Don’t Mix Sweet & Savory

~Loading dehydrator trays properly~

Because the air circulates in a dehydrator, flavors can transfer. While you can dry similar items at the same time — strawberries and peaches, for example — don’t mix fruit with aromatics. Do not mix foods processed at different temperatures in the same batch. The result will be flavorless foods or case hardening.

√ Never mix meat with other food products. Dehydrating meat with other food products can cause cross-contamination. Dry them separately and be sure to wash your dehydrator thoroughly after drying meat.

√ Foods like onions, garlic, and hot peppers are all aromatics and will transfer to other foods within your dehydrator. Aromatics, for some people who are sensitive to the smells, should be done outdoors or in a closed-off area because the smells will be invasive. When powdering these foods, make sure you allow the dust to settle before removing the lid of your grinder. It is no fun to get a face full of jalapeño dust! In addition, it is prudent to wear gloves. Remove them and wash your hands thoroughly before moving on to another activity.

√ Dehydrating herbs and spices must be done at very low settings. Air circulation is more important than heat. Drying at higher temperatures will burn off the essential oils in these foods, rendering the flavor and nutritional value unacceptable. If your dehydrator does not maintain the low temperature required to dry herbs and spices, it is best to air dry them for maximum flavor and nutrition.

√ The Bay Area Mycological Society recommends drying mushrooms away from your main living area because “dehydrators blow a high volume of spores into the air”…and “some people have developed allergies from breathing this effluent.” It is also prudent to dehydrate mushrooms separately from other foods for this reason.

To learn how to dry herbs, read our article here.

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