11 Foods We Couldn’t Have Without Preservatives – Mental Floss

Pickles, wine, peanut butter – 11 pantry staples that wouldn’t exist without the necessary additives


Many people are shying away from foods with less-than-natural ingredients. But what they don’t know is that, without added preservatives and food preservation processes, many of the foods we love today would never make it to the dinner table. Here are 11 pantry staples that wouldn’t exist without the necessary additives.


Now we’ve got your attention. Some wines play host to a well-known preservative: sulfite. Sulfite may occur naturally in certain wines during fermentation, and is also sometimes added during the fermentation process to prevent acidification (and preserve flavor), enhance color, and remove fermentation by-products such as acetaldehyde (which many scientists think you can thank for your morning-after headache and nausea—although, unfortunately, adding sulfites won’t make you hangover-immune). Sulfites are common not only in wine, but in some ciders, dried fruits, and dried potatoes. If you have a sulfite allergy, always read the ingredients carefully since not all similar products contain the same ingredients.


Long before our contemporary methods of food preservation were formed, a number of natural methods were employed to keep foods edible for longer than their inborn shelf lives would allow. An early subject of the process was fish, as one of our healthiest main courses is well known for its proclivity to “go bad” quickly in a big way.

Fish have long been kept fresh through short-term processes like smoking—which utilizes the smoke of burning wood or charcoal as an antimicrobial agent to render the meal an inhospitable environment for bacteria growth, which is often the cause of food spoilage.

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