We know there are many ways to preserve food and increase its shelf life.
However, most of us only hear about them and don’t actually do anything about them. In this article, we will talk about the most famous methods of food preservation and talk about which ones can be easily implemented in an everyday scenario for small and medium businesses.
First, we must understand that increasing shelf life is a by-product of food preservation.
Food preservation is defined as any number of methods in which food is kept from spoilage after harvest. Such practices date to prehistoric times and among the oldest methods of preservation are drying, refrigeration, and fermentation. Other modern methods include canning, pasteurization, freezing, irradiation, and the addition of chemicals. In other words, food preservation is a variety of techniques used to prevent food from spoiling, therefore, besides freezing, these techniques increase the shelf life of your products.
Preserving nutritional value, flavor and texture are key elements of food preservation. It is of the utmost importance to increase shelf life so that products can stay fresh for longer.Here are the classic types of food preservation techniques for medium, small, and home businesses.
Cool food storage
is the simplest food preservation method. This, as we know, is typically done in an industrial or commercial refrigerator, but it can also be done naturally by placing the food in a place with proper temperatures like warehouses, basements, or like in the old times, root cellars.
foods can be done in several ways and in our homes, it is traditionally done with a freezer. Freezing works by slowing the growth of microorganisms and enzymes that cause food to spoil, effectively preserving fresh flavors, textures, and more importantly, nutrients. Contrary to popular belief, freezing fruits and vegetables does not reduce their nutritional value.
Although if done incorrectly, or with foods that contain much water, the texture can be affected after being thawed. In order to freeze food in the most efficient way, a freezer bag is recommended. In addition to keeping the food organized and preventing freezer burn, it will also serve as a pre-packaged food source that will last about 6 months. Bags work because they prevent ice crystals from forming and this in turn prevents food spoilage.
Olive oil preservation
is one of the tastiest ways of preventing food from going bad. Extra-virgin olive oil is a natural preservative that stops food from spoiling by shielding the food from the air. This seal or shield can slow down oxidation and molding in the foods and it is used for preserving things like fresh herbs, vegetables, and fish. The fun thing about this is that it not only preserves the food, but also infuses it with the flavor of the olive oil, and the food that is placed within also infuses the olive oil itself.
Therefore, we can end with two great different products from only one process. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that while this method may seem like it lasts for a long time, this can vary depending on the food. There are several low-acid foods like mushrooms, and peppers that can be a source of bacteria. As an extra precaution, it is recommended to keep the mixture in a refrigerator when using these foods.
Salt and sugar
curing is one of the most ancient and effective food preservation methods. Before any of the modern processes and refrigerators were invented, most foods were cured by using salt and/or sugar.
Salt and sugar naturally absorb moisture, therefore, they reduce the water content of foods and this prevents microbial growth. In terms of sugar-preserved foods, jam is a good example, whereas salted pork, salted fish, corned beef, and bacon are some of the best salt-preserved foods.
uses high heat and special equipment to preserve low-acid foods, like vegetables, dairy, meat and seafood, legumes, and soups in cans, as its name implies. The process of canning at home can be challenging because several items are needed. This process, however, removes as much air as possible from the can, allowing it to last for years in a pantry.
can be one of the easiest and funniest ways to preserve foods. Because of its high acidity, vinegar naturally kills off microbes and creates a reaction in food, changing its flavor and texture, resulting in a new and different type of food.
There are many fruits and vegetables that can be used to pickle like cucumber, apples, peppers, okra, carrots, beets, onions, green beans, cauliflower, etc. In order to pickle foods, we must combine vinegar, salt, and sugar in a container and then heat it up, place the food inside, and seal it. After this, the food can last from 5-6 months in a sealed jar.
your products serves to preserve food because it removes their moisture content, thereby preventing bacteria and mold growth. Nowadays this can be done by using electric dehydrators, ovens, and freeze-drying, but this can also be achieved by using the sun and air. The good thing about dehydration is that it works with almost every food, it can be done with fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, meats, legumes, and fish.
is a dehydration process that involves freezing food without the presence of ice as the ice turns into vapor because of sublimation. This method sounds like something difficult but actually, it can be done slowly with a freezer or a modern freeze-dryer unit, but the most common method is by using dry ice.
your product is one of the most complex methods of food preservation, but one of the healthiest too. The process of fermentation happens because of a chemical reaction in which bacteria and yeast turn carbohydrates into organic acids. Because of this chemical conversion, fermented foods have the craziest tastes along with very natural and beneficial health benefits.
Although it can take time, fermented foods are everywhere, these are foods like cheese, yogurt, kimchi (our personal favorite), kombucha, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. As this process involves live bacteria and microorganisms, it may seem like it is not food safe, but in reality, it is one of the healthiest alternatives for our gut health.
preservation has been around for a long time, especially with high-sugar foods. From 1700 to 1800, fruits like peaches, cherries, and apricots were placed in alcohol-filled containers to be preserved and served as desserts. Alcohol, the same as salt and sugar, naturally draws moisture out of food, preventing bacterial growth.
Freezing is one of the most efficient methods to preserve the quality of produce. This leaves us wondering: How long can you preserve food? Does freezing fruit kill nutrients?, or Can you freeze fresh fruit? but rest assured that first of all, freezing does not affect flavor or nutrients. There are many types of different alternatives to ensure that the food you are looking to preserve can be maintained for at least 5 to 6 months.
Nevertheless, it is always important to understand that all of these methods require a proper food temperature, in order to keep it fresh, tasty, and nutritious, food safety is always the #1 priority. Extending shelf life by preserving foods is the best way to experiment with new ways of transforming and converting your product into something new.
Fresh and frozen food is not always bad quality, it is just a different method of preserving food that helps us eat things from all over the world. Teaching customers about food preservation can also be a helpful way to make sure the vegetables on sale do not end up being wasted. This is because they could apply any of the food preservation methods at home.
Now, we can see many pop culture examples of the use of this method. There are many YouTube videos or Tik-Toks with people submerging different types of fruits, candies, and even vegetables in alcohol and leaving them there to see what flavor is infused into both the alcohol and the food.