How To Dehydrate Foods
Learn how to dehydrate foods with these guided steps. Dehydration of foods is merely the removal of water. Once the water is removed, the food must be rehydrated again before use. To rehydrate, simply presoak the food in water.
In order to dehydrate foods you will need:
- Selected foods to dehydrate: meats, herbs, fruits or vegetables.
- Equipment, knives and peelers.
- Sulfur mixtures or other mixtures to keep the color in the foods.
- Start With Freshly Picked Fruit and Vegetables. The best way to dehydrate fruit and vegetables is with foods freshly picked. It is imperative not to use foods to dehydrate that has been in your refrigerator for several days.
- Perfect Foods. Before choosing the foods to be dehydrated, make sure the food is free from any damage. Blemished fruits and vegetables should not be dehydrated.
- Pretreatment Solutions. Some fruits require a pretreatment solution prior to dehydrating to keep the color. These solutions could involve boiling, salts for meats, lemon solutions, sugar solutions or more. These pretreatments are not necessary and many naturalists will avoid these to keep the foods in their natural state.
- Cutting All Foods in Same Uniform Shape. When slicing apples 1 cm thick, make sure each slice is the same. When dehydrating food and the moisture is removed, the thicker the slice the longer the process takes. Irregular shapes will not process correctly on the same tray.
- Choosing How to Dehydrate. Whether you purchase a very expensive dehydrator or stick with the cheapest of the lot, the choice is yours. Not all expensive dehydrators are better than the less expensive ones, so shop and compare. Many will dehydrate in the sun and in the oven at very low heat temperatures also.
- Temperature. In the beginning, when you dehydrate foods the temperature must be around 150 to 160 degrees to get the majority of the moisture out. Once the majority of the moisture is gone then reduce the temperature to 140 degrees. Make sure not to scorch the food and keep an eye out on the end product you have dehydrated.
- Test the End Product. As with all good foods, once the food is finished in the dehydration process, test the food. Make sure that the moisture is gone and it is exactly finished. Learning how to dehydrate foods may take a little practice at first.
- Humidity and Drying in Sun. If you choose to dry in the open air and on an incredibly hot day you may take a chance of having “case hardening.” This means that the outside of the product is free of moisture, but the inside is still moist. Looking for the perfect setting is important and learning to judge the perfect day to dehydrate foods.
Understand that preserving and canning are still the ultimate ways to preserve foods. Herbs can be dehydrated successfully and cannot be preserved in normal canning methods. In order to have the perfect dehydrated foods, sanitation and cleanliness is imperative. Be prepared also that the taste will not be the same as those foods stored in glass bottles and sealed through pressure cooker methods.