Food & Nutrition: Be smart when it comes to food preservation

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Chiot's Run/Flickr

During the last several years, there has been a huge return to food preservation. I think this is because of three reasons: the “whole food” movement, people wanting to know where their food comes from and what is in it, and people wanting certain tastes that can be obtained only if they take the time to invest in food preservation. 

When it comes to the cost of food preservation, you will find you don’t save money, but what you do have is satisfaction that you preserved the food. You know what is in it and, the majority of the time, you are pleased with the taste.

People should practice food preservation by using research-based recipes. Many recipes that have been passed along by the old-fashioned index card have out-of-date information. Recipes shared on social media can have incorrect information. It’s a huge food safety risk when food science rules and guidelines are not followed.

Nearly all food requires some type of preservation treatment to maintain its quality and safety so that it can be enjoyed long after harvesting or purchasing. Home-canning, also referred to as processing, preserving and jarring, allows you to store many perishable foods on your pantry shelf. Home-canning prevents the natural occurrence of food spoilage/deterioration caused by microorganisms.

Simple techniques you use every day in meal preparation are some of the same techniques used in home-canning.

Take an apple: You rinse it before eating, which removes some surface microorganisms that cause spoiling. Peeling the apple removes more microorganisms, though there is a loss of some minerals and fiber from the peel. Once the protective peel is removed from the apple, the flesh begins to darken due to enzyme activity. If left untreated, the apple becomes brown. This is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring you don’t eat foods that could be hazardous to your health. 

Another technique often used in food preparation that is also used to prepare food for home freezing is blanching. Blanching destroys the enzymes so the food doesn’t continue to mature and also destroys any bacteria that are present. 

For updated information about food preservation, check out Purdue Extension Elkhart CountyNational Center for Home Food Preservation or Ball/Kehr canning company Jarden Home Brands.

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.
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