Food has natural moisture inside of it. Everything from berries and fruits to meat and fish have moisture that will shorten the item’s shelf life. Moisture is great, but it will also cause food to spoil faster. If you’ve recently purchased a bushel of apples, for example, you can cut some of the apples up and dehydrate them so that they last longer.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
From the name of it, you’ve already figured out that this is a device that dehydrates certain foods. This is done through an appliance where the food is placed, and the process begins. Depending on the amount of moisture in the food, it can take hours for dehydration to occur.
You may even notice that your food has:
- Become irregularly shaped due to lack of moisture.
- Lost weight and has become lighter.
- Changed color and looks a lot different than when it was hydrated.
For centuries, this was a process that occurred outdoors. People would gather the food they want to dehydrate and place the item, sliced or whole, in the sun. As you can imagine, food would be eaten by insects and animals on many occasions.
How Food Dehydrators Work
Dehydration occurs inside of the appliance. But there are two different methods that are often utilized.
A method inspired by the traditional dehydration techniques. These devices have racks and small openings which allow for better overall protection of the food. The biggest issue with the solar method is that there is no consistency during the dehydration process.
Some parts of the food may have more water than another.
The main culprit is the direction of the sun. Since there is no way to ensure that the sun remains in the same spot evenly heating the food to dehydrate it, you’ll have foods that are partially dehydrated often.
Modern methods use electricity to power an appliance that resembles a small crockpot. Dehydrators will include several trays where food can be stored and dried at the same time. The separation ensures that none of the flavors mix during the process.
Removable and stackable trays as well as shelving may be present.
Circular drying racks may even rotate to allow for proper dehydration at all times. Using a temperature setting, you’ll find most models allow you to dehydrate at a temperature range of 95 – 145 degrees.
The process can still take hours, but the heating element allows for an even dehydration that is very hard to achieve in the sun.
Why Dehydrate Food?
What is the purpose of dehydration? Ultimately, you’ll be stifling the growth of bacteria in your food. When this is done, the food will stay preserved for much longer. You’ll be able to use this for a variety of different foods, including:
- Fruits: Apples, cherries, bananas and a variety of other fruits can be dried and stored for months.
- Vegetables: Kale, tomatoes, peppers, chilies and herbs are just a few of the veggies that can be dried and eaten.
- Meats: Make your own jerky right at home by dehydrating your meats.
If you’re a cook or find yourself throwing out a lot of food each month, a food dehydrator will reduce the waste and save you money.