A Beginner’s Guide to Dehydrating Food (Veggies, Fruits, Chicken and Meat)
Do you want to preserve and store your favorite veggie or fruit snack? Are you tired of your usual dried food from the stores? You may think that preserving your food at your own home can be complicated but worry no more since a convenient home appliance can help you. A food dehydrator can assist you in switching up your snack game and preserving your food at the comfort of your own home.
If you are a beginner to dehydrating food and using a food dehydrator, then this one is for you. Read on as we share to you how to choose the best food dehydrator, a guide on how to use a food dehydrator and the benefits of dehydrating food.
How to Choose the Best Food Dehydrator
We all know that in everything that we buy, we should always keep in mind the quality and how it can serve you at its best potential. The main point of spending is getting what you paid for. If you are already considering buying a food dehydrator, here are some things that you should keep in mind to help you choose the best food dehydrator.
- Pick a food dehydrator with a top fan or side-mounted fan. The fan in the food dehydrator makes sure that the moisture in the food is carried away and replaces it with dry air. It is important to pick one with a side or top fan because it easier to clean than a food dehydrator with a bottom fan since some food particles may get into it.
- You must choose a food dehydrator with adjustable temperature setting. Since you will be dehydrating different food, this also means that this will require different drying temperatures. An adjustable temperature setting will also give a choice as to how dry or crispy you want your food is done.
- Find a food dehydrator with a square tray. Most of the food dehydrators in the market have a round tray with a hole in the middle but if you want a larger capacity for your food, then find one with a square tray.
- Pick a food dehydrator with mesh screens, and non-stick sheets insert that is for free. You can avail of these three for the price of one. The mesh screen will keep the small dried foods from falling, and the non-stick sheets are a great way to lessen the hassle of cleaning your food dehydrator.
- Choose a dehydrator with an automatic shut-off. The timer will be very convenient, especially if you are a really busy person who does not have the time to watch your food being cooked. You can easily set the timer and go to bed because it will automatically shut off once your designated cooking time is up.
How to Use a Food Dehydrator
Once you have already bought your food dehydrator, you must know these things that will help you use it with ease. Here are things that you should prepare before you get started. Also listed below are the different ways of how you can use your food dehydrator depending on what food you will dry.
- The first thing that you should prepare is for your cooking station to be clean. Clean your equipment and your hands properly.
- If you want your food to be dried evenly, make sure that you cut it into the same sizes. There will be no problem for small foods but if you are planning to dry larger-sized food, make sure that you cut it into uniformly sized pieces.
How to dehydrate fruits
- Wash your fruits properly and dry them thoroughly.
- If you are drying apples, bananas, or pineapples, you can slice it into thin pieces. Blueberries, grapes, and cherries are just left whole, but you should blanch it in hot water and immediately blanch it again to iced water so that it will dehydrate better.
- The best temperature for drying fruits is 135F. The drying time is varied depending on the size and the density of the fruit.
- You can check if the fruit is completely dried if it becomes leathery, and it is no longer sticky. You can also get one piece and squeeze it to check if there is no moisture left.
How to dehydrate vegetables
- If you are dehydrating hard or tough vegetables, you must steam or blanch it first. Examples of these are carrots, asparagus, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Soft and small vegetables are just washed thoroughly.
- You can also pick frozen vegetables in the market and just thaw it. These vegetables are already cut and blanched, so it will save you a lot of time.
- The best temperature for dehydrating vegetables is 125F. Make sure that you research how many hours it takes for a specific vegetable to dry since if you leave for too long, there is a chance for it to be scorched.
How to dehydrate meat
- When dehydrating pork or beef meat, make sure to pick the leanest part and ground it. Mix it with breadcrumbs or oats and other spices.
- Once it is mixed properly, you can precook it in a medium-high heat.
Chop the pre-cooked meat into bite-size pieces and remove excess oil by blotting it with a paper towel.
- The best temperature for dehydrating meat is 160F. Check for excess oil that may come to the surface during the dehydrating process. Again, you just have to blot it with a paper towel.
How to dehydrate chicken
- When dehydrating chicken, you choose between pressure cooking the chicken first or buying a precooked canned chicken.
- You can cut the chicken to small pieces, or you can shred it.
- The best temperature for dehydrating chicken is 165F. The usual drying process for chicken takes six to twelve hours.
Benefits of Dehydrating Food
- If you have bought a bulk of food that is on sale, you will not worry about it spoiling and going to waste.
- You can save a lot of money and also be healthy. Preserved fruits can be your alternative from the usual junk food that you buy at the stores.
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibers and antioxidants. All the vitamins in the fruit and vegetable are kept intact even if you dried the food already.
- If you are not into genetically-modified food and additives, dehydrating food is your best choice. You can be certain the foods you prepared yourself are all-natural.
- You can enjoy food in its best flavor without additives and sugar. Dehydrated food is full of flavor since all the taste is intact, and it is not watered down.