Food Preparation and Preservation
Have you ever wondered how foods are being processed in a restaurant’s kitchen? You may enjoy different dishes, but you really do not have the idea of how it is prepared. Learning basic information about food processing and preparation is very important for us. This will suffice our thirst for knowledge and can help us in evaluating the kind of service rendered by different restaurants. As you finish reading this topic you will be able to understand the different additives used in food preparation, learn the use of freezing and chilling as a way of preserving foods, and know about atmospheric storage and aseptic packaging.
Let us tackle first with the different additives used in food preservation. As we all know, food additives are chemicals that are applied to some foods in a minimum amount. Why are additives added on to the foods we eat? This is to make the food look and taste better, sustain the natural nutrition, and promote freshness. Some additives are applied to foods having a faster chemical change. This is to prevent decomposition and the rapid growth of microorganisms. There are around three thousand approved additive substances by the food and drug administration. Putting on additives on foods have been practiced thousands of years ago. Additives are not only used to preserve foods. It is believed that early people in Rome used different food chemicals in making wine and cooking vegetables to improve their taste and color. Yeasts and baking powders are the oldest food additives available today.
As the production of several types of additive increases, the public is highly concern on the amount of additives added on several food products and its risk in causing cancer and other health problems. Research shows that additives like nitrites and saccharin has a high percentage of causing cancer. On the other hand, some research revealed that other food additives may provide several health benefits. This includes different vitamins that are used to fortify foods like bread and milk.
Now let us move on to the freezing and refrigeration process. Placing foods in low temperature storage was a practice by prehistoric humans when they stored meats inside an ice cave. With present innovations the use of the mechanical refrigerator was applied. Storing foods in a low temperature slows the enzymatic response and decreases the growth of some microorganisms found in foods. To minimize the growth of different microorganisms you need to regulate the temperature around zero to four degrees Celsius. We are fortunate enough that we have experts who invented the freezing device. Using a refrigerator is a big advantage because it does not alter the physical and chemical components of the foods. The main disadvantage in placing foods into a freezing point is that the water content will spread and forms an ice crystal. In this case, it alters the different structure of plant and animal cells. What are foods that need to be place inside a refrigerator? These are the meat, fish, fruits, milk, and some vegetables.
What is a controlled atmospheric storage? These are sealed warehouses where fruits and vegetables are stored under a controlled temperature and humidity. The composition of different gases is also regulated inside the sealed storage. Mostly, the concentration of oxygen is limited and the concentration of carbon dioxide is increased. The gas naturally emitted by a plant called ethylene is removed from the sealed storage to prevent rapid decomposition. What is the purpose of this controlled environment? This helps slow the enzymatic process that eventually caused decomposition of the fruits and vegetables. This invention allows products to be picked before it is ripe. This technique can also hasten the ripening of the fruit and vegetables in a uniform manner.
What about aseptic packaging? This method is commonly applied to different food companies worldwide. Aseptic packaging deals with heat sterilization of food to prevent the grown and contact of poisonous substance and microorganisms. Foods can be sterilized for several times under low temperature, which allows the food to maintain more nutrients and a soothing flavor. What about the containers? Portable storage for the food is also sterilized by hydrogen peroxide rather than heat. This is because there are some food containers that changed physically and chemically under hot temperature. Common containers that are sterilized with hydrogen peroxide are plastic bags and foil lined cartoons. These containers cost less than metal and glass containers. It also provides lesser weight, which gives a big advantage on transportation. Foods that are packed aseptically will sustain for a long period of time. This technique has been applied to a different manufacturer because of its low cost and good quality products.