From peaches in syrup to sardines in pickle, passing through mussels, cockle juice, asparagus water or even mozzarella whey. It is not strange to have ever been tempted to drink that liquid, but the doubt about the possibility that it is counterproductive stops. Are the liquids that bathe these preserves healthy and/or suitable for consumption?
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Qualifying that one thing is suitability for consumption and another is convenience, at least for direct ingestion, we can logically say that the liquid from preserves, whether aqueous or oily, is suitable for consumption.
In the first place because this fluid, called covering or governing liquid, according to the Royal Decree 2420/1978cannot contain substances that affect human health.
Secondly, because this liquid is in permanent contact with the food, it is responsible for preserving it, seasoning it and distributing its flavor, as well as protecting its color in the case of vegetables thanks to the antioxidants that are added, mainly acid. ascorbic, which is vitamin C. That is to say that the preserve has been infiltrated by this same liquid during conservation, which is sometimes also curing or fermentation.
Another thing is the healthiness of the consumption of these aqueous or oily solutions depending on their composition. Although they are approved by the European Food Safety Agency, EFSA, many consumers are mistrustful of additives, which in these cases are usually antioxidants and natural stabilizers, but not in all.
If we are averse to unnatural additives, we always have the option of reading the list of those contained in the preserve on the label, since the manufacturer must include them and go to this list of additives to see what they consist of and thus decide whether or not we want to drink the juice of those cockles, for example.
In any case, we must be aware that even if we reject the covering liquid, it is also infiltrated in the preserve that we eat.
If we are not averse to additives, we can drink the juice without qualms, since at the moment it has not been proven that the employees have harmful effects, although they are all subject to periodic reviews.
What’s more, the juice of asparagus, beans, spinach or artichokes retains a good part of its vitamin content and its flavor, so it could be healthy.
Oils and syrups
It must be taken into account that, in addition to vinegar, these liquids may contain a high percentage of salt, which is precisely what, together with the acidity, keeps them free from oxidation and degradation by microorganisms. Drinking a salty liquid may not be a good idea as far as health is concerned.
The repair is especially convenient in the case of preserves based on oils, marinades and syrups. Canned in oil are perfectly suitable for human consumption, although it should be noted first of all that the direct intake of this type of oil is high in calories and can unbalance our diet, as well as being indigestible given the amount of fat.
However, it should be noted that in some cases, such as sardines or bonito, the oil may contain the release of omega essential fatty acids from the fish, which are very important.
As an alternative to direct intake or waste, we can use these oils to dress salads or flavor sauces and mayonnaises. And the same can be applied to marinades, which work as ingenious vinaigrettes.
As a precautionary measure, we can make sure that the preserve has been made with quality olive oil or with other oils that are also healthy. The price of the preserve can guide us about the quality of the oil used.
We should not fear that it has absorbed metals from the can, as these must by law be covered with an inert and insulating resin.
Finally, there are syrups, which are sugar syrups used to preserve fruit, especially. Although their flavor is attractive, they are high in glucose and therefore an inconvenient supply of empty calories, in addition to implying alterations in insulin production that in the long term can lead to type 2 diabetes. Therefore, their intake is not recommended. direct, although we can use them to slightly sweeten a dessert.
Is it safe to reuse food containers to store others?
Another question is whether, in accordance with recycling and reuse guidelines, as well as home canning, even domestic savings, we want to reuse the different containers to store food again.
In this case, the attitudes vary a lot, although always depending on the type of material with which the container is made; glass is not the same as plastic or aluminum.
In the event that the container is made of plastic, the risks increase, especially in the field of chemical contamination, since washing it beforehand with soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher, can generate migrations of compounds such as polypropylene. or bisphenol A in the event that the container is not suitable for reuse.
So the main thing is to make sure that the container includes on its surface the symbol of two plates and some diagonal stripes on them, which allows it to be subjected to hot water.
Most pre-cooked or canned food containers that are made of plastic are usually not suitable for a second use. If they are, they normally indicate it on the label with the name “reusable”. So, by default, it is better not to use plastic containers of this type again.
In the case of aluminum cans, it is not advisable to reuse them for the simple reason that they are quite complicated to wash by hand, which always increases the risk of microbiological contamination.
And on the other hand, because washing them with heat in the dishwasher can cause migration of ions from the alloy to the food. And the same happens in the case of aluminum trays, where once used, the protective material can lose its properties and become vulnerable to oxidation, which could release ions into the food. Especially if you have previously stored acidic foods, tomatoes, peppers, etc.
When we can reuse a canning container is when it is made of glass. The reason is that glass is a very inert material, hard and resistant to scratches and therefore to grooves where microbes can settle.
It also completely resists oxidation and heat treatments, high temperatures, which facilitates its sterilization or its washing in the dishwasher at high temperatures.
The weak point of this type of container is in the lid, which may have dents that prevent the vacuum from being created and therefore promote fermentation or the proliferation of pathogenic organisms.
On the other hand, washing it can little by little dry out and degrade the plastic material that exerts insulating pressure in the upper part for the perfect sealing of the preserve. For this reason, although the bottle itself can be reused almost infinite times, it should not be used more than once or twice.
Reusing paper and cardboard packaging is not advisable from the point of view of food safety. It is a brittle material, which can easily tear and break. If it gets dirty with any liquid or substance, it cannot be washed and is therefore no longer safe to use.
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