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Tips for Dehydrating Food
A Glimpse into the World of Food Dehydration
Food dehydration and drying has been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. Canning and freezing foods retain more nutrition than dehydrated foods; however dehydrated foods are space efficient, and are an excellent way to preserve foods. It is also easier to dehydrate foods than it is to can them. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables make excellent snacks and can be used hundreds of ways in thousands of recipes.
- To keep apples from discolouring, rinse apple rings or thin slices in a mixture of lemon juice and cold water.
- Infants enjoy chewing on dried apple rings. They help sooth teething and also provide nutrition.
- Dehydrating food is great for people who like to hike and camp because it often reduces the weight of a given food from 50 to 90 percent.
- You can dehydrate tomato sauce from a jar and it will resemble a fruit roll up. It is a compact way to bring marinara sauce on a camping trip, which can easily be rehydrated with water. Think of how much weight and space is saved from carrying a bulky jar!
- Mushrooms are made up of about 90 percent water. They are easy to dehydrate and easily rehydrate. Be sure to scrub mushrooms of all dirt before dehydrating.
- Only dehydrate the freshest of mushrooms. They should be plump and full.
- Vegetables should be at their peak flavour and ripeness if you are going to dehydrate them.
- Blanch vegetables before dehydrating. This kills any potential bacteria.
- Dehydrated vegetables and fruits should be stored in tightly sealed food storage containers and stored in a cool dry place.
- Dehydration of foods results in some loss of nutrients, although the foods can still be nutritious. Vitamin C is the one nutrient that is destroyed most easily by heat.
- Dipping fruits in lemon or orange or pineapple juice helps avoid discoloration of most fruits.
- Before dehydrating tomatoes, dip into boiling water and loosen the skins. Peel and slice tomatoes and then dehydrate. They will become nice and crisp.
- The fibre content of fruits and vegetables remains relatively the same after dehydrating.
- You can refrigerate or freeze your dehydrated foods if you like.
- Humid air slows down the dehydration process.
- You can avoid wasting celery by dehydrating thinly sliced celery at the time you purchase a bunch. The dehydrated celery works beautifully in many recipes that call for celery to be cooked.
- Fast dehydration is best. The higher the temperature the better. Too high a temperature however, will make the outside of the fruit or vegetable harden faster than the inside, and the food may not be fully dehydrated. Be aware of the temperature you are dehydrating at and follow the guidelines of the manufacturer's product.
- Slice fruits and vegetables the same thickness so they dehydrate as evenly as possible during the process.
- Foods dehydrate faster at the perimeter or edges of the trays than in the centre. This is why you should test samples of dehydrated foods from various sections of your trays.
- Food dehydration is not an exact science. It is simple; however it will require some trial and error experiments to determine if you need longer dehydrating times, or to slice food products thinner, etc.
- You can dehydrate bruised fruit, only if you remove the bruised areas before drying.
- Dried tomatoes add both texture and flavour to pasta and rice dishes as well as flavoured breads and marinated salads.
- The most common and easiest fruits and vegetables to dry are apples, bananas, berries, cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, peas, corn, capsicums, tomatoes, onion, potatoes, mushrooms, green beans and carrots.
- You can add dried fruits to your hot oatmeal for easy rehydration. They also easily rehydrate in cold cereals with milk.
- Dried apricots cook great in muffins and fruit breads.
- NEVER dehydrate raw chicken or poultry because it could contain salmonella.
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are lower in fat; however their calories are higher per serving size because of density. Eating half the amount of a dried fruit or vegetable is about the same calories of twice the amount if eaten fresh. So, for example, if you wanted to eat 1 cup of fresh chopped apple, you would eat 1/2 cup of dehydrated apple for the same calories.
- Once food is rehydrated, use it quickly before it spoils.
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables make healthy crunchy snacks and don't need to be rehydrated to enjoy their intense flavour.
- The higher the water content of a given fruit or vegetable, the larger it can be sliced because it will shrink more in the dehydration process.