In a normal year I grow/ barter and preserve the majority of the vegetables and fruit that we eat and what we are eating very much depends on the time of year. As the vegetable garden winds down in the winter we rely heavily on what has been put by in the summer. I use a variety of preserving methods from simple dried shelling beans to fermenting, salting, dehydrating, canning, pickling and to a lesser degree jam making. The University of Minnesota has a great basic resource to get an idea of the various ways of preserving foods which I have referred to many times. Preserving and preparing | UMN Extension I grow all of the dried beans we use, varieties that I've grown for a number of years and that I save seed from each year. I know roughly how many plants I need to grow to see us through from season to season. This is the simplest preserving method, you simply let the beans mature and dry on the plant. Drying Beans & Peas - How to Dry Beans & Peas at Home Salting is a simple method of preservation that is still very popular in in Eastern and Northern Europe. I developed a love of both these methods from my Mum and a Polish neighbour. Salting Runner Beans (Pole Beans?) always reminds me of my parents, my Dad called salted beans 'Summer in Jar' and they were a very welcome treat that broke up the monotony of winter greens and root vegetables.The ratio for salting is 3-1. 3lbs of Beans to 1lb of salt. The natural progression from salting is Fermenting. It really is a skill that I strongly recommend you learn as like salting, in a grid down scenario, it could be the best way to preserve a harvest without the need of special ingredients or cooking. I have a great love of red cabbage sauerkraut and my Polish neighbour introduced me to White cabbage sauerkraut flavoured with Caraway seeds, the Caraway infuses a slight aniseed flavour that transforms basic sauerkraut. It's not just Cabbage, many vegetables and mixtures of vegetables can be fermented. To ferment vegetables, the ratio is 1/2oz of salt to 1lb of vegetables. How to make your own sauerkraut | UMN Extension Dehydrating is another method of preservation I use a lot. I use dehydration for a lot of vegetables. It's a great method and I have to say, I would be lost without my dehydrator. I dry home grown and quite a lot of commercially frozen vegetables and I use them throughout the year. Methods for drying food at home | UMN Extension I have been water bath canning fruit and tomatoes for many years and when I started looking more seriously into prepping I read about pressure canning. That really got me excited and I had a pressure canner sent over from The USA some years ago. I not only can vegetables but a lot of meat and convenience meals too. Home canning basics | UMN Extension Finally there's pickling, you can't beat a good pickle, single or mixed vegetables, chutney and relish Vinegar being the preserving agent in pickles you need to make sure you only use 5% strength vinegar. Pickling basics | UMN Extension What I've described here are just a few of the ways we can preserve our food at home and how we can be more self reliant. There is so much we can do to improve our way of life not just for the bad times, but in the here and now learning these skills could see you and your family through lean times.