How different cultures preserve food without electricity

Preserve food

Since time immemorial, people have been forced to preserve food in order to stock up and ensure their supply for the entire year. Preserving food is not only useful, it is also delicious. Most people do not want to do without a rum pot, the air-dried salami or a juicy sauerkraut.

Always pay attention to the best before date
No food can be preserved forever, but the shelf life can be significantly extended thanks to various processes. The aim is always to minimize or kill the microorganisms that are responsible for food spoilage or to extremely slow down their metabolism. The oldest methods of preserving food are drying, smoking, salting and souring. When industrialization arrived, freezing and boiling were added. In principle, either physical or chemical processes can be used to delay the spoilage of the food. The physical methods work with heat or cold or with dehydration. Examples of this are the freezing of vegetables, the boiling down of fruit, but also the drying of fruit, fish or meat. We all know the chemical possibilities of preservation. A tasty smoked sirloin, sweet breakfast jam or a currant schnapps. Most people also have plenty of appetite for hearty sauerkraut or feta cheese.

Preservation of food - postpone the best-before date

We would like to provide you with comprehensive information on the subject of food on the following pages. We will introduce you to some foods and give you tips on how to store them so that they can be kept for as long as possible.

How can you preserve food?

Common methods to preserve food are for example:

It is almost a matter of course that we now store food in the refrigerator at +2 to +10 ° C. This means that butter, sausage and vegetables stay fresh longer. The growth of the microorganisms is slowed down by the low temperature.

Freezing: - Use food after the best-before date
Thawing frozen pizza or taking Sunday rolls out of the freezer to bake them up: Freezing down to -17 ° C interrupts the activity of the enzymes of microorganisms. Food can be preserved for up to a year, depending on the type.

A refreshing elderflower syrup, sweet candied fruit or delicious jellies on the bun: sugaring is probably the sweetest method of preserving. Fruits and the like can be stored for up to a year.

Preserving food by salting / curing:
Meat and fish in particular, but also sausage products, are preserved using the salting method. The water withdrawn as a result is lacking for the microorganisms and their growth is slowed down. Nitrite is added to the curing process. It even kills the microorganisms.

A still quite new but very effective method of making numerous foods last longer is vacuum sealing. If the food is packed in a vacuum, the microorganisms lack oxygen. In this way, food can be kept longer for days or weeks.

Without our grain being dried, we would have to give up our daily bread. But herbs, legumes or dried fruit can also be consumed all year round if the water has been removed from them through drying and the basis of life for the microorganisms has been destroyed.

Delicious compotes, juices and fruity chutneys, but also vegetables not only look good in preserving jars, they also taste good all year round. In this way, the harvest from the garden can be used all year round. The effect of heat between 75 and 100 ° C kills spores and microorganisms or slows down their enzyme activity. A securely closed jar will last a year or more.

Sheep's cheese in brine or pickled antipasti in oil are just two examples of how food can be preserved by soaking it in solutions. Oxygen does not get to the food, which in turn inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Food stays fresh for many weeks. The rum pot, in which fruits are preserved in alcohol, is also well-known.

Smoking is a very easy way of preserving food
The old method of smoking combines the application of heat with the removal of water. A smoked trout or a tasty smoked liver sausage are a matter of course for many people.

Even the ancient seafarers used sauerkraut in order not to have to do without vitamins on long journeys. But pumpkins, beans and other vegetables can also be acidified with vinegar. If the pH value is lowered in this way, microorganisms can only multiply to a limited extent or die completely.

Thanks to food preservation, we have year-round access to other seasonal foods.
Text: C. D. / As of: April 21, 2021

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