The subject of how long dehydrated food lasts is a difficult one.
The answer to this issue is far too complex to be covered in a single post, but we’ve laid out the essentials to get you started.
Consider what food you’d like to dehydrate, and then how you’d like to dry it.
After that, you can learn more about drying that particular food item before deciding on the best storage option for extending its shelf life.
What is dehydration in Food
For millennia, people have used drying as a means of food preservation. The term “drying” or “dehydrating” refers to the process of removing moisture from food in order to store it for longer periods of time.
How long dehydrated food lasts is determined by a number of elements that have improved over time for both ancient and modern mankind.
Dry food is produced using a different approach in modern manufacturing. Manufacturers now use hot air to impart heat to the food. The hot air effectively eliminates the majority of the moisture, extending the shelf life of the product.
Whatever technology manufacturers utilise in this process, modern food drying methods transport heat and mass concurrently within the product.
Other approaches involve manipulating food moisture content with a specific gas by manipulating heat and mass within the medium of transfer and the food. To put it another way, a medium dehydrates food by injecting energy into it.
Food is dried in a variety of ways by manufacturers and survivalists, including:
- Dehydrators powered by electricity
- drying in the sun (not suitable for humid climates)
- Using the air to dry
- Drying in the oven
- The drying of the room
Other consequences of dehydration from meals include:
- Food volume and weight decrease.
- Packaging and storing food becomes less difficult.
- Simple to transport
- It’s easier to use because you only need to add water or milk to rehydrate dry items (eggs, fruit, vegetable juice, milk, coffee extract). Adding water to powdered eggs or milk, for example.
- Enhances or enhances a variety of attributes such as flavour, texture, or sharpness). Raisons, for example, go through a transition process from grapes.
Why does dehydrated food last longer
How long does dehydrated food last? Dehydration refers to the process of eliminating excess moisture from food. Because organisms require moist environments to grow, their shelf life is extended if the moisture is removed.
Moisture is required for the growth of many species. In wet settings, organisms such as yeasts, moulds, and bacteria thrive. Dehydrating food has a favourable impact on these organisms’ ability to flourish.
As a result, the lack of most of the moisture in the food extends its shelf life because dry food is less likely to attract bacteria.
Food dehydration has the drawback of causing nutrient loss. Despite the fact that most dehydration procedures leave the food with 20% moisture content, vitamins such as A and C are lost.
The loss of these vitamins occurs when the food is dehydrated with heat or air. The product’s shelf life, on the other hand, extends, allowing individuals to take advantage of the remaining nourishment.
Sulfite is commonly used by food manufacturers to prevent vitamin degradation, however, it also kills thiamin.
Even if you blanch veggies for preservation before drying them, the C and B-complex vitamins will be lost. Because minerals are water-soluble, you might expect important minerals to be inadequate in vegetables, fruits, and other foods.
When drying and storing these commodities, however, blanching prevents thiamin degradation and the loss of vitamins A and C. Another thing to consider is that because the nutrients are now concentrated, dried foods have higher calories per weight.
For example, if you dry 200 grammes of 102-calorie fresh apricots, you’ll get 520 calories in the same amount of dried apricots. Drying your foods at low temperatures and storing them at low humidity levels will help them last longer.
You can simply rehydrate dehydrated foods with water to make a meal out of powdered eggs or eat dried meats like beef jerky.
Dehydrating foods is a great way to preserve other goods like fruits, which can help people get through disasters like hurricanes.
Dried foods are also ideal for carrying on outdoor adventures because they are light and take up little room.
When you don’t have access to modern cooking equipment, these foods are also quick and easy to make, making them excellent for surviving famines, droughts, and other natural calamities.
Tips for storing dehydrated food
It all relies on how thoroughly you dry it out and store these meals.
Once the food is dry, you should think about the best ways to store it so that it can last for months or even years.
When preserving food, there are various factors to consider.
If you keep dry goods at 60°F, they will last twice as long as if you store them at 80°F.
Keep the food away from wet conditions, since this will negate all of your dehydration efforts and cause it to spoil.
