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Drying Food 101

Sep 27, 2011 -
  Drying Food 101
Take your health-giving, organic harvest and DRY IT to eat all winter long.

Keep your summer harvest to enjoy in the wintertime—without canning. Have you tried drying food?

Bet you thought about dried apricots just now.

You can dry all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and they’ll taste great.

In our new video Tricia dries fruits and vegetables. Pretty much no muss, no fuss, if you have a good dehydrator.

How and why does drying food work?

Bacteria need moisture to thrive. Take the water out of food, and it’s safer to store.

What to dry?

Ripe, unbruised fruits and vegetables.

What prep do I need to do?

1. Peel thick-skinned fruits and vegetables, slice uniformly, and remove pits.

2. For waxy small fruits like grapes, blueberries, and cherries you need to create some breaks in the skin coating—do this by “checking” or “cracking” with a 30 second dip in boiling water.

3. Blanch vegetables with steam for 30 seconds, then drop into ice water.

4. To keep apples and pears from browning, dip in a citric or ascorbic acid solution before placing on the dehydrator sheet.

How hard is it to make fruit leather?

It’s easy! Puree the fruit in a food processor. Then pour it on a special, non-stick sheet that fits your dehydrator, and spread it with a spatula to a uniform 1/8-inch thickness.

How do I use the dehydrator?

excalibur dehydrators peaceful valley groworganic.comOur top-of-the-line Excalibur dehydrators come with complete instructions (and an excellent cookbook). Space slices evenly on sheets, and start with the time guidelines in the guide and in the university articles or books listed below. Humidity varies, so check your produce during the process. Fruit pieces will be springy and leathery when done; vegetables will be tough or brittle. Fruit leather is ready when it is “leathery” with no sticky spots.

The Nesco dehydrators are a less expensive way to get into drying food. Easy to use on a countertop, due to their round shape, their other major difference from Excalibur is that the fan blows from the bottom instead of the back. Expand the 1,000 watt Gardenmaster Dehydrator up to 30 trays tall. The 500 watt Nesco Snackmaster lets you start dehydrating at a modest price and expands to 12 trays. Both dehydrators in the Nesco line have accessories for making fruit leather and jerky.

For more information

University Extension articles:

How Do I Dry?, University of Georgia, National Center for Home Food Preservation
Drying Food, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
How to Dry Foods at Home, University of Missouri

Our favorite books on food drying with dehydrators:
Preserving Food at Home
Food Drying Techniques
Canning, Pickling and Preserving
Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning
How to Store Your Garden Produce

If you want to use solar drying techniques read The Solar Food Dryer.

Don’t let your organic harvest go to waste—preserve and dehydrate!

Categories: Food Preservation, Food Processing & Preservation, Food Dehydrator

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