Frequently Asked Questions
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Questions & Answers

Drying times vary widely, depending on the drying method, the temperature, quantity and relative humidity. Fruits and vegetables also vary in moisture content from one batch to another. That's why drying charts give you a range, such as 4 to 16 hours. Test for dryness frequently.

Store dried foods in a dry, cool, dark place. The higher the temperature, the shorter the storage time. Recommended storage times range from 6 months to 1 year. You can freeze dried foods to assure longer storage time and protect against mold. Use clean, dry, insect-proof, moisture/vaporproof containers and package in small amounts to avoid constantly opening a container and exposing it to air.

Don't despair. You can blend, chop or break it into tiny pieces and use it over cereal or ice cream. Or, you could try tenderizing it by putting it in boiling water for about 15 seconds.

Spread it on trays in a 150°F oven for 30 minutes. Cool and repack. Or, you could freeze it. Foods that seem bone dry when packaged often reabsorb moisture during storage.

Sulfur may be purchased at your local pharmacy. Get a pure form of sulfur. It also may be called flowers of sulfur or sublimed sulfur. Garden dusting sulfur is not suitable. Do not use it in solution.

No, the fruit is still good to eat. Next time try soaking them for 10 minutes in 1 to 2 tablespoons of sodium sulfite in 1 gallon of water. Drain well. If you're sensitive or allergic to sulfites, you can use a saline solution or ascorbic acid solution. Directions are available in PNW0397. However, while these solutions prevent browning during preparation, they do not guarantee stability of color during drying and storage.

The calorie content of foods does not change but is concentrated into a smaller mass as moisture is removed during drying. Therefore, on a per pound basis, dried foods contain considerably more calories than do the same foods fresh.

Only if they are edible varieties. The toxins of poisonous mushrooms are not destroyed by drying or cooking. Make sure you know the difference between poisonous and edible varieties before you start picking.

There aren't many problems in food drying. However, here are some things to watch for.

CASE HARDENING — If the drying temperature is too high or the humidity too low, the food may harden on the surface. This makes it more difficult for the moisture inside to escape and for the food to dry properly.

SCORCHING — When black streaks or areas appear on the food, it has scorched. This is most common in sun drying and is why we recommend you move the food into the shade when it is about two-thirds dry.

SOURING — If the temperature is too low at the beginning of drying or it is very humid, the food may sour or ferment. It may even mold if conditions are too cold. Overloading the trays can also cause this problem.

MOLD — Moldy dried food should always be discarded. Check stored dried foods frequently to be sure they remain dry. Next time, either remove more moisture from the food or store the dried food in the freezer.

INSECTS — All sun-dried foods should be pasteurized before storing to destroy insects or their eggs. Heat fruit and vegetables on trays in a 150? F oven for 30 minutes or put in freezer for 48 hours. Store food in insect-proof containers.

1. Select fruits and vegetables in prime condition.

2. Pretreat, if necessary.
  • Blanch (most) vegetables
  • Pretreat light-colored fruits using one of the following: Sulfur outdoors
  • Dip in sulfite, honey or ascorbic acid solution
  • Syrup blanch

3. Choose drying method that provides temperature of 140°F, low humidity and good air circulation.

  • Solar drying Direct sun
  • Solar dehydrator Car window Controlled heat Oven
  • Electric dehydrator
  • Commercial dehydrator

4. Test for doneness.

  • Cool
  • Fruits pliable and leathery vegetables hard and brittle

5. Package in appropriate containers.

  • Cool
  • Condition or pasteurize, if necessary
  • Use clean, dry, airtight, insect-proof containers

6. Store in cool, dry, dark place. Check occasionally for moisture. Reheat and repackage. Discard moldy food.

  • Use in 6 months to 1 year

7. Freeze dried foods if slightly moist, or for long-term storage.

8. Prepare for eating: Eat as is or reconstitute.