17 Forgotten Preservation Hacks that Will Save You Money

Giurgi C.
By Giurgi C. May 14, 2020 11:25

17 Forgotten Preservation Hacks that Will Save You Money

I am a prepper and therefore I don’t like seeing anything go to waste. One of the first things on my list I try not to waste is food. Food is already expensive. Natural disasters taking place more and more often make it even more expensive. This is why I always do my best to make the most of my food.

This means making sure I use all the food I have, as well as finding proper storing conditions for it. These are the hacks I’ve been using for the last couple of years. You may be familiarized with some of them, while others may come as a surprise.

1. Cheese

Save cheese from drying out and getting moldy, by making your own brine. Into two cups of water dissolve two teaspoons of kosher salt. Stir until the salt dissolves.

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Make sure the cheese is completely covered by the brine. If the cheese is already quite salty, you can submerge it in plain water. Store in a closed container in the fridge.

2. Store Garlic

Like those vampires it is reported to scare off, garlic hates light and moisture. To avoid moldy garlic, store it in a dry dark place at room temperature. A great way to do this is to place it in a paper bag punched with holes to keep air circulating. You can also store garlic in the cupboard on a wire-mesh basket. You can safely store garlic like this for up to 6 months.

Related: Homemade Fermented Honey Garlic

3. Keep Onions Fresh

Onions can be harvested and stored over the winter. They need to be kept dry and aerated. First, you need to cure them. Spread the onions out in a single layer in a warm airy spot. Once they are dry, trim the roots with scissors. Store dried onions in mesh bags. An easy and inexpensive way to do this is to place them in a clean pair of pantyhose and hang them handy for use.

4. Leftover Tomato Paste

If you have any leftover tomato paste, place it on a baking sheet. Depending on how much you use per meal, you can make a different number of portions. Then roll each portion as a candy, put all your “candies” in a Ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. You will be able to use it for up to 5 months.

5. Bug-Free Dry Goods

Did you know that a bay leaf will deter insects from making your flour supply their home? Beetles, weevils, moths, cockroaches, ants, and flies do not like the smell of bay leaves. Place dried bay leaves in the containers of your dry goods. It works for flour, rice, and pasta. You can also tape fresh or dried bay leaves inside your cupboards and shelves.

Related: Plants You Should Grow Around Your House To Repel Insects And Bugs (Including Termites)

6. Freeze Everything That Can Be Frozen

Fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs can all be frozen and used in the offseason.

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Whether you have your own garden or you are buying more of these when in season, freezing them is an excellent way to save money and have fresh foods in the offseason. To freeze fresh herbs, chop and create green ice cubes. These can be popped into soups, stews, and sauces.

7. Wilted Herbs

Place your wilted herbs on a baking tray in the oven for a few minutes. Once they are done, place the herbs in a sealed jar and use them each time you need them.

8. Fresh for longer

Ginger, green onions, and radishes will keep longer and will stay fresh if stored in a sealed container, filled with water.

9. Keep your fruits fresh

Add 3 parts water to 1-part vinegar. Wash your berries in this mixture, dry them and then refrigerate. Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries will last longer and won’t go moldy.

Related: How To Plant Your Orchard To Have Fruits All Year Round

10. Fresh bread for longer

Put a celery stick inside your bag of bread. Your bread won’t get moldy for more than one week.

11. Milk

Put a pinch of table salt in your milk jug and store it in the freezer. The salt will stop your milk from getting spoiled.

Related: How to Make Cheese from Powdered Milk

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12. Bananas

By wrapping the stems of your bananas in a plastic wrap, they will brown much more slowly.

13. Green salad

Store your green salad in a kitchen towel. Put it in a closed container and store it in the freezer. The towel will absorb moisture and your salad will stay fresh for longer.

14. Smart Saucer

You can make a nutritious sauce for pasta with your blender or food processor. Freeze it and it’s ready when you need it. This is a great way to preserve extra tomatoes in season.

