Food Drying is one of the oldest ways to store food. Drying reduces the water content of foods, making them lightweight and convenient to store, making them an easy alternative to other food storage techniques. In fact, when combined with other food preservation techniques such as drying, freezing, and canning, it further improves the food preservation process.
Early American settlers practiced using the power of the natural sun and wind to dry food, and today the use of technology has revolutionized this way of preserving food. Modern food dehydrators allow you to dry foods like fruit leather, fruit chips, dried nuts and seeds, and meat jerky all at home all year round.
Easy to store and carry, and with no need for refrigeration, dry food is ideal not only for home use but also for rough outdoor use.
In addition, dried food is a good source of quick energy and healthy nutrition, as only moisture is lost during storage. For example, dried meat jerky nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein for snacks and meals. Fruit leather and chips provide a lot of quick energy. Dried vegetables can also, be used to cook healthy casseroles and soups, and using soaked water for cooking can increase the nutritional value.
How to Dry and Store Foods
Drying basically dehydrates or removes water from food. This simple action suppresses the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. In addition, it slows the action of enzymes without inactivating them. These factors prevent foods from easily spoiling, making drying an effective food preservation technique.
Drying also removes water from the food, thus reducing its weight of the food. This not only reduces weight but also reduces size. To use food, just add water.
The optimum temperature for drying and storing food is 140 degrees F. However, for meat and poultry, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline recommends heating meat to 160 degrees F and poultry to 165 degrees F before starting the drying process. Once healing is complete, the dehydrator temperature will remain constant at 130-140 deg F. At higher temperatures, the food will be cooked instead of dried. The food is cooked outside and the water remains trapped inside. Drying is a slow process and should not be increased in temperature to increase speed.
Another factor that helps dry food is humidity. Low humidity helps the drying process because drying involves extracting moisture from food and releasing it into the surrounding air. When the humidity is high, the ambient air also collects moisture, which slows down the drying. You can speed up the drying process by increasing the airflow or flow.
There are several ways to dry food in the sun, in the oven, or in a commercial dehydrator. However, in both cases, it is important to ensure proper temperature, airflow, and humidity levels.
Types of Food Drying
1. Outdoor Food Drying
- Sun Drying
- Solar Drying
- Vine Drying
2. Indoor Food Drying
- Food Dehydrators
- Homemade Dehydrators
- Oven Drying
- Room Drying