While I’ve written about canning and vacuum sealing and freezing foods. There is another great way to preserve foods that is too easy. All it requires is a dehydrator (electric or natural).
Foods You Can Dehydrate
When foods are dehydrated, they can be stored in plastic bags, jars, freezers or vacuum sealed in plastic bags or jars. There are many food stuffs that just don’t lend themselves to canning that are great candidates for dehydration. You can dehydrate all types of foodstuff and even make your own trail mix. Most fruits and vegetables are 90% water and are easy to dehydrate and reconstitute. These are obvious candidates for dehydrating. There are some foods, that are dehydrated though that might surprise you.
- Bananas and strawberries can be reconstituted by adding water and used in smoothies or dessert recipes.
- Vegetables can be dehydrated for use in soups, casseroles and other dishes.
- Apple chips are a fantastic way to preserve this super fruit.
- Herbs can be dehydrated and stored for easy use.
- Meats, fish and poultry can be dehydrated for various meals or you may want to make your own beef jerky.
Using a Dehydrator
I love my dehydrator that I purchased in 2011. It’s a TSM Harvest Food Dehydrator and works just as well as the day I received it. The dehydrator has a 600 W motor with an adjustable thermostat. The temperature range is 84°F – 155° F. (Excalibur dehydrator is pictured above.)
Perhaps the thing I love the most about this dehydrator is the 10 polyscreen trays. These trays give me a total of 10 sq ft of drying space. That’s a lot of veggies and fruits. There’s no need for a door on this dehydrator. Some people don’t like that but for me, it’s ideal. There are of course other dehydrators on the market, so do your homework and decide which best suits your needs.
While the trays are great, I prefer to use dehydrator sheets. There are all types of these available. I opt for dehydrator netting sheets that come in packs of 10 that you can then trim, so they fit your machine. These are easier to wash up between drying sessions and allow for smaller pieces that might slip between the tray grids.
A guidebook comes with the dehydrator giving the necessary temps and time.
Drying Guide List of Foods
I was thrilled to discover my dehydrator also had a drying guide on the top, next to the temperature control. This saves a lot of time.
The list includes:
- Raisin Bread
There are few things you need to do before setting your food on the dehydrator trays.
- Wear gloves to prevent getting skin oil and bacteria onto the food.
- Wash foods to remove debris. You can opt to use a vegetable anti-bacterial cleaner, this is especially advised for foods you purchase.
- You will want to steam all low-acid veggies and other foodstuffs before placing them in the dehydrator. This typically should be for 10 minutes. Low-acid foods include, fish, red meats, poultry and veggies.
- Fruits and tomatoes are high acid, so don’t steam them before placing in the dehydrator.
- After steaming, place the food on sheets of paper towels and pat dry using a top layer of paper towels.
- Bananas and apples will brown when exposed to oxygen, but this can be prevented by lightly spraying with lemon juice.
Enjoy the Art of Dehydrating Foods
Dehydrating foods can expand your options for preserving foods. It’s an outstanding method that is time-saving and offers a great way to save foods you might not normally store, such as squash and zucchini. Experiment with different foods to discover which ones you like to dehydrate and store.