How To Prepare Foods for Drying
Dehydrators are efficient and come in a variety of models.
It is best to begin with fruits, vegetables or meats that are of high quality. Drying is a bit like computing, if you put garbage in then you are likely to get garbage out. Ripe fruits are best, but try not to use fruits that are too ripe or over-ripe as the results will not be as high quality. When cutting fruits and vegetables try to be uniform in size. This is so that foods will dry at a uniform rate.
Blanching is an important step in the drying process for most vegetables. There are enzymes within the vegetables that cause food spoilage. Blanching destroys these enzymes before they can get to work.
Blanching is a fairly simple process. It involves dipping produce in boiling water for a few minutes, or preferably putting them in a steam bath for the same amount of time. Steam blanching is preferred to immersion because it introduces the vegetable to less moisture, which will just have to be dried out later.
To blanch in boiling water simply dip the clean and cut up vegetable into a kettle of boiling water in a sieve or colander. Remove after the desired time and immediately immerse in iced water (to stop the cooking process). To steam blanch use a Dutch oven or canner or a colander in a pot with boiling water at the bottom. Cover and steam for desired time. Then remove from heat and place in ice water. When blanching is done, dry vegetables on a towel.
Other Notes: Fruit slices may be dipped in a marinade, such as ascorbic acid, honey, juices, pectin and even salt.
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