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Fig Salami is a unique substitute for the usual cured sausage on a cheese plate; because it’s fruity, it works as well before or after dinner. It takes minutes to make, but plan ahead so it has time to set up and “cure” four or five days — after that, it will keep weeks in the refrigerator. 

My inspiration for this yummy treat came from Patricia Wells’ book Vegetable Harvest about the fruits and vegetables of my beloved Provence in the South of France. For the wine used in fruit salamis, I used the last of my bottle of Figoun, for which I’ll give a quick recipe at the end.

Fig Salami Recipe


• 4 cups chopped dried figs (I used 32 large figs)
• 4 tbsp sweet red wine
• 2 tbsp whole fennel seeds
• small pinch sea salt, fleur de sel


1. Snip off the hard stems of the figs and then cut them in quarters. I used scissors to do all this.

2. Put the figs into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple times. Drizzle the wine over the figs and let them rest just a couple minutes to soak it up and soften a bit.

3. Add the sea salt, then pulse a few more times until the figs begin to break up. Run the processor until the figs begin to form a ball and are finely chopped. Pulse in the fennel seeds, just a couple pulses; you don’t want to break the seeds.

4. Pull out the blade, then wet your hands and gather up the fig mixture. Wet your hands again as necessary to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands. Knead in your hands a few times until you see that the fennel is well distributed. Wet hands again and form into 4 logs, about 1 inch thick and 5 inches long.

5. Set the fig salamis, unwrapped, on a piece of parchment, covered with a layer of cheesecloth. Set them aside in a clean place where they won’t be disturbed for two or three days, turning the rolls daily.

6. When the salamis have dried and gotten more firm, wrap them. Parchment paper is traditional, but plastic wrap will work. Place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate. They will keep in the refrigerator for weeks. 

Serve your fig salamis as part of a cheese platter. Cut a few slices about a scant half-inch thick on the plate, partner with a selection of cheeses such as blue, Cambazola, and maybe a Stilton —  just pick your favorites.

Yields about one and a half pounds

'Figoun' Infused Red Wine Recipe

If you’d like to make your own Figoun, a spiced, figgy infused sweet wine from Provence, it’s very easy.


• 2 cups dried figs
• 1-inch-by-3-inch piece of orange peel
• one vanilla bean
• 2 tbsp whole coriander seed
• 1 tbsp whole allspice
• 750 ml red port wine


1. Buy an inexpensive port; you’ll add so much goodness to it, you can use the cheap stuff. 

2. Put the figs and the spices, peel and vanilla bean into a half-gallon jar, or divide among 2 quarts. Pour the port over, put the lid on and put your jar in the back of a dark cupboard.  Forget about it for a couple months.

3. When you’re ready, strain your Figoun through your finest strainer, funneling back into the wine bottle (I recommend scrubbing the label off first. Put on your own label, maybe a fancy one). 

4. Save the vanilla bean; it still has a lot to give.

Serve Figoun as an aperitif, perhaps with club soda over ice and a twist of lemon peel, or you can serve in cordial glasses as dessert.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Best Blogging Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



The somewhat-green sauerkraut on the left has just been made and fermentation hasn’t begun. The white sauerkraut in the middle was made 2 to 3 weeks ago and is ready to enjoy. The brown sauerkraut is over a year old; it is soft in texture and sour in flavor but still edible.

There is a foolproof method for making sauerkraut and other ferments and that is to use glass canning jars, filled to the very top with vegetables and brine. I adopted this method when I was doing a lot of recipe testing for my book, The Pickled Panty, and I haven’t had a ferment go bad or taste funky ever since.

Why is it foolproof? Glass, unlike crocks, never develop the hairline cracks that make a crock impossible to sanitize properly, and the cracks allow contaminants in. A glass jar with a lid and screwband excludes air without the need to weight the food to keep it below the brine. When you want to check on the ferment, you can see how it is progressing without opening the jar and introducing airborne yeasts and molds. And, when you want to taste your ferment, you open and taste from one jar, leaving the rest of the jars in your batch unopened and unexposed to air.

