Dehydration or drying of food is to remove as much water or moisture of the food as possible under certain controlled conditions such as temperature, humidity, air speed and movement. Water is the basic element for human life, but also for microbial life, so when it’s removed, helps to give a longer life to the food.
The drying causes the food get reduced in size because it has lost much of its volume (water), and as a result, you have a small food with lighter consistency food, good taste and odor which is very resistant and easy for transportation, with minimal risk of decay or microbial growth.
Advantages of dried foods
A fresh food is easily rotted due to various factors such as the action of molds, yeasts, bacteria and enzymes. When exposed to air and at elevated temperatures, the decomposition process accelerates by changing its color, appearance, smell and taste. When a food is rotting, is harmful to health.
Because of this, man has sought ways to keep the food safe to dispose of it at any time of year, especially in times of famine and drought. Drying has been one of the best ways to leverage and store food since ancient times.
- It can preserve large percentage of its flavor, color, texture and appearance for a long time.
- You can re-hydrate for consumption.
- Its nutritional properties are preserved almost in its entirety.
- Its size is smaller and are lighter than in its natural state.
- It is easy to transport and storage.
- Makes transportation more affordable and reduce the storage space.
- Long preservation.
- They can be found in any season.
- They are a good choice for busy people.
- They are a good, healthy snack or appetizer.
- Excellent as food for hiking, camping, etc.
- Foods that are used in the dehydration are from very good quality.
- You can dehydrate all kinds of food like fruit, vegetables, seaweed, seeds, grains, meats, etc.
Procedures for quality dried food
The first and most important is to consider certain rules in the dried to prevent the spread of pathogens and bacteria in food. You should remove affected fruit and vegetables, and wash them very well.
Bleaching: This process is used especially in vegetables and fruits to maintain their color and flavor. This method involves introducing the food into boiling salted water or steam (in the case of green leafy vegetables) for a few seconds or minutes, depending on the food. Then plunge into ice water and drain.
Lemon bath: This method is used to prevent oxidation of food, as in the case of apples, for example. In this case, add squeezed lemon juice directly on the food to be dehydrated or immerse it in some water with lemon juice. Let dry without washing.
Once you have completed these methods, then continue with dehydration.
There are several techniques for drying food. The most economical doesn’t require electricity, dehydration with the sun’s rays and a fan so that hot air is in constant circulation. Some industrial processes use ovens or dehydrators machines.
Once you dried the product, you have to make proper storage to prevent microbial contamination, moisture with fungus and insect contact.
The best way to store it is in an airtight container. Put in a cool and dry environment without being exposed to sunlight or direct light. The product should be consumed as soon as possible after opening the container or seal tightly to avoid contamination.
A little history...
Various techniques to do this have developed over the years, and among them is food dehydration, which was one of the first methods used to preserve foods.
The Incas used this method of preserving fresh food placing under the rays of the sun (the sun was considered their God.) The nuts were very useful during the Middle Ages, as well as raisins, chili peppers, dried apricot, dried figs, etc. were part of traditional cuisine in many countries.