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Why preserve food?

Maybe you own a garden and know the problem: Suddenly everything ripens at once and you have buckets of fresh fruit and vegetables to consume. Or maybe you just bought too much food and cannot use it all in time.

Instead of throwing away the excess food, you should rather preserve it! You'll prevent a lot of food waste. Aside from being practical, canning is also very tasty. Many popular foods, such as jam, dried fruit and pickles, acquire their characteristic flavor through canning. 

Unlike store-bought preserves, you decide which ingredients and spices you put in the jars. Store-bought preserves often contain additives. If you preserve the vegetables yourself, you know exactly what's in them.

Not only you will love the taste of your homemade preserves. Beautifully packaged, home-canned foods also make great gifts for friends or family!

Do you want to start preserving right away? Here are three popular methods to preserve food: Canning, drying and pickling.

Water Bath Canning

This canning process involves putting food into jars and then heating the jars in a water bath to kill any germs that could spoil the food. As the jars heat up, the air inside them is driven out, creating a vacuum in which germs can no longer spread. For beginners, canning fruits and vegetables is particularly suitable. 

For canning you need the following utensils:

  • Jars: Mason or ball jars specifically designed for canning are best.
  • A jar lifter to take the hot jars out of the water.
  • A thermometer
  • A large pot in which you can cover the jars at least three quarters with water.

Especially when canning, but actually with all preservation methods, it is very important that you work with clean utensils. If bacteria or germs get into the food, there is a high risk that the food will spoil. 

It is not enough to just wash the jars with a little detergent and hot water. Instead, you should sterilize them in a pot of boiling water for at least 5 minutes.

Different fruits and vegetables need to be boiled for different lengths of time. Here is a table of fruits and vegetables that are particularly suitable for canning:

  • Cucumbers, 25 minutes
  • Carrots, 90 - 120 minutes
  • Tomatoes, 30 minutes
  • Apricots, 30 minutes
  • Plums, 35 minutes
  • Pears, 35 minutes

Cut the fruit or vegetables into pieces. Blanch vegetables such as carrots or pumpkin first to give them a soft consistency. Fill the vegetable pieces into the sterilized jars. Fill the jars three-quarters full with sugar or salt water and screw on the lid.

Next, place the sealed jars in a large pot and fill it with water. Jars should be covered by about 3 cm of water. The temperature of the water should match the temperature of the food. If the vegetables are still warm from blanching, place the jars in warm water. For cold fruits or vegetables, use cold water. 

Heat the water in the saucepan. Start the timer as soon as the water has reached the desired temperature or when it starts to boil.

When the time is up, carefully lift the jars out of the water bath using your jar lifter. Place the jars on a cloth or rack and let them cool down slowly at room temperature. Do not rinse the jars with cold water or they may burst!

The jar lids should begin to ping soon after they've been removed from the pot. The pinging is the sound of the seals being formed and the center of the lids will become concave as the vacuum seal takes hold.

Food drying

Drying is one of the oldest methods of preservation. This method is suitable for all types of food, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, mushrooms, or herbs.

During the drying process, moisture is removed from the food, which slows down the process of spoilage. How long drying takes depends on the individual food. There are three ways to dry food:

  1. Air-drying
    Herbs are particularly easy to dry. You just need to hang them in a dry, warm place with good air circulation and wait for a few days. Since no heat is added, this method is very energy-efficient, but it also takes a very long time. It is also only partially suitable for fruits and vegetables, and not suitable for meat or fish.
  1. Oven drying
    To save some time, you can also dry food in the oven. To do this, set the oven to convection and leave the oven door open to ensure sufficient air circulation. However, the open oven door makes it difficult to regulate the temperature. Oven drying also uses up a lot of energy, because the food still takes several hours to dry in the oven.
  1. Dehydrator
    If you want to dry food regularly, it is worth buying an automatic dehydrator. It is much more energy-efficient and provides adequate air circulation. 

Once the food is dried, it is important to store it properly. Make sure to package the dried food in an airtight container or bag and protect it from moisture.


Pickling works completely without heat. In this method, fresh vegetables are cut into small pieces, filled into jars and infused with vinegar or brine. The liquid provides seasoning and preserves the contents without you having to cook them.

Solid vegetables such as beans, carrots, cucumbers, onions, beets, corn or peppers are particularly suitable for pickling. Here’s how pickling works:

For 1 kilogram of vegetables you need:

  • ½ liter of vinegar, for example, apple cider vinegar, with at least 5% acidity.
  •  ¼ liter of water
  • Spices, for example, laurel, dill or pepper.

Mix the vinegar with the water and cook the vegetables in it. Then fill the vegetables into sterilized jars. Bring the vinegar water to a boil again and pour so much of it over the vegetables that they are covered with about two centimeters of liquid. Seal the jar and let the vegetables sit for 4-6 weeks before enjoying them. If you store them in a dark, cool place, the pickled vegetables will keep for several months.

To help you get started with preserving food, we've put together a shopping list for you:

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