Don’t you just hate it when you have to throw away tons of food only because you bought too much and didn’t have a place to store it? What about clearing some space in your refrigerator? It seems as if you simply can’t avoid throwing produce. This can be frustrating as it can be costly.
Fortunately for you, you won’t have to do this anymore. You can buy a food dehydrator and solve all your excess grocery problems. This way you’ll not only avoid throwing produce and spending more money on groceries, but you’ll also have every single type of food available on your plate throughout the year.
Storing does not only benefit your budget but also makes preparing meals so much easier and faster too. However, if you’re new to food dehydrating process, you might have some basic questions. If so, one of those questions must be related to the expiration date of these stored items, right? So how long does dehydrated food last exactly?
Although this process prolongs the expiration date on vegetables, meat and any food type in general, there are rules to abide. These rules don’t only ensure the success of dehydration process, but also keep the nutrition value of your stored groceries intact. Food that is stored this way can last from five to ten years or even more depending on the type of produce and following factors:
-Temperature of Drying
-Model of Dehydrator
-Level of Moisture
-Storage and Packaging
How to Prepare Food for Dehydration
Before even thinking about storing produce in your freezer, you’ll naturally need to dehydrate it. But in order to do that you’ll need to prepare it first. Sure you can simply store it as it is, but it won’t last for long even though it’s frozen. Below zero temperature is only one of the factors that prevent food spoilage. There is also moisture of your stores content, hygiene of your freezer compartment, as well as proper packaging technique. All these factors decide whether your food will spoil in ten days or ten years.
So how to start the process of preparation to store your food on the long run? Preparation is an essential part of virtually every task that is at hand. This being said, start with arranging your vegetable, meat or any other food product that you want to dehydrate on a cutting board or wide table. Now, you’ll need to wash them before you can cut them. Use a water/vinegar mix or any already bought washing liquid. This will remove wax and pesticide from your produce.
Now it’s time for cutting. Start by imaging where you’re going to cut and arrange each piece of food so that there is enough space on the cutting board. You don’t want to overcrowd your food, as sooner or later you’ll make a mistake and cut it in the wrong way. It’s essential that every item that you cut ends up in your drier in the same shape.
How to set the Right Temperature for Drying
Every model of food dehydrator has different button layout. This can be confusing if you never used a food dehydrator before. Luckily all you need to know is what’s the ideal dehydrating temperature for the type of food you’re about to dry. If you prefer vegetables and want to keep them in your freezer, you’ll naturally need to dry them first. The ideal temperature for most vegetables is up to 130 ° F. However, if you prefer to dry your meat to a point they’re similar in structure to beef jerky, you should set you dehydrating temperature to 150 ° F or even more. Don’t go over 180 ° F as your meat will lose most of it nutritious value.
Model of Dehydrator
To determine what model of dehydrator you need, you’ll first need to establish how often you’ll use it to prepare your food for long term storage. If you haven’t acquired your produce dehydrator yet, take a look at this list and choose the best one that suits your culinary needs. Being that every model is different, you should carefully inspect each and every one before buying.
You’ll want to make sure that it does the job, and keep your vegetables from spoiling over a longer period of time. If you intend to use it for vegetables only, try a simpler model that’s designed specifically for drying fruit and vegetables. On the other hand, if you want every type of food available throughout the year, it’s best to use more sophisticated models. They will cost more than basic models, but in comparison to the amount of money, you’ll save by storing this food its virtually nothing.
Level of Moisture in Produce
One of the most important factors that determine how long your food stays fresh is the level of moisture in it. Most dehydrators do a great job of dehydrating or desiccating your food, but to do that you’ll need to follow every previous step in this guide. Moisture is important for bacteria to spread and become active in any compound.
So by removing moisture from your meat, fruit or vegetable, you’ll make it virtually impossible for bacteria to spread or attach enzymes in your produce. This is how food spoilage occurs. So to make sure that your food stays fresh even though is kept in the freezer, you’ll need to dehydrate it properly. We all know that dry food doesn’t spoil, so the lower level of moisture in your produce is, the lesser chance is for it to spoil.
How Storage and Packaging Affects the Food Expiry Date
The last factor that determines whether your stored food will last for five months or five year is how well you store it. Let’s presume that you’ve successfully followed this guide and that the only thing that remains for you to do is to actually place it in a freezer to store it for a long period. To perform this last step, you’ll first need to make sure that your freezer compartment is clean.
The best way to do so is to remove all the ice and water from your fridge and let it create ice once again. This way you’ll make sure that the quality of ice isn’t compromised. Next, you’ll next to pack your dehydrated food in separate bags or containers. You wouldn’t want different produce types to mix or exchange fragrances. It can not only affect their taste but also contribute to food spoilage.
All of the steps mentioned above ensure that your food remains fresh even though it’s frozen for a while. This is why you must perform every step exactly as explained in this guide. So to make sure that your food doesn’t spoil, or that it lasts for as long as that type of food can, you should pay attention to everything mentioned here.
Only then will you be able to store your produce properly if you are to expect it to last for five, seven or even ten years in your freezer. Skipping even one of these steps might affect your food quality or its lifespan in the freezer.