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Drying Food Overview
Ripe foods can be dried as a form of preservation. This could be food you purchase, bartered for, or grew yourself. Drying is particularly useful for long-term preservation/storage, because it diminishes the weight of of input to a much more manageable size. For example, 20 pounds of any of the below will result in roughly .75-2.5 pounds of dried food.
Another method is canning.
Steps to Drying Food
To successfully dry food, you need - air movement, dry air, and heat. If you use the sun as your heat source, this can be done for essentially free.
- Rinse ripe input (fruits/vegetables above).
- Cut any bruised and fibrous parts.
- Remove stems/seeds/pits.
- Slice. At this point, you can blanche, steam, or dip into lemon juice to prevent browning and shorten drying time as well as killing spoilage organisms.
- Place on a clean tray with sides (a standard baking sheet will work) and cover with cheesecloth.
- Place tray outside. (If temperature at noon is greater than 90 degrees and humidity is less than 60%.)
- If you don't have a breeze, promote circulation with a fan.
- Dry, turning food once a day, until vegetables are brittle (~8 hours) and fruits are chewy (36-60 hours).
Heat food in 160 F oven. Remove vegetables after 10 minutes. Fruits after another 5 (for a total of 15).
You want to evenly distribute the remaining moisture to prevent mold. Place the dried fruit in a container, seal, and store for 8 days. Shake daily to distribute. If you see condensation, repasteurize.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark place in a dry container (canning jars work great).
- Consume in 3-6 months.
Foods Suitable for Drying
Fruits Suitable for Drying
- Citrus Peel
Vegetables Suitable for Drying
- Snap Beans
- Sweet Corn
More from a cooperative extension pamphlet.