Dehydrating food is a great way to preserve food and build your long term storage. Certain foods will have properties that make them better for long term storage. Almost any food can be dehydrated if you desire. We have compiled a list of the best food to dehydrate for long term storage.
Determining what you want to use your dehydrated foods for can help you determine the best foods to include in your long term storage. Dehydrated foods make great and healthy snacks. Others make for easy and quick meal prep. Herbs and spices are wonderful to have on hand to continually use for cooking. Some of the most popular dehydrated foods are fruits and jerky.
Home dehydrated foods do not typically last as long as commercially dried foods. However, they are still a great way to add to your long term storage. Knowledge of best dehydrated foods for long term storage is an especially great skill for the home gardener or hunter. Freeze drying is also another option. If you are unsure about freeze drying or dehydrating, be sure to read this article.
If you are new to dehydrating, check out the best dehydrators under $100. It would also be a great idea to pick up a book on the subject, such as Beginner’s Guide To Dehydrating Food.
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Best Fruits to Dehydrate for Long Term Storage
Fruits are the perfect way of getting started with dehydrating. You can basically slice the fruit, put it in the dehydrator, cool, and enjoy all-year-round! Dried fruits make snacking simple and easy. Branch out even further and make your own vitamin C powder from citrus or tomato powder for cooking.
- Grapes (raisins)
How To Dehydrate Fruits for Long Term Storage
- Prepare cleaned fruit for dehydrating as if it was going to be eaten fresh. This means if you would normally peel it, then peel it before dehydrating (think kiwi and banana).
- Slice the fruit ¼ -1/2 inch thick. Try to keep the slices as even as possible or use a mandolin for even slices. This will help the fruit to dry at the same rate.
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- To help prevent the fruit from browning, you may consider a pre-treatment. However, it is an optional step. If you skip this step, it will only affect the appearance of the fruit. One way to prevent browning of fruit is to dip it in an ascorbic acid (vitamin C) solution. Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid with 2 cups of water. Dip the fruit in the solution for 3-5 minutes. Remove and dry fruit.
- Evenly space the fruit on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate to about 115 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 hours.
- Check the fruit periodically for doneness since the thickness of the fruit and fruit type can affect how long it will take to dry.
- The fruit is finished when you can squeeze it and no beads of water form. Fruit will often still be pliable straight from the dehydrator.
- Allow the fruit to cool, then place in an airtight, clear container. The moisture from the fruit will evenly distribute among the pieces during the next week or two.
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Best Vegetables to Dehydrate for Long Term Storage
Dehydrated vegetables are great for long term storage. Vegetables that have been dehydrated make great additions to soups, stews, and casseroles. It is also a great way to store garden produce or certain vegetables when they are in season.
How to Dehydrate Vegetables for Long Term Storage
- Vegetables such as peas and corn can be dehydrated in individual pieces. Prepare all other vegetables by slicing or chopping in uniform pieces. The thinner you can slice, the quicker they will dehydrate.
- Most vegetables will need a pre-treatment before dehydrating. This will help them to dry faster and last longer. Blanching is a quick and easy way to prepare vegetables. It is briefly precooking the vegetables for a few minutes in boiling water or steam. See the chart here for specific times.
- Dehydrate vegetables at about 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch vegetables for doneness. They will usually take around 6-8 hours.
- Vegetables are done when they are brittle or hard. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
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Best Meat to Dehydrate for Long Term Storage
Whether you are an avid hunter or not, having a good source of protein in your long term storage is a great idea. Almost any meat can be dehydrated for food storage or snacks. The best meats to dehydrate are the lean cuts. Excess oils and fats can cause the meat to go rancid over time. If you will be using your dried meat within a month or two. Properly sealed and packaged meat will be good for about 1-2 months. If you are wanting to store dehydrated meat longer, it is best to put it in the freezer. Vacuum sealing is the best packaging option to preserve the meat for long term storage. Dehydrated meats are great to use in soups, stews, casseroles, or for snack jerky.
- Beef (lean cuts)
- Crab (imitation crabs works too)
- Shrimp (all shells removed)
How to Dehydrate Beef Jerky for Long Term Storage
Different kinds of meat may require different forms of preparation. Some require being marinated, others do not. Most will require you to pre-cook the meat. The typical temperature for dehydrating meat is 145 -160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Choose a lean cut of meat in excellent condition. Remove any skin or bones from the meat.
- Trim fat and membrane tissue. Since fat can cause the meat to go rancid, do a good job of trimming the meat.
- Cut the meat in uniform slices or strips about ¼ inch thick.
- Marinate overnight in the refrigerator using a recipe of your choice. (optional, but adds great flavor!)
- Pre-cook the meat by roasting or steaming. This will destroy any bacteria that may be present.
- Spread the meat evenly on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 145-160 degrees F for about 4-6 hours.
- Check doneness periodically. Done jerky will be leathery, slightly bendable when done.
- Cool completely, then pack in a vacuum-sealed container.
Best Herbs to Dehydrate for Long Term Storage
Herbs come from all parts of the plants. While some parts of the plants will be easier to dry and store long term, all herbs are a perfect addition to any long term storage. Roots are best stored in their whole form. Seeds are usually stored whole. Flowers can also be dried and stored whole. Before using herbs from your long term storage, check there potency. Using your senses you can see if they are still good. The herb should still have a strong aroma and a vibrant color. You can also taste to herb to see if it still holds its potency. Most properly stored herbs will last 2-3 years.
- Lemon Balm
How to Dehydrate Herbs for Long Term Storage
- Pick herbs in the early morning for peak effectiveness.
- Preheat your dehydrator to a lower setting as indicated by your manual or between 95 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash and dry herbs as needed before putting them in the dehydrator. Make sure to remove excess water by blotting with a hand towel.
- Place the herbs on the dehydrator trays in a single layer. Make sure to not overcrowd them.
- It is best to make sure most pieces are as close to the same size as possible for even drying.
- Drying times will vary depending on the moisture content and thickness of the herb. Check your herbs for doneness periodically. Most herbs will take 1-4 hours. Roots and very thick herbs may take 6-10 hours to completely dry.
- Herbs are dry when the leaves are brittle and the stems break when bent.
- Always allow herbs to cool completely before packaging and labeling for long term storage.
- Label with the plant name and the date they were prepared.
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As you can see, there is a lot of best food to dehydrate for long term storage. Dehydrating food is a great way to preserve a harvest or enjoy foods even when they are not in season! Fruits, vegetables, meats, and herbs can all be dehydrated for long term storage. Stay tuned for more ideas on dehydrating snacks and other ideas.
As a companion to this article make sure to read how long you can expect dehydrated foods to last. Dehydrated foods are a great pantry item for healthy snacking. Check out these recipes for other healthy snack options.