Dehydrating is the oldest form of food preservation. In the beginning people used a lot of salt to preserve their food, and they dried their food in the sun or on top of the stove. Today we have food dehydrators to help in the process of drying. Dehydration is safe because if removes the water from the food, mold and bacteria cannot grow on it, and it will not spoil. Drying the food does cause a loss of some of vitamin A and C. It takes 6-16 hours to dehydrate vegetables, 12-18 hours to dehydrate fruits, and 6-20 hours to dehydrate meats. You can dehydrate fruits, vegetables and make beef jerky. Once you have dehydrated them I would seal them in the Mylar pouches/bags with the oxygen absorbers for long term storage. Then place the Mylar pouches/bags in the 5 gallon food grade buckets you can purchase with lids.
Different methods of dehydrating food:
1) Sun Drying--Difficult, need 3-4 hour sunny days of at least 100 degrees each day. This will only work in areas where you have this type of weather.
2) Oven Drying--Not very energy efficient, foods are not very tasty in the end, your oven must obtain a temperature below 200 degrees and you need to prop the oven door open to maintain air circulation during the drying time. To much trouble for me!
3) Electric Dehydrators--The best method for dehydrating your food. Now days they are energy efficient and can be operated at a low temperature. Look for electric dehydrated that have heat control and a fan to maintain the air circulation during the drying time. Watch for great sales. Check online too.
2) Food should be dehydrated between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Vegetables at 130 degrees, fruits at 135 degrees, meats are higher at 145-150 degrees.
3) The food should be leathery with no pockets of moisture when you touch it. Fruits, tear and check for moisture at the tear, if there is moisture, it is not dry enough. The vegetables should be tough, but can also be crisp. The meat should be tough, but shouldn't snap apart.
4) When storing your dehydrated food, make sure no moisture can get in. Best to seal in air tight contains, like the Mylar pouches/bags with oxygen absorbers as mentioned above. See the YouTube video on how to do this process yourself.
5) All vegetables except onions, peppers and mushrooms should be washed, sliced and blanched. Check online how long to blanch each type of vegetable you will be dehydrating.
6) All fruits should be washed, pitted and sliced. You can pretreat your fruits with lemon juice to prevent darkening while you are preparing for drying.
7) Dry the fruits and vegetables in single layers on trays.
8) Wipe of the fat of the jerky while it is drying.
9) Jerky does not store for long periods of time. If more than a month freeze or refrigerate. Or, you can seal the jerky in the Mylar pouches/bags, with the oxygen absorbers for longer storage.
Vegetable Dehydrating Chart:
Beans, green: Stem and break beans into 1-inch pieces.Blanch. Dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
Beets: Cook and peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Dry 3-10 hours until leathery.
Broccoli: Cut and dry 4-10 hours.
Carrots: Peel, slice or shred. Dry 6-12 hours until almost brittle.
Cauliflower: Cut and dry 6-14 hours.
Corn: Cut corn off cob after blanching and dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
Mushrooms: Brush off, don't wash. Dry at 90 degrees for 3 hours, and then 125 degrees for the remaining drying time. Dry 4-10 hours until brittle.
Onions: Slice 1/4-inch thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Peas: Dry 5-14 hours until brittle.
Peppers, sweet: Remove seeds and chop. Dry 5-12 hours until leathery.
Potatoes: Slice 1/8-inch thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Tomatoes: Dip in boiling water to loosen skins, peel,slice or quarter. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
Zucchini: Slice 1/8-inch thick and dry 5-10 hours until brittle.
Fruits Dehydrating Chart:
Apples: Peel, core and slice into 3/8-inch rings, or cut into 1/4-inch slices. Pretreat and dry 6-12 hours until pliable.
Apricots: Cut in half and turn inside out to dry. Pretreat and dry 8-20 hours until pliable.
Bananas: Peel, cut into 1/4-inch slices and pretreat. Dry 8-16 hours until pliable or almost crisp.
Blueberries: Dry 10-20 hours until leathery.
Cherries: Cut in half and dry 18-26 hours until leathery and slightly sticky.
Peaches: Peel, halve or quarter. Pretreat and dry 6-20 hours until pliable.
Pears: Peel, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and pretreat. Dry 6-20 hours until leathery.
Pineapple: Core and slice 1/4-inch thick. Dry 6-16 hours until leathery and not sticky.
Strawberries: Halve or cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Dry 6-16 hours until pliable and almost crisp.
(The above information comes from a website "Farm Living is the Life for Me", farmgal.tripod.com)
Remember: If using an Electric Dehydrator, follow the instructions in the manual and the charts for how long and what temperature to dehydrate.