Food preservation used to be a common vocation in any typical Filipino kitchen. During the olden days, you’d find a gallery of fruit-filled jars submerged in water and pots that contain naturally-cured meats. Food preservation was a basic chore then. The use of salt, sugar, vinegar and many other natural preservatives found in the kitchen not only extends the shelf life of food but it also enhances its flavor profile.

Back in the days, the absence of refrigeration had dictated how Filipinos prepared their food. In a country that enjoys a warm climate, preventing spoilage of food using preservatives and resources at arm’s length was an obvious feat for kitchen custodians. You have probably heard of “burong mustasa, or burong mangga” (fermented flat mustard leaves, pickled green mangoes) so often before, but ever since technology aided our kitchens with refrigerators and coolers, natural food preservation has lost its gleam. But we’ve found a teacher from San Miguel, Bulacan who believes otherwise.

Nelia Glorioso, 55, an agriculture teacher from San Miguel National High School in Bulacan keeps the food preservation tradition alive. Before the pandemic, her busy schedule as a teacher prevented her from holding down a business. Now, because of the more flexible schedule that working from home gave her, she has more wiggle room to revisit her family’s long tradition of homemade food preserves. But this time, she decides to share it with people. Just recently, she launched Ma’am Nelia Food Preserves (MNFP).

Ma’am Nelia Food Preserves is an online business that sells homemade Atsarang Papaya (Papaya Relish), Minatamis na Kundol (Sweetened Wintermelon), and Burong Isda (Fermented Rice with Fish).

Her first clients were her family members and colleagues from San Miguel National High School. And as the business grew so did her clientele. San Migueleños and locals from neighboring towns are learning about her products and the rate of repeat purchase has steadily increased over the months.

Along with her Filipino line of products, she also ventured into making Kimchi which is a popular side dish from the Korean Peninsula. When asked which among her products she enjoys doing the most, she says, “I’ve been preserving the Filipino way since I was a teenager, so I actually find making Kimchi quite enjoyable for it’s a new perspective to me.”

In terms of expanding her product line, she says, “I am constantly trying to learn ways to preserve food. Not just locally but also internationally. It’s interesting to see now other cultures do it and as long as my resources allow, I’ll continue to introduce more products.”

Nelia Glorioso believes that more than keeping the tradition alive, Ma’am Nelia Food Preserves (MNFP) is an ode to her lifelong commitment as an educator. In this way, she is teaching a seemingly forgotten tradition consigned to oblivion because of modern cooking techniques and technology. By making and sharing her homemade specialties, at least to San Migueleños, people learn about this old-age culinary technique of preserving fruits, vegetables, and meats. Ultimately, it’s her way of honoring her family’s greatest kitchen custodian – her mother – from whom she learned everything about cooking, food preservation, and business.

Ma’am Nelia Food Preserves

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