The most ancient method is drying, and it was employed early for fruits, grains, vegetables, fish, and meat. It was sometimes combined with parching, as in the oatmeal of Scotland or the corn of the Native American. Modern applications of this ancient device are seen in dried or dehydrated fruits and vegetables, milk, meat, and eggs. A more recent variation, known as freeze-drying, is now being used on such foods as instant coffee, meat, orange juice, and soup. The early method of drying was by direct exposure to the sun's rays; in modern industry the process is hastened by complex apparatus and by chemical agencies. The use of sugar was early combined with drying. Smoking, a method used mainly for fish and meat, combines the drying action with chemicals produced from the smoke, which form a protective coating. The process of heating was used centuries before its action was understood (see canning). One of the most important modern applications of the heat principle is the pasteurization of milk.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.