Dehydrating food is a preservation practice that has been followed since ages. This preservation process works by eliminating the moisture content from the food. A lack of moisture helps the food to remain fresh and makes it safe for use.
Dehydrated food can be stored for a long time and can be safely consumed in the future. This food preservation process helps to save extra food for future use.
Read our article on how to store dehydrated food correctly here.
Does dehydrated food go bad?
Yes, dehydrated food can go bad and become unfit for consumption. Spoilt dehydrated food can be identified by visible signs like the presence of mold. Other signs of spoilt dehydrated food are changes in appearance, taste or color.
Bad dehydrated food defeats the purpose of food preservation as it cannot be used. There can be many reasons for dehydrated food to go bad.
- Poor food quality
The food selected for the dehydration process should be of good quality. Overripe fruits should not be used as they might have bad skin and uneven moisture content. Poor food quality will increase the chances of food getting spoilt. Fresh produce must be used to get the best results.
- Lack of preparation
Foods like fruits and vegetables should be prepped before starting the dehydration process. Some fruits need to be peeled to ensure taste while vegetables need to be blanched to speed up the process.
If the food is not prepped then it may lead to uneven dehydration causing it to go bad. Foods like fruits and vegetables should be cut into 1/2″ or 1/4″ thick slices for better results. Meats should be cut into very thin slices for easy dehydration.
- Improper dehydration
The dehydration time varies from one food type to another. It is important to prep and process each food type at a suitable time to ensure complete dehydration.
This is because each food has different levels of moisture in it. Foodstuffs that have more moisture content will take a longer time to dehydrate. Apples and pears need 15 hours for dehydration while apricots and grapes need 36 hours.
The dehydrating time of vegetables depends upon their prep and size. To avoid the chances of the food going bad it is important to process it for the right amount of time.
- Poor storage conditions
Dehydrated food must be stored properly to ensure that it remains edible for a long time. Dehydrated food should be stored away from direct heat and sunlight.
Temperature fluctuations can cause the food to go bad as there is a high chance of fungal growth. It is advisable to store dehydrated food at a temperature of 15C in a dark place to avoid spoilage.
- Improper storage containers
Dehydrated food should be stored in proper containers to ensure its freshness. Storing food in glass jars, airtight containers, vacuum-sealed bags Mylar pouches are recommended.
These food storage containers are essential to ensure that the dehydrated food remains edible even after long storage time. An important tip to stop dehydrated food from going bad is to ensure that the containers and bags are completely dry.
The presence of moisture will lead to bacterial growth and damage the dehydrated food making it unfit for use.
How can you tell if dried fruit is bad?
Dried fruits are a popular go-to snack around the world as they are tasty and nutritious. Dehydrated and dried fruits stay fresh for up to a year and are easy to store. While most dried fruits stay fresh and edible for a long time some go bad. It is important to check whether the dry fruits are good or bad before using them. Dried fruits that have been in storage for more than six months should be checked before use. A few signs that help to identify bad dried fruit are
The presence of moisture in the dried fruit container is a clear indicator that it has gone bad. Moisture promotes bacterial growth which makes the dried fruit unsafe for consumption. If there is any moisture in the container or bag of dried fruit then it must be disposed of.
The appearance of black or fuzzy spots on the dried fruits is a sign of mold. Mold is usually caused due to the presence of moisture.
Temperature fluctuations are also a factor that promotes the growth of mold. Dried fruit should be checked for mold or any other visible change before being used.
Bad dried fruits can give off a distinct and strong smell. This smell is different from the expected fruity smell that is expected from them. Dried fruits that have gone bad due to poor storage or incorrect dehydration often give out a bad smell.
Bad dried fruits will taste different than usual as they lose their flavor. A clear sign would be that these dried fruits will taste bland when compared to good dried fruits.
A change in the texture or shape of the dried fruits is also an indication that they have gone bad. Some dried fruits can become hard and chewy as they go bad.
A change in texture does not necessarily mean that the dried fruit is unfit for use. It is still considered to be a sign of spoilage and they should be avoided.
How do you store dehydrated food long term?
Dehydrated food usually lasts for around 3 months without going bad. Proper precautions need to be taken to ensure the correct storage of dehydrated food. This will help to prolong the shelf life of the dehydrated food and make it safe for future consumption.
- Glass jars
Dehydrated fruits and herbs can be stored in glass jars for up to 1 year. Dehydrated vegetables and meats can be stored for 6 months. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids should be used for storing dehydrated food.
