So far we have been talking about the importance of eating seasonal foods, but the truth is, sometimes we crave peaches in the winter or a citrus fruit in the summer. However, instead of perpetuating the unsustainable production and consumption of unseasonal foods, there is an alternative way to access these foods. Before fresh produce became readily available year round in supermarkets, excess harvest of fruits and vegetables were preserved to enjoy at a later date.
There are many different methods of preservation, including freezing, canning, pickling, and dehydration. Even before these more “modern” techniques, foods could be preserved through being mindful of natural storage techniques, such as using cool, dry places and avoiding bug contamination.
One of the most popular ways to preserve food, is canning. Canning uses either boiling water or steam to kill microorganisms and mold responsible for food spoilage. The food is then able to be stored for a much longer time, even up to years! This method is particularly effective for high acid foods, such as: fruits, jams, and pickles.
|Strawberry jam (PC The Pioneer Woman Cooks, 1)|
Lacto-fermentation is another popular and easy way to preserve food. Basically, vegetables or fruits are salted, then left alone to ferment, which creates a highly acidic environment not suitable for bacteria. Although the food tastes different, the change also brings a number of nutritional benefits. For example, sauerkraut has 25% more Vitamin C than raw cabbage. This is because fermentation breaks down the food through the conversion of natural sugars to lactic acid. Another famous example of lacto-fermentation is the Korean national dish, kimchi.
|Kimchi (PC: The Kitchn, 2)|
However, the easiest modern method of preservation is freezing. Instead of killing the microorganisms, the low temperature slows down the growth and spread of these molds and food-spoiling bacteria. Anything can be frozen, but frozen fruits make for a delicious smoothie when the craving hits. Although this is not a very energy efficient method, it is a better than the unsustainable practice of eating unseasonal foods!
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