You probably don’t give your food much thought on a day to day basis, and it’s even more likely that you don’t even really know where your food has been. The influx of culture, convenience, and the pace of life in the 21st century have largely desensitized people to the processes behind the tasty foods they eat.
It’s important that you know what you’re putting into your body, and understanding the processes behind the preservation of your tasty treats will help. Take some time for exploration, and take a brief look at the science behind the art of food preservation.
Canning for preservation
During the process of canning foods for preservation, the food is heated and placed into a vacuum sealed container for safe storage. The process of canning food grants the ability to store food safely without refrigeration or freezing.
Heating the food before canning it will kill off any dangerous microorganisms. Heat is also used in the vacuum sealing process, but the heat produced is not enough to safely sterilize the food. It’s important to use both heating processes to assure the safety of the food when it is consumed.
Freezing for preservation
You can also stop microbial activity and growth in your food by using extremely cold temperatures. When food is frozen, microbial action is interrupted, and the water those organisms would use to hydrate if frozen solid and inaccessible.
The science to remember when using chilled processes for food preservation is that the microorganisms will pick up where they left off when the food reaches room temperature once again. It’s important to use other food safety measures to assure your meal is safe once it reaches your plate.
Pickling for preservation
The main mechanism of pickling for preservation is controlling the growth of microorganisms by raising the acidity of the environment in which the food is stored. Pickling food for safe storage will also change the flavor and/or color of your edible creations.
Dehydration for preservation
Preservation by dehydration also removes access to water for microbial organisms. The bacteria in some foods can survive this process, but they cannot thrive without access to water.
Once the food is rehydrated, safe handling steps should be taken to keep it edible. Some foods are dried and salted for preservation, ruling out the risks of rehydration.
Fermentation for preservation
Fermentation also preserves food by creating a more acidic environment. Fermentation does a lot to change the flavor of the food.
Fermentation lays its foundation on the hopes that natural lactic acid bacterias will work within the food to lower the pH and stop the infiltration of harmful bacterial growth.