Dehydrating food is becoming another favorite way of preserving our harvest. I don’t know that I’ll ever give up canning, but drying has some advantages.
Recent favorites are;
Dehydrating Fruit, How to dry 6 fruits for snacking and storing.
Fruit Leather Recipe
dehydrating vegetables Recipes
How to Dehydrate Peppers: A Quick Guide to Multiple Drying Methods
Dehydrating Food – How to Dry Vegetables, Peppers, Tomatoes and more.
Dehydrating Green Beans
How to Dehydrate Carrots
How to Dry Herbs
Freeze drying is a bit of a different method than dehydrating, but you end up with dried foods either way. The final result is very different but yet… the same. Moisture is removed.
Freeze Dryer: Home-made freeze dried foods using the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer
How to Freeze Dry Cherries
Best Food Dehydrator Review
Cabela’s Commercial Food Dehydrator Review
Excalibur Dehydrator One of my top picks for a dehydrator! Here’s why
Good Kitchen Tools Make All The Difference.
The more evenly you can make your slices of food, the more evenly the food will dehydrate. These are my favorite tools to use.
- A mandolin slicer – The mandolin is best for firmer items like zucchini or sweet potatoes.
- An egg slicer – This works for soft items like strawberries, but not too much else, as the wires will bend if your food is too strong.
- An apple peeler corer slicer – For apples and potatoes, might work for cucumbers.
- A slicer similar to this gadget. – Mine is very old and vintage. It is what it is called that I’ve dubbed my “tomato slicer” because that is what it works best for.
- And finally, always have a good sharp knife. Surely you know what a knife is, right? Having it sharp is essential as it is actually less likely you will cut yourself with the knife nice and sharp. In addition, a sharp knife will be more efficient for cutting nice thin, even slices.
My absolute favorite find as far as kitchen tools for dehydrating goes is this little pot.
The 4th Burner Pot has turned into a handy tool that I use to slice up my fruit and drop it into lemon juice before laying out on trays. I have a full review here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dehydrating can be done with different methods. Each method has its own benefits, and the best choice depends on the specific food being dried and the user’s preference.
Dehydrators are quicker, more consistent, and allow for precise temperature control. For a beginner a dehydrator may be the easiest option due to their more controlled conditions. With a thermostat and heating element much of the guesswork of other drying methods is removed.
Air drying and sun drying are slower, but they require less equipment and can be done outdoors. Air and sun drying can be tricky depending on your climate. If you live in a desert… definitely give it at try! If you live in humidity, try it but be aware of the humidity as that can affect your dehydrating projects.
Oven drying is a thing… but I would only suggest it if you have a small amount to dry. It seems to me oven drying would be inefficient with energy loss. Ovens are not the most efficient.
The main advantage to dehydrating is space. Dried foods take up hardly any space at all compared to both freezing and canning. A quart size jar holds a lot of food!
It also is better for the nutritional value of your foods. I hate to admit it, but yes…. canned food does lose more nutrition than dried. Although some nutrients and vitamins may be lost in the process, dehydration can also help concentrate flavors and make the flavor of the food really pop! This is most true when you dry fruit to eat as snacks.
The other is energy. No energy is expended to store dried foods. You do use electricity to run an electric dehydrator, but it is still efficient. If you have a way to dry foods with solar energy, that is even better!
Some potential disadvantages of dehydrating food include loss of nutrients, any food preservation will cause some loss of nutrients. Dehydrating is probably the best for this. It maintains many of the nutrients better than other forms of food preservation.
The initial cost and ongoing energy expenses of a dehydrator. This is actually offset though by the savings of no energy expenses for the storage of the food. Canning also has initial expenses of a canner and jars. So for my opinion they are pretty close as far as costs.
This depends on the type of food, how well it was dehydrated (how much moisture content did you remove?) and how it is stored. How it was conditioned before storage.
According to the National Center for Food Preservation. “Most dried fruits can be stored for 1 year at 60ºF, 6 months at 80ºF. Vegetables have about half the shelf-life of fruits.” https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/pack_store.html
Dehydrating full meals is possible in some cases. Often the best approach is to dehydrate the individual ingredients of your meal and then put them together to create suppers like stew or soup. :). I’ll often toss in dehydrated carrots, onions and other vegetables to my crockpot to create a nice soup by supper time.
Often backpackers will even dehydrated pasta, rice or grains in addition to vegetables and meat. This saves time on the trail with cooking. Precooked and dehydrated quinoa or spaghetti cooks quicker.
Eggs Cheese and Dairy Products are tricky to dehydrate. The fat and oils in them do not dehydrate well, the risk of bacteria is high. And most sites mention that they will go rancid quickly. Freeze drying would be a better alternative.
Butter in particular would be difficult to dehydrate. Can you imagine the melted mess?
Cream and Milk are better suited for freeze drying.
Avocado can be dehydrated but they have a lot of oils in them so they would take a very long time. Again freeze drying would be better.
Meat can be dehydrated (think jerky) but you want to use less fatty cuts of meat. We make jerky out of venison. Venison is known for no fat. Pork would be harder. If you are going to dehydrate ground beef, brown it rinse it well and it will dehydrate that much faster.