Food That Should Never Be Dehydrated
When you are living off the grid, it is essential that you preserve your food. The reason is that you will have a limited amount of storage space since refrigeration and freezing units can eat up a lot of your electricity. Many people living off the grid choose to can or dehydrate their foods. That being said, I, Matthew Davies, feel I need to share some foods that you should never dehydrate.
The reason for not dehydrating these foods has nothing to do with health concerns. They can easily be dehydrated, but the end product is not very desirable. In the process of explaining why these foods are not suitable for dehydration, I will also share with you some knowledge about the dehydration process. So, let’s dive right in and get you the information you came to find out about.
Reasons Why Every Food Can’t Be Dehydrated
Dehydration is the process of removing unwanted moisture from food. Moisture is the number one cause of food becoming unstable and inedible. Think about moist foods that you have and how quickly they can turn. By removing the moisture, you eliminate the bacteria growth the decomposes the food. That being said, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when you are selecting foods to dehydrate.
Foods with high-fat content, whether a good or bad fat, will go rancid rather quickly. The reason is fat does not dehydrate very efficiently. Think about when you are frying something in your skillet. The fat will always remain in the pan. It does not breakdown. The food you are cooking will either absorb it or it will not. Once the maximum amount of fat has been taken one, it will cease to take in any more. The remainder will always be left behind. The same goes for when you dehydrate. The fat will reduce in size, but it will never fully be dehydrated. As far as dehydration is concerned, that means you will still have a fair amount of moisture that can go rancid.
Foods that have this high-fat content will not be shelf-stable. Meaning, after a few weeks, it will begin to turn. If you are looking to prolong the high-fat food, you will only be marginally extending its life. That is all well and fine if you are trying to get the food to last for a few more weeks, but it will have to be preserved in another way in the long term.
Now that we understand why you need to select the food you choose to dehydrate carefully let’s explore the foods I recommend never dehydrating.
Dairy products include milk, cheese, and butter. All of these foods have a high-fat content. Even if you are to purchase skim, 1%, or 2%, it still has too high-fat content. Even if you could quickly dehydrate these foods, it would go rancid very quickly. You would have been better off merely consuming or discarding the remainder of the dairy products you had.
An alternative to dehydration is buying powdered versions of these products. Years ago, this would have been a pretty bad way to enjoy these products in the long term. However, in recent years, there have been significant advancements in the preservation process of these items. If you are looking to have shelf stability in milk, cheese, and butter, the answer will always be powdered.
There are very few reasons even to attempt to dehydrate nuts. For starters, it has a high-fat content. Second, when you dehydrate any food, it loses a lot of its nutritional value. When you remove the nutritional value from nuts, it also allows them to go bad fast.
Rather than dehydrating nuts, I would suggest you freeze them in an airtight container. When stored in this fashion, the nuts can last a couple of years. Consider investing in a machine that removes all the air from the container to ensure you will be able to enjoy the nuts for as long as possible.
While you could technically dehydrate olives, since they fit the dehydration requirement, the result would not be desirable. Dehydrating olives would not get you sick in any way, shape, or form. However, you will be removing some valuable nutrients, and it wouldn’t taste very good. When you dehydrate olives, they turn into a mush that isn’t palatable.
A great way to preserve olives is by pickling them. To pickle olives, you will have a bit of work to do. Start by washing the olives to make sure they are free of bugs and chemicals. Next, you will need to crack them. You can do this by using a mallet, a rock, or even the bottom of the jar. After they are broken, you need to soak them in water for ten days. Be sure to change the water once a day during this process. After the soaking is complete, you will allow them to dry or use a paper towel to dry them off. Please place them in a jar or jars and cover with brine. To ensure your brine is salty enough, use the egg test. All you need to do is attempt to float an egg in the brine mixture. If it floats, there is enough salt. If it sinks, add some more salt until it floats. Follow standard canning procedures to ensure your jar is free of germs and seals properly. You can store them in this fashion for a couple of years without worrying about them going bad.
In my years of living off-grid, I, Matthew Davies, have tried nearly every method there is to preserve my food. Some work really well, and others not so much. Dehydration is a great way to keep certain foods to enjoy them during the months that you don’t have access to them. Depending on where you live, specific methods work for different products. For example, if you live in warmer climates, dehydration is your best bet. Colder temperatures can salt, pickle, or can their food. When preserving your food, you need to think about where you will store the jars or bags that will keep them safe from going bad.