Dehydrating Fresh Foods


Fresh Apricots in Dehydrator

Dehydrating fresh foods is a great way to both save money and to control what is in the daily diet.  Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be added to already pre-packaged foods to add flavor, fiber and vitamins to balance a diet more effectively.  It helps to prevent waste, keep seasonal foods on the shelf a little longer, and concentrates the flavor.  It retains the natural enzymes and much of the nutrients. 

Fruit and vegetables that aren't dehydrated properly can mold or rot.  To that end, three major things make all the difference to good dehydrated food.  If there's a good food dehydrator in the house, one that maintains a consistent temperature and circulates air evenly, it isn't difficult to get evenly dehydrated fruit and vegetables. 

Consistent air flow and temperature are important.  Temperatures should start at 135-145 degrees Fahrenheit for the first couple of hours, then should be reduced to 105.  This drives the temperature in the interior of the fruit to just under 117 degrees.  This makes for quick drying but doesn't exceed the temperature at which the enzymes will break down (one of the tenets of raw diets). 

Consistent size of the materials is also important.   Slicing the fruit or vegetables into one-half to one inch slices, assuming it is too large to dehydrate whole, leaves enough material to keep the dried particles from disintegrating, but is thin enough that the moisture from inside can escape.

If a fruit or vegetable turns brown, spray it with lemon juice before putting it in the dehydrator. 

Dehydrated foods should be dry, not sticky, and chips should be dried until crispy.  They can be eaten alone, or added to instant soups or cereals on the fly.  They make a great addition to breakfasts and lunches at the office, and even better snacks.

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