If you taste the unfermented cabbage, it will taste salty. As fermentation proceeds, lactic acid is produced as a byproduct of the microbial action, and the sour should balance out the saltiness. The more salt you use, the slower the fermentation and the longer the kraut will keep without softening; the less salt you use, the quicker the fermentation and the faster it will soften and discolor.

As the fermentation proceeds, you will see bubbles of gas – carbon dioxide – rising to the top of your jar. It will even push some brine out, which is why I always place my ferments on saucers to catch the overflow. If the fermentation is vigorous, it may even leave some some of the vegetables uncovered on the top. This isn’t a problem as long as the jar remains closed. When I open the jar to taste the ferment, I’ll top it off with more brine (or just water if the ferment tasted salty) to keep it all covered. Then the lid and screwband goes back on.

Potential problems? Just one: If you fail to loosen the screwband as fermentation begins and carbon dioxide begins to build up in the jar, you could get an explosion (It happened to me once with kimchi all over the kitchen; it won’t happen again!).

You can buy airlocks for glass canning jars. They aren’t expensive and they do work well, but the only advantages they provide are that the airlocks remove the need for placing the jars on saucers to catch an overflow and they prevent explosions. On the downside, when you open the jar to taste the ferment, the air you let in will contain yeasts and molds that will form a scum on the top of the brine, which you will then have to remove. To remove the scum, you have to open the jar, exposing the brine once again to the airborne yeasts and molds. And so on. (This same issue occurs with expensive crocks.)

The method of making ferments in canning jars is only slightly different from the standard method of making ferments in crocks or other vessels. 

Here’s How to Make Sauerkraut

Step 1. Wash your jars and lids in soapy water. Rinse well and set them upside down on a towel to drain and dry.

Step 2. Trim the cabbage and weigh it. Measure out 1-1/2 teaspoons of canning salt or fine sea salt per pound of cabbage and place in a small bowl. Shred, grate, or chop the cabbage and place it in a large bowl or food-safe bucket. If you are working with multiple heads of cabbage sprinkle on a portion of your measured salt as you fill the bucket with the shredded cabbage.

I like to use a mandoline for shredding cabbage. Cabbage grated on a box grater or with a food processor looks chewed up to me and sauerkraut made from chopped cabbage doesn’t fit neatly on a hot dog.

Step 3. Mix the cabbage and salt. If you like, walk away and let the salt pull the liquid from the cell walls. If you want to wrap the job up, smush, smash, and massage the cabbage until you have mechanically broken down the cell walls and drawn water out of the cells. (A combination of both — time and massage — is fine.) The sauerkraut is ready to pack when it has a good amount of brine in the bowl.  Note: Sauerkraut made with freshly harvested cabbage generates brine easily; sauerkraut made with cabbage that has been pulled from the root cellar may need added brine (see step 4).


A few hours after salting the cabbage, the cabbage is wilted and brine has collected in the bowl. 

Step 4. Pack the cabbage into the canning jars, tamping down with a dowel or spoon. Fill the jar with cabbage to within 1 inch of the top of each jar, tamping down as you go.  At the top of the jar, you should have about 1 inch of brine, filling the jar to the very top. If you don’t, make some brine by combining 1 cup spring water (i.e., non-chlorinated water) and 1 teaspoon canning or fine sea salt and add as much as needed. Place the lid on the jar, place the screwband on the jar to secure the lid, and gently finger-tighten. Place each jar on a saucer or place all the jars in a plastic bin to catch the overflow.

I use a dowel to tamp down on the cabbage as I fill the jars.

I fill the jars to the very brim, then top with the lid and screwband, and place on a saucer to collect overflowing brine.

