Why preserve? You could just simply eat what is in season, or you could just pop into the shop. Why would you ever want to preserve your food.
If we look back into history, food meant wealth. You could also not guarantee that the harvest from one year to the next would be a reality and a success. Preserving some food and some seeds could indeed stave off starvation if the weather prevented cultivation. Many civilisations moved across one end of the land to the other and preserves were their only way of keeping them alive apart from hunting and gathering.
Preserving enables you to take control of what is in your food, what you have grown and create a delicious banquet of food for your family to enjoy over the next year. The other is taste, a simply smoked kipper may not be smoked to your liking and you might like your lime pickle hotter than mine. Preserving enables you to find out what makes your tastebuds sing and gives you the satisfaction that you can make food that reflects your tastes and not simply the taste of the supermarket buyer.
You can preserve a whole host of international things that are simply not available in the shops. And amongst other things, preserving is fun, messy at times, scientific and very worthwhile when the shelves are lined with food that you have grown, picked and preserved.
How can you preserve food ?
Drying - fish and pasta are examples, as well as fruits, sun dried tomatoes, figs, cranberries, fruit leathers.
Salting - bacon, beef, anchovies, salt pork, gravadlax, sweet cured ham.
Smoking - kippers, salmon, beef, goose mackerel
making sausages -
Pickling - peppers, onions, ketchup, lemons,ghurkins, herrings, onions, cucumber, relish
Infused oils and vinegars - for marinades, on salads...tapenade, chilli oil. garlic oil. raspberry vinegar
Fermenting - sauerkraut,kimchee, miso,
Sugar - almond clusters, candied orange peel, crystalised violets,pumpkin and maple spread, jellies and jams, mint jelly, marmalade
alcohol - sloe gin, flavoured fruits of the forest in rum, oranges in brandy,
bottling and canning - tomatoe passata, peaches, plums, reday meals.
Freezing - fruits and vegetables.
So where shall we start....in season or per category?
Most familiar are jams and jellies on which I have touched before. Freezing is an easy preserving method but it requires a freezer and electricity and it all depends how you feel about that.
All in all, the delicacies that cost the earth are those that have been preserved with spices and oils, something different to flavour your food with and are an excellent talking point when you give gifts away at holiday times.