Note: We do not own a pressure canner and we so our food preservation has, until now, been limited to freezing, dehydrating, water-bath canning and bulk storage in our garage using diatamaceous earth.
We store several hundred pounds of grains in our garage. We use 5 gallon food grade buckets to store our grains. While you certainly may purchase them, we’ve gotten all of our buckets free by asking for them at places that purchase food in bulk.
We’ve had success at Krispy Kreme, sub places and some grocery stores. (If you get buckets which previously housed pickles, be sure to clean them out thoroughly, otherwise you may end up with pickled oatmeal, seriously. )
If you’re going to be regularly dipping out of your 5 gallon buckets, it may be worth it to invest in some gamma seal lids . The outer rim of these lids attach permanently to the bucket and then you are able to simply screw the inside of the lid on and off as needed.
To preserve our grains from creepy crawlies, we use diatomaceous earth. Not only does DE safely eliminate pests, many people claim it has health benefits and take it as a supplement.
Matthew (13) is our resident dehydration expert. We purchased a good quality, super capacity food dehydrator and have since enjoyed a huge variety of dehydrated fruits and veggies (okra, green beans, pineapple, apples, grapes, cherries, squash, tomatoes, onions, etc.). Dehydrating is a super simple way for us preserve and store food. We’ve found that we enjoy eating nearly all of our dehydrated food as is. It’s also easy to throw it into a soup, stew or casserole.
We have three freezers and keep them stocked with grass-fed beef, on sale meat, made ahead meals, chicken and beef broth, homemade breads and frozen fruit and veggies.
I like to always have at least a week’s worth of meals in our freezer as this makes it easier to take a meal to a neighbor, invite company over or just get busy with a project. We used to bulk cook for our freezer with several other families, but these days I just try to double or quadruple a recipe that I’m serving for dinner and put the rest in the freezer.
Freezing homemade stock
I make up chicken and beef stock in bulk whenever I get a batch of bones. I love my large roaster for roasting chicken and then making lots of stock. I can roast several whole chickens in the roaster at one time. When they are finished, I de-bone them and put the meat in a separate container placing the bones and skin back into my roaster. To this I add a splash of vinegar (to help get all those great nutrients out of the bones), onions, garlic, ginger, etc. and lots of water and then I cook it for the rest of the day and all through the night.
I cook my broth waaaaay down so it’s super concentrated. My broth is so concentrated that when I take it out of the freezer I’m able to double it’s bulk by adding water and it still has plenty of flavor.
I freeze our stock in quart-sized plastic containers. When the broth is frozen, I pop it out of the container and store it in a freezer bag so that my containers are free for the next batch of stock/broth.
(I prefer to steer clear of plastic, but the convenience in this instance is just too much for me to resist. Do you have any suggestions?)
Last year we began making all of our own bread products with sourdough. Not only is this super yummy, it’s also healthier and we’ve noticed the benefits of eating bread products that our bodies are able to digest more easily.
To manage this I find that it’s helpful to make things in large batches and freeze what we won’t eat within the first few days.
We keep our sourdough English Muffins, breakfast muffins (cocoa almond muffins are my personal favorite), sandwich bread and pizza crusts in the freezer. We’re able to simply pull them out when we’re ready to use it.
For lots of help with sourdough, I strongly recommend GNOWFGLINS sourdough course!
We also use freezer space for putting up fruits and veggies that we don’t dehydrate.
Water Bath Canning
I use this for jams and jellies. I’m not an expert and have only one tip: Don’t forget to acquire your favorite fruits when they’re in season, otherwise your kids will lament the fact that there is no strawberry jam for an entire year.
You may also be interested in:
- Large family food storage
- Bulk once-a-month cooking for your freezer
- Cooking from scratch
- Tips for feeding a large family on a budget