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Honey I Shrunk the Garden!

Vince Kirchner Great Lakes Permaculture April 2013

Why do I dehydrate?
Something is always in season I hate to waste food Ease of preparation soups, stews Seasonings herbs, rubs, powders I get Cindy to eat foods she does not like Make my own greens instead of buying them Its compact storage, takes very little space Storage is stable for a very long time.

Todays Topics
History Understand how drying process preserves foods Review what equipment is needed Learn how to choose best methods of treating fruits before drying Understand how to blanch vegetables before drying Learn how to safely store dried foods

There is evidence as early as 12,000 BC in areas of the Middle East as well as Asia that shows fire pits with exhaust vents at the top. Fruits, vegetables and animal products were dried when heated air rose upward creating the essential low humidity needed to dehydrate. In 1800, Napoleon offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could devise a way to preserve food for his mobile army. Nicolas Appert won the award by applying heat to glass jars containing food thus killing off harmful bacteria before sealing.

Native American
Cherokee Plains Indian

Yup'ik People of Southwest Alaska drying whale

Asian Culture
Golden Needles

How Does Drying Foods Work?

Removes moisture from food so that bacteria, yeasts, and molds cannot grow Drying also slows the action of enzymes, but does not kill them

What equipment do I need? Very little depending

Sun or Solar Drying Vine Drying

Oven Drying Great to use if trying out the process Challenging because of daily use Hazard for small children Slower than dehydrators no air movement Food is darker, less flavorful Uses more energy Cost more

Methods of Drying
Microwave Fast way to dry herbs when in small quantities Follow MW directions Do not use for other food items- moisture doesnt evaporate

Electric Dehydrator Double wall construction-metal or plastic Enclosed heating elements Enclosed thermostat with dial control From 85 to 160 degrees Timer Fan or blower 4-10 open mesh trays-easy wash plastic UL seal of approval

What dehydrator do I use?

My go to guy Excalibur Additional units for overflow

Preparation of Food
Select high quality produce Wash and core Leave whole, half, or slice in equal pieces Smaller is better Select appropriate pretreatment Place in single layer on drying trays Pieces should not touch or overlap Follow directions for your method

The goal is to keep fruit from turning dark when they are exposed to air For many years sulfuring was the only method used For some people with allergies or asthma, the sulfites found in the food have been found to cause asthmatic reactions Thus there are other choices

Ascorbic Acid: otherwise known as vitamin C mixed with water is a safe way to prevent browning, this is not as effective long term as sulfuring. Can be purchased in tablet form to dissolve in water for soaking, then drain before placing on dryer trays Ascorbic Acid mixtures are available, but are not as effective as using pure ascorbic acid and they are more expensive

Fruit Juice Dip: is using a fruit juice that is high in vitamin C like orange, lemon, pineapple, grape and cranberry through not as effective as the pure ascorbic acid, each juice adds its own color and flavor to the fruit Fruit is soaked in the juice and then drained

Honey Dip: while effective against darkening, realize that you are adding calories Mix cup sugar with 1 cups boiling water. Cool to lukewarm and add cup honey Place fruit in dip and soak 3 to 5 minutes. Remove fruit, drain well and place on dryer trays.

Syrup blanching: the resulting product is similar to candied fruit Best used with apples, apricots, figs, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums and prunes Use your preferred sweetener and water and bring to a boil- let simmer 10 minutes and let stand for 30 minutes before draining and placing on dryer trays Steam Blanching: changes the flavor and texture of the fruits

Pretreatments Vegetables: Blanching Water or Steam? Hot water, colander, ice water, drain

The risk of foodborne illness from home-dried jerky can be decreased by allowing the internal temperature of the meat to reach 160o F, but in such a way as to prevent case hardening. Two methods can be used: heating meat strips in marinade before drying or heating the dried jerky strips in an oven after the drying process is completed. When the strips are heated in a marinade before drying, drying times will be reduced. Color and texture will differ from traditional jerky.

To heat, bring the strips and marinade to a boil and boil 5 minutes before draining and drying. If strips are more than inch thick, the length of time may need to be increased. If possible, check the temperature of several strips with a metal stem-type thermometer to determine that 160oF has been reached.

Unusual Things

Just kidding

Not kidding

Packaging and Storing

Cool 30-60 minutes Pack loosely in plastic or glass jars Seal containers tightly Store in cool, dark place Dried fruit needs conditioning Pack loosely in plastic or glass jars Shake daily


Vacuum seal Mylar bag with dehydrated contents suggested to us an oxygen absorber

Vacuum seal mason jar with dehydrated contents

No power options


Too high heat too fast dries the outside and traps moisture inside. Place cool contents in a jar for 1-2 days to equalize moisture, then put back into dehydrator until completely dry. High starch vegetables can turn brown or black if not blanched corn and potatoes are subject to this. Throw any discolored food away, do not eat this. Yellow, orange, and red vegetables are usually light sensitive. Storing the dehydrated vegetables in a dark environment will maintain their appearance and nutritional content.

Use up to date information and recipes Collect and inspect needed equipment Use fresh produce Make sure equipment and kitchen are sanitary Follow instructions carefully Enjoy

Special Thanks to:

Cindy Kirchner and Dolly Kirchner for typing and dehydrating samples http://www.backpackingchef.com/ for meal recipes http://cheftessbakeresse.com/ for jar recipes