Canning and Preserving
You do not need to be an expert on diet and nutrition to understand that food preservation is one of the best things that has ever happened to humanity. If people have no safe methods of preserving food, they are often in serious trouble and frequently suffer from hunger. Modern times, in many parts of the world, people often rely on foods that are imported from other places. These foods have to be preserved or else they will spoil before they get to the destinations where people need them the most. Even in food producing countries like the US, canning and preserving food plays a vital role in the local food industry. The message here is quite simple: the individual who preserves food is contributing to the progress of the society and that is good.
Now, you need to understand that food preservation is not all about companies and food processing outfits. You also need to know how to preserve safely because home preserving is a very important part of the picture. Anybody who is familiar with the chemicals used in commercial food preservation will understand that there is a compelling need for food preservation at home.
Some of the common chemicals used to preserve food include sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate and propyl gallate. There are other chemicals like thimerosal, potassium bromate, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Now, some of these chemicals sound frightening and the truth is they are frightening. This is because chemical preservatives have been linked to cancer, kidney problems, nervous system disorders and tumors. There is no necessity to point out all of the technical details here. What you need to know is that chemical preservatives are bad for you. This is why you need to use natural methods to preserve your fruits and vegetables.
Since your aim is to preserve food safely, you need to use purely natural methods and this may depend in part upon where you live. People in very sunny places can preserve some foods by drying them in the sun. This method works very well for things like peppers and ginger. You can also preserve fish using a combination of sun drying and curing. Dried fish is very tasty and it has a higher protein content than fish prepared in other ways. This means you are getting a combination of good food and great taste in one delicious package.
Preserving vegetables can be a tricky process because different vegetables are processed in different ways. The trick is to know the right process for each variety of vegetable so that you will use the right procedure. The best way to preserve fruits and vegetables with high water content is by canning. This is how to preserve tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, and peaches. Now, this is a technical process so it is best done by people who have an eye for detail. If you want to make a success of the canning process, you need to choose ripe, mature and healthy vegetables. Again, the ones you choose need to be disease free before you begin the canning process. Wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly and make sure there are no bruises on them. Wash the jars and use only new lids and seals. If the cans are properly sealed the stuff inside will remain fresh for months.
Another excellent method of preserving some kinds of vegetables is by freezing them. This is a simple and straight forward process. The great thing about this method is that frozen vegetables can last 8- 12 weeks in the freezer and still remain fresh. Again, the steps are quite simple. Wash and blanch the vegetables, cut them into small pieces and wrap them in water proof polyethylene bags. Seal the bags and put them in the freezer. For best results, vegetables need to be frozen soon after harvesting or soon after they are bought. It will also make sense to set the freezer at zero degrees Celsius before freezing the vegetables. This will speed up the freezing process and keep the vegetables fresh from day one. As long as you follow the right steps, you can freeze numerous kinds of vegetables including onions, carrots, celery, broccoli, beets, and cabbage.
If you know how to preserve food, you also need to observe safety standards. The reason you are preserving the food in the first place is because you want to eat healthy food and avoid chemical preservatives. For this reason, you should not preserve fruits or vegetables with bruises on them. Again, you need to ensure that there are no insects hiding in the foods you want to preserve. You also need to wash all fruits and vegetables properly before preserving them.
Finally, do not eat preserved food that looks bad. Discard canned foods that are leaking or have bulging lids. Boil all home canned foods for 10-15 minutes before eating them. While you are boiling the food, look out for mold, foam or an off odor. If any of these are present, do not eat the food. Remember that your aim is to stay alive and healthy and not to poison yourself. You can preserve and enjoy your food in you follow the right steps.
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