The typical expectation of food surplus and a wide variety of dietary options is common in North America. Many of us have never experienced a national or global health and economic crisis simultaneously.
Plus, our current times’ uncertainty has inspired a new level of many people's desire to enhance their self-sufficiency.
Undoubtedly, learning different means of resourcefulness to endure periods of food scarcity or shortages or weather-related power outages, and figuring out ways to thrive in our new reality is top-of-mind for many now, more than ever.
Although there are many unique and equally unpredictable elements of life we are facing now––from safely reopening schools to ensuring our family's food security––there are methods to employ to provide us with some added peace of mind.
There are many foods to stock up to keep your pantry plush in the event of a natural or other disaster resulting in food shortages. However, many canned and other items with a long shelf life are also high in carbohydrates—not suitable for anyone following a ketogenic diet, especially if doing so strictly to mitigate the effects of certain pre-existing medical conditions.
However, it's possible to preserve everything from low-glycemic vegetables and fruits to meat and fish to prepare for whatever life presents next. Plus, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed by the process of preserving food; you can start slowly and expand your supplies as you’re able.
The saying that if we stay prepared, we don't need to get ready appears more accurate today than at any time in recent memory. Still, there's no need to succumb to fear; instead, it's an ideal time to increase our home-based food stores.
Fortunately, rice, beans, and carrots are just a few options ideal for storage––we can keep it keto and food prep at the same time; it's all about making keto-friendly choices, even if on a tight budget.
So, if you're curious about canning, fermenting, pickling, or discovering other ways to prolong your food, keep reading. We want to share the best foods to store to maintain ketosis, even if your primary or sole food source is your pantry.
We can stock up on many low-carb, high-fat foods at home, opt to buy said items from local markets or online, or choose to take a hybrid approach depending on what works best for our lifestyle and budget.
But once we bring our groceries home, employing smart preservation tactics will stretch a buck significantly and minimize food waste—an essential money-saving tactic.
The Benefits of Canning Foods in Season:
People using some form of stable and reliable food preservation is about as old as our existence. Making the most of resources before and after the advent of the refrigerator aided in many people’s survival.
Approaches like drying, pickling, fermenting, curing with salts, smoking, making decadent jams or jellies for a basic PB&J keto sandwich, or freezing (based on ones' environment and resources) were once standard practice in many homes.
However, modern society has become more reliant on the vast options of convenient food sources provided by others and are no longer familiar with traditional food preservation methods. But, no worries, it's never too late to learn new and useful skills that are rewarding and useful!
Some food preservation methods extend the life of food for varying periods, and canning, pickling, fermenting, and dehydrating are an excellent option to preserve certain foods for years!
However, old-school food preservation methods were often quite a time-consuming process and not always easy to transport if there's a need to relocate with an abundant stock of food if necessary.
Plus, some of the older preservation methods used, like smoking, are now linked with the production of cancer-causing carcinogens—definitely an approach to handle with caution.
In other cases, the need to add large amounts of salt or sugar may make the preservation process unfavorable for those eating a dietary protocol that eliminates those ingredients in large quantities.
Adding salt is advised on a ketogenic diet. However, of course, added sugar is certainly not something we want in our protocol as it will disrupt ketosis and cause blood sugar imbalances that may affect mood, weight-loss success, and overall health.
However, we now have several extremely efficient food preservation methods to implement. Best of all, the approaches we'll share were relied upon by many homesteaders, preppers, and newbie urban gardeners alike.
Whether achieved by water bathing or steaming, pressure canning or dehydrating, we have a variety of relatively simple options to use to improve our health and food stability.
Thanks to the ingenuity of Nicholas Appert in the 1800s and further facilitation of home-based canning tools provided to the masses thanks to John Mason's creation and distribution of the renowned and reusable "Mason Jar," canning, pickling, and fermenting is now accessible to all!
From fresh vegetables to fruit and jellies or jams, or meat and fish, canning is a dependable and possibly life-sustaining means of maintaining an ample food supply, regardless of your current or future life circumstances.
