Methods For Food Preservation

From time immemorial, people have developed unique methods of food preparation and storage. Often, these processes included things such as stockpiling long shelf-life foods like honey and dried beans. Other techniques involved processing the food in such a way that it won’t spoil for a long period of time. This article will cover some of these old school methods for food preservation along with the newest innovations out there!!

Old Traditions

The need to preserve and store food transcends time and space, lasting as long as mankind itself. Throughout the ages, cultures, and traditions, people from all different backgrounds, races, and religions have tried several “tried and true” methods to make and use food that lasts for long periods of time. Honey was found in the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians that is still edible today. Native Americans from North America are the creators of Pemmican, a nutrient and protein rich food that lasts 50 years plus without refrigeration. During The Age Of Sail (1571-1861), mariners used salted meat for long voyages across the ocean, knowing that it would keep for extended amounts of time.

Best Preservation Methods

Although the principles of food preservation remain the same, the available technology (and innovations) that employ these methods have evolved greatly, now allowing people to save and prep food in style! Here are the most common ways to extend the shelf life of your food along with the appropriate products:

  1. Canning: The process of preserving food in a mason jar using steam or boiling water to create an air-tight seal. There are two types of canners available, a water-bath canner which is used for fruits, and a pressure canner that is ideal for animal products and vegetables. Both types of canners are similar, but the pressure canner reaches hot enough temperatures which helps prevent exposure to botulism. Fruits on the other hand, are usually high in acidity which makes for an environment uninhabitable to this deadly bacterium (Clostridium Botulinum). For this reason, the more cost-efficient water-bath canner for high-acid fruits would make for the better choice. For vegetables, meats, and other low-acid fruits, the pressure canner is the way to go! If done correctly, canned food can last decades!!!
  2. Dehydration: One of the oldest forms of food preservation, this method involves removing any and all moisture from the food using heat and/or air circulation. Household dehydrators can be easily obtained at places like Amazon, and can extend the shelf-life of many foods for years and years!!
  3. Vacuum Seal: Definitely one of the coolest innovations ever! A vacuum sealer has the power to remove all the air from the bag the food is stored in, and also provide a hermetic seal through the use of heat. This process can increase the shelf-life of foods by 3-5x, if not more!
  4. Freeze Dry: Unlike a dehydrator that uses heat to evaporate moisture from food, a freeze dryer uses low temperatures, low pressure, and a process called sublimation (removes ice by converting it to gas) to dehydrate a chosen food source. This process can leave food with a shelf life of up to 30 years, if not longer.
  5. Freezer: At the end of the day, nothing beats your every day freezer for most of your long term food storage needs. Properly prepared and stored food in the freezer can last months to years!
  6. Air-tight Containers: With a few essential items, namely airtight food containers and moisture resistant Mylar bags (with oxygen absorbers), anybody can store basic food essentials (i.e. beans and white rice) for the long haul, like 30 plus years.

Did You Know:

  • Food Spoilage depends on exposure to either oxygen, light, rodents, and/or moisture.
  • 1/3 of the food produced globally (in a year) goes to waste.
  • Shelf life depends on storage area of food (i.e. pantry, refrigerator, or in a dark dry space.
  • Freeze Drying is also referred to as lyophilisation or cryodesiccation.
  • Some foods have a natural long shelf life. If interested in finding out which ones, check out the article, “Long Shelf Life Foods – 30 Years Plus” for more information.

Spoiler Alert!!!

When taking steps to preserve food, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration. First of all, the new expiration date is more of a “best-guess” understanding than hard science. This is because when you are preparing food to be stored for the long-run, the smallest detail may affect the shelf-life by years! Food stored in cool dark dry places keep longer than when stored in hotter, moister, or under more vibrant light conditions.

Potential Benefits

Whether you are stockpiling for an apocalyptic scenario, or just wanting to save money and waste less food, understanding the various methods of food preservation are key to long term food preparation and storage. We waste so much money annually on spoiled food. Applying simple food preservation techniques can make all the difference to not only global food waste, but one’s own personal bank account as well!

Food For Thought

When you really think about it, it only makes sense to invest in the knowledge and equipment/tools necessary to enhance one’s own quality of life. By learning appropriate methods to extend the life of the foods you purchase, you will be saving a ton of money on shopping expenses, money that could go toward something else that will benefit your life!

2 Comments

  1. Byron Moya

    Reply

    Thank you for the knowledge. I never knew that you could store food by canning and lasting years. I always thought you would have to throw it away after a few months. Thank you for the information

    • admin

      Reply

      Yes, there are several ways to preserve food, and canning is definitely a good one!

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