prepper's guide to dehydrating

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Dehydrating is fun! With a dehydrator it's so easy to create
backpacking food or food for bugging out for pennies on the
dollar. It's ideal because the dehydrated food is lightweight,
nutritious and practical for stuffing into a backpack if you also use
a vacuum sealer. The best part is the savings it brings to your
food budget.Dehydrated foods will last indefinitely if you can
keep the two major food destroyers: moisture and oxygen. Other
factors include heat and light. How long does dehydrated food
last? Around two years. Dehydrating is both a hobby and a
valuable prepper skill.

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How to Dehydrate  Foods
Prepper's guide on how to dehydrate foods

Dehydrating tips and tricks for preppers:
Lock in the goodness of produce year round with a dehydrator!
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables maintain their high nutritive
value ~ they hold more nutritional value than their canned or
frozen counterparts.

Best of all, you control your food! As a prepper you may grow-
your-own, buy from a local farmer's market, or hand select the
best organic produce from the supermarket. Because seasonality
affects the abundance, quality and pricing of your food, it just
makes sense to preserve food quality at it's peak. When food
isn't plentiful or not available at all, you'll have an abundance.

Dehydrating food is easy and creates tasty, and healthy food year-
round. Get started dehydrating with  the tips and tricks on how to
dehydrate foods, below....

Prepper's Guide to Dehydrating

Tip #1: Get your free guide.
Get the totally free 23-page prepper's guide to food drying basics
from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of
Agriculture. This totally free resource for you on drying fruits,
vegetables, herbs and meats, explains the best equipment and
drying methods as well as storing and using dried foods.

Print this free dehydrator's guide while it's still available:

Like the pioneers you can learn to dry corn, apple slices, currants,
grapes and meat using the oldest and most natural method of
preserving food. It's all the food drying basics you need to know
as a prepper and a survivalist.

Tip #2: Experiment with ways to dehydrate foods.
Know here's more than one way to dehydrate! The benefit of
dehydrating at home with a dehydrator is that the device controls
ventilation, and the results are amazing. You could buy a fancy
food dehydrator, like the top of the line Excalibur, but there are
many other ways to dehydrate!

The full spectrum of drying methods include:
  1. air drying (pictured right is an air drying dehydrator with a
    bug shield).
  2. sun drying (drying in direct sunlight)
  3. oven drying
  4. food dehydrators (Excalibur and Snackmaster, pictured left
    are two such brands)
  5. smokehouse drying
  6. and even microwave drying (though we don't recommend this
    technique)
  7. freeze drying (mostly done commercially, there are freeze
    dryers for home use)

Tip #3: Know which foods you should not dehydrate.
Wondering what foods you should not dehydrate? There are many
foods you should avoid dehydrating!

Here is the safety list of foods you should not dehydrate:
  1. Avocados - you won't get good results of this high-fat
    content fruit that's disguised like a vegetable. They decay
    and brown very quickly.
  2. Bananas. While you can dehydrate bananas if you follow a
    few guidelines, they are difficult and may look unappealing,
    turn green or be on the chewy side. Tricks of dehydrating
    bananas include using a stainless steel knife and spraying
    with lemon. Good luck if you try the techniques! Banana
    chips are on the cheap at Trader Joes, so why bother?
  3. Butter - Butter is not safe to dehydrate at home, and why
    bother when you can buy commercially powdered butter? In
    other words, there are many alternatives! Butter is also not
    safe to home-can either. The main reason that butter is not
    safe to dehydrate is botulism.
  4. Cheese - Avoid dehydrating cheese and all dairy products.
  5. Eggs - While many preppers ignore the rule, really you can
    not dehydrate eggs safely at home.
  6. Milk - avoid all dairy in dehydrating, as it's high in fat and
    unsafe to dehydrate or can.
  7. Nuts and nut butters. Raw nuts are those which have not
    been roasted. Newsflash: cashews are not raw as they've
    already been processed. Nuts are oily and not the ideal item
    to dehydrate.
  8. Olives.

Tip #4: Consider these unusual items to dehydrate!
On the flip side, there are some foods you may not previously
have consider to dehydrate. Here are some unconventional ideas
to try:

  1. cabbage - A sturdy vegetable, cabbage is great to dehydrate
    and add to soups and stews, and yet many preppers
    overlook dehydrating cabbage.
  2. Lettuce. While lettuce is an unusual item to dehydrate,
    we've encountered one prepper who dehydrates lettuce with
    much success and uses it much like the aforementioned
    cabbage.

