you want to bake ahead, or planning meals ahead. This is still a way that you can preserve your harvest.

One way I do this and this is what a is I usually in the spring when we have an overflow of eggs. I'll take a couple dozen and I will scramble them up with some ground sausage and roll those into duties that I make and store them as breakfast burritos. I rolled them up in a little paper towel, I put them in a plastic bag, I usually makes 12 to 15 Breakfast Burritos. And I put the whole package in the freezer and then we can individually take them out and use them.

This is in a way, a way of preserving your harvest, but also making and preparing some ideas for recipes or baking ahead that can make your breakfast easier, your dinners easier. If you're just a couple of you at home, it's easier to cook you want lasagna, at least easier to cook the big lasagna and make it into portions and then three that we're going to get into freezing and canning in just a moment as one of our other ways to preserve.

But this is just a simple way if you have already done the work of making extra zucchini bread or you decided to make extra lasagna, or an extra chicken noodle soup, and you're just freezing or saving those leftovers for another time. This is just a very simple way of preserving your harvest and that hard work of making that recipe.


The next way to preserve your harvest is drying. Now there's different levels to drying. There is the method of drying and and the other is dehydration. The definition of this is where we draw moisture out of something so that it becomes a place where no moisture is and therefore no bad bacteria can grow. Drying is the removal of moisture from food to stop bacterias from growing. It can be used for fruits, herbs and vegetables and even meat. Yes, jerky is a form of drying. There is smoke jerky. Smoking is also a form of drying.

There's many methods of drying. With the simplest being air drying, that's just where you like when you hang your herbs upside down or your flowers upside down and you allow them to dry out. That's the simplest form of drying.

But then the quickest is the dehydrating. This is another form of drying but this time you're using some short of low heat to speed the process up. It is a great way to dry a lot of produce at a time. You will want to research dehydrators. Look at what you are planning to dehydrate and then look for a dehydrator that can help you in that process. But it can also look like the size of your family. If you are going to be someone who wants to try a lot of things and be dehydrated, have large amounts of things. You want to look for a larger dehydrator. If you want to only dehydrate a few things a smaller one will be just fine.


And just like I said before, there's other methods of dryings. Dehydrating as another method of simple air drying. But you have freeze drying, oven drying up, sun drying. You have smoking, that's where you are drawing out the meat using the heat not really the heat from the fire but the heat from the smoke. Smoke is drawing that moisture out of the meat. You also have salting. We'll get in a little more detail into those in a couple of weeks when we cover preserving meat. But drying is also a great way to reduce storage area.

A couple of years ago, I had a lot of bell peppers, and we froze a few because I liked them that way. I was running out of room in my freezer so I decided to dehydrate the most and was gonna buzz them up and kind of make them pepper powder. I didn't end up buzzing them up because I loved using them so much just the way they were. But I took about six large green peppers, diced them up and put them on my dehydrator and they dehydrated down to a pint sized jar. Yes, six large peppers that probably could take the whole drawer of your refrigerator down into a pint size that's about a cup of dried peppers. I love using them. The flavor in them is so much more intense. And so I use them in soups, I use them in burritos. I use them in our homestead bake with eggs and sausage and peppers, cheese, and potatoes. The recipe is on the blog at But I truly love using those dehydrated peppers.


The next method is freezing. And I think when you are really getting down into preserving a lot of past dehydration, freezing is a way to store a lot of produce. And it starts with blanching. So what is blanching? Blanching is where you are getting the vegetable ready to be frozen. So you're only boiling it maybe for a couple minutes, so that the outside is ready to take on the experience of freezing. Because remember freezing when I talked about a few episodes ago as one of our tips. To avoid having frost hit your fall garden, one thing that you can do to help the plant to survive from it was too if there was frost on the plant. The reason frost bothers a plant is because it gets into itself and it explodes as it warms up. But so we're doing the opposite of that. We're warming up those outer cells of the vegetables that you have, and we're making them ready so that they don't explode. They don't get freezer burned when you do go to freeze them. So that is the whole process of blanching and that's why blanching is important.

