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Food preservation

Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food in such a way as to stop or greatly slow down spoilage while maintaing nutritional value, texture and flavor.
Preservation ususally involves preventing the growth of bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms, as well as retarding the oxidation of fats which causes rancidity.

Common methods of preserving food include drying, freezing, vacuum-packing[?], canning, radiation-treatment and adding preservatives. Other methods that not only help to preserve food, but also add flavor, include pickling, salting, smoking and curing.

The oldest method of food preservation is by drying, which removes moisture required for bacterial growth. Smoking is sometimes done in conjuntion with drying. Although not sufficient by itself to permit long term storage of food, smoking adds chemicals that help inhibit microbial growth. Meat is often also cured with salt or sugar, or a combination of the two. Curing draws moisture from the meat through a process of osmosis. Nitrates and nitrites are also often used to cure meat. (see: curing)

Pickling is a method of preserving food by placing it in either a brine (high in salt), or a solution of vinegar which is too acidic to permit bacterial growth.

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