Step 5. Let the fermentation happen. Sauerkraut takes 7 to 14 days to ferment in glass jars at 60 degrees to 70 degrees F; it will be slower at colder temperatures and faster at warmer temperatures. I keep my ferments on the counter (or where I can see it) for 2 weeks.  If the lid bulges at any time, loosen the screwband. If there is no brine overflow after 2 days, loosen the screwband. After 2 weeks, the ferment should no longer be pressing out brine, and a jar tipped on its side will not show many or any gas bubbles rising up.

Step 6. Taste. The ferment should taste pleasantly sour.  If it does, it is ready to be stored. If it is still not sour, let it ferment longer. Remember to taste from only one jar, and to refill to the top with more brine (see step 4) if needed.

Step 7. Store. Keep never-opened jars in a cool place (a cool basement or a refrigerator) for up to a year. It can go even longer, especially if extra salt is used, but the longer it is kept, the sourer it becomes. Once a jar has been opened, keep it in the fridge. Try to avoid having anyone eat directly from the opened jar. If it ever turns out the sauerkraut is too salty to enjoy, give it a quick rinse under running water.

Andrea Chesman has written more than 20 cookbooks, including The Pickled Pantry, Recipes from the Root Cellar, Serving Up the Harvest, and The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How. She teaches and does cooking demonstrations and classes at fairs, festivals, book events, and garden shows across the United States. She lives in Ripton, Vermont. Read all of Andrea's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



Blissful fall dinner: squash gnocchi served with meat stew.

Can you make canned pumpkin puree safely at home? The short answer is no. Canning is not a safe method for preserving mashed pumpkin, pumpkin puree, or pumpkin butter.

USDA laboratory testing has not been able to establish a consistent, safe processing time for preserving any type of mashed pumpkin product by canning. Since 1989, the USDA has recommended against canning mashed pumpkin products, even though many older publications offer these instructions.

However, you can make home canned pumpkin cubes, as well as canned cubes of any type of hard winter squash. Yields can vary greatly from one variety of squash to another, as well as your preparation and canning skill. Estimate an average of 2¼ pounds squash per quart. Select hard rind varieties of squash, such as acorn, butternut, carnival, kabocha, or sugar pie pumpkins are ideal for home canned pumpkin or winter squash. Spaghetti squash is not suitable for canning since it breaks down and becomes pulpy.


Recipe for Preserving Canned Pumpkin or Winter Squash Cubes


• 1½ to 10½ cups water or light sugar syrup (recipe below)
• 1 to 7 teaspoons salt (optional)
• 2¼ to 15¾ pounds (approximate) pumpkin or winter quash


1. Prepare the pressure canner. Refer to the directions from the manufacturer for your brand of pressure canner.

2. Wash jars and keep them hot. (Sterilizing isn’t necessary, either keep them in barely simmering water or in the dishwasher on a hot hold cycle.) Wash screw bands and use only new flat sealing lids.

3. Prepare canning liquid, which may be either plain boiling water or light sugar syrup. Add salt if desired.

4. Wash the whole pumpkin or squash and then cut into one-inch strips. This makes it easier to cut the rind away from the flesh. After cutting away the rind, cut the raw squash into one-inch cubes.

5. Bring canning liquid to a boil, add squash cubes, return to a boil and cook 2-5 minutes, or until barely tender and still firm. (Above all, do not mash.) Keep squash hot while filling jars.

6. Fill hot jars loosely with hot pumpkin or squash cubes. Add hot canning liquid, adjusting headspace to one-inch. Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace again, if needed.

7. Clean the rim and secure the lid with a screw band. Place filled jar in the canner.

8. Refer to the instruction manual for your pressure canner for procedures on properly venting your canner and then bringing it up to the pressure. Process time for pumpkin or winter squash cubes (at 0 to 1,000 feet) in a dial gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds or weighted gauge pressure canner at 10 pounds is 55 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

9. Allow the pressure canner to cool naturally. After depressurization is complete, carefully open the canner. Place jars at least one-inch apart on a dry towel or wood surface away from drafts. Cool the jars naturally for 12 to 24 hours.

