The majority of chemical preservatives are linked to health problems (even in minimal amounts). Luckily, there are 10 ways to keep food fresher and longer, without chemical preservatives. Check out these ways now.
Freezing is a hassle-free way of making your meals last at least 6 months longer, as long as they’re sealed air-tight, and the freezer is at 0ºF or colder. Baked goods, homemade sauces, fruit, and animal protein can last for up to 6 months in the freezer, and if you include dairy in your diet, dairy lasts between 1-3 months.
Vegetables can be frozen to extend their shelf life too, although fresh veggies (besides tomatoes) should be blanched before freezing, which allows them to retain their nutrients, enzymes, texture, and color.
Fermentation is the ultimate way to extend the shelf life of your fruit and vegetables by months. Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, pickles, onions, and garlic are all examples of Lacto-fermented foods.
Lacto-fermentation uses water and salt, which prevents the growth of bad bacteria, and allows the good bacteria to thrive. The good bacteria “break down” the sugar in the fruit and veggies, which produces lactic acid. The lactic acid creates the perfect amount of acidity needed to preserve food and protect it from the growth of mold and bacteria.
3. Lemon Or Lime Juice
The ascorbic acid found in lemon flesh and juice acts as an antioxidant, while the citric acid is a natural antibacterial, and helps preserve the flavor, color, and taste of your recipes. Lemon juice also prevents fresh fruit and vegetables from browning.
Thanks to its antibacterial properties, lemon juice can be used to preserve any plant-based meal. Note: lemon juice isn’t a strong enough preservative for meat.
4. Salt (Curing or Brining)
Salt is the oldest and most effective preservation method. It can preserve anything from meat, poultry, and fish, to desserts and vegetables. Because it removes moisture and reduces the amount of water available for bacteria to grow in.
Making a brine with salt and water to preserve meat, and using salt to cure meat can allow it to last several months.
5. Vinegar (Pickling)
Grandma knew a thing or two! Pickling, which is the process of preserving vegetables with vinegar, allows fresh vegetables, fruit, and even eggs to last several months. The acetic acid in vinegar is the reason why it works well as a natural food preservative. Acetic acid kills the bacteria that spoil food and the acidity creates an environment they can’t survive in.
Most traditional pickling solutions use vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, but you can leave the sugar out. While sugar also acts as a natural preservative, it’s mostly intended to add flavor to the product you’re picking.
6. Cayenne Pepper
When compared to dill, parsley, and green pepper, cayenne pepper showed the strongest antimicrobial activity against yeast, mold, and other bacteria on cheese. So, spice up your soups, dips, sauces, stews, and chilis to help keep them fresh for longer.
7. Rosemary Oil Or Extract
As it turns out, the comforting smell of rosemary is only one of its many benefits. Food-grade rosemary essential oil has antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, which has been shown to preserve meat and prevent fats and oils from going rancid.
8. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a white powdery substance made from diatoms, which are tiny single-celled algae. It’s best known for being one of the richest sources of silica. But it’s also becoming more popular as a natural food preservative because it repels insects and eliminates moisture.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be used to preserve dry pantry foods. Examples nut flours, quinoa, and even your pet’s food, by layering a small amount on the top, bottom, and every three or so inches in between. You can find powdered diatomaceous earth at your local health food store in the supplements aisle.
9. Pure Raw Honey
Honey is considered an ancient preservation method, dating back to prehistoric times. Thanks to a range of factors including its unique acidity and ability to suck in moisture. You may have noticed that honey never spoils (as long as it’s not diluted with water or any other substances).
That’s because, similar to salt, its high concentration of sugar draws out moisture, which inhibits the growth of yeast and other strains of bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus. The antioxidants in honey have also been shown to slow down the browning of fresh fruit and vegetables.
As one of the most powerful foods to eat to kill yeast, bacteria, and other viruses in our bodies, it’s no surprise that garlic has the same benefits when added to food.
One study showed that fresh garlic was able to prolong the shelf life of raw camel meat for up to 4 days at room temperature, and 28 days in the refrigerator with no sign of spoilage or microbial growth.
This suggests garlic can increase the potential of other natural food preservation methods. Such as brines and pickling, and preserve the freshness of your animal protein dishes. As well as plant-based dishes such as dips, soups, and homemade salad dressings.