There are a few back to basics kitchen skills you should know in order to be less reliant on the convenience products available at the stores.
We all make food, every day, it’s not something we can skip. But, we have it so easy now! There are so many convenient products available that make our modern lives easier. But is relying on a store for your food a good idea in all cases? Maybe not.
Back To Basics Kitchen Skills You Should Know
Knowing how to can the food you grow or buy is an incredibly valuable skill! In colder climates canning gives you the ability to extend your harvest through the winter. Imagine cracking open a jar of the tomatoes you grew in the summer in the middle of February!? A taste of summer inside of a jar!
There are two types of canning; water bath canning and pressure canning. The type you use depends on the item you are preserving. If the item you are canning is a high acid food you can water bath it using any large pot with a trivet in the bottom and a lid. If the item you’re canning is low acid then you will need a special pressure CANNER, not to be mistaken with a pressure cooker.
There are so many great books about how to can your harvest! Pick one up and try some of the recipes inside! Just make sure that you follow the preparation and canning directions. Canning is sort of a science and needs to be respected so that your food remains safe for months or even years!
If you’re looking for a great online course to teach you everything you need to know about canning then check out Jill Winger’s course Learn How To Can Food.
Some foods are better preserved by dehydrating them instead of canning or freezing them. You can buy dehydrators from the store that you plug in. There are also instructions online to build your own solar dehydrator that doesn’t use any power!
Dehydrating works great for making things like garlic powder, drying fruit, making jerky, and even drying herbs as long as your dehydrator has a temperature gauge that you can adjust to a lower setting. Dehydrated items can last 6 months to a year if they’re stored properly.
You can also make up dry mixes for soups and other dishes that you can easily pull from your pantry when you want a quick meal. I spend some time every 6 months or so to make up all of the spice mixes and soup mixes that I use regularly. Such a time saver on those busy days!
Drying is a no energy way to preserve lots of things from your garden. Herbs a good example of this. The higher heat settings of most home dehydrators are too hot to dry herbs without destroying their beneficial oils. To dry herbs you simply gather up a bunch of them by the stem and tie a piece of twine around. Then hang up the bundle in a well-ventilated area where there is no sunlight. Sunlight will also destroy the plant’s natural oils.
There is no comparison to the flavour of the herbs you grow and dry yourself! All of your recipes will come alive using the herbs you grew and dried yourself!
Once dried, take your bundle down and remove the leaves from the stem. Store in an airtight jar away from direct sunlight. I use canning jars since they are readily available and can be used for multiple purposes.
Fermenting is an ancient way to preserve your harvest, and for those who can tolerate ferments they’re a great way to get loads of beneficial bacteria into your gut! You can make so many different kinds of ferments. Here are a few:
- fermented pickles
Ferments can last a long time on your shelves if they’re stored in a cool and dark place. This means that you can eat from your garden long into winter!
The foods we buy from the grocery store are packaged up nicely for us in the exact cut we need. But, what happens when you can’t make it to the store and your neighour offers you a part of the pig they just butchered? You’ll need to have some basic butchering skills so that you can break down that pig into smaller pieces to be used and stored. Improperly butchering parts of an animal can mean that you waste a lot in the process.
Butchering was a skill that our grandparents knew well. It wasn’t abnormal for them to be larger pieces of meat from the market or farmer to take home and then they cut it up into smaller more useable pieces. A great book to get started on butchering animals is The Ultimate Guide to Home Butchering where they go over how to butcher animals yourself at home.
If you’re lucky enough to own milk-making animals cheese-making is an essential skill to have! There are often periods where there is too much milk to drink and it would be terrible to let it go to waste! Cheese-making can also safeguard you against the times where your animals may not be making milk due to being pregnant.
These are all amazing back to basics kitchen skills you should know in order to be more self-sufficient in your kitchen today!