Thursday, August 2, 2012

Preserve and Prepare Now — Food Costs Will Rise in 2013

The nationwide drought, covering about 60 percent of the continental United States, is the worst drought since the 1950s. Nonirrigated crops, primarily corn and grain that feed livestock, have been affected the most — the fields have dried and crops have withered. Additionally, dairy cows produce less milk and milk with lower protein and butterfat in the heat.*

The drought has caused lower crop production and lower milk production than predicted for 2012. Because of this, dairy costs are expected to increase 10 percent; meat prices will increase 4 to 5 percent; vegetables and fruit, which are irrigated even in normal weather conditions, will only go up 3 to 4 percent. Normal grocery price inflation is about 2.8 percent a year.*
Canning is an economical and convenient way to preserve
and store meats.
Illustration © Elayne Sears from page 31 of

Knowing what is in store for 2013, it would be wise to buy in bulk now, stock your shelves, and preserve what you can of the summer and fall harvest. These precautions can ease the damage to your household budget inflicted by the rise in food costs. Below I have listed some useful tips and information resources to help you plan and preserve safely and efficiently (and, in some cases, deliciously).

Dairy Products

Storing Milk: Although there is no recommended way to preserve milk for more than three months (the exception being ultraevaporated and powdered milk), we do recommend buying in bulk (within reason) when on sale, and getting the most from your purchase. Check out these links to learn more: how to store milk and freezing milk.

Safely Preserving Eggs: You can preserve eggs for up to 9 months, worry-free, without compromising your health with the mineral oil method and by storing them in a finely ground preservative. I also found a few more tips that will have you keeping eggs much longer than the suggested shelf life.

Cheese Storage: Elongate your short-term storage by following these cheese storage tips or follow this pictorial demonstration on how to wrap cheese. For long-term cheese preservation, go the extra mile and follow these steps for dipping your cheese in wax — keeps for up to 10 years!

Meat Products

There are a number of ways to preserve meat; we have a whole book dedicated to this topic: A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game, containing safety guidelines, complete recipes, and preserving instructions for beef, veal, pork, poultry, and game. Please feel free to comment, and let me know if there is something in particular you would like to see a detailed post about — I will be happy to oblige.

Online resources for meat preservation:
Freezing Meat, Poultry and Game Fact Sheet
Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish, and Game

Vegetable, Herbs, and Fruit

Storey is no stranger to preserving produce; in fact, we have a whole library of books covering this topic. A sampling of those titles includes Put ’em Up!, The Pickled Pantry, Root Cellaring, The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, Making & Using Dried Foods, and The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving Food. Again, if there is something you are particularly interested in, let me know; I will write a detailed post on the subject.

Here are a few preserving recipes and instructions from our blog archives:
Canning Demonstration (video)
Classic Basil Pesto
Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Sauce
Pickled Peppers
Half-Sour Dill Pickles
Blueberry Jam
Strawberry Jam
Orange Marmalade

Other great online resources:
Food Freezing Guide: for all foods — fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meats
National Center for Home Food Preservation
Best Ways to Preserve Fruits and Vegetables
Drying Herbs in a Solar Dehydrator
Storage of Dry Ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.)

*Information from Huff Post Green, July 25, 2012

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