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Food preservation, methods of preparing food so that it can be

stored for future use. Because most foods remain edible for only a
brief period of time, people since the earliest ages have
experimented with methods for successful food preservation.
Among the products of early food conservation were cheese and
butter, raisins, pemmican, sausage, bacon, and grain.

In modern food preservation, preservatives function in two ways.

One is by delaying the spoilage of the food, while the other is by
ensuring that the food retains, as nearly as possible, its original
quality. The first method includes the use of sugar (see jelly and
jam), vinegar for pickling meats and vegetables, salt (one of the
oldest preservatives), and alcohol. Good wine will keep almost
indefinitely, and fruit placed in a 15% to 20% alcohol solution
(brandying) is well preserved. The second method includes the use
of ascorbic acid (which prevents color deterioration in canned
fruits), benzoic acid, sulfur dioxide, and a variety of neutralizers,
firming agents, and bleaching agents. The excessive or
unacknowledged use of these chemical agencies has been
legislated against by most governments.

Exclusion of Air

The exclusion of air, nowadays accomplished by hermetic sealing,

is an old device, formerly practiced by pouring hot oil over potted
meat or fish, by coating or mixing food with melted fat, as in
pemmican, or by burying vegetables in the earth or in sand. The use
of melted paraffin achieves the same result. Eggs may be preserved
by preventing air from penetrating their porous shells, usually by
coating them with an impervious substance.

Irradiation has also been used successfully to destroy many of the

microorganisms that might cause spoilage in food. Irradiation has
been declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration and World
Health Organization. Thus, despite opposition from those who fear
that health hazards from its use will be discovered later, this method
is gradually gaining acceptance.

Food preservation Prevention of the spoilage of food, which is

achieved by a variety of techniques. These aim to prevent bacterial
and fungal decay and contamination of food, which can cause food
poisoning. For example, dehydration removes the water from food,
which prevents microorganisms from growing. Treating food with
salt (salting) causes the microorganisms to lose water due to
osmosis. Pickling involves treatment with vinegar (ethanoic acid),
which reduces the pH and prevents bacteria from growing. Heating
food (blanching) to temperatures of 90°C denatures the enzymes
that cause the breakdown of food and kills many bacteria. The food
is then packed in air-tight containers, such as cans or bottles.
Heating milk to high temperatures to kill the bacteria is the basis
of pasteurization. Freezing food prevents the growth of bacteria but
does not necessarily kill them; thorough cooking is therefore
essential. In freeze drying, food is rapidly frozen and then
dehydrated, usually in a vacuum. Preprepared food can be
preserved by the addition of chemicals (see food additive), such as
sodium benzenecarboxylate, proprionates, and sulphur dioxide, but
some of these may have adverse side-effects. Irradiation is a
recently developed method of food preservation in which the
bacteria are killed by irradiating the food with gamma rays.
Food preservation Treatment of foodstuffs to prolong the time for
which they can be kept before spoiling. Salting, pickling,
and fermentation preserve food chemically. Chemical preservatives,
such as sodium benzoate, can also be added to foods. In canning,
meats and vegetables are sterilized by heat after being sealed into
airtight cans. Cold storage at 5°C (41°F) prolongs the life of foods
temporarily, while deep-freezing at −5°C (23°F) or below greatly
extends the acceptable storage period. In the technique of freeze-
drying, frozen foods are placed in a vacuum chamber and the water
in them is removed as vapour; the foods can be fully reconstituted
at a later date. Since the early 1990s irradiation, the preservation of
food by subjecting it to low levels of radiation in order to kill micro-
organisms, has been increasingly used.