You need to use the right food preservation technique, whether you’re starting a mom-and-pop store or a large operation that processes and sells food items. This article lists some common preservation techniques in industrial food production. Read on to find out which is best suited for your business.
Freeze-drying and dehydration
Also known in the food industry as lyophilization, the process of freeze-drying is done by freezing the material or food very quickly. The resulting ice on the food is turned into water vapor and taken away by placing the food in a vacuum, dehydrating it.
Freeze-drying is a good way of preserving food, as there is no water for any bacteria to exist. Freeze-dried food also becomes much lighter, so a large volume of it can be transported easily and less costly. Freeze-dried or dehydrated food can keep for months or even years without spoiling, and most of the nutrients aren’t lost because no heat is used.
Perhaps the only drawback to freeze-drying is that it can’t be done unless you buy expensive, specialized equipment. This is best used by big food processing companies for making dried fruit snacks and dried meat products, like beef jerky.
High-pressure processing or HPP is a new food technology that uses high pressure to lengthen the food’s shelf life. Food is sealed in its final package, then placed in a vessel filled with cold water. The pressure in the vessel is then raised to at least 58,000 psi, which causes the inactivation of mold, yeast, viruses, bacteria, enzymes, and parasites present in the food.
Apart from extending a food’s shelf life significantly, HPP doesn’t cause the food to lose any nutrients or flavor, and consumer safety is guaranteed. The food actually keeps its original freshness by using this preservation technique. The process can be used for a wide selection of food and is especially useful for food that is heat-sensitive, such as dairy products. This is recommended for large-scale operations as well since the equipment is expensive.
This is a simple preservation technique that even households can use. Refrigeration entails storing food in temperatures ranging from 28.4˚F to 3.2˚F (-2˚C to -16˚C). Doing so slows down the growth of microbes, but it doesn’t kill or halt their growth completely. For this reason, refrigeration is recommended for businesses that only need to store or put food in transit for a short time before cooking and serving to customers. Cooking does the job of finishing off the microbes in food and making it safe to eat.
Vacuum-packing is done by placing the food in any of the modern inventions available in the packaging market, then drastically reducing or completely removing the oxygen, or increasing the carbon dioxide level in its packaging. By removing the oxygen, aerobic bacteria or fungal growth is significantly reduced and restricted. This method can also maximize space on store shelves or delivery shipments, as removing all the oxygen in the packaging shrinks the food’s volume.
Vacuum-packed food can be very cost-efficient. It maximizes the use of industrial containers and packaging supplies. Dry food like cereals, nuts, coffee, smoked fish, potato chips, and cured meats benefit greatly from this packing and storing method.
For long-term food preservation and storage, canning is the most effective. Food is portioned and placed in cans, and cooked under pressure to reach a high enough temperature—usually around 249.8˚F (121˚C)—to destroy bacteria. Following the heat treatment, the cans are cooled down quickly with water. While a popular method, canning can be costly. It also takes up space, and the cans are more challenging and expensive to transport. Another drawback is that you lose some nutrients in the cooking process.
These are five food preservation techniques you may use for your small or large-scale food business. To use the right one, consider the longevity of your food product, the cost of production, packaging, the volume of production, cost of equipment, and delivery cost, if applicable.