Food preservation is an integral global culture which has been in existence since time immemorial. There are many reasons why civilization has over the years adopted several ways of preserving food. Winters have always made it necessary to preserve food to ensure survival during the harsh unyielding months of cold and snow. In the modern world, convenience and costs have been the main reasons behind preservation. Buying fresh products during the time they are in season is an effective way of reducing budgetary costs especially during the winter months. It also reduces the time people spend looking shopping for products in a world which demands more of its people. There are several ways of preserving food depending on the scale of preservation and the preferences f the household. One of the most common methods is cooking as a way of preservation due to its ease of use and reduced use of chemicals if any.
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Cooking Methods of Food Preservation
Cooking food as a preservation method can be achieved in several ways depending on the culture, level of technological development and the type of food to be preserved. Cooking to preserve food has been shown to be highly beneficial due to the following attributes:
- Use of heat kills germs which cause diseases.
- Some forms of cooking as a method of preservation especially smoking inhibits toxins.
- Self preservation is a form of saving money.
- Reducing the need to use chemicals.
This paper shall consider three methods of preservation which can be considered to be a way of cooking the food for the purpose of preservation. This is not to mean that all other methods are unimportant but rather as a way of showing how personal preference affects our choice of preservation method. These methods are dehydrating foods, jellying and pickling.
Dehydration is one of the most effective and popular methods of preserving food now and even in ancient civilizations. This is not just a popular method for home use alone but is employed by firms and supermarkets too. The process involves drying food products completely to kill bacteria or render it inactive and ineffective. These foods are usually placed in air tight containers where they are able to last for a long duration without being compromised by bacteria or other microbes. Drying can be achieved by several methods among them being natural and artificial drying and the more traditional smoking method. Drying food may cause its natural flavor to change but most people have come to enjoy the new flavors. Dehydration thereby allows food to be preserved for long periods of time and create new flavors to add to the preexisting variety (Kitchen Witch).
Jellying involves cooking foodstuffs using a material that solidifies and in the process forms a solid gel. Some common examples of materials which are used in such processes include maize floor and agar (Lemm). There are other foodstuffs which when cooked on their own produces a similar gel making their preservation easier. One such foodstuff includes eels which are enjoyed all over the world especially in China and London.
Pickling as a food preservation method has been around for a long time due to its ability to preserve several kinds of food. In addition, pickled foods tend to develop a different kind of taste which becomes a reason in itself to pickle food stuffs. Pickling usually involves preserving food in a special mixture of salt and water to make brine and the process is referred to as anaerobic fermentation (Nummer). Food can also be stored in an alternative solution so long as such solution has acidity. Pickled food usually ends up being salty or develops sour taste. Vinegar can also be mixed with edible oils and be used as an alternative solution for pickling foodstuffs. Pickling is an effective method of preserving perishable products for a long duration. On top of its preservation benefits and change in food flavor, pickling results in production of Vitamin B making the food highly nutritious. Food is usually pickled in pH below 4.5 and with the addition of some vital herbs and spices among them being garlic and cloves. Two of the most pickled products in American and Europe are cucumbers and eggs.
It is clear that food preservation will continue to be an integral part of any society and learning how best to do so is necessary to save both time and money. Food preservation is great way of saving money through acquisition of required foods during their seasons and using them in times of winter. It also saves time by buying in bulks and preserving what remains after immediate use. There are several methods of food preservation but cooking as a method of preservation is effective, cheaper and easy to use.