Chemical preservatives are a reality of processed foods, those products meant to last for weeks to months on the shelf. In general, preservatives are frowned upon, with the “eat fresh and local” movement gathering real steam. However, we all know that eating fresh all the time can be challenging. That’s why the news of an emerging preservation technology is of particular interest to us.
High-pressure processing (HPP) works by taking packaged fresh foods, like vegetable and fruit juices, salsas, avocado-based products, salami, meat and seafood, and putting them under intense pressure at chilled or mild temperatures. Much like cooking sous vide, the food is sealed in a plastic bag and put into a container filled with water. For a couple of minutes, pressure in the chamber subjects the food to roughly 58,000 to 87,000 pounds per square inches.
According to FutureFood 2050, HPP machines have been around since the 1990s, but only 200 commercial companies use over 300 HPP machines around the world. The reason for the underwhelming amount comes down to cost. Carole Tonello, the applications and process development manager at Hiperbaric, a HPP-equipment manufacturer based in Spain, tells FutureFood 2050 that “investment and processing costs are higher than the cost of thermal processing,” the heat-based techniques used in most food processing
Tonello says American shoppers can already find HPP sausages, chicken strips, juices, guacamole, hummus and other dips in stores.
Although the costs may be high, we stand by this chemical-free preserving method. Bring on the pressure!