How can I preserve cooked food

The 5 best ways to preserve food

Stocking up on food doesn't only make sense in times of corona or apocalyptic zombie scenarios. With self-preserved food you save money, throw away less food and can literally overwinter seasonal fruits and vegetables.

You also avoid chemical preservatives that can cause allergies. Grandma already knew that it could be done without chemicals when she used traditional methods such as boiling, drying or fermenting to preserve food.

Or better durablehe. Because of course nothing is forever. But at least you can extend the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat and fish by several months or even years by preserving them.

How does preservation work?

Whether through heat, cold, acidity or sweetness - when it comes to preserving, the aim is always to kill any bacteria present in the food and prevent further spread or slow it down so that the food can be kept longer.

To do this, for example, vital substances such as water or oxygen are withdrawn from the bacteria. Kind of brutal. However, the abdominal pain and diarrhea that you get when you eat spoiled food are also brutal.

Tip: If you don't want to harm any bacteria, you should only buy as much as you can use. However, with the large portion sizes of supermarket products, this is usually not that easy.

Reading material: Saving food: the best apps for a more sustainable life

The five most popular methods To make food durable, we want to introduce you to each step here.

The 5 best ways to preserve

It is important for each variant that you only use intact fruit or vegetables. If there are already soft spots, the shelf life of the preserved food will be shortened accordingly.

In the video you can see brief information on how to preserve the food

1. Preserve food: freeze

Everyone has probably frozen food at some point in order to preserve it. All you need is a four-star freezer. You have more storage space in a separate freezer.

This is how the freezing method works: At temperatures of -18 degrees, the metabolic processes of possible bacterial cultures are temporarily put on hold. And as long as they are practically in a coma, they cannot cause any harm.

Shelf life with this method: 3 to 18 months (6 months for 3-star freezers).

This material is required (optional):

  • Cold-resistant glasses with lids
  • Plastic jars with lids
  • Freezer bag with zipper

You can freeze solid as well as liquid food in it. If possible, these should be unseasoned, as salt removes water from the food, so that the food can soften and go bad faster. The taste, consistency and nutritional values ​​of the frozen food are roughly the same as the fresh ingredients after defrosting.

Tip: Make sure to label the jars with the contents and the date so that you know how long the food will keep.

Important: If you want to freeze food in jars (especially liquids such as soup, sauce or jam), you should fill the jar no more than two-thirds full. The cold causes the contents to expand and take up more space so that the glass in the freezer compartment could burst.

In the video: Instructions for fruit and herb ice cubes

Video by Julia Windhövel

2. Preserving food: Preserving it

Preserving is the opposite of freezing, but it works just as easily. You either need a stove or an oven for this. The only disadvantage: the heated food sometimes loses nutrients such as vitamins.

This is how the canning method works: Most bacteria boil off when heated to over 100 degrees. Alternatively, their metabolism slows down - similar to how we humans do in midsummer. Nobody wants to move anymore. In addition, a vacuum is created in the jar when it is boiled, which means that the food is airtight.

Shelf life with this method: at least a year. Fruit that has been cooked lasts for a particularly long time. Ingredients such as flour, milk and garlic shorten the shelf life.

This material is required:

  • funnel
  • Household thermometer
  • Mason jar or screw jar with lid

In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, you can also boil down ready-made soups, stews and jams. Even cakes, muffins and bread can be boiled down. You can find a recipe for cakes in a jar here.

Preserving on the stove: this is how it works
Wash food well, chop it up and put it in sterilized jars. Fill up sweet fruit with slightly sugared water, pour spicy contents with pure water or broth - there should be two fingers of air up to the edge of the glass. Tighten the lid of the jar tightly.

2. Put the glasses in a saucepan on the stove. Fill the pot with water so high that the jars are two-thirds in the water. Keep a few centimeters between the glasses.

3. Heat everything to at least 100 degrees - check the temperature with a household thermometer. The boiling time varies between 25 and 45 minutes depending on the content.

Preserving in the oven:That's how it's done
1. Place the jars filled and closed as above in a drip pan or casserole dish. Pour the form about 2 cm high with water. Here, too, leave enough space between the individual preserving jars.

2. Place the tin in the oven and heat it up at 180 degrees top / bottom heat until the water starts to boil. Turn off the oven and let everything boil in it for 30–45 minutes.

After boiling down, put the hot glasses upside down on a kitchen towel and let them cool down. Be careful, the glasses are very hot! So it's best to use kitchen gloves or tongs to get them out of the pot or pan.

Tip: In terms of energy, the oven method is only worthwhile if you want to boil down larger quantities. If you often want to preserve food in this way, you can think about buying a preserving machine (for example here at Amazon) *.

3. Preserving food: drying it

Drying is the oldest and at the same time the gentlest method when it comes to preserving food. It is particularly energy-saving to simply let the food dry at room temperature. However, this can take several days or weeks.

This is how the dehydration method works: Water is withdrawn from the food. This dries up the breeding ground for bacteria so that they can no longer multiply. Very tragic for the microbes, because the nutrient density of the dried food is much higher than that of fresh products. It's like dying of thirst while sitting at a full table.

