How to safely dry and rehydrate food

July 29, 2015

Drying food allows you extend the shelf life of your consumables. It's a money-saving process for sure, but there's also the convenience factor. Here are a few tips for drying and rehydrating your food safely.

How to safely dry and rehydrate food

Dry it out

  • Dried food should be stored in glass or plastic containers or metal containers lined with brown paper.
  • Use clear containers if possible so the contents can be checked without opening, because every time the container is opened moisture in the air will be re-absorbed by the food.
  • Check regularly for condensation during the first weeks of storage — beads of moisture inside the container mean that drying is incomplete and the food must be further processed.
  • The containers must have secure, tight-fitting lids to keep out dirt, dust and insects. Label them and store in a dark, dry, cool place. Exposure to light means loss of colour, flavour and nutrients.
  • For best results the storage temperature should be below 15°C (59°F); produce will 'sweat' if stored above this, so refrigeration may be necessary during warm weather.

Tip: Dried fruits may be eaten without reconstitution for snacks or may be added to muesli, desserts, ice cream, milk drinks, yogurt, cakes, pies and salads.

Just add water

If you've dried fruits or vegetables, you may want to rehydrate them for a variety of uses. Here's what you need to know.

  • The produce that is to be rehydrated should be soaked in cold water until they have as nearly as possible regained their natural texture.
  • Adding some hot water will speed up the process. Pour boiling water over dried fruit at the ratio of 300 millilitres to 500 millilitres (1 1/4 to 2 cups) of water to 250 millilitres (one cup) of dried fruit and let the food soak until all water has been absorbed.
  • To stew dried fruit, cover with water and simmer for 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary; add sugar after cooking. Fruit pulp (also known as fruit leather or kamaradin) can be used in baking and cooking in the same way as other dried fruit is used. It can also be soaked in water and then blended as a fruit drink, or it can be reconstituted in a little hot water and used as jam.
  • Vegetables will generally rehydrate in about two hours, but dried beans and fruits require overnight soaking, preferably in the refrigerator. If all water is absorbed and the food still appears shrivelled, add more water, a little at a time. Any surplus soaking water can be used in cooking so as not to lose its water-soluble vitamins. Many dried vegetables can be added directly to soups, stews and casseroles.
  • While rehydrated fruits need not be cooked, but vegetables must be. Cover the vegetables with any of the water left over from soaking and add more water if necessary to prevent scorching. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Reconstituted produce may be eaten plain or in combination with other foods and flavourings.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu