Dehydrating foods has fast become a popular way of food preparation over the past 20 to 30 years. People have begun to realize that owning a food dehydrator in their own home could hold a plethora of benefits, from saving them money on dried fruit and jerky bought from the grocery store, to allowing them to make dried fruits to take on camping expeditions for survival.
Drying foods also lets you store them safely for months on end, rather than having to consume them quickly before they turn moldy. It also ensures you know exactly what is in your dried snack – rather than having to eat the huge amounts of sugar and salt that are put into ready made products.
It won’t take long to teach you how to dehydrate food as it’s such a simple process, so here goes…
How to Dry Foods
You must first begin by making sure your food is dehydrating-safe. This involves washing fruit and vegetables (we recommend you rub mushrooms with a dry piece of kitchen paper instead, as they tend to soak up moisture) and cooking meat and eggs to 160 degrees fahrenheit to kill bacteria. Once this has been done you are safe to heat the meat to a lower temperature (usually between 130 and 150 degrees).
Next, you will need to slice your fruit, vegetables or meat. NOTE: if you’re making powdered eggs, or fruit leathers, then please see our other guide pages for these (this guide is intended for sliced foods). How thick you choose to slice them is entirely up to you, but we usually choose around 4 to 6mm. Marinade your meat if it’s necessary (small slices like this need just one minute) and place them onto your dehydrator appliance’s trays.
If you are using fruit that tends to brown (apples, bananas, melon etc.) then we highly recommend that you soak them in acid solution first. Don’t worry, this is not dangerous! It is simply 1/2 a quart of water, with 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice mixed into it. You can, alternatively, use ascorbic acid but you will need to follow the package instructions carefully, as this solution is stronger than lemon/lime.
From there, all that’s required to dehydrate food is to turn the appliance on and wait! How long it will take depends on how thick the slices are, what temperature the dehydrator works at and what you are drying (jerky takes up to four days, fruits and vegetables generally take up to two). Once the dry foods are ready, turn off the dehydrator and remove the slices, but allow them to cool to room temperature before you store them in airtight containers, e.g. tupperware boxes (zip-lock bags also work well).