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Plan Your Dehydrated Food Storage In Spring[Updated 1 June 2020]It’s funny the things that pop into your head, planning dehydrated food storage, and other such mundane tasks weren’t exactly my first waking thought. However, it was such a beautiful early summer morning here, a stroll through the vegetable patch was irresistible.
Having gone organic years ago; we live life on the edge – so I like to see who ate what overnight and besides, you can see what slugs and snails have left for the food dehydrator to tackle later.
Which was what became very evident – things seem to sprout and grow overnight in the spring. There are always plenty of pickings to be had for preserving and storing.
Herbs, on the whole, are safe from most garden thugs, the taste is too strong for slugs and snails. Most herbs love it hot and dry with well-drained soil. They hate living with wet feet in the winter and digging in sand three years ago seemed like hard work. But it has made uncomfortable traveling for snails and an ideal home for herbs.
I was stunned to see the explosion of oregano and tarragon. In just a few days the growth has been enormous; it looked and felt right for picking this week. Herbs benefit greatly from being sheared back in early summer.
The result is a shorter thicker growth which seems to concentrate the flavor and oils, even more, so don’t hesitate to take an early crop, you can come back for seconds and thirds later on.
I always leave a third for the bees, cut the rest – and dehydrate it as soon as possible.
All of which leads me back to dehydrated food storage tips, because I’m going to have to do it myself at latest tomorrow if I want the best of my crop.
Dehydrating Food at Home – Why Bother?
- Fast clean method of food preservation – no sticky mess or hot jars
- You can buy when vegetables are in a seasonal glut at low prices and dry to use later
- Retains most of the vitamins and nourishment
- You will never be short of ingredients to make a tasty meal
- Herbs dry especially well and are expensive to buy
- Dried fruit makes a delicious healthy snack without the added sugar of bought fruit
- Storage takes far less space than canning or freezing
- If you grow your own this is all free
Dehydrated Food Storage was something I experimented with, using airtight plastic containers through to ziplock bags, mostly it comes down to what you are storing and for how long. All of its stores best in the dark.
By the way, always dry herbs before adding to oil, or they will basically rot in about two weeks. If you want it to last, dry first.
Mix It Up?
There is one other point to consider before you get food in the dehydrator – should you mix it all up?
Actually yes, some of it in some circumstances! Dehydrated food stores best when the air is kept out, thus keeping freshness and flavor in. So for a stew, you don’t need to be opening five containers, when one ready-mixed box or bag will do – much quicker too.
Once you’ve used dried food in a stew you’ll know how much reconstitute back to what you need, so portioning up dehydrated vegetables as ready ingredients become a fast operation.
I frequently add the dried food to liquid before using it, it’s faster and you throw the whole lot in, liquid and all.
Personally I portion it up as a meal, put each into a ziplock bag and then store the bags in an airtight box, this double bagging system is not needed – it just suits my cupboards.
Use A Meat Slicer Or Kitchen Mandoline To Prep
Depending on how much food you are prepping; using the right tools can make an hours difference to the slicing time. For everything soft to medium-hard I use a kitchen mandoline slicer – you can read more about kitchen mandolines here. For firmer bigger veggies like butternut squash, I’ve found a home use meat and food slicer to be safer. Anything where you really have to push on a mandoline is more safely done with your fingers further from the blade.
Food Dehydration Tips
On the subject of reconstituting your dried produce, here’s a tip. Weigh the fruit or veg before putting it into the food dehydrator and note it down. Once dried, weigh again and you’ll know how much weight has been lost to liquid – note it on the storage bag too. This gives you two things, the weight before drying and the amount of water needed to rehydrate it.
Forearmed with this you can add the right amount of each to a bag, pretty much as you would with fresh food, so 1lb of carrots in a stew equals roughly 6oz dried weight and needs about 10oz of liquid to pump itself up again.
Larger items like apple rings and similar fruits seem to stay at their best for longest in plastic boxes, whereas root vegetables do very well in bags and take up little room, you can pop them in a drawer, they’ll be fine.
Display In Spice Jars For A Month Or Two
Herbs I store in the same way as a veg with a number of different combinations ready to use. When needed they get transferred to glass spice jars which look nice on the shelf and keep them in pristine condition for another month or two.
Other than bay leaves which store best flat.
I don’t dry meat and never have yet, so I can’t advise on storage. At least not from experience, however, I’d start by using airtight containers.
One (or two) Last Word Of Advice
The look of an old fashioned sweet jar filled with colorful dried vegetables can be irresistible. Go ahead and do it – but don’t try and eat what’s on display.
Light will cause it to lose color and flavor quite quickly, so replace as needed with fresh, but don’t eat it okay?
Looking For A Food Dehydrator Buying Guide?
If you landed here because you are researching whether to bother dehydrating food or not, go have a read of the post answering a frequently asked question – What is a food dehydrator anyway? Alternatively, if you’ve got to the stage of trying to figure out which one to have, you’ll find help from my food dehydrator buying guide where there’s plenty more advice, all the pros, and cons, plus a look at popular brands.
For me, it’s time to bring the food dehydrator into the limelight again. And fill the house with the gentle fragrance of drying herbs – it feels like summer has finally arrived. I got started on food dehydrators about four years ago, after reading an article over at The Cottage Smallholder – a goldmine of information on preserving food and funny with it – so do check it out.
If you’ve got any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you. I just fill out the comments form below or hit the contact button and I’ll get back to you within a day or often less.