Waste Not, Want Not: Ways to Preserve Food

Food is one of your key needs in order to stay alive. But with spoiled food, the very thing that keeps you alive could end up actually killing you.

Every year, more than 40% of all the food in the United States goes uneaten, wasting about $165 billion each year. To prevent this, it’s important to know the different time-tested methods of food preservation to make them last longer and reduce food waste.

Chilling/Freezing

According to Smart Cooling Products, a top manufacturer of HVAC and process cooling equipment, chilling slows down spoilage and growth of microbes, which also prevents food poisoning. If you bought too many fruits and vegetables, consider tossing them into the chiller or freezer. This is one of the easiest food preservation methods, as you can store them at low temperatures for months and use as needed.

Save soft fruits, such as berries, in sugar and let it stand until the juices release, and then transfer to a freezer-safe bag. For firmer fruits, such as apples, simmer in a covered pot with some lemon juice; add sugar until limp, then transfer to a container and freeze.

Drying

The dehydrating method removes almost all the moisture off certain food, which makes it less attractive to bacteria. There are many ways to dry food, including sun drying, air-drying, oven drying, and smoking.

Some foods are even better tasting when dried, such as plum tomatoes, rosemary, and parsley. To do this, simply tie them into bundles and hang them to dry.

Pickling

Pickling, a centuries-old method, preserves food through fermentation with salt brine or vinegar. It is a process most commonly used in preserving kimchi, sauerkraut, and ceviche.

This method can still spoil your food, but with more friendly and beneficial microbes. Good microorganisms act on food substance, converting some of the food’s components into acids or alcohols.

Salting

The process of salting or curing food draws out the moisture of meat, which slows down microorganism lifespan. This especially works with meat, such as beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, so if you find yourself in excess of these meats, consider salting or curing for later consumption.

These preservation methods can reduce food wastes, but what is more important is to buy only what you need.