We love dehydrating here in the Raw Blend office. It’s a fun and interesting way to preserve and make delicious snacks and treats for the whole family. There can be a little trial and error involved which is why I have compiled a list of tips if you’re just starting out or wanting to brush up on your skills. It’s always great to know some bare essentials.
Armed with this information you will be dehydrating like a pro in no time and creating tasty treats for all to enjoy. Another great thing about dehydrating is that if you have bulk produce of something, dehydrating the excess is a great way of keeping it for longer which reduces waste!
If you’re in the market for a dehydrator look no further than the Sedona Dehydrator range. They are super easy to use and look great in the kitchen and are super quiet! Once you’re armed with a new Sedona the world if your oyster! Let those creative juices start flowing! Or…. Dehydrate them into roll ups!
How The Dehydrating Process Preserves Food
Through low heat and steady airflow, dehydrating removes enough moisture from food through evaporation to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold.
Dehydrating is one of the oldest methods of food preservation and has been used effectively since the dawn of civilization. So, you know, a pretty good track record!
There are a number of different types of dehydrators and dehydrating techniques including air dehydrating and oven dehydrating, but this guide will focus on dehydrating food using an electric food dehydrator.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
It’s simply that! A food dehydrator is a kitchen appliance that is used to dry out / dehydrate your food by utilizing its in-built fan and low temperatures. It uses a light flow of hot air to reduce the moisture content in your fruits, veggies and meats etc.
Why dehydrate out the moisture content?
To elongate its shelf life! Once you have removed most of the food’s moisture content the food won’t spoil as quickly as it normally would. Dehydrating also preserves most of your foods nutritional value as you aren’t cooking it at high temperatures. Once you start to cook your food, you start to lose the overall nutritional value which is why dehydrating is loved by many raw Foodists. Dehydrating retains nutrients and vitamins within your food ensuring you have healthy snacks for the family.
Good Foods to Dehydrate
Many foods lend themselves well to dehydration, such as:
- Legumes like beans and lentils
- Grains, rice and pasta
- Low-fat meats and seafood
- Sauces (that are fat, dairy and egg-free)
What Foods do NOT Dehydrate Well?
While a lot of food can be dehydrated, there are a few that should be avoided entirely for food safety or effectiveness reasons, such as:
- Fats – The dehydration process relies on the evaporation of moisture and unfortunately, fats do not evaporate.
- Nut butter – Too high in fat to dehydrate.
- Avocados – Too high in fat
- Olives – Too high in fat
- Dairy – Not safe to dehydrate due to the high chance of food poisoning. There are some commercially available alternative, such as butter powder, powdered milk, sour cream powder and cheese that you can add to your dehydrated meals.
- Eggs – Not safe to dehydrate due to the high chance of food poisoning; salmonella, common with eggs, thrives in the temperature range used during the dehydration process.
Here are the dehydration temperature guidelines for different types of food:
95°F Herbs (35 degrees Celsius)
125°F Vegetables (51 degrees Celsius)
125°F Beans and Lentils (51 degrees Celsius)
135°F Fruit (57 degrees Celsius)
145°F Grains (62 degrees Celsius)
145°F Pre-cooked Meats (62 degrees Celsius)
160°F Meat, Seafood (71 degrees Celsius)
165°F Poultry (73 degrees Celsius)
As you can see, there is quite a variation in temperatures, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re grouping foods together appropriately if you’re dehydrating more than one type of ingredient at the same time (like when dehydrating full meals).
Here are some simple dehydrating tips:
- Ensure you are using the right temperature: The temperature will obviously depend on the food you are dehydrating and how much moisture content there is. All instructions should be included in your dehydrating manual but I find dehydrating thickly cut and HIGH moisture content foods require a HIGH temperature at the start to begin with to ensure all bacteria stays away. Something like roll ups which are thin don’t require a high temperature otherwise they will crack too easily.
- Make sure foods are at least 95% dehydrated: This is to ensure that you are storing them properly and they don’ sweat or grow mold. If you’re ingredients are still sticky or spongy keep dehydrating them for a little longer. When dehydrating, ideally find a dry, warm place away from air vents and windows as humid areas can affect the dehydrating process.
- Be efficient: Make sure you turn on your dehydrator for a little while before you put the recipe in to ensure that it’s reached the correct temperature. Prepare items that require the same temperature to go in at the same time and try and slice your ingredients into even parts.
- Be prepared: Wash all ingredients well and wear gloves to avoid getting any skin oils on your food. Spritz bananas and apples with lemon juice as well to avoid browning.
Choosing the best dehydrator for you. Need some help? Why not check out our latest Dehydrator Comparison Blog!
How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last?
Most home dehydrated food, when prepared and stored correctly, can last for months and up to a year. But a lot depends on the storage method and storage environment.
Fruits & Vegetables: 1 year for fruit, about 6 months for vegetables at 60F (source: NCHFP), though vacuum sealing can extend the shelf life
Fruit leathers: up to a month at room temperature, or a year in the freezer (source: NCHFP)
Grains, Beans, and Rice: 1 year (source: The Dehydrator Cookbook)
Of course, some report that their dehydrated food lasts much longer than the timeframes listed above, but these are the general guidelines we follow based on the listed sources. And, some foods may not last as long due to dehydrating and storage conditions. When in doubt, discard any questionable food!