Have you ever seen your grandma drying food in sunlight in your childhood? If yes, then exactly she is doing some science with food which is known as dehydration or drying which is quite an ancient method to preserve food.
Drying is a process where water is removed from the food to prevent the growth of any bacteria or other microorganisms. Food preservation in sunlight still has been practice in many rural areas around the world.
The reduction of moisture content has a huge benefit of preserving the vital nutrients in the form of enzymes that provides an immense source of energy. The method of food preservation is simple, quite safe, and can be used for different types of food such as fruits, vegetables, and meat. In this modern era, a machine that works on the principle of dehydration is called a food dehydrator.
The food can be dehydrated by several means such as sun drying, oven drying, and an electric process. The sun drying is usually affected much with the weather conditions because even in sunlight, the moisture in the air can produce more water in food left the food soggy.
While drying in oven is a convenient way to dehydrate food items but those are expensive and energy cost is high. Some food requires low drying temperature which is hard to maintain in oven results a high risk of scorching during the process and makes food darker and brittle.
The best quality dried food can be produced by an electric food dehydrator, equipped with a good ventilation system, a heat source, and rows of trays to keep a large number of food items. It can maintain low temperatures and consumes less energy.
How To Use A Food Dehydrator
some of the features are very important before buying a good food dehydrator such as space, smart thermostat, automatic shut-off timer, heating element, vacuum, and a fan. One of the important features of this kitchen appliance is the capacity in the form of slide-out or stackable trays mostly covers the space of about >10 square feet. Keeping in mind the size requirements according to the food you intend to dry. Here a guide which you can follow:
1. Variable Temperature Ranges:
An adequate temperature range for a dehydrating food is in the range from 85 F / 29 oC to 155 F / 68 oC, higher or lower than this temperature can do serious damage. A constant temperature during the process of dehydration with sufficient airflow is an important feature, higher or lower the temperature can cause food overcooked or soggy.
2. Fan For Sufficient Airflow:
Usually, the dehydrators are designed to have a built-in fan. These fans can circulate the air through the food evenly by absorbing the moisture in the food and replace it with dry air. There are two adjustable speeds in the fan, at the start, a high speed can absorb the moister at the upper surface of food, and then the low speed can gradually absorb the remaining moisture.
The position of the fan can be horizontal or vertical. The flow of the air in a horizontally situated fan is from top to bottom considered as a better system than a vertically situated fan because the airflow can be blocked by the shelves.
3. Timer And Automatic Shut-Off
A timer with automated shut-off is considered as a “luxury add-on” in your appliance. Without having a timer can prevent the ability to use it overnight, but the addition of the convenient features can help you to turn off the machine at the midnight without getting up.
You can also go out with letting the dehydrator shuts off automatically. Therefore, buying this gadget with a timer is a good deal. However, in the absence of a built-in timer, you can plug in a separator timer and it works perfectly.
4. Sliding Or Stacking Trays
There are about five to ten open-mesh trays made up of lightweight plastic in a normal size food dehydrator. The size of the stray should be large enough so air can smoothly circulate through the food.
The Best Food That Can Be Dehydrated
A large variety of food can be dehydrated and preserved for a long time, such as:
- Beans, Nuts, and Seeds
However, some foods are not suitable for dehydration due to the highly prone to be poisonous when dehydrate. Most commonly, the removal of moisture from fat is difficult because fat does not evaporate and causes contamination of food. Similarly, the growth of salmonella bacteria in eggs prone to foodborne illness does not suitable for dehydration. One should avoid dehydrating oils, fats, eggs, oils, or dairy at home.
Food Prep Is The Key To Dehydrate
The process of drying food in a dehydrator is quite easy; you need to follow some steps to enjoy the stock of your dried food all year round. It gives great satisfaction to your mind while enjoying the summer fruit or vegetables in winter. Here are a few steps that need to follow:
A Clean Station:
Make sure to clean the surface for cutting and the equipment, all should be dry and clean. Also, washing hands from time to time during handling the food prevents any germs to the food.
Cut Into Uniform Pieces:
To get the best quality of dried food, the food should be uniformly sized. Large pieces of fruits and vegetables should be chopped or sliced properly; a mandolin can be a great handy tool to get the uniform thickness of evenly sized pieces in a quick time. An egg slicer can be a great help to slice fruits like bananas, strawberries, mushrooms, and zucchinis.
Pre-Treatment Of Fruits And Vegetables:
Some fruits are soaked in ascorbic acid solution to retain flavor and color. Usually, fruits are soaked in for about five minutes before placing them in a food dehydrator.
To prevent the browning of fruits, the lime and oranges juices are used to pre-treatment due to the high content of critic acid. Blanching or steaming can help to retain the taste and color of vegetables. The hard vegetables like carrot or those which cannot eat raw are pre-treated by blanching or streaming to reduce the dehydration time.
Food Dehydrator Recipes
Utilizing a food dehydrator, healthy, and delicious snacks at home can be prepared for outdoor activities.
Bananas Chips Recipe:
Dehydrated bananas chips are a popular snack all over the world, the preparation for the recipe just takes 15 minutes and you are good to go.
- Bananas (not ripped)
- 1 tsp lime juice
Peel the bananas and slice into evenly sized pieces, place in a pot and then add some lime juice. Toss gently and arrange in the tray and dehydrate it at suggested temperature and time till it became crispy.
Spicy Onion Rings
Another mouth-watering and delicious recipe can prepare in it. The preparation is super easy and quick.
- Medium to large onions sliced into rings
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour or any grain flour of your choice
- 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp of paprika
- ¾ cup of water
- Salt to taste
Slice the onion into 1/4″ thick rings. Make a thick sauce of other ingredients by blending well. The consistency of water can be adjusted by water. Spread the sauce on the rings evenly and place it on a tray. Dehydrate it for about 8hrs or until it becomes crunchy and crispy. Enjoy with your desired dip.
Reasons To Buy A Food Dehydrator
1. Quality nutritional profile
There are plenty of options you choose to prepare your own hygienic and nutritious meals or snacks. The dried food can restore for a few months without losing the taste and important nutrients. Without buying the store products full of artificial preservatives you can enjoy your homemade backpack menu.
2. Less Expensive
Drying foods in a food dehydrator can dramatically reduce the cost of overall food items such as the seasonal fruits go on sale when fully ripe. Buying these low-cost fruits and dehydrates for 24 hrs results in delicious snacks stock for a long time.
- Lightweight And saving Space
By removing all the water from the food, it will become lightweight and takes less space. You can take as many snacks as you want with you on outdoor activities.
- Make Your Jerky
A jerky is a delicious meaty snack. Using a food dehydrator you can make economical and preservatives free jerky. It is a great source of proteins made up of beef, turkey, or fish and can be used as a light meal and a great snack for hiking in cold weather.
Q: Food Dehydrators Worth Buying Or Not?
Is the food dehydrator a must for the kitchen to have? Sure, the trend of clean and healthy eating makes people find ways to have inexpensive and nutrient snacks to cut down from their meal portions. This home appliance is a great source to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables as retains the original nutritional value.
This kitchen appliance offers great benefits and a helpful home appliance. It can provide flavorful, healthy food with a large number of vitamins and minerals. Water reduction from the food not only increases the shelf life but also reduces the cost. The preparation of food is quite efficient and effortless, the lightweight food item is easy to carry. Overall, money and time can be saved by using this amazing home appliance.