Food Dehydrating Basics

apple-rings-by-mlcastleCarrying fresh food on the trail is great for a day or two. If you’re taking a longer trip, food spoilage can leave you in danger of going hungry or chancing an upset stomach. The solution? Carry  dehydrated food.

If the dehydrating is done properly, dehydrated food can be as nutritious and tasty as food prepared fresh—but it does require some know-how and planning. Next time you’re gearing up for a trip, make your meals from dehydrated food to save on space and make dinner a breeze.

Moisture, as any experienced hiker or camper knows, is the culprit of spoilage, mildew, and many other afflictions that strike food outdoors. Dehydrating your food keeps these issues at bay because microorganisms have no moisture in which to breed—which means you can store your food easily and then simply rehydrate it for eating. Dehydrated vegetables, fruit, and spices are the easiest way to add flavor and nutritional value to your meals.

Dehydrating food is most efficient with a dehydrator but your oven is a great place to start if you’d like to give it a try before investing in a dehydrator. In your oven, you’ll want to keep the temperature on the lowest setting possible and aim for around 145 degrees. Fruits and vegetables are an easy place to start.

Slice and dice up your favorite fruits and veggies, such as carrots, apples, onions, zucchini, and pineapple, and place them directly on the rack in your oven. Prop the oven door open a few inches and let the oven do its magic. Rotate and move your food around every so often to ensure even dehydrating. When all the moisture is gone, your food is ready.

Dehydrated vegetables and fruits usually last around two months.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can try more difficult things, like meats. Cut your meat into strips and lay it on a pan in the oven or use a dehydrator. Spice the meat with salt and hot peppers or a barbecue rub for the best flavor. Meats can be dehydrated and kept for two weeks and jerky can be kept up to one month. Of course, storing them in the fridge or freezer will extend their shelf life.

Liquids, such as milk, broths, or other cooking liquids, can be dehydrated into a powder and used for additions to your meals — though you might as well buy these already dehydrated, since DIY will not give you significant savings or improved quality.

If you decide dehydrating is something for you, investing in a dehydrator is a good next step. They can range from as little as $40 to as much as a few hundred and vary in quality and abilities. With a dehydrator, the only thing that’s stopping you is your imagination!

One Comment

  1. […] anything can be dehydrated, excluding things with a high fat content. After reading through the basics, give some of these recipes a […]

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