Friday, April 20, 2012

Food Dehydration

You don’t have to be a hiker, athlete, or a mother of a school child to justify seeking easy-to-carry alternatives to fresh fruits and vegetables. If this is your aim, dehydrated fruits and vegetables are a worthy endeavor .

Drying vegetables for later usage is one of the oldest and easiest methods of food preservation. Vegetables retain much of their original nutritional value during the drying process and store easily if you pick the right container and storage area. The lower weight and volume, intact nutritional and pH value, and fast preparation time are the advantages of dehydrated foods. Most meals prepared from dehydrated vegetables can be ready to eat in 30 minutes.

The benefits of dehydrated raw foods are well known. Many health food stores make use of freeze-dried fruit and veggie powders, reconstituting them in to smoothies. Dehydration techniques have come a long way in recent years. Old technologies left as much as 30% moisture in the dehydrated products and didn't store as well. With modern technology, moisture levels have been reduced to 2% or 3% increasing storage life by several years. Additionally, with less water retention, this means that today's dried produce are less pliable and break with a satisfyingly “snap” when bent.

It is important to use a dehydrator that dries food at a suitable temperature. A temperature of around 108° is suitable for the first 12-18 hours. Temperatures that are too low can cause the food to spoil; however, if the temperature is too high then the enzymes and nutrients are lost.

On Drying Vegetables:

Peel fruits and vegetables including bananas, eggplants, melons, winter squash, and other foods. Slicing allows the dry air to circulate and dry the surface area. The vegetables should be cut into small slices ranging from 1/8 inch to ½ inch. If the food is particularly high in water content, the slices should be slightly larger as once the water is removed the pieces will retain a useful size.
Blanch vegetables before drying to stop enzyme action and enhance destruction of microorganisms. Pre-treating vegetables by blanching them in water or a citric acid solution enhances the destruction of potentially harmful bacteria during drying, including E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria Monocytogenes.
Once dried, vegetables stored in tightly closed freezer containers, canning jars or moisture-proof plastic freezer bags will hold their nutritional value for six to 12 months if stored in a dark area that stays cool and dry.

For more ways of pre treating your dried fruit, search dipping, blanching, or Candying! These are all techniques on how to increase the taste and quality of your dried fruit.

1 comment:

  1. Dehydrated food is just food–usually fruit, vegetables or meat–with all of the moisture dried out of it. Without the moisture to water down the taste, the food is rich and delicious. Not only that, but the food is also fresh when you make it yourself. Making it yourself allows you to enjoy this freshness, unlike you would if you ate the dehydrated food sold at the grocery store.

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