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Home Food Drying – Tips For Using a Dehydrator to Preserve Food at Home

Do you want to find a new way to enjoy your snacks? Have you discovered the wonders of dehydrating your food and preserving it at home? A food dehydrator is a useful kitchen equipment that you can use to dry and dehydrate your food. Through this, you can choose to eat any food even if it’s not the season for it. A lot of people have been trying it out because of its health benefits and its convenience. 

You do not need to worry about genetically modified food and harmful additives that you may consume when buying dried foods from the supermarket. All you have to do is avail yourself of any top-rated  food dehydrators and prepare all the ingredients you need. To help you in your home food drying experience, here are some of the dehydrating tips that you should keep in mind for you to preserve good food inside your lovely homes. 

Dehydrating Tips that You Should Always Remember

  1. If you want to avoid mold build up in your dehydrated food, make sure that there is no moisture left when you are done with the dehydration. If it is still sticky and if you squeeze it and there is still moisture, it means that it is not fully dehydrated yet.
  2. If you want your dehydrated food to be crispier, then you should slice it into thinner slices. If you want it to be chewier, then cut the food into thicker slices.
  3. For hard and tough vegetables, it is best if you steam or boil it first. You can steam or boil it for 10 minutes to make sure that you get the best results.
  4. For fruit, leather projects are not as messy as you expect it to be. All you have to do is prepare wax papers to cover your trays. This will save you the hassle of cleaning it, but if you have the budget, invest in a fruit leather tray that will save you all the trouble.
  5. Avoid cross-contamination in food and makes sure to separate the meat products from the other food products that you plan to dehydrate. Wash and dehydrate it separately and clean your food dehydrator thoroughly at all times.
  6. If you want to avoid the excess oil brought by dehydrating meat, always choose the lean slices of meat. The fats can lead to spoilage, so don’t include it.
  7. Invest in a good food mandolin. This will ensure that your fruits, vegetable, and meat are cut evenly. If the food slices are uniformly cut, then it will also ensure that they cook and dry at the same time. 
  8. Lemon is the dehydrated fruits’ best friend. If you want to retain the color of your fruits, then you can squeeze some lemon in it. Let your fruit soak in the lemon juice mixture for five minutes and then pat it dry. This process prevents the fruits from turning brown.
  9. If your dehydrating tray is not non-stick, just buy a non-stick cooking spray, and you are good to go.
  10. Research more about the foods that you will dehydrate. Check what temperature it will dehydrate best and for how long so that you can achieve what you want for your dehydrated food.

The Dehydration Temperatures that You Should Remember

Save your time on researching for the perfect temperature to dehydrate your food. Here are the dehydration temperatures that you should keep in mind for your different types of food.

  1. Poultry – 165F 
  2. Meat and seafood – 160F
  3. Precooked or boiled meat – 145F
  4. Grains – 145F
  5. Fruits – 135F
  6. Beans and lentils – 125F
  7. Vegetables – 125F
  8. Herbs – 95F

The Average Drying Time List for your Food Dehydrator

To help you determine the dehydration time for your food, here is the list that can help you. This is just the averaged drying time. The time you can consume can be more than or less than it, depending on the humidity, type of dehydrator, and the thickness of your food.

  • All fresh vegetables – for about 8 to 15 hours
  • Frozen vegetables that are thawed – for about 8 to 10 hours
  • Hard and tough vegetables like potatoes and carrots – for about 12 to 15 hours
  • Fruits that sliced very thin – for about 8 to 10 hours 
  • Grapes and blueberries – for about 15 to 20 hours
  • Prunes – for about 2 days
  • Peaches, plums, and pears – for about 12 to 15 hours

How long does dehydrated food last?

Depending on how you store it, the shelf life of dehydrated food can last for a long time. The important thing that you should keep in mind if you want to maximize the shelf life of your dehydrated food is to store it in a cool, dry place and put it in a vacuum-sealed bag. Here is the average shelf life of dehydrated foods. Take note that the shelf life of these dehydrated foods may be longer than what is written on the list. But these are the ones that are National Center for Home Food Preservation and United States Department of Agriculture approved.

  • Potatoes – for about 6 months
  • Apples and corn – for about 1 year
  • Lentils, lima, beans – for about 1 year
  • Onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots – for about 6 months
  • Hulled and rolled oats – for about 1 year
  • Meat – for about 1 to 2 months

How to Store your Dehydrated Food Properly

In order for you to enjoy your dehydrated food for a longer time, make sure to follow the steps below.

  1. Once you are done dehydrating your food, let it cool a room temperature.
  2. Get an airtight container or a glass jar and store the dehydrated food inside. If you do not have both, you can use a Ziploc bag but make sure that you seal it as tightly as you can. 
  3. Set it aside for about one week just to check if there is still moisture that remains in the dehydrated food. If there is moisture left, put it again in the food dehydrator. 
  4. After a week, you can now store it in a dark room with an average temperature of 60F.
  5. Check the dehydrated food occasionally. Make sure that there no mold build-up. If there is, discard it right away.