Many old-fashioned food preservation techniques have become popular in the past few years. There are good reasons for this; preserving food reduces food waste and means that consumers can get more value for money from their food budget. Have a look at the various ways you can preserve fresh produce.

Fermented foods, like Kimchi, are rich in probiotics, which improve digestive health and may boost the immune system.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional, spicy Korean side dish made by fermenting cabbage with other vegetables, such as carrots and radishes. Dishes like this are becoming more popular as awareness of the dietary benefits of the probiotics in fermented foods increases.  

Ingredients

1 medium cabbage, finely chopped

¼ cup sea salt (do not use iodised salt)

Water (preferably filtered)

6 cloves of garlic, grated

1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp fish sauce (alternatively use 3 tbs water)

1 – 5 tbs chilli flakes (depending on preference)

30g radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks

4 spring onions, cut into pieces

Method
  1. Place the cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over it. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage to weigh it down. Let it stand for one to two hours, then rinse the cabbage thrice under cold water. Set aside in a colander to drain for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the spice paste by adding the garlic, ginger, sugar and fish sauce and mixing into a smooth paste. Stir in the chilli flakes.
  3. Once the cabbage has drained, gently squeeze any remaining water from it then add it to the spice paste. Add the radish and spring onions. Mix thoroughly using your (gloved) hands and gently work the paste into the vegetables until well coated.
  4. Put the kimchi in a jar large enough to hold 1ℓ. Press down on the kimchi until the brine rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 2cm of space at the top. Seal the jar and let it ferment for one to five days at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Check the kimchi daily until it is ripe, then refrigerate.
Use seasonal tomatoes to make tomato puree for a year-round supply of this useful ingredient.

Tomato puree

If you ever have too many ripe tomatoes, it is easy to make and store your own puree for later use. Puree works well in pasta sauces, stews and soups.

Ingredients

5 tomatoes

1ℓ boiling water

Method
  1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes. This makes it easy to peel off the skins.
  2. Blend the peeled tomatoes in a food processor until fine. Put the pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds.
  3. Heat the tomato pulp in a pot on the stove and reduce it to a thick paste.
  4. Store in sterilised glass jars.
Flavourful apples, thinly sliced, make a nutritious snack.

Dried apple rings

Buying dried apples is quite expensive, so why not make them yourself? It is easy to dry apples in the oven.

Ingredients

5 apples

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon

Method
  1. Wash, peel (optional) and core the apples. Slice apples thinly and evenly (6mm). Mix the lemon juice with one litre of water. Dip the sliced apples into this mixture to prevent them from turning brown. Remove and pat dry.
  2. Sprinkle slices with cinnamon.
  3. Arrange apple slices on wire baking racks and place in oven. Set oven at the lowest temperature, approximatley 65°C, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow free airflow and moisture to escape from the oven. Bake for five to eight hours. Times vary depending on humidity levels, ovens, apple varieties, slice thickness, etc. Just keep checking the apples for any moisture, outside and inside. The slices should feel dry and leathery.
  4. Allow to cool for several hours before putting the apple slices in an airtight bag or container. Store in a cool, dry place for several months. If you’re not sure about their dryness, store the apples in the freezer.
Most vegetables can be pickled in a process that uses water, salt and vinegar to prevent spoilage.

Pickled vegetables

Modern consumers are spoiled for choice with fresh and frozen produce readily available. This was not always the case – our grandmothers relied mostly on pickling vegetables to keep their kitchens stocked. The recipe below can be used for any type of vegetable.  

Ingredients

2½ cups white vinegar

3 cups water

¾ cup sugar

5 tbsp salt

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

½ teaspoon dried, hot red pepper flakes

1 cauliflower, trimmed and broken into small florets

1 red bell pepper, cut into 2cm pieces

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 2cm pieces

4 carrots, cut diagonally into 1cm slices

Method  
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the vegetables. Bring this mixture to the boil in a large pot over moderate heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. Bring unsalted water to the boil in a pot. Get a large bowl of ice and cold water ready. Add cauliflower to the pot and boil until tender, but still crisp (about 4 minutes) then transfer it to ice bath with a slotted spoon. Cook the remaining vegetables separately, in same manner. Drain vegetables in a colander and spread out on kitchen towels to dry.
  3. Add the cooked vegetables to the pickling liquid and pour into sterilised jars. Store for up to six months in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. – Ursula Human, Farm Fare