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Dehydrating FAQs

If you are new to dehydrating, be assured - this is the easiest thing you can learn to add food to your pantry.

Every dehydrator will come with an easy manual which will give you the basics and how long various foods will take to dry and how to tell when that particular food is finished drying.

I am not going to re-invent the wheel here - there are LOTS of websites with great instructions for dehydrating - (here are a few favorites).  I'd rather handle the questions that will come up 'after' you read the manual and begin to get involved in this hobby.  Make sure and visit the Recipes section for great ideas on how to use all your dehydrated foods.

This page of FAQs is under development - if you have a question that should be here, please send me an email (AnnS@brensan(dot)com and let me know.

What kind of dehydrator is the best?
This may be a matter of preference, but most people who are serious about this hobby will want a dehydrator with the fan at the back - not on the top or the bottom.  You will also need to be able to control the temperature because herbs will dry at a different temperature than fruit and meats will need a higher temperature to be safe.  I have an Excaliber and they are great, but other similar brands are Aroma, Cosori, and LEM Products.

What does 'curing' or 'condition' mean?
Conditioning is 'balancing' the moisture of the food.  If one piece is very dry and another piece is not quite as dry, when the food is all inside the same container and the container is closed, the moisture level of the various pieces of the food will balance each other out.

After your food is dry and you take it out of the dehydrator, place the food in a jar with a good lid.  Place the jar out of the sunlight and let it sit for a several hours to half a day (or so).  Take the lid off and check the inside for condensation.  If there is ANY moisture, put the food back in the dehydrator for a few more hours.
Tip:  I turn the jar upside down and I can see inside the jar easily without opening.  I also leave it overnight.

Can I over-dry a food? 
Technically - no.  You are removing the moisture from a food and to use that particular food later, you will add the moisture back - the dryer the food, the more moisture you will add back.
That being said, fruit is better dried to the leathery stage - especially if you want to enjoy it without breaking a tooth!
I confess, I tend to err on the side of over-drying and I mostly dry vegetables, I have never had any issues.  

What is the best way to store dehydrated foods?
First - the food MUST stay dry - most authorities will recommend that you use a mason jar with a good lid - you can even vacumn-pack the mason jar for longer storage.
Here is another place I will differ from the authorities. 
I have the best luck with using freezer-grade ziploc bags, with as much air as possible removed (but not vacumn packed) - for long term storage.  The bags are stored in complete darkness.  I have tried everything over the years, and other than the obvious moisture, sun-light is NOT your friend.  I keep small bags/jars in my working pantry for convenience.
I live in a very dry climate, so my method may not be as successful for you.

There are a few exceptions to my freezer-grade ziploc storage system -
Vegetables Powders are stored in small mason jars with a tight lid and very 'rough' items - like hashbrown potatoes or sweet potatoe are stored in larger mason jars with wide lids and good seals.  These items have sharp edges and in time will wear through the bags - but the vast majority of my storage is in freezer-grade ziploc bags - in complete darkness.

Websites with great dehydrating instructions:

Common Sense Home
6 Things you Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home

The Purposeful Pantry
10 Easy Dehydrator Projects for Beginners

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More Info on the About Page
Processed by Square

After Canning (and Dehydrating) Recipes
Using your canned and dehydrated food supply and ingredients from a well stocked pantry

A Well-Stocked Pantry
Ideas for What to Put in Yours

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Send me an email at:  AnnS@brensan(dot)com