Explore the Options
Welcome to the Food Preservation Methods: Explore the Options 5 minute module. I’m Megan Baumler. recording for Suzanne Driessen, University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator. You have many options for preserving food for later use. For example, you could freeze, dry, can or pickle green beans. Unless food is preserved in some way it will spoil. Spoilage begins soon after harvest. The high percentage of water in most foods make it very perishable. Food preservation is the method of preparing food so that we can eat it later. Methods of preserving food include drying, refrigeration, freezing, canning, curing, pickling, smoking and fermentation. The goal of food preservation is to ensure safety with the best quality possible. Let’s lookat the most common home food preservation methods. Canning is the process in which food is placed into a jar and heated to temperatures that destroy microorganisms and inactivate enzymes. The heating and later cooling forms a vacuum seal making it shelf-stable. There are only 2 approved canning methods – boiling water and pressure canning. Pickling is the skillful blending of spices, sugar and vinegar with a fruit or vegetable. In pickling, we had acid like vinegar for safety and flavor. In jellied products, the high sugar content binds with the liquid making it difficult for microorganisms to grow. To prevent spoilage from yeast and mold, can, freeze or refrigerate jellied products. Microorganisms cannot grow at freezing temperatures. Freezing is the easiest and fastest food preservation method. Drying reduces the moisture so that microorganisms can’t grow. Store in airtight containers so that moisture from the air doesn’t rehydrate the product and allow any microbes to grow. Many vegetables begin to lose their vitamins after harvest. Nearly half of the vitamins maybe lost within a few days unless the fresh produce is cooled or preserved. Under refrigeration, produce may lose half of its vitamins within one to two weeks. The heating process during canning destroys from 1/3 to 1/2 of vitamins A and C, thiamin and riboflavin. Once they’re canned, additional losses of these sensitive vitamins are from 5 to 20 percent each year depending on storage conditions. The amounts of other vitamins, however, are only slightly lower in canned compared with fresh food. Vegetables handled properly and canned promptly after harvest may actually be more nutritious than fresh produce that’s held many days after harvest. Drying and freezing, like all methods of preservation, can result in loss of some nutrients, but less than canning or refrigeration. What’s the shelf life of preserved foods? For best quality and taste, not for safety, canned food delivers its best quality if eaten within a year. Frozen vegetables and fruits tastes best if consumed within 8 to 12 months of freezing. Dried vegetables last about 6 months. Jerky has a 2 week shelf life stored at room temperature. Refrigerate or freeze and increase the shelf life of jerky to 6 months. Dried fruits and herbs last 1 year. No matter which food preservation method you choose, use a reliable tested recipe. You might want to pause this video to jot down these suggested resources. Consider using the Complete Guide to Home Canning by the USDA. The So Easy to Preserve book from the National Center for Home Food Preservation is also a great resource. It has over 185 tested recipes and is only $18.00. There’s also a So Easy to Preserve DVD featuring eight “how to” demonstrations on canning, freezing and drying food. There are lots of other websites, blogs and videos on the Internet. Make sure the site references research tested recipes otherwise don’t use them. Credible websites include the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Ball freshpreserving.com or University websites. The Ball Blue Book is great for beginners. You can take a free self-study Preserving Food Safely at Home course on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. If you have any questions about home food preservation, call our Extension Answerline to talk directly to an Extension professional. You can also email with your question. If you try a food preservation method and don’t like it, don’t give up! Try another method. Preserving your own food has many tasty benefits. Enjoy your new new or old hobby! Thank you for listening.