Part of canning and preserving is drying food. The advantage of dried foods is that it takes up very little storage space, retains it’s nutritional value, it great for food storage and is just plain good to eat.
When I’m down stairs doing laundry, I like to help my self to a handful of dried fruit: apricots, or pears, or apples. I have to remember that dried food has more calories than fresh or canned food. But, its a little like potato chips, it hard to stop once you’ve started.
I’ll have to admit, my drying food expertise is limited to dried fruit and dried vegetables. I leave the drying and smoking meat to my neighbor Rick. (He’s got a great smoker.)
My first experience of sun drying food was at my Grandma Ella’s house. She laid out two screen doors between chairs. We would carefully lay the fruit on the screens, meat side up. At night, everything was covered with a sheet until the morning sun appeared.
Now food drying equipment is much more sophisticated with the use of dehydrators or food dryers that are home made. I have both on hand.
A dehydrator is an electrical appliance for drying food indoors. It has an electric element that heats and a fan that vents for air circulation. Good food dehydrators dry food at 140 degrees.
Drying vegetables in food dehydrators is best because of the low acid in the veggies. Sun drying veggies is not a good idea because have a tendency to spoil before they are dried.
My experience is, it’s a waste of hard earned money to purchase a cheap dehydrator. Make an investment and purchase one that is going to last a long time. Save your money and by the best food dehydrator. They not only have longevity, (no broken fan) but they dry faster.
Sun Drying Food
Since fruit is loaded with sugar, sun drying when the weather conditions are just right is an easy, inexpensive way of getting dried fruit and delicious fruit leather.
Drying fruit out doors can be a bit of a risk because of weather. Look at the long term weather report and choose days that are going to be 85 degrees or above. Add a dry breezy day along hot temperatures and you have the ideal condition to sun drying food. It will take about 3 days to complete the food drying process.
If you live in areas that have high humidity, if would probably be wise to use your indoor dehydrator for food drying.
Grandma Ella didn’t know that she should not use old door screens to dry food. Hardware cloth, a galvanized metal cloth, is the screen they use for screen doors. It’s not safe because it can leave a harmful residues of metal on the dried food.
Food dryers which are home made should use stainless steel screen, teflon-coated, or fiberglass screen.
By the way… the birds love dried food. A thin layer of cheese cloth can be placed over the food so you get to feast on the dried fruit before the birds do.
Dried foods are now a part of my canning and preserving routine. Drying food is part of my survival foods program.
Happy canning and preserving
Kathy – Insightful Nana