Dried fruit isn’t the sexiest ingredient. It doesn’t have the lush juiciness of its fresh counterparts and—let’s face it—its looks certainly aren’t improved by the drying process. But its flavor, in many cases, is—its sweet, jammy taste concentrated and intensified. Which is exactly what makes dried fruit so rewarding to cook with.
Forget about that box of raisins you ate every day at snack time in preschool. Instead fold tart dried cherries into your favorite grain (or quasi-grain) salad. Simmer plump dried figs or prunes into a compote that pairs as well with roast pork as with pound cake. Make dried cranberry–studded chocolate bark to give to friends as hostess gifts.
Best of all, while the seasons come and go for fresh fruits, in dried form they’re a versatile pick-me-up any time of the year. Here’s what to know when stocking up.
Dried fruit sounds elementary. Is it?
Pretty much, though the drying process varies depending on the fruit. Some, such as raisins, are sun-dried on a large scale. Others are mechanically dried in what are essentially giant ovens.
There’s also a process called osmotic drying where fruit soaks in a sugar solution, then is drained and dried. “The sugar solution draws the water out and replaces it with sugar, so tastes better and also has a protective effect against bacterial growth,” says Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science at Penn State.
Dried cranberries are most often processed this way. They’d be too tart to eat otherwise, says LaBorde.
What are sulfites and why do I often see them on the label?
You know how an apple eventually turns brown after you slice it up? Sulfites are substances that prevent that browning reaction during the drying process. They’re used primarily with lighter fruits like apples and apricots.
Ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) can also do the job, but commonly used sulfur dioxide happens to do it best, says LaBorde. That’s why sulfite-free dried fruits always look a little darker than those with sulfites.
Some people are sensitive to sulfites, so check the label. Sulfites in dried fruit have to be labeled under federal law.
What’s freeze-dried fruit all about?
In the freeze-drying process (called sublimation, if you want to get geeky), the water in the fruit converts directly to vapor, shrinking and concentrating the fruit.
It’s a longer, costlier preservation method, which is why you’ll pay more for freeze-dried. There’s typically one ingredient listed: the fruit itself.
“Because there’s no heating step involved and no disruption of the tissue, you get far better quality,” LaBorde says.
What should I look for when buying dried fruit?
Check out the ingredients panel if you want to avoid sulfites, added sugars, coloring, or other additives or preservatives. Dried fruit in packaging that blocks out the light is ideal for maintaining quality.
How long can I keep dried and freeze-dried fruit in my pantry?
Up to a year unopened, and at least a month after opening if you keep it airtight and out of direct light. Dried fruit won’t spoil over time so much as, uh, dry out even more.
Refrigerating dried fruit isn’t necessary. (“That’s the point of it. Stuff can’t grow on it because there’s not enough available water,” says LaBorde.) But doing so will extend the shelf life to six months after opening, according to the USDA.
- How Long Does Dehydrated Fruit Last
- How much time does dried fruit last?
- Tips for Right Dehydration and Preservation of Dehydrated Fruit
- Storage Life Of Dry Foods
- Four Factors that effect food storage
- Storage Life Notes About Specific Foods:
- The Soft Grains
- The Hard Grains
- Dehydrated Vegetables
- Dehydrated Dairy Products
- Flours and Other Products
- Dehydrated Fruit
- Honey, Salt and Sugar
- Peanut Butter Powder
- Brown and White Rices
- Garden Seed or Sprouting Seed
- Textured Vegetable Protein
- Drying Fruit in a Convection Oven
- How to turn your oven into a dehydrator
- How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last and What to do for Long Term Storage?
- The Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Food
- Shelf Life terminology
- Storage conditions
- Dehydrated vs. freeze-dried
- Oxygen and water vapor in the air is the second problem.
- Our Product Storage Best Practices
- Connect With Us!
- Storing Dehydrated Food – The Complete Guide
- Factors Which Affect the Quality and Shelf Life of the Storing Dried Food
- List of Products Which Help in Storing Dehydrated Food Safely
- The shelf life of Stored Food
- How to Store Different Types of Food
- Foods That Need Special Care For Storage
- Instructions for Packaging Dehydrated Fruit and Dried Food
- Important Guidelines for Storing the Dehydrated Food
How Long Does Dehydrated Fruit Last
There are a number of things that we can dehydrate in the food dehydrator like vegetables, meat, fruits, etc. But do you have any idea that how long does dehydrated fruit last?
People love eating dehydrated fruits as snacks or in between the gap of the mealtimes. It makes them feel full for a long time along with the satiety of the sugar craving. It is one the healthiest option for all those who are health conscious or fitness freaks. There is no feat or sugar in it, but it has lots of fiber in it.
The maximum number of dehydrated food last for more than a year, but you have to keep them checking after some time if they go bad or not. The shelf life of the dehydrated fruit varies by some factors like drying procedure, the period of preparing and the storage method.
In the below article, we will throw some more light on how long does dehydrated food last. Moreover, we will also share with you some additional information that impacts the longer shelf life of the fruit.
So, let’s start!
How much time does dried fruit last?
If the storage of the dried foods done correctly, then their shelf life gets lengthy easily. While drying fruit in the food dehydrator, the entire moisture from the food gets removed. It helps in stopping the formation of mold, yeast or bacteria in the fruits so that they don’t get spoil quickly. Dehydrated fruit becomes very smaller in size and lighter in weight. You can rehydrate the dehydrated fruit before eating.
The food dehydrator helps in drying the fruit efficiently and in less time in comparison to the other methods of drying. The below is the amount of time for which the dehydrated food last after drying in the dehydrator:
|Name of the dehydrated fruits||Time for which it lasts in the pantry after drying (in months)||Time for which it lasts in the refrigerator after drying|
|Raisins||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dried Cranberries||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dried Cherries||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dried Apricots||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dried Mangoes||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dates||3 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dried Blueberries||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Dried Plums||6 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Banana Chips||1 – 2 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Figs||3 – 12 Months||1 – 2 Years|
|Chocolate Cherries||2 – 3 Weeks||Six months|
What happens during the Dehydration process of fruits?
The process of food dehydration eradicates the moisture’s content from the fruit for stopping the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. The best part about the fruit dehydration is that it affects the nutritious content of the fruit insignificantly.
While drying fruit in the food dehydrator, only 3% to 5% of the fruit’s nutritious content gets vanished in comparison to the other drying methods. Food dehydrator retains vitamins A & C, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and selenium in the fruits. Therefore, the fruit dried in the dehydrator gets easily stored for long term period along with the full nutrition.
Factors that impact the Shelf Life of the Dehydrated Fruit
There are so many things that affect the longevity of the dried fruits in our kitchen. Ignoring such factors can be very risky sometimes, and all your hard work will get zero.
The below are a few essential factors that impact the shelf life of the dried fruit:
1) Fruit preparation before Dehydrating
The shelf life of the fruit is also affected by the way you prepare the fruit before the process of dehydration. The fruits should be washed with the solution of vinegar and water before beginning the drying process. Before cutting, try to keep them inside the solution for at least 10 minutes for eradicating pesticides from fruit.
