Learning all the different methods for batch cooking, canning, preserving and pickling, and freezing is important but it is equally important to know how to store those foods afterwards. There are four factors – temperature, moisture, atmosphere and container choice – that affect food storage. You must be aware of these four factors when looking to gain the optimum results for your efforts:
Cooking food according to the recommended temperature is the safest way to ensure bacteria or other contaminants are not a subject of concern. Prior to cooking food, however, you need to be certain that the food you are buying is kept in the proper section of your local grocery store or market and that it is kept at the proper temperature. Before purchasing food, check the date on the label to ensure that it is not past its freshest due date. Also, if you are purchasing a frozen item check to see that it is not semi-defrosted or too frozen, which may subject it to freezer burn.
Check your refrigerator and freezer for the appropriate recommended manufacturer setting and keep it at the highest setting recommended to avoid spoilage or over freezing. A refrigerator or freezer thermometer that you purchase separately is an item I recommend keeping on hand to check the temperature inside both of these appliances from time to time.
When canning foods especially, moisture comes into play. It is important to check your mason jars by either tapping the lid gently with a spoon or your finger to check and see if they have been sealed properly. If you press the top of the mason jar, you should be able to determine whether or not you have a proper seal. Moisture also comes into play when dehydrating foods. Salt curing will remove moisture from meats allowing the drying process to continue. Drying fruits and vegetables in the sun will remove moisture from them. Taking the fruits and vegetables in during moist evening hours will ensure that the fruits and vegetables can be dried further over the next couple of days.
You can buy food safe desiccant to put into your dehydrated foods or other dried items such as homemade spices. Some people also use rice but I cannot attest to how well that works.
It is important to note that while canning, atmosphere comes into play for certain levels above sea level. Certain feet above sea level requires a change in how you can, the temperature at which you boil, and perhaps even the time allotment for boiling a particular food. Always check the recipe directions for instructions.
Freeze food for no longer than six months as a base. Store the in proper food storage containers. Be sure to seal out air, and add proper labels so you know what is in the containers. These are just some of the tips for keeping frozen foods safe and ready to use. Some containers are good for freezer to microwave while others can stain easily when sauce-based recipes are placed inside them. Always use a freezer marker and freezer tape to date items so that you can view the date you froze them with a quick glance.
Once you get the hang of freezing, canning, preserving, pickling, and drying out foods, the methods in which you store, temperatures for different recipes, and all the rules and regulations will become second nature. You will be well on your way to successful food preservation.