Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to Use a Food Dehydrator for Drying Fruits and Vegetables

A food dehydrator can be used for a lot of things. It can be used to preserve different kinds of meats, herbs, flowers and vegetables and fruits.

Why would anyone bother dehydrating produce at their homes? We all know that fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they are in season. Through dehydrating, you can stock up for up to a year and they never go bad.

Dehydrating is a really simple procedure, provided of course that you have a good food dehydrator.

Here are the steps for dehydrating fruits and vegetables:

1. Make sure to look for fresh fruits and vegetables. Overripe or bruised produce wouldn't result in the best dehydrated food.

2. Clean the produce through washing. Hull and then slice them in the same sizes. Cutting them in roughly the same size will ensure that they dry evenly.

3. When drying pears, apples or any kind of fruits prone to oxidation you can treat them with citrus juice or ascorbic acid prior to dehydrating. This will protect the fruits from losing its vibrant color before, during and after the dehydration process.

4. For fruits: it's best to blanche potatoes, peas, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and corn in boiling water for five minutes before dehydrating. This will make drying time faster and it will also protect the vegetables' color.

5. If you want, you can add flavor to the vegetables by adding sugar, salt or spices. This, though, is optional.

6. Start loading the vegetables and the fruits into the dehydrator. Make sure not to overlap them as this would slow drying time and the produce would cook unevenly.

7. Turn the dehydrator on. Check the user's manual for the best time and temperature to cook the food although you should expect for the process to take at least eight hours long.

8. Check the food frequently as you reach the end of the dehydrating time. To check, take a slice out of the dehydrator and let it cool. If it feels dry to the touch, it should be done. To check further, cut the fruit or vegetables into a number of pieces and then check the edge. If you can see moisture beads, it's not dry enough yet and needs to be put back into the dehydrator.

9. Allow the fruits and vegetables to cool for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before putting them in bags.

10. The finished products need additional conditioning before they are ready for storage. Place the dried products in loosely packed jars and shake them at least once a day for ten days. This is to make sure that the moisture is evenly distributed. If condensation appears, you'd need to dehydrate the fruits and vegetables again.

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