Food Preservation Basics

Since the beginning of time, man has searched for ways to preserve the life length of food. Before the concept of food preservation developed, humans were forced to travel from location to location in order to locate fresh foods. Food had to be eaten almost immediately after it was either killed in instances of animal meat or not long after harvesting for fruits and vegetables. Discovering a method to save food was vital to the expansion and development of mankind as it is today.

Ancient cave men were among the first to discover ways to safety store and preserve food. Cave men in cold locations used freezing as a way to store fish, seal meat and other small animals to prevent long searches for food in harsh weather. Their technique was very uncomplicated and consisted of merely laying the fresh meat on ice which kept the food safe to eat for small amounts of time between severe storms. Ancient men in warmer climates discovered the benefits of drying foods as a measure to keep them stored for longer periods of time. Fruits and vegetables have been dried as preservation methods dating back to the earliest dates of man on record. Fermentation is also one of the earliest forms of food preservation. The process was discovered accidentally when rain met with barley grains. The first recorded date of evidence of the fermentation process was discovered around the year 10,000 B.C.

The earliest methods of food preservation are still used today yet the variety of effective methods and technology has greatly expanded. Freezing, drying and fermenting are still among the most popular in food preservation yet beginning in the Roman time period, other methods began to be introduced. Pickling was amongst the most popular in this time which is a process consisting of using acids, such as vinegar, to oxidize bacteria in food to acetic acid which will not cause illness when consumed. Canning and preserving foods with sugar or honey was also used regularly in these time periods. Curing became popular in the early 1800's which usually consisted of using salt to keep meat fresh. In this time period, technology has developed greatly enabling all of these methods to be enhanced for convenience and safety as well as. Scientific methods are continuously gaining popularity, such as heating, ultra high water pressure, osmotic inhibition and other complex methods.

Each method provides the same end result, food is able to be saved and kept fresh for another day, week or month. Just about any food can be saved and stored if the proper technique for the food product is used correctly. Before beginning any food preservation technique, it is important to thoroughly research the shelf life and correct ways to perform the technique. This is a way to avoid unwanted bacteria from contaminating the food and causing illness. Various resources on the history of food preservation, the scientific process, methods of food preservation and safety tips and measures have been provided to ensure a safe and effective preservation process.

History of Food Preservation

Preservation Process

Methods of Preserving Foods:




Pickling and Fermentation

Curing and Smoking

Canning and Bottling


Other Methods

Food Preservation Safety

Educational Resources