Dehydrating food is a great way to store and preserve food. Not only it is safe and easy, but also relatively cheaper than buying dehydrated foods. Dehydrating is also rewarding in case you have planned an adventure trip or outdoor camping. You can easily carry the dehydrated food as it retains the nutrients and flavour for a long time. The food has its original taste, but without any moisture. Even, it’s a better tasting and nutritious option than the pre-packaged food.
Most of the foods can be dehydrated, except some dairy and high-fat items. Fruits can be dehydrated raw, but the veggies and meat need to be cooked before dehydrating. All the dehydrated items can be assembled and can be mixed to make scrumptious meals during your overnight backpacking, cycling trip and paddling. It also reduces the preparation time for the meals.
- Know your dehydrator: there are generally three types of dehydrators: bottom fan, top fan, and back fan. Most people recommend using a back fan dehydrator since it allows even drying of the food, unlike the top fan and bottom fan dehydrator. However, even in a back fan, the trays need to be moved around to ensure an even and consistent drying.
- Choosing dehydrator: a dehydrator cost depends upon the trays and the features in it. Yet, the most important thing that you must look out for are a fan and temperature settings. A fan would be needed for an equal distribution of the heat throughout the tray. Different temperature settings would be needed to dehydrate different kinds of food.
- Use your air dry or oven: not many people know that if they don’t have the dehydrator, they can use an oven or air dry it. Most of the leafy green vegetables and herbs such as mint, lettuce, sage, oregano, lemon balm or even carrot tops can be dried by hanging them up in a dry room. Prevent the herbs from direct sunlight. It can take a few days to a week to fully dry them up.
- Dehydrate only one food type at a time: the idea of dehydrating one food at a time is because the content in one can affect the taste of the other. For example, you can do tomatoes and hot peppers together, but this will make the tomatoes taste spicy. Similarly, Brassica should be dehydrated alone, otherwise its sulphur taste will get infused into other foods. Fruits can be dehydrated together, but they should not be mixed with strong flavoured food. Foods that require same temperature can also be dehydrated together.
Proper storage can help your dried fruits last up to five years and vegetables up to ten years. Even, the dried-up meat and chicken can last about a year if you have stored them in the freezer. To preserve them for longer time, use vacuum-sealed bags. Store the meats and seafood in the freezer in a vacuum sealed bag. If stored in a cool, dark place, try consuming them within a month. Vacuum sealing and freezing works best for preserving meat and seafood.