What is Food Dehydrating?
Food dehydrating is an age-old method of preserving fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and herbs for use at a later date. Essentially, it is the removal of the water in the food by passing warm air through it for an extended period of time. By removing the water from the food, moulds and yeasts are not able to grow on the food and spoil it.
Apart from preserving food for later use, dehydrating using a food dehydrator can also preserve the nutritional value of the produce due to the low temperature they can operate at. Cooking food at temperatures above 118oF (48oC) destroys the enzymes and essential nutrients contained in the food.
Although food dehydrating can be done in a fan-assisted convection oven, a solar dehydrator or even outside in the sun – an electric food dehydrator allows for a more controlled method of food drying that can be used indoors whatever the weather. It will also produce far superior results with less input needed by the user.
A food dehydrator is essentially an oven but has been designed specifically for use at lower temperatures and to assist with the circulation of the air and removal of the moisture. It is a simple invention and consists of a fan, heating element and trays for putting the food on. The air inside the dehydrator is heated to a preset temperature and the fan circulates the warmed air around the food.
Some of the better food dehydrators are equipped with variable temperature control so that food can be dehydrated at different temperatures. Unfortunately, the cheaper dehydrators that are appearing more and more these days (under £50) have a fixed temperature at around 180oF (80oC). Compare this to the best food dehydrator – the Excalibur, which has a maximum temperature of 155oF (68oC) and the lower temperature of 85oF (29oC).
Unfortunately, many people are using the none-variable cheaper dehydrators thinking that they’re preserving the nutritional value of the food, whereas in reality, they may as well just save their money and use an oven. Although, not everyone who uses a food dehydrator is going to be concerned about the nutritional value of the food – they are under the misconception that they are dehydrating food when really they’re cooking it. Subjecting the foods to high temperatures results in food which appears hard on the outside but still moist in the middle – this will still allow moulds to form and spoil the food. Just make sure you select the right machine for your particular needs.
A food dehydrator is an essential piece of equipment for the modern-day raw food enthusiast who follows the theory of any food heated above 118oF (48oC) is cooked and therefore the nutritional value drastically reduced. If this is the reason you are looking for a food dehydrator then ensure the machine you select has a variable temperature control. These machines on our website are the Stockli dehydrators and the Excalibur dehydrators.
* Preserves food to be consumed at a later date
* Preserves the nutritional value
* Reduces the weight of the food
* Concentrates flavour
How long does all this take?
The rate at which food dehydrates is governed by several factors:
Temperature – the higher the temperature the quicker the food dehydrates. Beware, too high a temperature and the food will cook.
Humidity – the less humidity in the air, the faster the dehydration process.
Air circulation – by constantly circulating the air, a food dehydrator allows for quicker dehydrating by removing the moist air and replacing it with dry air.
Water content – the more water contained in the food will result in a longer drying time.
Size of food – the larger the piece of food being dehydrated, the longer it will take to dry. Slicing food allows for quicker drying.
Any other uses for a food dehydrator?
Well, here at Juiceland – we’ve dealt with many requests over the years. From the sheepish husband who called us to buy another dehydrator after his wife caught him using her machine to dry maggots for fishing bait – to the audiophile who turned up at our warehouse with his probes and gadgets to measure our machines for magnetic fields, this is so he could use them to bake old audiotape to transfer to a more modern format. For you tape baking people out there – he successfully tested the Stockli and Excalibur dehydrators and recommends them for use in tape baking.
Other uses include, drying flowers, crafts etc. For a list of uses, please see here
Where to buy?
All our food dehydrators, accessories and books on dehydrating can be viewed in our online store www.JuiceLand.co.uk
Select ripe or slightly over-ripe fruit combinations that taste good together (strawberry and banana). Wash, clean and peel if desired. Puree in a blender until smooth.
Pour on to a ParaFlexx sheet making sure the edges are thicker than the centre as the edges will dry quicker. Place in the dehydrator at 135ºF and dry for 4-6 hours. When dried the fruit leather will be shiny and non-sticky to the touch. Allow to cool and peel from tray. Roll into a tight cylinder shape and wrap with cling film.
Smoked Beef Jerky
* 4 pounds lean beef, cut into 1/4″ strips
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1/2 tsp hickory smoke flavouring
* 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 cup catsup
* 1 tsp cracked pepper
Blend all ingredients and soak meat strips in mixture. Keep refrigerated for 6 to 12 hours, stirring and turning meat occasionally in marinade. Once meat is marinated to desired strength, drain off excess and dry according to directions for jerky.
Almond Flax Crackers by Rose Lee Calabro
* 3 cups almonds, soaked 12 to 48 hours
* 4 cups carrot pulp
* 6 cups flax seeds, soaked 4 to 6 hour
* 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
* 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
* 1 red onion, finely chopped
* 2 tbsp Celtic sea salt or to taste
* ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne or 1 tablespoon curry powder are 2 teaspoons cumin
* Store crackers in glass jars.
* Process the almonds and carrots through a juicer with the blank plate or food processor fitted with the “s” blade. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well
* Spread the dough out about ¼” thick onto a Paraflexx sheet
* Score the dough with a knife into small squares
* Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 6 hours
* Turn over the crackers, remove the Paraflexx sheets and continue dehydrating for 6 to 8 hours or until desired consistency is obtained.
Buckwheat Veggie Pizza Crust by Chef Jeff Riedesel
* 1½ cup sprouted buckwheat Groats or sprouted Barley
* 1/4 cup Olive Oil Garlic, Italian spices and herbs to taste
* 2/3 cup Carrot Pulp
* 2/3 cup Soaked Flax seeds
* 1 tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
* ½ cup Sundried tomatoes (optional)
* ½ – 1 Jalapeño, Minced
* Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until well mixed
* Scoop out mixture into batches onto a solid Paraflexx dehydrator sheet.
* If dough is sticky, moisten your hands and the dough’s surface
* With moistened hands, shape the dough into a rough square or circle and pat top of crust flat
* Smooth the top and edges to form desired size
* Check for evenness of ¼” – ½” thick
* Dehydrate at 100 degrees for 7 -8 hours
* Flip & transfer the mesh dehydrating rack for faster double sided dehydrating and dehydrate another 2 -4 hours depending on the softness or crispiness you desire
Can be used immediately as a pizza by topping with your favourite toppings. Stores well in a dry place for a month