Dehydrate fruit and vegetables at home with a food dehydrator: tips for keeping food year-round

One of the oldest techniques used in food preservation is drying or dehydration. We have already commented that to extend the shelf life of food it is necessary to protect them from the outside to avoid or slow down the action of microorganisms. And that is precisely what we get with a Food dehydrator.

These machines are another step in a traditional process that consisted of drying the products in the sun or in special dryers. The rudimentary procedure is still practiced today, for meats, fruits, and fish, but domestically It is much more practical and safe Invest in a dehydrator.

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What is dehydration?

The word itself makes it quite clear: dehydrating a food consists of extract as much water as possible of the same, through different procedures. Water, humidity, is an ideal means for microorganisms to develop, which are most responsible for the deterioration of food. When drying a product, we manage to extend its useful life, and therefore, its conservation.

The typical dried or dried fruits that we find in any supermarket are dehydrated fruits: raisins, plums, apricot dried apricots, dates ... but do not confuse dehydration with lyophilization, more complex and much faster, also more efficient.

The lyophilized products have been subjected to a freezing produced in a vacuum, resulting in a food almost completely dry, with another texture and maintaining even more the original flavor and nutrients, but much more concentrated. It is a technique that requires specific machinery, also used by avant-garde cuisine. We can see lyophilized fruit in, for example, mixtures of cereals and muesli, or pastry ingredients.

Properties and benefits of dehydrated foods

In terms of health, dried products are an excellent food with many Advantages of eating healthier at home, always within a balanced diet and according to the specific needs of each person, and without giving them miraculous properties.

When removing water from a fruit or vegetable too we concentrate all your nutrients and also the calories, since they accumulate a greater percentage of their natural sugars. Not surprisingly, the date has become the most natural "natural" sweetener lately among those who practice more pastry healthy.

This means that they are much more caloric than their fresh equivalent, especially in the case of dried fruits, so you have to consume them in moderation, but without fear. Are energetic and satiatingBy helping to keep that satiety for longer, they can help avoid sweet cravings, and they are also a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

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And not only can we consume dehydrated fruits; the dried vegetables they are less caloric, becoming a good snack to calm hunger between hours or to peck in a much healthier way, without resorting to false friends like fried vegetable chips, which are not highly recommended.

Thanks to their dry format they are Easy to store and take anywhere without spotting, they are easily eaten and we do not need to carry a large volume to take them when we need to recharge the energies. They are an ideal food for excursions and picnics, but also for long trips or, simply, to take at work or at the cinema.

In the dehydrator we can also dry fresh herbs to crush or grind them and make our own homemade dry spices, or take advantage of the mild heat to dry glazed sweets, even to return the crunchy texture to softened cookies. Dehydrated foods are fantastic to give a lot of flavor to sauces, creams or dressings, also to prepare pestos and pates, like this one of dried tomatoes.

How to keep dehydrated food

The shelf life of a dehydrated food will depend on the product itself, the level of drying and the environment in which we live. How much less humidity conserve, more time will endure in perfect condition, even more in colder and drier climates. If it is still hot it is best to have them in the fridge.

They will endure many days in a clean, tightly sealed container, avoiding those of metal, in a dark, dry and cool place. A good idea is to check them every day for too much moisture; then can become dehydrated again a few more hours.

If we want us last much longer, even several months, we can keep them in olive oil, store them in the fridge, freeze them or vacuum pack them, both in bags and in airtight container for short and medium term preservation.

Sweeter fruits, in general, can be damaged earlier because it is difficult to completely remove all moisture, and they attract microorganisms first. Vegetables like tomatoes, also aromatic herbs, are perfect to cover with good extra virgin olive oil. Not only will they be preserved beautifully, too they will give us a delicious flavored oil, transferring its flavor to the vegetable itself.

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Domestic dehydrators: which one to buy?

Driven by the rise of trends in healthy food and DIY fashions (do it yourself or "do it yourself"), in recent years more domestic dehydrators have appeared on the market. As with this type of appliances, there is a wide range of prices, although the basic functionalities are essentially the same.

These machines operate with a generator that emits heat at low temperature, which is distributed along the grid-shaped trays superimposed on levels. We find two fundamental typologies: vertical drying and horizontal drying. The vertical is the most common, most basic and most economical; There are round machines and others of square or rectangular design.

Vertical dehydrator

If we have a limited budget, it will be enough with a fully automatic vertical basic model, which gives more than acceptable results with the usual fruits and vegetables. You just have to control a little by eye, following the manufacturer's instructions, until you find the exact point of drying of the food, changing the trays to achieve homogeneous results.

Lacor - 69123 - Food Dehydrator 245w 13.5 Liters

Today on Amazon for € 48.49

Although almost all dehydrators really offer at least adjustable thermostat temperature, as the domestic Lacor, circular, with five stackable trays plus the lid, and a total volume of 13.5 liters. It has a temperature range from 35º C to 70º C, more than enough to dry out the most common foods at home.

Klarstein Valle di Frutta • Dehydrator • Desiccator • Fruit Dryer • 5 Floors • 250 W • Adjustable Temperature • Timer • LCD Screen • 2 Button Panel • Thin Tray • Silver

Today on Amazon for € 37.99

If we prefer a rectangular base model, another good and very economical option is the Klarstein Valle di Frutta, also with five trays and adjustable temperature, but also add a timer and a fine mesh tray. It also has a stainless steel exterior cladding and has an LCD screen to better control grades, from 40º C to 70ºC.

Horizontal dehydrator

The horizontal models resemble a drawer, with removable trays sliding down the front of the machine, which closes with a transparent door. The heat is distributed from the bottom, by means of a fan, which guarantees a more homogeneous and efficient cast of temperature In addition, they are more comfortable to use, because it does not force us to take out all the trays to check the status of the different levels.

VITA5 Nobel Fruit and Vegetable Dehydrator • 9 Stainless Steel Trays • Timer 19.5 Hours • Adjustable Temperature of 35-70ºC + Extra: 3X Fine Mesh and 1x Drip Tray

Today on Amazon for € 169.00

These machines aim higher also in the quality of the materials. Nobel's Vita5 model is a good example with its nine stainless steel trays. Also has three finest mesh grilles and three non-stick sheets, special to dehydrate more delicate or especially moist foods, such as small berries. The drip tray also makes it easy to work with these products.

BioChef Arizona Food Dehydrator 10 stainless steel trays - Timer, transparent door, mobile trays, BPA Free and Tritan (Black)

Today on Amazon for € 229.00

They are obviously more bulky and heavy, but take full advantage of the entire space. The Arizona BioChef model already weighs nine kilos, and in return offers ten stainless steel trays, which can be completely removed for also prepare yogurt and other fermented. This further multiplies the multifunctionality of the dehydrator, with which we can also make raw vegan recipes or dried meat.

We choose the model we choose, the important thing is to always read the instructions for use very well and start using it with the specific times and advice indicated by the manufacturer. Do not forget maintenance either; Although they are easy-care machines, it is essential maintain proper cleaning, washing and drying the grids thoroughly after each use.

Photos | iStock - Unsplash - Pixabay

Video: Dry It, You'll Like It: Packaging and Storing your Dehydrated Foods (December 2019).