Related: How to Can Simple Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes and Peppers

15. Try Your Hand at Dehydrating

Here’s another great idea! New dehydrators have several shelves. So, you can dehydrate several foods at once – as long as they have the same dehydration time. The secret’s in the preparation and knowing how long to dehydrate. Most foods can be dehydrated.

16. Get Creative with Appliances

Want to try drying before you purchase a dehydrator? Try these ideas: Use your oven as a dehydrator. Preheat the oven to 145 degrees. Fruits and veggies will turn out crisp and tasty. Dehydrate meat to make jerky at 150 degrees. Use parchment paper for fruit leather recipes.

Try six to eight hours or increase the temperature and dry a shorter time. Make use of your toaster oven as a dehydrator. Set your toaster oven to as low as it will go. Leave the door slightly ajar. Check often.

17. Use the Old Sun Dry Method

Sun-drying has been around for generations. It is time-consuming but easy and cost-effective. Set food in trays on parchment paper in the sun. This drying process can take several days. Cover with mesh to keep insects and flies away.

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There are hundreds of ways to save small amounts and surprisingly large amounts of money with little effort. I hope this article gave you a few ideas.

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Giurgi C.
By Giurgi C. May 14, 2020 11:25
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50 Comments

  1. Chuck May 14, 14:17

    If you have a Sun Oven. That works well as a dehydrator.
    Just don’t get it too hot. Watch the temperature.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Pete May 14, 14:29

    Hi,
    Thanks for all your many tips.

    I’m confused by the directions given for the spaghetti sauce. Do you have to let it dry first? How does one just roll the sauce like a candy?
    TY

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 14, 16:20

      Spreading the tomato past out on a tray and drying it seems like too much work to me. Tomato paste freezes well. It seems much simpler to just portion it out in plastic baggies and throw them in the freezer. I don’t know how long they will last, but five months is certainly reasonable in my experience.

      As for freezing milk, I have found that just freezing milk preserves it. See my post below about my experiments in freezing milk. The though of freezing arose from my childhood when oftentimes the milk delivered by the milkman and left on the front step would be frozen when taken in the house. It was never sour or anything else. In fact we delighted in eating the frozen cream which always protruded from the top of the bottle. I haven’t added salt to the milk. Just plain old stick it in the freezer after taking some out of the container so it doesn’t pop the top works for me.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Val May 14, 15:30

    My husband’s grandmother used to dry her green beans in the car during the summer. Windows up, food cleaned and cut. They used to call them Leather Britches. I have dried green beans in my dehydrator but if need be, we have a nice car.

    Reply to this comment
  4. left coast chuck May 14, 16:02

    You can also use your toaster as a small dehydrator. I have experimented with it drying bread crusts. While the food still has retained moisture, using a cookie cooling grate with 3/8″ grate spacing, place the items to be dried on the grate and place that over the toaster as you are making toast. be sure to aline the items drying with the openings for the toast.

    Remove the sheet just before the toast ejects. Some toasters don’t pop up the bread high enough to dislodge the grate, so it is not necessary to remove it before the toasting is done.

    After the preliminary drying, the heat from making toast will be too hot and will burn the items on the grate. Wait until the toast is finished and place the grate over the toaster to catch the heat from the cooling toaster. It will be warm for a surprisingly long time. Usually two or three sessions is enough to do the job. This works best for small quantities of herbs that you don’t want to heat up the oven for.

    I haven’t tried to dry meat this way, although I suspect two slices of meat that you are making into jerky would work.

    This method is slightly faster than sun drying and is useful for those cloudy or rainy days when you can’t put your foodstuffs outside.

    Car drying is another low cost, method of drying items. It should work even on a cloudy day.

    Reply to this comment
  5. left coast chuck May 14, 16:15

    Since I am in a high risk group due to age and other infirmities, I try to limit my trips to the grocery store. I usually buy milk a gallon at a time. The problem is a gallon jug of milk is a large awkward container in the refrigerator. I want to buy two gallons at a time to cut down trips to the store. I had trouble finding a spot for a one gallon jug. Try finding spots for two one-gallon jugs.

