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There are a number of different methods of food preservation that can keep perishables packaged and safe for later consumption. Commercial food preservation techniques typically involve the addition of preservatives or other additives to the food to prevent bacterial growth; the packaged foods purchased at the grocery store are typically preserved for freshness in this way. Many people want to grow and preserve their own food for various reasons, however, such as to save money or to avoid exposure to pesticides or chemical additives. There are a number of different methods of food preservation that can be undertaken at home, such as canning, freezing, or drying many different types of foods. Some of these are easier than others, and it is important to understand the methods to ensure the food is safe to eat.
Freezing is one of the simplest means of food preservation. Many different types of foods can be frozen, from fresh vegetables to prepared casseroles, soups, or sauces. Some vegetables need to be cut and blanched first, which involves boiling them for several minutes, and then dipping them in cold water, to ensure they hold up in the freezer. Others can simply be picked and frozen. The key is to freeze them when they are fresh-picked, and to reduce exposure to air as much as possible. Some people use a vacuum sealer to accomplish this.
Another one of the more common methods of food preservation is canning. This works well for many different types of fruit and vegetables, as well as pickled foods. Water-bath canning and pressure canning are two different methods that ensure the canning jars are heated to a sufficient temperature in order to kill bacteria; if this is not done properly, canned foods can be extraordinarily unsafe. Making jam or preserves with fresh fruit is another method of food preservation that is slightly easier. Regardless, be sure to do research before canning anything.
Drying or smoking foods are some of the more traditional ways to preserve food. Dried foods are not cooked, but the moisture is removed to prevent bacterial growth. Today, many people simply use a food dehydrator to dry foods in a quick and simple way, though it is also possible to just use the oven. With practice and conscientiousness, many people find that these different methods of food preservation allow them to enjoy healthy, fresh foods year round that are free of preservatives or other additives.