If you have been following along with our series on dehydrating foods, you may be wondering how long dehydrated food lasts.
The answer depends on many factors including storage temperature, proper preparation, and types of food being stored.
Properly prepared and stored commercial dehydrated foods can often last for 20 years or more. These foods have all the moisture withdrawn. They also have all oxygen in the containers removed. See the ideas below on how to remove moisture and oxygen from containers at home.
Dehydrating food is a great option for preserving a harvest. It is also a wonderful option to use up fruits and vegetables that otherwise may go bad on the counter. It is a great waste eliminator! Getting started with dehydrated foods doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out our list of best dehydrators under $100.
How long home dehydrated food lasts is dependent upon many factors including proper preparation, storage location, storage temperature, and storage containers. Removing moisture and oxygen are the best ways to help preserve foods.
Fruits should be allowed to “sweat” or condition for a week after drying. To condition fruit, place the dehydrated pieces in a canning jar. Gently shake or stir the jar daily. Conditioning fruit will even distribute moisture among the fruits.
Dehydrated vegetables last longer than fruits. These items stored in the absence of oxygen will last 8-10 years. Ensure that all the moisture is removed and the vegetables are completely cooled before packaging for storage.
Dehydrated jerky will have some tenderness to it still. It will not be brittle or crack when it is dry. Home dehydrated jerky can be safely stored for 1-2 months. Your jerky must be sealed in an airtight container. If the container is opened, consume the jerky within one week.
Make sure to regularly inspect dehydrated foods for excess moisture or mold in the containers. If you suspect moisture in the containers, you can remove the food and re-dehydrate. If there is mold, it is best to just throw the food out.
Herbs that have been dehydrated are best used within 6 months. However, some variances depending on what part of the plant the herb is from may result in storage for 2-3 years. Powdered dried herbs tend to lose the potency faster. Herbs from roots will last the longest. Herbs from leaves, seeds, and bark tend to last only about a year.
After dehydrating the herbs, ensure that all of the moisture is removed. The herbs should be brittle and crack when you bend them. If they are still tender, return them to the dehydrator to finish drying.
How Long Will Dehydrated Food Last?
Proper preparation of food items for storage deals with two main things: moisture and oxygen. Removing these will reduce the chance of food spoiling. Fruits and vegetables stored at home will have a lower shelf life than commercially prepared items. You can safely store dehydrated fruits and vegetables at home for 1 year.
First, make sure your dehydrated foods are cooled completely. If they are not cooled completely, they may have excess moisture that can spoil your food.
Next, package dried foods in a dry and clean container. Canning jars, freezer containers, and bags are all good options. Vacuum packing is another great option if you have a vacuum sealer. It is best to package items in the amount that they will be used since opening the package will expose the products to moisture and air each time. Clear containers are a perfect option since they will allow you to inspect the food for moisture and mold without opening.
Finally, choose a storage location that is cool and dark. Again heat and light are your enemies when it comes to storing food. A good storage location reduces exposure to these elements.
Storage temperature: The optimum storage for dehydrated food is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the cooler, the better. Lower temperatures can potentially keep foods fresher longer. Higher temperatures will have the opposite effect and lower the length of time food can be safely stored.
Light can also damage foods and make them go bad faster. Make sure to store foods away from light and in a dark space. A room with no windows such as a pantry, cellar, or basement is a good option.
How To Remove Moisture
The first key to removing moisture is to fully dehydrate your food in your dehydrator. Make sure you have run your dehydrator for the recommended amount of time at the correct temperature. Allow the food to cool completely in the open air. You can test a piece by cutting it in half. Squeeze and see if there is any visible moisture. Not all items will be brittle when they are dry, including jerky and fruit.
How to Remove Oxygen from Storage Container
Removing oxygen from a storage container will make sure your food can last longer. Vacuum packing is a great way to remove oxygen from smaller bags. If you have large buckets of food storage, oxygen absorption packets or dry ice are best used.
Quick Tips For Getting Dehydrated Foods To Last
- Dehydrate and cool completely before packaging
- Package in a container that can remove oxygen and moisture
- Store in a cool, dark location
- Store in a freezer for longer preservation
- Always label containers with the name and date when packaged
How long will dehydrated food last? As you can see there are many factors that go into how long dehydrated food will last. It is best to use home dehydrated foods within a year. However, through optimal preparation and storage, many items can be safely stored and used much longer than that.
Another option for dehydrating food is freeze-drying. If you haven’t checked out this article on freeze-dried food, then see what it is all about. Air fryers and pressure cookers are lifesavers for a healthy and do-it-yourself kitchen. Make sure to check out air fryers versus pressure cookers.