    For the duration of this mad cow silliness, I have taken to buying 4 1/2-gallon jugs of milk. I remove 8 ounces of milk from each jug and place three of them in the freezer. It is a lot easier to find space for 3 1/2-gallon jugs than it is to find space for 1 gallon jug. By taking out 8 ounces of the milk from each container, when they freeze they do not pop the tops. The milk freezes solid in the plastic jugs and maintains its freshness. It does taste slightly different from milk that has not been frozen. To my taste it seems a little creamier. It is still good tasting and I don’t have the problem I had earlier of the milk going sour before I used up the fourth half gallon jug. I don’t make pancakes from scratch any more so have no use for sour milk except as yard fertilizer and it is too expensive for that use. Not into making cheese either.

    This method of freezing the milk allows me to cut out an extra trip to buy just milk and still keep it fresh for drinking purposes. It is slightly more expensive to buy 4 1/2-gallon jugs than two 1-gallon jugs, but the extra expense is covered by not expending gasoline for the trip to the store just for milk. AND risking an extra exposure. Despite the edicts from various governmental autocrats, many people are not wearing masks in public and even in stores where masks are “mandatory” people are not wearing them and the employees are not enforcing the rule. I was in WallyWorld this past week and an employee there was wearing her mask down around her chin. I couldn’t possibly fathom a reason for wearing a mask around one’s chin but I guess that seemed somehow reasonable to her.

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  6. JackieB May 14, 16:27

    Items number 13 and 14 have errors and them, I believe. You might want to take another look at those! For instance in 13 I don’t think you mean to store lettuce in the freezer

    Reply to this comment
  7. Clergylady May 14, 16:39

    #11, #13. Did you mean refrigerator or freezer? Milk in a freezer wouldn’t need the salt added. Salad greens in a freezer would be useless as salad greens anymore.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 14, 23:30

      Lettuce and fresh tomatoes do no freeze well. They freeze okay, it is the thawing that turns them to mush. I found that out on an early camping trip. I put dry ice in the ice chest so that it would stay cold longer. The meat was just fine. Some of the vegetables were fine too. Tomatoes and lettuce — no so fine. They were rock solid, of course, when I took them out but thawed down to green and red mush when thawed. As with Thomas Edison, I then knew two things that didn’t work.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Clergylady May 14, 17:11

    My mother grew up drying green beans split almost in half lengthwise and hung on the clothes lines to dry. Yes they called them leather breaches or Dutchman’s breeches. I love them. When dehydrated and cooked till tender they taste almost meaty. We always added a bit of our diced, sun dried onions. My husband loved them with some cooked and crumbled bacon or finely diced ham.
    I can a lot but drying fruits and vegetables has been a lifelong method of preserving for this family.
    Usually we have freezers but in moving back both of my freezers were unplugged by vandals between trips and made unusable by the stench. Tried cleaning and lots of baking soda ECT but the walls still stunk. So no more freezers the last 5 five years. Probably will just stick with canning and drying.
    We used to make fruit leather for the kids when they were home. Also dried tomato sauces to a rollup stage. Easy to store if there is some salt in that sauce. We also dried tomato sauce till truly dry and broke it in into a jar. It was nice to drop a few chunks into a soup.
    We always shade dried herbs to retain color better and stored them away in glass jars. Sometime the excess when the jars were full was powdered in a coffee grinder set aside just for herbs. The powder then was used to make rubs, mixes for seasoning certain things or mixed together for seasoning stews or making salad dressing with a bit of apple cider vinegar and mayonnaise or butter milk. Tastes about like ranch dressing but we’ve been doing this since the 1950s. I always add a bit of dried powdered celery and onion to the mix for salad dressing then whatever mixture of green herbs is available.

    Reply to this comment
    • Govtgirl May 15, 09:11

      Love the idea of dehydrating the tomato sauce. Stellar!

