Dehydration is a method of preserving food by removing all the moisture. This healthy process is one of the best ways to minimize food vitamin and mineral lost that occurs using other preservation techniques, such as canning or freezing. Many foods are easily dehydrated; however, fruits and vegetables are some of the most popular items to dehydrate at home. Food dehydration machines are simple to operate, and the methods of dehydrating fruits and vegetables are fairly easy.
Things You'll Need
Prepare the fruits and vegetables. Begin the food dehydration process by washing, hulling and cutting the fruits and vegetables into uniform slices. Keeping the pieces approximately the same size makes the dehydration process easier and results in fruits and vegetables that are thoroughly dried.
Add citrus acid to certain fruits. Some fruits, such as apples, pears and bananas, quickly turn brown when cut. To avoid the discoloration of these fruits, dip them in one cup lemon juice mixed with one cup water, and let them soak for 10 minutes. Adding the citrus acid creates dehydrated fruits that appear fresh and colorful.
Blanch the vegetables. To aid the vegetable dehydration process, blanch vegetables by boiling them in water for approximately five minutes and immediately immersing in cold water to stop the cooking process. Blanching makes vegetables retain their bright color and softens them slightly to prepare the vegetables for dehydration.
Place the vegetables or fruit into the dehydrator, arranging them to make sure they do not touch. A small space is needed between items to ensure that the vegetable or fruit dehydration process results in thoroughly dried items. Turn on the machine.
Check the fruits or vegetables. The food dehydration process usually takes approximately six to 12 hours. Near the end of the time, take a fruit or vegetable piece out of the machine and cut it in half. If the inside appears dry and without any moisture beads, the piece is completely dried and ready to be taken out of the dehydrator.
Condition the fruit. The fruit dehydration process requires that dried fruit go through a conditioning period of approximately 10 days to make certain all the fruit is dry. During this time, place the dehydrated fruit in glass jars, filling two-thirds full. Loosely cover the jars with a lid, and shake the fruit mixture each day. If there are any remaining moisture beads on the fruit, use the machine again to fully dehydrate it.
Place fruits or vegetables in covered jars or plastic bags. It is important to keep all moisture out of the dried fruit or vegetables, so store the completely dried items in appropriate containers in a dry, dark environment for optimal enjoyment.
Pick fruits or vegetables that are at their peak of ripeness for best dehydration results.
For definite drying times, read the instructions that come with the dehydrator machine.
The thickness of the slices and the amount of water in the item often affects drying times, so check the fruit or vegetable pieces during the process for level of doneness.
Dried fruits or vegetables have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months.
If a dehydration machine is not available, the sun and a conventional oven are also used to dehydrate fruit and vegetables, and their processes of dehydration are easily found on the internet or in books focusing on food dehydration methods.
References and ResourcesBackpacking Chef: Dehydrating Fruit
Pick Your Own: Food Dehydration
Farmgal Tripod: How To Dry Fruits and Vegetables
Urban Homesteading: Preserving Your Own Food
ResourcesHow To Garden Advice: How To Dry or Dehydrate Your Garden Vegetables
Thrifty Fun: Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables
All Things Emergency Prepared: How to Dehydrate Food