Being in the relatively early stages of my foray into homesteading skills and food preservation, I always start with some simple questions to decide what foods we should try and preserve and how to go about it in a way that is realistic for us.
As my advice (and many more seasoned gardeners advice) will tell you for the garden to “grow what you actually like to eat,” the same should go for preserving.
On the rare exception that you are making batch products en mass such as cookies or jams to give away as holiday presents to your loved ones, there is no point in taking the energy, time, and resources to preserve foods that your family just does not go through.
It should also be acknowledged that all methods of food preservation are not created equal. Even on food items that CAN be preserved via several different methods, does not mean that your family will ENJOY all of those methods equally.
If you are like me and have not jumped into the deep end of food preservation via pressure canning (and obtaining all of the supplies that go with it), choosing preservation methods and items of food that really can only be preserved in that medium probably shouldn’t be your go to options.
Start small. Choose one item and one method to get started and grow from there. We have next to zero pantry storage in our house currently, but we do have a second freezer. This in itself shifts our mindset for what we plan to preserve and WHERE it will go. You can can (lol) 80 pints of tomatoes but if you have no where to put them, it will quickly become a lingering irritation rather than a cost and time saving benefit to your family.
As a recap:
Grow what you eat, preserve what you eat
Plan ahead for the batch preservation items you are wanting to give as holiday gifts, etc.
Be realistic with the time and resources you are prepared to put into food preservation
Start small! There is a learning curve to every method of food preservation (some larger than others *cough cough* pressure canning, I am looking at you).
What methods can you afford to obtain the needed tools for?
What forms of different items do you actually use? We go through a lot more frozen berries than jam.
What is your storage plan for the food you are preserving?
Enjoy the process and learn to laugh at the mistakes along the way (I know I have had to learn how to do that.)
Love you all,
Check out the article on Freezing Berries straight from the garden or market: