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Food Preservation Techniques

Mark Gold

Among the oldest technologies still used by humans today are the various food preservation techniques. People will always disagree on which is the best method of food preservation, but in general people want safe, nutritious foods that are considered to be of a very good quality. This is determined by taking into account wholesomeness, freshness, flavor, aroma, nutritional value, texture and color. Food is generally considered safe when there is no potential danger from pathogenic microorganisms, naturally occurring toxins or any other chemicals that are deemed to be potentially harmful. For food to contain no bacteria it must be sterilized; if it contains bacteria it has not been sterilized. Milk has bacteria living naturally in it and it will spoil in a couple of hours if it is left at room temperature. On the other hand, putting it in the refrigerator slows down bacteria to such an extent that it will stay fresh for two weeks or more, even with bacteria still present in i t.

Food preservation involves treating and handling food to either greatly slow down or stop spoilage that caused or accelerated by micro-organisms. Preservation normally involves preventing the growth of fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms, as well as the oxidation of fats which the cause rancidity. However, some methods of preservation actually use benign fungi, yeasts or bacteria to preserve food and add specific qualities, for example wines or cheeses. It may also include processes which inhibit aging and discoloration that occur during food preparation, like the enzymatic browning (oxidation) in apples when they are cut. Some food has to be sealed after treatment to prevent recontamination with microbes while others, such as drying, mean food can be stored without special containment. There are many methods of preserving food including freezing, freeze drying, spray drying, food irradiation, sugar crystallization, adding preservatives, preserving in syrup, canning an d vacuum-packing.

The following are all methods of food preservation:

Salting

Salting, also known as curing, removes moisture from meats through osmosis. Meat is cured with sugar or salt, or perhaps both. Nitrites and nitrates are also used to cure meat and inhibit Clostridium botulinum.

Freezing

Freezing is commonly used domestically and commercially for preserving a wide range of food.

Irradiation

Exposure to ionizing radiation is known as irradiation or cold pasteurization. It has a large range of effects including killing molds, insects and bacteria, and reducing the ripening and spoiling of fruits.

High pressure food preservation

Extremely high pressure is sometimes used to preserve food. Pressure as high as 70,000 psi or more is used, resulting in food that retains its nutrients, appearance, texture and flavor whilst presenting spoilage.

Vacuum-packing

Vacuum-packing stores food in an airless environment, like an air-tight bag or bottle. This environment leaves bacteria without oxygen, slowing spoiling.

Pickling

Pickling is a method of food preservation leaving the food in an edible, anti-microbial liquid. Fermentation pickling uses food itself to produce preservation agents, usually in a process that produces lactic acid. Chemical pickling inhibits or kills bacteria and other micro-organisms in a liquid.

Burial

Burying food preserves it by providing much lower levels of oxygen, light and pH level, as well as providing natural desiccants in the soil and cooler temperatures.

Smoking

Fish, meat and other foods may be flavored as well as preserved with the use of smoke. The combination of heat and the aromatic (phenolic) hydrocarbons from the smoke preserve the food.

Lye

Lye, or sodium hydroxide, inhibits bacterial growth by making food too alkaline.

Canning

The process of canning involves cooking food, then sealing it in sterile jars or cans and boiling the containers to weaken or kill any remaining bacteria. Foods have varying degrees of natural protection against spoilage so some may require a pressure cooker as the final step. Foods low in acid, like meats and vegetables require what is known as pressure canning.

Controlled use of micro-organism

Products like wines, beers and cheeses keep for a long time because the production process uses micro-organisms to combat spoilage.

Jellying

Some food can be preserved by cooking in a material that solidifies and forms a gel, including maize flour, arrowroot flour and gelatin. Certain foods form a natural protein gel when they are cooked. Using jellying to preserve fruit produces marmalade, fruit preserves and jelly.

Modified atmosphere

This is a way to preserve food by altering the atmosphere surrounding it. For example, salad is extremely hard to keep fresh and is now being packaged in sealed bags with a modified atmosphere which reduces oxygen and increases carbon dioxide.

Drying

This is one of the oldest methods, it reduces water activity enough to prevent or delay bacterial growth. Most meats can be dried, along with many fruits. Cereal grains including rice, rye, barley, oats, maize, wheat and millet are also dried, as are grapes like sultanas, raisins and currants.

Sugaring

Sugaring is used to preserve fruits such as apricots, pears, apples, plums and peaches, either in syrup or in crystallized form.

There is a product available called eggstrafresh® that is one of the best food preservation techniquesever made. eggstrafresh® can be found at http://www.eggstrafresh.com. It has been scientifically proven to increase the shelf life of foods by dramatically reducing oxidation and retaining moisture. It also greatly improves the taste, natural color, flavor and texture of all foods, not just fruits and vegetables.

 

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1 comment
1. ruth baltimore  almost 4 years ago

this websit helps alot

 

 

About this author

Mark Gold has more than 27 years of experience in the Food and Beverage Industry. He is also involved in Business Development for C-5 Biotechnologies, LLC.

 

created: 2009-10-31 published: updated: 2010-11-14 © 2010

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Recipe Review

Herb Roasted Turkey

Photo of Herb Roasted Turkey

>hello. just read your recipe for super-moist roast turkey, and i'm just wondering. i'm not a great cook, so when you say "tuck the wings under the turkey", i'm still not sure if that means the turkey is placed in the roasting pan breast side up or not. i've read that if the turkey is placed breast side down, the fat from the back of the turkey leaks down, making the breast meat moist (which is what i want). any help?? ------------------- #1 culprit of dry turkey breasts is over-cooking. I highly recommend using a pop-up thermometer so you get the turkey out of the oven at exactly the right time and it is in the oven no longer than necessary. It is well worth the investment Last year I used this recipe along with Herbed_Pan_Gravy. Turned out great, the instructions are quite clear, adding water to the pan prevents the bird from drying out. Another option I've used in the past is the Look bag, available at supermarkets across North America. It's a big bag that the bird is place in which keeps all the moisture inside keeping the bird as moist as possible. Once again, the #1 best thing you can do to ensure success is use a pop-up (or other) thermometer and get the turkey out of the oven as soon as it is done, then let the bird rest for at least 10 minutes covered in foil so it can re-absorb it's juices back into the meat. I hope this helps.