Consider looking into the tools needed and best practices to preserve low-carb food options to prepare for unexpected life events, like job loss or natural phenomena, so you can maintain your family’s eating style during leaner times.
Check out The USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning online. Or access the printable PDF file (https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/INTRO_HomeCanrev0715.pdf) for guidelines on canning safety practices and begin your journey of food preservation of a variety of foods that are perfect to stock your keto pantry, fridge, and freezer, with confidence.
The Health Benefits of Fermenting Foods
Fermented foods have been created for millennia to increase the probiotic benefits and nutritional density of foods. Plus, there are many keto-friendly foods to ferment and store for short, mid, or long-term use.
Fermenting adds a tangy touch to various meals like bunless hot dogs or serves as a tasty side dish. Still, beyond the complexity of flavor and mild acidity provided, fermenting increases food's ability to aid in warding off harmful gut bacteria growth like candida and increases digestive enzymes to help the body absorb the nutrients in food while assisting in proper digestion.
Also, fermented foods, whether solid foods or beverages like kombucha, offer several additional benefits. Here a few perks we felt were worth mentioning:
- Fermenting is a fantastic and exceptionally healthy way to preserve food.
- The dense nutrition found in fermented foods aid in preventing certain illnesses and diseases.
- Issues with yeast in the body are synonymous with feminine hygiene. Still, yeast overgrowth, like in the case of candida, contributes to GI issues and is significantly thwarted when eating nutrient-rich fermented foods.
- In addition to aiding in overall gut health, fermented foods also produce healthy bacteria during their development process that helps the body to pre-digest foods consumed to make them more accessible for the body to extract and assimilate maximum nutrients.
- Some call the gut the second brain and with good reason; the health of the microbiome––the vast array (100 trillion or so!) of microorganisms living in our digestive system, primarily in the intestines––or the ecosystem of bacteria, found in a healthy stomach directly affects our well-being.
- The increase of nutrition added during fermentation even enhances the nutritional properties of already healthy foods like cabbage, cucumbers, or green beans—even more so than fresh or frozen varieties of veggies, in many cases.
- We've mentioned adding sauerkraut to hot dogs or enjoying it as a tangy side. However, you can also enjoy fermentation through many other avenues like yogurt with live cultures or the multi-faceted wonder of apple cider vinegar.
- Look for foods with live cultures that are naturally fermented, without vinegar as its brine base, to ensure you're getting the most nutrient-dense options available.
- Don't worry; it may sound a bit scary to prepare food with bacteria. But there are many resources, especially sites like The Fermentation Association to guide you every step of the way.
The Pickling Method is not exclusive to Pickled Cucumbers:
Pickling is an excellent way to preserve and insert many flavors into the already great-tasting and refreshing cucumber.
Plus, although many brands are available online and in stores, like Bubby's or The Pickle Guys, it's pretty straightforward and fun to make homemade cucumber pickles or pickle almost any vegetable you prefer!
There are rustic ways to pickle food with canister and weights. Also, there are now several fermentation kits available that take the guesswork out of the process and help avoid mold production or spoilage—an excellent option for beginners.
Best Keto-friendly Foods to Preserve Long-term:
Meat & Fish
- Bacon (canned) –– yes, this is a thing, and we're so glad that it is!
- Chicken Breast
- Bone Broth (e.g., beef, chicken, lamb, etc.)
- Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Herring, and other canned fish
- Jerky (e.g., beef, salmon, etc.)––make sure to store homemade jerky in a cool, dry, dark place, preferably vacuum sealed to increase its longevity.
- Traditional Corned Beef
- Crab Meat
- Salami (cured and sealed)
- Water (and lots of it!)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Exogenous Ketones (Konscious Keto - Keto Activate)
- Water Kefir
- Electrolyte-rich Beverages (e.g., coconut water, bone broth, etc.)