10. Remove the screw band. With the band removed, hold the jar steady and try to lift the lid off using your fingertips. If you cannot lift the lid off by pulling on the lid, the seal is good. If jars do not have a good seal, refrigerate and use the product within 3 days.

If the jar is sealed, wipe with a clean damp cloth, including the bottom, sides, threads, and lid. If there is a lot of sticky deposit (such as sugar syrup), it is sometimes easier to rinse it under warm running water. Dry the jar. Label each jar with the product and date (for example, “Pumpkin Lt. syrup Oct 2015”). Store jars in a cool dry place (50°F to 70°F). Best used within one year. Makes 1 to 7 quarts.

Light Sugar Syrup

• 1 cup water
• ¼ cup sugar

In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes, or until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate up to 1 month. Makes 1 cup.

Is Making Home-Canned Pumpkin Right for You?

Preserving pumpkin by canning is time-consuming. Since whole winter squash will keep up to 6 months if properly stored, canning may not be the best option for you. (Store whole squash in a cool to warm (40°F to 60°F), dry room. Attics, closets, or near a basement furnace can be excellent locations.)

However, a few jars of ready-to-use pumpkin on your pantry shelf can save time when you want to make pumpkin pie or squash soup without a lot of preparation. To use canned pumpkin cubes for pie or soup, simply puree the cubes in a blender or food processor with enough canning liquid to make a puree and you’re ready to cook up a fabulous pumpkin recipe.

Some of my favorite recipes using pumpkin include pumpkin quick bread, pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin spice cake filled with cardamom cream, and pumpkin custard (just make your favorite pumpkin pie without a crust). Drop me an email if you want a recipe for any of these.

Carole Cancler is the author of The Home Preserving Bible. She has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents to attend cooking school and explore food markets. She studies the anthropology of food with a focus on how indigenous foods have traveled and been integrated into world cuisine. Read all of Carole's posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



It’s time to celebrate the autumn harvest in all its glory, so I developed these recipes for a recent meal at The Table, the community kitchen where I am a volunteer chef. This is autumn cooking at its finest, full of nutritious, healthy vegetables, with a knotty garlic bread loaded with garlic. (If garlic isn’t your thing, go directly to the soup recipe, where you will be rewarded with a hearty lunch or dinner meal.)

The beauty of this soup is it makes use of whatever vegetables you have on hand, is completely vegetarian (unless you want to add chicken or beef), and cooks up quickly. This is a crowd-sized recipe, and I have already cut the recipe in half for you. If you’re feeding two armies, by all means double it. Ditto for the garlic bread: I made four loaves originally, but I will leave it up to your discretion (and how much garlic bread you like).

Feel free to use other veggies than the ones I did. The garlic bread makes use of loads of butter, garlic, with some parsley for color, and can heat in the oven while the soup is finishing up.

Harvest Vegetable Soup Recipe


• 8 lbs fresh tomatoes, chopped
• 4 peppers, preferably in several colors, cut in chunks
• 2 large chopped onions
• 4 cups chopped flat Italian beans, in 1-inch chunks
• 4 cups cubed butternut squash
• 6 large carrots, sliced into ¼-inch diagonals
• 3-4 finely minced jalapenos, or to taste
• 2 cans red kidney beans
• 1 can black beans
• 2 cans bean mélange or mix
• ¼ c. chopped fresh basil
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tbsp salt


1. In a large stockpot, put the tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash, carrots, jalapenos, beans, herbs and salt in. Cover with water, and bring to a boil.

2. Simmer until tomatoes are very soft (and release their juice) and squash is tender. This doesn’t take all that long, about 20 minutes. Test frequently so things don’t get overcooked.

3. Taste for the salt, and see if you want more.

Naughty Garlic Bread Recipe



• 2 good quality baguettes or Italian loaves, split
• 1 lb butter
• ¼ to ½ cup garlic puree, or 4-6 tbsp finely minced garlic
• ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


1. Melt butter in saucepan, and add pureed garlic or minced garlic. Let heat on very low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, to infuse the garlic flavor into the butter (I did this just on a pilot light of the gas stove).

