Being a foodie has its pros and cons; while the pros are endless, the cons mainly include food wastage. Yes, you heard that right! It must have happened at least once when you had tons of leftovers and didn’t know what to do with them. Preserving them is the best way to go about it, of course!
Food preservation, in layman’s terms, is the technique of storing food in such a way that it remains fit for consumption for longer periods. These techniques ensure the prevention of bacterial growth and slowdown of oxidation of food items. In short, food preservation is the practice of preventing food from going rancid.
In today’s world of DIYs, less wastage, reusing items, etc., it’s only fair that the food you consume gets the same treatment as well. Food security is important, yes, but food preservation is also extremely important. The sooner we understand that, the better it will be for us.
There are several techniques that you can use to preserve food. Some are as old as time, like pickling; meanwhile, there are some which are quite new, such as freeze drying.
The technique you choose to preserve your food completely depends on what the food item is. You can’t pickle everything. Thus, you must take proper care of the same and choose the food preservation technique accordingly.
In this article, you’ll learn about the various techniques for preserving food. You’ll understand the need to preserve food correctly and how food items require different storage conditions. But don’t stress about it just yet. Take a look at the food preservation techniques mentioned and explained below!
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Best 6 Food Preservation Techniques You Can Try At Home
If rancid food is an issue you face in your daily life at home, then it’s time you started implementing food preservation techniques. There are several different food preservation techniques, which are both easy to implement and effective.
Given below are some of the most commonly used food preservation techniques. These techniques are explained in a straightforward way to make sure you choose the best one for your needs. Take a look!
The most commonly used technique to preserve food is pickling. The process of pickling foods involves soaking them in vinegar or brine. This helps in preventing the bacteria from growing on the surface of the food item. Pickling also gives a unique and delicious flavor to the food item that many people enjoy.
As pickled food usually lasts up to more than a year, ensure that you do everything right for the best results. To pickle a food item, you’ll need the right ingredients and the equipment to do so. This majorly depends on the recipe you’re using to pickle the food.
The commonly required equipment is jars, lids, etc., while the ingredients consist of vinegar, water, salt, the food or vegetable you wish to pickle, etc.
For the proper pickling of food, ensure that the equipment you use is properly sterilized. Irrespective of the recipe you’re using, the first step of pickling involves simmering a mix of vinegar, salt, and water in a saucepan and adding your fruit or vegetable to the pot afterward.
While pickling is a great way of preserving food, you might want to tread this path carefully and according to your taste, as pickled foods can be high in sodium and may not be suitable for those on a salt-restricted diet.
Dehydration is another food preservation technique that you might want to try. Dehydration is the process of removal of water content from fruits, vegetables, and meats to prevent them from going bad. Dehydrated foods are easy to store. This is because they require less space than fresh foods. They’re also lightweight and easy to transport – perfect for camping or backpacking.
An oven or a dehydrator is all you need to dehydrate food. If you don’t want to use a dehydrator, you can try drying foods in your oven in the lowest setting or under the sun. Even keeping the food items under the sun for the right time can bring out the dehydration process effectively.
Although there are alternate ways to dehydrate food, using a dehydrator is the best way to dehydrate food items to preserve them. Namely, the experts at dehydratedfoodz say that you should look for a dehydrator with adjustable temperature settings, a timer, and an automatic shut-off function. Keep the same in mind and then decide on the one best suits your needs!
Canning foods is a fantastic way to preserve food and prevent spoilage by sealing the food in jars or cans. Fruits, vegetables, sauces – You can preserve all these items through canning! Just remember that canned goods don’t necessarily have an indefinite shelf-life. So, you might need to check time and again if the food is fit for consumption or not.
Canning food items would require you to get some supplies first. You’ll need mason jars or canning jars, lids, a boiling water canner, and the food you wish to preserve. Boil your jars and lids in water for at least ten minutes to sterilize them. Afterward, prepare your dish as directed in the recipe and store them accordingly.
Canned food should always be stored in a dark and cool place. Also, canned foods should not be stored for longer than a year and should be consumed within the year itself.
The process of fermentation uses bacteria and yeast to extend food’s shelf-life. This technique is often used for making sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and more. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which further help improve and maintain gut health. However, fermentation does require special equipment and conditions. If not done properly, fermentation can lead to food spoilage.
To ferment foods at home, you’ll need a few supplies. An airtight and clean container is crucial; this could be any type of glass jar or ceramic crock. Secondly, you’ll need something to weigh the food down so that it’s fully submerged in the mixture – an option for this would be a clean rock or piece of parchment paper.
The last ingredient you’ll require would be salt and filtered water to create the brine. Once you have everything on hand, you’ll be ready to ferment your food!
Freezing is a common and simplest technique of food preservation. Freezing foods helps to prevent bacteria from growing and causing spoilage. Frozen foods remain fit for consumption for several months, although they may lose some of their flavor and nutrition over time.
If you’re looking to freeze food at home, you’ll require a freezer-safe container on hand. This could be a plastic freezer bag or a glass jar. You’ll also need to ensure that the food is properly sealed, so there is no air exposure. Once the food is sealed, label it with the date, so you know when it needs to be used.
Last but not least, smoking is another effective food preservation technique you might want to try your hand on! Smoking helps to preserve food by using low temperatures and smoke to prevent bacteria from growing. Smoked foods are good for several weeks, but they may lose some of their flavors over time, just like frozen foods.
Meat and other foods can also be smoked for preservation. Just make sure to get a big smoker to accommodate the amount of food you want to smoke. Make sure to have wood chips, pellets, and charcoal before beginning. After you check the list of everything you need to smoke food properly, follow the instructions and complete the procedure as mentioned in the smoker manual.
Food preservation has become an essential part of our everyday lives. It helps in keeping food fit for consumption for longer periods of time. You can use the above-mentioned 6 food preservation techniques: pickling, dehydrating, canning, fermenting, freezing, and smoking at home. Try them out today!