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dehydrating food

  • Food Dehydration

    When it comes to food storage, there are few things more satisfying than “putting up” your own food. Drying, or dehydrating, homegrown produce is one of the traditional ways of food preservation. This process involves removing moisture from food, while exposing it to temperature increases and moving air.

    Dried fruits provide an inexpensive and sweet alternative to sugary store-bought foods. Fruit leathers and jerky are two examples of snack replacements that you can produce at home for mere pennies.


    The three primary ways of home drying food today are sun-drying, oven-drying, and using a food dehydrator.


    drying is ideal for fruits such as apricots, peaches, grapes, and figs, although there are other foods suitable for this method. Sun-drying requires a number of hot (85 degrees or higher) days with relatively low humidity. Spread thin pieces of fruit evenly across a shallow pan and cover with cheesecloth to keep the food safe from bugs. Putting boxes in the back seat of a car and laying the tray on top, with full exposure to the sun through the back windshield is a creative and easy way to dry food. Others have used sunny porches, balconies, and even flat roofs to dry their food.


    drying involves drying food at temperatures between 130 and 150 degrees. (Some older ovens may not have temperature settings this low). As in sun-drying, distribute pieces of food in a shallow pan or dish. You may want to check the food periodically for adequate dehydration.

    If the temperature is too low or the humidity too high when sun or oven-drying, the food may dry too slowly or even spoil. When the temperature is too high it could cook the food and make it hard on the outside, while leaving the inside moist and vulnerable to molding or other forms of spoilage from microorganisms.

    Food Dehydrator

    Commercial food dehydrators offer the most controlled drying environment. They provide a constant ideal temperature combined with heated air that circulates via a blower or fan. Most food dehydrators also offer liners and trays for dehydrating fruit leather and small, sticky foods. Fruits, vegetables, and meats can dry while you are away at work, asleep, or doing your household chores with minimal worry or fuss.


    After drying the food, cool it to room temperature and loosely package in plastic bags, hard plastic containers, or glass jars. For longer-term preservation, pack in airtight containers. Foods that you dehydrate yourself are not only great for snacks at home but are useful when camping or backpacking since they do not require refrigeration.

    There are many good books on the market that specifically describe how to dry fruits, vegetables, and meats with delicious recipes included. We at Emergency Essentials often carry books on dehydrating. You may email us at sales@beprepared.com and we will help you find information.

  • Preparedness Skills: Dehydrating Recipes

    After reading through Dawn's tips in Dehydrating Basics, are you ready to get started?

    In addition to drying plain fruits and veggies, or making plain fruit leathers, check out these dehydrating recipes Dawn loves. Let them inspire you to make dehydrated foods that are perfectly suited to your taste.


    Creamy Fruit Leather

    6 Cups Fruit – Apples, Strawberries or Peaches (You can use any fruit you like or even a combination)
    1 Cup Yogurt – Choose a flavor that complements your fruit

    Puree in blender of food processor until smooth.  Spread on fruit leather trays and dehydrate until leathery.  You want them to be pliable but not too sticky.

    Teriyaki Beef Jerky

    4 Lbs. London Broil
    Marinade -
    2 Cups Teriyaki Sauce
    ¼ Cup Worcestershire Sauce
    1 Tbs Liquid Smoke
    1 Tbs Onion Powder
    1 tsp Garlic Powder

    Mix marinade ingredients together in a measuring cup and set aside.  Slice the London broil, crosswise to the grain to desired thickness and place in a large container.  Pour the marinade over the meat and toss to coat.  Cover and place it in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

    The next day drain the marinade off of the meat.  Before placing the meat on the mesh liners in the trays of your dehydrator quickly place them on top of some paper towels to remove the excess moisture.  This will help prevent dripping.  Dry at 150 degrees until the meat has dried out.  If you like it to still be a little soft just remember that it won’t store as long and may need to be put into the refrigerator.

    Tomato Sauce or Spaghetti Sauce “Roll Ups”

    This recipe might need a little explanation.  I take either tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce and spread it on my fruit leather trays.  Dry it just like a fruit roll.  It is finished when it is still pliable but not sticky.  I use these for camping and back packing.  I roll them up and put them in zip top bags.  They are very light and take up very little room in my gear.  I just add hot water and they re-hydrate perfectly.  This way we can enjoy spaghetti on our outings without adding extra weight or having to carry out an empty can or glass jar.  It’s super convenient!

    Salt and Vinegar Chips

    2 Large Baking potatoes
    Vinegar Powder

    Scrub potatoes, you can peel them if you like and slice thinly.  Place sliced potatoes into a large bowl of cold water with ¼ cup lemon juice.  Let soak for 5 minutes.  Drain potatoes and pat dry.  Place sliced potatoes onto mesh liners on trays and sprinkle with vinegar powder and salt.  Dry at 140 degrees until crunchy.  Times vary based on the thickness of your slices.  These are much healthier than the fried version and very yummy.


    Happy dehydrating!

    Want to make dehydrated foods, but don't have any recipes? Check out our chicken jerky, tomato sauce leather, and unstuffed peppers recipes for tips and steps for making your own dehydrated treats.

  • Preparedness Skills: Dehydrating Basics

    Dehydrating has been one of my favorite ways to preserve food—especially foods meant for snacking. It’s an easy way to get the kids involved in storing food and they like being able to choose how we flavor some of their snacks. I love trying to dehydrate different kinds of foods. I have found that I can dehydrate most fruits and vegetables and many kinds of meat, including fish. Here are some things that I have learned over the years that might help you get started.

    FP-D060_dehydrator with fruit

    Dehydrating Tips:

    • To prevent browning of fruit or potatoes – dip them in a solution of water and lemon juice before putting them in the dehydrator.
    • Remember to cut or slice all fruits, veggies or meats evenly so that they dehydrate in the same amount of time.
    • Tomato sauce can be dehydrated like a “fruit roll” and then re-hydrated for cooking at a later time (e.g, spaghetti sauce). We do this for camping. It is much lighter and takes up less space, especially for backpacking.
    • For fruit leather – cook fruit first and don’t use sugar it will crystallize during storage. Use honey or corn syrup instead.
    • For best results blanch vegetables before dehydrating.
    • Always use the freshest, highest-quality foods. Fruits and vegetables should be ripe, but not too soft or mushy.
    • Apples don’t need to be peeled to be dehydrated; the peel adds more fiber (and flavor) to your snack.
    • Try drying herbs from your garden. Store in zip-top bags or mason jars.
    • To flavor apple slices sprinkle with any flavor Jell-o® powder. I use an old bottle that held cake sprinkles to shake the Jell-o® onto the fruit. It works great and the kids love the added flavors.
    • When making apple fruit leather always add cinnamon.
    • Dehydrators are not just for fruits and jerky. Try making crackers, granola bars and cookies. I have even made dog cookies in mine.
    • To prevent tomatoes from dripping in your dehydrator, place trays over your sink, add tomato slices and let them drain before stacking in your dehydrator.
    • When making any type of jerky be sure to marinate for several hours. I marinate beef jerky overnight. That gives the flavors time to soak through the meat.
    • Be sure to rotate the dehydrating trays so the foods dry evenly.


    Dehydrating is a great way to make crunchy, healthy snacks. Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to experiment. You might be surprised by what you can make.


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