How to make tasty dehydrated & pasteurized foods

Dehydrated and pasteurized foods are not only delicious, they last much longer than fresh produce. Here's how to make some seriously tasty dried foods.

How to make tasty dehydrated & pasteurized foods

Dehydrator basics

  • A number of commercial dehydrators are available or a simple dehydrator can be made at home.
  • Dehydrators do the drying job more slowly than an oven but have the advantage of using less energy. Plus, they leave the oven free for routine cooking.
  • Preheat the dehydrator before putting in trays of prepared food.

Get pieces perfectly dry

  • Drying times vary according to the weather as well as the size and moisture content of the produce.
  • As a rule, drying is complete when the pieces are so brittle and crisp that they rattle on the tray. Or when the pieces appear leathery and tough.
  • A quick drying test is to press some of the pieces together. If they fall apart quickly, they're ready.
  • Double-check by cutting and squeezing a sample. If droplets of moisture appear, the fruit isn't dry enough.
  • More moisture can be left in fruit, as most fruits are high-acid foods that are not so likely to spoil. But fruit generally requires a longer drying time than vegetables.
  • Check the weight of both fruit and vegetables. If the food has lost half its weight, it's two-thirds dry.

Finish off with some pasteurization

  • After the food has been dried, it should be pasteurized in an oven to make sure no insect eggs or bacteria are present.
  • Final pasteurization will also help ensure thorough drying of the produce.
  • To pasteurize, preheat the oven to 80°C (176°F). Spread food 2.5 centimetres (one inch) deep on trays and put the trays in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Check everything's right

  • Even though a batch of fruit may be meticulously dried and pasteurized, some small pockets of residual moisture will always remain trapped.
  • To spread moisture evenly throughout the produce, place the cooled, dried food in open, wide-mouthed glass or ceramic containers.
  • Put containers in a dry place and stir the contents thoroughly twice a day. If the food seems moist at the end of five days, return it to the drier. If it seems dry, it's ready for long-term storage.

Drying and pasteurization are excellent ways to preserve fruits, vegetables and more. To make sure your drying is a success, measure carefully and pay close attention to your finished products.

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