- Oxygen – Food that has been dehydrated should be stored away from air to prevent spoilage and flavour loss. Foods that have been dehydrated and come into touch with oxygen will have a lower shelf life.
Dehydrated foods, like oxygen, are degraded by light, so keep them in a dark place.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
When storing dehydrated food, keep your hands clean. When dehydrating items and storing them, make sure your hands are clean. Germs can quickly spread from unclean hands to dried foods, contaminating them.
- Storage options – Dried foods can be stored in a variety of ways. Regardless of which approach you pick, keep your dried foods in a dark, cold room with plenty of ventilation. Allow time for meals to cool completely before storing them. Once the food has cooled completely, you can move it to a variety of containers, such as:
- Containers that are airtight
- Refrigeration containers that can be resealed
- Bags that are vacuum sealed
- Use Ziploc or ReZip bags.
- For bags, use vacuum sealing equipment.
- Jars that have been vacuum sealed
- Bags made of mylar with oxygen absorbers
- Packets of desiccant to put in airtight jars or vacuum seal jars
Desiccant packets or oxygen absorbers add to the safe preservation of dry foods by absorbing any remaining moisture in the container.
These procedures ensure that extra moisture does not come into contact with the dried food, extending its shelf life.
What is the shelf life of dehydrated food? The answer to this issue depends on how you dehydrate the food, how you clean it, and how you store it after it’s dried.
You can learn how to dry certain foods including meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, cereals, and dairy goods by conducting research.
Survivalists will need to do more research to figure out the optimal drying procedures for each sort of food they want to save. Certain storage methods are better for some dried foods than others after this process.
However, there are some things you should avoid doing while drying and storing food to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Things to avoid when storing dehydrated food
It takes time to dehydrate items. When you perform a terrific job, the outcomes are fantastic.
When you try to speed up the drying process, you reduce the shelf life of the food, which helps to answer the question of how long does dehydrated food last. Furthermore, if you concentrate on executing the work correctly, the shelf life of your dried foods will be extended, which is great for the survivalist.
When it comes to drying foods, there are a few things you should avoid:
- Avoid touching meals with soiled hands or on soiled surfaces, as germs can quickly spread between them. When doing this type of labour, always fully sanitise surfaces, hands, drying equipment, and storage goods.
- Don’t forget to do your homework on the proper preparation and drying timeframes for the food you’re working with. Playing a hit-or-miss game is a major blunder that can easily undo your efforts. It will not be pleasant to devote time and effort to a task only to discover that you have completed only half of it.
- Make sure you’re drying foods at the right temperature for them. Drying timeframes will vary based on the methods you choose, the climate, and the environment, so always read more before starting a food dehydration process to find out what works best. Obviously, having an electric drying machine removes a lot of the uncertainty from the procedure because these machines typically come with detailed instructions.
- Avoid attempting to speed up the drying process by starting with one temperature and gradually increasing it to accelerate dehydration. The food will produce an exterior seal to lock in the interior moisture if the temperature in the drying apparatus is constantly changing. This result is the polar opposite of what you want.
- Drying times should not be sped up because the end moisture level of food should be about 20%. For the best results, most home food drying equipment recommends that moisture levels be reduced to 5%. Check to see if the meal is still sticky or spongy, as this indicates that the water content is still too high.
- After you’ve finished drying your products, resist the need to store them right away. Before packaging, let the products dry naturally in a cool, well-ventilated environment.
- If you open a container containing dried goods, be aware that they will be exposed to moisture-rich air and oxygen right away. The leftover dry food will be spoiled by both moisture and oxygen. Jars should not be left open for longer than required. Remove the desired amount of food and replace it with desiccant packets or oxygen absorbers before resealing the jar.
Bottom Line How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last
The adventure of survivalism is both exhilarating and fulfilling. How long dried food lasts is determined by how much time and work you’re willing to put into your new pastime.
Before starting this project, learn as much as you can about dehydrating specific food kinds, as you don’t want to waste significant amounts of food.
You can boost your chances of success in preparing for the worst survivalist scenarios by learning about additives like sulfite and ascorbic acid in food preparation.