How to Cook with Dehydrated Foods

~Understand the concepts with this Guide~

What is taken out of food in the dehydrating process? Answer: water. So when you want to rehydrate your food, all you need to do is add the water back in. It’s that easy! Dehydrated foods are a great time saver when preparing just about anything—from soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, “instant” meals, baked goods, even omelets.

Please note: When cooking with any preserved foods, it is best to bring your dish up to a boil to deactivate any bacteria that may be in your food, especially when preparing meat dishes and low-acid vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Oven temps will be high enough to do the same thing, as will frying.

Soak to Rehydrate: Dehydrated foods can be rehydrated by soaking them in water for one to two hours. This can be especially handy if you’re backpacking and want to soak your veggies while you hike so that they’ll be ready when you are. Pre-soaking makes the veggies cook faster, so you’ll save fuel. This method can also be useful during an emergency situation where you don’t have access to electricity. Fruits can be soaked in cool water, while vegetables and meats do better soaked in hot/boiling water. Some foods will take a bit longer than others to plump up, so if you find soaking times is longer than 2 hours, refrigerate while rehydrating for food safety.

Instant, Just-Add-Water Meals: When preparing foods for dehydration for instant meals where you just add hot water with minimal cooking, it is best to plan ahead. Most foods, especially vegetables, need to be cooked or steamed so that they can just be added to the mix. This includes onions and garlic if you do not like the taste of them in your foods in their raw state. Cooking or steaming BEFORE dehydration allows you to just add to your meals, like instant cup-of-soup, and  “cook” them by just adding water to rehydrate with minimal cooking time.

Cooking: If you’re using dried food in a recipe that requires cooking, you don’t need to rehydrate the veggies prior to use in your cooking. Just add the dehydrated food directly to your recipe. Add directly into your soup stock and simmer until tender. Same goes for stew. If you’re cooking dehydrated food in a liquid, it will naturally rehydrate, so all you have to do is measure out the correct amount and then add it to your recipe. Be sure to add extra liquid to compensate for your dried foods.

Oven Cooking: As long as you are cooking your dried foods in a dish that has plenty of liquid for rehydrating the food and a longer cooking time (such as our recipe for scalloped potatoes), you do not need to rehydrate dried foods before cooking. Otherwise, it is best to rehydrate and/or pre-cook your dried foods before baking (such as in vegetable lasagna).

Vegetable Side Dishes: To rehydrate dehydrated veggies on your stove top, add one-part veggies to two-parts water and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Or simmer veggies over a campfire or in a microwave. Campfire or microwave cooking times may vary, so start simmering for 5 minutes, and then test and add extra time as needed until tender enough for your tastes.

Sautés: Soak vegetables in water for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Drain the water from your veggies and then add them to an oiled frying pan and sauté for the desired effect.

Stir Frying: Follow the same steps as for sautéing and add to your wok.

Frying: Rehydrate vegetables as you would for any dish, but make sure you do not over soak. You want your rehydrated food plumped up, but not soggy. Bread, if using, and make sure your oil is up to temperature for the vegetable or meat you have selected.

Baking: See our article, Baking with Dehydrated Foods, to learn how easy it is to use dehydrated food for baking.

Need a little recipe help? To get a feel for cooking with your own dehydrated foods, visit our Homemade Convenience Foods Recipe Hacks Directory for a listing of over 400 recipes, many of which use dehydrated foods as ingredients.

©2016 21st Century Simple Living