How to Preserve Food Without Refrigeration

Food storage is one of the primary concerns for any survivalist. The average American probably doesn’t realize how much their lives are dependent on refrigeration, which takes a lot of energy to maintain. But one of the key steps towards self-reliance and disaster preparedness is stocking up on food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Here are some of the tried and true methods for preserving perishables without refrigeration. While methods like freezing, freeze-drying or canning can seriously deplete the nutritional content of food, these methods will preserve them and, in some cases, enhance the nutritional value. Let’s begin:

Drying:

If you’re prepping, you’re probably already doing this. Drying is an age-old method for preserving fruits, vegetables and even meat. It maintains the nutritional value of produce beautifully, and has the added bonus of making food incredibly light, hence easy to transport and store. It can also be done in a very cost-effective way, depending on your set-up. Most people these days opt for a dehydrator, which can be rather pricey if you want a good one and/or expensive to operate depending on your energy costs. But if you can afford it and have reasonable electric rates, dehydrators are an awesome investment for any gardener, homesteader or prepper and will serve your drying needs for years. Cheaper alternatives are drying boxes, which need only the sun’s rays, or even just simple trays, either laid out in a root cellar or in the hot summer sun.

Oil: 

Preserving in oil is also an ancient tradition, and, depending on the quality of the oil and how well you can seal your preserving-in-oilcontainer, will keep food for years, possibly even decades. Oil is a natural preservative that seals the food off from any air, which can delay oxidation, deterioration and prevent mold. For survival, preserving food in oil is best for a bunker or homestead where you plan to stay awhile, as it can be rather heavy, and it is of course also just a great and delicious way to preserve a summer harvest through the winter months. One of the great things about this method of preserving is that oil, particularly olive oil, is an excellent source of healthy fat, and fat can be very hard to store as most sources of fat go rancid easily. You can even store cheese in oil, so if you think cheese might be an item you will sorely miss after SHTF, oil preservation is probably an excellent option for you.

Lacto-fermentation: 

This is definitely one of the most nutritious options for refrigeration-free food preservation. Lacto-fermentation, or pickling as it’s more commonly known, not only preserves the nutritional value of the food, it actually enhances it, by turning your produce into a delicious, vibrant, probiotic treat. The lacto-fermented foods you will most likely recognize are pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, but you can do all kinds of other vegetables too. This is also probably the most tricky method, as you are harnessing and culturing living organisms, but it’s really worth it to invest some time into learning the techniques, and it doesn’t take much more than water, vegetables, canning jars, and possibly some whey to get started.

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