Answers to everyone’s question, “How long will it take to dehydrate?”
Using a food dehydrator is one of those kitchen activities that’s part cooking, part science project. With a gentle blast of warm air, you can turn slices of fresh fruits and vegetables into crispy, crunchy, vitamin-packed snacks. However, it is very difficult to give an exact time frame for dehydrating foods because of all the variables involved.
- Thick or Thin pieces and the size and type of cut
- Temperature setting
- Humidity (both indoor AND outdoor), air conditioning, and/or breezes
- Water content of food
- Crispness of final product
- The food product itself
- Dehydrator Make/Model
- Type of tray used (bare trays, solid trays, parchment, etc.)
Check regularly, and rotate trays if needed. Dehydrating fruits and vegetables can take 2 to 72 hours, depending on all these variables. Periodically test the pliability of the food by hand, and with experience you will learn what is ‘right’ for the various foods.
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.
- Fruits should be pliable (almost brittle), but NOT brittle or tacky/sticky. To test your fruit, take a piece you have dried and cut it in half. There should be no visible moisture. If there is too much moisture remaining, you run the risk of them developing mold.
Generally speaking, fruit is considered to be sufficiently dry when, after you cut a piece of dried fruit, you cannot squeeze any water out of the piece. Another indicator is if you fold the fruit in on itself it should not stick together. Berries will rattle when fully dry. For long term storage, dehydrate your fruit until crispy.
- Vegetables should be crispy/brittle when done. For example, a pea should shatter if you hit it with a rolling pin. Only a few vegetables, such as tomatoes or yellow squash will feel somewhat leathery when done (as opposed to easily snapping in half brittle). Vegetables tend to flake when crushed.
- Meat. When bent, an adequately dry jerky does not break in half but should crack instead. The dry strip should exhibit a firm, flexible form that can easily bend completely back on itself without snapping. Dried jerky should not be crumbly but instead displays a leathery texture that tastes palatably chewy.
To determine if your food is dry, takes experimentation. Sliced apples are firm and leathery. Carrots are brittle. Grapes will be soft and pliable. If you’re not sure if your food is dry, break or tear a piece open and squeeze the flesh. If moisture or liquid comes to the surface, return the food to the dehydrator. It’s better to over-dry, than under-dry. Under-drying leads to spoilage.
The ONE thing to remember to successfully dehydrate your foods:
The most important tool in your kitchen is
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