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Friday, November 18, 2011

Dehydrating Food

Preserving food by drying is old as mankind.  Laying meat and berries out in the open air served people well for thousands of years, and the technique still works.  The process can be as simple as hanging fish in the sun as the traditional Inuit people did or laying meat above a rack on a smoking fire.    While the basic concept of drying food has not changed, there are now helpful appliances available to help the process of dehydrating food.

Dehydration is an alternative to canning and freezing fruits and vegetables when you don't have the canning equipment of freezer space.   Dehydration is a low-cost way to preserve food.  Dried foods take up less storage space and no freezer to keep running. 

Some benefits of drying your own food are saving money, by drying your own food from your garden, taking advantage of vegetables/fruits in season when they are less expensive at the store. You can create your own food supply which, in a financial crisis or when a natural disaster strikes, can be like money in the bank.   When you dry your own food you know there are no chemical additives which are added to commercially dried foods, ie meat products such as jerky and some dried fruits to preserve the colour.  When food is dried correctly it still contains all of its enzymes as well as vitamins and minerals as there has been no damage done by heating.  

You can dry fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, herbs, flowers, and much more, including frozen and canned foods. In fact, you can dry almost anything that contains water-items you may never have considered, such as tofu.  See my post on Tofu Jerky !

dehydrated foods for  hiking trip
Dried foods are also very handy for those who go camping or hiking regularly as they are convenient, light and easily carried and stored.    A couple of years ago my daughter went on a long hiking trip.   I dehydrated food for her trip and was able to pack a month's worth of food into one large shoe box.   The food packed into the box was - tofu jerky, bananas, strawberries, kiwi, mango, apple, red/green cabbage, onions, carrots, various beans/legumes (chick, kidney, black, black-eye peas, lentils etc), garlic, turnip, various squash, pineapple, ginger, various mushrooms, red/green peppers, and cheese. 

10 comments:

  1. This food lasted our trip for at least 2 months, with the odd stop into a town off the California Coast Trail to buy rice and noodles. The tofu jerky lasted about 20 minutes on our walk from the post office to camp. So delicious.

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  2. We got a dehydrator from the thrift store --I dried a few things this year but definitely need to get some more use out of it!

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  3. I got a dehydrator for a wedding present in June, my husband thought that it didn't have an off button with how much I used it! I have a 2 year old and find that when we're out and about in town it's easier for him to snack on dried apple or banana than fresh ones.

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  4. I love how pretty all that food looks! I was wondering if you dehydrate potatoes and if so would you mind sharing how you do it? Do you blanch the potatoes and for how long. Do you dip them? Thank you in advance for any help you might have. I am just getting started with drying food and boy has it opened my eyes!!

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  5. I haven't tried dehydrating potatoes yet. I have a small book on dehydrating called "Trail Food" Alan Kesselheim. In it he says to cut 1/4 in thick; steam until translucent; rinse off starch in cold water; dehydrate 8-12 hrs. until brittle. Good luck.

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  6. Oh thank you!! I'll have to give it a try.

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  7. Silly question - if you dehydrate veggies, how do you cook and eat them later? Do you vacuum seal everything afterward?

    Thanks!
    Kelly
    http://mysimplewalk.com

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  8. I love dehydrating!!!!
    I love canning too!

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  9. To answer Kelly's question.... "how to cook and eat later". You can soak them in water to rehydrate, add to anything you are cooking, but increase the liquid to your recipe. You can vacuum seal if you have one. I just keep in mason jars, or in ziplock bags in a cool place.

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  10. Thank you for your wonderful blog! I really want a dehydrator! My mom has one, maybe she will let me borrow it, if she still has it. I think this is a great idea for making stuff for soups. Those mushrooms in your picture are calling out to me!

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