What Are the Different Types of Natural Food Preservatives?

April S. Kenyon

Food preservation is used to stop or slow down the spoilage of food. The preservation of food involves preventing the growth of fungi, bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms. Natural food preservation has been used for centuries as a method to make food last longer. The two primary reasons food is preserved are to keep it from spoiling while stored and to preserve the natural characteristics of food. Natural food preservatives include salt, vinegar, sugar and rosemary extract.

Pickles are usually made with vinegar, which helps preserve them.
Pickles are usually made with vinegar, which helps preserve them.

Salt is one of the natural food preservatives that have been added to food since ancient times for both preservation purposes and to add flavor. It is often added to meat as a natural food preservative, as it greatly enhances the taste of the meat and allows it to last much longer. As a natural food preservative, salt protects food from molds and yeast, and it also dehydrates the microbes through the process of osmosis.

Vinegar is another natural food preservative that is most frequently used in the process of canning. It is prepared by fermenting the sugar and water beyond the alcohol stage, and it can either be purchased or prepared naturally. Vinegar is available with a variety of acetic contents, though that which contains five percent concentrated acetic acid is most often used in food preservation. An acetic content of at least five percent is needed to kill microbes and prevent the spoilage of food. If vinegar is prepared naturally to be used as a preservative, it is important that the acidic content is high enough to safely preserve food.

Sugar is also one of the more common natural food preservatives, and is frequently used in canning and freezing. It is often used as a natural food preservative because it sweetens the food and prevents bacteria through osmosis. As a preservative, sugar works by drawing out water from the microorganisms and preventing food from spoiling.

Rosemary leaf extract, or rosemary oleoresin, is another food preservative that dates back for centuries. The flavor and aroma of rosemary have traditionally made it one of the more popular natural food preservatives. Powerful antioxidants in rosemary prevent food from spoiling and preserve the natural flavor and color of food, as well as add to the health benefits of the preserved food.

Many different forms of natural food preservation are also used. These include drying, refrigeration, freezing, and many other ways. Preserving food naturally is considered by many to be a better alternative than chemical preservation, as it is often thought that fewer health concerns are present.

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Discussion Comments


@SarahGen-- I don't know an exact recipe but you can use dry cayenne, chili pepper, salt, black pepper and cumin to preserve meat. You could also add garlic and oil in it.

I've had naturally preserved sausages with spices and I think meat has to be either completely covered in a spice mixture or kneaded with spices to kill the bacteria in it.

I'm sure if you ask a European deli, they can tell you which spices to use and how to use them to preserve meat.


How do I use spices to preserve meat?


My mother's side is from Italy and my grandmother still lives there. We go to visit in the summer and eat my grandmother's delicious natural olives. She cures and preserves them herself with salt and vinegar. They don't go bad as long as they're kept in a cool dry place. I even brought some back with me last time. There's still some left in the fridge in perfect condition.

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