Using Your Halogen Oven to Dehydrate Food
Check out this short video where Chef Tony Scruggs demonstrates how to make healthy snacks by dehydrating kale leaves and apple chips. It couldn’t be easier – and you’ll love snacking on these.
Of course, you can dehydrate anything you fancy, this is just an example. Try making some healthy (but tasty) sweet potato chips sometime. They are really flavor packed and good for you into the bargain.
Why Dehydrate Food?
Dehydrating food has been around for thousands of years – it’s one of the oldest methods of preserving food. It’s also very easy to do.
By removing the moisture from the food it will last longer as most food spoiling mechanisms; moulds, yeast, bacteria etc., need a minimum amount of moisture to grow and propogate. By drying out the food, the chemical reactions that spoil the food are slowed down significantly and the food will last a lot longer.
Of course, dried food will eventually reabsorb moisture from ambient air, so it’s not like the secret of eternal life – but it will last a lot longer than undried, unpreserved food. You can help to prolong the lifetime of your dried food by packing it carefully in air tight bags or containers.
A further benefit of dehydrating food is that it becomes smaller and lighter, whilst retaining its nutritional value. Dried food is great for anyone who likes camping, backpacking or hiking. Low weight, low volume and long life without the need for refrigeration.
Removing moisture from foods makes them smaller and lighter. Dehydrated foods are ideal for backpacking, hiking, and camping because they weigh much less than their non-dried counterparts and do not require refrigeration. Drying food is also a way of preserving seasonal foods for later use.
What Kind of Foods Can Be Dehydrated?
Any food which has a relatively high moisture content is suitable for dehydration. You can dehydrate fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. You can even, as shown in the short video below, dehydrate foods such as fruit paste, pasta sauce and soup.
How to Dehydrate Food
The heat should be high enough to dry out the food, but not to cook it. 140 F is a reasonable temperature. Lower temperatues can work too, but it will take more time.
Air is needed to absorb the moisture that is released from the food and the air should move in order to carry the moisture away from the food being preserved.
If you live in a warm, dry climate, you can dry out food just by leaving it out in the sun. That’s pretty much the way many coffee beans are processed – and sun-dried tomatoes is another good example.
A fan assisted oven is another good method. If you’re wanting to dry out relatively small amounts of food, and you’re not planning on keeping them for a long time, then a fan assisted oven will do a good job.
If you want to dry out larger amounts of food, and you want it to last for a long time, then you might consider a specially designed food dehydrator which has multiple trays and carefully designed air circulation. Correct packaging is also important and you will probably want to look at air tight, or even vacuum pack, containers to store your dehydrated food. If you want to maximise the lifetime of your dehydrated food, and you’re not so concerned about it being small and lightweight, you might even consider storing it in oil filled mason jars. You could make your own sun-dried tomatoes in this way – even if, like me, you don’t live in the right kind of climate!