Since the ancient times, people have been using a number of natural products to preserve their food. The use of natural preservatives has been known to inhibit the growth of bacteria, thereby preventing the spoilage of food. Even though chemical preservatives are widely available for the purpose, it is always suggested to go for their natural counterparts, mainly because of the reason that the latter do not change the flavor of the preserved food stuff or hamper with its nutritional value, while preserving it. Talking about natural preservatives for food, substances such as salt, sugar and vinegar are used to increase the shelf life of various food stuffs, including pickles, fresh fruits, fish and meat. Then, there is rosemary extract as well, used for similar purposes. Go through the following lines and know all about the best natural food preservatives.
Best Natural Preservatives For Food
Since the ancient times, salt has been used as a natural food preservative, to increase the shelf life of fish as well as a wide variety of meat products. The process of salting involves the addition of salt in the food stuff, in order to dehydrate the microbes through osmosis. The salt, thus added, inhibits bacterial growth (typically Clostridium botulinum) and thus, prevents the spoilage of food. Apart from providing a shield from microbes, salt also protects the food items from yeasts and molds. It has been observed that cured meats last longer than the fresh ones.
Sugar is primarily used to preserve fruits, such as apple, pear, peach, apricot and plum. For the purpose, the natural food preservative is used in either crystallized form or as syrup. The food can also be cooked in sugar, until sugar reaches the point of crystallization, and then stored dry. Sugar preserves the food either by killing the micro organisms, especially bacteria, or inhibiting their growth. It sweetens the food and draws water out of the micro organisms, through the process of osmosis.
Though acidic in nature, vinegar is considered to be one of the most effective natural preservatives for food. It is made by the fermentation of sugar and water solution. The acetic acid (also called ethanoic acid) in vinegar kills the bacteria and thus, preserves food for a long time, preventing its spoilage. Depending upon the sugar base from which they have been derived, vinegars can be classified into a number of types. However, almost all of them are widely used for food preservation purposes.
A common household plant that has been grown in the Alps since the Middle Ages, rosemary is now widely cultivated in other parts of the world as well. The extract of the plant is used, amongst other purposes, as a natural food preservative. Rosemary extract is prepared by distilling the leaves of the plant. Apart from being a powerful antioxidant, the extract also prevents oxidation of food, thereby increasing its shelf life. Food items, if preserved by rosemary extract, not only last longer, but also retain their color and flavor for a long time.