~Hacks for getting the most from your dehydrator session~
√ Just as you preheat an oven, it is the same with your dehydrator. Turn on the dehydrator prior to use. Allow it to warm up to the required temperature before adding food. Most dehydrators reach temperature within 15-30 minutes.
√ Prepare items that require the same temperature, and dehydrate at the same time. Most fruits and vegetables can be done together except for the stronger smelling produce like onions, garlic, and peppers.
√ For best results, slice all items to equal thickness and size. The general rule of thumb is 1/4 inch (6mm) thickness. This allows all your food to finish at the same time so that you do not have to wait for thicker pieces to be dry.
√ Do not worry about over-drying your foods. You can dry them longer if necessary, but it’s not wise to turn the temperature settings up in an attempt to dry the foods quicker. This will seal the outside, leaving moisture within (called Case Hardening), which will ultimately lead to the food spoiling before you have a chance to eat it.
√ If the food is still sticky or moist, then it’s not done dehydrating. Food should be completely dry before storing it in an air-tight container to avoid mold.
√ Food will be ready when it has no pockets of moisture and feels leathery to touch. Vegetables should be crispy. Meat should be leathery. Nuts should be crispy.
√ Turning food and rotating trays while the food is drying is a great way to ensure that food is evenly dehydrated.
√ Foods dehydrate faster at the perimeter or edges of the trays than in the center. This is why you should test samples of dehydrated foods from various sections of your trays. Put them out on a plate to cool before testing for doneness.
√ A successful step in food storage for your dehydrated items is to carefully inspect the food you’ve dehydrated. Check in the next day or two for dryness. You may need to put food through another round in the dehydrator ensuring it is dry. Conditioning your food is an essential step. More on conditioning can be found here.
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