Last Thursdays class consisted of learning about different food preservation techniques. We discussed the proper procedures to freeze, blanch, dehydrate and vacuum food. All these techniques preserve food differently, but some of them can be used together. For instance to efficiently store greens such as spinach, chard, or kale you would first blanch the greens in water, store them in a vacuum sealed bag and freeze them. Blanching means boiling food for a short amount of time in salt water then plunging it into an ice bath, this cooks the food very briefly but keeps a lot of taste and nutrients. We all know what freezing does, it’s just a great way to store food, but if your food is vacuumed sealed then it will keep in the freezer longer. Vacuum sealing is the process of bagging food in a air tight environment which limits growth of aerobic bacteria or fungi. If you just put meat in the freezer its kept fresh for about 6 months, but if you store it in a vacuum-sealed bag, then it can keep fresh for up to 2 years. Dehydrating food is the process of slowly cooking food so all the moisture is gone. Most foods have a lot of moisture; fruits and vegetables can typically be about 80% water. After dehydrating food the flavors are super concentrated. We used a electric dehydrator in class and dried out herbs.
Our class conducted an experiment in which we blanched a big batch of greens, then we separated them into 2 different group in which we vacuumed sealed half, and just bagged the other half and didn’t suck out any air. We will taste test the food next week in class.
I have dried food before this class, and it worked out great. I made venison jerky with a small charcoal grill. It was a tedious process, but it worked out great. It was really difficult keeping the grill at a low temperature around 140 degrees.