"And God said, 'See, I have given you
every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth,
and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for
food.'" Genesis 1:29
This year at the Florida Rainbow Council it was mentioned that
dehydrated veggies, fruits, and herbs might be a good thing to bring
to a Gathering.
That's right! Just imagine a Gathering kitchen with all the
best dried veggies, herbs, and dried fruits for the soup pot or the
Freshly dried fruits, herbs and veggies are not only very tasty
but also quiet healthy.
So if you would like to help the kitchen, and not just give
food but give health, then start drying it man! Everybody is drying
it! After all, you can never have too much great food!
There are many ways to dehydrate food
from the simplest way of just hanging it up in the kitchen to an
inexpensive food dehydrator.
Once you get it dried take it to your
next gathering and drop it off at the kitchen or mail to us and we
will see that it gets to a kitchen or to the homeless.
This is a teaching cassette tape
available from Barbara. The audio tape is very basic and gives an
excellent introduction to food dehydration.
Drying or dehydration, the oldest method of
food preservation, is
particularly successful in the hot, dry
climates found in much of New
Mexico. Quite simply, drying reduces moisture
necessary for bacterial
growth that eventually causes
Successful dehydration depends upon a slow
steady heat supply to assure
that food is dried from the inside to the
outside. Drying is also an
inexact art. Size of pieces, relative moisture,
and the method selected
all affect the time required to dehydrate a
Foods may be sun dried with or without a solar
dehydrator, in a gas or
electric oven, or with a portable electric
dehydrator. Dehydrators with
thermostats provide better control over poor
weather conditions and food
quality than sun drying.
An effective solar dehydrator is the shelf
above the back seat of a car.
Clotheslines are another popular drying rack
for ears of corn and strips
of jerky. Colorful red chile ristras hung from
vigas are practical as
well as decorative.
Prepared foods are placed on drying trays.
screening and thin wood lath are good materials
drying trays. As aluminum screening reacts with
acids in the fruit, it
is less desirable. Do not use galvanized,
copper, fiberglass, or vinyl
Trays measuring about 14" x 24" x 1" are an
easy size to handle. If
trays are to be used in an oven, they should be
1 1/2" smaller in length
and width than oven shelves to allow air
Place trays of food away from dusty roads and
yards. Elevate them at
least 1" above the table with spools or bricks
to allow good air
circulation below the food.
Cover the food with a muslin or cheesecloth
tent to protect it from
insects. Dry fruits and meats in direct
sunlight; move trays
periodically to assure direct sun exposure.
Place vegetables in the
shade to prevent excessive color loss.
If rain threatens or food requires more than
one day to dry, cover with
a waterproof material or place the food in a
To destroy insects or their eggs that may be on
sun-dried foods and to
remove additional moisture in thicker pieces,
heat foods in a 150 degree
oven for 30 min.
Either build trays as described for sun drying
oven racks to drying racks by stretching muslin
or cheesecloth across
the oven rack. Secure with toothpicks or long
sewn stitches. Alternate
trays in the oven periodically to assure even
Set oven control at its lowest setting, but not
below 140-150 degrees.
If using an electric oven, wedge a potholder
between oven and door to
allow a 1" opening. Moisture from the drying
food will vent through this
opening. Close the door on a gas oven, as into
vent will permit moisture
There are two types of dehydrators: solar and
each type of dehydrator, prepare food and place
on racks. If using a
solar dehydrator, adjust the position of the
food throughout daylight
hours to keep in direct sunlight.
Follow manufacturer's instructions for the
electric dehydrators. When
purchasing an electric dehydrator, select one
that has a thermostat to
regulate temperature and a fan to circulate
General Directions for Preparing Foods for
Drying. Refer to the tables
at the end of this guide for instructions for
Choose tender vegetables. Wash, remove any
and cut into even pieces. Blanch, then chill as
though preparing for the
freezer. Note: Do not blanch mushrooms, onions,
or sweet peppers.
To blanch in boiling water, use one pound of
food for each gallon of
boiling water. Immerse vegetable into the
boiling water using a wire
basket or mesh bag, cover kettle, and boil the
recommended time (see
table). Blanching water may be reused until it
becomes cloudy. Drain
To steam blanch, place 1" of water in kettle
and bring to a rolling
boil. Suspend thin layer of vegetables in
basket or loose cheesecloth
bag. Cover and steam blanch required amount of
time (see table).
