In this modern age of high-tech food preservation, GMOs, and refrigerated transport infrastructure, we’ve distanced ourselves from food growth and decay. When you can go to any grocery store and browse through fresh, ripe produce all year long, it’s easy to think that this system will last forever. However, in the event of a major disaster, the food shipments will inevitably grind to a halt and the produce on shelves will spoil within days.

That said, there is a solution to preserving produce that has been practiced for centuries—canning. There are two types of canning every survivalist should know: water bath canning and pressure canning.

Water bath canning is used for acidic foods with a pH less than or equal to 4.6. This acidic pH helps to naturally prevent the growth of deadly botulism spores over time. Examples of foods that could be canned with the water bath method include pickles, peaches, melons, figs, tomatoes, and much more. If, upon using pH test strips, the food’s pH is found to be greater than 4.6, acid such as citrus juice or vinegar may be added to reach an acceptable level. Here’s a helpful video on the basics of water bath canning:

The second method of canning, pressure canning, is used to preserve foods with a less acidic pH of 4.7 or greater. This includes soups, stocks, stews, meat, poultry and seafood. Foods that mix high-acid items with low-acid items (like stews) should also be canned with this method. If there’s any question about the food’s pH level, test it with a strip before canning, or you could unknowingly be preserving live bacteria. Here’s how to can four different kinds of meats:

Using these two canning methods and some simple equipment, it’s easy to stock up on healthy food now, and have it ready to eat for years to come. Just don’t rely on picking up what you need at the grocery store, because in a disaster, it could all be gone before you know it.

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