Guide for Slowing Down and Preventing the Bacterial Growth on Your Food
Which of the following food does not support bacterial growth? If you were asked this question, how you will answer it? Most people will choose the cooked food. Their reason mostly is because the heat that you use when you cook the ingredient kills the bacteria. Therefore, there is no chance for the bacteria to grow in cooked food. However, this opinion could be wrong, if we are talking about the vegetable.
The Cooked Vegetable
The raw vegetable has natural protection against the bacteria that comes from its original condition. It still can become rotten, but compared to the cooked ones, the raw has a longer period of freshness. On the other hand, the vegetable that has been going through the cooking process loses its firmness and freshness.
The structure of the vegetable on the micro-scale also becomes weak because of the heat. This condition creates a good environment for bacteria to grow. The heat also stimulates the bacteria multiplication. Moreover, it also can stimulate the fungus to grow, which becomes another problem besides the bacteria.
Therefore, if you compared the raw vegetable and the cooked one in term of its period before it starts to get rotten, the raw has a longer one. So, if you plan to keep the vegetable for quite long, you shouldn’t cook it. On the opposite, if you have cooked the vegetable, you should eat them all and do not leave them, because it will become the place for bacteria to grow.
The vegetable is one of the examples of the easiest answer and method to know which of the following food does not support bacterial growth. However, if it is the other ingredients, such as dairy products, meat, and poultry, it becomes easier to get rotten, if you don’t process them. Why is it different? There are at least five elements that cause those ingredients to become an ideal place for bacteria to grow. They are:
Water supports the bacteria activity in breaking down and consume the food ingredient to grow. However, the water that the bacteria use is called the unbound water or in the scientific term, it is known as water availability or water activity. It is different than the moisture level of the food, which all foods have. There is a specific method to measure water activity. And, if the food has more than 0.95 points of water activity, it will become the best place for bacteria to grow.
Bacteria also need oxygen to live. Mostly, food bacteria are classified as aerobes, which is the type that needs oxygen. However, some of the microbes in the food also can live without oxygen. Therefore, depending on the oxygen level around the food, it also can accelerate or slow down the bacterial growth.
Bacteria also need nutrients to grow. They use it to produce the energy that they need to live. The nutrient can be acquired from the substance that you can find in the food ingredients. The carbohydrate, sugar, protein, starch, and other nutrient become the food of the bacteria. For that reason, food that has many nutrients, such as dairy products, are more suitable for bacteria to grow.
Temperature holds an essential role in supporting bacterial growth. In the scientific term, there is a range of temperature that is known as the danger zone. If a food or ingredient stays within this danger zone for a long time, the bacteria will be able to grow rapidly. The danger zone that we are talking about here is the temperature between 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) and 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius). Therefore, we should cook our food above those temperature ranges or freeze the food below that temperature range to prevent the bacteria to grow.
The pH level of a food or ingredient also affects the strength of bacterial growth. Bacteria mostly grow quite faster on the neutral pH level, which is pH 7. However, it doesn’t mean that your food is safe from bacteria when it has low pH levels. When your food pH level is lower than 4.5 pH, fungus or molds can easily infect it.
How to Prevent Bacterial Growth on A Food or Ingredients
From here, we believe you already understand which of the following food does not support bacterial growth as well as the food that become the best place for bacteria to grow. In short, the food with higher protein content has a higher risk to accelerate bacterial growth. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t prevent or at least, slow down the growth speed. Here, we have tips to prevent bacterial growth, so your food will last much longer.
Put it in the refrigerator – the cool temperature will keep the food away from the danger zone. Thus, the speed of bacterial growth will be much slower and almost stop.
Preserve it – use the preservation technique to reduce the bacterial growth speed. For meat and protein-based ingredients, you can try to marinate it or pour salt to turn it into jerky that can last longer. As for the vegetables, keep them fresh and put them in an air-tight container. It will limit the oxygen that the bacteria need to grow.
Keep it clean – separate different types of ingredients on a different container. Do not mix it because it also can provide more nutrients for bacteria to grow. Use a different container with airtight features to keep it much longer.
ConclusionNow, you understand which of the following food does not support bacterial growth and how to process and keep it. If you do it correctly, you don’t have to worry about this problem. More importantly, your food also can last longer. In the middle of a pandemic when we can’t move freely, using the preservation technique as we mentioned above will be very useful. So, try them now and enjoy your food for much longer!