Choose firm, mature fruit. Wash, peel if
desired, remove any
damaged areas, and cut into even-sized pieces
or slices. Some fruits
require little or no pretreatment. However,
pretreat apples, apricots,
bananas, cherries, peaches, and pears by one of
the following methods to
reduce vitamin and flavor loss, browning, and
Immerse fruit in a solution of one of the
following to a gallon of
water: 1 tbsp of sodium bisulfite or 2 tbsp of
sodium sulfite or 4 tbsp
of sodium metabisulfite. These pretreatments
mixtures are available from
some grocery stores, pharmacies, and
wine-making shops. Soak fruit
pieces for 5 min. and fruit halves for 15
Note: Approximately 5% of asthmatics are
sensitive to sulfites. Use one
of the following pretreatments if sulfites
present a potential health
Dip fruit in a commercial ascorbic acid/water
mixture from the grocery
store. Follow manufacturer's instructions when
preparing and using the
Steam blanch fruit for 5-6 min.; water blanch
fruit for 4-5 min. (see
information on water and steam blanching
Dip prepared fruit in a saline solution
composed of 2-4 tbsp of salt and
l gallon of water for 10-15 min.
Choose lean cuts of beef or venison. Partially
freeze and remove
all visible fat. Slice with the grain of the
meat into strips, 1" wide,
1/2" thick and 8-10" long.
Pound strips flat to tenderize and season with
salt, chile, or other
desired flavors. Marinate and refrigerate
overnight for additional
tenderness and flavor. Popular marinades
include teriyaki, sweet and
sour, soy, Worcestershire, and chile sauces.
Fish. Slice salmon filets into thin strips.
Place strips in a dish or
enamel pan. Salt strips using 2 tbsp. salt per
overnight. Oven or dehydrator drying is
preferable to sun drying fish.
Drying time varies widely because of the method
selected and the size
and amount of moisture in food pieces. Sun
drying requires the most
time; an electric dehydrator requires the
least. Vegetables take from
4-12 hours to dry; fruits take 6-20 hours.
Meats require about 12 hours.
Making raisins from grapes may require
days/weeks when dried outside.
When testing foods for dryness, remove a piece
from the center of the
drying tray and allow it to come to room
temperature. Fruits and meat
jerky should be leathery and pliable;
vegetables should be brittle.
Food should be conditioned for a week before
being packaged for
long-term storage. To condition food, place it
in a container such as a
cloth sack or a clear, covered container and
allowing any remaining
moisture to redistribute itself through the
If using a clear, covered container, watch for
moisture beads. If they
form, continue drying food. If using the cloth
bag, hang it in a
convenient location and shake the bag daily to
redistribute food and
Place dried food in freezer-weight plastic
storage bags, press out air,
and then put in containers with a tight-fitting
lid. Store in a cool,
dark, dry area.
Dried foods store well at room temperature for
a month. Refrigerate
foods if they will be used within three months;
freeze foods for storage
periods between three months and one year.
Foods should be used within
Dried meat, commonly called jerky, is normally
not rehydrated and is
eaten in the dried state. Dried meats and
vegetables used in soups
rehydrate during the cooking process.
Rehydrate vegetables by soaking them in 1 1/2-2
cups of water for each
cup of dried vegetable. If necessary, add more
water during the soaking
process. Heat and eat.
Cover dried fruit with boiling water and let
stand for 5 min. Drain.
Dried fruit may also be steamed for 3-5 min.
until plump. Fruits may be
eaten immediately or used in a
Fruit leathers, also called fruit roll ups, can
be made from almost all
fruits or combinations of fruits. However,
peaches, apricots, cherries,
and nectarines are ideal. Pears and apples,
sufficiently softened, also
Wash well, peel (if desired), cut into pieces,
and puree fruit in a
blender. Sweeten to taste with sugar or honey.
Spread evenly, no more
than 1/4" deep, on a cookie sheet. The cookie
sheet should either be
lightly sprayed with a vegetable shortening or
covered with plastic
If using plastic paper, tape edges down to
prevent them from folding
into the puree. Dry fruit leather until it is
slightly tacky to the
When dried, lift leather (including plastic
paper if used), and roll or
cut into small sections and roll. Storage
recommendations are the same
as those described previously.
Dried foods retain their protein, mineral and
vitamin A content fairly
well if soaking water is also consumed. Because
they are concentrated
into a small mass, dried foods can also be high
in calories. It's
important to brush teeth after eating dried
fruit because they stick to