By John Milandred
Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food before it reaches the state where it becomes unfit for human consumption. Preserving food has been a common practice since primitive times. The aim of food preservation is to avoid bacterial and fungal growth, which is harmful, and often fatal to humans and food preservation has developed by humankind all the way through its history.
There are a few methods of food preservation from the earliest times that are still being practiced. Some of them are:
Drying is the oldest method of preserving food. Compared with other methods, drying is quite simple. The process involves putting the food in the sun to dry which removes the moisture and prevent bacteria from growing. Dried foods stay well for long as the moisture content is very low. Moreover, they require much less storage space. Drying is an exceptional way to conserve foods that also adds variety to meals.
Almost all micro organisms need a particular temperature range to survive. It is not possible for them to survive beyond and under this temperature. Freezing is one method where the temperature is lowered to such an extent that it becomes impossible for microorganisms to survive. Most hunters use this method to store wild food in the freezer throughout the hunting season so that it can be used throughout the year. Ice boxes are used to preserve milk, dairy items and other foodstuff from destroying. Ice boxes are made using large blocks of ice. You can nearly freeze all food items. The foods are harmless to consume for months while you have to compromise the taste in some cases.
Canning preserves the food from microbes mainly by two processes. In the first method, the food is processed. The processing of food kills the microorganisms present. Then the food is placed in sealed cans with no entry for microbes. However, the jars and lids must be made pure by boiling for a few minutes. Always leave as a minimum 1/4 inch gap at the top. Make tighter the cover, then undo a quarter turn. This will permit scope for the air to depart. The methods implicated in processing the food are pasteurization, steaming, freezing or vacuum treatment. You can process whatever thing: mutton, vegetables, fruit, fish and desserts. Canned foods stay safe for longer duration as they do not require refrigeration. The foods can be kept for years, rather than months.
Almost every stuff can be dehydrated (dried) and preserved for long. It is very simple to dehydrate every food item including mushrooms, vegetables, and meat. However, take care to consider two things wherever you are going to store your dried food. You ought to keep them free from insects and bugs, and be sure they have sufficient air. The instant you seal the product, it will very much liable to go bad. There are various ways to remove water from the food. You can make use of your oven. If you have a wood stove and a wood dehydrator, use it for the purpose as these would run without power.
Buying Frozen Foods
If you do not want to prepare foods for lasting storage at home, you can also procure freeze dried foodstuff. However, freeze drying your own foods becomes very difficult as it requires large and expensive equipments. These food items have an almost infinite shelf-life. Freeze-dried foods are very popular these days because they occupy less space and require no refrigeration. They can also be stored in the cold-room along with canned goods for urgent situations, and they are also a good choice for hikers owing to their light weight.
There are other methods to help keep food, but this is for shorter periods of time.
Salt as a preservative
Salt is a natural food preservative used, all over the world, to preserve lots of foodstuffs. Salt ceases damp from the food and also from the cells of microbes. This kills bacteria and protects the food. Normally, this method is used for preserving meat from spoilage.
Bacteria and other microbes will require oxygen for growth. With the help of this treatment, oxygen is removed from the air tight containers. As oxygen is removed, the growth of these microbes is brought to a standstill. Mainly nuts, grapes in bran, and eggs in lime water are preserved using this method.
The method of sugaring is used to preserve sweet food items such as jellies and jams. Fruits like apples, apricots, plums can also be preserved by this method. A sugary syrup is used which desiccates the food stuff. Another way is to cook the skin of certain fruits in sugar until they crystallize. Later, they can be placed in a dry environment.