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Video:How to Dehydrate Food

with Martha McKittrick

Dehydrated food is more compact and stays good for many months, which makes it ideal as a snack. In this video from About.com, a registered dietitian discusses the benefits of dried food and how to dehydrate food at home.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Dehydrate Food

Hi, my name is Martha McKittrick. I'm a registered dietitian at New York Presbyterian Hospital. And, today we're going to talk about how to dehydrate food.

Why Dehydrate Food?

There are several benefits to drying your own food and the biggest one is the space issue. When you dehydrate food, it get's a lot smaller. You can actually fit 16-20 whole tomatoes when you dehydrate into a one quart jar.  

Another benefit to dehydrating foods is that it's convenient. You can still keep a little zip lock bag of dried fruit in your purse or your bag and take it with you on the go.

Disadvantages of Dried Food

Now, there are some disadvantages of dried fruit. One is if you're trying to watch your weight, the food is a lot more calorically dense. Think about one cup of raisins. That's about 15 grapes. Now compare that to 15 raisins --f that's a huge difference in volume. People tend to get more full if they have food that have more water in them.

How to Prepare Fruit for Dehydration

If you do decide to dry your own food, there are three way to do it. The first is to dry it in the sun, the second is to buy an electric dehydrator and the third way is to try an oven. Since most of us have ovens, today I'm going to talk about how to dry your food in an oven.

The first thing you want to do is to check the temperature of your oven. You need to make sure it can maintain a temperature of 200 [degrees] or less. And, not all ovens do this…

Assuming that it does, you want to wash it, remove any fibrous materials or pits and you want to slice it very thinly and evenly. You may want to dip it into a mixture of lemon juice and water and that's going to help prevent browning. You can also use some vitamin C mixed in with the water. And then, you're going to lay the fruit evenly in a baking pan.

How to Dehydrate Fruit

So, then you're going to put that into your oven at your temperature at about 140 degrees. Now, you want to make sure that you're not putting the tray on the top shelf because it can become browned at hard. You want it on the lower shelf. You need to prop the oven door open by about 4 inches and you can do this by putting in a towel or a fork or something. But, the door needs to be open. Ideally, you want to have a fan set-up to blow air in and around because the way the food is going to dry is the temperature of 140 and the air kind of circulating.

Now, every couple hours, you want to turn the fruit and make sure it dries evenly and you'll test it. You'll now that it's done when you push your fingering the middle of it and it's not moist.

While the time of drying food can vary tremendously from six to 48 hours. In the end, you're going to have a delicious product that you made yourself and you know what's in the ingredients.

Thanks for watching, to learn more visit on the web at About.com.

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