Fermenting, bottling, drying, pickling - preserving fruit and vegetables opens up an intriguing world of seasonal eating and powerful flavours. With roots in ancient times and still popular in many cultures, there is a growing fascination with the revival of the old ways, creatively fulfilling, and of great benefit to our health, the environment and our pockets.
Perhaps it’s our growing urge for more natural, home-produced foods where we know exactly what's within, or maybe we want to do our bit in helping the environment by being less wasteful. Maybe we’re conscious in our ever-more technological world that there are simpler, more pleasing pastimes to better feed mind, body and soul.
But whatever the reason, across the country, humble hobbyists are preserving fruit, meat and vegetables in greater numbers than ever.
If you are a food/marketing professional, and your foodie audience is ripe for the renewed love of preserving, there are plenty of ways to cultivate their interest.
As inspiration for your next pop-up, campaign, cookery demo, event, sampling and more, we look at the key messages behind food preservation and add a taste of its visual vibe.
What are the key messages for a culture-crazy audience?
It can be healthier than buying processed products that often have added ingredients that are not entirely good for you.
It's economic - produce lasts longer and extends its uses.
Preserves are great for sharing - excellent presents to give friends and family. You never know, they might get the bug too.
You can take advantage of local harvests as well as seasonal veg, and it often has a high nutritional value.
It’s actually pretty simple too. All you need are a few basic tools and a little know-how and you’re off and running.
Not only is food preservation a great way to make sure that leftovers don’t go to waste, but you can also create products that look and taste delicious, with processes that are good for the environment. Whether it's pickled, dried, fermented or cured, preserving food not only makes our produce last, but helps us to eat mindfully, revealing hidden flavours and getting the most nutrients out of seasonal produce. Jars of vibrant and glowing preserves look so gorgeous, too!
Preserving 101 - the basics
A quick refresher of the Whats and Hows to kickstart those creative juices:
The art of preserving food through the canning process has been around for a good few centuries. The key is to heat the food and kill off any bacteria with a simple process of pasteurisation. The food and liquid is then stored in a can or a glass jar with a strong, airtight seal. This method can be used for most types of food from fruit and vegetables to meat.
It may seem boring because most of us do it anyway, but, with care, most food can be stored by freezing, and this has been a time-honoured method for thousands of years. Its renewed acceptance has recently been supported by Iceland's successful 'Power of Frozen' campaign and 'Freshly Frozen' branding.
Another long standing way of preserving fruit and vegetables, pickling is actually relatively easy to do. It involves submerging the food in a salt, acid or alcohol solution which infuses into the surface of the fruit or veg to change the taste.
Before there were fridges, people used to dry out food to make it last longer. Without any moisture, there isn’t any reason for microbes and bacteria to start digesting your consumables. It can be used for all types of food including meat and seafood and doesn’t require a great deal of equipment.
This is about letting good microbes get at your food by using a fermenting substance such as salt, whey or a starter culture. Food is normally stored in jars filled with brine. An acquired taste for some but full of nutrients, and championed by restaurants like Aqua London and Four Hundred Rabbits. The fermentation method is particularly good for the gut.
Curing and Smoking
Curing uses salt and nitrates to seal meat and fish and is similar in a way to pickling. Smoking is relatively easy to do, is a great way to add flavour and is healthier than curing.
Have a look at our Pinterest board for a taste of the visual vibe around the storyful alchemy of food preservation, featuring natural materials, handmade accents, props and ingredients display.