The fruits that are juicy should partially be frozen for the stress-free slicing. The stems, cores or the seeds must be taken out in advance. Some fruits like apples get dark in color after cutting. Thus to counterbalance the effect of oxidization, you may spray lemon juice on the fruit’s slices.
2) Food Dehydrator Temperature’s setting
The significant aspect that affects the shelf life of the fruit is the correct setting of the dehydrator’s temperature. Most of the fruits dry out impeccably in the temperature ranges of 125 degrees Fahrenheit to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you don’t dry fruits at the right temperature then, this can result quite badly.
Some people try to dehydrate fruits at high temperature for quick results, but such a thing will only lead in the hard skin from the outside and improper drying from within.
Moreover, by increasing the temperature of the dehydrator will only kill the healthy nutrients and enzymes of the fruit quite rapidly. Therefore you should always dehydrate your fruit at the right temperature in the given required time.
The beginners can make use of the helpful information and instructions mentioned in the manual book of the food dehydrator. The manufacturer tells you exactly that how much time and temperature is require for drying a particular fruit in the instruction booklet.
3) Correct Dehydrated Fruit’s moisture content
The dehydrated fruit comprises of the less amount of moisture usually stays for longer time. But there are few fruits like plums, apricots, etc. which are slightly sticky and have extra moisture’s content.
Therefore, these types of fruits cannot remain for a longer time in comparison to other dried fruits. But storing them correctly as soon as the drying process gets completed can make the fruits lasts for a longer time.
4) Correct Storing along with Packaging
After cutting any fruit, the oxidization can spoil the taste as well as the nutritious content of the fruit if you don’t store them properly. Therefore, in such circumstance, you should opt for the vacuum sealing that reduces the probabilities of oxidation and helps in retaining entire vitamins and nutrients of the fruit for a long time.
But, sometimes in a few bags, a certain amount of moisture get remains even after taking out the whole air. It means here the oxidization can take place once more in the dried fruit.
Thus, to avoid such problem you can use the oxygen absorbers which are penetrable holders for the food that absorb the additional air.
Moreover, the dehydrated fruit can also be stored in a vacuum-packed jar manufactured from glass or the BPA free plastic material. The dried fruit should also be stored in a dry and cool place for good results.
Tips for Right Dehydration and Preservation of Dehydrated Fruit
Numerous factors affect the dried fruit and its shelf life. However, it differs from the fruit’s category that you are going to dehydrate. The following are a few tips that will help you in the right dehydration and preservation of the dehydrated fruit:
- The dehydrated fruits can store up to the period of 1 to 2 years according to the fruit’s nature and the way you store it.
- If you are not willing to consume the dried fruit quite often then, you can store them in the freezer for longer shelf life for several years. But don’t store them too long as this also impact the fruit’s quality predominantly.
- The dried fruit should store in a dry and cool place which is not bare to light, e.g., a stockroom.
- The dried fruit should be placed inside the vacuum-packed bags after forcing out the additional air before sealing. You can also store them in a brown color vacuum-packed bag for reducing the direct contact of sunlight.
- If you found any moldy fruit in the airtight container, then soon take it out instantly as it can spoil the other dried food too.
- The dried fruit should be pliable, but there should be no moisture content while pressing the fruit
- As soon as the fruit gets dehydrated, take it out from the food dehydrator and let it cool down before storing
- The dehydrated fruit must be stored loosely inside an airtight container. It will help in the distribution of the residual moisture uniformly in the middle of the other fruit pieces. The formation of condensation in the container shows that the fruit is not adequately dehydrated and must dry out more.
The dried fruit is one of the yummiest snacks that are loved by all age group people. You can easily dehydrate them in the food dehydrator in a very short period in comparison to the other drying methods.
After reading the above article, we hope that now you know the answer to the question that “how long does dehydrated fruit last.” The shelf life of the dried fruit varies owing to numerous factors like temperature setting, the thickness of slices, the moisture content of the fruit and the right storage.
You can increase their shelf life by storing them in a freezer if required. Or otherwise, you can store them in your kitchen for approximately one year.
We believe that now you know exactly how long does dehydrated fruit last. You can also let us know if you have very dried any fruit in your dehydrator machine and how much time it takes?
Is there anything that we still missed mentioning in our above article? Then, don’t hesitate to share it with us in the below comment box.
Storage Life Of Dry Foods
Four Factors That Effect Food Storage
Storage Life Notes About Specific Foods
Determining the storage life of foods is at best an inexact science as there are so many variables. These range from the condition your food was in when you first purchased it and includes many other factors. This page was written with input by Mr. Stephen Portela who has over 30 years of professional food storage experience. This information should be used as a general guide only, and should not be followed “as the gospel truth” because your results may be different.
Four Factors that effect food storage
Factor #1: The Temperature:
Temperature has more to do with how long well dried foods store than anything else. The USDA states, “Each 5.6 C. (10.08F) drop in temperature doubles the storage life of the seeds.” Obviously, there is a limit as to how far this statement can be taken. However I expect it basically holds true from room temperature down to freezing. No doubt, the inverse could also be considered true. “Each 5.6C. (10.08F) rise in temperature halves the storage life of seeds.” This theory holds true for non-garden seeds as well.
Storage Life Differences
Depending on Temperature
|Temp in degrees F||In Years|
Note: the above chart is not for a specific food but shows the relationship between temperature and storage life.
Let’s look at a couple of real life examples of good and poor food storage practices:
About a year ago we got an unopened paper bag of white flour which had been stored at 70 degrees F, in a dry climate. It had been sitting for 3 years in a closet. It made fine looking bread but had such an ‘old’ and bad flavor that it was difficult to eat. For another example, a couple of years ago in the Puget Sound area we were given a 4 gallon can of wheat that had been stored up high in a garage for about 30 years. This part of the country is not as hot as some places, yet in the summers the average garage still gets up into the 90’s. Even though wheat will store for 30+ years under good conditions, the bread from this particular wheat was very bad tasting and after a few batches we ended up throwing the wheat away (something I always dislike doing).
The experts give brown rice a 6 month storage life because of all the oils in it that go rancid. Yet, Mr. Portela has been eating from a supply of brown rice that has been in his basement over 10 years. It is still wholesome! In another example, there is a family living near him who purchased a supply of food in #10 cans 30 years ago. Their basement hovers around 58 degrees F. After 28 years, Mr. Portela took a sample of many of these items to the Benson Institute at BYU to have it tested. The results can be seen at the bottom of Mr. Portela’s welcome page. You will see everything tested had a ‘good’ to ‘satisfactory’ rating except for the eggs which had a ‘minimum passing’ rating. After 28 years I think it is most interesting that it passed at all. Mr. Portela tells me as 30 years have now passed, their storage is still in very good condition.
The bottom line is even with the very best packaging methods, if you are planning on storing your food in a warm environment, it will only last a fraction of the time it would last if stored in a cool, dry place. It is important you also find a place where the temperature remains constant. Frequent temperature changes shorten storage life. If you don’t have a cool place for your food storage, plan on rotating your storage quickly enough to prevent food loss.
