~More dehydrator hacks for loading trays~
To load up your trays, here are a few more tips that will help your dehydrating sessions meet with success.
√ Make sure your dehydrator has room to breathe. Adequate ventilation is important because dehydrators require air circulation to work.
√ Don’t let food overlap. Just as it is important for your dehydrator to have ventilation, your food needs to have the same consideration. It might be tempting to squish a lot of food onto a tray, but items shouldn’t touch or they won’t dry evenly and increase the time it takes to dry.
√ The general rule is that the more surface area exposed (i.e., cherries loaded with the cut side up), the faster the drying time.
√ Rotate your trays (for stacking dehydrators). If you’ve stacked the dehydrator to capacity, rotating the trays on occasion will help even drying.
√ Humid air can slow down the dehydration process, extending drying times greatly. Take this into consideration when planning to dehydrate.
Putting a dehydrator outside when the humidity is high (60% or higher) is not going to net you a fast-drying product. The dehydrator, in trying to pull water out of your food, is being bombarded on all sides by even more moisture in the air. This slows drying time AND the efficiency of your dehydrator considerably and may give you produce that will mold before it has a chance to dry.
√ Slice the food uniformly so the pieces dry at approximately the same rate. Food pieces should measure 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick or less. (There are a few exceptions to this rule. See How to Achieve Good Food Quality.) Space the pieces of food at least 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart on the drying trays. This allows air to circulate around each piece.
√ A common mistake in dehydrating is thinking if the temperature is increased, the drying time will be decreased. If you increase the temperature too much, case hardening may occur. This means the surface of the food dries to a leathery texture creating a barrier for water removal.
√ The most common and easiest fruits and vegetables to dry are apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, pears, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, green beans and carrots.
√ To test food for level of dryness take out a few pieces and put them on a plate to cool. While food is still warm, it is hard to tell if it is completely dry. Allowing it to cool will crisp it up and give you a better picture of how dry it is.
For further information on knowing when your food is fully dehydrated, see our article here.
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