There are various methods which are effective in dehydrating meat, fruits and vegetables. The most commonly used method for beginners is the use of an oven though electric dehydrators are inexpensive and use less energy therefore an oven is preferred because it protects the food from dust, insects and is not dependent on weather conditions. Other methods include the solar, microwave and the use of an electric dehydrator.
- Set the temperature between 120 and 140 Fahrenheit since most ovens cannot maintain a temperature of 200 Fahrenheit or above.
- Measure your cooling racks to ensure they fit in the oven. They should be 1 12 inch narrower than the width of the oven to ensure proper air circulation. Also allow at least 3 inches of space at the top of the oven and 2 12 inch between each rack.
- Select the freshest produce possible to dehydrate. Wash all produce before dehydrating. For fruits, slice them evenly to ensure they dehydrate evenly and at the same rate. Vegetables take at least eight hours to dehydrate, fruits take four to five hours while jerky take four hours.
- Preheat the oven to around 150 Fahrenheit. This helps to maintain a temperature of 140 Fahrenheit when the oven is propped open. Temperatures above 140 Fahrenheit may cause the food to scorch and have unappetizing flavor.
- Cover the racks with nylon netting so that you can remove the dehydrated food with ease. Cookie sheets are more useful in drying fruit leather since it does not require air circulation.
- Place the food on the racks in a single layer.
- Prop the oven door open, around 4 inches or more to allow proper air circulation. Air circulation can be aided by use of a fan placed near the oven door. Switch sides at least after every 30 minutes.
- Watch the temperature keenly and maintain it at 140 Fahrenheit for better results.
- Rearrange the trays approximately every 30 – 45 minutes to ensure that dehydration is even.
- Inspect the food carefully particularly near the end and reduce the oven temperature to 120 Fahrenheit to avoid scorching.
Guide to best food dehydrator recipes
- Food dehydrator Recipes (Vegetables – Beans)
The raw beans are prepared first by soaking them for 12-24 hours then cooking them until tender. The beans are then spread out on dehydrating trays which are placed inside the oven and are dehydrated until dry.
The beans can be salted or seasoned before dehydrating.
Tips and Tricks for food dehydrators recipes (vegetables):
Season the vegetables lightly because dehydrating intensifies on the flavors Rehydrating is easier because warm water can be utilized for the process as opposed to when the beans were raw.
After drying, let them cool completely to minimize any chances of moisture and condensation Vacuum seal them in portion sized bags for easy grab or easy to pack rotate dehydrator trays for even drying
- Food dehydrator Recipes (Meat – Ground beef)
Choose an extra lean ground beef or turkey
Cook the plain beef until tender Rinse off all the fat with warm water by placing the cooked beef in a colander lined with cheesecloth and this will take several rinses before all fat is washed away. Place the cooked beef on dehydrator trays and dehydrate until complete dry. Consequently, this may take up to 8 hours.
The beef will resemble small pebbles which you can be placed in sterilized and dried canning jars.
Tips and Tricks for food dehydrator recipes (Meat):
Place oxygen absorbers on the jar lids to prevent moisture Cook with no seasoning or with no added fat Store in chest freezer for longest shelf life possible
- Food dehydrator Recipes (Fruits – Apples)
-Wash the apples then peel them.
-Prepare a fruit fresh soaking solution by mixing one tablespoon to one quart of water. -Chop the apples into definite sizes and drop them in the soaking solution. -After soaking them for a while, let’s say less than an hour, take them out and put them on the dehydrator trays.
-Dehydrate them at 140 Fahrenheit for about 8 hours. -The dried apples can then be stored in mason jars.
Tips and Tricks for food dehydrator recipes (fruits):
-Sprinkle cinnamon on the apples before drying
-Use oxygen absorbers in the masons jar for longer duration of storage
-Use of a peeler tool leaves you with definite shape and sizes
-You can use an egg slicer for the case of bananas
-The leftovers apple cores are used to make apple scrap vinegar, jelly and homemade pectin
Benefits of dehydrating food
-Extended shelf life
-Save on money
-Simple and reliable