      Reply to this comment
    • red May 16, 02:34

      ClergyLady: Um, at rick of sounding stupid, I need to ask did you try running the freezers a few days empty? We went away for a week, once, and a rat or something knocked the plug out. We had to drag it outside and bury the contents. The ex was going to throw the freezer away, but I hosed it out and scrubbed it good with bleach water. We left it out to weather some, then ran a line to it and plugged it in. I think I burned some bay leaves in it, too, while it was closed and running. No stink. there may have been a small odor, but it was usable. That was in PA. niio

      Reply to this comment
  9. Calvo V May 14, 18:13

    Another option is home freeze drying. Freeze dried food can last for as long as 25 years and don’t lose taste, appearance or nutritional value. Most foods can be freeze dried in about 24 hours.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Lou Brown May 14, 18:39

    It is the tomato paste that is rolled like candy not spaghetti sauce.

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  11. cid May 14, 19:29

    great article, thank you!!

    Reply to this comment
  12. red May 14, 23:36

    Fun stuff and useful. We freeze what we can, but tomatoes need to be cooked or can get an off flavor when frozen. Not always, but might. Milk, lost a half-gallon in the bottom of the freezer for 3 months and it was fine. Salt in anything keeps it from freezing properly, which is why fresh meat lasts for months in a freezer, but bacon and ham are recommended for only only a month to 6 weeks. niio

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 15, 04:00

      Red: I have had bacon in my freezer since the hog came off the Ark. I am still alive and writing this, so I think it has a shelf life in the freezer longer than six weeks. I am about to find out with a honey baked ham. My daughter thoughtfully provided wife and me with a 10-12 pound ham for the two of us. Most of it is frozen. I like ham almost as much as I like bacon, but not three times a day for weeks on end. I guess I will find out how well ham lasts in the freezer.

      Reply to this comment
      • Govtgirl May 15, 09:16

        What do you think of cutting a ham into steaks and freezing separated by wax paper?

        Reply to this comment
        • red May 16, 02:18

          Gov: Plastic wrap, double layer, works better. I tried that with the waxed paper and we wound up scraping off the paper. When we get a ham, we buy cheap and dry the slices, then soak them before cooking. You probably can’t do there with the high humidity.
          Right now, I have another 50 lbs of shell corn to put in the freezer for a time, then in a barrel with bay leaves. Buying that tree was a better deal them I thought at the time! 🙂 niio

          Reply to this comment
          • Govtgirl May 16, 05:26

            I don’t have much room so food turnover is faster at my house than yours, but have always used good old wax paper. Life is too short to spend it wrestling with plastic wrap. Grr!

            Reply to this comment
      • red May 16, 02:14

        chuck: I got my fingers crossed. those are the general guidelines.
        I had turkey once that was in the freezer 6 months. It hadn’t spoiled, but taste bad from the freezer. The bag it was in was airtight yet, no holes. The fat went rancid and the dog stuffed himself on it.
        I had a celebration ham once. those are made special to keep, sometimes for decades. this one was supposed to have been made when a great-great-grandfather came home from the War Between the States (a Unionist). It was dried in the smokehouse and kept in smoke. I think Nana said it took three days to soak it enough to cook. People have eaten stranger things, maybe. Mammoth from for thousands of years… 🙂 Good luck! niio

        Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty May 15, 13:57

      I’ve frozen ham and bacon and leftover Spam and have never had an issue with any of them. The ham occasionally gets a little spongy textured, but tastes fine and works well diced in scrambled eggs, Mac and cheese, etc.

      Frozen milk (thawed) makes good home made ricotta. Haven’t tried it yet for yoghurt.

      Reply to this comment
      • red May 16, 02:23

        Miz Kitty:the USDA said, the salt keeps cured meat from freezing well.
        The cream might separate, but that’s all.
        How do you make yogurt? We do it the old-fashioned way. Bring the milk to a simmer, then let it cool to about 100 F. Add yogurt and stir that in. It can sit on the stove overnight for sweet yogurt. If you like it sour, which we do for different things, it has to be put in a jar and can go in the fridge for a few days to a week. Any longer, it gets frozen or used for cheese.
        If you want some chili seeds but want to remain anonymous ask Clergy Lady. She can pass it on to me and I’ll send them by way of her. niio

        Reply to this comment
        • Miss Kitty May 16, 08:45

          Red: Thanks, but I don’t think I can use any chili seeds this year.

          Yes, homemade yoghurt is good… I’ve made it several times and will probably start making it again this summer. It’s an excellent light meal when the weather is hot and I think I will experiment with some savory flavors as well as plain and with fruit.

          I’ve never had a problem with frozen ham, but I usually have small amounts and I use it pretty quickly. Frozen food in general I rotate and use within three months maximum. Butter freezes well and I usually buy at least a month’s worth when I shop… again, I rotate it and use it quickly, so I’ve never had an issue.

          I had gotten three gallons of milk for free one time, so I made yoghurt and ricotta with most of it…ricotta freezes well and the grainy texture isn’t much different from store bought. Full fat tastes the best and makes up better than non fat, 2% works well too. Ricotta takes a LOT of milk, BTW, so I have to plan for it. One quart equals about 3/4 cup finished ricotta.

          Reply to this comment
          • red May 16, 23:12

            Miz Kitty: I have black Schifferstadt radishes. They make a good replacement for horseradish. that’s probably why the javelina tried them and ran away crying. These are a winter radish, and do best in the fall.
            Ricotta is good eating. To save the whey for icepops, we use lemon juice but no rennet. No sweetener is added, but even sugar junkies like them. I know some who make wine, as well, but to me it takes like sour milk 🙂 niio

            Reply to this comment
            • Miss Kitty May 17, 00:22

              I use the whey for pancakes and baking…the lemon juice gives the baking powder/soda an extra pinch. I don’t use rennet. If you use heavy cream, you get marscapone that’s to die for.
              If you can get milk cheap enough it’s way cheaper to make your own ricotta and yoghurt than to get it at the store, and if I feel like making lasagna or stuffed shells I can do it on a day’s notice without making a special trip to the store.

              Reply to this comment
              • red May 17, 19:12

                Mez: Kitty: One sister makes marscapone and doles it out by the spoonful. I never made it, but next time we make yogurt, we will. niio

                Reply to this comment
                • Miss Kitty May 19, 02:58

                  Super easy: heat heavy cream to just above baby bottle temperature, stir in 1teaspoon of lemon juice per cup of cream, add more lemon if needed to start separating, hold at temperature until clotting is going good, don’t stir! but watch for scorching, then take from heat and put cover and a towel over the pot to keep warm.
                  Once it has completely separated, put in lined strainer with a weighted bowl to squeeze out whey overnight. Turn out in morning. If too thick stir in cream to desired consistency.
                  Use same method to make ricotta, but use regular milk

                  Reply to this comment
  13. Rhonda May 15, 01:06

    I raise lots of garlic, but have never had luck keeping it for more than a couple months, no matter how carefully located–it either dries out or sprouts.

    However, pickling it keeps it for over a year (possibly more, I haven’t tried!) Just peel the garlic, pack the cloves into a canning jar (I’ve used both 4- and 8-oz. jars), and cover with near-boiling white vinegar. Add lids and screw rims (the lids will “ping” as usual). I store them in a cool place (refrigerate after opening). When you need garlic, just fish out the cloves and rinse them off under the faucet. No lingering taste or smell of vinegar!

    Reply to this comment
    • Govtgirl May 15, 09:21

      We eat very little garlic. Buy a bulb about every six months and keep in fridge. Whenever need a clove, I pull one off and press. Even if it sprouts, seems to work fine. Guess if you are a real garlic lover this may not work for you, but for the very occasional user seems to do okay.

      Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty May 15, 14:03

      Garlic and onion sprouts are edible and tasty – mince and use as scallions. Or once sprouted can be planted in a pot and allowed to grow.

      Reply to this comment
    • red May 15, 18:02

      Rhonda: a lot of nations people just leave it in the ground and use the scallions rather than the bulbs. If you live in the South, Creole is a good keeper. Store it in a paper bag and hang it in the garage.

      Reply to this comment
  14. IvyMike May 15, 01:44

    My Grandpa hung onions to dry in Grandma’s nylons, this was before pantyhose were invented, i reckon, he had an old adobe garage with a 48 Plymouth in it and onions in stockings and peppers in aristas hanging from the rafters.
    I inherited Grandma’s All American cast aluminum pressure canner 25 years ago, have used it every season since for vegetables. It is around 75 years old and in perfect shape. They started making All American pressure canners in the 1930s and still make them exactly the same today, the smaller ones run about 300.00 after you render unto Caeser, if you ever want a pressure canner that is the one to get, there aren’t many generational tools you can buy anymore.

    Reply to this comment
    • red May 15, 18:12

      Mike, cool post. wish I could see that Plymouth.
      When Mom and Dad bought a farm in PA, in the kitchen ceiling was a piece of a pressure canner that blew.Dad was going to pry it out, but Mom said, no, leave it there to remind me and you that it can get too hot in the kitchen 🙂 niio

      Reply to this comment
      • IvyMike May 16, 00:42

        Yeah, my Aunt blew up a pressure cooker full of pinto beans and they left some of the stains on the ceiling for the same reason. The All American canner has a metal to metal seal and no rubber gaskets, can take Warp Factor 8 and never blow.

        Reply to this comment
        • red May 16, 04:15

          Mike: Right now on my A-list Things to Do is Hate Mike 🙂 Some day I’ll get one. right now, we have an electric stove, and should probably buy new elements. Weird to see a pot boil on one side and not on the other. 🙂 Enjoy life because it’s meant to be enjoyed! niio

          Reply to this comment
  15. EddieW May 15, 02:12

    In the days of the Ice Box, when our quart of milk in a glass jug came, dad would open it and drop a cleaned silver dollar in it, and put it in the ice box…I asked why?
    He replied, well it don’t get really cold in the ice box, and we take it out a lot, So this keeps it from turning bad.

    Reply to this comment
    • red May 15, 18:04

      Good idea! We always had cattle and brush goats, so till we moved to town, we didn’t worry over it. Silver! That’s a great idea. niio

      Reply to this comment
  16. Govtgifl May 16, 05:29

    Thank you for the banana tip. Really needed that.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Not these Chucks May 26, 00:26

    Throw your sacks of flour, rice, or corn meal in the freezer for a week after you get it. Then store it in whatever container. The cold kills the eggs of weevils that got mixed in at the mill.
    Also we store meat upwards of 2 years in the freezer. It takes a long time to eat a whole cow and usually we are still finishing the one when we get the other.
    Butter gets bought in the 1lb quarters and frozen until use, as does bacon bought in the 5lb bags after being broken down into smaller 1.3 pound portions in freezer bags.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Govtgirl May 26, 04:36

    NTC- Perhaps you can answer a question. I do not have a freezer, only in the refrigerator. However, when I buy chicken steak, whatever, and break it down into meal sized portions, even if I put it in sealable bags marked freezer bags, I get crystals within the bags. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply to this comment
    • Tennessee Budd May 26, 15:41

      Govtgirl, be sure & wipe the meat down with a paper towel or such before packaging.
      One problem with meat is freezer burn, which can be reduced by getting the air out of the bags. You can buy a vacuum setup for this, but I just submerge the filled bag up to just below the open top in a sinkful of water. The pressure of the water pushes the air out; then, just seal the bag while holding it above water level. It takes a bit of practice, but it works, & no vacuum needed!

      Reply to this comment
  19. Govtgirl May 27, 04:29

    Thanks, Budd! I’ll do that. You know, I have a vacuum sealer, but in a galley kitchen there’s not enough counter space so don’t use it much. Will keep it in mind for big purchases and will try your tips when I put away the meats tomorrow after my Walmart run.

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