Photo By: Landis Brown
Drying is a preservation technique that removes the water in food to a level that will not support the microbial life.
Fresh foods are highly susceptible to spoilage because of their high water content. This water can be a breeding ground for a number of microorganisms. Exposure to oxygen, temperature, ph, naturally occurring enzymes, and time also have a huge effect on the life and quality of food. These factors can either facilitate or impede the deterioration. Over our existence as humans we have found ways to extend the life our food by manipulating these factors and ultimately changing our relationship with food at its foundation. Food preservation has shaped food culture and created the framework for the food industry. Throughout several articles we will go over some food preservation methods, why they work, and how you can utilize them at home.
How it works
Drying preserves food by removing the water out of the food making it unavailable for microbes. Drying can be accomplished in a number of ways. The most common methods are: sun-drying, air drying, dehydrator, and oven drying.
Dehydrator: an electrical device equipped with a heater and vents to circulate air flow and dry food, with mesh trays, and often a timer. Temperatures can range from 85ºF to 160ºF.
Pros: controlled environment, energy efficient
Cons: can be costly, takes up space
Type-Horizontal air flow
Type- Vertical air flow
Oven drying: drying accomplished by using a conventional oven.
Pros: easily accessible, save counter space, no extra money spent
Cons: not energy efficient, lack of airflow, longer drying times
Sun drying: a technique that uses the natural heat and airflow from the sun to dry food outside. Food is placed on racks outside to allow airflow and access to heat.
Foods that are high in sugar and acid are favorable for sun drying as they are less susceptible to spoiling. Foods like vegetables and meat are not the best foods for sun drying. Their low acid and sugar content increase the risk for spoilage.
Pros: Affordable, low maintenance
Cons: uncontrollable environment, birds & bugs
Air drying: this takes place inside in a well ventilated room. Most useful for items that may not do well in the heat.
Pros: great for herbs, mushrooms, and hot peppers
Cons: Not all environments are conducive for this, humidity and temperature are often an issue
TIPS & TRICKS
How to sun dry at home
How to air dry at home
How to dehydrate at home
How to oven dry at home
For more useful information on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle - join our mailing list:
Written & Edited by:
We are two food scientists that are all about changing the way we look at our food. We will be diving into all of the research, tips, and tricks on how we can all live a sustainable lifestyle. Join us as we find the most creative and green solutions to saving our food, our bodies, and the environment.