FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE PROCESS OF PRESERVING MATERIALS
- Space: The amount of space you have will definitely impact on your choice of preservation. Someone living in a farmhouse can probably store dozens of preserved fruits in jars, whereas someone living in an apartment is unlikely to have the space to spare for rows of preserved plums.
- Climate: The climate can aid or hinder different storage methods. What might store beautifully through a Canadian winter may well rot during an Australian one.
- Available equipment: Some preserving methods require specialised equipment that you may not have access to, or that you may be unwilling to use. For example, not everybody enjoys the sterilization process required to preserve fruit in jars and not everyone can build a smokehouse.
- Cost: Naturally, the costs involved in preserving your food should be weighed against the cost of purchasing the food from a local market, supermarket or other source. In addition, there may be costs in using up storage space, costs in purchasing equipment etc. Care should be given, however, to include the benefits of enjoyment from preserving one’s own food, as well as the health, environmental and nutrient benefits that might arise from preserving homegrown produce, costs that are very hard to quantify and should weigh heavily in your decision-making.
- Nature of the materials: Be realistic about the ability of the food to be preserved. Some food will not tolerate any form of preserving and needs to be eaten fresh. This means that you need to do your research. Also, some foods change during the preserving process and become less palatable or even take on characteristics that are less health-giving. For example, use of nitrites to preserve meat can turn healthy meat into a potentially carcinogenic product.
- Hygiene and safety: Your ability to maintain a high level of hygiene and safety during the preservation process is important. If you cannot meet basic standards, it is best to not attempt a particular preservation method and to either substitute for a safer method or choose to not preserve the food.
- Other issues: Perhaps there are health issues involved in preserving. For example, some people are unable to tolerate preservatives used to create dry fruit. Whilst it is possible to dry them organically, they will discolour and this may not be to the liking of some consumers.
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