The art of drying food is one of the world’s oldest methods conceived to preserve food in times of plenty for moments of need. From ages long ago people have reliably used the sun, wind, or a smoking fire to remove water from various fruits, grains, herbs and meats. By its very definition, the concept of food dehydration is listed as the process of removing liquid from a food by the use of circulating hot air around it.
There are several major benefits involved with dried foods such as the tastiness, the nutritional value, it’s lightweight and the ability to easy store and prepare the items. The main advantage for a prepper lies in the minimum storage space needed when compared to that required for canning jars.
Drying has the minimum effect upon the nutritional value food survival kits of dried food. An important point to remember is that even though vitamin A is retained after food has been dried, the vitamin itself is light sensitive and those foods which contain it should notably be stored in dark locations. For yellow or dark green vegetables like carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes and winter squash, these foods usually have a high vitamin A constitute. Another of our important vitamins is destroyed by exposure to heat such as vitamin C. An interesting paradox here is that pre-treating foods with lemon, pineapple or orange juice often increases the amount of vitamin C content in the final product.
Dried foods are considered high in fiber but low in fat which makes them a healthy choice. When drying your foods make certain they are completely dried or they are susceptible to mold development.
Specific equipment is absolutely necessary to ensure the quality and safety of the final product. A dehydrator is often recommended along with sharp knives and a mandolin. The mandolin will ensure consistent product cuts that are not too thick nor too thin.
Many guidebooks recommend blanching, pre-treating or steaming specific foods prior to placing them into the dehydrating equipment. Common equipment used for these processes will include a kettle and lid with a wire basket, perhaps a colander or some sort of open mesh bag that will hold the produce. When pre-treating your fruits and vegetables you should use a non-metal bowl to prevent discoloring. Select fruit which is ripe and not bruised. Trim off any bruised spots on the fruit and above all else never use moldy food for drying.
The main principle of food dehydrators is that the air is allowed to flow around the sliced foods which contribute to drying the surface area within the food. Usually try to cut the food into 1/8 to ½ inch slices. A simple rule of thumb here is that the higher the water content of the food the larger you should cut the slice size. Smaller slices of high-moisture foods like watermelon will disappear as the moisture begins to evaporate.
Pretreatments include blanching, candying, cooking or dipping. Its purpose is to prevent color changes from taking place in your foods. You can dip your fruits in orange or pineapple juice while dipping your vegetables in a diluted mixture of bottled lemon juice.