Living foods are uncooked foods. They are easy to digest, rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and are highly nutritious. Dehydrating food dates back to Biblical times when it was a necessity. Modern methods of preserving foods through refrigeration, freezing, canning, pasteurizing, and chemical additives have almost made this ancient practice extinct until recently, when dehydrating food is now enjoying a much-deserved renaissance.
Food dehydration requires just one ingredient – the food you’re drying. The result is 100% natural food that will stay tasty and nutritious for many months. As water is removed, taste is deliciously concentrated. The result is a convenient food with a taste that, depending on your personal preference, may be better than the original.
Dehydrating foods at home is inexpensive. Foods can be dried in the oven or you can purchase a commercial dehydrator, which is specifically designed to maintain the correct temperature and air flow.
Dried foods tend to take less than one sixth of their original storage space, and don’t require the ongoing electrical drain of a refrigerator or freezer. A case of peaches, after dehydration, will fit easily into a handful of sandwich bags and sit neatly in your pantry where you can eat them at your leisure.
The nutritional value of foods is affected to some extent by dehydration. Vitamin C is diminished, but most of the other vitamins are retained, and mineral content remains the same. Most of the beneficial phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables remain intact, as well.
Because you’re drying your own food, you can be choosy about the foods you dry. Dry your favorite locally sourced foods with confidence, knowing that they are chemical and pesticide-free. If stored properly, dehydrated foods have a longer shelf life than any other preservation method.
Dehydrating your own food means you can easily bring real, natural food with you anywhere you go. For busy people on the run this is a major benefit. Dried food is compact, light weight, and it travels well. An entire bunch of dried bananas will fit into a sandwich bag, which can be tossed into a purse or backpack.
If you are trying to eat more raw foods, a dehydrator provides a good way to prepare food at temperatures below 115° F, which is considered the threshold temperature where enzymes and nutrients are maintained. In addition to dehydrated raw fruits and vegetables, you can also make raw crackers, breads, granolas, and cookies.
There are many food dehydrators on the market, ranging in price from under $50 to over $500. For most people, an electric food dehydrator with both a fan and heating element is the right starting point. These machines allow you to easily regulate the temperature and provide even airflow across all food trays. Remember that airflow is just as important as heat.
In evaluating food dehydrators, make sure you look at temperature control, proper airflow, design (stacking trays vs. shelf trays), and capacity. In general, cheaper dehydrators are smaller and have less drying area, and in some cases may not have a fan. If you’re on a budget, keep your eye out for dehydrators at garage sales or thrift stores. I’ve heard stories of people finding functional food dehydrators for less than $20. An excalibur is a reliable, efficient dehydrator.