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Preparedness Tips: Dehydrated Food

Dehydrated food (DF) is food from which the vast majority of water removed from it. The process inhibits the growth of microorganisms and bacteria by circulating hot, dry air through the food material. The artfulness of it is to dry the food with heat without cooking it. You can dehydrate any food that has significant water in it. Even things one would not normally think of such as tofu or edible flowers. The ultimate point of DF is that when it is rehydrated you can enjoy virtually all of your favorite foods even when stored for significant periods of time. This is the case for meats, vegetables, fruits, noodles, etc.
An advantage of DF is that it is an inexpensive way to prepare food for the long term preservation and use. As with other types of longer term storage, one can frequently open food storage containers for use without compromising the food. One must be careful, though, to keep moisture out of the container. Another advantage is to be able to take advantage of the local harvest, perhaps in your own yard. You can take the best of the what grows and when it grows and save it for long term nutrition for you and your family. That is not to say that you shouldn’t acquire DF from various non-local sources. It is just that DF is optimal for providing the additional option and perhaps creating you own DF. Another advantage of DF, especially if it is from a local source you can intimately be involved in ensuring the purity of the food and limiting the involvement of chemicals and contamination if you desire it.
If you prepare your own DF this also gives you an opportunity to look for specials in markets for great deals on food. Then you can have the less expensive food for the long term.
Nutrition is always an issue with longer term storage. If one dries food carefully at home, the loss of nutrition is minimal. Commercially prepared DF tends to be dried at fairly high temperatures and can lose more nutrition. On the other hand compared to freeze fried food and canned food, DF in general tends to hold its nutrition better. Vitamin A is retained well, but can be affected by light. So foods rich in vitamin A should be stored in a dark environment. Because vitamin C tends to disperse in exposure to air, it is one vitamin that is depleted in DF. Even though some DF such as fruits can taste even sweeter than fresh food, the caloric level stays essentially the same. Minerals in fruits are well preserved in DF.

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