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VIEWTutorials & Tips

Tips For Dehydrating

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Preserving your fruit, vegetables, meats and more

Preserve the fresh fruits and vegetables from your harvest with a home food dehydrator. Create healthy and flavorful jerky, fruit rolls, kale, banana and apple chips, or preserve your garden’s abundance of basil, sage, rosemary, and other herbs. Whether you’re a hunter, camper, gardener, or someone who simply enjoys the fresh flavors of the season without additives and preservatives to help you dehydrate food like a pro.

Preparing fruits and vegetables to dehydrate 

For best flavor, select fruits and vegetables that are in season, and discard any fruit or vegetables that have bruises or mold.

How to blanch vegetables

Blanching is recommended for some vegetables to prevent color and flavor loss during drying and storage. Blanching whole fruits breaks the skin and shortens drying times.

  • Bring a large stockpot filled with cold water to a rolling boil.  
  • Place cleaned fruits and vegetables in water with a long-handled strainer.
  • Dip in the water for the recommended time. (Chart is available in the use and care manual of your dehydrator, times will be short.)  
  • Plunge into ice water to stop cooking.  
  • Drain and pat dry before dehydrating. 

How to determine dryness

Many factors influence drying time, including moisture content, type and amount of food, shape and regularity of food slices, air temperature, humidity, and your personal preference in texture.

How to make fruit rolls

Fruit rolls can be made with peeled and pitted pureed fresh fruits; canned fruit that has been well-drained and pureed; defrosted frozen fruit, drained and pureed; or with store-bought applesauce. Fruits that are higher in pectin (apples, apricots, blueberries, grapes, peaches, pears, pineapples, and plums) will make a fruit roll with a nice leatherlike texture. When using a low-pectin fruit (grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges, raspberries, and strawberries), combine with a higher-pectin fruit for an easy peelable fruit roll. Applesauce is a favorite addition.

How to store dehydrated food

Properly dried foods need to be stored in a clean, dry, airtight container, such as resealable plastic bags, vacuum-sealed bags, plastic containers, or glass canning jars with a tight-fitting lid, to keep foods from rehydrating.

Shelf Life

Best practices for dehydrating

Avoid Cutting Food Pieces Too Small  
Foods will shrink to approximately ¼ - ½ of their original size and weight during the dehydration process, so pieces should not be cut too small or too thin. For instance, one pound of raw meat will yield approximately ⅓ lb (0.2 kg) to ½ lb (0.2 kg) of jerky.

Remove Excess Moisture  
To decrease drying time, pat jerky strips, fruits, and veggies dry with a paper towel, or use a pretreatment process or product. Be mindful of how much liquid you add to your jerky marinade. Rather than using juice for fruit leather, make jam first, then dehydrate.

Do Not Overfill Trays 
Avoid overlapping foods and overfilling the trays. Lay foods flat on the dehydrating trays.

Remember The 6 Hour Rule  
Check dryness after 6 hours, then check every 2 hours until crisp, pliable or leathery depending on the product.

Make Sure Food Is Dry  
Check foods to make sure they are completely dry before removing. Open or cut down the middle of a few samples to check internal dryness. If the food is still moist, dehydrate longer.

Keep a Journal  
Keep a journal to help improve drying techniques. Record the food name, temperature, drying time, original weight, end weight, and ingredients used.

Label Food  
Be sure to label foods with the name and date of drying. A vacuum sealer with a built-in date stamping function is a great tool for this task. Package the food when cool. If it's still warm when you seal it, it will sweat, then mold quickly. Foods can be kept longer if stored in a cool, dark, dry place. The ideal storage temperature is 60°F (16°C) or lower.

Vacuum Seal Dried Food 
Vacuum sealing is ideal for keeping dried foods. Even when storing in airtight metal or glass containers, it's best to vacuum seal first. Use Zipper Seal Vacuum Bags so that you have the option of storing both short and long term. These bags are perfect for taking snacks on the trail. 

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