@NarcolepticHound mentioned @GreatHeroJ 's Food Spoilage Concept.
Time to make a topic on preserving food. (Okay, I’d admit I copy and pasted a lot of this from Wikipedia because I was lazy at the time)
The earliest form of curing was dehydration or drying, used as early as 12,000 BC. Smoking and salting techniques improve on the drying process and add antimicrobial agents that aid in preservation. Smoke deposits a number of pyrolysis products onto the food, including the phenols syringol, guaiacol and catechol. Salt accelerates the drying process using osmosis and also inhibits the growth of several common strains of bacteria. More recently nitrites have been used to cure meat, contributing a characteristic pink colour.
Cooling preserves food by slowing down the growth and reproduction of microorganisms and the action of enzymes that causes the food to rot. The introduction of commercial and domestic refrigerators drastically improved the diets of many in the Western world by allowing food such as fresh fruit, salads and dairy products to be stored safely for longer periods, particularly during warm weather. In 4.0, we could easily implement such systems such as root cellars, fridges, iceboxes, etc.
In northern climates without sufficient sun to dry foods, preserves are made by heating the fruit with sugar. Sugar tends to draw water from the microbes within food (plasmolysis). This process leaves the microbial cells dehydrated, thus killing them. In this way, the food will remain safe from microbial spoilage. Sugar is used to preserve fruits, either in an antimicrobial syrup with fruit such as apples, pears, peaches, apricots, and plums, or in crystallized form where the preserved material is cooked in sugar to the point of crystallization and the resultant product is then stored dry. This method is used for the skins of citrus fruit (candied peel), angelica, and ginger. Also, sugaring can be used in the production of jam and jelly.
Pickling is a method of preserving food in an edible, antimicrobial liquid. Pickling can be broadly classified into two categories: chemical pickling and fermentation pickling.
In chemical pickling, the food is placed in an edible liquid that inhibits or kills bacteria and other microorganisms. Typical pickling agents include brine (high in salt), vinegar, alcohol, and vegetable oil. Many chemical pickling processes also involve heating or boiling so that the food being preserved becomes saturated with the pickling agent. Common chemically pickled foods include cucumbers, peppers, corned beef, herring, and eggs, as well as mixed vegetables such as piccalilli.
In fermentation pickling, bacteria in the liquid produce organic acids as preservation agents, typically by a process that produces lactic acid through the presence of lactobacillales. Fermented pickles include sauerkraut, nukazuke, kimchi, and surströmming.
Canning involves cooking food, sealing it in sterilized cans or jars, and boiling the containers to kill or weaken any remaining bacteria as a form of sterilization.
Foods have varying degrees of natural protection against spoilage and may require that the final step occur in a pressure cooker. High-acid fruits like strawberries require no preservatives to can and only a short boiling cycle, whereas marginal vegetables such as carrots require longer boiling and addition of other acidic elements. Low-acid foods, such as vegetables and meats, require pressure canning. Food preserved by canning or bottling is at immediate risk of spoilage once the can or bottle has been opened.
Food may be preserved by cooking in a material that solidifies to form a gel. Such materials include gelatin, agar, maize flour, and arrowroot flour. Some foods naturally form a protein gel when cooked, such as eels and elvers, and sipunculid worms, which are a delicacy in Xiamen, in the Fujian province of the People’s Republic of China. Jellied eels are a delicacy in the East End of London, where they are eaten with mashed potatoes. Potted meats in aspic (a gel made from gelatin and clarified meat broth) were a common way of serving meat off-cuts in the UK until the 1950s. Many jugged meats are also jellied.
Meat can be preserved by jugging. Jugging is the process of stewing the meat (commonly game or fish) in a covered earthenware jug or casserole. The animal to be jugged is usually cut into pieces, placed into a tightly-sealed jug with brine or gravy, and stewed. Red wine and/or the animal’s own blood is sometimes added to the cooking liquid. Jugging was a popular method of preserving meat up until the middle of the 20th century.
Some foods, such as many cheeses, wines, and beers, use specific micro-organisms that combat spoilage from other less-benign organisms. These micro-organisms keep pathogens in check by creating an environment toxic for themselves and other micro-organisms by producing acid or alcohol. Methods of fermentation include, but are not limited to, starter micro-organisms, salt, hops, controlled (usually cool) temperatures and controlled (usually low) levels of oxygen. These methods are used to create the specific controlled conditions that will support the desirable organisms that produce food fit for human consumption.
Fermentation is the microbial conversion of starch and sugars into alcohol. Not only can fermentation produce alcohol, but it can also be a valuable preservation technique. Fermentation can also make foods more nutritious and palatable. For example, drinking water in the Middle Ages was dangerous because it often contained pathogens that could spread disease. When the water is made into beer, the boiling during the brewing process kills any bacteria in the water that could make people sick. Additionally, the water now has the nutrients from the barley and other ingredients, and the microorganisms can also produce vitamins as they ferment.