Dehydrating, or drying fruits and vegetables, is a great method for preserving the garden’s bounty. After selecting the best produce and with a little preparation, you can have your favorite fruits and vegetables fully dehydrated in 8 to 10 hours.
Selecting the Best Fruits and Vegetables to Dehydrate
Fruits and vegetables that are dehydrated at their peak ripeness and those that are blemish-free last longer, look better, and produce overall better results.
Ripeness: Fruits and vegetables should be fully ripe, not over or under
Blemish-Free: No blemishes or bruises
Spoilage: No spoilage or brown spots
The Preparation Process
Prepare fruits and vegetables, especially fruits, as close to the time you’ll be putting them into the dehydrator as possible. This helps keep them from oxidizing.
Slice/Dice: Prepare fruits and vegetables by slicing and dicing them to a size you prefer. Remove the seeds, cores, husks, and any other inedible parts.
Uniformity: Slice and dice all fruits and vegetables as close to the same size and thickness as possible. This helps them to dry evenly and at the same pace.
Blanching: About.com suggests blanching the following fruits and vegetables for 3 - 5 minutes to help them keep their color and shorten the amount of time it takes them to dehydrate.
Spice: Go ahead and sprinkle on salt or other desired spices before beginning the dehydrating process. How much, if any, you add is up to you.
The Dehydration Process
Placement: Ensure fruits and vegetables aren’t overlapping after placing them in the dehydrator.
Inspection: As the dehydrating process comes to a close, keep a close eye on what’s in the dehydrator. Remove a slice, let it coo,l and touch it. Does it feel and look dry? Use the inspection process to gage whether or not your produce needs more drying time.
When the drying time comes to an end, cut into a few slices and check for moisture. If you see any moisture bubbles your produce isn’t completely dehydrated and needs more drying time.
Cool Down: Let your fully dehydrated fruits and vegetables cool for 30 to 60 minutes after pulling them from the dehydrator. Drying racks work great for this.
Storing Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables
Conditioning: Place dehydrated produce in jars making sure they are loosely packed and screw the lid on. Store them in a dry place for 7 - 10 days making sure to shake them once a day. Mason jars will work fine for this. If any jars form condensation, your produce needs to head back to the dehydrator for some additional drying time.
Final Storage: Place dried goods in air tight jars, freezer bags, or other storage containers. Store them in a dry, dark place with good air ventilation.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are good for up to a year, letting you and your family enjoy the garden’s bounty over the long winter months and then some. Remember to label and date your packaged goods and make notes about dehydrating times and other tips you learned along the way to make drying your produce even better the next time around.
Reference: Huffstetler, Erin. "How To Dry Fruits and Vegetables with a Dehydrator." About.com Frugal Living. About.com, n.d. Web.
13 Aug. 2012.