Tip #5: Fruit leathers are for immediate consumption.
Kids love fruit leathers and they are fun to make, but they are
not for long term food storage. If you'd like fruit leathers as part
of your food storage, then buy some commercially available
brands. Skip the high-corn syrup rollups! A good brand to
consider, and which is available at Costco or Amazon is Pure
Organic Fruit Strips, pictured left.

Tip #6: Recognize that some foods are better
blanched or boiled.
Some foods require that you blanch them; while others it is
option. For example, blanching onions isn't necessary, but it will
reduce the transfer of smell and taste to other foods you are
dehydrating.

  • To blanch: just place the chopped or sliced food in boiling
    water for a couple of minutes, then dip them into ice water.
    Dipping them into the ice abruptly halts the heating process
    so you can dehydrate.

Foods to blanch before dehydrating include:
  1. Blueberries
  2. Cherries
  3. Cranberries
  4. Onions - optional: if you're dehydrating them with any other
    food.
  5. Peaches - helps to allow for easy removal of unwanted skins
  6. Pears
  7. Plums
  8. Grapes -
  9. Tomato - helps to allow for easy removal of unwanted skins
  10. yellow summer squash
  11. Zucchini

Foods to boil before dehydrating include:
  1. beans
  2. beets
  3. butternut squash
  4. corn
  5. potatoes (Never can potatoes or you risk botulism)
  6. rhubarb
  7. rutabaga

Tip 7: Try some easy dehydrating projects.
If you're new to dehydrating, consider these easy-to-dehydrate
foods:
  1. bell peppers
  2. citrus - lemons, limes and oranges, if you have an
    abundance in your garden, r if you find an extraordinary sale,
    are very useful to dehydrate. Moroccan cuisine in particular
    makes use of dehydrated lemons in cooking. Besides, Citrus
    fruit slices look beautiful when dehydrated. Add dehydrated
    citrus slices to flavor waters. Use them also to make
    potpourri and handcrafted gifts. Infuse rice with citrus flavors
    by adding dehydrated citrus slices to the water during
    steaming. Grind peels with a coffee grinder or mortar and
    pestle and sprinkle over baked goods.
  3. peas

Tip #8: How to get the best results from dehydrating
You can get the best results from your dehydrating project.
Dehydrating is a rewarding experience. To get best results for
your efforts, give these basic ideas a try:

  • Pick the best produce:
  • Start immediately with the fresh produce in your garden.
  • Choose organic, non-GMO foods from the grocery stores.
  • Look for foods that are free of blemishes.

  • Battle the browning! Fruit will brown quickly after its cut, so
    to keep browning to a minimum, you can offset the oxidation
    by adding ascorbic acid.

  • A word on mushrooms: Dry them before you start, and
    realize that you may end up with mushroom powder.  Use
    the powder to flavor gravy, soups and sauces.

  • A word on dehydrating meats... Because the temperature
    of dehydrators isn't high enough to kill harmful
    microorganisms that may be present on meat, you'll need to
    cook your meat before dehydrating to keep your food safe.

  • Get a good pair of kitchen scissors. Sometimes it's easier
    to cut with a pair of kitchen scissors than it is to slice food
    for deyhdrating with a knife or mandolin.

  • Get creative.

Tip #9: Set up a hygienic dehydrating operation.
Keep surfaces clean as you dehydrate and follow these safe
practices:

  • Wear latex gloves so the natural oils of your hands don't
    influence the moisture of the foods in which you're aiming to
    dehydrate.

Tip #10: Consider sun drying.
Herbs are ideal to dry by sun. Try sun drying:
  1. basil
  2. dill
  3. mint
  4. parsley
  5. rosemary

Tip #11: Consider hydrating a second time.
A successful step in food storage for your dehydrated items is to
carefully inspect the food you've dehydrated. Check in the next
day or two for dryness. You may need to put food through
another round in the dehydrator ensuring it is 95% dry!

When you feel assured of dryness, then you can
add oxygen
absorbers into the canning jars with your food or vacuum seal it
with oxygen absorbers.

