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Dehydrating Tips & Techniques

The Healthy Cooking Coach shares these tips and much MORE with you on her website.

There are no absolutes when it comes to drying. Many variables come into play like the kind of produce you dry, it’s size, thickness and freshness, the humidity in the air and the type of dehydrator you use.

  • Use the freshest local and/or organic produce whenever possible.
  • Buy enough produce. Most foods will shrink from one-third to one-sixteenth of their original size, so you may need more then you think. A good rule of thumb is 1 ½ pounds of produce per square foot of drying tray.
  • Clean fruits and vegetables thoroughly before dehydrating.
  • Peel vegetables and fruits if waxed or if the skins are thick or you find them irritating (e.g. sweet potatoes, yams, apples, etc).
  • Remove any soft or spoiled spots before slicing and dehydrating.
  • Slice, dice, chop or shred the produce in a consistent size to ensure that the pieces dry in the same amount of time. Consult your dehydrator’s instruction manual for the suggested thickness of different types of produce. Generally 1/4-inch to3/8-inch works best.
  • Steam or blanch vegetables with long cooking times or that tend to be eaten cooked (e.g., green beans, winter squash, and sweet potatoes). For peas and corn, brief cooking can be helpful to reduce the enzyme action that causes flavor loss. Vegetables with short cooking times – such as zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, celery and onions – require no precooking.
  • To prevent discoloration, dip sliced fruits (bananas, apples, pears, peaches, etc.) in apple or pineapple juice for a few minutes before dehydrating.
  • Check the food you are drying several times a day to avoid over drying.
  • Dried, sliced fruits should be soft and pliable when fully dried.
  • Dried, sliced vegetables should be brittle.
  • Label the containers with the contents and date.
  • Store dried foods in a cool, dry, relatively dark place. Ideal temperatures are between 60 degrees F to below freezing.
  • If moisture beads appear on the sides of the storage container, the produce is insufficiently dried. Return it to the dehydrator immediately. Oily or very moist foods such as olives are particularly susceptible to rancidity if not dried properly.
  • Dried herbs do not require rehydration.Buy a dehydrator with adjustable temperature settings. The Excalibur is my favorite; however, I used American Harvest machines for almost 15 years before upgrading to the higher end machine.

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