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How to Use a Food Dehydrator: Canning Basics

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Dehydrating is one of the easiest methods to preserve food. The best part about a food dehydrator is that it is super simple to use. A dehydrator is useful for preserving all sorts of foods; from raisins to fruit leather to jerky.

Food dries most reliably when you use a Food Dehydrator. A Food Dehydrator is a small appliance that uses hot air to remove the water from foods like fruits, meats and vegetables. The removal of moisture from food aids in its preservation. Dehydrating your own snacks is budget-friendly, plus you’ll control the quality of the ingredients.

If you do not have a food dehydrator you can also successfully dry foods in the oven.

When you dehydrate tomatoes it intensifies the flavor and alters the texture. Food dried in a dehydrator can be safely stored in plastic bags or in jars on a shelf. However, food dried in the oven doesn’t dehydrate as completely, so food dried using this method should be stored in plastic bags in a refrigerator or freezer.

Food dehydrators tend to be much more energy efficient than ovens.

The main components of an electric food dehydrator include:

  1. A source of heat.

  2. Airflow to circulate the dry air.

  3. Aeration trays to hold the food during the drying process.

  4. Mesh or flat fruit leather sheets to dry certain types of foods like fruit leather.

A food dehydrator uses a heater to heat the air and a fan to circulate the heated air. Some dehydrators have the fan and heater in the base of the dehydrator, others have them in the back. A food dehydrator plugs into the wall and has a temperature gauge on the front or top. The food dehydrator has aeration trays that stack on the base. The food being dehydrated is evenly spaced on the stacked aeration trays. Sometimes you have smaller food items that require an additional mesh screen so they will not fall through the larger holes of the aeration trays. If you are making fruit leather you will need a full plastic tray for your pureed fruit. The lid goes on the top or front of the dehydrator and helps to keep the heat inside the unit.

Additional Information

As you are placing your food on the trays, leave enough space between the food pieces for good airflow. Dehydrating food tends to take anywhere from 4-24 hours depending on what type of food you are dehydrating. The dehydration time varies depending on the water content and the size of the food you are dehydrating. Certain smaller food pieces may need to be removed from the dehydrator early so they don’t burn while the larger pieces finish drying. You can tell the food is done when it feels dry and crisp. Another trick is to periodically rotate the bottom trays to the top and the top to the bottom.

There are 3 main dehydrating temperatures;

  1. 125 degrees Fahrenheit for Vegetables

  2. 135 degrees Fahrenheit for Fruit

  3. 145 degrees Fahrenheit for Meats

Storage of Dehydrated Food

Dehydrating food doesn’t take up freezer space and no jars are needed. You just need to place your food in an airtight container. You can vacuum seal it if you want to maintain freshness longer.

Do you want to purchase your own food dehydrator? Here are a few to choose from.

If you have any additional questions, please let us know.

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