How to preserve food at home: 4 foods to preserve to reduce food waste and save money

Bristol resident joined 'food club' due to soaring cost of living

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As we head deeper into the summer months, more fruit and vegetables reach peak season and you might find yourself with an abundance of plums, runner beans, zucchinis and other bounty appearing in the garden or farmer’s markets. If you’re unsure what to do with them, home preservation is a great option to get the most out of your produce.

Home food preservation can be carried out in several methods, from the more straightforward freezing to dehydrating and smoking, to prevent food from spoiling and growing bacteria.

Anytime is a good time to start, but with peak seasons hitting and cost of living climbing, now would be particularly beneficial to clue yourself up in all things DIY.

Shannen Godwin from J. Parker’s told Express: “Now is a great time to start gathering harvest from the garden and preserving it for the coming months. 

“Not only does this reduce food waste, it can also become an enjoyable hobby and adding something special to home cooking. 

“Food preservation is a fantastic way to enjoy foods that are out of season and makes the most of what’s available in your garden and the shops.”

As mentioned, easily-preservable foods are abundant with ample ways to do it, but here are the best foods to preserve now and the methods to do so properly, according to the J.Parker’s expert.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a superfood quickly growing in popularity thanks to the gut-friendly bacteria that can help restore and improve digestive health. 

Ms Godwin said: “Often superfoods cost a premium in shops for their health benefits, but it is possible to make your own low-cost Korean kimchi that will last for a couple of months when stored in the fridge.” 

According to Ms Godwin, Kimchi is easy to make with Chinese cabbage, white radish, ginger, spring onions, garlic, sugar and salt.

She said: “Making a batch of this is cost-effective and only takes around one week to be ready to eat.” 

The best way to preserve kimchi is to add it to specific preservation jars. A preservation jar is usually a glass jar with an airtight seal. 

But for kimchi, Ms Godwin advises to opt for a preserving jar with a silicone stopper, because this is a one-way system to allow the gas to escape from the jar without letting oxygen in, better preserving your fermented vegetable dish.

Jam

Jams are a great way to use up a crop of fruit, perhaps choosing the fruit that doesn’t look its best or needs using up quickly. 

Ms Godwin said: “The high sugar quantity helps preserve the fruity jam, meaning it can last for months.

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As long as jams are kept in a cool, dry place, they can last up to 12 months but if opened, it’s best to be stored in the fridge and consumed within a month. 

Ms Godwin said: “To make successful and safe jams, having sterilised equipment is essential. 

“The best way to sterilise jam jars and lids is to wash them in hot, soapy water, turn them upside down on a roasting tray while still wet, and pop them into a preheated 180C oven for 15 minutes. 

“You can also put the wet jars into a microwave at 1000w for 45 seconds.”

Sterilised jars not only work wonders in making the jams last longer but it’ll also reduce the risk of bacteria breeding inside the jar. 

For a delicious fruit jam recipe, click here.

Pickled pears

While you may not be thinking about winter just yet, preserved pears are a great homemade Christmas gift and are easy to make too, which is ideal for those new to preserving. 

Ms Godwin said: “Pears will be peeled and cored and then seasoned with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and rosemary and preserved in cider vinegar. 

“These pickled pears make a deliciously tangy accompaniment to a cheese board and charcuteries and can take a classic ploughman’s lunch to the next level.”

If you prefer sweeter treats, swap the apple cider vinegar for a sugar syrup to preserve them instead. 

Ms Godwin said: “Again, the key to pickled pears’ success is ensuring the jars are sterilised and sealed. They can last for several months when kept in a cool, dark place.” 

Tomato ketchup

Making your own tomato ketchup can be a great way to season the sauce to your liking, and the late summer is an excellent time to make the most of sun-ripened tomatoes. 

Ms Godwin said: “Cook the chopped tomatoes in a preserving pan, and then blitz the mix in a food processor for a rustic, easy-to-make homemade ketchup that will impress your guests.” 

A preserving pan, also known as a Maslin pan, can be useful if you’re looking to get into the hobby and make lots of homemade preserves. 

If you don’t have a preserving pan, a wide, large saucepan can also work well.

Ms Godwin advised: “To help the ketchup last, use waxed paper discs and opt for non-metallic or vinegar-proof lids.” 

Infused oils

Other simpler options for preservation can include infusing.

This describes the process of adding herbs or fruits to vinegar or oil to bring out a different flavour. For example, chilli oil on pasta, garlic oil on roasted vegetables or fruity vinegar as a salad dressing can be an easy way to start preserving. 

Ms Godwin said: “From jams to jellies, chutneys to sauerkraut and condiments to sauces, preserving offers a real sense of satisfaction during production and can be a great way to use up a glut of fruit or vegetables. 

“By starting preservation now, you could have a pantry full of interesting and exciting items that will allow you to enjoy summer produce long into the autumn and winter.”

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