What is the first thing that springs to mind when you think about preserving food for later? Do you picture yourself packing leftovers, putting them in the refrigerator, and calling it a day?
If you’re a more seasoned food preservation expert, you may stock your crisper drawer with vegetables and leave a few fruits on the counter for ripening. But what more should you know about food preservation and storage, and why is it important?
Here are some of the rewards of mastering food storage:
- Fruits and veggies will last longer.
- You save money and help the environment by reducing food wastage.
- You may save money by purchasing items in bulk or in season. You may also consume them over an extended period of time without feeling rushed, which helps alleviate stress.
- You may store and consume fruits and vegetables at any time of the year.
There are several methods for storing food, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Here are three food storage methods and some things to think about depending on whatever strategy you use.
Freezing is a wonderful option for storing most foods. These include fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, oats, baby purees, soups, among others. A well-maintained freezer will preserve food for extended periods of time, after which it may be safely thawed and cooked as desired. Foods that you make at home and then freeze are nearly always healthier for you than frozen foods from the grocery store.
There are a few hazards to freezing, but there are a few factors to take into account. Anything in the freezer is susceptible to freezer burn, which occurs when air comes into touch with the food’s exterior and appears as grayish-brown blotches. This does not make the food hazardous to consume, but it does cause it to get dry in some spots. When thawing the food, you may slice these parts off. While most foods retain their flavor after freezing, others undergo significant and sometimes unappealing, textural changes.
And, as much as we would like them to, frozen goods do not have an indefinite shelf life. Soups and stews, vegetables, and fruits can rot after a certain amount of time. To avoid storing foods in the back of your freezer and forgetting about them, write the date on the container in permanent ink and then use or discard extremely old things on a regular basis. We’d recommend putting the most recently frozen things in the back and letting the older ones defrost and consume first. This establishes a natural cycle and reduces food waste.
For ages, this has been the most common way for many people to store fresh foods, whether in the root cellar or the fridge. Produce such as root vegetables, pears, apples, cabbages, and celery can survive for several months if stored properly in cold storage.
It is imperative to be mindful of and adhere to appropriate temperatures and settings for food storage in order to maximize shelf life. Apples, for example, should be kept in a wet and airy bag at temperatures slightly above freezing.
While it can be tempting to pile all your fresh produce up on the counter, it is essential to store things separately to avoid spoilage. Fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, potatoes, and tomatoes emit ethylene gas, causing foods around them to ripen quicker.
To keep them fresh, various fruits and vegetables must be preserved in specific ways. Some fruits and vegetables, such as grapes, asparagus, green onions, strawberries, and, apricots should be stored in the refrigerator straight away. Pears, peaches, kiwis, and avocados should be left to ripen on the counter before storing in the refrigerator. On the other hand, jicama, ginger, mandarin oranges, and pomegranates should never be refrigerated since they taste best at room temperature.
Canning is a low-cost method of preserving the quality of food at home. Vegetables, applesauce, infant purees, jams, and jellies are some of the most often canned foods. The basics of canning include properly cleaning the fresh produce you will use, skinning and hot packing if necessary, adding acids like lemon juice or vinegar if the product isn’t acidic enough, and using self-sealing jars with lids. Canning containers are then processed by either boiling water (for acidic fruit and veggies) or using a pressure canner (for low-acid fruit and veggies) for the necessary period of time. This serves to inhibit bacterial development and eliminate any germs, ensuring safety.
Home canning may save you a lot of money and eliminate the danger of BPA contamination since you use glass mason jars instead of plastic or BPA-lined industrial cans.
There are a few drawbacks to canning as well. In addition to losing some of their taste and nutrients over time, canned preserves, jams, and jellies sometimes contain a lot of added sugar in their pretreatment process, which poses specific health concerns.
You should keep in mind that mold can form on canned goods, particularly the surfaces of high sugar foods such as jams and jellies. Mold may create harmful substances known as mycotoxins, which have the potential to cause cancer. Fortunately, mold is typically brightly colored and easy to spot on tinned food surfaces. Mold may be avoided by using suitable heat processing and air-tight sealing techniques. Testing the seals is a good idea before storing your canning jars in the pantry or cabinet.
Nobody enjoys returning home or opening their refrigerator to discover that the food they just purchased has gone bad or, worse, is no longer edible. If you seek innovative ways to extend the shelf life of food products you like, try some of these food storage methods. You might discover that learning how to preserve food saves you time and money while also allowing you to enjoy a newfound kitchen pastime!
If you own a food business, you don’t want to lose your loyal customers by selling spoiled food products. In addition to applying the above storage methods, you can also think about using professional barrier bags to guarantee proper product preservation.