This is a method of food preservation that has been practised in one form or another for thousands of years. It works by removing water or moisture from a piece of food and has the added benefit of killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mould, yeast and harmful microorganisms (as long as the food is kept in air tight containers).
Dehydration itself is achieved by various processes, such as utilising modern dehydrators, circulating hot air through food or using chemicals.
In the modern world dehydrated foods are still widely available, although other methods of preserving foods, such as refrigeration, freezing, canning, pasteurizing and chemical additives have overtaken it.
The benefits of dehydrated food
- Food can last much longer than other forms of preservation. For instance containers of dried foods can be repeatedly opened, the contents removed, and closed again with no detrimental effects on the remaining contents.
- It can be good for the environment for a number of reasons. As dehydrated food lasts much longer, it means that less food needs to be grown, less pesticides used, less arable land turned to waste etc.
- On trips dehydrated food can be tasty, nutritious, lightweight, easy to prepare, easy to carry, and easy to use. Making them an ideal item to take on picnics, camping, backpacking excursions, or have as a lunchbox snack.
- They take up less space than ‘normal’ food, saving storage space.
- If stored properly they can have a longer shelf life than most any other preservation methods.
- Its an effective way to preserve the essence of raw fruits and vegetables with the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes intact.
- It is one of the most nutritious, safe, economical, and flavour-saving methods of food preservation.
- Calorie values remain unaltered in them.
- In areas that have been hit by natural disasters (where accustomed cooking methods are temporarily not available) they offer a ready and available form of nutrition and sustenance.
- Fat and salt content is reduced in them.
- They are free of pesticides and chemicals.
A list of dehydrated food
- Powdered soups and sauces
- Instant rice
- Powdered milk
- Dehydrated potatoes in a box
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Dried meats (like beef jerky)
Are dehydrated foods less nutritious?
Most research carried out into this question has concluded that there is a very minimal effect on the nutritional value of foods. In many foods almost 100% of the nutritional content of a individual piece of food is retained.
- A very small amount of Vitamin C may be lost.
- Virtually all Vitamin A or Beta Carotene in plant foods is retained.
Fruits and vegetables which are both high in fibre and carbohydrates are not affected by the drying process. Important mineral such in certain fresh fruits-such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, and so on-are also not altered when any fruit is dried.
Do dehydrated foods taste different?
The taste does change in most foods, but not to the extent that it deters people from buying it. Indeed in some cases an entirely ‘new’ food is created that people like just as much as the original.
Storage tips for dehydrated food stuff
The main reason for the deterioration of dehydrated foods is moisture. Therefore you must ensure that you store any dehydrated foods in air-tights, moisture-proof jars, bags or containers. These in turn should be stored in cool dark places.
Eating dehydrated food
Its sometimes a good idea to soak dried foods in distilled water before eating them. This can help to rehydrate the food for just long enough and by absorbing just enough water it will ensure optimal taste.