Saturday 19 April 2014

Food Preservation

Food plays an important role in our lives. Without food, we will not be able to survive. Living in Malaysia is definitely a blessing to us Malaysians. This is because we are able to enjoy different types of foods due to our multi-racial heritage. Thanks to our tropical climate, we are able to produce an abundance of crops and so far our country has not experienced a disastrous food shortage. However, other countries are not as lucky as us. To overcome this problem, humans have invented smart ways to preserve food.
Food preservation is actually the activity of preventing the growth of bacteria or microorganisms from spoiling the food. There are different ways to preserve foods.
The first way is by using heat such as drying and smoking. By introducing sufficient heat, the microorganisms will die since it cannot withstand the high temperature surroundings. Excess water is also removed to slow down the growth of bacteria.

Another way is by curing the food. The food can be cured by either pickling them in vinegar or candying them in sugar. Candying is the process of cooking the food e.g. ginger in sugar till the point of crystallization. Another way is to preserve them in salt such as salted fish or placing them in a heavy sugar syrup solution. Either way, moisture is removed and makes it unsuitable for microorganisms to grow.
Preservatives are also added to mainly increase the food’s shelf life. Canning and bottling involves cooking food and then placing them in sterile cans or jars. The cans or jars are sterilized by boiling them to weaken the growth of bacteria.
Refrigeration and freezing are probably the most popular forms of food preservation in use today. In the case of refrigeration, the idea is to slow bacterial action to a crawl so that it takes food much longer (perhaps a week or two, rather than half a day) to spoil.

One of the advantages of food preservation is mainly that by preserving food, the foods are prevented from being spoiled by the action of enzymes such as ethane and microorganisms. Refrigeration and freezing are probably the most popular forms of food preservation in use today. It allows the food to be stored for a longer period of time. It also increases the availability of certain foods and makes the transportation of foods easier. 

However, the disadvantages of food preservation is that sometimes the nutrients found in fresh foods cannot be found in the foods preserved but this depends on how it is preserved. Besides that, food preserved in jars, cans or etc. cost more due to the packaging. The taste may also differ from fresh foods. Food preservation also requires a long time to process and ready for consumption.

Food preservation has definitely helped us in our daily lives. Not only has it made life easier for those who are busy, but food preservation has helped to overcome a major issues in countries where fresh food is scarce. However, like all things, foods that are preserved are best consumed in moderation.

This blog-post is from Claire Richard, a member of the 2014 Petrosains Science Action Team (SAT) and is one of a series of blog-posts by SAT members to share and communicate science with the general public. 


  1. I'am really interested in food preservation. I'm always buying preserve foods on but I'm planning to try the tropical preservation. Thanks for sharing this. This is very informative.

  2. Drying is the critical factor in preservation of food products. The removal of moisture helps prevent bacterial activity and spoilage. Salt can be used to accelerate the removal of water and hence its widespread use as a traditional preservative. Modern day methods of water removal include freeze drying which will both remove the water and significantly reduce the weight of the food. Smoking the meat imparts extracts from the smoke (phenols, etc.) that helps to retards the growth of spoilage bacteria. Today preservatives are typically added to retard bacterial growth .

  3. Great blog. All posts have something to learn. Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Peanut Butter Powder