6 Simple Steps to Dehydrate Food Safely

Reader Contribution by Susan Gast
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In the previous post concerning dehydrator accessories, I promised to introduce to Mother Earth News readers my Six Simple Steps to help you create perfect dehydrated food. So let’s get going …

Simple Step 1 — Buy It!

By far the easiest step: Buy the food! Or even better — grow it! Take note of those fantastic road-side stands that dot the countryside lanes and pick up the best produce on the planet. Or nip out back and get digging — or if you’re feeling lazy: grab the low-hanging fruit!

Take note of grocery store BOGOs (buy one-get one) as 50% off is nothing to sneeze at. Consider purchasing frozen fruit or vegetables too as they can be dehydrated with minimal prep (often no prep!) as many times the blanching has already been done for you by the manufacturer.

Consider trading some of your garden’s bounty with a neighbor. This way you’ll have more of a variety to dehydrate and it won’t cost you a penny!

Simple Step 2 — Prepare It!

Different foods need different steps, but briefly I’ll mention these prep steps: washing, blanching, steaming, and spraying with lemon juice. I will in the following posts go over these steps in detail, but for now, let’s move on to step 3.

Simple Step 3 — Dehydrate It!

Now we’re gonna have some fun here! Go grab your goodies and your dehydrator and we’ll have some healthy snacks instead of sugar-laden sweets sold in stores before you know it … Some foods take longer to dehydrate than others — depending on their water content — and where you live (altitude).

Simple Step 4 — Condition It!

This is the mystery step that many people don’t do! In a future post I’ll tackle conditioning and I’ll tell you why it’s most important for mushrooms!

Simple Step 5 — Vacuum and Seal It!

Grab your kids — they’ll love this step! Make sure you have “good bags” and yes, I’ll go over which vacuum-sealer bags I use and what to look out for (thickness-wise) and how to keep the bags from puncturing while in storage.

Simple Step 6 — Store It!

From food vacuum-sealer bags and Mason jars to plastic-lidded bins and buckets, I’ll introduce you to suitable storage for survival food. I pretty much told you all about Step 1 at the top of the post, so in the next post I’ll go over Step 2’s preparation for the best dehydrated fruits and veggies you can sock away!

For a more in-depth look at Step 2: Preparation, click here. And find more here for Step 3: Dehydratinghere for Step 4: Conditioning and here for Step 5: Vacuum Sealing. To read all of Susan’s posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies toofor long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry full whatever the reason or season!

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