You'll want to prepare the food first. So for example like back in the baking area, instead of having to put a whole zucchini in the freezer. You'll wash your zucchini. You could either slice it if you're wanting to save the zucchini for a ratatouille recipe. Or if you wanted to cut an eggplant up so you could have eggplant lasagna. Or if you have a whole bunch of zucchini, you want to shred them up and then save them in two cup portions that would be perfect for a batch of zucchini bread. You're wanting to prepare all that stuff first because you're not going to be able to take the whole zucchini out of the freezer and prepare it after. You want to prepare it first, get it ready. Blanch whatever you need to plant like your peas and beans. There's certain things that you've learnt and there's certain things that you don't.

I personally love freezing my tomatoes and it's very simple. All I have to do is wash them, cut out the stems, put them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. It's very, very simple. And then I eventually use those later for canning or making tomato paste. But freezing is a great way to store your food. And I do a lot of fruits that way. Our strawberries are frozen. We are not much of a strawberry jam family. We rather have strawberries smoothies, or blend them up with a little bit of sugar to put on Angel Food Cake. That's more of how we like to use strawberries. So when you think about freezing, think about how you want to use it and then prepare it and then freeze it.

The same goes with your meat freezing is a great way to store your meat. If you don't grow your own meat you can easily buy it in bulk. If you buy a couple trays of the chicken breasts. You could have planned out how many chicken breasts you need for dinner. You put that many in the freezer bag, and put that bag in the freezer. Then when you go to pull it out you now have exactly how many chicken breasts you need. You can also do this with your hamburger. If you are a family that eats two pounds a hamburger at a dinner and you would wrap and save your hamburger in a plastic freezer bag and then freezer paper. But if you are a family that only needs one pound you can preserve them in one pound.

Water-Bath/Pressure Canning

We have talked about the first six ways of preserving your food and now we're going to get into the last two. And these are two but they are kind of three. I know we've talked about it before in a previous episode. In season three, episode three was all about is panning for you. And we did an overview about the pros and cons of canning, just the process itself. But today, I want to unpack the idea of water bath canning and pressure canning. Why they're different and why you need both of them. Remember the art of preserving is the art of slowing the process of decay.

Water bath canning can be used for various products with a high acidity because the acidity results in bacteria not growing because the acidity in them is too great for bacterias to grow in the first place. Water backing is really technically you do do it for some time to cook the vegetable inside. But really its purpose is to seal the lid of your jar.

Say you want to can tomatoes. Tomatoes are great water bath vegetables because they are high in acidity. You wash your tomatoes, you cut them up into pieces if that's how you're going to do it. Or you could do cold tomatoes. You put raw tomatoes into your jar, filled it with hot water and put the lid and ring on the jar and then place them in water bath canner. You are then going to be given a time for how long it needs to be boiling. And that is going to be enough to cook the tomatoes and is also going to be enough to tightly seal that jar to stop air from going back into the jar. That's the purpose of a water bath. You are cooking it and you're also just sealing that rubber on the top. Where the ring has pushed it down, it's pushed it down onto the jar, the heat from the water, heat from the vegetable cooking inside sucks that lid down just enough to seal it. And then you're done. That's all water bathing is. So you need to have very high acidity. That's why you can do pickles, you can eat tomatoes. Applesauces, okay, because apples have a high acidity. So you'll have to look at your different books to really understand what vegetables can be pressure canned and which vegetables will need to be water- bathed.

What is the difference between water-bath canning or pressure canning? The difference is that we're actually putting pressure on your jars. You are using pressure to cook the meat. Yes, you can pressure-can meat. You're using pressure to take the place of the acidity of the fruits and vegetables from water-bathing. Acidity is no longer there to prevent bacteria. The other way to prevent bacteria is to warm up the substance so much that you kill all the bacteria. You have also pressurized the jar so that all the air is out of it, all the extra air. So there's no chance that something can grow inside of that jar.

You need to follow very detailed recipes about canning and pressure canning because they are very important guidelines of how long something needs to be pressure canned. But the idea behind it is that water bathing has acidity so it doesn't need the pressure. If you have something that doesn't have the acidity it needs the pressure to preserve it.

