How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last? (A Guide to Food Shelf Life)

By admin | Food

Sep 18

Do you often end up throwing away fruits or veggies you bought from the grocery store? Or perhaps you want to remove extra food items in your kitchen?

Instead of wasting your food that way, save your groceries with food dehydration. It is a superb method to preserve food’s nutritions, taste, shelf life, as well as inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and mold. 

Considering this method, do you wonder: “How long does dehydrated food last?”. If so, continue reading for a mind-blowing answer and some awesome tips to dry your food items. 

How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last?

It comes as a surprise that dehydrated food can last up to 5 years or more if properly prepared, dehydrated, and stored. The reason is that the dehydrating process slowly removes moisture while preserving the nutrient value and flavor of the food. 

Of course, it’s possible to store dehydrated items longer, but the quality can deteriorate due to the temperature effect.

Some common dehydrated items include fruits (bananas, berries, apples, cherries), vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, beans, peas), low-fat meat (ground beef, sliced meats), grains, rice, pasta, sauces, or herbs (basil, parsley, mint). Noteworthy, dehydrated vegetables tend to last longer than fruits. Without oxygen, they can last for over 5 years. 

In the following paragraphs, we’ll provide an essential guide to dehydrate the 2 most common food items – fruits and vegetables. So don’t miss it!

What To Prepare Before Dehydrating Fruits And Vegetables

Proper preparation is the key to ensure the longevity and quality of dehydrated food. 

Therefore, it’s recommended to follow some preparation advice below for the best result.

  1. Cleaning

Before getting started, make sure to clean all the surfaces, tools thoroughly and wash hands with soap and lukewarm water to avoid bacteria or dirt residue.

Also, remember to wash the fruits and vegetables. You can prepare fruits and veggies soak using vinegar to remove potential bacteria. To do this, fill a large bowl with cold water. Then, mix a solution of 1 cup vinegar with three parts water. Let your fruits and vegetables soak for 15 minutes. Lastly, rinse your produce gently under cold water to remove the vinegar taste.

  1. Slicing 

For fruits and vegetables, it’s advisable to cut them into even pieces so that they can dry at approximately the same time. 

It is noted that a mandoline slicer is a terrific tool to slice and cut fruits and vegetables into even and thin slices. Besides, a sharp, paring knife or a hand peeler is also helpful to peel and cut the produce.

When slicing fruit and vegetables for dehydration, it’s best to slice it to ⅛ inch (3mm) thick and cut it into one-inch pieces. 

Note

  • Remove cores, seeds, and stems if desired. 
  • Fruits or veggies like corn, peas, and spinach don’t need to be cut.
  • It’s not necessary to peel everything. However, if you want to remove the skins to avoid exposure to pesticides, consider peeling before dehydrating.
  1. Pretreating

Pretreating refers to different processes performed on fruits and vegetables before dehydrating to increase their quality and shelf life.

Blanching or steaming (for vegetables)

Blanching is a technique to scald vegetables in boiling water to retain vegetable colors and lessen rehydration time. 

A general rule of thumb is to apply this method with veggies that you would not eat raw or particularly tough vegetables such as broccoli, corn, green beans, carrots. On the other hand, it’s not required to blanch soft vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, celery, onions, and zucchini.

The easiest way to blanch is to place vegetables into boiling water. Then, steam the produce for 2 to 5 minutes (boiling time varies by vegetables).

Dipping (for fruits)

Dipping is vital to prevent light-colored fruits from darkening while retaining their flavors, textures, and nutritions.

Here’re some options that you can apply for fruit pre-treatments:

Ascorbic acid: Stir one tablespoon of pure ascorbic acid into two cups of water. Soak sliced fruits into the solution for 3-5 minutes before draining.

Fruit juice: Stir one cup of lemon juice into cold water. Dip the fruits for about 10 minutes before draining. However, this method is not effective as ascorbic acid and is likely to alter the fruit’s taste.

How To Dehydrate Food? (2 Simple Methods)

Dehydrator

credit Esterburja

A dehydrator is a machine used to remove moisture from food like fruits, meats, and vegetables. It is worth investing to dry a large quantity of food. 

To use, put the slice fruits or vegetables in a single layer on the food dehydrator tray. Then, set the time limit and wait for the produce to dry.

Most veggies and fruits dehydrate at around 125 to 145°F. However, it is noted that drying time may vary depending on the specific produce. Typically, the drying time for apples, bananas, peaches ranges from 6 to 16 hours, while apricots, grapes, and pears can take more than 20 hours. On the other hand, vegetables often dry quickly than fruits, ranging from 4 to 10 hours depending on the vegetables.

Essentially, don’t rush into raising the heat as this can cause the outer skins to be tough.

Oven

An oven is a hassle-free alternative to dehydrate fruits and veggies. Just turn it to the lowest setting, generally at around 140°F, and put your prepared produce in the oven for a specific time.

However, note that using an oven often takes longer than a dehydrator, so consider carefully before using it.

Bonus Tips For Food Dehydration

  • Proper packaging and storing are critical to ensure dried food lasts longer. Therefore, after the dehydration process, storing the dehydrated food in airtight containers such as glass, canning jars, or freezer bags in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation. 
  • Vacuum sealing is the most effective method for long-term storage as it reduces the oxidation rate and preserves the vitamins and nutrients in the food longer.
  • Remember to allow the food to be cool completely before packaging to prevent condensation.

If you’re still unsure about how to dehydrate your food correctly, check out this video.

Wrapping Up

Dehydrated food tends to last for years while retaining its flavor and nutrition. However, through careful preparation and storage, many items can be stored for longer than that. 

Hopefully, after reading the article, you now have sufficient knowledge regarding the question: “How long does dehydrated food last?”. Also, make sure to follow some basic methods above to dehydrate and preserve your food.

If you find this article helpful, feel free to share it with your friends. Also, don’t forget to leave us some comments on how you store your dried food.