Q:

Why do we need to preserve food?

A:

Quick Answer

Food preservation is essential because it extends the length of time during which the food is nutritionally viable and safe to eat. Most fresh fruits, vegetables and animal products spoil quickly without refrigeration, dehydration or preservation. The Clemson Cooperative Extension states that the most popular and effective preserving techniques employ salt, sugar, vinegar or brine.

  Know More

Full Answer

According to the Clemson Cooperative Extension, food preservation works because the preserving agents prevent bacteria, mold and other potentially harmful organisms from growing on the food. Dry preserving techniques, such as packing food in salt, draws water out of the food, making it an inhospitable environment for microorganisms. Wet-preserved foods undergo heat processing that kills microorganisms, and the vacuum seal created by proper canning prevents life-sustaining oxygen from entering the container.

Most bacteria and fungal spores cannot live without oxygen and do not survive prolonged immersion in boiling water. A notable exception is the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which causes a dangerous and potentially fatal disease called botulism. Clostridium botulinum is unusually hardy and thrives in anoxic environments; oxygen is toxic to it. It also survives boiling temperatures that kill most other bacteria. However, it cannot survive acidic environments such as pickle brine.

About.com expert Leda Meredith explains that non-acidic preserves such as unpickled vegetables, soup stock and all wet meat preserves do not contain sufficient acid to kill Clostridium botulinum. The only safe technique for making these preserves is to process the jars in a pressure canner, which subjects them to temperatures much higher than boiling water.

Learn more about Food Storage

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How can I preserve ginger in syrup?

    A:

    To preserve ginger root in syrup, peel the ginger, and cut it into slices or chunks. Soak the ginger pieces overnight, and then boil them in a saucepan on the stove. Let the ginger simmer over low heat until it is tender enough to pierce easily with a knife. Make simple syrup in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot, letting it boil slightly until it thickens. Place the ginger and simple syrup into a sterilized jar. Store the jar in a cool, dry area.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the way to prevent food adulteration?

    A:

    To prevent food adulteration, any poisonous or dangerous substances must be prevented from contaminating foods or the containers in which food is stored. Adulterants include poisons, chemicals and the dangerous pathogen E. coli.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How long is food coloring good for?

    A:

    Food coloring is good indefinitely and does not have an expiration date. Food coloring tends to hold on to its strength in color as well. Be sure the containers stay well-sealed.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the purpose of food packaging?

    A:

    Food packaging serves several purposes: it protects and preserves food from contaminating and spoiling, enhances product attractiveness and facilitates transportation of food goods. Packaging material comes in many substances, including plastic, aluminum and containers. Food packages, regardless of item within, contain labels and important consumer information, which helps consumers select products.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore