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What types of food can you dehydrate and how to do it

Dehydrating can be done with almost any fresh food, yet some things dehydrate better than others. I have been dehydrating vegetables, my garden tomatoes, par-cooked rice, beans, potatoes placing them in sealed jars once dehydrated to use later in meals, soups and stews. Drying greens, kale, spinach, any favorite leafy green can be dried and rehydrated again in meals later for added nutrition. Greens are superfoods. Also, I have been drying my favorite herbs and spices for seasonings.

This next year I will begin drying fruit, as well. Apple and banana chips sound like a yummy stored away snack. I have been focused on veggies and grains storage for now due to what extra food I had in my garden.

Stews, chili mix, curry mix – You can cook up your favorite stew or chili or any starter for them. You leave out the meat for the first step in dehydrating. Simmer your ingredients for the stew slowly, reducing the moisture content till it is thick and not runny. Spoon these ingredients onto your trays that have the fruit leather liner (you can buy them for your machine). Spread to a thin layer. Place the trays in a dehydrator to dry. Once completely brittle and dry. Break it all up. Store in jars and airtight containers. When you go to cook up a meal, first cook your meat, then add to your pot the dry mix, and add water or stock. You can add in your stored instant rice or pasta as well. Place on a medium/low burner, till all is hot and ready to serve. There are endless ideas for your dehydrating adventures. The internet is full of ideas and recipes.

Here are the tools I use to prepare for dehydrating:

A Food slicer/Mandoline I love using this for cutting the foods into slices, julienne and dicer, and shredder. They have various thickness presets and make my prepping for dehydrating easy.

Also my favorite sharp slicing knife. Makes the task easier to get done as well.

A food processor or grater is not always necessary to have but it all depends on what foods you are working with. They can make prepping faster when shredding or slicing.

How thick should you slice?

When slicing up fruits and vegetables for dehydrating, slice ¼ to ½ inch thick for best results. Slice your meat thinner if possible. Your local store can slice up the meats for you when you buy them. Which can make this step faster than slicing yourself. Yet, having your meat partially frozen can help you cut very thin slices.

To peel or not to peel?

It is not necessary for you to peel everything you plan to dehydrate. I give my veggies and fruits a good washing before preparing them for the dehydrator. Remove any imperfections from them.

If you prefer you can remove the skin altogether. It’s up to you and what you prefer.

You can blanch vegetables that normally take longer to cook by steaming them for 2-5 minutes. This preserves nutrients and prevents flavor loss before drying.

Blanching your vegetables is needed for the dehydrating process. Your foods will look more appetizing after they are dehydrated. You can save yourself this step as I have done this as well. You can buy frozen food and dehydrate them. The vegetables have already been blanched before packaging. I just pour the frozen veggies or foods onto my trays and stick them in my dehydrator. That makes catching frozen veggies on sale at your market a fast way to get them dehydrated and stored away. Once I'm ready to eat them, I place my dehydrated vegetables in boiling water for 2-5 minutes till fork tender or heated thru. Then placed into cold water to stop the cooking process, by cooling them all the way down.

How to dehydrate your food

Once you have your food prepped and ready for drying.

Now you just arrange your prepped food on your trays in one layer.

Place on your dehydrating trays and dry.

Review your dehydrator instruction guide for the temperature and drying time needed. They can vary depending on the appliance you use or the method.

The variety of foods for you to discover for drying is endless. I learned from watching videos and ideas from others who are dehydrating food for storage or to use when need a quick meal and can’t get to the market. With some creativity, water, bullion, and dried ingredients in your pantry. You can provide quick meals for the family.

Once you have your food dehydrated. Store in any clean dry glass jars

or Mylar bags for long-term storage. Any air-tight containers will work for shorter time storage use if you use them. I add a pouch which is a moisture absorber/silica gel granule.

Oxygen absorbers are wonderful to keep your sealed jars for long-term storage.

You see those moisture absorbers in many products. Save them! Do not throw them away, seal them in a clean jar for use another time.

I have learned how to make my own moisture absorbers. Really easy and the savings are huge. Soon I will make a short video on how I make them.

So, in a nutshell, that is how you dehydrate foods to put away for later. Most dehydrated food if prepared into jars or Mylar bags can last for 5+ years. It is best to rotate and use the foods between 4 months to a year. Putting back what you use.

Check your stored foods, and shake the dry ingredients in the jar, the sound (chink chink) of your dried foods in the jar will let you know it's good and dry in there, and check for any spoilage. No mold or moisture should be seen in the jar. And your nose will know when you open it. They should not smell bad when you go to use them. You should smell fresh dried food.

I hope you found this article helpful to get you started with dehydrating foods for your pantry. Have fun doing it. Learn as you go, explore with what you have available in your area, and find what works to store away for any of your needs. I will be adding new how-tos on what I have learned with food preparations and dehydrating ideas.

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