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How to Dehydrate Foods for Long Term Storage

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I wholeheartedly believe in layering your preparedness endeavors with both short and long-term food sources. That way, you can ensure that you have enough food to see you  through any type of event. Many turn to freeze-dried foods as the quintessential long-term food source. This can be both costly and cause problems with your health. Many freeze-dried foods are riddled with sodium, empty carbohydrates, and preservatives. This can cause your entire digestive system to back-up. Perhaps, the freeze-dried 10 year shelf life, isn’t worth the constipation. That said, there is another method that is both cost effective, and more nutritious.

For centuries, dehydrating food has been seen as a survival necessity. Many believe this preservation method is the safest, most affordable and best way to preserve flavors of foods. The dehydration process removes moisture from the food so that bacteria, yeast and mold cannot grow. The added benefit is the dehydration process minimally affects the nutritional content of food. In fact, when using an in-home dehydration unit, 3-5% of the nutritional content is lost compared to the canning method which losses 60-80% nutritional content. Additionally, important vitamins and nutrition such as: vitamin A and C, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, magnesium, selenium and sodium are not altered or lost in the drying process. Therefore, the end result is nutrient packed food that can be stored long-term.

How Can a Person Use a Dehydrator

In the book, The Prepper’s Cookbook [2], I outline the multiple ways that one can use a dehydrator. They can dry vegetables, fruits, make jerky, make fruit or vegetable leather, dry herbs, make spices, dry soup mixes, noodles, and even make crafts. When I first began dehydrating foods, I purchased a modest dehydrator [3]. Then, I realized how much I loved it and got a higher end model [4].

Dehydrating vegetables and fruits  to use for long-term storage is a great way of including needed nutrition into diets with minimal investment. When dehydrating food, one should use fresh produce or meat. Typically, when overly ripe fruits and vegetables are dehydrated, the texture is not as crisp. For example, if one were to dehydrate over ripe bananas, the end result would be a chewy banana chip as opposed to a crispy banana chip.  If a person were to use the ripe fruits or vegetables, they could puree the produce and make fruit or vegetable leather to use later.

How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last

In most cases, dehydrated food can be stored for up to a year. Once dehydrated, the food does not take up a lot of space, and can be stored in a more organized fashion.

If a person wanted to rehydrate the food to use in cooking, add boiling water and cover with a lid for 20-30 minutes to expedite the process. Note: it is recommended to add salt after the rehydration process [5] has been completed.

Storing Dry Foods

Once food has been dehydrated, it should be stored in an area not exposed to a lot of light, such as a pantry.  It is recommended that any food that contains vitamin A not be exposed to light.  According to James Talmage Stevens’ book, Making the Best of Basics [6], Stevens recommends these general storage suggestions:

In planning for a long term disaster, people are always trying to find foods they can look forward to that will give them optimum nutrition.  Having the necessary vitamins and nutrition will give a person mental clarity, and strength to carry on during a disaster.  After all, surviving and being healthy is what matters.