fruits and vegetableWhen drying fruits and vegetables they acquire another flavor and another texture, but above all it is useful to preserve them for a long time. Dehydration allows you to take advantage of the food from your garden or the offers in the market.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are super-nutritious foods because when the water is removed, many nutrients are concentrated, especially minerals, and some vitamins, which are not sensitive to heat or contact with oxygen.
With a good dehydration process, the loss of vitamin C is reduced to 50%. Keep in mind that when a food is cooked in water or baked, this vitamin practically disappears. The loss of vitamins of group B, more stable, is between 10 and 40%.
These are good figures, but they are only achieved if dehydration is carried out at a temperature of 30 to 50 ° C. Above this range, the loss of nutrients multiplies.
AIR DRYING IS THE MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT
The easiest way to dry mushrooms, chili peppers and aromatics is to do it outdoors. To dry, you need a constant temperature close to 40 ° C and good ventilation. A warm, dry and well ventilated place, such as a balcony or terrace are ideal.
You should avoid strong, direct sunlight, as fruits discolor in direct sunlight and more nutrients are lost. The sun dries out plants instead of drying them out.
DRYING IN THE OVEN CONSUMES TOO MUCH ENERGY
When the weather is not accompanied, the conventional electric oven is usually used, but this is not really an efficient method.
Most models are not designed to maintain temperatures below 50 ºC and the trick of keeping the oven door ajar to control the temperature and allow moisture to escape is often used, but in this way we are using it as a stove to keep the kitchen warm.
Keep in mind that, depending on the food to be dried, the process can take from 6 to 15 hours. With this method you will have a very high energy consumption.
BUILD DRYING RACKS
To air dry you need to build some frames. You can use pictures of old frames, with mosquito netting on one side, to hold the food, and gauze on the other, to protect it from dust and insects. On the internet you can find other ideas to build homemade dehydrators.
Aromatic plants and chili peppers can be dried implement by making bundles and hanging them from a wire or a hook on the wall.
DRY LARGE QUANTITIES IN THE DEHYDRATOR
Dehydrators are ideal drying devices. They have moderate power consumption and are good for large volumes. During the drying process, swap the upper screens (sieves) for the lower ones to ensure even drying.
Drying times depend on the size and thickness of the food, its water content and the number of sieves used. Drying times for each food are generally specified in the device’s operating instructions.
DRYING WHOLE FOODS OR CUTTING THEM INTO SMALL PIECES
You can tie and hang small vegetables or place them on racks. Cut larger vegetables, such as chives, carrots, and parsnips, into slices (0.5-1cm thick) or strips before drying. Cut them into equal pieces so that all the parts take the same time to dry.
They are especially recommended for drying zucchini, celery, green beans, carrots, onions, kohlrabi, tomatoes and peppers.
Dried vegetables should be crisp. However, some vegetables remain a bit leathery (peppers, tomatoes) and flexible. Peas and corn are tough.
WASH AND BLANCH BEFORE DRYING
Before dehydrating food, it must be washed with plenty of fresh water.
Some vegetables can be blanched for 3 minutes before drying. Blanching inactivates the enzymes that age the vegetable and prevents the growth of bacteria and molds. Don’t rinse them in cold water, just pat them dry after blanching.
DRY MUSHROOMS SLOWLY
The boletus and shiitakes are ideal for dehydration mushrooms, as they develop their aroma even when dry.
Small mushrooms can be dried whole and larger ones can be cut in half, quartered, or sliced.
You should dry the mushrooms slowly and not subject them to direct sunlight or high temperatures.
DEHYDRATING THE FRUIT TAKES TIME
The duration of the drying process depends a lot on the climate, temperature and humidity, as well as the type of vegetable or fruit used.
It is important to choose pieces that are at the optimum point of ripeness, neither green nor too ripe. Parts with damaged parts are useless.
- Apples: cut into 1 cm thick slices or wedges. Drizzle the pieces with a little lemon juice so they don’t turn too brown.
- Apricots: have a long drying time. Therefore, it is recommended to dry in the dehydrator the fruit should be cut in half or quarters.
- Strawberries: Depending on their size, you can take whole stem less strawberries, halved or quartered. Strawberries are very rich in water, so a relatively long drying time is necessary. It’s faster and easier with a dehydrator.
- Raspberries and blackberries: they are less suitable due to the large number of seeds.
HOW TO STORE THE DEHYDRATED PROPERLY
The already dehydrated food must be completely cooled before putting it in jars to avoid condensation. Store dry food tightly and protected from light. Moths and worms tend to attack dry products. Airtight containers minimize the risk of pest infestation.
Check dry foods regularly for the first few weeks. If water droplets form in the glasses (condensation on the inner wall), they must be dried again so that they do not rot or mold.
The guideline values for the storage period are between 6 and 12 months at a storage temperature of between 5 and 18 ° C.