Food processing is a way or technique implemented to convert raw food stuff into well-cooked and well preserved eatables for both the humans and the animals. All these methods are used by food processing industry to give out processed or preserved foods for our daily consumption. Best quality harvested, slaughtered and butchered and clean constituents are used by food processing industry to manufacture very nutritious and easy to cook food products. Following are some techniques and methods used to convert food into processed or preserved food.
Preservation process: this includes heating or boiling to destroy micro-organisms, oxidation, toxic inhibition, dehydration or drying, osmotic inhibition, freezing, a sort of cold pasteurization which destroys pathogens and various combinations of all these methods.
Drying: this is probably the most ancient method used by humans to preserve or process their food. Drying reduces the water content in the product and lack of water delays the bacterial growth very much. Drying is the most common technique to preserve or process cereal grains like wheat, maize, oats, rice, barley, grams and rye etc.
Smoking: many foods such as meat, fish and others are processed, preserved and flavored by the use of smoke mostly in big smoke houses. This process is very simple as the combination of smoke to preserved food without actually cooking it and the aroma of hydro-carbons generated from the smoke processes the food and makes it even tastier to eat.
Freezing: probably, it is the most common technique used in modern world to preserve or process the food both on commercial and domestic basis. This freezing is conducted in big cold storages which can stockpile huge amount of food stuffs which can be further used in some natural emergencies. A very big range of products can be frozen to preserve and process which includes some which do not need freezing when are in their natural condition. For example potato chips and potato wafers requires freezing whereas a potato does not.
Vacuum packs: in this method, food is packed in airtight bags and bottles in a vacuum area. This method is used in processing the food as the air-tight environment doesn’t provide oxygen needed by germs especially bacteria to survive. This then, prevents food from getting rotted. This method is very commonly used for preserving processed nuts.
Salting: the method of salting is used in food processing as it sucks out the moisture from the food. This is done through the process of osmosis. Meat is the best example of the food processed by salting as nitrates are used very frequently to treat meat.
Sugaring: the method of using sugar to preserve or process food is very frequent where it comes to preserve fruits. In this method fruits such as apples, peaches and plums are cooked with sugar until they are crystallized and then it is stored dry. Now days, sugar is also used in combination of alcohol to make some branded alcohol and spirits.
Pickling: in this method of preserving or processing food, food is cooked in chemicals and materials which destroy micro-organisms. This is very strictly kept in mind that these chemicals or materials are fit to eat for humans. Normally, these include brine, vinegar, ethanol, vegetable oil and many other types of oils. Pickling is very commonly seen in vegetables such as cabbage and peppers. Corned beef and eggs are the non vegetarian eatables that are pickled.
These are some very common methods of preserving or processing food. These all will work only when processing and preserving is done under very strict rules and regulation set by the governments.
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Dagur Jonsson is the CEO of Libius Inc a company which provides an internet appropriation service to companies in the food processing industry like http://www.marelfoodsystems.com and http://www.marel.com.