Tip #12: Finally, consider not dehydrating!
Sometimes you're better off not wasting money on a dehydrating
project -- or a manufacturer can get the item much cheaper. Be
honest with yourself and your skills. There's no shame! For such
occasions, purchase commercialy produced veggies. Consider
Harmony House dehydrated foods. Harmony House makes a nice
lineup of freeze dried fruits and vegetables, pictured at the
bottom of the page.

Questions preppers may have on
dehydrating...

Can I dehydrate a six-month supply for my family?
Truth be told: this is a very optimistic task! Home dehydrating
takes a lot of time. While dehydrating is time consuming, it is
also very rewarding, too.

Here are some of the many benefits of drying and dehydrating
your own food:

  • Saves money. Among the biggest reasons preppers like to
    dehydrate their foods is because it helps them save money.
    When there's a seasonal sale, you can stock up. For
    example, refrigerated or frozen hash browns are an excellent
    product to dehydrate.

  • Intensifies flavors. Foods that have been dehydrated offer a
    concentrated dose of flavor, which is the magic of removing
    the liquids without removing the nutrition. Flavorful
    additions can include dehydrating herbs,

  • Provides convenient and healthy snacks: Kids love
    dehydrated fruits and jerky. It's fun to eat dehydrated foods.

How does dehydrating work to preserve food?
The process of dehydrating removes water from the food and with
the drying heat you in turn minimize the enzyme and bacteria
production to preserve food. Drying foods effectively thwarts or
slows any unhealthy organisms growth, making it a very effective
way to preserve foods.

Preserving food requires you manage oxygen, water and moisture,
light and heat, rodents and insects. Dehydrating food takes care
of the water and moisture. Next, you'll have to dry can or pack
your foods into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers to minimize the
oxygen and light and heat. If you choose mylar bags, then you'll
need place your mylar bags into food grade buckets to keep
insects and rodents from destroying your food reserves.

What foods should I dehydrate?
Grains, fruits, and meats are all ideal candidates for drying or
dehydrating. By far, the most popular fruits dehydrate are apples
and tomatoes, but there is really no limit to the food you can
dehydrate. Beef and venison are popular meats to dehydrate.

What's the difference between Dehydrating and Freeze Dried?

  • Freeze dried. Freeze drying is the process of freezing water
    out of a food product then rapidly turning it into a gas,
    omitting the liquid stage. This is a flash-frozen process
    where a low level-heat is applied inside a vacuum chamber.
    The result of freeze drying is it extends the life of food to
    upwards of 25 years when sealed in #10 cans and super
    pails. What's more, freeze dried products have a quick re-
    hydration times normally only about five minutes. The best
    thing about freeze dried foods is that there's no rotation
    needed!

  • Dehydrated. Dehydrated food is where water has been
    removed. Often water is cooked slowly out of the food
    without actually cooking it. Dehydrated foods include pasta,
    baking mixes, cereals (like quick cooked oats), and whole
    powdered eggs and powdered milk. Veggies and fruit are
    popular dehydrated goods as well. Dehydrated foods
    sometimes have a shorter shelf life than freeze dried
    variety: generally they last 5-15 years. You can buy
    dehydrated foods or do it yourself. Potatoes by the bucket,
    pictured right, is both a comforting and affordable option to
    rice and beans. Preppers often overlook potatoes for their
    preps when they shouldn't!

Books on Dehydrating
Here are some wonderful resources on dehydrating...

  • The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home. Pictured
    right, Drying Foods at Home is a comprehensive guide on
    natural dehydrating methods that preppers and
    homesteaders will enjoy. The author, Terri Paajanen,
    provides many tips and methods for drying and storing
    foods. Drying methods include: sun drying, air drying, oven
    drying, food dehydrators, and microwave drying and explains
    the drawbacks and benefits of each method.

  • The Dehydrator Bible: Pictured immediate right, The
    Dehydrator Bible includes more than 400 recipes for
    dehydrating. The Dehydrator Bible Truly this book is the
    "bible" for dehydrating foods!

Natural dehydration methods...


  • Ten Ways to Use a Food Dehydrator. If you have a
    dehdyrator and want to get more from it, then this other free
    guide is a must. Get ideas for making tempeh, granola,
    pemmican, natto and more. Enjoy more from healthy and
    inexpensive foods to make in your dehydrator.
Excaliber Dehydrator
Prepper's guide on how to dehydrate foods
How to Use Wild Lettuce prepping