In the United States, around 40% of the food supply gets wasted every year. Food waste is expensive and harmful to people and the Earth.
Luckily, there are simple steps we can take to reduce food waste. Interested in learning more?
Here are three common food preservation methods that can make sure food reaches hungry mouths instead of a landfill.
Throughout recorded history, humans have been able to store fresh food for longer in cold environments. At first, this only worked for humans living in colder climates. However, mechanical refrigeration makes it possible for many more people today.
In 1924, a man named Clarence Birdseye discovered that if you froze food when it was fresh, you could thaw it out months later and it would still have the same taste and texture as before. This was the birth of frozen food as we know it. Freezing is one of the most common food preservation techniques we have.
Today, there are cold chain programs for every part of the food industry. Restaurants, grocery stores, and packaged food manufacturers all use food freezing. You can buy food already frozen or freeze it yourself at home to keep it from spoiling.
Another common method to prevent food spoilage is canning. This process keeps food shelf-stable, meaning it doesn’t need to be refrigerated to stay fresh.
The reason canning works is that food sealed in the can is heated so that the micro-organisms die. At the same time, new ones can’t get in because of the air-tight seal. This is a relatively new method of food preservation, first started in the 1790s in France.
There are a couple of ways you can prepare food before canning it, the most common being sugaring and salting. Sugaring happens with foods like jam or preserves, whereas canned meats or vegetables like olives are more likely to be salted.
Sugaring and salting are both ways of killing off disease-causing bacteria before the food gets sealed in the can. Once the seal on the can is broken, however, you’ll need to store these foods in another way to prolong their life. That’s why we refrigerate cans after we open them.
Pickling is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, likely started in ancient Mesopotamia. Pickled food is preserved in vinegar or another acid often called brine.
There are two reasons that pickling works to prevent food spoilage. First, vinegar is a difficult environment for most harmful bacteria. Soaking the food in vinegar stops or slows the growth of these harmful germs.
Second, some pickled foods also undergo fermentation, depending on their sugar and water content. Fermentation encourages the growth of helpful bacteria, which in turn can fight off the germs that can make people sick.
Preventing food waste is easy with any combination of these food preservation methods.
At Sunleaf, it’s our goal to provide you with healthy plant-based ingredients that always taste their best. Contact us today to find out how we can bring well-preserved foods into your supply chain.