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Our generation is witnessing our foods last longer than ever, thanks to advances in food tech So why the thirst for extra long shelf life? Are we saving the environment? How can we help? From the OIT commissary to the pantry aisle, we have stories to share on all fronts. What does it take to extend the shelf life of a product? What are the most novel approaches in food tech today?

The Science Behind Food Preservation

The Basics of Preservation

At its simplest, preservation involves slowing the growth of spoilage microbes that cause food to go bad, and this can be done through everything from canning to the freeze-drying of foodstuffs.

The Role of Moisture and Air

Two traditional enemies of food are moisture and air. Anything living, such as bacteria, mould or yeast, will thrive and spoil a product over time unless it’s dry. Remove the source of moisture or remove air, and you can greatly extend shelf life.

Temperature's Role in Preservation

An important one is temperature below: by chilling foods sufficiently, you slow or perhaps stop the growth of microbes that spoil food.

Innovative Techniques in Food Technology

Freeze Drying

Among all the food preservation methods, freeze-drying is considered the best.

How It Works

Freeze-drying food involves both freezing and subsequent exposure to the drying action of a vacuum. After freezing, the object is placed in a vacuum chamber where the frozen water gradually sublimes, or turns first to ice and then directly to vapour, so that the moisture is removed without the food needing to pass through a liquid phase.

Advantages of Freeze Drying

In fact, such foods are commonly more than just shelf-stable: served dry (or, in case they are also freeze dried, not even sprinkled with water at one’s convenience before getting at them), they can stay edible for years. Reconstituted by simply adding water, they keep texture and flavour almost indistinguishably the same, and thus are justly the mainstay of NASA astronauts’ extra-terrestrial nutrition and ubiquitous kitchen stores.

Vacuum Sealing and Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)

Vacuum packaging removes air from the package and reduces the amount of oxygen, which many spoilage organisms depend on. And MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) substitutes a different gas mix into the package, one that’s typically low in oxygen and high in nitrogen or carbon dioxide, to slow microbial growth and oxidative processes.

Ultraviolet (UV) and Pulsed Light Technology

Newish ultraviolet and pulsed light processes can inactivate, or at least reduce, microbial growth in foods and packaging, although they are most effective for liquid products such as juices.

Preservation of Veggies

Traditional Methods

Veggies have been pickled, canned or dried since forever to increase their shelf life, but those methods change the taste and texture.

Modern Techniques

In skilled hands, today’s technological vegetables may be flash frozen, freeze dried, or kept using MAP so that they live longer while perpetually having the taste of their fresh-picked predecessors.

Conclusion

With a speeding up world, we have more and more needs for foods that last long. For example, we can send some foods for space trips and enjoy some fresh-tasting vegetables every day even when it’s winter.With the development of food technology, humankind can enjoy longer-lasting foods with high qualities, rather than have foods who can be ripe for a short period of time and quickly spoiled.

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