Factor #2: Product moisture content:
By looking at the USDA nutritional tables, dry beans, grains, and flours contain an average of 10% moisture. Although it is very difficult and unnecessary to remove all moisture from dry foods, it is imperative that any food be stored as dry as possible. Foods with excess moisture can spoil right in their containers. This is an important consideration when packing food with dry ice as moisture condenses and freezes on the outer surface of the dry ice. For long term storage, grains should have a moisture content of 10% or less. It is difficult to accurately measure this without special equipment. See the misc.survivalism faqs for a quick and easy way of getting a rough estimate of the water content in your foods.
Factor #3: Atmosphere the product is stored in:
Foods packed in air don’t store as well as in oxygen free gasses. This is because air contains oxygen which oxidizes many of the compounds in food. Food storage companies have a couple of different processes for removing the oxygen:
Displacing the oxygen: This is done by purging out all the air in the product with an inert gas. Nitrogen is almost always used because it is the most inert gas known. People doing their own packing occasionally use dry ice which gives off carbon dioxide gas, and probably works just about as well.
Absorb the oxygen: Oxygen absorber packets do just that. Air contains about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, leaving about 1% for the other gasses. If the oxygen is absorbed, what remains is 99% pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum.
If oxygen absorber packets are used, care must be taken to use a storage container that can stand some vacuum. As air is sucked into your container as the oxygen is absorbed, it reintroduces more oxygen that must be absorbed. Before long, the oxygen absorbers will have absorbed all the oxygen they can. Obviously, your product won’t be oxygen free under these circumstances. We get around this problem with our plastic Super Pail buckets by purging the product first with nitrogen before tossing in the two oxygen absorber packets. This way the absorbers have little or no oxygen to absorb and don’t create a vacuum within the pail. As cans work well under a partial vacuum, purging them with nitrogen isn’t necessary before inserting the oxygen absorber packet and sealing the lid.
Seeds store better in nitrogen. On the other hand, seeds you plan on sprouting, such as garden seed, or seeds set aside for growing your own sprouts store better in air. For this reason we can our garden seed packs in air.
Factor #4: The container the product is stored in:
To get the best storage life out of your product it must have a hermetic (air tight) seal. Containers that do this well are:
Sealable food storage buckets
Sealable food quality metal or plastic drums.
Whatever container you use, be sure it is food grade as your product can be tainted with whatever the container is made from. Plastic sacks are not good air tight containers, for even if they are sealed, the relatively thin plastic ‘breathes,’ allowing air to pass through. Paper sacks are of course even worse.
There is some concern as to how good a seal is made by the lids on plastic buckets used by food storage companies. Manufacturer studies show an extremely small amount of air transfer. This amount is so small, however, that it can be considered a hermetic seal. It has also been found that the lids can be re-used several times without dramatically degrading the performance of the seal.
People who purchase products from food storage providers are often concerned about receiving their buckets bulging or with one side collapsed in. Collapsed buckets occasionally occur when ordering from us as the elevation of our packing facility is above 6,000 feet. As the buckets are shipped to a lower elevation, the increased ambient air pressure can sometimes push in one side. If a side is popped in, it is a great indication that the bucket is indeed sealed. And this also holds true for buckets that might be under a slight amount of pressure. If either condition concerns you, crack the lid to equalize the air pressure. You can do this without seriously degrading the storageability of the product within the bucket. Remember to re-seal the lid after doing this.
Bulging cans: Some bulging cans have been returned to us. In almost every case, these cans held mixes that contained baking powder or soda. These cans were sent off for bacteria analysis and came back negative. It is believed that occasionally the extremely small amount of moisture found in the product interacts over time with the baking powder or soda and creates a small amount of carbon dioxide gas.
Storage Life Notes About Specific Foods:
The Soft Grains
Soft Grains have softer outer shells which don’t protect the seed interior as well as hard shelled seeds and therefore won’t store as long. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 8 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Hard red wheat
Hard white wheat
Special bake wheat
The Hard Grains
The Hard Grains all store well because of their hard outer shell which is nature’s near perfect container. Remove that container and the contents rapidly deteriorate. Wheat, probably nature’s longest storing seed, has been known to be edible after scores of years when stored in a cool dry place. As a general rule for hard grains, hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 10-12 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Black Turtle Beans
Small Red Beans
As beans age they lose their oils, resist water absorption and won’t swell. Worst case, they must be ground to be used. Storing beans in nitrogen helps prolong the loss of these oils as does cool temperatures. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 8-10 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Dehydrated vegetables store well if hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen. Plan on a storage life of 8-10 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Dehydrated Dairy Products
Dehydrated Dairy Products generally store very well if stored dry in hermetically sealed containers with the oxygen removed. Plan on a storage life of 15 years if stored at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
One exception is Morning Moo. As a new whey based product, it hasn’t been tested for long term storage. Plan on rotating this product after 5 years.
All Purpose Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Flours and Other Products
Made From Cracked/Ground Seed
After seeds are broken open their outer shells can no longer protect the seed contents and seed nutrients start to degrade. Don’t try to store unprotected flours longer than a year. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 5 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. Note: Granola is not a long storing food because of the nuts. They contain high concentrations of oil which go rancid over the short term. Expect granola to last about 6-9 months.
Pasta will store longer than flour if kept dry. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 8 – 10 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. Pasta should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Fruit doesn’t keep as well as many dehydrated items. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 5 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Honey, Salt and Sugar
Honey, Salt and Sugar should keep indefinitely if stored free of moisture. Watch out for additives in the honey. It is possible to buy honey with water and sugar added. This honey generally doesn’t crystallize like pure 100% honey does when stored for a long time. If there are additives, there is no saying how long it will last.
Peanut Butter Powder
Peanut butter powder will not store as long as wheat flour. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 4-5 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. It should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Brown and White Rices
Brown and white rices store very differently. Brown rice is only expected to store for 6 months under average conditions. This is because of the essential fatty acids in brown rice. These oils quickly go rancid as they oxidize. It will store much longer if refrigerated. White rice has the outer shell removed along with those fats. Because of this, white rice isn’t nearly as good for you, but will store longer. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life for white rice of 8-10 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. It should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. Stored in the absence of oxygen, brown rice will last longer than if it was stored in air. Plan on 1 to 2 years. It is very important to store brown rice as cool as possible, for if you can get the temperature down another ten degrees, it will double the storage life again.
Garden Seed or Sprouting Seed
All viable seeds are hibernating tiny living plants that only need moisture and warmth to sprout. And much like a chick in an egg, all the nutrients this little life needs to spring into existence is contained within it’s shell. Like boiling an egg, heating a seed will kill that little life within it. However, unlike an egg, a seed can withstand cold temperatures. As seeds usually remain edible after the life within it dies, we must use different criteria when determining sproutable seed storage life. And again the big deciding factor is temperature. The big seed companies freeze their seed between seasons to promote long life. Of course, you can also do the same thing. Plan on a storage life of 4 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. And remember, you want to store all of these seeds in air. Packed in nitrogen, the viability of some seeds will last longer than others. This is still to a large degree an unexplored science, and therefore we recommend you store all the seeds you plan on sprouting in air.
