How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last?
How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last?
When it comes to ensuring that you and your family have enough food on hand to see you through an emergency situation, one of the best things you can do is keep plenty of dehydrated food stocked in your pantry.
There are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are incredibly easy to dehydrate. Not only does drying your food out significantly increase its shelf life, but it can also do wonders for your meal budget as well.
If you’re not already familiar with dehydrating your food though, you may find yourself asking how long dehydrated food lasts. It’s a perfectly valid question after all.
Many individuals are surprised to learn that when properly prepared and stored, your dehydrated food could potentially last for between five to 10 years. Dried fruit tends to last closer to five years, while dried veggies can remain edible for up to 10.Considering that many canned foods have a shelf life of only about five years, dehydrating vegetables can be a great way to ensure that you’re stocked up with a nutritious food source that’s packed full of vitamins and minerals.
How to Make Sure Your Dehydrated Food Lasts
Of course, when it comes to making sure that your dehydrated food lasts for as long as possible, you must take adequate steps to ensure it’s both prepared and stored properly.
You’ll obviously need to invest in a decent food dehydrator to be able to dry your fruits and veggies for storage. But before even using your dehydrator, the very first step you’ll want to take is prepping your food to be dried out.
Just as you should always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, you should also give them a thorough wash before dehydrating them. One of our favorite ways to make sure that our food has been properly cleaned is to prepare a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar.
After rinsing your food, let it soak in the water and vinegar mixture for about 10 minutes or so to make sure that everything is totally free of wax and pesticides.
Once your food has been cleaned, you should make sure to wear latex gloves to avoid recontamination with germs or bacteria. Next, make sure to remove any seeds, stems, and anything else you don’t want left on the food – feel free to peel your fruits and veggies as well if you’d like. Finally, cut everything you’re planning on drying out into one-inch slices.
Before placing your fruits and veggies on the food dehydrator tray, you may want to consider adding some lemon juices to the slices. This works wonders for preventing oxidation, which can cause certain types of fruit (apples, bananas, some types of berries, etc.) to darken. Once oxidation occurs, your food can potentially lose some of its vitamin and mineral content, so we recommend taking the time to add a bit of lemon juice as a precaution.
Dehydrating Your Food
In our experience, the best temperature range for dehydrating fruits and vegetables is between 125-135℉. A common mistake that many people make when using food dehydrators is turning the temperature up higher in hopes of making the process go quicker. Don’t fall into this trap! You’ll end up with dehydrated fruits and veggies with a tough exterior and an interior that hasn’t dried out.
Another risk that you face when turning the temperature up too high is that you could potentially kill off enzymes in your food. Much like oxidation, this could end up lowering the nutritional value of your fruits and veggies.
When in doubt, it’s usually a safe bet to just follow the manufacturer’s instructions that are included with your food dehydrator to find the optimal temperature and time required to dry out your food properly. As a last resort, there are also many tutorials available online as well for a wide variety of food dehydrator models.
A Word About Moisture and Storing Your Dehydrated Food
It should come as no surprise that the dehydrated foods that last the longest are those that have a low moisture content. Vegetables like potatoes are great for dehydrating as they can dry out completely. On the other hand, items like plums or apricots tend to retain a little bit of moisture, giving them a shorter shelf life. They will still last far longer than they normally would, just not nearly as long as food options that don’t hold a lot of moisture.
The easiest way to tell if your food is dehydrated enough is to simply feel it. Food that is dry enough will feel slightly leathery to the touch. You should also be able to bend your food easily without breaking it.
We would also recommend leaving your dried out fruit and vegetables to sit in a plastic bag overnight. This will help to evenly distribute any leftover moisture. In the morning, you can transfer your dehydrated food into a storage container.
Proper storage is easily the most important part of all when it comes to making sure your dehydrated food can last between five to 10 years. With that in mind, we’ll have a lot more details on how to properly store your dried out food in an upcoming article.
While we live in a time of unmatched comfort and convenience, you truly never know when an emergency situation can happen. The world is changing rapidly and things don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
It’s not a bad idea at all to always make sure to keep your kitchen stocked with plenty of survival food items. Things like canned foods, meal replacement packets, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables are all fantastic options that can last you for years in the event of an emergency.
As long as you thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies, dehydrate them properly, keep the moisture under control, and store them properly, you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised at just how long your dehydrated food can last.
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