2. Add parsley, and stir.

3. On sheets of foil, place the loaves of bread, and ladle garlic butter onto the cut sides.

4. Fold back together, seal inside foil, and place in a slow oven, about 300, for 15 minutes.

5. Slice and serve. That’s it.

Notes: The Table Community Food Centre. Last accessed October 7, 2015.

You can sign up for classes or follow the further adventures of Sue Van Slooten at:

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Freckled Pumpkin Yeast BreadIt’s pumpkin season, which means pumpkin flavored items are popping up everywhere. The airwaves and reader boards are replete with ads for pumpkin lattes, pumpkin scones, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ice cream treats and even pumpkin milkshakes.

I get it. I like pumpkin too. But all that sweetness is a bit much for me. So when I found myself with leftover pumpkin puree after making a batch of homemade Pumpkin-Blueberry Muffins, I knew just what to make – a pumpkin flavored yeast bread that wasn’t sweet and that left out the typical pumpkin pie related spices.

Ingredient Substitutes

1. The bread is freckled with chopped pecans, but toasted walnuts or even dried cranberries would work equally well.

2. Pumpkin puree adds a savory flavor and helps keep the bread soft. Cooked, mashed buttercup or Hubbard winter squash would make a nice substitute, although it would give the bread a more delicate flavor.

3. I used some Kamut® flour to add whole grains and because its nutty flavor enhances the pumpkin. White whole wheat or additional all-purpose flour could be used instead.

Freckled Pumpkin Yeast Bread Recipe


• 1-1/2 cups Kamut flour
• 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
• 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
• 1-1/2 tsp salt
• 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
• 1-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
• 3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 3/4 cup chopped pecans


1. Add all ingredients except pecans to a large bowl, or a stand mixer bowl. Mix well to combine.

2. Add nuts. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, or using a stand mixer for 5 - 8 minutes.

3. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 1-1/2 hours

4. Gently fold to deflate.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a floured brotform. You could also shape the dough into a free from oval. Cover and let rise 30 – 40 minutes or until doubled.

6. Preheat oven and baking stone to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Gently flip the bread out of the brotform and onto a parchment lined peel. Score the round with a sharp knife.

8. Slide the loaf onto the baking stone and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until interior temperature reaches 195 -200 degrees.

9. Remove from oven and let cool for up to an hour before slicing.

Savory Pumpkin Recipes

Here are some older savory pumpkin recipes that sound great too.

1. Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter

2. Pumpkin Pretzels

3. Ginger Spiced Pumpkin Bisque Soup

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



As a child, I have vague memories of my mother water-bath canning tomatoes, pickles and peaches. Further along in life, the memories change to a multitude of ominous-looking jars on metal racks in the basement containing vitreous fluids, dissolving lumps of… whatever, and bulging lids threatening to detonate at the slightest touch. In other words, food canned but not consumed for many, many years. Canning gone bad. That scared me.

Many years later, as an adult, I eventually challenged the concept of grocery-store, over-processed and often times GMO preserved foods containing what I consider additional, unnecessary ingredients. Then, there was that large, navy blue-with-white-speckles porcelain canning pot from my childhood memories, figuratively staring me in the face. Being the earth spirit organic foodie gardener that I am, I just had to put my fears aside and carry my torch for healthier foods into a canning foray.

Getting Past the Fear of Home Canning

But, of course, first I had to read the book Putting Food By, which focused quite a bit on the charms of botulism poisoning and scared the bejesus out of me once again. Okay, so living in the high-altitude Rocky Mountain region, I also had to consider the challenges of high altitude with its lower boiling temperatures. Canning only high-acid foods to be safe, I limited myself to tomatoes, peaches, pickles and jams/jellies and still felt a little nervous eating them. After a couple of years of my congenital “canning-and-rarely-consuming” practices, I sold all of my canning paraphernalia and called it quits.