Alfalfa is a unique seed as it actually germinates better if the seed is 2 or 3 years old. Most any sample of alfalfa contains ‘hard’ seed and ‘soft’ seed. Soft seed germinates within two days while hard seed germinates in about a week. The problem is, by the time the soft seed sprouts are ready to harvest, the hard seed may not have germinated yet. As storage time draws on, the hard seed turns into soft seed. Older seed germinates closer together. Stored in cool conditions, alfalfa seed should have a good percentage of germination up until it is 8 years old.
Textured Vegetable Protein
Textured Vegetable Protein, made from soy beans, has an unusually long storage life. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 15-20 years at a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. TVP should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Yeast, a living organism, has a relatively short storage life. Keep yeast in the original metal foil storage containers. If the seal remains intact, yeast should last 2 years at 70 degrees F. However it is strongly recommended that you refrigerate it, which should give you a storage life of 5 years. Frozen yeast should store for a long time.baona/iStock/GettyImages
Dried fruit is a tasty, nutritious, and versatile snack, packed with vitamins and minerals. You can dry most fruit with just a little effort. Once you’re done, throw on a little powdered sugar, and you’ll have a sweet and delicious treat.
Drying Fruit in a Convection Oven
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees F. If your oven doesn’t go as low as 140 degrees, set the oven to the lowest setting and leave door slightly ajar. This is not recommended if you have children in the home.
Clean the fruit thoroughly to remove any dirt or insects. Be sure to check for any damage or blight because such fruits will not dry properly.
Remove any pieces of the fruit you don’t wish to eat. For example, remove the stem and leaves of a strawberry before placing into the oven. Cut out cores, and then cut the fruit into thin slices or strips. For bananas, the best shape is a coin.
Pretreat the fruit. This prevents the fruit from browning when exposed to air. Ascorbic acid or Vitamin C prevents browning. Dip the fruit into a fruit juice high in vitamin C, such as orange or lemon juice. Coat the fruit thoroughly. If you prefer, you can use pure Vitamin C in tablet form; mix one (3,000 mg) tablet in 2 cups water, then apply to the outside of the fruit.
Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray. Arrange the fruit pieces so that they are not touching one another. Place the tray into the oven. Allow 6 to 36 hours for fruit to dry, depending on the size of the slice and the type of fruit. Apples, bananas, and figs require between 6 and 8 hours, while peaches, pears, berries, nectarines, and nectarines take between 24 and 36 hours.
Remove the fruit from the oven and cool. Check the moistness of the fruit by cutting in half. No moisture should be visible. If moisture is still visible, return the fruit to the oven and check again regularly.
Condition (evenly distribute the remaining moisture) the fruit by placing it in plastic or glass jars that can be sealed. Let the fruit stand for 7 to 10 days. The excess moisture in some pieces will be absorbed by the dryer pieces, creating uniformly dried fruit.
All fruits dry at different rates. Make sure to check the fruit regularly; you don’t want them to dry to the point of brittleness.
Apricots dehydrate very well, and depending on your location, can be purchased pre-dried less expensively than when fresh.
If you dehydrate them yourself, try to select firm, ripe apricots that are deep yellow to orange in color.
To prevent browning and spoilage, apricots will benefit from being treated with sulfite dip, ascorbic acid dip, or syrup blanching.
- (Optional) Tare (zero) your scale with your empty drying rack in place.
- Wash apricots, halve, and remove pits.
- (Optional) Pre-treat the apricots with sulfite dip, syrup blanching, or ascorbic acid dip.
- Arrange the apricots in drying trays in a single layer, grouping apricots of similar size in the same trays to ensure the fruit in each tray uniformly finishes drying at about the same time.
- (Optional) Weigh the drying rack with fruit on your tared kitchen scale and record your measurement. Multiply this weight by 0.175. The result is the target weight for the same tray when the fruit is adequately dried.
- Apricots halves dry best in a dehydrator, and it is difficult to obtain good results in a convection oven due to the size of the fruits.
- Dryness test: Apricots are adequately dried when they weigh approximately 0.175 times their weight when fresh.
- Storing: Let the dried fruit rest covered overnight so the moisture distributes evenly. If you are in a humid environment, skip this step, but wait to pack the fruit until it has cooled to room temperature and carefully check each piece of fruit to make sure it is dry. Pack the dried apricots into Ziploc bags or vacuum pack, and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to eat.
How to turn your oven into a dehydrator
Your oven is waiting!
Dehydration is one of the easiest ways to preserve food. You don’t need to buy special jars, preservatives or special equipment. You don’t even need to buy a dehydrator. Your oven, whether it be full-sized oven or a toaster oven, can dehydrate food perfectly in the same amount of time.
Tools for oven dehydration
The tools for dehydrating food in your oven are simple and you probably already have them in your kitchen. You’ll need:
- Lemon juice (for fruits)
- Mandolin slicer or knife
- Wax paper
- Cookie sheets (or any flat pan)
Prepping the foods
How you prep foods depends on what you are dehydrating. Here are some tips for the best results:
- To prevent fruits from turning brown, soak them in a half-and-half mixture of lemon juice and water for five minutes before drying.
- For foods to dry evenly and thoroughly, the pieces need to be the same size and thin. Around ¼-inch (0.63-centimeter) slices are best. If your knife skills aren’t the best, try using a food mandolin.
- Fat can make dried foods rancid. It can also scorch during oven drying. Cut all visible fat from meats and use lean cuts.
- Put a sheet of wax paper on your cookie sheet and lay your foods on top. This will prevent a sticky situation when you try to remove the foods from the sheet.
- You can place large pieces of meat directly on your oven’s rack, but use paper towels to blot any excess marinade so that it doesn’t drip down onto the heating element.
Bring the heat
The temperature of your oven is key for proper dehydration. Too hot and your foods will scorch or burn. You’ll want the oven’s temperature to be under 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93.3 Celsius) for the best results. Unfortunately, most ovens won’t give you many temperature options under 200 degrees. Don’t worry. Simply set your oven to “warm” and you’ll be all set. If you do have temperature options, 120 degrees F (49 degrees C) to 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) is usually optimal for a wide range of foods.
In the beginning of the drying process, you can speed things along by cranking the heat up to 150 degrees to 160 degrees F (65 degrees to 70 degrees C) until the surface moisture has evaporated. As soon as the surface of the foods seem dry, lower the heat to 120 degrees F (49 degrees C) to 140 degrees F (60 degrees C).
Dehydrating for the win
There are a few things to remember while you dry foods in the oven:
- Many ovens have hot spots that can cause some areas to dry faster than the others. Throughout the drying process, be sure to rotate the pans so they all dehydrate uniformly. This is particularly important when using an toaster oven because there usually isn’t a fan to distribute heat evenly.
- Flip the foods over several times throughout the drying process so that all sides get dried evenly.
- Space the pans 1.5 inches (2.54 cm) apart so that air can circulate around the foods as they dry.
- Oven drying times vary, depending on the food. Plan on it taking 6 to 10 hours. Drier foods take less time, while juicier foods take longer. If the food is sticky or moist, it isn’t done drying.
How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last and What to do for Long Term Storage?
Do you end up throwing away many of the extra fruits and vegetables you bought from the grocery store? Or perhaps you just want to get rid of some other food items you have laying around your kitchen? Well, instead of doing that, you can save some of it with a good food dehydrator, and it’s easy to learn the right steps.
