Drying Fruits and Vegetables
Food drying is one of the oldest methods of preserving food for later use. It can either be an alternative to canning or freezing, or compliment these methods. Drying foods is simple, safe and easy to learn. With modern food dehydrators, fruit leathers, banana chips and beef jerky can all be dried year round at home.
How Drying Preserves Food
Drying removes the moisture from the food so bacteria, yeast and mold cannot grow and spoil the food. Drying also slows down the action of enzymes (naturally occurring substances which cause foods to ripen), but does not inactivate them.
Because drying removes moisture, the food becomes smaller and lighter in weight. When the food is ready for use, the water is added back, and the food returns to its original shape.
Foods can be dried in the sun, in an oven or in a food dehydrator by using the right combination of warm temperatures, low humidity and air current.
In drying, warm temperatures cause the moisture to evaporate. Low humidity allows moisture to move quickly from the food to the air. Air current speeds up drying by moving the surrounding moist air away from the food.