A food dehumidifier is a device which quickly reduces the water content of foods placed within it in order to help to preserve them. Bacteria live and grow in the moisture contained within foods, so by removing as much of that moisture as possible, bacteria are slow to spoil the food and it is preserved for an extended period of time. Also, dried fruit make a particularly delicious and energy-packed healthy snack.
How does a Food Dehumidifier Work?
A typical food dehumidifier is very simple – just a heating element which is thermostatically controller, an electric fan, a series of stacked trays with air vents cut into them, and a lid with air vents. Food to be preserved is sliced and put onto the trays, and the dehumidifier is closed up.
When turned on, the heating element warms up the food which causes the moisture it contains to be released into the air inside the dehumidifier. The fan pushes this warm moist air up through the ventilated trays and out through the lid getting rid of it. After a few hours, the contents of the dehumidifier can have a water content as low as 10-20% compared to a natural water content of well over 80-90% in the case of fruits and vegetables, and 50% even in meats and fish.
A food dehumidifier does not cook the food. If it gets too hot, the food just gets hard and not nice to eat. Therefore, the temperature of the air inside a good dehumidifier never exceeds around 131 degrees Fahrenheit for fruit and vegetable preserving, and just under 158 degrees Fahrenheit for meat preserving (a higher temperature necessitated because of the dangerous pathogens contained in much raw meat).
Using a food dehumidifier is very simple, however, there are a few things worth remembering:
When drying fruits which discolor – for example, apples and pears – after washing and slicing the fruit, dip the slices quickly into a bowl of lemon juice so that they do not turn brown when drying.
If you are going to dry vegetables, then blanch them for a few minutes before slicing so that they will retain their color.
Do not use old or over-ripe fruit or vegetables. Always try to get the freshest most recently harvested produce for the best end results.
Do not dry different produce at the same time which do not go naturally together. For example, it is fine to dry tomatoes and basil at the same time since basil flavored tomatoes and tomato flavored basil are delicious, but drying oregano and pears at the same time is unlikely to be such a success.
The dried food which you intend to use soon can just be placed into air tight freezer bags and stored in the fridge or in another cool, dark place. If you want to store the dried food for a very long time, then you’ll want to make sure that it is thoroughly and evenly dried. To do this, put it into a large jar and seal it up. Every day or so for one week, give the contents of the jar a good shake up. If condensation starts to build up on the inside of the jar then put the food back into the dehumidifier as the food is still not dry enough to preserve for a long time. When you know everything is nice and dry, store it in freezer bags or air-tight jars somewhere dark and cool.