When it comes to food preservation, you can practice different methods of preserving your food. Basically, there are six methods of preserving food: (1) canning, (2) freezing, (3) drying, (4) smoking, salting and curing, (5) fermenting, and (6) juicing.
Canning is said to be the most popular method of preserving food. In canning, you just have to apply heat to the food that has been secured inside a jar. While all types of food have microorganisms, canning helps kill all these unwanted microorganisms that cause the food to spoil.
Proper canning allows you to prevent the food from decaying by heating it within a given time span until you have already destroyed the unwanted microorganisms. Aside from the heating process, you also keep the food inside a jar and seal it. Basically, doing so lets you remove the air from your jar and form a vacuum inside as your jar starts to cool and seals. The vacuum that has been formed protects your food against microorganisms that cause spoilage.
There are two methods of canning food (these are the only ones that the United States Department of Agriculture approved): pressure canning and water-bath canning.
While pressure canning involves the use of a kettle for heating, the process is still different from water-bath canning. Unlike the other one which uses the kettle for the hot water, pressure canning uses the steam that comes from the kettle instead. Basically, you just have to place the jar inside the kettle until it reaches an inner temperature that is 240oF under a particular pressure, which is indicated in pounds and measured with dial gauge on the cover of the pressure-canner.
The water-bath canning method involves the use of boiling water for heating food, which is why it is also called hot water canning. In water-bath canning, you just “bathe” the can or the jar in the hot water and have it heated up to a temperature of 212oF for a given time period.
Make use of this method when you are processing food with high acid content. Some varieties of food that have high acid content include tomatoes (as well as food made from tomatoes), and pickles (as well as pickled food).
Another method of food preservation is freezing. As the term itself implies, you just have to freeze your food so that you can preserve its freshness. Freezing is said to be the perfect method to use if you want to preserve food that can’t stand heat and even the long process of canning.
First off, make sure that the food you are freezing is still fresh because in the first place, you just preserve its freshness. You do not make the food fresh, per se, so the food’s freshness is of primary importance. Moreover, you also have to freeze the food as soon as you possibly can, and keep the food at freezing temperatures so you can make sure that it is still fresh.
When freezing your food, you have to properly package it. Use the right freezer containers or paper since these are the ones suitable for freezing. Proper packaging helps in the prevention of any decline in the quality of your food, therefore giving you the assurance that the food you are freezing is still fresh. More so, keep in mind that when the food gets exposed to the dry air in your freezer, there is always the tendency that your food will be damaged and its quality will get worse. Freezer-damaged food will not exactly hurt you, though, but it will most likely taste bad and will be less appetizing. Therefore, you still have to ensure that you prevent your food from getting damaged in your freezer and that you are doing the right thing.
So before anything else, check if your food is properly packaged. Make sure that it is not exposed to air as much as possible. Wrap your food tightly. Moreover, you also have to avoid temperature changes. As much as possible, your freezer should be kept closed so that the temperature will remain constant. Lastly, do not stuff your freezer with too many items for this will only reduce the circulation of the air inside, which in turn will cause damage to your food.
Drying food is said to be the very first method of food preservation. Basically, when drying your food, you just have to expose it to a specific temperature that is high enough so that all the moisture will be removed but still low enough so that your food will not be cooked.
When drying your food, make sure that the air circulates properly because this helps in getting your food evenly dried. You can use an electric dehydrator, which is said to be the most effective tool to use for dying food. However, if you do not have a dehydrator, you can also make use of other equipment that you have at home, such as a thermostat or a fan, or you can just leave it lying under the sun; that is the cheapest way of drying food. Using the sun’s heat may take a little longer as compared to using a machine though, but it is still worth the wait.
For you to be able to dry your food successfully, keep in mind the following:
Choose the product with the best quality. High-quality food—those that are ripe already—are said to be the best ingredients to use for drying since you can be sure when it comes to freshness. As what we have mentioned previously, preserving food just prolongs its freshness and does not necessarily make it fresh, so you have to choose the freshest ingredients.
