4 Ways to Preserve your Foraged Plants Effectively

How to Preserve: freeze, dry, ferment and can all of your wildcrafted foods!

Sometimes the abundance of a seasonal harvest of wild foods overwhelms us, and we are not able to eat all we gather at once.
Beyond that, Foraging takes time. Preparing meals takes time. And if there’s one thing I seem to fall short of on a regular basis as a busy mom of boys, it’s time. But, when I learned how to preserve foods and not create nearly as much waste as my family once use to produce, it was a GAME CHANGER.


Who doesn’t want to enjoy spring greens in the dead of winter? Thankfully we don’t have to plant an indoor garden for growing food year-round; we just need to know how to effectively preserve! I’m excited to teach you preservation techniques [freezing, drying, fermenting and canning] required to make your foraged treasures last longer and go further!

Freezing Wild Edibles

What are the Advantages to Freezing?

  • Frozen food contains no preservatives. It is a natural form of preservation.
  • Freezing retains the food’s nutritional value

How to Freeze Food Effectively

1. Gather supplies. What this looks like for me is this:

2. Prepare food: This sometimes implies blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time). But with most of your foraged goodies, simply rinse the plants quickly in cold water, shake off excess water, and then chop coarsely. I like to place the chopped plant into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the plant-cubes into freezer bags or air tight plastic containers.Another method for freezing is to spread the wild edible loosely onto a baking sheet to freeze. Once they’re frozen, transfer the wild edibles into a freezer bag and seal.
3. Leave headspace (if using rigid containers) or press out all excess air (if using freezer storage bags).
4. Slightly chill food or, if it was blanched, allow to come to room temperature. You can simply leave the blanched food in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, move it to the freezer.

dried mushrooms

Drying your Foraged Plants

What are the advantages?

  • Dried foods are tasty, nutritious, lightweight, easy to prepare and easy to store and use.
  • The energy necessary to dry foods is less than what is needed to freeze or can
  • The amount of space needed to store dried goods is minimal when compared with that needed for canning jars and freezer containers.

How to Dry Foods Effectively

1. Gather Supplies. Here are some I highly recommend:

2. Follow the dehydrators directions. It really is as simple as that. The possibilities of what you can dry are almost endless… Herbs, bark, roots, seeds, every plant you can imagine.
3. Properly store your dehydrated foods. When done right, you’re food can keep for years. Use containers/bags that have air tight seals

Fermentation

What are the advantages?

  • Fermented foods are rich in beneficial probiotics and have been associated with a range of health benefits — from better digestion to stronger immunity
  • Fermented food are delicious and fun to make

How To Ferment your Food Effectively

For this, I’m going to call in the expert: Hop on over to Running in the Kitchen to read Gina’s guide to fermentation. She’s worded it better than I ever could.

All in all, eating fermented foods helps your gut flora, can help you heal digestive issues, supports the endocrine system, helps your body break down food and digest it more easily (allowing your body to absorb much more of the nutrients) and makes your skin glow and your hair nice and healthy. So why not start by making your own sauerkraut? You may not like the taste of fermented food, but if you try to make yourself eat a spoonful at least once a day, you will probably start to CRAVE that darn stuff! That’s what happened to me, and look at me now, I’m addicted (and totally okay with that!)

Some of my FAVORITE books on fermentation are written by a master fermenter by the name of Sandor Ellix Kats.

Canning your Foraged Plants

What are the advantages?

  • Canning alters food chemically by changing the moisture, pH, or salinity levels to protect against microbes, bacteria, mold, and yeast. It also limits food enzyme activity. Combining these chemical processes with the physical barriers of glass jars, seals, and lids effectively prevents decay.
  • Can keep canned foods on shelves from 1-2 years or longer

How to Effectively Can your Food

Please click here for an expansive how-to on everything canning! Laurie at Common Sense Home has done an excellent job laying out everything you need to know. Thanks Laurie!

What’s YOUR preferred preservation method? Share in the comments below!

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