You can dehydrate almost any fresh food, but some things dehydrate better than others. Here are some types of food dehydrating.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Fruits (apples, bananas, apricots, peaches, pears, cherries, blueberries) for eating as snacks or chopped in granola and trail mixes, or dried as purees for fruit leather.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, onions, peas, beans, tomatoes) for adding to soups, stews, and backpacking meals.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Meat and fish (ground beef, chicken, or turkey; sliced meats; cured meats; fresh fish; beef jerky) for adding to backpacking meals or storing for soup and stew ingredients.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Nuts, seeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia) after soaking or sprouting, to make them more digestible.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Sprouted grains (rice, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, amaranth) to preserve nutrients and to store for flours, granolas, and baking.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, dill, fennel, mint, lemon balm, hyssop) for later use in teas, baking, and cooking.
- Types of Food Dehydrating: Crackers, breads, and granolas for raw food diets.
Types of Food Dehydrating
There are several methods for dehydrating your food, but some are more effective than others. Because modern tools have helped to improve the rate of dehydration, your food will be less likely to spoil. The following are the most commonly used methods today.
It’s difficult to imagine a more traditional or straightforward method of food preservation than sun drying. People have been slicing fruit and hanging it on racks or lines in the sun for about 12,000 years. In areas where the sun shines for long periods of time, sun drying is very effective. Because of their Mediterranean climate, the ancient Romans ate raisins and dried figs frequently.
However, anywhere with a minimum temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 60% will suffice. Just keep in mind that fruit takes several days to completely dry. To keep flies and other insects at bay, place on a mesh screen (avoid anything galvanized) and cover with a second screen.
Air drying, like sun drying, is an old method of dehydrating food. The main distinction is that air drying is usually done in the shade. This is due to the fact that this method aids in the preservation of anything that requires protection from the sun’s rays. It’s ideal for delicate greens and herbs, especially those destined for culinary blends or herbal teas.
Solar drying is a step up from sun drying in that it uses a ronco dehydrator powered by the sun to dry your food passively. Solar drying does not require electricity because there is no heat source or fans to circulate the air. Solar dryers are usually designed to look like a miniature tabletop greenhouse and work outside.
Oven drying is a method of slowly drying food in your home oven at temperatures around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Ovens aren’t the most efficient dryers on the block because they’re so big. However, if quick drying is a priority, they can save you the trouble of purchasing an additional appliance. Because you’ll need to prop the door open to let the moisture out, they can also warm up your home. If you’re thinking about drying food in your oven, make sure it has a low setting. Anything above 140 degrees Fahrenheit will cook your food rather than dry it.
Electric dehydrators are created by combining modern technology with age-old drying techniques. These little powerhouses are equipped with fans and elements to dry your food quickly and efficiently. That means there will be almost no spoilage and a delicious end product. A temperature gauge and adjustment dial are standard features on most electric dehydrators.
Depending on what you’re processing, this can help speed up or slow down the drying process. If your food dehydrator has a fan, put it in your garage or somewhere else where noise isn’t an issue. If you’re using your food dehydrator in the summer and don’t want to heat up your living space, follow this advice.
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Dehydrating in a Microwave Oven
If you are a devotee of microwave cooking and only have a small amount of food to dehydrate, you might consider using your microwave set on ‘defrost’ to dry fruits and herbs. In general, microwaved fruits will take 20 to 40 minutes to dry fully, but keep checking on them so you don’t overdo it. Herbs placed in the microwave take 2 to 3 minutes.