Fast forward to the present: A large garden, a multitude of plants and other bounties and again that need for a way to preserve and get away from processed foods.

Hence — ta daa — the pressure canner came into my life. Along with it came decades of tales of pressure canners exploding, sending boiling hot shrapnel in all directions, injuries, deaths, the putting out of eyes, and more. Once again, I set aside my fears, realizing that if I follow directions correctly, canning did not mean taking my or anyone else’s lives in my hands. After all, people have been preserving food since the beginning of time. And it gets safer and safer.

But canning is a time-consuming proposition and that really is, I think, a major consideration, aside from the fact that you do need to purchase things like the jars, the canning equipment, tools and some other accessories to make the process go smoothly. Always use the right tools for the job.

What Canning Equipment do You Need?

So, at the bare minimum, you will need canning jars with lids and bands. For canning, new lids are always a must as a perfect seal is of the utmost importance. Next, you’ll need either a water-bath or pressure canner. A water-bath canner (about $20) is okay if you’re on a budget and don’t want to can anything beyond high-acid foods as mentioned above.

If you get a pressure canner, which costs about 4 times as much (about $80), you can also use it as a water-bath canner, plus use it for cooking. The canners come with a canning rack (if you’re going to double-layer jars in the pressure canner, add a second rack for about $10). A kit of canning tools (funnel, tongs, lid lifter/bubble remover, jar lifters) will cost about $12. If you want to make life easier when removing, for instance, skins and seeds from tomatoes, a food mill is helpful ($35+).

So a bit of a cost in the beginning, but it should all pay for itself the first year if you have a decent garden harvest and tend to cook a lot.

The Process is Work — But Worth It

Then there’s the process of cleaning, preparing and cooking the foods you’re going to can, sterilizing the jars and lids, following canning recipes very closely for safety reasons, learning how to make altitude adjustments in time and pressure settings, following the canner’s instructions implicitly, being willing to stay in a hot kitchen for hours and not take your eyes off the pressure gauge if you’re going that route — plus a big cleanup job in the end.

It’s really not a terrible amount of hassle to go through considering it’s possible to can an entire year’s worth of tomato sauce, paste, spaghetti sauce, apple sauce, juice or whatever your desire, in just a few days. Not only will you have guaranteed better quality food, but glass jars do not leach harmful chemicals into the foods like cans do and you can reuse the jars and bands over and over so there’s a smaller environmental footprint.

One of my favorite places to go for canning recipes is SB Canning. This is the third year I’ve made their Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce — I love the stuff and use it for more than pasta. (And yes, they mean 6 bulbs (heads) of garlic and not 6 cloves!)

When Canning Isn't for You

If this all sounds like too much work to you, no worries! There are other ways to preserve foods, which you can read about in my post on Preserving Food, More Options Than Just Canning. Plus, wide-mouth pint canning jars are freezer safe (look for that on the labels), so you can instead FREEZE your favorite sauces, soups, stews, chili, stocks etc. and they keep just as nicely. For freezing, you can re-use the canning lids as long as they aren’t nicked or rusting. You can also read about this process in my post, No More Canned Soup.

Important: For freezing, make sure you use the wide-mouth jars that are freezer-safe and leave 1 inch of space at the top for expansion so the jars don’t break.

Canning is not for everyone, but even if you’re short on time, there are still ways you can preserve foods so you’re not forced to buy canned products at the grocery store.

Deb Tejada is an urban farmer, foodie, do-it-yourselfer, graphic designer, illustrator and web developer living in sunny Colorado.  When she’s not in the kitchen or garden, you can find her at The Herban Farmer.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


After you have dehydrated and vacuum-sealed your garden's goodies, it's time to store them either for use during the winter and early spring months, or for those people who wish to have on hand an emergency supply of food — this post covers both!

