EXCESS in fruit and vegetable production from a bountiful garden or bulk shopping spree at the farmers' market can leave cooks in the kitchen wondering how to stretch out their storage capacity.
Nov. 15, 2021
2 min read
Food preservation methods with top cook
Canned fruits and vegetables
- Maintaining nutritional value, texture, and flavor are key aspects in food preservation
- Canning involves placing foods in canning jars and heating them to a high temperature
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If one wants to enjoy market produce all year round, preserving food at home can be a healthy and cost efficient option.
Maintaining nutritional value, texture, and flavor are key aspects in food preservation and can be attained using simple preservation methods, according to food expert and cook, Gloria Leballo of Ha Thamae in Maseru.
Canning is one method the cook explains as preserving food from decomposition by storing it in containers that are hermetically sealed and then sterilised by heat.
"The process was invented after prolonged research by Nicolas Appert of France in 1809," she notes.
The process involves placing foods in canning jars and heating them to a high temperature to destroy the microorganisms that cause food to spoil. During the heating process, air is pushed out of the jar, and as the can cools down, a vacuum seal forms.
"Canning in a bath of boiling water is ideal for high-acid foods like fruits and fruit juice, pickled vegetables, salsa, chutneys, vinegars, and condiments. Water bath canning requires extended cooking time at a low temperature to destroy the mold, yeast, and enzymes that cause spoilage while making a vacuum seal for long-term storage," she shows.
Before the industrial refrigeration, Leballo who offers door-to-door food preserving lessons, says most foods were preserved using sugar, salt, or a mixture of both, because the two items reduce the water content and inhibits microbial growth in meats, fruits, and vegetables aiding in preservation.
"Common sugar-preserved foods are jams and jellies, while salt cod, salt pork, corned beef, and bacon are common foods preserved with salt," she indicates.
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Alcohol, she says has a long history of preserving fruits. During the 18th century in Europe, fruits like peaches, cherries, and apricots were submerged in brandy and served as dessert after a meal.
Leballo says alcohol draws water out of food, exactly like salt and sugar, inhibiting microbial growth.
"These are just a few examples of preserving methods one can discuss. Next time I will talk about others that include; Freeze-drying, vinegar pickling, olive oil preserving and freezing," she adds.