- Powerade Zero
- Sparkling Water
- Shelf Stable Almond Milk (unsweetened)
- Shelf Stable Coconut Milk/Cream (unsweetened)
Soups, Sauces & Condiments
- Keto Soups (e.g., tomato, squash, chicken [keto] noodle soup, etc.)
- Frank's Red Hot Sauce (original or buffalo)
- Tabasco Sauce
- Bullion Cubes (e.g., beef, chicken, etc.)
Nut (Nut Butters) & Seeds
- Nut Butters (e.g., almond butter, macadamia butter, pili nut butter, pecan butter, pistachio butter, et al.)
- Coconut Manna or "Butter"
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pili Nuts
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
Veggies & Fruits
- Indian Spiced Cauliflower
- Basil Pesto
- Frozen Veggies (e.g., spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, et al.)
- Dehydrated Sea Veggies (e.g., kelp, dulse, etc.)
- Green Beans
- Konscious Keto Supreme Greens All-in-One Superfood Blend
- Bok Choy
- Bell Peppers (red and green)
- Swiss Chard
- Broccoli Rabe
- Snow Peas
- Microgreens (e.g., broccoli, red cabbage, cilantro, etc.)
- Wheatgrass (powdered form)
- Blueberry Jam (fresh or frozen berries)
- Strawberry Jam (fresh or frozen berries)
- Homemade Dill Pickles (without whey)
- Quick Refrigerator Dill Pickles
- Pickled Garlic
- Homemade Pickled Eggs
- Homemade Pickled Ginger
- Fermented Nettle Tea
- Fermented Ketchup
Dairy & Dairy Alternatives
- Keto Dairy-based Yogurt (homemade with probiotic cultures, made by CocoYo)
- Coconut Milk Yogurt made by CocoYo
- Homemade Dairy or Coconut Kefir: It's easier than you think to make this probiotic-rich drink, and doing so at home helps avoid unwanted added sugars to your beverage.
- Homemade Cultured Sour Cream
- Homemade Cream Cheese
- Homemade Crème Fraîche
- Hemp Milk Yogurt
- Heavy Cream Powder
- Powdered Egg (not dairy, but in the same realm)
- Protein Shakes (e.g., Konscious Keto Slim Shake in creamy chocolate, strawberry cheesecake, or crème brûlée)
Herbs, Spices & Salt
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Jerk Seasoning
- BBQ Sauce (sugar-free)
- Pepper (r.e., black or white)
- Pink Himalayan Salt
- Celtic Salt
- Redmond's Real Salt
Fats & Oils
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil
- MCT Oil/Powder
Freeze-dried Food Options & Survival Food Brands
Foods to Avoid Preserving when Limiting Carbs:
Food preservation comes in many forms and is a fantastic tool to create low-carb, high-fat meals in minutes! Along with covering some essential tips related to the long-term conservation of keto-friendly foods, we'll share some fantastic recipes to incorporate these preserved ingredients with ease.
Beginning to preserve foods safely may feel a little intimidating at first. But as with most anything, practice makes perfect. Plus, we are quite fortunate to have access to many informative books and video tutorials available to get started.
However, not all canned foods are well suited for a ketogenic diet. As a starting point, here are a few foods to avoid canning if seeking to keep carbs low:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Potatoes (e.g., Yukon gold, russet, etc.)
Dirty vs. Clean Keto if Emergency Food Prepping
All the options mentioned above have likely provided much food for thought regarding the best way to prepare for any unexpected life disruption while still dodging sugar and high-carb foods to survive and thrive.
Eating all organic foods and tons of your favorite low-carb fruits or vegetables may not always be an option now due to a lack of access or budgetary restrictions. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Do the best you can to stock up on foods your family loves and store well long-term.
Eat the mac & cheese, just use keto-friendly noodles! Use cheese sauces like that store well long-term to take your keto noodles up a notch and always deliver a quick crowd-pleaser—especially for the kiddos!
