In order to maintain a healthy body, one, including yourself, must exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet to keep the body strong and ward off any possible illnesses.
As you try to allot at least 20 minutes of your day to do basic cardio exercises, you’ll leave yourself with the entire day to eat the right foods and prevent yourself from giving in to unhealthy snacks. And obviously, the latter is the most challenging part you need to face.
What you eat can greatly affect your body. As you go on your day, it might be tempting to grab a snack in between meals to conquer your hunger. But before you get a piece of cookie for your afternoon snack, you might want to consider looking for a healthier alternative. This way, you can save yourself from hunger while also letting your body consume as many nutrients as possible.
While eating fresh fruits and vegetables would be the perfect solution, they might not be the most convenient choice, especially if you’re in a rush. With that, dehydrating them could be your next best option.
What’s Food Dehydration
Before you dive deep into the process of dehydrating fruits and vegetables for a healthy snack, you should first understand what the meaning of food dehydration is. Well, basically, it’s the process of drying out your food and removing as much moisture and water inside to prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, and yeasts.
As you dehydrate your food, you can help to improve its shelf life by up to five years as long as you properly prepare, dry, and store them. Luckily, food dehydration is a chemical-free process that helps you keep its natural health benefits, providing you with all the advantages it can offer. You can expect your dehydrated foods to still have their vitamins and minerals intact, making them a great option for your daily snacking needs.
Ways To Dehydrate Fruits And Vegetables
Now that you have an idea of what food dehydrating is, you might be wondering how you can do this by yourself and enjoy all of the benefits that it can offer. Luckily, food dehydration is a process that you can do hassle-free at home.
Primarily, there are three ways you can dehydrate your fruits and vegetables and they’re listed down below:
- Using A Dehydrator
If you’re looking for the easiest and most convenient way to dry your food, you might want to check out using food dehydrators for this process. With this machine, all you have to do is to place your prepared fruits and vegetables, turn the knob, and viola, you get yourself dehydrated food.
But of course, you need to account for the waiting time, which differs depending on your food’s condition, age, ripeness, and how thick or thin you’ve cut it. You can check the machine’s instructions and it should give you a rough estimate for how long you should keep the device running per specific fruit or vegetable.
- Using An Oven
A great alternative to using a food dehydrator is using your existing oven at home. To do this, you need to preheat your oven to the lowest setting and line your trays with a cooling rack and parchment paper on top to promote proper air circulation.
Afterward, you can individually place your sliced fruits and vegetables on top. Since the oven is much hotter, you’ll need to rotate your pans regularly for even heat distribution and ensure that every inch of the placed fruit or vegetable is well-dehydrated.
- Via Sun Drying
One of the most ancient and effective ways you can dry out food is by exposing it to the sun’s intense heat until all the moisture has evaporated away. While this might be a lengthy process, this is the most cost-effective way you can do food dehydration. Ideally, you should do this outdoors during days that have a minimum temperature of 86°F with 60% humidity. Due to the lengthy drying process, you need to cover your sliced fruits and vegetables with a clean thin cheesecloth to keep them clean and ward off insects.
Steps To Prepare Fruits And Veggies For Drying
Food dehydrating is a delicate process. While it might look easy, there are multiple steps needed to ensure a perfectly dehydrated, edible, and tasty food product.
Before you bring your cut fruits and veggies into the pan, you first need to ensure that you prepare them well. This process is crucial as it can help determine how well your food would dry out.
To help you out, below are the steps you need to take to prepare your fruits and vegetables for dehydration:
- Choose The Perfect Fruit Or Veggie Condition
Some people think dehydrating fruits and vegetables is the only way to save bruised-up and almost soiled food. While they can really help to preserve its lifespan and flavor, they might not be the best choice if you’re looking for intense and pure flavors.
As you dry your produce, you concentrate more flavors on each slice, allowing it to still be tasty even after a few weeks or months of dehydrating. To get its optimal and best flavors, you should choose a fruit or vegetable in its peak freshness to allow yourself to enjoy all of its delicious flavors.
- Wash Your Produce Thoroughly
After picking your fruit and vegetables, the next thing you need to do is to wash them thoroughly. You can give it a quick and gentle scrub to ensure they’re spotlessly clean. In this process, you can choose to peel them or not.
- Thinly Slice Produce
Once you’ve made sure that your produce is clean, you can now begin slicing them as thinly as possible. Ideally, they should only be 1/8 inch thin so you can thoroughly dry them and ensure that you keep any moisture out of each slice.
- Place Sliced Food In Citrus Water (Optional)
For fruits and vegetables that turn brown easily due to oxidation, it’s advised that you first place them in citrus water. This is to preserve their appearance and ensure they don’t turn brown after dehydrating. To make citrus water, mix equal parts of water and lemon juice in a deep bowl and dip your fruits for at least ten minutes in the solution.
- Blanch Vegetables (Optional)
For your starchy vegetables, such as corn, green peas, beets, sweet potatoes, and squash, you should blanch them quickly to preserve their pure flavor and condition. To blanch your fruits and veggies, you can begin by boiling some water in a pot. Then, you need to dip your sliced food products in the boiling water for a minute or so before giving them an immediate ice bath to stop the cooking and help preserve their appearance and nutrients.
Tips For Proper Storage Of Dehydrated Fruits And Vegetables
After successfully drying your food through a dehydrator machine or in the oven, the next thing you need to worry about is storing them well to ensure further that they’ll last and can be enjoyed for a long period of time.
After taking the pans with the dehydrated fruits and veggies out, you first need to cool them well at room temperature. Storing them in containers while they’re still hot can cause moisture from the heat, which can put your dehydration process to waste.
Once your dehydrated fruits and vegetables are completely cool to the touch, you can now begin transferring them into air-tight containers to keep them crisp and fresh. Once they’re all settled, you should store them in a cool dark place to help prolong their lifespan.
After a week of storing your dehydrated food in a container, you should give it a quick shake and observe if it still produces moisture. If you notice some, you should bring them back to your dehydrator or oven and allow them to undergo the dehydration process again. This will help to ensure that they’re well dried out and will last for as long as possible.
What Fruits And Vegetables Are Ideal To Dehydrate
As you’ve learned the process of dehydrating foods and their advantages, you might be in a hurry to dry out everything in your pantry. But before you get busy in your kitchen, it’ll be beneficial if you could learn what fruits and vegetables you can and cannot dehydrate. While the process might sound quick and easy, know that not all kinds of produce can be dehydrated.
To help you out, listed below are the fruits and veggies you can dehydrate:
- Fruits (store-bought or home-grown)
The following fruits are recommended for dehydration:
- Lemons; and
- Vegetables (store-bought or home-grown)
The following vegetables are recommended for dehydration:
- Sweet potatoes;
- Bell peppers;
- Mushrooms; and
- Different leafy greens.
Fruits and Vegetables You Can’t Dehydrate
As you learn what type of foods you can dry to extend their shelf life and provide you with a nutritious snack, it’s important to know what kind of fruits and vegetables you can’t dehydrate no matter how delicious they are. To give you a quick guide, listed below are the fruits and vegetables you can’t dehydrate:
- Olives and the like.
While this might be a short list, it can go longer if you’re going to consider other types of food, such as milk, nuts, and dairy. With those two in mind, it should give you an idea that you can dehydrate most fruits and veggies, just not those two.
The reason why you can’t dehydrate avocadoes is that they’re high in fat, which can result in a poor-tasting and leathery textured food product. It can also spoil easily despite you taking all the steps to properly dehydrate them.
While, in general, you can dehydrate olives, they might not help preserve their natural flavors and will still spoil quickly. With this, it might be best to skip dehydrating your olives and serve them fresh in your kitchen or pickled.
How To Rehydrate Dried Fruits And Vegetables
After dehydrating your food, you might be wondering what are the things you need to do so you can consume it as a healthy snack. In general, you can eat your dried foods as they are, giving you a quick yet nutritious bite.
Nonetheless, there are methods to bring dehydrated vegetables and fruits back to their former shape. This will allow you to mix them up with your meals for a nutrition-filled grub.
To rehydrate your fruits and vegetables to mix with your dishes or just to eat them better, you’ll need to check these methods:
- Rehydrate Through Boiling Water
The quickest and most straightforward way to rehydrate your dried food is by boiling it. You can begin by boiling water and pouring it over your dehydrated food, but be careful not to add too much water. Let it sit for at least 20 to 45 minutes. It might require some extra time for much denser food items. Moreover, this should help restore water to your fruits and veggies for a quick meal or snack.
Once your rehydrated fruits and vegetables are ready, you can eat them as they are or allow yourself to create a nutritious snack, such as a jam tart, apple slices with dark chocolate, and others.
- Soak Dehydrated Fruits And Vegetables Overnight
If you’d like everything already prepared for you when you wake up in the morning, you should consider soaking your dehydrated fruits and vegetables overnight. This way, you can let them absorb the water throughout the night and leave you with fresh produce to add to your meals the first thing during the day.
Ideally, you should fill a container with all of your dehydrated food and pour over water, leaving at least two inches above the food to ensure they get enough water. Cover the entire container tightly and put it in the fridge to avoid spoilage. You can expect them to be well-hydrated as you check up on them the following day.
Dehydrating your fruits and vegetables would always be a great and healthy way to extend your produce’s lifespan without needing to add any artificial chemicals and preservatives. This way, you can expect your pantry to be full of dried goodies that you can eat as it is or choose to rehydrate to whip yourself and your loved ones up with healthy and delicious snacks. Keep in mind the insights featured above if you’re at a loss when doing food dehydration.