Food is one of life’s basic necessities. The thing about food, though, is that it goes bad after a while, especially if it’s not already shelf-stable. Processing food tends to get something of a bad rap, but it’s a great way to extend the shelf life of your food. So what are some methods that you can use?
People have been dehydrating their food for thousands of years. Dehydrating food removes about 80% of the food’s water content, which helps it last a lot longer. Keep in mind that the percentage of water removed will depend on the equipment you use. The water content in food promotes decomposition and the growth of bacteria and mold over time. When the water is removed, it takes longer to reach the same level of degradation. While dehydrated food doesn’t last as long as food that is preserved using other methods, like freeze-drying, it can still last for a few months and up to a year. Additionally, the equipment needed to dehydrate your food tends to be more cost-effective than other processing equipment.
Freeze drying food is a relatively new way to process food. The freeze-drying process removes even more of the water than dehydrating it does. It can remove up to 99% of the food’s water content. This extends its shelf life even further and reduces its weight as well, making it lighter to transport. Just about anything can be freeze-dried. Freeze drying also helps food retain more of its nutritional value and can preserve taste and texture as well.
Vacuum sealing removes the air from the food that’s being stored. The lack of air helps preserve the food and extends its shelf life. This method can be used in conjunction with other processing methods or on its own. Vacuum-sealed leftovers aren’t going to last for months, but they can last a couple of weeks, which is still much longer than the handful of days they would likely last otherwise. For long-term storage, try to aim for moisture content of 10% or less.
Processed food doesn’t have to be a negative thing, especially if you’re the one doing the processing. You can choose the processing method and everything that goes into it. This leaves you with food that will last longer than you’ve had control over so you can make sure it’s as nutritious and healthy as possible.
Ready to start processing your food? Check out our Processing Equipment to get started.