(NEWS CENTER) -- It's now summertime in Maine, and if you grow your own food, you're probably starting to see a lot of activity in your garden. Kate McCarty of the University of Maine Cooperative extension did the math for us and ranked preserving methods from most economical to least.
McCarty says her team set out to find out how much it costs to store one pound of food. Their research factors in equipment, but leaves out food costs.
McCarty says freezing is the most cost effective at $.41 a pound. She recommends storing items in freezer grade plastics for optimal food protection, and items should keep well for 6-8 months.She also said investing in a food saver is an addition expense not factored into her team's calculations, but that they do make a big difference in when it comes to preserving food quality.
Hot water bath canning came in second in the economical rankings at an average of $.73 a pound. That requires the purchase of the canner a canning jars. McCarty says the method allows you to store food on your shelf for about a year.
Dehydrating came in third at $.99 cents a pound on average, and McCarty says its mainly because you have to buy a dehydrator since you can't dehydrate food outside in Maine like you could in states in the southwest where it is very arid and dry. She says they cost about $150 on average, and can help you make delicious fruit leather snacks.
The most costly method is pressure canning at an average cost of $1.14 a pound, and McCarty says that is again because of the required equipment. But she said there are certain foods that need to be pressure canned to be preserved properly, such as low-acid vegetables or anything with meat in it.