In ‘olden days’, people dried their food in the sun order to preserve it. Today, there are new methods for making dehydrated foods that will speed up the drying process. Dehydrated foods are also great to include in an emergency preparation kit, so here are some tips for preparing these foods that you may want to try.
Keep the speed of dehydrated foods at the right pace. If you dry the food too slowly, it can become contaminated with bacteria. If you dry the food too quickly it will start to cook. So, be sure to read the directions thoroughly when you purchase your dehydration machine, so that you can set the device to the right temperature. It may take a few practice runs, but you’ll get the hang of it if you do it often. Remember that meat and fish need to be dehydrated at 150 degrees, fruits and vegetables need 140 degrees of heat for dehydration, and the setting should be 110 degrees for drying herbs.
If you don’t want to use a machine to create dehydrated foods, you should make sure that you choose the method that’s best. Drying your food in the sun can definitely be a challenge, since you’ll have to have the food at constant temperatures. In most cases, you’ll need to dry out the food for no more than 5 days, with very little humidity. You can also dehydrate your food in the oven, but remember that every oven is made differently so temperatures will vary. However, this method does not conserve energy, so it may only be ideal if you don’t have to dry a large amount of food.
Next you’ll need to select which items are suitable for dehydrated foods. Most fruits and vegetables will taste great dried, and there are a number of vegetables that you can dehydrate as well. Breads do well with this process, so you an create croutons and bread crumbs for new recipes. You can even dry out the potatoes with sea salt to make homemade potato chips. Make sure that the foods you select are not bruised or rotten. Check the expiration dates on food to make sure that you have a few days to complete the dehydration process.
When you’re making dehydrated foods for the first time, make sure that you start out with a small amount first so that you can test out the process. This will also help you not to waste food if you don’t get the process right the first time. Be sure to wash the fruits and vegetables before you start to dry them, and try the finished product out on your family–you may find that you’ve created a new original snack.
How to Make Dried Fruit
- Wash fruit and cut into thin slices.
- Before drying sliced apples or or pears, soak them in acidic juice such as pineapple or lemon to keep the fruit from turning brown as it dries.
- Lay fruit on a parchment covered cooking sheet. Fruit slices should not touch each other.
- Place tray of fruit in oven. Turn oven on very low setting (150-200 degrees F / 50 degrees C). You only want to dry the fruit, not to cook it. The drying process will take several hours; do not try to increase heat to speed up drying process.
- Remove from oven when fruit is sufficiently dehydrated. Fruit should be chewy, not crunchy or squishy.
Photo Credit: By ccarlstead