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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
close this folderVegetables and post-harvest technologies
View the documentNutrition garden
View the documentPreserving nutrients
View the documentPreservation by fermentation
View the documentZero-energy cool chamber
View the documentBamboo iceless refrigerator

Preserving nutrients

Many people destroy valuable nutrients when they cook their food. The following points will help you choose and prepare nutritious meals.

Eat food fiber

Dietary fiber, or roughage, aids in digestion. It is available in whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Whole wheat bread, bran cereals, crunchy raw carrots, and other root crops are especially valuable sources of fiber.

Eat unpolished rice

Eat unpolished rice. And remember, the water left after cooking your rice is very nutritious.

Eat plenty of salad

Salad improves your appetite and aids digestion.

Eat fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are very nutritious, and very tasty. Eat them in season and preserve them to have all year round.

Preserving nutrients

Follow these tips to reduce nutrient loss during cooking and processing:

- Eat the leaves of root vegetables, such as turnips, radish, beets, and knolkhol. Their leaves contain more nutrients than the root. Cook them with potatoes or a leafy vegetable.

- Cook vegetables in a pressure cooker. This saves time and retains more of the vitamins B and C.

- Salads, fruits, and vegetables should be washed first and then cut to prevent washing away water soluble vitamins B and C and minerals.

- Cook, preserve, or process cut fruits and vegetables immediately after cutting. Long soaking of cut fruits and vegetables washes away valuable nutrients.

- Select fresh and sound fruits and vegetables for cooking.

- Avoid deep-frying.

- Cook leafy vegetables on a low flame. Carrots and pumpkin can be cooked on a high flame.

Preservation of vegetables and fruits

1 Select raw vegetables, such as cauliflower, ginger, lotus stem, carrot, radish, and raw mango slices.

2 Peel, cut, and wash the raw material.

3 Place the prepared material in glass jars.

4 Prepare a chemical solution in preboiled tap water using 3 percent salt, 0.8 percent glacial acetic acid, and 0.2 percent potassium metabisulphite.

5 Pour the chemical solution into the glass jars containing the fruit and vegetables. Fill to the brim. (There should be about 1 1/2 as much solution as fruit and vegetable mix.)

6 Close the jars tightly and store them in a cool and dry place.

7 Wash the vegetables and fruit thoroughly before cooking. For pickles, pakora, and chutney, the preserved mix can be used immediately after straining.

Preservation of whole tomato pulp

1 Select fully ripe, red, and undamaged tomatoes.

2 Wash them and cut them into pieces. Remove any green portions.

3 Boil them in a stainless steel or aluminium vessel and crush the pieces with a ladle or in a blender.

4 Boil on mild heat until the weight of the whole mass is reduced to one third, i.e., into a thick paste.

5 Towards the end of the cooking, add a teaspoon (5 ml) of glacial acetic acid for every kg of the paste and boil for 5-8 minutes.

6 For every kg of finished product, add 0.4 g potassium metabisulphite and 0.2 g sodium benzoate dissolved in a small amount of water. Mix thoroughly.

7 Fill the hot crushed tomato pulp in clean dry glass jars up to the brim. Seal the jars tightly and store in a cool, dry place.

Lactic fermentation of vegetables

1 Select good cabbage heads and carrot roots.

2 Remove outer leaves of the cabbage and cut them into narrow shreds. Peel carrots, wash, and shred. Mix cabbage and carrot shreds in the ratio of 1:1.

3 To the mixed vegetables, add 2.5 percent salt and 1.5 percent mustard powder (rai).

4 Shake the whole mass daily for up to two weeks.

5 The fermented product is ready to eat.

Contributor: Dr. Vijay Sethi


Consider preserving your fruits and vegetables so you can enjoy them in the off season. They can be bottled, pickled, turned into chutneys, preserved as pulp or juice, fermented, or dried in the sun. There are various preservation techniques using sugar, salt, spices, chemical preservatives, or organic acids. Consult your local government nutritionist or look for someone in your community who can teach you food preservation techniques.