Storing and dehydrating food can stretch the family budget and make mealtimes easier too. But then, if you’re new to food dehydration and preservation, you may be wondering to yourself, how long does dehydrated food last?
Surprisingly, according to several sources, dehydrated fruit can last up to five years if properly prepared and stored. Dried vegetables will last even longer, up to ten years or more. Compared with canned food, which only lasts up to five years, dried foods are a good bet for long-term storage. These are the four main factors that can make a difference in how long they last:
- Drying Temperature
- Moisture Content
- Packaging and Storage
Prepare Food Before Dehydrating
This is one of the most important parts when it comes to preparing dried food that will last for a long time.
- The first thing to do before dehydrating is to wash fruits and vegetables. You can prepare a bath using Fit Organic Produce Wash or a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.
- Rinse the produce well and let it sit in the bath for 5-10 minutes. This will remove the wax and pesticides before slicing. It’s always best to buy and use organic fruits and vegetables if possible.
- Fruits with a lot of juice in them can be partially frozen to make cutting them easier. Latex or vinyl gloves should be worn when handling all clean produce to protect it from germs and bacteria on the hands. If you don’t have gloves available, be sure to was your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling any food items.
- Remove cores, seeds and stems, and peel the produce if desired. Slice it 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, and cut it into one-inch pieces. Then spread the pieces in a single layer on the food dehydrator tray. Once sliced, some fruits darken and change color quickly, especially apples, bananas and strawberries. This is called oxidization, and the fruit loses some of its vitamins and nutrients when this happens.
You can counteract oxidization by spraying lemon juice on the cut pieces, and this will also kill any bacteria remaining on the skin. Even better, rinse fruit in an ascorbic acid bath and remove the pieces with a slotted spoon. Ascorbic acid is a natural ingredient that can be found at online, at health food stores and in most grocery store canning aisles. You can simply use the Ball Fruit Fresh Produce Protector to make your asorbic acid bath.
How to Determine The Right Dehydrator Temperature
Most vegetables and fruits dehydrate well at between 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t be tempted to turn up the temperature to make the process go faster because this will create a tough outer skin with an inside that hasn’t completely dried.
In addition to this, raising the heat to high in your food dehydrator will kill off any enzymes in the food, and will cause it to lose its nutritional value. So it’s important to know the proper temperatures to dehydrate your foods.
The instructions for your dehydrator will give the optimal time and temperature for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some will even provide you with a quick and handy drying guide found right on the food dehydrator, like the one seen below on an Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
Overall, you’ll find man resources online that recommend temperatures and drying times depending on the fruit or vegetable.
Control The Moisture Content
Dehydrated foods that last longest are those with a low moisture content. Some fruits, like plums and apricots, will remain slightly sticky and retain more moisture. They won’t last as long as vegetables like potatoes and beans, which dry out completely.
You can tell that the produce is dried enough and ready to bag when it feels kind of leathery and you can bend it, but not break it into pieces. The next step is to condition the dehydrated produce by storing it in plastic zipper bags on the counter overnight. This will distribute the moisture evenly and eliminate any damp spots.
Proper Packaging and Storage
Besides making cut fruit turn brown, oxidization will cause produce to deteriorate in flavor and nutritional content. Vacuum sealing will reduce the oxidation rate and retain the vitamins and nutrients in the food longer. But even if you get all of the air out, there’s a chance that some moisture will get into the packaging, causing oxidization of the contents.
Oxygen absorbers are food-safe permeable packets with iron filings and activated charcoal that you can add to the packages of dried food. They will absorb the free oxygen, making the food last longer. Foods with a higher moisture content should also be stored in sealed glass jars because plastic can absorb moisture and odors over time.
Check out the following video learn some basic tips for long term food storage.
It’s important to buy storage containers that are specifically made for dried food, like mylar bags and some other recommended food storage containers, because they are less permeable and sometimes have “oxygen scavengers” built into the packaging material. Store your packages of dehydrated food in a cool, dry area that doesn’t have extremes of temperature for the best results.
Benefits of using a Dehydrator for Long Term Food Storage
My first consideration when buying a food dehydrator was saving money. I really didn’t mind giving away some of the fresh produce from our garden, but I also wanted to put a bit away for the winter months. We do some canning, but it’s always a big production, and I wanted an easier way to extend the season. I also needed some cheap dried snacks for hiking and wanted to stock up on easy ingredients for winter soups and stews.
Storing fruits and veggies by dehydrating them beats buying fruit from Chile and other far-flung places out-of-season. It costs less and saves some of the carbon expended in shipping fruits and vegetables across countries. Another consideration is storage. Food that weighs pounds will only weigh ounces when dehydrated and will take up a lot less room. I also buy and dehydrate fresh produce from local stands, especially the varieties we don’t grow ourselves.
How Do I Choose A Dehydrator?
You can get a dehydrator for as low $40, and there are also models that sell for three times that much or more. The best criteria for your dehydrator purchase is how much you’re going to use it and what types of dried foods you want to make.
A basic food dehydrator will have a fan to eliminate moisture and different types of stackable trays for drying a variety of foods. Advanced dehydrators have features like digital timers, auto shut-off and horizontal fans. Usually, they also have a greater amount of surface for drying the food, and some of them substitute sliding trays for the stacking kind.
Tips For Successful Food Dehydration and Preservation
- Pick produce at its peak ripeness to get the most flavor, vitamins and nutrients.
- Buy the right dehydrator for your needs.
- Dehydrate fruits and vegetables that are in-season to save on costs.
- Use the right drying temperature for the food.
- Take steps to control the moisture content.
- Pack and store your dehydrated food according to these guidelines.
Dehydrated food will last for years if you follow the right steps when it comes to picking, preparing and drying it. A dehydrator is a good investment that will help you store food more compactly, and it’s always a good idea to keep provisions on hand in case of emergencies. Not only that, drying food is an easy way to save money!
The Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Food
One of the biggest benefits of freeze-dried food is its shelf life. All methods of food preservation have their pros and cons, but freeze-drying is particularly effective in creating food that retains its nutrition for the long term. Whether you’re looking for preserved ingredients to add to your product or you’re stocking up on emergency supplies, shelf life is something to consider.
Shelf Life terminology
When products tout a “long shelf life,” it can mean one of two things. First, the “best if used by shelf life” indicates the length of time food retains most of its original taste and nutrition. This is the date listed on most products in the grocery store. It’ll typically be between a few weeks and a few years, depending on the product.
There’s also the “life sustaining shelf life,” which indicates the length of time the product will sustain life without decaying or becoming inedible. This can be anywhere from a few years to a few decades. It all comes down to the preservation process and its storage conditions.
Several key storage conditions have huge impacts on the shelf life of freeze-dried food.
- Oxygen: Oxygen in the air can have negative effects on the nutrients, vitamins, flavor, and color in food. It can also increase the growth of microorganisms like bacteria. Having an airtight seal on food in storage is a must for preserving shelf life.