The see-through walls of the glass jars help to identify bad dehydrated food easily. Before storing food make sure that the glass jar and the lid are completely moisture-free.
Fill in the glass jars loosely with the dried food so that they have space around them. Glass jars should be shaken once every week to ensure that the contents remain fresh. Buy your own glass jars with airtight lids at Amazon
- Airtight plastic containers
Plastic containers that have airtight lids can be used to store dehydrated food. Dry food items like rice, dried fruit, and dried nuts can be stored in airtight plastic containers.
A good tip to ensure food freshness is to leave ample space in the container. Avoid tightly packing the plastic container with dehydrated food to the top. The food stored in plastic containers needs to be checked every couple of weeks to ensure safety.
Shaking the container or stirring its contents is recommended to promote shelf life. Storing dry fruits, vegetables or meats in plastic containers is not recommended. To buy plastic containers for storing your dehydrated food, click here.
- Vacuum sealed bags
Dehydrated food stored in vacuum-sealed bags can last for up to 2 years. Vacuum sealing removes air from the bag and prevents spoilage. The lack of oxygen stops bacterial growth and helps to prolong the food’s shelf life.
The vacuum-sealed bags can be stored either in the pantry or in the refrigerator. Buy your vacuum-sealed food storage bags from Amazon
- Freezer bags
Storing dehydrated food in freezer bags is a good long term storage idea. Dehydrated food in the freezer can stay edible for more than 6 years when stored correctly.
Experts often opine that ziplock bags should not be used for storing dehydrated food. This is because air can still get through the bag and spoil the food. The freezer bags can be safely used in the freezer as the extreme temperature freezes the food.
This helps to protect the food from going bad for a long time. Buy freezer bags to store your dehydrated food at Amazon here
- Mylar bag
Mylar bags are popular storage bags that are used for preserving food for a long time. Dehydrated food can be stored in Mylar bags if the proper procedure is followed.
Store-bought dehydrated food can last for up to 25 years as it is packed professionally. Homemade dehydrated food needs to be packed differently than the store-bought ones.
Homemade dehydrated food packed in Mylar bags needs to be consumed within 5 years. It is a good idea to store the dried fruits and vegetables in Mylar bags and put them in the freezer. A good tip that is followed by most food storage experts is to vacuum seal the Mylar bags.
This step will help to extend the shelf life of the contents for more than a couple of years. To store food for more than 10 years it is advisable to use professionally dehydrated food. Buy your own Mylar bags from Amazon.
Advantages of dehydrating food
Dehydrating food is now becoming a popular preservation technique in many homes. The main reason for the rising popularity of food dehydration is the ease in which it can be done. Anybody can start food dehydration from their home using the appliances and storage containers at their disposal.
- Avoids food waste
Dehydration is a great way to reduce food waste. A lot of fresh food is often thrown away as it gets spoilt over time. To reduce such wastage it is important to preserve unused fresh food for future use.
Fresh fruits and vegetables often rot when they are left unused for a long period of time. This is because fresh vegetables and fruits have a lot of moisture in them which promotes bacterial growth.
- Eliminates the need for chemical preservatives
Food can be preserved for a long time by dehydrating it. There is no need to add any chemical preservatives to the dehydrated food to keep it from going bad. Dehydrated food remains chemical-free and healthy for a long time.
People who are looking to eliminate chemicals from their food can easily switch to dehydrated food. Dehydrating organic fruits and vegetables will help you to create your own chemical-free food that can be used for many years.
Dehydrating food is not an expensive process. In fact, by dehydrating fresh produce, we can save money that would be spent on more groceries.
Fresh fruits and vegetables which are not being used can be preserved by dehydrating them. This will eliminate the need to buy more fresh produce for consumption.
This is because the dehydrated food can be used for cooking various dishes and can also be eaten as snacks.
- Satisfies food cravings
Sometimes we get a craving for a particular seasonal fruit or vegetable. These cravings can be satisfied easily if seasonal produce is preserved through dehydration.
This preservation technique helps to keep all the fruits, vegetables and meats available all year round.
Dehydrated food can be moved easily and carried along on hikes and journeys. This is because dehydrated food is not bulky or heavy like fresh produce. This food does not get spoilt easily if it is carried in proper storage containers.
Dehydrated food is popular among hikers and campers as they cannot carry huge amounts of food on their trips. The high nutritional content of dehydrated food also makes them the best choice while undertaking strenuous activities.
