What are the benefits of dehydrating food?
It is all good and well to buy the best food dehydrator in the whole world.
But how will you benefit from dehydrating your food in the first place?
Without this knowledge, you may not be able to enjoy your device fully.
Moreover, this might cause you buyer remorse.
You will surely recognize this — you have a fast-paced live and ever-increasing hectic schedule. And, like most people, you tend to skip meals. You find it time-consuming and tiresome to prepare your own food.
You know it is too expensive always to dine in restaurants or buy ready-made meals from stores. And it is not that good for your health either.
You need something that won’t take too much of your time and that will at the same time give you the taste you want in your favorite food.
Dehydrating food is your solution
In this article, you will learn about all the benefits of dehydrating food. This will help you better understand why you are doing it in the first place.
Food drying, or food dehydration, is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. Food contains water. To preserve food, you remove this water.
Fruits, vegetables, and meat all contain water and to fully enjoy them longer, you can use dehydration to lengthen their storage time.
But there is more.
Dehydrated food keeps its nutritional value and makes a great snack for eating on the go. You will have your fibers, vitamins, and minerals without having to sit down for a complete meal.
With a good food dehydrator in your kitchen, you have the capacity to solve all your dehydration problems.
However, you need to set aside some time every week to dehydrate your food. If you can dry a weeks worth of food, it is just a matter of deciding what to eat and going for it without wasting time cooking from scratch.
A food dehydrator is a device or kitchen tool that removes water from food through various heating methods.
The oldest methods used to dry food is by drying them under the sun. With today’s technology, we no longer need the sun for this process.
There are a lot of these devices in the market and finding a good one shouldn’t be hard.
Benefits of Dehydrating Food
1. No preservatives or chemicals added. When you dry foods, you don’t have to use any preservatives or chemicals. The only ingredient you need is the food you’re drying. This is also important for people who might have allergies or reactions to certain preservatives or chemicals.
2. The taste is still present. If you are able to dry your food properly, all the taste will remain in the food. This is why it is important to have a procedure before you start and follow it religiously. You may think that if you start dehydrating food, you will lose the taste. What really happens is that the taste becomes more concentrated. Consequently, when you dehydrate food, you are removing the water and preserving the flavor.
3. A healthy snack. Ordinary food becomes a tasty treat. Since there is no water to dilute the sugar content, dried food will taste sweeter and more intense and satisfying. Definitely a healthy substitute to candies and other artificial treats.
4. Economical and a cost-saver. Buying already dried foods in a store or grocery is expensive. Dehydrating food on your own will help you save money. If you have a garden and you like to grow your own food, even herbs, then you can save even more money.
When your crops become ripe or are in season, more often than not, you will not be able to use or eat them all at once. Preserving your harvest is the only way you can store them at their nutritional peak without spoiling or going to waste.
Alternatively, buy fresh foods in large quantities as they are cheaper and preserve them for later use. All these are food dehydrator benefits that may not be available to you if you never bought a dehydrator.
5. Benefits to overall health. Dehydrated food benefits you in many ways and one of this is contribution to your general health. When we eat healthily, we feel healthy, and we look healthy.
These dried foods are nutrient-packed, and it’s so easy to take them anywhere to get us through our busy day. Some people get their nutrients by taking supplements and multivitamins, but there is still no easier, and healthier, way to get these nutrients than by eating dried food.
6. Portability. Not only is dried food healthier, but it is also more portable. Bulky food takes up too much space and weighs more. Dried food is more compact and lightweight. They are perfect for outdoor trips like camping, hiking, trekking, going to the beach, backpacking, or even for school and workplaces.
You can easily put them in air-tight containers and put them in your backpacks or hand-carry bags for quick bites along the way. Whenever you feel hungry, you won’t have to look for restaurants or stores to buy expensive food.
7. Space-saver and storage-efficient. Dried foods take little space as compared to when they are in their original state. A bunch of bananas, for example, can easily fit in a single sandwich bag. If your pantry or refrigerator looks cluttered with large pieces of fruits and vegetables, drying them and storing them in smaller bags would clear up lots of space. You would have more space for a lot of other food.
8. Take control over the quality of your food. You will also have more control over the quality of the food you choose to dry. You can also be picky as to what food to dry. If you are concerned over the preservatives used in store-bought dried food, then you can be confident that the food you are eating is chemical- and pesticide-free.
9. Raw food. If you are into eating more raw foods, a dehydrator is a good way to prepare your food below 115 degree. This is considered as the threshold temperature where the nutrients and enzymes are still maintained.
