Dry foods are those foods that do not contain water but have been dried to the point that they no longer retain water and must be re-hydrated before eating. Typically, this type of drying does not include curing. Dried foods can be stored for years at a time in dry or cool storage facilities. This is good news for those who have a need to keep their foods in storage for long periods of time. When purchasing dried foods, it is important to purchase those that come from reputable sources.
Dried foods are also known as dehydrated foods. Food dehydration is a process of drying food so that it loses moisture. Drying slows the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria through the elimination of water present in the food.
The process of dehydration for dried foods removes most of the water content from the product while leaving some moisture behind. The remaining moisture is carried out of the food through vapor and gases. The dried vegetables and fruits are kept in airtight containers, often lined with aluminum foil, to retain as little moisture as possible. The vegetables may be placed on trays or racks in a dehydrator to retain even more moisture. Many people choose to put raw vegetables into a dehydrator for quick, healthy snacks or to make dried fruit desserts soft dried orange.
While many fruits and vegetables go bad because of exposure to the sun, most dried foods do not lose moisture through exposure to the sun. Dried fruits are an example of this. Sunlight slows down the process of dehydration by removing much of the plant’s moisture. In fact, dried foods are even better when they are kept in the refrigerator.
When properly prepared, dried foods are an excellent source of nutrition, but should be treated just like fresh. The moisture content is low, so using them at home is fine. However, eating them may help you reduce your reliance on store bought groceries.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, some dried herb products (such as chives) are also good choices to add to your pantry. To preserve herbs, sun drying is the best method. However, some herbs, such as parsley, will not preserve well when dried in the sun. To preserve other herbs, drying can be done by freezing them or by preserving them in brines, already soaked in water.
Although drying foods may be time-consuming, it is worth it. Food that is preserved prolongs its nutritional value. Dried fish has twice the volume of fat as fresh fish. Dried tomatoes have almost twice the fiber found in fresh tomatoes. And dried apples have twice the amount of sugar that fresh apples have.
Freeze-drying and dry roasting are two different ways to prepare dried fruits, vegetables and herbs. Freeze-drying requires less food, so the process is easier. Also, freeze-dried items do not spoil as quickly as fresh ones do. Freeze-drying allows you to save money from purchasing canned goods for a long time.