Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ensuring food security through proper preservation methods

Drying Onions for preservation

For centuries people in various countries have been preserving dates, figs, apricots, grapes, bananas, pineapples, other fruits, herbs, cassava, yams, potatoes, corn, peas, onions, garlic, carrots, peppers, milk, coffee, meat, and fish by drying. But drying is also beneficial for hay, copra (kernel of the coconut), tea and other income producing non-food crops. It is worth noting that until around the end of the 18th century when canning was developed, drying was virtually the only method of food preservation until the invention of the freezing and canning methods.

Apart from addressing the issue of food security by minimizing food loss from perishing to ensure food supply all year round; dried foods are tasty, nutritious, lightweight, easy-to-prepare, and easy-to-store and use. The energy input is less than what is needed to freeze or can, and the storage space is minimal compared with that needed for canning jars and freezer containers.

The nutritional value of the food is only minimally affected by drying. Vitamin A is retained during drying; however, because vitamin A is light sensitive, food containing it should be stored in dark places. Yellow and dark green vegetables, such as peppers, carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes, have high vitamin A content. Vitamin C is destroyed by exposure to heat, although pretreating foods with lemon, orange, or pineapple juice increases vitamin C content.

Dried foods are high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in fat, making them healthy food choices. Dried foods that are not completely dried are susceptible to mold.

Microorganisms are effectively killed when the internal temperature of food reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit (F).

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