Here are some delightful and satisfying keto recipes that you can quickly put together with various foods stockpiled in your pantry, fridge, or freezer:
- Tuna Casserole
- Shepard’s Pie
- Lasagna with Keto Noodles (meat or veggie)
- Beanless Chili (using pressure-canned ground beef)
- Zucchini Bread (you can dehydrate and rehydrate zucchini when ready to bake, and the bread is easily stored in the freezer if vacuum-sealed to remove oxygen and avoid freezer burn)
- Keto Taco Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole with Dehydrated and Seasoned Onions
- No-Bake Chocolate “Oat” Bars
- Delicious Clean Keto Bowl Recipes We Love (e.g., taco salad bowl, keto cobb salad bowl, keto Greek bowl, amazingly keto a çai bowl, et al.)
- Kickin’ Keto Chicken Salad
- Keto Savory Pie with Zucchini
- Keto Pumpkin Walnut Bread (stock up on canned puréed pumpkin to use in a variety of keto recipes)
Additional Keto-friendly Foods Ideal for Long-term Storage
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Sea Salt (mineral-rich)/Pickling or Canning Salt
- Seasonings (e.g., powdered onion or garlic, oregano, basil, black and white pepper, keto-friendly seasoning mixes, etc.)
- Sriracha Sauce
- Cheese Powder
- MCT Powder
- Milk Powder (e.g., cow or goat milk)
- Heavy Cream Powder
Healthy Fats with the Longest Shelf-life
Olive Oil: Whether used in a stir-fry over medium heat or as the base of a satiating salad dressing, olive oil has a significant shelf life if stored in an opaque container in a cold and dark place.
Olive oils have one of the most extended shelf lives of the healthy fats we'll mention below. Still, it is critical to follow the storage suggestions noted above to maintain optimal quality, and avoid cooking with it at very high temperatures to preserve nutrients.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is excellent thanks to its high smoking point and abundance of nutrients. It is also a fantastic item to use to enhance hair masks’ effectiveness or help remediate skin conditions like eczema.
Also, unrefined—cold-pressed—coconut oil provides antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that make it an ideal carrier oil for herbal remedies to boost health or reduce certain health conditions’ adverse effects.
Butter/Ghee: Dairy-based butter requires refrigeration, but it's also easy to freeze in large or smaller portioned bricks for future use and refrigerate the amount needed at the time for immediate use.
Also, clarified butter, when the whey and curd are removed and processed for those who choose to avoid or are intolerant to dairy, is shelf-stable and suitable for long-term storage.
It is safe to store ghee, if unopened, without refrigeration for about two years, but it's best to use your batches within a year, and rotate your stock, for optimal freshness.
However, once opened, the ghee stays fresh for about two months if set on a countertop. However, clarified butter should be refrigerated to preserve its freshness if you manage to have more of the same jar of this delicious healthy fat source beyond three months.
You can also store dehydrated, powdered butter in #10 cans long-term, for use in baking and the canisters will keep the food fresh for many years if stored in a cool and dry location.
Cooking Oil Spray: Some use many cooking oil spray varieties to control the amount used when preparing food to limit calories. However, aside from helping to ration the amount of oil used when cooking, cooking oil spray lasts for long periods if kept in a dry and cool place in your pantry.
Keep the oil sprays of your choice on hand to use as a primary or supplementary cooking ingredient that you can use when you choose or if store supplies are out of your liquid staple oils.
Vegetable Shortening: Crisco may be the most recognizable name in the cooking space when it comes to shortening, but it contains fully or partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) that we should avoid.
Instead of any shortening containing trans fats, opt for higher-quality varieties containing healthy fats. We like the plant-based shortening made by Nutiva (Organic Shortening), Spectrum Culinary Organic All Vegetable Shortening, or suggest using grass-fed animal lard not rendered in meat; hence, it maintains a neutral flavor for baking.
Lard (shortening alternative): Although lard may have fallen out of fashion in the 80s and 90s, it's genuinely the first form of shortening used by generations before us. It's a great fat to keep handy in your pantry.
Unlike hydrogenated types of shortening with trans fat, that we advise avoiding, pure lard offers many of the same benefits for recipes that call for shortening.
Besides eliminating unwanted trans fats, lard provides all the same properties we expect from vegetable shortening! Lard produces perfect dough to make flaky pastries, causes minimal spread when baking cookies, and has a neutral flavor.
Again, avoid rendering animal fat in its meat (e.g., bacon) unless you make a savory recipe which the meaty flavor would enhance.
Handy Tools to Safely Preserve Foods
Choosing keto-friendly foods to preserve and following directions on how to do so best is vital. However, having helpful tools on hand for food or container handling is equally essential. Here are some critical items to keep on-hand when preserving food:
- Air-tight container (vacuum-sealed or Mason Jars and Lids, etc.)
- Vacuum Food Sealer with Container Suction Accessory Attachment (e.g., FoodSaver)
- Waterbath/Steam Canning Unit
- Pressure Canning Unit (crucial when canning meats and fish)
- Canning Accessory Kit (r.e., magnetic lid remover, canister remover clamp, air-space measurer, etc.)
- Food-grade Buckets and Lids with a Rubber Gasket (dual Gamma Seal lids are great because you can add more food to the container without completely exposing present food stored to oxygen
- Bucket Wrench
- Mylar Bags
- Oxygen Absorber Packs (to remove oxygen from food storage packets or containers)––adjust the number of packs used based on your storage container (r.e., 300 cc's for #10 cans or 1,500 cc's for a gallon-sized container, etc.).
You can research the number of suggested packets per your storage container on the USA Emergency Supply site.
Here's some detail about the various types of food preservation mentioned and related information to help you execute a positive food preservation experience:
Water bath Canning: This method is best for high-acid foods, like fruits and vegetables, and uses boiling water or hot steam, instead of pressure to seal your canning jars—an ideal approach for beginners.
Simply follow the time noted to seal the food you're preserving, and that's it, no pressure is required! Here are some excellent foods to can using the water bath or steaming method:
- Fruit Jams & Jellies
- Cucumber Pickles or other pickled veggies
- Tomatoes & Tomato Products
In addition to following time guidelines based on what you're preserving, it's also essential to have a few vital tools on hand during the water canning process as follows:
- Canning Unit with Lid for Water Bath
- Magnetic Lid Lifter (to place sterilized hot lids on canning jars before processing)
- Jar Lifter
- Jar Funnel
- Bubble Remover/Headspace Tool
- Cooking Timer
- Ball or other reputable canning (mason) jars (e.g., Weck, Anchor Hocking, Kerr, etc.)
- Ball (or another reputable brand), 2-Piece Lids
- Labels for Canning Jars
As its name connotes, primarily pressure, coupled with high heat, is required to preserve low-acid foods like meat and fish.
Although it's optional when preserving high-acid foods (e.g., pickles, jams, and jelly), it is essential to use a pressure canner when preserving low-acid foods. Foods such as red meats, fish, poultry, and many vegetables (except for most tomato-based foods) need to seal at high temperatures of 240-250 degrees F or higher.
Preserving low-acid foods with a pressure canner, not the same as a pressure cooker, is vital to prevent unpleasant organisms’ production infiltrating your jars and resulting in botulism.
If you're curious, and we're sure that's why you're here, the following are some excellent keto-friendly options to preserve using the pressure canning method:
- Ground Beef
- Corned Beef
Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation site for precise pressure canning details for each recipe you make and revisit their guidelines often for safety.
Factors to Consider for Food Storage Safety/Food Preservation Tips:
Preserving food and keeping your pantry stocked is an excellent idea to sustain yourself and your family no matter what life throws your way. However, following established food preservation standards is crucial to ensure food safety and provide the best storage form to achieve the most extended possible shelf life.
