Eating green and healthy food with home-made dinner cooked by fresh ingredients is the most popular health trend currently. However, in this fast pace modern life where time is money, sometimes, going to supermarket 3 times a week can be painful and time-consuming. But stacking up food in your refrigerator and letting all the food being spoiled are so not the solution as well. Therefore, if you need some methods to keep your food staying fresh longer, this article will give you some valuable information about effectively food preservation.
Dehydrating Your Food
This method is a common way of food preservation and is widely used because it is easy to do. Not only can a good way to prevent wasting food, dehydrating also retain much of fresh food nutrition. The ideal food is fruit, veggies, some protein like fish or herbs (this method is commonly used to store medical herbs as well). Nowadays, there are many dehydrating machines that can do pretty much all of hard work. All you have to do is slice or chop the ingredients into shape you want and put them in the machine. However, the cost maybe burdensome and the machine may take up a lot of space in your kitchen. Below are some alternatives to dry your food that do not cost your extra money.
- Oven: The easiest way is to put your food in the oven, turn it to lowest setting for 6 or 8 hours. You can turn higher temperature to speed up the process but the result sometimes will not as good though.
- Toaster Oven: Just like oven, you will turn the lowest setting and leave the toaster door slightly open to prevent condensation. You should frequently check the food for perfectly dried outcomes.
- Sun-dry: The most traditional way is using sunlight to dry your food, but it could cost extra time rather than using machine. Sometime, if the weather is not good, your food can be spoiled too. And this method is just suitable for some certain ingredients.
- Microwave: You possibly dehydrate your food with microwave but the risk of failure is higher because you cannot control the heat to lowest like oven and toaster. Moreover, some food like apple and herbs are recommended but some is not.
Freezing maybe the most convenient way for food storing as everyone have refrigerators nowadays with high-technology designs and functions. However, you cannot just put all of your food into fridge and let them freeze for months. Besides, even if freezing is the way to preserve food and keep them fresh, wrong storing process can cause losing nutrition value or spoiled food. Below are preservation tips for freezing some particular groups of food.
- Dairy Products: Dairy products such as milk, cheeses, buttermilk, and yogurt ect., require cool temperature for preservation. If you want to dairy products last longer than keeping them under cool environment, freeze them until the next time you use. The texture and consistency maybe changed a little bit under freezing forms like milk, cream cheese, ect., but they will return to normal when thawed, just shake them a little bit before using. Mind the preserved date too because storing too long can cause nutrition lost too.
- Fruit: Freezing fruit is favored during summer time. Frozen fruit can be delicious snack for everyone to cool down under the heat of summer. Storing fruit by freezing also can give you wonderful smoothies for your family as well. The process is simple with fresh fruit being washed (make sure you eliminated all the bad ones), and then put them into freezer bags. You should squeeze out as much air as possible, seal tightly so air don’t spoiled your fruit. And remember to label the freeze date too.
- Veggies: Just like fruit, vegetables (not leafy green) can be frozen to stay fresh longer. Wash and chop them into desired pieces which will be convenient later when thawed and cooked, then put them into freeze bags just like fruit and leave them in the refrigerator. For leafy green like spinach, chard, ect…the most usual way is put them in blender and freeze them under smoothie form to prevent waste.
- Prepared Food: You will reduce your cooking time with some freezing ingredients that are prepared the previous days. You can store pretty much everything you want but remember to mind the date. The longer the food stays in the refrigerator, the less nutritive they become.
Put Your Food into Cans
Canning is the method of diminishing the natural spoilage process where food is canned in glass jar to removing air interaction, help them stay fresh longer. There are two canning methods which are water bath canning and pressure canning. However, before you start, there are some knowledge should be covered to prevent any mistakes during the canning process.
Water Bath Canning: This method is preferred for high acid food (foods that has a pH below 4.6). The method is to eliminate air by boiling jars contained food in the canner pot. Make sure you sterilize the jars before putting them into canner and let the jars naturally cool down for the sealing effect. The foods that is suitable for water bath canning includes:
- Jams and jellies
- Pickles and relished
- Tomatoes with added acid
- Chutneys, vinegars and condiments
Water bath canning is more favorable because it takes less cost for canner pot than pressure canner. However, the success rate of water bath canner is lower than using the second method.
Pressure Canning: Pressure canning is used to preserve low-acid foods (foods with pH higher than 4.6). The pressure process will kill the botulism toxin which is deadly from the foods. Since this bacteria grow at temperature between 40-120oF and oxygen levels below 2% (canning environment), low-acid food need pressure canning to prevent health issues for eaters. Some foods that need pressure canning are:
- Protein including meats, seafood, poultry
- Dairy products (freezing is better with dairy)
- Cooked food like soup and meals