Have you ever tried dried pineapple? My husband picks this up occasionally as a special treat for the kids, and oh my goodness! It is good stuff. It’s a whole lot like candy, but with vitamin C. So many things make yummy, all-natural snacks in dehydrated form.
Dehydrated Foods Keep Longer
One benefit of drying fruits and veggies is that you can keep them for much longer than fresh foods. So when you find pineapple for super cheap, you can buy 20 or 30 instead of the three you could eat before they go bad. Dry the ones you can’t eat, and seal them up in vacuum-sealed bags or air-tight jars. They will keep a long time!
Dehydrated Foods are Portable
Dried fruits and veggies also make a great portable snack. No mess, no liquids to drip. And no smell if they get left in the car. When you need a good trail mix for a hike, you will have the supplies you need on hand to make that trail mix yummy.
Home Dehydrated Foods are Cheaper
Store bought dehydrated fruits and veggies are really expensive to purchase. We get a tiny 1-cup serving of dried pineapple and it costs $5! If you can find your pineapple/banana/apple/or whatever it is you are drying on sale, you can save a bundle. Plan ahead and buy your fruits and veggies at the peak of their season for drying to save the most. You can also talk directly to farmers (for locally grown foods) and restaurant supply stores about buying bulk when something is in season to save even more.
Dehydrating food is an ancient form of food preservation, and in recent years it has become increasingly popular again. When you dehydrate your food, you preserve it by removing as much of the moisture or water content as possible. Your food will shrink in size, and the dried form will keep each item from spoiling as quickly. This allows you to take advantage of sales and store your produce longer.
Many dehydrated foods can be eaten as-is, but you can also soak them in water or another liquid to rehydrate them. The reason dehydrating works so well to preserve a large variety of food is because yeast and bacteria need water to grow. By removing all the water from the food, there’s no way for these microorganisms to thrive, so the food lasts longer. But sometimes, rehydrating works better in a given recipe.
Dehydration Methods for Food
You can choose from several different methods for dehydrating your produce. It can be placed in the hot sun on a clean surface, or dehydrated in the oven, or you can purchase an electric dehydrator. If you want to try dehydrating food without the expense of an electric dehydrator, the oven is a great place to get started. Once you are ready to invest, a dehydrator will give you better control and lower settings that result in tastier dried foods.
The best temperature for drying food is 140F so having an oven thermometer is handy and you will have to play with the lowest setting of your oven, possibly turning it on and off to stay at the ideal temperature. The same thermometer can also be very helpful when you’re starting to experiment with solar drying. An electric dehydrator sits nicely on the counter, holds the perfect temperature and requires less oversight. But I recommend you play around and start drying some fruits and vegetables. See how you and your family enjoy the dry food. A dehydrator is not super expensive, but it is something to invest in once you and your family are in the habit of consuming dehydrated foods.