Here are a few best practices to follow to avoid food contamination issues or spoilage, especially if you're new to canning foods:
- Organize needed equipment and the ingredients you plan to include in a given recipe, so you're ready to execute with precision and minimal running around to grab this or that item—do your best to keep it simple.
- Stick to a few recipes at first, especially if you're new to the canning or food preservation process. Don't try to make several canning items from the start; focus on one or two recipes to get comfortable with a given preservation process, and then expand from there.
- Follow the advised headspace when canning (r.e., the amount of space between the food and the top of the lid) noted for each recipe. Also, stir the contents in your canning jar to remove unwanted bubbles that can allow unwanted air into your containers during the sealing process.
- Sanitize your jar rims before you set them onto the mouth of the container. Some wipe the jar's edge with warm water, while others may opt to use white vinegar.
Cleaning the rims will help the lids seal better, so make sure to complete this vital step.
- Consider your attitude and adjust the processing time accordingly.
- Safely remove hot jars from the canner with a heat-resistant tool and allow them to sit until they cool and fully seal before handling—letting them set overnight works well.
Also, remember that foods with significant amounts of fat often have a shorter storage life than those low in fat, as fatty foods tend to go rancid sooner. It’s an excellent approach to rotate fat sources, using the oldest items first.
Ideal foods to grow or buy and preserve will vary based on your location, seasonal temperature fluctuations, and the space you can cultivate your garden. Start small, work on mastering a couple of food crops, like herbs or tomatoes, and explore from there.
Many factors in life remain uncertain during these unprecedented times. However, taking proactive actions to fortify food security for yourself and family is a functional and somewhat therapeutic endeavor—enhancing feelings of self-agency and sufficiency with the knowledge that your family can weather unexpected leaner times in life.
The exciting and nutritious act of food preservation is an exciting and practical way to increase your family's food security and ability to live well regardless of shifting food availability.
The options of foods to can, pickle, ferment, or dehydrate are virtually endless! From asparagus to fruit leather roll-ups, to preserve cooked meat to various jerky styles, we are far from lacking in delicious options to store nutritious food for short, mid, or long-term use—all while keeping it keto!
- Walsh, B. H., & Bates, R. P. (1978). Safety Of Home Canning Procedures For Low-Acid Foods. Journal of Food Science, 43(2), 439-443. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1978.tb02324.x
- Harris, L. J. (2002). Guidelines for Food Safety During Short-Term Power Outages: Consumer Fact Sheet. doi:10.3733/ucanr.7264
- Vijayendra, S., & Halami, P. (2015). Health Benefits of Fermented Vegetable Products. Health Benefits of Fermented Foods and Beverages, 325-342. doi:10.1201/b18279-10
- Joshi, S., & Biswas, K. (2015). Antioxidants in Fermented Foods. Health Benefits of Fermented Foods and Beverages, 553-566. doi:10.1201/b18279-20
- Elik, V., & Celik, M. (2020). Potential Health Benefits of Fermented Foods in Covid-19 Patients. doi:10.22541/au.159373093.35708796
- Vergara-Balderas, F. (2016). Canning: Process of Canning. Encyclopedia of Food and Health, 628-632. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-384947-2.00110-0
- O'neill. (2011). Health Trends in Snack and Breakfast Foods: How Prebiotics Play a Starring Role. Cereal Foods World. doi:10.1094/cfw-56-6-0232
- Guizani, N. (2011). Vegetable Fermentation and Pickling. Handbook of Vegetables and Vegetable Processing, 351-367. doi:10.1002/9780470958346.ch17
- Book Review: Dehydrating Foods, Fruits, Vegetables, Fish, and Meats. (1920). Journal of Education, 92(15), 418-418. doi:10.1177/002205742009201522
- The Essential Pantry Concept. (n.d.). The Essential Pantry, 5-11. doi:10.2307/j.ctv3znxf4.5
- Effect Of Preparation And Cooking On The Vitamin Content Of Dehydrated Foods. (1944). Nutrition Reviews, 2(1), 8-9. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1944.tb08110.x