We met last Friday for our second week of learning the art and science of food preservation. So far, the emphasis has been on the science and safety of preserving food, which by the definition of the class includes refrigerating, freezing, canning, drying, and anything else we do to extend the useful life of our foods. It's a lot of information to take in but here are some of the things that grabbed my attention:
1. All molds are not harmless. There is some evidence, that some molds may raise the risk of liver cancer because of toxins they produce. Hard cheeses are OK, just cut off the mold 1/2 - 1 inch below the mold. But in general, toss out moldy foods.
2. Blanching foods breaks destroys enzymes that effect the taste, texture, and color of foods. That's why you blanch before you freeze.
3. It's the oils in food that can cause them to go rancid. That's why they have to add preservatives to whole wheat flours, but not to white flours, that have all the oils from the wheat berry removed. They recommend storing whole wheat flower in the fridge or freezer to keep it from going bad.
4. We learned a little about insects in food. One keeper bit of information is to freeze your flour for one week before storing it on the shelf. This will kill off any little bug larva in the flour. They didn't say if it also makes them tasty when you eat them later.
5. The key temperature numbers for preservation are below 40 degrees on the cold side and above 140 on the hot side. You might want to check your fridge to make sure it's below 40 degrees.