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Dehydrating Foods

A long time before refrigerators and freezers were around, and long before people used canning methods to preserve and store food, dehydrating foods was being practiced.  Food dehydration practices have been in use for thousands of years.

Dehydrating foods is still in common use, both by homeowners and commercial food suppliers. This fact is of no surprise. Food dehydration is safer than canning, is easy to do, and requires less space in storage.

Did You Know? Some commercial food supplies use chemicals and preservatives in their dehydrated products. Check the label before you buy.

Definition of Food Dehydration:

Food dehydration is a food preservation process in which most of the water content in foods is removed through drying, while retaining flavor and nutritional value.  This process dries food, without cooking it, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and micro-organisms.

WHEW!! Now that we got the definition out of the way, let's look into the fun and ease of dehydrating.

Gardeners love to dehydrate their favorite home-grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. They control the quality and safety of their foods while growing them. Then, they also can eliminate the use of chemical additives and preservatives through dehydrating their home-grown garden goodies.

Survivalists, campers hunters, and hikers are also big fans of food dehydration.

What to DehydratE:

Most foods can be safely dehydrated. This includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Herbs
  • Meat, yes beef jerky is a popular dehydrated meat.
  • Fish

How to Dehydrate Foods:

I's quite easy to dehydrate your favorite foods.

  1. Wash and clean the food.
  2. Slice it into small pieces.
  3. Set the proper drying temperatures(see below)
  4. Drying time varies, depending upon what you are drying and how small the pieces are. The Instruction booklet of dehydrators will usually have a list of drying times.
  5. After it has cooled, test a piece to see if it is hard, leathery, and not sticky to the touch.

Drying temperatures:

  • Meats and Vegetables: 145 degrees F, or higher
  • Fruits and Vegetables: 130 - 140 degrees F
  • Herbs: 100 - 110 degrees F

Note: Dehydrated foods are often a darker color, and sweeter than the fresh product. Fruits especially taste sweeter.

How to Store Dehydrated Foods:

Store dehydrated foods in an airtight, container. Place the container in a dark, dark place...never in sunlight.  Room temperature is about right. You can put them into your refrigerator, if you prefer.

Store dehydrated foods for up to a year. Yes, you may have heard the some foods an be stored for more than a year. But, we recommend a 1 year limit. And, after a year, you will be ready to dry and store your new crop!

More Information:

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