Preserving Food Without Refrigeration

Whether you are freezing food, canning, or dehydrating food, there are several alternatives to refrigeration. Here’s our guide to preserving food without refrigeration and using alternative methods.

Each method has its advantages and benefits, depending on what food source you plan on storing.

Whether you’re just starting with these processes or have been doing them for years, we’ve got the information you need to get the most out of your food.

What You Need To Know About Freezing Food

Freezing your food is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways of storing your crops and foods. In addition, freezing can extend the life of your vegetables for many months.

Freezing fruits, vegetables, or herbs will allow you to store them more effectively and safely.

It is also one of the simplest and easiest ways to store your crops ready for consumption within 24 hours of notice.

cute young girl holding a bunch of carrots
Freezing vegetables can store them safely for many months. Photo by Kindel Media on

Freezing your homegrown carrots can extend their freshness for up to 10 to 12 months, meaning that with the proper planning, you can have homegrown vegetables all year round.

How To Freeze Food

For many, freezing is as simple as throwing your food into a freezer and leaving it. This approach is sufficient in most cases, but if you take more care, you can get much more out of your freezer and crops.

Freezer bags/ Ziplocks are essential. Credit: Ziploc

By keeping your produce in tightly packed, airtight containers, you can extend their freshness significantly. Ziploc bags offer a low-cost solution to this problem. Quick Tip: Go for the quality bags rather than cheap home brand ones as they can perish quickly.

If you want to extend your fresh produce’s life, try using a Food Saver. 

Food Savers vacuum pack your veggies, making it impossible for air to contact your food. The open-air ages your food, so vacuum packing them can work wonders.

Should I Blanch My Food Before Freezing

Blanching is the chef’s technique of briefly placing your food into boiling water before putting it straight into icy cold water. 

The freezing process significantly diminishes the vibrant colors of your fruits and vegetables. So, by blanching your food, your produce should retain its color when placed in the freezer. 

Foods to blanch before freezing include:

  • Broccoli
  • Leafy Greens
  • String Beans
  • Carrots
  • Okra
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Asparagus

You can blanch most vegetables before freezing but don’t blanch them for too long. A couple of minutes should do.

Disadvantages of Freezing

Freezing food is one of the most popular and effective ways of preserving food without refrigeration. However, there are some disadvantages of using this method:

  1. Nothing tastes better than fresh food, and while freezing preserves your vegetables, they won’t taste as good.
  2. With some food items, the texture can change when freezing.
  3. You must remember how long each item has been in your freezer and how long they can stay there.
  4. You may not have enough room to freeze your items or buy another freezer as they take up significant space.
  5. The electric costs associated with freezing your food can be prohibitive.
  6. You need to organize where everything is and label each item.
fruits and vegetables organized well in storage for freezing
You need to be organized when freezing food. Credit: Women & Home

Best Way To Defrost Frozen Foods

Please don’t make all that effort to preserve your fruits and vegetables, only to ruin them. How you defrost your produce will also affect your food’s taste and texture.

Make sure you know the safest and best way of defrosting. Three primary methods of defrosting are:

  • Leave in the refrigerator overnight to bring the temperature up gradually.
  • Cold Water to thaw out your food quicker.
  • Microwave your food for instant results.

Each has advantages and disadvantages, but the key is ensuring the thawing-out process is slow and gentle. If you place the frozen goods in hot water, it will end badly!

A Guide To Canning

Canning is a very effective method of preserving foods that are sterilized by heat in airtight containers. Canned goods have potential shelf lives between 1-5 years.

 Invented in the 1800s as a method of keeping food for the army, this is one of the most effective ways of storing your produce.

Canning is a great way to preserve food for the future. Conveniently, you don’t need a big expensive freezer to store all your jars. Unfortunately, the process is a bit labor-intensive but will last years.

Whether you are preserving fruits or vegetables, canning can help you save money and maintain the quality of your food.

Here are some tips on how to can food successfully.

food wood vintage farm
Canning is a great alternative to freezing. Photo by Dale Jackson on

Always Use The Proper Canning Method

If you are a newcomer to canning, you might be surprised by the number of ways you can do it. The most important thing when canning your produce at home is to keep it safe.

The various methods you can use to can your food are:

These methods have advantages and disadvantages depending on what food item you try to store.

However, make sure that you don’t use hazardous methods when canning. Such methods include the Open Kettle strategy, i.e., placing jars in the oven/microwave before processing. This potentially dangerous technique will result in poorly preserved food that will be a health hazard.

If you are going to explore these methods above, try the pressure and boiling water bath canning methods first. It’s a great start for beginners.

What Foods Can You Can?

There is a wide range of foods you can start to use the canning method, including:

  • Tomatoes
  • Jam
  • Jelly
  • Green Beans
  • Pumpkin
  • Pickles
  • Fruits – peaches, pears, oranges

Constantly Monitor Acidity Levels of Specific Foods

Knowing the acidity levels of the food that you are canning is imperative. It dictates whether you should use the pressure canning or water bath canning method.

For high acid foods (below pH 4.6), including fruits, use the water-bath method as it destroys microorganisms more effectively. For low acid foods (pH above 4.6), use a pressure canner which will destroy the heat-resistant bacteria like botulism.

One way to ensure that your fruits or tomatoes are at the correct pH for canning is to add lemon juice while preparing them.

Choosing the Best Jars

Choosing suitable jars for your canned items is essential. Remember, these items will potentially be in the jars for years, so you don’t want them to be poor quality.

Use a Mason Jar if you can get your hands on them, as they are the most cost-effective solution. They were also designed for canning when they were invented back in 1858.

The Mason Jars have a lid with rubber on the underside, providing a vacuum seal. This rubber seal is essential to preserve your food.

Not only do they preserve your food, but Mason jars can be used many times, making them an excellent low-cost investment.

clear glass jars with assorted foods
Photo by NEOSiAM 2021 on

Canning is a labor-intensive process, and a lot of skill is involved. Therefore, when starting out, do thorough research and start slow.

As your skills improve, you can get more advanced but keep things simple at the start and, more importantly, keep SAFE!

The Best Guide To Dehydrating

Dehydrating foods involves removing moisture from foodstuffs to preserve them further.

It is another fantastic way to preserve your food items. You can dehydrate various foods, including fruits, herbs, seeds, and vegetables.

It is a simple yet effective way to preserve your foods and can last many months. In addition, it is safer and less labor-intensive than canning, so it is a viable option for those just getting started.

A good dehydrator with chilies and herbs next to them
A food dehydrator is an essential buy.

Dehydrators (pictured above) are a perfect tool for starting with this technique. Although a dehydrator can be quite an investment, they last a long time. If you can’t afford one, try drying out your food items in an oven at low temperatures, around 100-120F.

Place your herbs or chillis in the dehydrator and ensure they are dehydrated before grinding. Once ground, store in small airtight jars to ensure they keep for many months.

Final Thoughts on Preserving Food Without Refrigeration

Food preservation has been an essential tool for many cultures in history and has allowed them to flourish.

Learning about the way we can store our foods offers so many benefits, especially with the rising prices we are seeing in the store today. 

The rising cost of living is one of the reasons we put together this comprehensive guide to freezing, canning, and dehydrating food.

What do you think of this article about preserving food without refrigeration? Let us know in the comments section below or if you have further tips.

Add Comment