HISTORY OF DEHYDRATED FOODS wooden pallets or stacks of trays filled with food, with a draft system built into it to circulate the hot air. Today, the newer Natural Draft dehydrators use a 1,000-watt element for heating as its heat source, or with the electric dehydrator using nine 75-watt bulbs totaling 675-watts, plus an electric fan. TYPES OF FOODS TO BE DEHYDRATED Solar dehydration or oven dehydration are good methods for meats, vegetables and fruits. If an oven is used, make sure there are numerous drying trays to fit on the oven’s racks, an accurate oven thermometer, and a small fan that is electric.
The oven temperature should be 140 -degrees for up to eight hours for vegetables, fruit from four to five hours, and five hours for jerky. The 140-degrees oven heat is approximately the same heat as keeping the pilot light on, with scorching occurring if longer drying times are used. If freezing is used afterwards to kill possible insect life on the sun-dried foods, dry packing in moisture proof containers can be used. The freezer temperature needs to be below 0-degrees. Fruit: Meat: Many different foods are prepared by dehydration.
Good examples are meat such as prosciutto (a. k. a. Parma ham), bresaola, and beef jerky. Fruits change character completely when dried: the plum becomes a prune), the grape a raisin; figs and dates are also transformed. Drying is rarely used for vegetables as it removes the vitamins within them, however bulbs, such as garlic and onion, are often dried. Also chilis are frequently dried. For centuries, much of the European diet depended on dried cod, known as salt cod or bacalhau (with salt) or stockfish (without).
It formed the main protein source for the slaves on the West Indian plantations and was a major economic force within the triangular trade. The Process Drying methods Foods can be dehydrated by various means: the sun, a conventional oven, an electric dehydrator or a microwave oven (for herbs only). Drying, like other preservation methods, requires energy. Unless sun drying is possible, the energy cost of dehydrating foods at home is higher than for canning, and in some cases more expensive than freezing.
Of all food preservation methods, that of drying foods has received the most widespread and enthusiastic publicity in recent years. Actually, drying is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Techniques have been passed from one generation to another based on what worked and what didn’t. Methods used for drying food have become sophisticated over time. Initially, salting and drying in the sun, an open room or on stove tops were the accepted methods. It wasn’t until 1795 that the first dehydrator was introduced, in France, for the purpose of drying fruits and vegetables.
Today, the variety of dried foods in the marketplace has created a multimillion dollar industry. For many people, drying food at home is a convenient way to preserve foods. Drying times in conventional ovens or dehydrators vary considerably depending on the amount of food dried, its moisture content, and room temperature and humidity (and the use of fans, for oven drying). Some foods require several hours and others may take more than a day. Prolonging drying time (by using lower temperatures) or interrupting drying time may result in spoilage.