Shelf life with this method: 6 months to 1 year

This material is required (optional):

In addition to fruit and vegetables, many herbs can also be dried and thus made longer shelf-life. However, dill and chives are better frozen as they lose their flavor when they are dried. In general, the less fat or water the food contains, the longer it will keep dry.

Dry at room temperature: this is how it works
Wash the food, pat dry and cut into thin slices. Spread out on a kitchen rack or a kitchen towel. Let dry in a shady but warm place. Turn the slices in between. You can tie herbs in bouquets and hang them on the wall to dry on a nail.

Drying in the oven: this is how it works
This method is unsuitable for herbs. Spread the sliced ​​fruits and vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to a maximum of 40 degrees circulating air. Push in the tray and let the food dry for several hours with the oven door slightly open.

Store dried foods in a dark, dry place. Preferably in an airtight container.

Tip: You can briefly blanch hard vegetables before drying to shorten the drying time. Drying food in the automatic dehydrator is quick and energy-efficient (for example here at Otto) *. You can even use it to make beef jerky yourself.

Reading material: Make apple chips yourself: It's that easy to make a low-calorie snack

4. Preserve food: insert

In contrast to the other preservation methods, the taste of the food changes when it is placed in it, as it is specifically pimped with herbs and spices. However, the most important ingredients for preserving food are vinegar and / or oil.

This is how the insertion method works: The previously boiled food is placed in an acidic vinegar or oil mixture. This will turn off the oxygen valve for bacteria. Vinegar also has a disinfectant effect and is not a popular cleaning agent in the household for nothing.

Shelf life with this method: 3 months (in oil) to a year (in vinegar).

This material is required:

  • cooking pot
  • Mason jars or ceramic jars with lids

Firm vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, peppers, beetroot or pumpkin are particularly suitable for pickling in vinegar. Zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions can be preserved in oil as homemade antipasti.

Soaking food in vinegar: Here's how
1. First wash the vegetables well and briefly blanch them in salted water or bake them as oven vegetables.

2. Prepare the brine from one part five percent brandy vinegar, two parts sugar and three parts water. Heat in a saucepan on the stove. Spice it up with herbs and spices such as peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, bay leaves, garlic cloves or fresh horseradish.

3. Divide the vegetables between the glasses and cover with the hot vinegar stock. Close the jars carefully. Store in a cool, dark place and let steep for at least a week before serving.

Tip: Pickled foods last longer if you sterilize the jars with hot water beforehand. After opening, you should store the canning jars in the refrigerator. Never reach in with your bare fingers, but use a fork to remove individual pieces of vegetables so that no germs spread in the contents.

Reading tip: Antipasti platter: in 5 steps to the perfect starter buffet

5. Preserving food: fermenting

Preserving food by fermenting or acidifying is currently very popular. Lactic acid foods are particularly healthy as additional vitamins are often produced in the manufacturing process.

In addition, probiotic foods are good for the intestines and promote digestion and the immune system. The relatively high effort of fermenting is definitely worth it.

This is how fermentation works (lactic acid fermentation): Hurray, for once, bacteria are not brutally killed here, but even increased! However, only certain bacteria: the lactic acid bacteria.

Fueled by a mixture of salt and water, they diligently produce lactic acid and quickly displace other harmful bacteria in the food. The pH value drops so that the fermented food has a longer shelf life.

Difference between fermenting and soaking in vinegar / oil: During fermentation, the food is not pre-cooked, but covered raw with brine. The fermentation makes the ingredients softer, but still retains their bite.

Shelf life with this method: 1 month with an open jar, up to 6 months unopened. It is important that the jars, seals and lids for fermentation are carefully sterilized.

Continue reading:Kitchen hacks: 10 tricks to make your food last longer

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This material is required:

  • cooking pot
  • Mason jars or clay pots with lids

Solid vegetables such as cabbage, beans, cucumbers and root vegetables are suitable for lactic acid fermentation. The classics among fermented foods are sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.

Fermenting food: Here's how
1. Wash and chop vegetables. Sprinkle with iodine-free salt (important: iodine-containing salt inhibits the formation of lactic acid bacteria!) - approx. 30 g of salt per 1 kg of vegetables. Let it work for a short time and, if necessary, pound the vegetables with a pestle so that more liquid forms.

2. Put the vegetables in a mason jar and fill up with the liquid or water formed. Leave a few centimeters from the edge. Close the container tightly and store in a dark place for 1–3 days at room temperature (20 to 22 degrees). Open the jar briefly every day to let the pressure escape.

3. As soon as bubbles rise in the glass and foam forms, the contents have fermented and fermentation has started. Now you can store the jars in a dark and cool place (15 to 18 degrees) for 10-14 days. Check again and again that the food is still covered with brine; top up if necessary.

4. Then you can put the jar with the fermented food in the refrigerator and help yourself to it. Good Appetite!

Tip: Just like with pickling, you can pack any herbs and spices into the jar as you like. "Mixed pickles" are also possible, i.e. mixed foods in a glass.

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