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How can you prolong the shelf life of different food products?

We are living in a time when packaging has prolonged the shelf life of food products and still there is wastage being done in high magnitude. If you think that food waste in not that big of a deal, you must know that it is being considered as important as issues of poverty, climate change and hunger. The issue has become much worse recently as food products lie in the fridge for days, while we stock up on more food due to lock down. Over the time, the food becomes inedible since it is a perishable product. However, if you follow these simple steps, you can prolong the life of foods. It can even include eating near to expiry products. 

Do not follow the best before date advisory   

There is often a mistake made by most of us since we believe that the best before date means that the food has expired. But experts tell us that it is contrary to that belief. They say that food is preserved even after the best before date, since this date is put keeping in mind the business factor.  

Fridge Temperature  

You must determine how your fridge works best. Some people set it to a lower temperature than 5 degrees. In this case the food tends to freeze. On the other hand, some people keep it a bit too high due to which the food expires and does not last for a long time. You must avoid both extreme conditions to make the shelf life of your food longer.  

Freezing is a great option  

Did you know that you can freeze many food products? Freezing food is the best way to prolong its shelf life. You can freeze vegetables, soups, meat, and fruits. Use most of the space in your freezer to accommodate as much food as possible. However, many items do not freeze well such as cooked egg whites, cream-based soups and sauces, cucumber, desserts with meringue, fried foods (become soggy), frostings/icing that include raw egg whites, fully cooked pasta (can be frozen in dishes if undercooked), fully cooked rice, gelatine, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, mayonnaise and mayo-based salads (tuna salad, egg salad), and sour cream.  

Do not leave food in the open 

Wrap it up in plastic foil in order to make it airtight. Air just like water can shorten the life of your food. So, you can store the food in a dry place like nuts, cereal, and spices etc. You can also store bread in a bread tin or handy jar. Everything can last longer if it is kept away from oxygen.  

Grow some herbs  

If you have grown some herbs, then you have an added asset to your kitchen as they are an important ingredient. However, the downside is that herbs are seasonal and, they do not have a long life. The herbs usually wilt within a day or two. However, if you add some water and put them in it then they can survive for about two weeks.  

Fruits and veggies get different storage  

Never put them together since the vegetables can sometimes get wet and produce Mould that can infect other veggies as well. So, the best way is to separate them according to their family type such as separate the rooted vegetables such as potatoes, carrots etc from the others. Likewise, separate bananas from the rest of fruit as they can release a gas that can ripen other food product around them.  

Fill up your pickle jars  

This is a great and simple way to preserve food. The vegetables that you cannot use right away, you can simply store them by fermentation. There are many categories of vegetables that can be turned into pickle. This is the surest way of increasing the shelf life of edibles. These pickled foods can last for several months.  

Food processing   

Besides storing food in homes, there are processes through which companies store food as well. Pasteurization, fermentation, and scientific techniques such as thermal processing are used by companies to store up food. Besides scientific methods many traditional ways such as drying, pickling, canning, sugaring, and vacuum pickling are also used.  

Use of chemicals 

Many companies use food chemicals to increase the life of foods. They add antioxidants and oxygen absorbers, this way it prevents the oxidation process from taking place. Usage of chemicals for food preservation is one of the most widely used methods as it surely increases the shelf life of food.  

Storing different items  

 Apples are best preserved in the cold temperature. But mushrooms need to be wrapped in a paper bag so that they don’t get wet. Always remember to store potatoes and onions separately. Cucumbers on the other hand do not do well in cold storages. But eggs can remain edible for up to three weeks in a fridge. Meat can last longer but needs to place properly keeping in mind that the raw meat is placed in the lower tray to avoid dripping.  

What causes food spoilage?   

Several factors spoil food such as microorganisms, which can include bacteria, Mould and yeast. The naturally occurring enzymes in food products can also cause spoilage. Air can lead to oxidation of the food and change its taste. Oxidation can also be caused by light. Pests such as insects can also cause spoilage. Temperature is another important factor that can cause food to be spoiled.  

Conclusion  

You need to know why it is important to increase the shelf life of food products as a lay man and especially as a food distributor. Doing this can ensure better quality produce. Having long shelf life also means that there will be less chance of your product being rejected. It is also a good strategy and part of your business plan since it will result in better brand reputation, less shipments will be rejected, less food wasted and therefore better profit margins. Therefore, in both cases as an individual and as a company preserving food will benefit you economically. It is a sure way to not waste your hard-earned money that is used on buying expensive food products. It may be impossible to control the natural environment around you, but you can use these tips to prolong the life of food through natural or scientific methods.  

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