Take all the blemishes away. Clean your food first before drying them. Get rid of the dirt, dust, or even the insects since these will only contaminate your food. Make sure also that you are using sanitized tools when cleaning your food since the residue from these tools may cause cross-contamination.
Prepare your food in even sizes. Since you are going to process the food all together, it is important that they are of uniform sizes. Cut them into similar sizes and thickness as well process them all at about the same time, so that they all will be evenly dried.
Carefully place your food on the trays. When arranging the food on the drying tray, make sure that they are all in a single layer (again, we are aiming for uniformity here). Make sure also that you leave enough space in between so that your each piece of food is not touching the other. You will quickly dry your food with a food dehydrator, if you don’t have, please read reviews on this website to find best food dehydrator.
Smoking, salting, and curing
The process of smoking, salting, and curing applies to meat preservation. But just like any other food preservation method, these three basically slows down the spoilage by preventing bacteria and other unwanted microorganisms from growing in the food.
Smoking is the process of filling the meat with pleasant tasting smoke and allowing this smoke to move around the meat for a given period of time.
There are two types of smoking: hot and cold smoking. When we say hot smoking, we just basically cook the meat indirectly in heat and smoke for couple of hours while applying flavor to it. Once the meat has already been cooked, you can now eat it. Yes, the process is just like that of barbecuing meat. On the other hand, when we say cold smoking, we just improve the flavor of the meat while drying it. This method is what we use for food preservation.
As the term itself suggests, salting is the process of applying salt to a piece of meat. After the application of salt, you have to chill the meat for about two months and then smoke it afterwards to add and enhance flavor.
Country-style hams are a product of salting meat. The process of making country-style hams is just easy: You first have to trim the excess fat off the meat, and then apply a mixture of 1 pound salt and 1 pound sugar on the meat. Afterwards, wrap the meat tightly with a paper so that you can keep the salt layer of the meat in place and then let it dry in a cool place. Cure your ham for several days depending on how many pounds your ham weighs (usually 2 ½ days for every pound). Once you are done curing the ham, take the wrapped paper off and then hand it for 30-40 days in temperatures under 40o.
Just like salting, curing also involves the use of salt. However, aside from salt, it also makes use nitrites and other seasonings that should be applied to the meat. Essentially, you just soak the meat in a solution that contains salts and all the other ingredients, and doing so does not only preserves the meat but also makes it taste better. After the applying these ingredients and soaking the meat, you just have to let your meat sit for several hours until the moisture within has already been drawn out.
As you probably know, not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there are the so-called “good bacteria” which are good for our body. In the process of fermentation, these good bacteria are being introduced into your food (in a good way). Fermenting the food is also the process of souring it instead of pickling it.
When fermenting food, you have to make sure that you are doing it safely. Ferment the food in the most sanitary way and use the freshest products so that you can make sure that you are introducing the good bacteria rather than the bad ones. It is important you cultivate the bacteria properly so that you can ensure safe fermentation. You can only do proper bacterial cultivation when you work in a clean area. Moreover, fermenting your food does not only make it last longer and taste better, it also makes your food even healthier. Most types of food that are fermented include beer, cheese, yogurt, mead, and other kinds of vegetables.
Basically, juicing is the process of breaking down your food and extracting the juice that it contains. The most common types of food that are being juiced are fruits and vegetables. In this process, you just have to liquefy all the parts of the fruit or vegetable so that you can get all the vitamins, minerals, as well as fiber that comes with it. You can extract the juice from the fruit or vegetables by either using the pressure of your hand or using automatic juicers. In this process, you can make use of different types of juicers such as blender juicers, centrifugal juicers, masticating juicers, and many more.
You can consume the juice either raw or cooked. Many experts say, however, that drinking the juice raw is better since it still contains all the natural nutrients from the fruit or vegetables in which it was extracted from. But you can also include the juice to some of your dishes to make them healthier and much tastier.
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