- Moisture: Moisture also creates a beneficial environment for microorganisms, resulting in spoilage and deterioration of freeze-dried food. Shelf life is significantly shortened when food is stored in a damp area.
- Light: When food is exposed to light, it can deteriorate the proteins, vitamins, and nutrients in it. This can quickly result in discoloration and off-flavors, so be sure to store your products in a dark area.
- Temperature: High temperatures cause proteins to break down and vitamins to be destroyed, affecting the color, flavor, and odor of preserved food. Storing food in a warm environment will quickly deteriorate its shelf life.
Dehydrated vs. freeze-dried
Many people think freeze-dried products and dehydrated products are the same thing. While they’re both good for long-term storage and emergency kits, their “life sustaining shelf life” is different, as is their preservation process.
- Moisture: Freeze-drying removes about 98 percent of the moisture in food, while dehydration removes about 90 percent.
- Shelf life: The moisture content has an effect on shelf life, with freeze-dried foods lasting between 25 and 30 years, and dehydrated products lasting about 15 to 20 years.
- Nutrition: Freeze-dried food retains most of the original vitamins and minerals of fresh produce, while the dehydration process can easily break down those nutrients.
Now that you know the ins and outs about shelf life, you’re ready to make your food preservation decisions. Need more info? Get in touch with us or reach out via Facebook or Twitter.
Oxygen and water vapor in the air is the second problem.
Nuts and dried fruit can oxidize and absorb atmospheric moisture. This is when the fruit or nut reacts with the natural gasses in our environment. This will cause the product to spoil and the taste will degrade.
You will notice the oxidation process most quickly with the dried fruit. The color will quickly change from a vibrant, natural fruit color to the more brown of a piece of fruit that is way past ripe. The flavor will start to change at this point as well. We would recommend getting something fresher at this point.
For the nuts, the change is not as obvious. The nut’s density will change a bit. The crisp crunch will be gone and the nut will be much softer as the nut starts to absorb water and oxygen. There will start to be some bitterness in the flavor as the nut starts to turn rancid.
We always recommend keeping your nuts and dried fruit in an airtight container. This will limit the exposure to fresh air until you want to snack.
Our Product Storage Best Practices
Use your fridge and freezer for better temperature control
Keep your nuts and dried fruit in an airtight container
If you can’t store your nuts and dried fruit in a fridge or freezer, store them in a cool, dry place, out of the sun
Only order what you are going to eat soon, although it will last for a while, get the fresh stuff more frequently
- Do not package dried foods for storage until they are completely cool to the touch. The air surrounding the warm dried food will hold more moisture content, which is then released when it cools. You could end up with droplets of water in your storage container, which will reduce the shelf life of the dried food.
- Dried fruits must be conditioned before they can be stored. You need to place them loosely packed in jars. Shake the jars once a day for seven to 10 days. During the conditioning period, if you see condensation in the jar, you should send the fruit back to the dehydrator for further drying.
- Store dried foods in air-tight containers or freezer bags. You can use a jar with an airtight seal, which can become decor as well as storage. If you use plastic bags, they should be freezer bags, which are thicker than simple sandwich bags.
- If using freezer bags, be sure to remove all air from the bag before sealing.
- Vacuum-sealing will give you the best shelf life as it removes air, keeping moisture and mold away from the dried food. It is worth getting a vacuum sealer if you are going to dry food.
- Store sulfured fruit in non-metal containers or put it in a plastic bag before placing it in the metal container. Otherwise, the sulfur will react with the metal and can produce off-flavors.
- Store dried foods in small batches to maintain freshness and to minimize the risk of contamination. Storing individual servings will ensure you aren’t opening and closing the container, introducing air that can lead to molding and spoilage.
- Label each container with what it is and the date it was packaged. You don’t want to have a bunch of mystery items on your shelves, and you will be able to use the older items before they begin to lose their freshness.
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by Lisa Kivirist January 18, 2016
Dehydrating food goes beyond the practical side of stocking your pantry with nutritious, tasty foods; you gain personal satisfaction knowing that you created this stored bounty with your own hands. You’ll feel a sense of pride and independence, fostering a connection to generations before who used these food dehydration principles.
The first step in storing dehydrated food is to make sure the food is fully and properly dried. Cool the food completely; warm food can sweat, causing moisture that contributes to mold growth. Then test your dehydrated food for dryness using Cooperative Extension’s guidelines based on what food you are drying.
Dehydrating fruit requires a special step called “conditioning,” a process that equalizes the moisture, because all the fruit pieces might not have dried equally due to their size or position in the dehydrator. After the dried fruit has cooled, pack it loosely in a glass jar. Seal the jar, and let it sit for 10 days, shaking the jar daily to separate the pieces. The excess moisture of some fruit pieces will be absorbed by drier fruit pieces, inhibiting mold growth. Vegetables generally do not need to be conditioned, because they already are very dry when they’ve finished dehydrating.
Once fully dry, pack the dehydrated food in clean, dry, insect-proof and moisture-resistant containers such as glass jars, metal cans and plastic freezer containers or bags. Make sure the container has a tight-fitting lid. Pack dehydrated food in small amounts, because each time a container is reopened, the food is exposed to moisture and air that cause spoilage and affect food quality. When opening a container for consumption, fully inspect the dehydrated food. Discard it immediately if there are any signs of mold or spoilage.
Store dried food in a cool, dry, dark area; higher temperatures cause shorter storage durations. Dried food typically can be stored for one year at 60 degrees F but for only six months at 80 degrees F. Dried vegetables typically have half the shelf life of dried fruits. For best flavor and increased shelf life, freeze or refrigerate dried jerky.
“Preserving food, by any method, allows us to eat and enjoy the flavors of summer during winter and early spring months when our gardens are sleeping or not yet in full production,” says Melinda Hemmelgarn, a Missouri-based registered dietitian, columnist and radio host. “With any method of food preservation, the goal is to preserve just what you’ll need until the next growing season. Take notes. Did you run out of canned tomatoes, fruit leathers and frozen berries last year? Always plan your garden, harvest and preservation methods accordingly.”
Excerpt from the Popular Kitchen Series magabook Canning & Preserving with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Canning & Preserving here
What Foods Can You Dehydrate?:
Storing Dehydrated Food – The Complete Guide
Food drying is one of the best ways to preserve foods for a longer period. But do you know that if you do not store them in the right way then, it can spoil all your hard work?
Earlier people used to store the dried food in the airtight containers or jars, but now there are few more options which are available for you. People can easily do the dehydration of the food but doesn’t know exactly about the process of storing such food.
Usually, all dehydrated foods can store for around 3 to 6 months without excessively extra care. Such type of foods recognized as “shelf-stable” which means that there will be no change in the quality as well as the nutrient levels of the food after storing. If you save them wisely, then this might increase their shelf life.
First of all, let’s get familiar with the factors which influence the quality of the stored dried food then, we will tell you about the method of storing the dried food judiciously for better results.
Factors Which Affect the Quality and Shelf Life of the Storing Dried Food
The following are the factors which affect the quality of the storing dried food, so if you keep them in your mind while storing the dried food then that will be going to benefit you a lot:
Storing dried food can only last for a longer period if it has the cooler as well as a more stable temperature. Such temperature does not allow the formation of the mold spores and their reproduction. For dehydrated foods, usually room temperature (65 degrees F to 72 degrees F) is adequate to get a shelf life of more than 20 years.
