Ever since humans have been eating food, they have sought ways to extend the shelf life of food.
Over 12,000 years ago, people in the Middle East preserved their food by drying it under the hot sun. About 7,000 years later, the Babylonians pickled dates in wine and vinegar. Then in 1810 Nicolas Appert came along and developed corked glass containers, sealing he used wax and boiling water to preserve fruit, soups, vegetables and dairy products.
Maine settlers and gardeners continue these food preservation traditions, often exploiting methods used centuries ago. Even though modern science has come up with a process that experts say is far more reliable and safe.
“More research will see more of these [older] The method is not a safe practice,” said Beth Calder, a food safety expert at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “It can actually make people pretty sick, both in the short term and the long term.”
Here are some techniques that settlers still practice today, and why experts suggest finding alternatives.
water glass eggs
Water vitrification refers to the method of preserving fresh eggs in a solution of pickling lime and water. After all, it’s a process that can drive the growth of highly deadly bacteria, and only a handful of laboratories in this country have protocols to study it.
“It’s been a common practice for a long time,” says Calder. “People used lime to preserve eggs because they didn’t have refrigeration facilities.”
Calder cites information from the University of Arkansas’ Department of Agricultural Research and Extension that soaking shell eggs in any form of aqueous solution can allow airborne or water-borne contaminants to enter the interior of the egg. I warn you that it is dangerous.
These contaminants can easily pass through the porous shell. They must allow the chicks to develop to obtain oxygen.
Among these contaminants is Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium responsible for the deadly disease botulism. It is found in the soil where chickens live, feed and lay eggs. Clostridium botulinum grows best in high pH environments, such as those created using lime-based water glasses.
Working with Clostridium botulinum is so dangerous that few labs have the necessary certifications to study the highly virulent bacterium, Calder said.
Fresh eggs can also carry salmonella-causing bacteria in their shells. Salmonella can cause serious symptoms such as fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. According to Calder, vitrified eggs provide the perfect environment for salmonella to thrive.
Additionally, research shows that lime can cause a variety of human health problems, including changes in blood chemistry, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, and abdominal pain.
“We know this is not a safe method,” Calder says.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the only safe way to extend the life of fresh eggs is to freeze or pickle them and store them in the refrigerator.
There are many foods that can be safely stored in cans. According to Calder, butter is not the one he is.
A study from the University of California, Davis found that it’s virtually impossible to safely cann butter or milk. This is why it is not recommended to add cream, milk or butter to soups.
Again, the risk is botulism. The fat in butter actually protects the Clostridium botulinum spores from the heat generated during the canning process.
“Butter is also a low-acid food,” Calder said. “So botulism is a real risk.”
Improperly stored butter will spoil, smell rancid, and be inedible.
Calder has seen a growing interest in clarifying butter to produce ghee and removing all of its moisture. and is an important ingredient in many Indian dishes.
There is nothing wrong with making ghee, said Calder. The problem arises when people think they can do it for long-term shelf storage.
“There are no reliable tests to show that canned butter or butter products are safe,” she said.
Instead, Calder says freezing butter is the only safe way to store it.
animal feed fermentation
Andrea Holmes’ chickens, ducks, geese and pigs are fed a steady diet of fermented grains at Leeds farms instead of feeding 84 animals with commercial packaged animal feeds at Lighthouse Farms doing. It’s the menu she said is better for the animals and her wallet.
Fermentation is the process of partially breaking down food using naturally occurring bacteria. Those who do it say it increases the amount of available protein, vitamins and enzymes in the product you are fermenting, kills harmful bacteria and makes food easier to digest. It takes a little more time and effort to ferment, but the result is robust enough to give you half the amount of fermented grain you would have left unfermented.
Fermentation has been used to produce alcohol and preserve food since at least 4,000 BC. Just because it’s been around for a long time doesn’t mean it’s a viable option now, according to Colt Knight, a state livestock expert at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
“The problem with fermented grains comes down to mycotoxins and aflatoxins,” Knight said. “It’s a concern because they can be deadly.”
Mycotoxins and aflatoxins are produced by fungi and molds and occur when grains get wet.
To safely ferment the grain and prevent the development of these toxins, Holmes begins by running the grain through a purchased grain mill that can process about 240 pounds an hour.
All different grains must be thoroughly mixed before fermenting. Holmes did it by hand with a shovel.
“Now I have a brand new cement mixer that I got for mixing grain at Lowe’s,” she said. We can find easier ways to do what we have to do.”
Knight does not outright reject fermentation when it comes to animal feed, but he stresses that it must be done safely and properly. .
“Fermented grains fed to chickens are not worth the economic benefit in terms of digestibility,” Knight said. [fermenting grains] Hundreds of years ago for a reason. ”
Likewise, all Calders are for homeowners who are preserving the bounty of their garden. She stresses the need for safe, scientifically-backed methods of storage rather than the latest trends shared on social media.
She recommends looking at information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Center for Food Storage, or the Office of Extension at State Universities.
“Following these safe food preservation practices doesn’t change you from being a settler,” Calder said. “It means you’re an advocate for safe food production.” increase.”
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