What are Processed Foods

What are the Popular Methods of Manufacturing Processed Foods?

Time and again, we hear that processed foods must be avoided. However, very few of us know what they actually are. To find out, go through the article given below.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Mar 7, 2018
Man cooking breakfast
Grocery stores often showcase easy-to-cook and delicious processed food. These are packaged foods which undergo certain processes like canning, freezing, refrigeration, and sterile processing. Introduced by Nicolas Appert and Clarence Birdseye to the world, commercially processed foods undergo different processes in the labs to increase the shelf life of the food. Processing of food is done by some of the following processes:

Blanching

Blanching is a way of processing foods at home to make it crispy and tender. This process is followed by many chefs. Vegetables are blanched using a simple technique. First, put the vegetables in the water and boil them until they are half-cooked, but still tender. Remove them from the boiling water immediately, and place them in an ice bath to cool them. Remove the vegetables from the ice bath as soon as they cool down. These vegetables can now be used for cooking in any way you like. This type of processing improves the taste of the vegetables.

Freezing

Frozen foods like fish and peas are often consumed by many of us. Seeds of certain crops are stored at -18 degree Celsius to preserve them. Cold storage is used for storing frozen foods and these foods remain in a good state for a long time.

Canning

Canning food is a good way of processing it. Some foods require heating at a very high temperature to make them free of harmful microorganisms. The foods to be canned are placed in jars and heated at very high temperature. As soon as the food and jars are cooled, the jars are sealed. Mostly, preservatives are not added to the canned food. The shelf-life of food increases due to canning. Meat, poultry, seafood, pickled vegetables, and fruits are some of the foodstuffs generally available in canned forms.

Dehydrating

Dehydrating foods is also called drying in which the water content is removed from the food. Foods are dried by blowing hot and dry air. Many vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish can be processed with the drying process. Drying foodstuffs help retain vitamin A, carbohydrates, and fiber. The caloric value remains the same, but the fat content decreases. The only disadvantage processing food by the drying method is that the water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C are lost in the process of dehydration.

Pasteurization and Irradiation

French scientist Louis Pasteur introduced the technique of pasteurization. Pasteurization is used for processing milk. Milk is heated at 72 degree Celsius for 15 minutes. The pasteurization process is not intended to kill all the microorganisms; instead it preserves some useful microorganisms. Grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts are irradiated with high-energy radiations to sterilizing.

Cooking

Cooking is also a way of processing food. Various ways of cooking like grilling, stir-frying, steaming, and roasting preserve a lot of vitamins and minerals. Boiling foodstuffs for a long time is generally not preferred because such a way of processing foods may decrease the nutritional value of them.

List of healthy processed foods
  • Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • Grains and cereals which include whole grain breakfast cereals, whole grain pastas, and whole grain breads
  • Fish and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Herbal teas, juices, and milk
  • Low-fat cheese and yogurt
  • Soups and sauces having a low sodium content
  • Low-fat turkey slices and sliced roasted beef for making sandwiches
Processed food can be healthy if you choose to eat wisely, taking into consideration the nutritional value of food. Try to avoid the unhealthy, high-fat, and high-sodium foods. Stay healthy!