The following are the favorable and unfavorable locations for temperature:
The Basement of House, Cellar, Lower Level of a House, Closet Space or Kitchen Cabinets.
Attic, the upper floor of a multi-level house, in a vehicle or top floor crawl space.
The life and the quality of the store dried food can also increase if you minimize the amount of light which is getting towards the food. The reason behind this fact is that the mold bacteria like to reproduce in the light, but the dark and the reflective containers do not let them grow. The glass, opaque, transparent and plastic containers do allow the light to pass through them.
The following are the favorable and unfavorable locations for light:
Dark Underground Room or Basement, a Crawlspace or in the Rear of an Infrequently Used Storeroom or Closet.
Nearby a window, in a regularly used cupboard or closet.
Moisture is one of the major factors which affect the storage of dry foods. When you dry the food, the moisture gets reduced, and this does not allow the mold or any other organisms to reproduce. Thus, you should store your food which is away from the formation of the moisture.
Places with Good Air Flow, Location with Little Moisture and on Shelves of a Store
Nearby a bathroom, straight on a concrete floor, under the sink, adjacent to any water piping or in a fenced room without any airflow.
If your food gets dispose-off to the oxygen then, the dried food will get spoil due to the formation of the spores. You will find oxygen everywhere in your home but the best way to get rid of it to use the airtight containers. So as to remove the oxygen that might endure inside the container after sealing, you can insert the gas such as nitrogen for flushing out and substitute the oxygen, or you can also put an oxygen absorber in the airtight container.
Airtight Containers, Mylar Bags. Lidded Bins, or Canned Jars.
Loose lid jars, non-vacuum bags or open containers which expose to the oxygen.
List of Products Which Help in Storing Dehydrated Food Safely
As soon as you dehydrate and cool down your food, you need to vacuum seal them. Such foods can consume in off-seasons or emergency situations. The following things can use for preserving and storing the dried food for longer shelf life:
1) Mason Jars
The Mason jars are great containers for storing the dried food for the daily or the weekly use. You can easily screw off the lid of the mason jars instead of cutting the top seal of the vacuum-sealed bag. These jars can be directly stored in your kitchen cabinets so that you can use the dried food at any time for making any delicious recipes.
2) Oxygen Absorbers
It will be very beneficial if you use the oxygen absorbers along with the Mason jars. It is a stress-free method to remove any unwanted oxygen from the jars. For example, in the quart-size Mason jars, a 100cc oxygen absorber is sufficient, and for the smaller pint-size Mason jars, a 50cc oxygen absorber is adequate. The usage of the oxygen absorbers is just like you do in the vacuum-sealed pouches.
3) Mylar Bags
Mylar bags are an alternative to the Mason jars which mainly designed for the long-term storage accompanied by the oxygen absorbers. These bags mostly used in the food industry which utilizes them for packaging the different food products. Mylar bags are rip-proof, waterproof and reflective which do not allow the light to get the food.
Mylar bags can be seal airtight once you heated them and pushed together. As soon as you combine the sealed Mylar bag along with an oxygen absorber, then such an environment becomes perfect for long term food storage. You should remember to keep the food at a constant and cool temperature and do not overfill the bag with the pouches so that your bag does not get punctured.
4) Plastic Lidded Bins
The usage of the lidded plastic bins works amazingly for storing the pouches of vacuum-sealed foods which confined in the Mylar bags. This type of plastic container can call “airtight” if you insert a 2,000 CC oxygen absorber before putting on the lid. However, these bins are not airtight, and you can make them oxygen-free with the help of the absorbers machine.
Now you must be thinking then why we are recommending you to use these bins? Well! These containers work remarkably for storing dried food for long term storage. You can keep your Mylar bags in them safely.
5) Feed Buckets with Lids
The feed buckets with lids are certainly air-tight in which you can use the 2,000cc oxygen absorbers along with your Mylar-seized pouches. It is not necessary that you use Mylar bags in these buckets for storing the dried food. But if you use them, then that will keep your food organized and segregated. The buckets with lids keep your food safe from bugs and insects also.
The shelf life of Stored Food
Maximizing storage life of dehydrated foods is now easy. If your store at an ideal temperature, you control the rate at which respiration occurs in fruits and vegetables. Lowering temperature slows respiration. This extends storage life. Maintaining moisture and avoiding temperature extremes is a must. Here is a table showing the average shelf life of stored dehydrated foods:
|Apples + Other Fruits||20+|
|Beans (Pink., Northern, Garbanzo etc)||25+|
|Vegetables (Potato, Quinoa etc)||20|
How to Store Different Types of Food
- Dried foods can be contaminated or become moist. As a result, they need to be stored well. Cooling food is the first important step. Warm food causes sweating. This provides enough water content for bacteria and mold to thrive.
- While fruits and vegetables that are dehydrated can be stored at room temperature for a few hours, jerky is a different matter altogether. Packing food in amounts that will be used in recipes differently is important.
- For example, you may use tarragon a lot and fennel seed, not at all. So, it is essential to engage in need-based storage of different foods. Herbs and spices tend to lose their potency once a certain period of time elapses as opposed to dried fruits which have a longer shelf life. Packing food in amounts to be used in the recipe safeguards your foods from being spoiled or contamination.
- Fruit that is dried using sulfur should not touch a metal because sulfur fumes can interact with the metal and cause changes in the color. Dried food should be stored in a cool, dark place for best results, Recommended storage times for dried foods range from 4 months to about 1 year.
- As food quality is impacted by heat, storage temperature can assess the length of storage. Dried fruits can be stored for a year at 60 degrees F while dehydrated vegetables have a shelf life of 6 months as opposed to fruits.
- Foods that are bone dry can become spoiled if moisture is absorbed at the time of storage. You need to check the food frequently to ensure they are dry. Glass containers are perfect for storing as the moisture collecting on the inside can be seen quite easily. The food affected by moisture should be immediately used or re-dried.
- Veggies should be dried until brittle or crisp. They can shatter if hit with a hammer. At this stage, they have around 10 percent moisture. As they are dry, they do not need additional conditioning during storage. Learn more about how to pack and store foods here.
Foods That Need Special Care For Storage
Some foods are more susceptible to bacteria following contamination. Rich in moisture, low in acid and high in nutrients are the kinds of food that stay at temperatures between 40 and 140 degree F for more than two hours. This includes fruits, veggies, meats and poultry and more.
To ensure the safety of food, you need to refrigerate them at 40 degrees F or below, even when dehydrated for items like jerky. Foods need special care based on factors like:
- Freshness or condition of food
- Manner of handling food
- Packaging of the food for storage
- The temperature of the storage
- Air circulation
- Quantity of Food
Instructions for Packaging Dehydrated Fruit and Dried Food
The following are the few tips which you can follow for packaging the dehydrated fruit and dried food:
- You should not pack the dried foods for storage until they are totally cool to touch. The air adjacent to the warm dehydrated food has more moisture content that gets released after cooling down. If there are any droplets of water in the storage container, then that will also decrease the shelf life of the dehydrated food.