- Tasty and nutritious
Dehydrated food is popularly consumed as a snack. Dried fruits like strawberries, grapes, peaches, and figs have a sweet taste. Dried meats can be added to different dishes to add more nutrition and taste. Dehydrated food is most liked by children due to their unique taste and texture.
Since these foods are dry they can be given as finger food without having to worry about the children making a mess. Fruit rolls, dried fruits, and fruit leather are some unique dehydrated foods that can be given to picky eaters. Since the nutritional value is high in dehydrated food they can be eaten every day.
How long does vacuum sealed dehydrated food last?
Vacuum sealed dehydrated food can last for up to 30 years if it is stored in the right conditions. Vacuum storing is a process in which the air is taken out of the storage bag and a vacuum is created.
This air-less environment helps to keep the dehydrated food safe for a longer period of time. Vacuum sealed dehydrated food can be stored in a refrigerator, freezer or pantry. Depending on where the food is stored its shelf life will increase or decrease.
The shelf life of the dehydrated food in vacuum-sealed bags also depends upon their type. Dehydrated fruits and meats have a shorter shelf life when compared to vegetables.
Refrigerated vacuum sealed dehydrated food can last for more than 6 months. The steady temperature in the refrigerator keeps the dehydrated food from going bad. The shelf life of dehydrated food increases when they are refrigerated.
Dried fruit in the refrigerator can be stored for 5 years in a vacuum-sealed container. Dried vegetables can be stored for more than 10 years in a vacuum-sealed bag in the freezer.
Storing food in the freezer is a common household practice. Many people freezer cooked and uncooked food in the freezer for future use.
Storing vacuum-sealed dehydrated food in the freezer is a great way to prolong its shelf life.
Sensitive and delicate foods like jerky, dehydrated meats and fruits should be frozen. Frozen dried food can be stored for more than 10 years in vacuum-sealed bags.
Most dehydrated food can be stored in the pantry away from direct heat and sunlight. These foods can last for up to 3 months if proper storage conditions are met.
Vacuum sealed dehydrated foods can be stored in the pantry for a longer time. The shelf life of these foods is slightly more than the dehydrated food in other containers.
This is because there is an absence of air in a vacuum-sealed pack which prevents bacteria growth. This, in turn, helps to keep the dehydrated food fresher for a longer period of time.
Jerky can be stored for 1 month in a vacuum-sealed pack and placed in a cool place. Dried fruit can be stored for up to 5 years and dried vegetables can be stored for over 8 years.
How to dehydrate food
Food can be dehydrated to preserve it for future it. Popular foodstuffs that can be dehydrated are seasonal fruits, vegetables, and meat. There are many different ways in which food can be dehydrated.
This is the traditional method of dehydrating food for preservation. In this natural method, the Sun’s heat and light are utilized to remove moisture from the food.
Sun-drying is still widely used as a food preservative method in many parts of the world. A popular dehydrated food is Sun-dried tomatoes which have a unique flavor.
- Air drying
Delicate foods like herbs are air-dried for preservation to prevent loss of flavor. For air drying food it needs to be placed in a cool, dark place away from harsh light and heat. The delicate foods dry out in shade and lose their moisture over time.
A dehydrator is an appliance that is used for drying out moisture from food to preserve it. The food should be sliced into thin, even slices and places on the trays for dehydration.
The entire process can take up to 10 hours depending upon the moisture in the food. The dehydration process should be checked from time to time to ensure even drying. Buy your own dehydrator from Amazon
- Air fryer
The air fryer oven can dehydrate food faster than a dehydrator. Fruits can be dehydrated in 4 hours when they are placed in the oven at a temperature at 54C. Buy your air fryer from Amazon here.
Dehydrating food in the microwave is an easy and quick task when compared to other ways. The defrost option on the microwave is the best option for dehydrating food.
The thin slices of food should be placed on the clean rotating plate on the microwave. The food slices will be dehydrated in about 30 minutes depending on their moisture level. Get your own microwave dehydrated stacker.
- Toaster Oven
The toaster oven can dehydrate food and make it perfect for preservation. The foodstuff should be sliced into thin slices of 1/2″ or 1/4″ thickness for even drying.
The slices should be placed on the sheet pan and baked at the lowest temperature for 6 to 8 hours. The oven door should be left slightly open to avoid condensation. Buy your toaster oven from Amazon