The idea of dehydrating your own food may seem like a tall task, but doing it on your own is not only feasible, it’s simple to do! Below, learn about why dehydrating food is beneficial for you and your family and how you can easily do it yourself.
Why Dehydrate Food?
There are many reasons that make the idea of hydrating your own food an alluring one. The first is that dehydrated foods retain their nutritional value as well as the water-soluble vitamins and minerals they contain. That means that you can save money by dehydrating fresh fruits and veggies that you have an abundance of or that you buy in bulk when in season. Dehydrating these foods allows them to stay good for a long period of time, eliminating the need to throw out perfectly good food.
Another reason for dehydrating your own foods is that they’re very compact, making them easy to store. Even if you’re tight on space, dehydrated foods can be easily stowed away. As an example, a whopping 20 pounds of tomatoes will take up only a couple moderately sized jars to be stored in your cupboard or pantry.
Finally, another great reason to dehydrate foods is that many of them boast delicious and intense flavor once the process is complete. This is particularly true for fruits and vegetables.
What Types of Foods Should You Dehydrate?
There are many foods that make great candidates for the process of dehydrating. Fruits and vegetables are the obvious choice. Apples, bananas, and berries are common for fruits and onion, broccoli, and tomatoes are commonly dehydrated vegetables. These can be used as snacks or ingredients in many delicious recipes.
Herbs are another food that are easy to dehydrate. Doing so will save you from having to buy fresh herbs at the grocery store for a long time to come!
Meat is a commonly dehydrated food choice, allowing you to create and season your very own homemade beef jerky.
How to Dehydrate Food
Now, learn how to dehydrate your own food to start your own stockpile! There are several methods of doing so, but we’re going to focus on the ways of doing so without a dehydrator.
Dehydrating Food in Your Oven
One method of dehydrating foods without an appliance is to use your oven. This is a particularly effective method for dehydrating fruits and vegetables. To do so, cut the fruit or veggies of your choice into slices that are about a quarter of an inch thick. Turn your oven to its lowest setting and line a sheet pan with parchment paper and then lay out the slices on the sheet. Leave the items in the oven for six to eight hours until they are completely dehydrated, then store them as needed.
If you don’t have that long to wait for your food to be dehydrated, fear not, you can still use your oven for this task. Simply bump the temperature up to 225 degrees and it’ll take a couple less hours for the process to be done.
Using the Sun to Dehydrate Food
Particularly for dehydrating foods such as tomatoes and herbs, the natural heat of the sun works wonders. The sun does a great job adding sweetness and flavor to these foods, too, which is an added bonus. To use this method, slice whatever you are dehydrating to be very thin and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Leave the food in a spot that receives an abundance of sun. Place mesh netting or material over the food to keep bugs away. Usually you’ll have to bask these items for at least a few days for the process to be complete, making this a slower method.
When sun-drying herbs, tie them into a bundle using a twist-tie. Tightly wrap the bunch with a cheesecloth and hang this bundle in a sunny spot. Leave the bunch there for a few days. You’ll notice it shrinking in the sun as the herbs dry, so be sure to adjust the twist tie as needed to keep the herbs together.
Dehydrating foods—especially fruits, vegetables, and herbs—is easy to do, even if you don’t want to invest in a dehydrator. Simply follow these steps and you’ll have snacks and ingredients on hand for a long time to come!