- Food and Cooking
How to store natural produce
Reasons for methods of storage
Basically it is very simple. Fresh food has four main enemies, enzymes, bacteria,yeasts and fungi, preservation techniques help fight these and keep your food fresher for longer.
It is always best to keep your natural foods in the ground until required. This is certainly the best method of storage.However, they must be hardy to survive winter, so in many cases its best to harvest when the produce is in peak condition and then stored in a cool environment which is frost free.
Potatoes can be stored for long periods of time as long as they are placed in a cool dark environment. They are best placed in paper, cardboard boxes, cotton sacks or hessian.
Fruits and root vegetables
Fruits can be stored in boxes and they need an environment that is dark and slightly moist.Idealy, they should be wrapped individually and not be touching. Newspaper is great for this. Fruits that ripen later in the season will keep longer.
When keeping fruits short term in say a kichen or dining room, choose a bowl that has plenty of ventilation as the humidity can course the fruit to rot quicker due to fungal growths. Colanders are ideal for this as they have holes all around the base. Don't be tempted to store fruit in the fridge especially bananas which will quickly go black.They need a warm environment.
Root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots and beetroots are best stored in sand or sawdust. The sand should be moist and in containers such as crates or deep seed trays. Make layers, sand and root and then put the containers in a dry frost free location. Ensure that the roots are not touching.
Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen for up to one year. To ensure your produce is at its freshest once removed from the freezer make sure it is frozen soon after picking. Freezing dramatically slows down the action of enzymes. Put food in plastic bags or containers so that the air does'nt dry out the food and slow down the freezing process. Blanching your produce for a minute or two immedidiately before freezing will improve the nutritional value and flavour!
Freezing herbs is a good way of keeping the flavours. Chop, then freeze in small amounts. Ice cube trays are perfect. Place the herbs in water or cooking oil in the ice cube container and once frozen they can simply be tipped out as required.
The idea of vacuum packing is to remove as much air as possible in order to prolong the storage time. Although there are devices that can be bought to do this an inexpensive way to do it yourself is to use a hand operated vacuum pump to remove air from plastic bags before freezing.
Salt has been used for years to help preserve food. However, ordinary table salt will not do the job effectively and is not suitable due to the chemicals it contains. Try using sea or rock salt and layer in a glass jar starting and ending with a layer of salt.
I hope this information has helped give a few basic facts about food storage. If you don't already,why don't you give it a go and save yourself a little time and money in the process.