Food drying is the oldest method of preservation preventing the development of undesirable microorganisms in food which is the leading cause of food going bad. This gentle method is used for long term food storage. Drying is a simple and suitable form for processing almost all types of fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and meat. Vitamins, however, are sensitive to high temperature, light and atmospheric oxygen.
For each type of raw food there should be an individual approach and attention given to the correct length of processing at a certain temperature regime. Therefore drying in domestic conditions such as the attic, a space under a hot roof, on a radiator or a sheet of newspaper does not lead to efficient dehydration. Quite the opposite - very slow and uncontrollable drying occurs in such conditions. This mainly applies to produce that contain both a large amount of water and fiber, such as pears or plums. Drying for too long periods of time with temperature fluctuations can start the formation of mold and thus completely devalue the food. For high-quality drying of food and preservation of vitamins, minerals and trace elements a good quality food dehydrator is essential.
Drying enables to preserve surplus harvest from your own garden or cheaply bought seasonal produce. Dried foods can be a readily available source of vitamins and protein during the winter season.
Popular products of drying has long been more than just apple schnits. Basically, any fruit can be dried, whether it is apricots, peaches, pears, pineapple, watermelon, or even small fruits like raspberries, strawberries, currants or blueberries. Fruit as such can be dried without any treatment, or it can also be dried in a liquid state into the form of fruit rolls. Dried fruit is intended for direct consumption as a healthy treat that contains good, i.e. natural sugars.
Dried fruit can be stored for later use throughout the year in the form of:
Fruit/vegetable rolls and larger pieces of fruit are dried at a temperature of 55-60 °C. Well dried fruit is supple and flexible without wet spots. It contains less than 5% water.
You can dry your veggies the same way as your fruits.
Dried vegetables do not lose any of their nutritional value. You can use it for:
Many countries share their passion for a good mushroom harvest. Traditionally, drying is the best way of preserving these gifts of wild nature. Dried mushrooms are mainly used for preparing classic or oriental dishes. Mushrooms are 90% water. Dehydration reduces the content to 5%, which completely eliminates the conditions for the formation of mold.
Well-dried and stored mushrooms can be used for several years without any loss of quality. Mushrooms are dried at a temperature of 50-55 °C.
Dried meat, otherwise called JERKY, is low in fat and calories while high in protein. The most common types of meat used for jerky include beef and turkey. This delicacy is not reserved for hikers and fitness enthusiasts only. Your pets can feast on it, too.
Always pick lean meat and try to cut off as much excess fat as possible. Fatty tissue is difficult to dry and store safely. The drying temperature depends on the particular choice of meat with the minimum temperature of 60°C.
The possibilities of use are practically unlimited here. Dried herbs and flower petals do not have to be used only in the form of medicinal teas and spice mixes. It is possible to use them for decoration and creating natural DYI cosmetics, such as relaxing salts, natural soaps or ointments.
Fruits and vegetables can be dried fresh or processed in various ways. You can choose from selected:
Mesh sheets and solid sheets facilitate the process of even drying. The fine net of the mesh sheet prevents small food particles from falling through or getting stuck in the tray. It is intended for drying delicate pieces, herbs, mushrooms and other raw foods cut very small.
The solid sheet is used for drying blended or mashed fruit. On top of that, you can use it for preparing homemade muesli, various types of crackers, seasoned salts or homemade teas. Whole meals can even be dried this way. Ideal for camping or a budget vacation.
Dried foods retain one-third to one-half of their original weight. Not even dried food have an unlimited shelf life, so it is necessary to store it well and protect it above all from moisture. The most suitable containers for storage are those that ensure vacuum. They can be jars with screw caps or airtight jars from which unwanted air can be sucked out. Alternatively, you can store your dried snacks and meals in a special foil using a vacuum sealer. Food stored in this way can last for several months up to years.