Food preservatives

Natural food preservatives

Natural (or traditional) preservation techniques are food preservation methods used in keeping food fresh and safe for consumption. These techniques have been in use for several for several centuries. It involves the use of natural ingredients such as salt, sugar, vinegar, and oil to prevent the growth of microorganisms and slow down the rate of spoilage.

Not only are natural ways to preserve food much more environmentally friendly, they also improve food taste and give it flavour while maintaining its nutritional value. There are a wide range of natural preservation methods suitable for food, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and other food types. Personally, I feel controlling exposure to chemicals is important and the use of natural food preservatives is healthier and a perfect solution.

Home based food preservation techniques

  1. Fermentation: this is a process of preserving food by conversion of sugar or starch in food to a range of products, which are principally organic acids, alcohol, and carbon dioxide. These products limit the growth of spoilage or pathogenic microorganisms in the food. You can preserve food with fermentation by sealing it in air-tight containers.
  2. Drying: this is one of the oldest and simplest methods of food preservation. It works by reducing water content of the food which makes it difficult for microorganisms to grow and spoil the food. Drying is useful in preserving vegetables, herbs and fruits. Exposing food to the sun or using a dehydrator uses the drying method. Dried foods can be further stored in air tight containers.
  3. Smoking: this is a method of preserving through exposing the food to a flame (or burning wood). The heat from the flame (or chemicals from the burning wood) prevents microbial growth. Smoking can be used to preserve meat, and fish. Smoked food often has a nice flavour and can be stored for several months.
  4. Salting: is an ancient method of food preservation. It works by absorbing moisture in the food, forming a product that makes growth of microorganisms difficult. Salted foods can be stored for several months. It can be used in preserving meat, fish and vegetables.
  5. Binning/pickling: binning is a method of preserving food by soaking it in a solution of water, salt and spices. Pickling is similar to binning, the only difference is that pickling uses vinegar. Common spices used are bay leaves, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Binning can be used to preserve meat, poultry and fish while pickling can be used to preserve vegetables and fruits.
  6. Spices: this are often used to improve food flavour or taste, however they can also be used in preservation of food. Some of these include Clove, Cinnamon, Bay Leaves, and Black and white pepper. Cloves can be used to preserve meat fish and fermented foods. Cinnamon is useful in preservation of fruits and dairy products. Bay leaves can be used to preserve jollof rice, meat and poultry. Black and white pepper can be used to preserve most foods, they have antioxidant properties and improves digestion.

With the rise in food prices, keeping food wastage at a minimum while ensuring healthier food through natural methods is important. With the above easy and inexpensive methods, this can be achieved. Let me know how this helps get you started in the comments.