Cooking - Preserving, Why and How

If we wish to keep food from spoiling so that we can eat it safely at some time in the future we have to preserve it. Preserving food will help store food and protect it from spoilage.

There are many successful ways to preserve food and for some it is quite a hobby. Some people like to dry out the food, which dates back to prehistoric times. Fermenting, brining, salting and smoking are other great ways to preserve food. Another really popular method of preserving food is preserving food in vacuum-sealed glass jars and this is known as canning. This term can be confusing as there are actually no cans involved just glass jars. These jars are often referred to as Mason jars after the inventive American John Mason who pioneered their design. Unfortunately John Mason let his patent lapse and other entrepreneurs were quick to jump on the band wagon!

Canning is one of the most reliable methods of preservation of foods and it is just the process of preparing foods in airtight jars. Canning was first introduced by a Nicolas Appert in the 19th century at the request of Napoleon to find a way of preserving food for his troops. It was not long after this that Louis Pasteur proved that food spoilage is caused by microorganisms that are present in air, water and soil. Because of this discovery there were further developments in preserving methods and equipment.

Food preservation is based on simple principles. The only way to preserve food is to control the enzymes and microorganisms that naturally occur in food and causes them to spoil. This means that any container of preserved food must also be thoroughly sealed so as to prevent the reintroduction of airborne microorganisms and to counteract oxidation.

The actual processing of preserving food arrests spoilage by heating it in a sealed container. The jars need to be sterilized and heated before the food is placed in them. The food filled jars then are heated to a temperature sufficient to destroy spoilage agents. Air remaining in the food and in the space at the top the jar is driven out between the jar and the special canning jar lid during the heating process.

Once the jar and food begins to cool, the vacuum that has been created inside the jar sucks the lid inward and this is held tightly in place until the jar is opened. There will be no contamination of the food inside the jar unless the seal is broken. The food will maintain its flavor for a long time without refrigeration. Preserves can be made without the heat process but food preserved this way has to be kept in the refrigerator and used within a short period.

Preserving food only requires a few basic utensils and using the correct equipment will make preserving easier, safer and more successful. Most of the equipment most people already have in their kitchens but there are some specially designed inexpensive tools that will save time and frustration. Investing in some of these can make the canning experience a more pleasurable on.

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About The Author, Michael Russell
Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Cooking