- Dehydrated fruits should condition before the storage. You should pack them loosely in jars and shake them once in a day after every ten days. Ate the time of the conditioning period, if you see any condensation, then that means your fruits not completely dried.
- The dried food must store in the air-tight containers, airtight jars or plastic freezer bags. While using the freezer bags, you remove the entire air from the bag before sealing.
- The process of Vacuum-sealing provides the best shelf life to the dried food for removing the air and for keeping the moisture and the mold far from the dehydrated food.
- To store the sulfured fruit in any non-metal containers, you must put it in a plastic bag before inserting inside the metal container. Or else, the sulfur can react with the metal and can yield off-flavors.
- The dried foods must store in small batches for retaining the freshness and for reducing the danger of contamination. If you open the container regularly, then the exposure to the air can cause mold or formation of bacteria in the food.
- You should label every single container with the name of the food along with the date of the packaging. It will help you in knowing which container you need to use earlier.
Important Guidelines for Storing the Dehydrated Food
The following are the few tips which you can follow for storing the dehydrated fruit and dried food:
- The containers in which you store the dried food need to be placed in the cold, dry and dark location. The best temperature for storing dried food is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius. The exposure to light can destroy the dehydrated foods. Thus you should place them far from such exposure.
- The dehydrated fruits, as well as herbs, can be put in storage for up to 1 year.
- Dehydrated vegetables and meats can bring into storage for up to 6 months.
- You can store the dried food in the freezer if you want to use them for a longer period.
- If you see the condensation on any of the containers of your home-dehydrated food, then it means that needs to be dehydrated again.
- Always place the older items in the container on the front side so that you can use them earlier than the new one. It benefits in using high-quality products before.
Tips for Food Handling and Storage
When you are dehydrating food, you need to go beyond just tasty and focus on nutritious foods. Gain personal satisfaction from handling and storing the dehydrated food well. Here are some handy tips for efficient storage of food that has been dried or dehydrated.
#1 Make Sure It is Fully Dry
our food should be fully and completely dry. Why is this essential? Cooling the food is important too. This is because heat and moisture are the twin conditions you need for mold growth. Testing food for dryness? Test using these useful criteria.
#2 Equalize the Moisture
If you are dehydrating fruits, this special step is extremely important. The conditioning is a process that equalizes the moisture as all fruit pieces may not become equally dried on account of their size or positioning in the dehydrator.
Once the dried food is cooled, it needs to be packed in a glass jar loosely. Sealing the jar and letting it sit for about a week should be followed by shaking the jar. The additional moisture of some pieces of the food will be absorbed by other drier pieces. But remember, if you are moisturizing veggies, you do not need conditioning.
#3 Store in A moisture-free Place
Once it’s fully dry, pack the dehydrated food in dry containers. The containers should also be resistant to moisture and insects. They should be clean. Glass jars, plastic freezer containers or bags, and metal cans work equally well. If the container has a tight-fitting lid, it would be perfect.
#4 Store Small Amounts
This is because every time the container is reopened, the food is exposed to air and moisture causing spoilage and food quality to worsen. Fully check the dehydrated food when storing it, therefore.
#5 Store in Cool, Dark, Dry Area
Higher temperature means less storage time. Bear in mind that dried foods like fruits and fruits, can last for one year at 60 degrees but only 6 months at 80 degrees F. Dried veggies have half the shelf life of dehydrated fruits. Beef, mutton, chicken or venison– whatever the jerky is– you need to store the dried jerky in a freezer or fridge for the best results.
#6 Choose Food At Peak Quality
Dehydrated food will only remain stable for longer durations when stored if it was chosen in peak quality while being dried. Select ripe, unblemished products with no sign of spoilage or insect damage.
Check the product packages purchased from stores for no signs of tampering and also highlight the cleanliness and dryness factor. Cans should be intact too.
#7 Handle Food Properly For Storage
Make sure that dried cool foods are stored in freezers in dry places, Don’t leave dehydrated foods at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. Always check the cleanliness of your hand and the container where the food is stored.
Food in fridges should not go below 40 degree F and freezers should be set at 0 degree F for jerky. Check storage times and always use the “first in, first out” method when using stored dried food items.
#8 Labeling Food Properly
Make sure to label the food which is dehydrated and stored correctly. Labeling the food includes adding its botanical name, date of purchase/dehydration, expiry date, and product name. This is especially important if it is an opaque jar.
What to Watch out for While Storing Food
Dried products stay fresh longer than live food. That is a fact. But the shelf life of dehydrated veggies can last up to more than even two years if you store them well.
- Store in Airtight Containers This ensures that your food items remain in cool, dark places. Ideally, the container should be opaque apart from being airtight too. Heat, air, and light are the biggest factors in spoiling food. Airtight containers guard against this.
- Use a Refrigerator or Freezer For Jerky and Other Sensitive Items While dehydrated veggies are shelf-stable and can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place, freezing or refrigerating jerky and other sensitive items is a must. Those living in humid conditions should store dried foods in the refrigerator. Air conditioning is essential for storing dried foods for the longest time.
- Keep Away Water Microbes that impact food negatively need water to live. Dehydration can prevent the growth of pathogens and guard food against spoiling. Moisture is the critical enemy of dehydrated fruits and veggies. Keep such dehydrated foods away from under sink cabinet, damp basement or a place where their shelf life will be shortened by moisture.
- Use Vacuum Packs and Oxygen Absorbers Vacuum packing the dried food can increase its shelf life by decreasing oxygen and air it comes into contact with. Special equipment such as vacuum sealers and Mylar bags are needed to vacuum pack veggies.
Tips for Using the Stored Dehydrated Fruit and Food
The following are the tips for using the stored dehydrated fruit and vegetables:
- If you want to preserve the freshness of the dried food, then store the opened containers of dehydrated foods in the freezer or refrigerator.
- Before consuming the dried food, always inspect the quality of the food. In the case of any doubt or if you see any mold, then just discard that food and throw it out.
Pros and Cons of Stored Dehydrated Food
The following are the pros and cons of the stored dehydrated food:
- Storing food offers a longer shelf life.
- You can carry stored dried food on trips or journeys.
- It helps in maintaining the quality of the dried food.
- Keep safe from any mold or bacteria.
- Do not let the food exposed to light, heat, germs, and exposure to moisture.
- Stored food is lightweight to carry.
- Some of the storing products are expensive to buy.
- Mylar pouches are inclined to get a puncture.
- Needs adequate and appropriate space for storing.
- If any water content left behind in the dried food, then that can spoil the whole food in the jar.
- You have to check the stored dried food periodically.
Sometimes, in the case of any emergency situations like floods or earthquakes, the stored dried food act as a surviving breathe for so many people. You can use them efficiently on long journeys or trips but only if you have stored them properly.
Eventually, we just want to say that the method of storing dried food plays a critical role in the shelf life of the foods. There are some ways through which you can store the dried food, but you have to choose the best method that suits your needs and requirements.
In the above article, we have discussed the different ways of storing dried food along with useful tips. So, now if you have finished with the dehydration process, then go ahead with the exact storing process of your dried food.