Food drying is an old method of food preserving where food is dried using mechanical means. Dried foods keep better than their fresh counterparts because they do not undergo any changes during storage. Dried foods retain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts because they are not subjected to any physical alteration. Dried foods inhibit the development of mold, yeasts, and bacteria during the removal of moisture from them.
Dried foods have been around for centuries. They were the first source of nourishment available to early civilizations. With the development of new technologies, dried foods gained a dominant position in society as people began to store them. Dried food dehydrators have made it possible for the process of drying to take place in a more controlled manner than was once the case with room drying. The food dehydrators available on the market today vary in design as well as capacity.
Most commonly available dry foods use the principle of relative humidity or the relative humidity of a certain area. Relative humidity refers to the moisture content that is found in the air. Foods placed in a room at room temperature will retain more moisture than those placed in a cold room. Dried fruits and vegetables also benefit from the relative humidity drops below the moisture content of their own natural environment, although this effect may not be significant to consumers.
There are many other varieties of dried foods, including coconut, pineapple, papaya, and watermelon rinds. A food dehydrator can be used to preserve most types of fresh produce, although it is safe to assume that most people will not want to eat raisins or dates if they are not dried. Other items considered to be safe to put into a dehydrator include garlic, spices, nutmeg, mustard, honey, vinegar, mustard seeds, vinegar seeds, citrus peels, citric juices, lemon juice, and lemons kingfoods.
Some foods lose moisture when they are stored in airtight containers. In an airtight container, air cannot travel in the food, so moisture will slowly escape and the foods will become drier over time. Airtight containers are recommended for dried foods that will be stored on counter-tops or shelves for lengthy periods of time. Foods that are frequently stored in ovens or hot boxes should not be placed in airtight containers. Complete drying will remove any remaining moisture from the foods.
Some dried fruits, such as dried pineapple slices or dried apples, will retain a small amount of moisture when they are stored in airtight containers. To achieve the desired level of dryness, these foods should be placed in airtight containers with no air pockets in which moisture can expand. Store dried fruits in a cool, dark place, but not in cabinets with direct sunlight or with extreme temperatures. For convenience, dried fruits should be stored in bags or airtight glass or plastic containers. Store the bags inside the fridge to keep the foods from getting moist.