Dried Foods As a Food Source
Dried foods are those that have been dried so that they may be preserved or stored without losing their edible qualities. The process of drying foods is called drying while preserving. Most commonly, drying is done by heating foods to an appropriate temperature, then sealing them into a container of air-dried. There are many different types of drying methods, but all are used for preserving food that’s been naturally preserved using oxygen free methods.
Dried foods are a great way to extend the shelf life of those that you buy from farmers’ markets or food stores. Dried fruit is one such example of dried foods. Dried fruit can be used as a great way to add lots of natural flavors to your homemade fruit juice, or as a great alternative to air-dried fruits. Dried fruit is even more beneficial because it has an extended shelf life and it is very easy to store in the fridge and serve right from the freezer.
The best way to go about drying foods at home is to make sure you follow the directions closely. Many people are intimidated by the whole process and don’t know where to start or what supplies to buy, but if you educate yourself with the basics, then you’ll be up and running in no time. In the state university studies on the topic, it was found that dried foods were the preferred method of preservation over eating the product immediately. So if you’re worried about canning then you need to learn how to dry fruits and vegetables.
The first thing you need to do is to build your own dehydrator. For a low heat dehydration you can use a microwave oven, or for higher heat applications you will need either a gas dehydrator or an electric one. Other things needed to build your own dehydrator include a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, a sturdy food cutting board (my preference), and either a timer or an alarm to remind you when the container is ready.
Dried foods should be stored in their original packages (the jar or container) or loosely in the freezer so air circulation can take place. You may decide to store dried food in the fridge to keep it from spoilage, but never put dried foods directly into the freezer unless you have carefully done so and ensured air circulation. Never stack dried foods in the freezer if you want them to retain their moisture, as this can cause them to expand, which causes cracking. If your jar of jerky has been in the freezer for a few weeks then store it upright and wrap each piece individually, or use the flat side of a heavy-duty freezer bag soft dried papaya.
Dried fruits are some of my favorite ways to retain valuable vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other nutrients that your skin, blood, and tissue may be deprived of if they are not preserved properly. There are many brands of dried fruit on the market today, so be selective in your choices and don’t assume that any package or bag of dried fruit is the same as the next. Some brands contain more antioxidants than others and may help your skin retain moisture better than others. Also, be aware of the amount of vitamins, nutrients, and other elements such as flavonoids, fiber, or tannins included in any particular brand. The number and combination of these various elements can vary quite a bit depending on the manufacturer, and even from one brand to the next. My preferences tend to lean toward dried fruit rather than vegetables since they last longer, but they can be enjoyed year round.