This article is a guide to dehydrating fruits and vegetables. Go here to learn how to dehydrate meat and fish.
Dehydration is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. It’s an easy process that leaves you with long-lasting food that’s easy to store, and retains most of the good stuff found in fruits and veggies.
THE BENEFITS OF DEHYDRATION
Removing all moisture from food allows it to last for much longer, since water is necessary for bacteria to survive and for the decomposition process to take hold. It also allows the food to be stored at room temperature, not needing refrigeration like you do for most regular foods. Removing moisture from fruit and vegetables drastically reduces the weight of and the space they take up- usually reducing weight by 80-90%. And lastly, most of the vitamins and minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants in the food are retained (you will lose most of the vitamin C, though).
HOW TO DEHYDRATE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
1) Blanch your fruits and vegetables. Put them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, and then run them under cold water. This will help stop enzymes from acting and kill microorganisms. Adding some lemon juice to the water will help the process.
2) Select your fruit and vegetables. The closer they are to peak ripeness, the better your outcome will be. Cut them into 1/4” to 1/8” slices, the thinner the better. Think of it as making fruit and veggie chips.
3) Preheat your oven to around 140 F.
4) Place your slices onto a tray- stainless steel wire mesh works best, to maximize airflow.
5) Place your tray in the oven. Keep your oven door open a few inches during the process, to increase airflow and allow the moisture to escape.
6) Maintain a constant temperature of around 140 F during the whole process. Remember to move your trays around from time to time, as heat isn’t uniform within the oven.
7) It will take 5-15 hrs for the fruit or veggies to dehydrate, depending on the type. You can test by pressing your finger in- if there’s any moisture on your finger, it isn’t ready yet. Each fruit or vegetable reacts differently to dehydration- some will get brittle, some will get pliable, and some will get hard.
8) Store in air-tight, moisture-free containers, such as Ziploc bags or jars. Your dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be stored at room temperature and don’t need to be refrigerated.
SOME NOTES ON FRUIT
Most fruits can be dehydrated, but some of the easiest kinds are apples, cherries, peaches, bananas, apricots, pineapples, pears and strawberries.
A few extra notes on specific fruits:
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes, get very brittle when dehydrated. If you put them in a blender, it will make a powder great for sprinkling.
Remember to peel them and remove the cores first. They are one of the easiest fruits to rehydrate.
These may require longer to dehydrate, but in the end you’ll be left with a delicous snack- banana chips!
Dip in boiling water until their skin cracks. This helps with the dehydration process.
These will leave you with the most common form of dehydrated food- raisins! Making your own will leave you with larger and better tasting raisins than the kind found in stores.
SOME NOTES ON VEGETABLES
some of the easiest veggies to dehydrate are potatoes, carrots, corn, zucchini, beans, beets, broccoli, mushrooms, onion, peppers, and cauliflower.
A few extra notes on specific vegetables:
make sure to boil and peel them before starting the dehydration process.
don’t wash with water before dehydrating (it will just absorb the water, and make the process take longer). Mushrooms take less time and less heat to dehydrate- put them in for around 3 hrs at 90 F to get the job done.
You can later rehydrate your fruits and vegetables by letting them soak in water for 30 to 90 minutes.
Good luck and stay prepared!