Drying food is an excellent way to preserve it. It does not cost much and takes much less work than canning or even freezing food. You don’t need any special equipment like a dehydrator; all you need is a sunny day. Dried food keeps for a long time. You can enjoy dried fruits as a snack or add them to salads, cereal, yogurt or ice cream. You can use dried vegetables in a variety of dishes including soups, stews, pasta dishes and casseroles.
What You’ll Need
Fruits or vegetables
Slice the fruits or vegetables into thin slices for fastest drying. You can dry them in big chunks or dry whole berries or cherries if you prefer but the process will take longer.
Dip the pieces into something acidic like orange or pineapple juice, which improves the quality of the dried food. You don’t need to soak them in the juice, just dunk them quickly and take them out.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread your fruit or veggie slices in a single layer.
Place the baking sheet outdoors in a sunny spot if you live in a dry, sunny climate. You can also put the baking sheet in a closed car parked in a sunny spot, which is a better option if you live in a humid climate. Do not attempt to dry food this way on a cloudy or rainy day.
Cover the baking sheet with cheesecloth if you place it outdoors. This keep bugs off your food and prevents birds from snatching it. If you put it in your car, you don’t need to cover it.
Stir your fruit or vegetable pieces two or three times a day until they are completely dry. It may only take two or three days or may take even longer depending on the temperature. Vegetables are properly dried when they are crisp. Fruit may be a bit leathery.
Store your dried food in an airtight container. Sometimes moisture gets into the container and dried food starts to get a little soft. If this happens, you can spread it on a baking sheet and heat it in your oven at a low temperature for a few minutes. It will go back to its normal texture.
Make sure your food is completely dry before storing it. Food that is only partially dry is likely to get moldy.
Backwoods Home Magazine. http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/shaffer58.html. Food Drying.
Mother Earth News. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2008-08-01/How-To-Dry-Food.aspx?page=2. How to Dry Food.