Yes, you can pressure-can milk, you can pressure-can meat. You can pressure-can your green beans, your peas, anything that is not acidic. And so the goal with pressure-canning is to create an environment that is not going to allow bacteria to grow where there's lack of acid. So those are the two differences between canning and pressure canning. And I know in the previous episode we went into great detail about the pros and cons. I really encourage you to go check out that episode just to see if canning is for you.


So the last way that we have are for preserving our food is fermentation. Now this practice has been around since ancient times. Yes, fermentation is a very old way of preserving your food. Fermentation is when the sugars and the yeast form alcohol and then preserve your produce. That's the that's the finer definition of fermentation. Examples will be vinegar, sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, those are all forms of fermentation. What are you going to need, you're going to need jars, rock and fermenting lids. When yeast and sugars are made they give off an extra gas, and having a sealed lid is not going to allow that gas to allow fermentation to happen. So you are going to need a fermenting lid because it has a release valve that allows the air to go out and also not let any air come back into the jar. They're very scientific.

I have not jumped the hurdle of fermenting. Just last year, I made my first batch to sauerkraut. Fermenting to me, I don't think it's the hardest, I just think it needs, the more education I think it needs, the more it is a it's more of a science, because there's so many details to understanding it. And you are going to need to follow very good recipes because like I said, it's a science, it's going to need guidelines to make sure that the proper fermenting is happening that the proper storage is happening. But another benefit of fermenting is its health benefit.

One very important thing about our health is our gut, our gut is what gives us a whole the energy we need for the day. Yes, that kind of sounds of simple. We have so many organs and so much inside of us, but it's the food we eat. And when we have the healthiest food we can and that's part of growing your homestead is getting that healthy food. This is something that I've been dealing with for the past couple of years is our if our gut cannot digest food properly, it's hard for our body to absorb all that good nutrients. So even if we are growing really good food, if our gut is not functioning, because everything we consume becomes part of us, right? Everything we consume, that's why we wanted to get into eating healthy, and eating healthier foods and buying organic. But if we don't have our gut, happy, we can't equal that with a healthy person. Because we need to have a healthy happy gut. And fermentation can help you with that. Fermentation is kind of what's already naturally happening in parts of your gut system. And so we help it with those good bacterias. It also helps us become healthier people.

It is so amazing to me, I have now been 16 years without a gallbladder. And I'm not going to get into the big whole story behind that. But it is just so amazing how they told me 16 years ago, it would never affect me and I would never have problems. A gallbladder is just an organ, we need it. But we don't have to have that kind of thing. And a lot of the health problems that I deal with, even though I'm eating really good food is because my gut system, my stomach, my liver, my lower intestine, and my small intestine, and my lack of gallbladder, are not working at their best performance because of that element not being there. And I hope to one day, unpack that whole thing with you. Further, in one of our episodes, we were talking about gut health and how right now I'm in the middle of this journey. And I feel that I've been told by a very great friend of mine that the best time to give a testimony is after the test. So right now I'm in the middle of that test. I would love to unpack more of that.


But first of all, let's just recap there are eight ways to preserve your harvest. You talked about the simple way of cold storage. You take that on any level from simple to converting an old refrigerator to put it at the proper temperature to building a root cellar. The next is packing in oil. It's another ancient way of preserving food. Oil does not let the air in so it can help preserve. Baking or you making a recipe ahead of time and using other ways to preserve it. Making a bunch of banana bread and freezing it. Making a large lasagna or a couple of them and freezing them is still another way of preserving. Then you have drying, you have different levels of drying. You have a simple drawing of air drying something and then you have a higher level of dehydration. And all it is is a quicker way to bring that moisture out of whatever you're choosing even need to preserve. And when you have freezing, you want to get into blanching. You want to really get into that definition of blanching and what needs to be blanched. Freezing is also a great way to preserve your meat. Then you have two different ways of canning; water bath canning and pressure canning. Then the last way is to ferment.

I want to thank you for joining me today in this episode of the Pray, Just Plant podcast. I also want to welcome you, if this is the first time listening that I want to welcome you to the Red Ridge Farm Community of Fellow Growers.

As always, don't let the world hold you back.

Pray, Just plant!

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