Food preservation

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Food preservation

Food preservation (/fuːd prɪˌzɜːrˈveɪʃən/) is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down food spoilage, loss of quality, edibility, or nutritional value and thus allow for longer food storage.


The term "food preservation" originates from the Latin words "fōda" meaning "food" and "praeservāre" meaning "to keep or guard".


Food preservation has been a major part of human civilization. Early methods of food preservation included drying, smoking, and fermentation. The discovery of canning and pasteurization in the 19th century contributed significantly to the development of food preservation.


There are several methods of food preservation. These include:

  • Canning: This involves sealing food in airtight containers and then heating it to kill or weaken any remaining bacteria, yeasts, or molds.
  • Freezing: This method slows down the growth of microorganisms and the action of enzymes which cause food to spoil.
  • Drying: This method removes water from the food, which bacteria, yeasts, and molds need to grow.
  • Pickling: This method uses vinegar or another solution to create an environment where microorganisms cannot grow.
  • Smoking: This method exposes food to smoke from burning or smoldering plant materials, usually wood.

Related terms

  • Food spoilage: The process by which food deteriorates to the point that it is not edible to humans or its quality of edibility becomes reduced.
  • Food storage: The holding of food in a controlled environment for future use.
  • Canning: A method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container.
  • Freezing: A method of preserving food by lowering its temperature to below its freezing point.
  • Drying: A method of food preservation that works by removing water from the food.
  • Pickling: A method of preserving food by immersing it in vinegar or a similar solution.
  • Smoking: A method of preserving and flavoring food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering plant materials.

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