Preservatives are wonderful. They keep food fresh for longer, enabling us to stock up on reserves and reduce waste. They can even produce delicious new flavor combinations. But those chemicals with names we can hardly pronounce can be disturbing.
Fortunately, there are natural alternatives to chemical and synthetic preservatives that can do the job just as well. Here are some that we use at Mekhala.
Limes are green citrus fruits that grow well in many climates. With it’s weak acidity (low pH), the juice of the lime inhibits the growth of organisms that would spoil food like bacteria and mold (Lambert, 1999), helping keep food safe for consumption. At Mekhala, we squeeze organically grown limes in our factory when we need them, so they are extra fresh!
Another fruit with a sour taste, tamarind juice works in the same way lime juice does to preserve freshness. Commonly found in southeast Asian cooking, tamarind is often used to add tartness to recipes. Why don’t we just use lime juice in everything? There are subtle differences in flavor profiles, and our Chief Sauceress’s tastebuds are exacting. *Wink*
Another ingredient that relies on creating an acidic environment to keep germs at bay is rice vinegar. The trick is keeping everything in balance so that preservation is effective, but flavor isn’t compromised, or better yet, is enhanced.
Heat Sterilization & Vacuum Sealing
Okay, this technically isn’t an ingredient. But it’s still a preservation method. The final flourish is heat sterilization to kill any germs and bacteria, followed by vacuum sealing to keep new invaders out.
Lambert RJ, Stratford M. Weak-acid preservatives: modelling microbial inhibition and response. J Appl Microbiol. 1999 Jan;86(1):157-64. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2672.1999.00646.x. PMID: 10030018.