Don’t waste food, preserve it!

Ok, so issues regarding food waste aren’t exactly brand new information for most people in the UK, especially since research published by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that the UK created around 10 million tonnes of food waste in 2016, a staggering 60% of which could have been avoided. This has an estimated value of over £17 billion a year, and is associated with around 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Food waste

However, here at MetMUnch, we have been having some thoughts…

Now, this is a little old school, but when a food is nearing the end of shelf life it can still be really useful, so how about making it into something else?

Strawberries a little mushy? Make them into a jam.

Got more cabbage than you can eat? Give kimchi a go.

Whatever you do, DON’T THROW IT!!

What started as a way of keeping food from the bountiful autumn harvest through cold winters is still a good way to keep food, as well as being able to imbue it with all manner of tasty flavours and textures.

But this is just the start…canning, drying, salting and preserving– all this and more is open in the wonderful world of fermented foods!

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The science of preserving

They say the making of food is half-art and half-science. Well, the science is certainly clear to see whenever we preserve our foods.

There are so many methods open to us to keep our food at its best, and all which work on a few basic scientific mechanisms. Here are some examples:

  • Salting – By using salt to draw out the water we dehydrate the food and make it inhospitable to microbes, which would either spoil it or hurt us. Examples of salting include Sauerkraut or salt cod.
  • Vinegar – On a similar theme we can add vinegar, which changes the pH (<4.6), making it too acidic for microbes to grow. Examples include traditional favourites like a pickled onion or egg.
  • Use of ‘good bacteria’ – Competition is a good thing, so if we can get a harmless strain of microbe to proliferate & consume the resources in a food it leaves no room for the ‘bad bacteria’. This tool is often used in conjunction with salting, for example in the traditional Korean dish kimchi, which uses lactic acid bacteria.
  • Anti-microbial agents – It sounds a bit technical but some foods like spices contain natural chemicals that discourage microbial growth. While these are not often enough on their own they provide a great back-up line of defence when combined with one of the other methods. Cinnamon, clove and mustard all have this property.

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These are just a few of the methods of preserving which have an incredible number of variations and combinations to add flavour, texture and safety to our foods. Have a go at home!

Ask a MetMUncher for more advice on creative ideas for your food, or visit www.metmunch.com for recipes, ideas and nutritional advice!