Food Processing and Preserving
100 years ago there were a few techniques available for preserving food - canning, bottling, pickling, salting, drying.
These are still the basic techniques, but many more new methods have been developed recently:
- Freeze Drying, which is used to preserve the flavour of herbs
- Deep-freezing. This is now a standard method for most food - potato chips, fish, garden peas, beans, pies, bread and dough, ice cream, chicken and other meats, pizzas, etc. They can generally be rapidly cooked in a microwave oven. It allows the product to be consumed at any time of the year and in any place. Some people live entirely of this 'fast food', even to the extent that they eat no products which existed 100 years ago
- The shelf-life of many products is extended with artificial preservatives
- Drying - many more products are now dried which could not be done before, e.g. some breakfast cereals
- De-hydrated foods are also available
- Some fruits and vegetables are now irradiated to delay decay processes and prolong shelf-life
There is only one major new cooking techniques, the microwave oven, though techniques such as stir-frying have been imported, and also curry (which originated as a preservation technique, in particular as a 'mask' to hide the dubious nature of the meat !) has now become the favourite British food.
Very much more food is now sold 'processed', and less 'home cooking' is done. The processing is often a pre-cooking, but many preservatives and additives are permitted, and these can improve the colour, flavour and texture of the food.