Pretreatment Methods for Dehydrating


~Use these pretreatment methods for your food preparation~


Acid Dips

Acid DipTo prevent some produce from oxidizing or turning brown, you will need to dip them into a pre-treating solution before dehydrating. Pre-treatment is not necessary, but may improve color. Immediately after slicing, place produce in your pretreating solution. Make sure all sides are dipped, sprayed, or brushed with the solution.

Pretreatment by dipping is simply the mixture of water and lemon juice (pineapple juice, lime juice, or any other acidic juice will work or a crushed Vitamin C tablet if that’s handier). Lemon juice contains ascorbic acid, which will prevent the food from turning brown when exposed to oxygen. Use 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice or 1 crushed Vitamin C tablet in about 1 Qt. of water. Fruit-Fresh may also be used, (Sprinkle 1/2 tsp on 1 cup produce or mix 2 tsp with 3 tbsp water, toss with 4 cups produce.) Honey syrup is a viable candidate for pre-treatment but does add calories.

Many swear by using a nice, sharp stainless steel knife to cut your produce with. They say, even without pretreatment, this method keeps the food from discoloring.

For more detailed processing of this method for fruit, see our article here: Preparing Fruit for Dehydration.

To learn what produce can benefit by this technique, check out our downloadable Dehydrator InfoGraphic Charts.


Blanching

BlanchingWhile pre-treating with an acid solution is usually used for fruits, most vegetables need the process of blanching. Blanching can be done either in boiling water or by steaming the foods. This method is effective in tough skinned fruits and on vegetables that may lose their color, nutrient values, and preserves the natural texture.

It is important to follow the recommended times for blanching each vegetable because over-blanching results in cooked produce with a loss of flavor, color and nutrients, and under-blanching can cause the enzymes to continue ripening the food.

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Here are a few reasons to blanch vegetables:

  • Blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.
  • Blanching brightens the color and helps slow the loss of vitamins.
  • Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms.

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Here are three of the most popular methods.

  • Water Blanching. Fill a stock pot half full with water. Bring to a boil and stir in your produce. Cover and blanch for the prescribed time. Remove food and immediately plunge it into ice water to cool. Blot with a towel before dehydrating.
  • Steam Blanching. Fill a stock pot (or steamer pot) one-quarter full with water and bring to a boil. Using a steamer basket or a colander, fill with food. Cover and blanch for the prescribed time. Remove food and immediately plunge it into ice water to cool. Blot with a towel before dehydrating.
  • Electric Steaming. Electric steamers are the method I prefer because it is the best way I have found to retain the nutrients and keep the flavor and color of my food. Just follow the recommendations from your manufacturer’s model. This is the electric steamer I use: Oster 5-Quart Food Steamer, White.
  • Note: According to FDA research, microwave blanching is not considered effective because some enzymes may not be inactivated.

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Cooling: Vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process immediately after blanching. Plunge the vegetables into a large bowl of cold water (60ºF/15°C or below). Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. If you use ice, you need one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable. It should take the same amount of time to cool vegetables as it did to blanch them. Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling because extra moisture can increase drying time when vegetables are dehydrated.

To learn what produce can benefit by this technique, check out our downloadable Dehydrator InfoGraphic Charts.


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