10. Reduce waste. If you own a garden or tend to buy food in large or bulk quantities, then drying them is definitely the way to go. You minimize wasted or spoiled food. You will still be able to continue enjoying your food even if you are not able to consume them all during their peak nutritional life. And giving them away as gifts or treats to guests and friends is also an option.
Drying Your Food — Best Practices
When you want to experiment with drying food, it is important to know a thing or two about what you need to do and how.
This is food and you don’t want to get sick. Take some precautions. Learn how to do it properly.
What Process Is Involved in Food Dehydration?
If you don’t understand how food dehydration works, then you are about to learn about that. In fact, you are in the right place for learning the process of food dehydration.
During the drying or dehydration process, you are removing the moisture from your food.
This process will prevent the food from getting spoiled as microorganism need water to survive. It will also slow down enzymatic reactions in the food.
In an environment where there is zero water content, micro-organisms, bacteria, fungi, and other things responsible for food spoilage are eliminated.
When water is added back to food, these things will come back and work on the food. With dehydration, you are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to drying.
Sun drying seeds and fruits was already done in pre-historic times, and now many people are going back to it. Being among this people may be refreshing.
However, before you rejoice just too much, you need to understand the process so that you don’t get lost when you need to make your own dry food.
When heating food at a certain temperature, the water inside the fruit will start to vaporize through the skin and into the surrounding air.
When all conditions are optimal, the fruit will dry while keeping fiber and vitamins intact. The taste of dried fruits may be slightly different from its original, but the nutritional value stays the same.
No preservatives or chemicals are added, which makes this process one of the most healthy ways of keeping food on the shelf for later consumption.
Important Things You Need When Drying Food?
It all comes down to these three things if you want to start drying your food at home:
- You need enough heat. You need this to get the moisture out of the food. On the other hand, it can not be too hot as that would boil the food, and you don’t want that to happen. You need heat, but you also need to have full control over it. Many dehydrators now come with sophisticated features and designs that helps you monitor the heat distribution and prevent boiling. You can even select the temperature setting to fit a particular category of food items.
- The air surrounding the food needs to be dry. If the air is too humid, it will not be able to absorb moist enough, and the drying process will slow down or stop altogether. Before buying a food dehydrator, you should try and understand the features that you’ll like to see in one. This will help you narrow down your choice and make better decision.
- The air has to move to carry the moisture away. Even dry air will become saturated after some time. You will need air circulation to move the saturated air away.
Different Processes for Drying food?
As mentioned before, you can dry food in the sun. This is on the condition you need a lot of sunshine. When we converse about the hours of sunshine in a day, there will always be variations between countries and different locale.
A good sun-drying process requires days of 85° F or higher and low humidity. You will have no control over drying times, and temperature and you will probably even have to take the food inside overnight to make sure the drying process is not reversed by humidity in the air at night.
On the other side, drying your food in the sun is a natural process, and it is the heat of the sun is free for everybody. There are great devices that will help you with the practical side of the task.
Natural air drying
If decent ventilation is available, you can easily air dry herbs, mushrooms and peppers in an addict or on a porch. You can hang them in bundles upside down and have the air dry them out.
Even though this is often used for herbs and flowers, it is not a suitable technique for fruit or meat of course.
Drying food in the oven
Using your kitchen oven as a food dehydrator is an option, especially if you want to try if you like the taste and structure of dried food. Or if you know this will be a one-time event.
This is what you have to do:
- Maintain the temperature of the oven at 140°F and leave the door open.
- Arrange slices in one layer and make sure the slices do not touch.
- Place a fan in front of the open door for ventilation and air circulation.
- Check often and rearrange slices for equal drying.
As you can see, drying food in the oven is possible, but it is not optimal. The oven will use a lot of energy and if you have kids the oven can be a danger.
Drying food in the food dehydrator
Using a food dehydrator will make the whole process easier, fun and controllable. Your results will be much more rewarding, and it will take less time.
There are a lot of food dehydrators out there and which one is the best for you depends on your budget, your goals and the room you have in your kitchen.
Moreover, you need to understand that most of the traditional method of drying food are now almost extinct except in some remote villages.
The most popular method of drying food now is with the use of food dehydrators. They are often more convenient, time saving, efficient, and beneficial than the traditional methods of food dehydration.
And most importantly, you can keep all the nutrients and vitamins without adding chemicals and preservatives.
If you to derive the most benefit from food dehydration, it is better to do it yourself. This will help you develop a new skill and you will be safe from all chemicals and preservatives that in-store bought dried foods contains.
Moreover, being in the habit of drying food will help you become quicker, more productive, and relevant.
You don’t have to spend several minutes cooking anymore, or waste precious time preparing food that will only last a day. As you can see, the benefits of dehydrating food is all-encompassing.