All posts filed under: Preserved Food

PRESERVED FOOD

In a previous era preserving food was a common, everyday activity, dependant on the season, availability and local conditions. Summer fruit and vegetables were preserved when they were is season. Meat was slaughtered in late autumn with the first ground frosts. In the absence of refrigeration populations had no choice but to preserve food according to availability and the methods passed down from one generation to the next. Preserved food would have formed a much larger portion of mankind’s everyday diet than it does today. It is impossible to talk about preserving food without talking about spoilage for, at heart, food preservation is about preventing putrification and rot. Applying some very simple techniques can arrest the process of both and preserve food for lengthy periods of time allowing us to eat food either out of season, in times of scarcity or simply to relish the sheer number of strong, tangible and desirable flavours that preserved foods deliver. A number of factors cause food to decay: warmth, oxygen, moisture, light, enzymes and microorganisms. To prevent food …

MICROORGANISMS AND THE HUMAN BIOME

No discussion on food preservation and LABs would be complete without some consideration of the LABs that reside in and on the human being. The scientific literature refers to them as the human biome. Some alternative literature refers to them as the human micro-flora or human eco-system. Take your pick – the essential thing to remember is that we are just beginning to understand how essential these tiny life forms are to our continued good health. There are literally trillions of bacteria residing in our guts, our mouth, our scalp, our skin and every single orifice from top to toe; 100 trillion bacteria reside in the human gut alone many more in our mouth, our nose and the female vagina; there are 10 times more bacterial cells in our body than there are human cells; the total weight of the bacteria residing in and on the human body weighs approximately 1 kg – the same weight as many of our organs. It is estimated that up to 60% of our human biome resides permanently in …

Traditional Methods of Food Preservation

It is worth distinguishing between the preservation of raw food and the preservation of food that has already been cooked. Cooking food destroys some essential nutrients such as vitamin C, it kills off enzymes present in the food and it kills off beneficial bacteria. This is not to say that cooked food is bad and should be abandoned. Quite the contrary. Cooked food has many, many other advantages that should not be ignored. Cooked food releases an abundance of energy and releases nutrients otherwise locked into the food source. Do not stop cooking. This, however, is a chapter on preserved food the vast body of which concerns uncooked food. Traditional, uncooked, preserved food retains and in many cases boosts the nutrient content of the food being preserved, enzymes remain in tact and in the case of traditionally pickled food are brimming with trillions of LABs that feed our micro-flora. It is for this reason that Sally Fallon recommends always eating some raw, preferably fermented, condiments along-side cooked food. PICKLING Pickling is a loose term used …

Modern Methods of Food Preservation

COOLING/FREEZING The activity of micro-organisms and enzymes is halted when food is frozen allowing food and nutrients to be preserved for long periods of time. In the case of refrigeration microbial and enzymatic activity is considerably reduced in temperatures below 5 degrees centigrade, which is why refrigeration is such an effective means of food preservation. Whilst some cultures sought out caves to preserve food and aristocrats built cool houses the vast body of everyday cooks had access to neither. Refrigeration is an excellent modern invention and an ideal way to keep raw food fresh. CANNING Many associate traditional cooking with glass-jar canning. Is there nothing more homely than a glass jar of chutney resting on a shelf in the kitchen. Do not glass jar evoke images of grandmother cooking jam over a huge pot? On continental Europe the practice of canning home-grown produce in glass jars continued well into the 1960’s and 1970’s. In eastern Europe and Russia many did and still do have small gardens where they grow most of their own produce relying …

INDUSTRIAL METHODS OF FOOD PRESERVATION: A futile attempt to square the circle

This brings us onto one of the most controversial issues in modern food practices – how to prevent pathogenic microbial contamination of food when responsible for a production line that throws out millions of batches a day – and – preserve the food for long enough to hit the shelves. Those responsible for the mass production of food are faced with four challenges. First, guarantee food free from microbial contamination. Second, prepare food at a competitive price that consumers will buy. Third, produce nutritious food. Fourth make a profit. The fact is that it is impossible to fulfil the first three and deliver on the fourth. Which ever way we look at it, regardless of the excuses relied upon, no matter what the twisted science proposed it is pretty much impossible to deliver factory prepared food that is free from pathogenic contamination, that can be sold at competitive, budget friendly prices, that can return a profit – and offer natural nutrients. At the end of the day consumers can not expect a food industry to …