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Food Prevention 101

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In today’s world where fresh produce is hard to find and expensive, food preservation can be a lifesaver. It extends the life of perishable foods and preserves their nutritional value, so we can enjoy a wide variety of foods all year round. 

Below we will discuss issues around food prevention and how we as consumers can get around and extend the lifespan of the food we buy and touch on some points can include in our daily lives. 

Freezing

Freezing is a fantastic, budget-friendly way to reduce food waste and enjoy, seasonal produce year-round. 

Microorganisms enjoy a good rave at room temperature. By dropping the temperature and slowing down enzyme activity (the natural process that breaks down food), freezing ends their happiness. This preserves your food for months to come, keeping it safer to eat for longer. 

Canning

When food is canned, it is sealed in jars or cans and heated to kill bacteria. Low-acid foods like vegetables, meats, and soups are perfect for this technique. 

Canned food can be a healthy and convenient option, but many store-bought canned foods are high in sodium and unhealthy additives. By canning your own food, you can control the ingredients and ensure that you are eating healthy, nutritious foods. 

Drying and Dehydrating

Dehydration is the process of removing water from food, which inhibits the growth of bacteria and mould that cause spoilage. This concentrated form of food becomes lightweight, shelf-stable, and packed with nutrients. It’s a technique used for centuries, and with good reason! One great example is everyone’s favourite Biltong.  

Here are some examples: 

Fruit – Apples, bananas, mangoes, berries, pineapple 

Vegetables – Tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms 

Herbs: Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary 

Groceries: Pasta, rice, quinoa, powdered milk, freeze-dried coffee.  

Sun drying, oven drying, and using food dehydrators are common methods. Like one is less likely to dehydrate food at home, consumers buy dry good to help maintain shelf life. You may buy (or even make!) fresh pasta for a special occasion but you always have dried pasta in the cupboard. 

Pickling

Pickling is an age-old technique that preserves food using vinegar and brine. It’s not just for cucumbers anymore! You can pickle almost any vegetable, giving it a shelf life of months and a burst of flavour perfect for sandwiches, salads, or just snacking straight from the jar. 

By this time, we all know about pickled onions, but have you heard of pickled cucumbers, peppers, green beans, and fruit? What about the Easter flavourite, pickled fish?  

Storage 

Knowing how long food lasts helps you plan your meals and prioritize what gets eaten first. This prevents delicious ingredients from going bad before you have a chance to use them. 

Here are some simple examples: 

Freeze it! Many foods freeze well, allowing you to stock up on sales and prevent waste—blanch vegetables before freezing to preserve nutrients. 

“First In, First Out”: Rotate your groceries, placing new items behind older ones. This ensures you eat the older food before it spoils. 

Make a shopping list. Before you head to Food Lover’s Market, check what you have in your fridge and cupboard before you buy items you don’t need.  

Proper Packaging: Store food in airtight containers or use reusable wraps to prevent spoilage. 

Know Your Zones: Different areas of your fridge have varying temperatures. Colder shelves are ideal for raw meat and dairy, while crisper drawers are perfect for fruits and vegetables. 

 

Food preservation is an art and a science that allows you to enjoy the seasonal flavours all year long. You may explore your creative side in the kitchen, improve your health, cut down on food waste and save money, by learning the fundamentals of several preservation techniques and adhering to recommended practices. Now grab some jars and freezer bags, roll up your sleeves, and discover the amazing world of food preservation! 

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