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Methods of Food Preservation


Food preservation is becoming more and more popular as we relearn how to sustain ourselves and become more independent from outside sources of food. It’s important to brush up on a few of the basics to make sure we do it in a safe way, and a way that creates quality products that will last until the next growing season and beyond.

There are three methods of food preservation. Drying, freezing, and canning. Drying preserves food by removing water. The growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds stops when we remove water from food. Drying is the oldest method of food preservation. We’ve been drying foods for thousands of years using the sun and wind. Today, electric dehydrators dry food quickly and efficiently.

Freezing has been around a long time too, especially in climates where it was cold enough to freeze the food outside. Freezing preserves food by keeping it at 0 degrees F or below. The growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds stops when food is frozen. Today we have chest and upright freezers in our homes to freeze food efficiently and keep it frozen for long periods of time.

Canning has only been around for a little more than 200 years. Canning is preserving food in glass jars using high temperatures for a specific time. Bacteria, yeasts, and molds are destroyed when food is canned. There are two methods of canning – boiling water bath canning and pressure canning. The type of food you are canning determines the method you use. High acid foods and foods that have acid (vinegar or lemon juice) added to them can be safely canned in a boiling water canner. All fresh vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood must be canned in a pressure canner. Both canners, when used properly, can prevent botulism, a deadly form of food poisoning associated with improperly canned food.

All three methods of food preservation are popular today and equipment has advanced for each method making them affordable and enjoyable ways to preserve food. When preserving food, it is important to always use a research-based recipe. Publications containing research-based recipes and step-by-step instructions for each method are available free at your local Extension office. You can also find this information on the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension website

Basics of Food Preservation is being offered in person on June 24, 1pm at the Meade County office. Sign up is required and registration is limited to 8. Call 270-422-4958 by June 17 to reserve your spot.

Pressure canner dial gauges with lid are tested free of charge at the extension office. Call to make an appointment.

For more information on food safety and other topics contact the Meade County Extension office at 270-422-4958 or email me at

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