You probably ventured on gardening to know exactly what you are eating or for the security of knowing that your family has enough food to eat during calamities and emergencies. But with the recent power shortages, you need more ways of preserving food other than freezing them. Preservation has many benefits, including:
- save excess produce
- exploit the flavors of the season
- time capsule various flavors and enjoy plant-ripened flavor out of season
- especially if you grow your own food, become self-reliant and create a sustainable food source to support your family’s need
- create a tradition that you can pass on to future generations
- seek-lesser known food varieties and have an on-hand supply of hard-to-find varieties
- allow you to share your bountiful harvest with friends and others
- cheaper than buying canned or prepackaged food in the supermarket
- control the ingredients you put into your preserved food
- if you have preserved ingredients, like homemade spaghetti sauce, jerky, or dried fruit, you don’t have to go to the supermarket for it
- have a variety of grab and go food for a healthy snack, such as dried fruit or jerky
- reduce your carbon footprint since you do not have to drive to the grocery every time you need something.
- it’s fun
Here are some techniques that you can use to keep your food safe to eat.
There are many forms of curing food and they are the simplest methods to preserve and flavor them and this method usually processes food, such as vegetables, fish, and meat by adding a combination of sugar, nitrites, nitrates, and salt to draw out excess water from the food. Curing includes the following techniques.
Drying or Dehydrating
This is the one of the oldest, least labor-intensive, and easiest method to preserve food. Drying or dehydrating removes all water content, thus preventing the growth of mildew, bacteria, and mold, which thrive in moist environments, allowing you to store food for a long period of time. It also makes food nutrient dense, removing some of the water-soluble vitamins, but retaining many vitamins, minerals, calories and fiber. Dried foods are also lightweight, making them easier to store. Likewise, they have concentrated natural sugars, which can give anyone a boost of energy for survival. Dried meats and fish are rich in minerals and protein.
You can use a low-temperature oven or a food dehydrator to dry or dehydrate your food. But in case of no electricity, then you can use fire and/or fire as a source of warm, dry air to dehydrate food. Living in an arid region will certainly make drying your food easier.
Just hang thin slices of vegetables and fruits, or arrange them on a screen under the full heat of the sun and cover them at night to keep moisture off. Legumes and beans are hung as well.
However, unless it’s really dry and hot, you will need to dehydrate meat on racks over fire to prevent flies from laying eggs on them. You can salt them, if desired. The technique is to slice the food into thin pieces and put them in a current of warm, dry air to remove excess moisture without actually cooking them. Too much dry heat will dehydrate the exterior of your food quickly, trapping moisture inside them.
Salt Curing and Brining
Salt has been used as a preservative for a very long time and is used to improve the dehydrating or drying process of food, as well as adding antimicrobial agents that help preservation. Salt makes food inhospitable to most microorganisms, including bacteria that cannot tolerate more than 10 percent concentration.
Curing is a process that involves a salt and sugar mixture into fresh meat, tightly packing it into a crock, and then storing in a stable and cool temperature. On the other hand, brining is similar to curing at the start of the process, and then it uses additional salty brine that is regularly changed.
Salt cured or brined meat needs to be soaked in water for some time to remove the excess salt and make it edible. However, in some countries, salted and dried fish are fried and then added to dishes to add flavoring, such as mung bean soup with Moringa Oleifera leaves.
This method is another preserving technique that improves drying or dehydration. Wood is an important component in smoking. Fire releases the many therapeutic and fragrant properties of the wood used in smoking or pyrolysis products. The smoke transfers these pyrolysis products into the food. This not only slows bacterial growth and unlocks acid in the food the lower the pH, the smoke is also what gives smoked food their unique flavors.
The key to smoking is to keep the flame of the burning wood to about 400C, which is the temperature that best produces the best smoked meat. Temperatures lower than 200C do help produce pyrolysis products, but will make food acidic in large amounts. On the other hand, temperatures higher than 400C turn pyrolysis products into flavorless compounds.
This method involves a step-by-step process that starts with cooked food. Cooked food is sealed in jars or cans and then boiled to weaken or kill remaining bacteria, which is a form of sterilization.
While the cost of canning containers can be expensive at first, they are very sturdy and last longer. All you have to do when you have a good set is to replace the lids to make sure that the food is well-sealed, and these covers do not cost much.
Some canned foods can be eaten right away after opening. Others, like pickles, need a few weeks to allow the flavors to develop properly.
This is simply the process of preserving food by immersing in vinegar or fermentation in brine.
This process is similar to canning; however, this technique allows microbes to create toxic chemicals for less-benign bacteria and molds. The microbes, bacteria or yeast under anaerobic condition, convert sugars and starch into alcohol or acid, preventing spoilage. This process also makes food more palatable and delicious. Fermentation also uses salt or salt brine for the preservation process. Most fermenting vegetables use 2 percent salt concentration, such as horseradish, garlic, onions, quartered or whole beets, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and carrots. Very thinly sliced or grated beets and finely sliced cabbage create their own brine and will require about 5 to 6 grams of salt, preferably pink Himalayan, to every 1 pound of cleaned and prepared, adding 2 percent brine at the top as needed. Peppers require 3.5 to 10 percent salinity and pickling cucumbers require 3.5 to 5 percent because that are very prone to mold.
Vinegar is a very effective, natural antiseptic. It’s the acetic acid content of vinegar, about 4 to 5 percent in water, creates an acidic environment that prevents bacterial growth. In this process, food is put in a container or cask and then immerse in vinegar. Sometimes, salt is added into the mixture to add flavor and preservative properties.
Join my Recipe Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StirThePotRecipes/
Enter your email address to subscribe to this Blog
Come and get healthy with us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Fit4LifeWithWendy/