How to Preserve Food Using Sun Drying and Natural Methods

Pat Kenoyer provides a guide to home organic dehydrating, drying and preservation methods.


| July/August 1975



Drying herbs

Then, a few years ago, we stumbled across a food preservation method that's easy, economical, healthful, and just about perfect for us. I'm talking about drying. Almost any edible — vegetable, fruit, herb, fish, or meat — can be processed in this way, without additives.

PHOTO: FOTOLIA/MARILYN BARBONE

Sun drying — one of the oldest food preservation methods known to man — is still highly efficient in areas of strong sunlight and low humidity . . . such as the arid section of Washington State where Pat Kenoyer practices the art. Residents of less favored climates, however, can get in on the action too . . . if they'll take the time to fabricate a simple homemade indoor dryer like the one Peter Murphy describes in the pages that follow. Either way — whether you try sun drying or dehydrating your edibles with artificial heat — this age-old method of storing food deserves your consideration. Drying, which doesn't require the support of heavy industry as do canning and freezing, is too valuable a skill to be forgotten.  

To those of us who prefer organically grown fruits and vegetables — and also like to save money — home preservation of food is a major concern . . . and everyone has his or her favorite method.

At first, our family couldn't seem to find a technique that suited us. Freezing seemed to have all sorts of drawbacks . . . especially since we move often and simply didn't want to cart around a big, heavy cold storage unit. We could have used a frozen food locker, of course, but we found the necessary frequent trips to such a plant inconvenient.

To our minds, canning wasn't much better than freezing. The jars are expensive, subject to breakage, and bulky to move . . . and anyhow, we soon tired of washing them. Besides, I didn't like the thought of additional sweetening on our fruit or the threat of botulism from our fish and vegetables.

Then, a few years ago, we stumbled across a food preservation method that's easy, economical, healthful, and just about perfect for us. I'm talking about drying. Almost any edible — vegetable, fruit, herb, fish, or meat — can be processed in this way, without additives . . . and the finished products won't support destructive bacteria (or even mold) as long as they're kept free of moisture. Besides that, dried foodstuffs require little storage space and only inexpensive containers.

Drying is such a simple method of preserving edibles that you really have to remember only two ironclad roles:





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