Unusual Food Preservation Ideas Worth Trying

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good jar of homemade jam, but have you ever wondered what more you can do with your harvest than the usual? Me too!

A few years back, I decided to try to start trying some unique recipes and methods (always practicing safe food preservation, of course), mostly because I wanted to try all of the cool things I felt like I was missing, like Hawaiian sauerkraut, ginger bug, and green bean leather britches.

I think it’s a fun adventure to learn alternative methods of food preservation but before we go any further, I want to be sure to stress the importance of making sure  your methods are sanitary and safe. As a food preservationist and teacher of food preservation, I see so many recipes and ideas that are not only just plain bad ideas, but they are incredibly unsafe!

No one wants to make their family sick, nor do we want to take all of the time and ingredients to preserve something that won’t turn out well.

Okay, on to some fun food preservation ideas you may want to try to broaden your horizons:

Make Leather Britches

Leather britches dried green beans in bowl, shucky beans

This is an old Appalachian method of dehydrating green beans. It’s very simple – just string the beans and hang them out to dry. Here are the details:

  • Choose a bean that’s more waxy or greasy, not the fuzzy kind. Also best is one with thick skin and large beans.
  • Wash fresh picked beans.
  • Snap the ends and pull the string if there is one.
  • Grab heavy duty string and a needle.
  • Thread the string onto the needle and tie a knot in the string at one end.
  • Start “threading” your green beans – when threading the beans, it’s best to go through the center. Also, be sure to poke the needle through an inside bean to help it stay in place.
  • Keep stringing until you have a nice long section of beans.
  • Either make a loop and hang the beans from a nail or leave the string open and hang from both ends.
  • Hang where it’s warm and dry, and let them dry. They will start to look leathery – thus the name leather britches.

You can eat the leather britches by boiling them to rehydrate them – most love them with bacon and fried onion.

Ferment Vegetables

Beyond sauerkraut, there are many veggies that are wonderful when they are fermented, and they are excellent for your digestive system, too! But did you know that you can also ferment some fruits – even applesauce?

What a fun way to use up extra fruits and berries from your orchard!

Try Sun Drying

You’ve heard of sundried tomatoes, but did you know that you can dry many fruits in the sun? Using the heat from the sun gives the fruit a much more intense flavor, but you need to make sure that your summer will be hot and dry enough to finish the job. However, if they need more time, you can always stick them in the dehydrator to finish.

Discover Pickling (Beyond Cucumbers)

Pickled red beets in jar

If you’re a food preserver, you’ve likely made pickles, but pickling goes way beyond just cucumbers! You can also pickle onions, beets, garlic scapes, asparagus, onions, and even eggs!

Dehydrate Carrot Tops

Okay, here’s a crazy one, but I had to include it. Why waste your carrot tops when they are perfectly edible! Simply dehydrate them and you can use them to sprinkle on salads, add to soups, and even toss in salad dressings. They are very flavorful so be sure not to add too many.

Make Veggie Chips

My mom got a bunch of carrots, celery, and onions once so she dried them all and made them into a powder and made a seasoning called mirepoix. It’s so yummy!

You can also slice foods like zucchini and make them into chips.

Candying Food

Remember the candied apples of old? My grandma used to make them and I absolutely loved them! She would slice and core the apples and she’d sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar then layer them in jars. Then she’d add a sugar syrup and sometimes a few red-hot candies and would can them. I kind of miss eating them!

Braid Onions and Garlic


The most beautiful method of preservation, in my opinion, is canning but my second favorite is braiding. I love the look of braided onions and garlic. Just remember to make sure your onions are storing onions and your garlic is softneck.

As you can see, canning is just the start of food preservation. Here in Alaska, many of our garden veggies seemed a bit more tricky to preserve for the long haul like cabbage, beets, and potatoes, but I’ve learned many new ways to preserve them that are tasty and so nutritious!

What are your favorite food preservation ideas or recipes?

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17 days ago

First of all, my congratulations on a well written piece. I knew a lot of these from living on a farm and learning from the community ladies.
Some, however, are new to me: I never ventured beyond cabbage and daikon fermentation (Kim Chee) I love the inclusions given.
Secondly: I totally get using fruit and vegetables as your examples, but I’d like to include meat covered in honey as an inclusion.
[*You can stop here or read on to my rant*]
Long ago, the market for meat dropped and ranchers were killing their cattle in hopes of unsaturating the market. Some were preserved for the family. Many were left to rot in the fields.
Don’t be that rancher. Use what you need and donate to churches and food kitchens. Your community needs you in times like these.

Michael J. Justice
16 days ago

Hi , love this information

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