Dehydrated foods used to be those foods reserved mostly for camping and other outdoor activities. Today they’re becoming essential for survival. In an unsettling world of skyrocketing food prices, impending natural disasters and global unrest, it’s more important than ever to be prepared. Having food on hand is a top priority in emergencies, so it’s understandable why many people are turning to dehydrated food.
What Are Dehydrated Foods?
Dehydrated foods are foods in which moisture has been removed to preserve shelf life. Foods that can be dried include meats, vegetables and fruits.
When properly stored, dehydrated foods can last longer than any other type of food. According to The Healing Journal website, they can have a shelf life of up to 20 years. And, once the seal of a food container is broken, dehydrated food is still good , with some foods still safe to eat for as long as up to three years.
These foods are also lightweight, taking up much less space than fresh foods.Just as fresh foods, dried fruits can be rich in vitamins and minerals. Some dehydrated foods, such as dried fruits and beef jerky, make convenient, portable snacks. You can also use them in cooking. Although heating food causes some nutritional loss, it’s small, as roughly 90 percent of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals are retained if the food is dehydrated properly.
Factors Affecting Drying Time
Most foods take only four to twelve hours to dehydrate. Factors affecting drying time include food types, required temperatures and the capabilities of your dehydrator.
Temperatures for drying should be neither too low nor too high. While too low temperatures cause bacterial growth, excessive heat can cook rather than dry food. For most foods the recommended temperature for drying is between 120 and 130 degrees F. Food is considered dried when it feels leathery and does not have any water pockets. Store dehydrated food in a somewhat dry, cool area, although refrigeration isn’t necessary. Some ideal storage places can be in basements, closets or under beds.
Although dehydrated food is a hot topic, this method of preserving food is not a new phenomenon. Early American explorers and colonists dried their foods, using the natural forces of the sun and wind. Thanks to modern food dehydrators, fruits, vegetables and meats, can all be dried, year-round, at home. With all these advantages, besides the security of having plenty of available food in emergencies, it’s more important than ever to consider dehydrated foods.