I love to use Mason jars. Why? They are great for storing dehydrated food for daily/weekly use. It's so easy to screw off a lid, rather than having to cut the top seal off a vacuum-sealed pouch then having to re-vacuum seal it. Mason jars store easily in your kitchen cupboards making them a handy go-to while cooking your favorite recipe.

Use Oxygen Absorbers

With the use of Mason jars, I still use oxygen absorbers (more on those coming up in the next post). An easy way to know if the oxygen absorber is defunct is to listen for a "pop" when you unscrew the lid. If you hear that, then you know there's still some life left in the oxygen absorber. When it's completely dead, replace it.

What Size Oxygen Absorber To Use?

In my quart-size Mason jars I use a 100cc oxygen absorber, just like we use in the vacuum-sealed pouches. For the smaller pint-size Mason jars, a 50cc oxygen absorber is ample. So why use different sized jars? For lesser-used veggies, such as garlic in my case, the slices of dried garlic fit easily into the smaller half-pint Mason jars. Sometimes I'll use an "almost dead" 100cc oxygen absorber for use in the smaller half-pint Mason jars, therefore bypassing the need to purchase the smaller oxygen absorbers.

It doesn't take long to fill a quart-sized Mason jar with celery, corn, peas, hash-brown potatoes — and these are the mainstays of great soups! Back to the garlic slices: They're easy to crumble up into soups and stews.

Mylar Bags

As an alternative to Mason jars — especially for long-term storage — I highly recommend storing your vacuum-sealed pouches in Mylar bags. They're rip-proof, water-proof, and block out the light. Yes, the three enemies to food storage: Air, light, and water. Do a search online for Mylar bags. Amazon have them (but then again, what does Amazon NOT have?) The size of Mylar bags I choose to use are 10" x 14". Many times, the Mylar bags are bundled with oxygen absorbers so take that into consideration while perusing.

A quick note about Mylar bags: DO NOT attempt to draw the air out of them. Only the vacuum-sealed pouches have the air removed — in fact, it's pretty darn near impossible to draw the air out of a Mylar bag because both inner sides of the bag are smooth. When the bag is clamped in the food vacuum-sealer, the air cannot pass through! (In contrast, the vacuum-sealer bags have one inner "side" textured to allow for air-removal.)

I attempt to put in four vacuum-sealed pouches of food into each Mylar bag at the most. Don't overstuff — there's less risk of puncturing the vacuum-sealed pouches.

Plastic Lidded Bins

The use of plastic lidded bins are great for storing pouches of vacuum-sealed foods that are contained in the Mylar bags. If the plastic bin is classed as "airtight," then by all means you can add a 2,000cc oxygen absorber before snapping on the lid. For the most part, these plastic lidded bins are NOT airtight (the handles usually leak air) so I don't recommend wasting a 2,000cc oxygen absorber.

So why use these bins? They're great for stacking and are well-suited for long-term food storage! In a future post I'll show you how I made a great storage area along a bare wall instead of taking over a closet.

Feed Buckets with Lids

Head on down to your local DIY store and pick up some FOOD-grade buckets (#2 food grade). Don't forget the lids! Or you can go to Amazon. These buckets are definitely air-tight so please feel free to use the 2,000cc oxygen absorbers in the bucket along with your Mylar-bagged pouches.

Do I have to use the Mylar bags? No. But they help segregate your food — keeps you organized. Also, the Mylar bags are great for writing on the date and noting what's in it! Use a fine-tipped black felt marker.

Regarding the buckets: Amazon also have some special lids that you snap on called Gamma2 Lids — and the interior of the lids screw out. The manufacturers claim they are air-tight. Hey, they are great — have you ever had sore fingers from trying to pry off lids (especially in cold weather). Ouch! These save the day (and your fingers!).

Folk also use these big buckets with the screw-out lid centers to store their bulk dry dog and cat food. A user noted that she stored flour too without any bug problems.

Oxygen Absorbers Up Next!

In the next post, I'll get into oxygen absorbers and cover why they are necessary to combat mold-growth.

To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies too—for long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry full—whatever the reason or season!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

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