Indoor Food Drying
Indoor food drying is easy and possible with the help of modern gadgets such as food dehydrators, conventional ovens, and countertop convection ovens. You can dry the herbs in the microwave, but you can’t dry other foods because there’s not enough airflow.
Indoor Food Drying Methods
Indoor Food Drying Method 1- Food Dehydrator
Food dehydrators are small appliances that can be used to dry and store indoor drying foods. The dehydrator has electrical elements for heat and fans and vents for airflow and circulation. Most dehydrators are designed to dry food at 140 degrees F, so they are efficient and fast.
Nowadays you can buy food dehydrators from department stores, whole food stores, mail-order catalogs, garden stores, and catalogs. Dehydrators cost anywhere from $ 50 to over $ 350 depending on the feature. Most models have standard features, but some models are expandable with additional trays. The only drawback a dehydrator can have is its limited capacity, so an expandable dehydrator may be more suitable.
Usually, dehydrators come in two designs, one with the heating element and the fan located laterally, and the other with the element and fan located in the base, which results in vertical airflow.
A dehydrator with horizontal airflow has several advantages. With less flavor mixing, multiple foods can be dried at the same time, without liquid or juice dripping, and all trays heated evenly. Vertical flow dehydrators cannot prevent flavor mixing. This can increase the drying time for different types of food.
Indoor Food Drying Method 2- Homemade Dehydrator
After receiving the necessary instructions from the county expansion station, it is possible to build a dehydrator at home. However, homemade dehydrators are cheaper. It may not be as convenient and efficient as a commercial one.
Indoor Food Drying Method 3- Oven Drying
The oven can be used to dry food easily and effectively. The oven is equipped with all three necessary elements for drying food: heat, low humidity, and airflow. However, while it is possible to dry a small amount of fruit leather, meat jerky, banana chips, or mushrooms, it is certainly difficult to regularly dry a large amount using a household oven.
Moreover, drying food in the oven is a time-consuming process. Most ovens do not have a built-in fan, which requires more time and energy to dry a relatively small amount of food.
Instructions to Use Oven
If you decide to use the oven to dry the fruits and vegetables then check the oven dial to see if the reading is low at 140 degrees F. If the oven is not at this temperature, the food will be cooked rather than dried.
Leave the oven door open 2-6 inches to ensure and facilitate air circulation. You can also improve air circulation by placing the fan near the door outside the oven. However, it is not recommended for families with small children.
Since the door remains open, the internal temperature changes. Therefore, to get a more accurate idea, place the oven thermometer close to the food. Adjust the dial to the required 140 degrees F.
Use a tray that is at least 3-4 inches short from the front of the oven to the back, without approaching the sides of the oven. The racks should be separated by 2-3 inches to allow airflow.
Indoor Food Drying Method 4- Room Drying
Drying food in the room is different from drying the sun. Place food that needs to be dried here in a well-ventilated room or covered space. Fruits, nuts, herbs, and peppers are usually dried this way.
To dry the herbs and peppers, hang them from a string or bundle and hang them from an overhead rack. Cover the herbs and bell peppers in a paper bag with a small opening to allow air circulation. The paper cover protects from dust, insects, and other contaminants. To allow the nuts to air dry in the room, simply spread them on a single layer of paper, but for partially sun-dried fruits, just leave them in the drying tray.
Indoor Food Drying Method 5- Dehydrofreezing
Dehydrofreezing is a new method of food preservation that uses both drying and freezing techniques. Home-dried fruits usually have 80% of the water removed and vegetables have 90% removed. However, storing only fruits and vegetables in the freezer with only 70% of the water removed ensures that the final product tastes good. Dehydrofreezing achieves this by combining freezing and drying.
However, it is important to understand that dehydration freezing is not the same as freeze-drying. Freeze-drying is an expensive commercial technique that creates a vacuum while food is frozen. This food preservation technique cannot be performed at home.
In dehydration freezing, the food is partially dried and then frozen. The low temperature in the freezer protects the food from mold, bacteria, and general spoilage. Also, since it is dried, it does not take up much space. Moreover, the taste and color of such foods are arguably better than freshly dried foods. Another big advantage of dehydro-frozen foods is that they can be undone in about half the time of dry foods, making the former a faster and easier choice. For more information on dehydration and freezing of foods at home, please contact your County Extension agent.