Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dehydrated Cuisine:The Art Of  Raw Foods

One of the methods of preserving the food by removing moisture .Evidence can be found from 2000 years ago when the Essene people are recorded to have made sun-dried bread from sprouted grain in the deserts near the Red Sea . Vintage techniques employed – to preserve foods so by default it also preserves precious nutrients, enzymes & delicate flavors .Today , these techniques are also used by molecular gastronomy chefs in creative ways .

How Dehydration preserves food ?
Removes moisture from food so bacteria, yeasts & molds can’t grow and spoil food . Slows down action of enzymes but doesn’t inactivate them .

Ways of Dehydrating

Dehydration can be done in two ways:-Out of door dehydrating  and dehydrating indoors .
Out of door dehydrating
Sun drying
      Dry fruits, high sugar & acid make them safe .
      Don’t dry vegetables or jerky/meat outdoors .
      Need hot, dry, breezy days .
      Temp of 85ºF/29ºC or higher, for several days with humidity below 60%.
      Need to cover, watch materials used and control for insects and pests .

Solar Drying
      Need to make a dryer .
      Need to stir and turn food several times a day .
      Need several days…
Vine Drying
      Dry beans, lentils and soybeans .
      Leave bean pods on vine until beans inside rattle .
      If not dried can dry further in oven or dehydrator .

  • Dehydrating indoors
Food Dehydrators
       Small electrical appliance for drying foods indoors.
       Electric element for heat & fat and vents for air circulation .
       Dry foods fast at 110ºF/43ºC .
 Oven Drying
       Slower than dehydrators, unless you have a convection oven, which has a fan.
       Take 2 times longer to dry in oven than dehydrator…oven not as efficient and uses more energy .
How it works ?
       Dial needs to go down to 140ºF/60ºC .
       Leave oven door propped oven 2-6 inches .
       Best if you place a fan outside oven door .
       Oven temp varies…so need accurate oven thermometer to be sure 140ºF/60ºC is achieved .
       Trays should clear sides of oven & 3-4” shorter front to back of oven, 2-3” between racks in oven . Room Drying

       Herbs, hot peppers, & nuts in shell are most common air dried foods .
       Herbs & peppers – strung on string or tied in bundles and suspended from overhead racks in air until dry .
       Can enclose in paper bags, with openings for air circulation .
       Spread nuts in single layer on paper
Evolution of Dehydrated Cuisine

  In recent years , dehydrated products are finding market appeal on the shelves of natural food stores .
  Several companies like Govinda’s crackers & Manna Bread are producing crunchy crackers made from flaxseeds & moist, sweet bread from sprouted grains .
  Varieties of high-energy “power bars” produced specifically at low temperatures .
  Fruit leathers, also called as fruit roll-ups are high integrity snack food that can be made in the kitchen .

home made dehydrated products

What is Dehydrated Food ?
  Food that is cooked or dried at a low temperature enough to preserve delicate flavors & precious nutrients .
  The technique employs a steady, warm temperature of dry air in an enclosed environment .
How low the temperature should be ?
       Dehydrated foods are live & raw as long as the ambient temperature used is within the safe range of enzymes & nutrients : below 110ºF/43ºC  .
  Enzymes can survive moderate heat & cold .
  Dehydration can take longer time as it is a slow process of removing moisture from the food .
  Different foods will have different duration of time as well as different temperatures for dehydrating .

   For efficient drying , different foods have to be treated at different temperatures given below

Dehydration tips
  Dehydration can be done by many ways but the most effective way of doing it is by Food Dehydrator .
It is a machine which dehydrates food by passing warm air by circulating it for even dehydration .

Construction of Food Dehydrator
       Double wall construction of metal or high grade plastic, not wood .
       Enclosed heating element .
       Counter top design .
       Enclosed thermostat .   from 85ºF-160ºF/29ºC-71ºC .
       Fan or blower .
       4-10 open mesh trays,  plastic, sturdy & washable .
       1 year guarantee .
       Convenient service .
       Dial for regulating temperature .

Types of Dehydrators
        Horizontal Air Flow –
Heating element and fan are located on side .
       Vertical Air Flow –
Heating element and fan located at base .

Difference between Horizontal &Vertical airflow food Dehydrator

Horizontal airflow food Dehydrator
1.Reduces flavor mixing so different foods can be dried at once, juices don’t drip into heating element .
2.Air flows horizontally .
3.All trays get equal heat .

Vertical airflow food Dehydrator
1.       If different foods dried, flavors can mix and liquids can drip into heating element .
2.       Air flows vertically .
3.       All trays do not get equal heat .
Drying Vegetables

       Preparing the vegetables
      Wash, trim, peel, according to directions .
      Uniform pieces .
      Dry as soon as possible after picking .
           Wash the vegetables .
       Wipe vegetables .
       Sprinkle castor sugar for the glaze .
       Place in dehydrator  at 125ºF/52ºC .
Determining Dryness
       Dry vegetables until brittle or “crisp” .
       Some vegetables shatter if hit with hammer .
       10% moisture .
       Dried vegetables should be dried in ccol,dark & dry area and ideal temperature for storage is 50ºF-60ºF/10ºC-16ºC .

  Drying Fruit/Yogurt/Vegetables Leathers

       Pour  1/8-inch thick on drying tray .
       Take 4-6 hours(avg. time) to dry in dehydrator, up to 18 hours in oven .
       Dry at 135ºF/57ºC .
       Dry when no indention in center of leather .
       When warm, peel from plastic and roll , cool and rewrap roll in plastic .
       Keep up to 1 month at room temp, then may freeze up to 1 year .

  It is a lean meat like beef, pork, venison or smoked turkey breast which is dehydrated .
  Examples are Beef Jerky, Game Jerky, Poultry Jerky, Fish Jerky .
       Spread the meat strips in a single layer .
       Sprinkle curing mixture on both sides .
       Layer the strips over one another & sealed tightly in a container , store in refrigerator & marinate for 6-12 hours.
       Shake off excess cure & dehydrate them at 155ºF/68ºC for approximately 4-6 hours .
       Test jerky using a cooled piece & properly dried jerky should crack but not break when bent .
       Store in air tight containers such as zip-zap or vaccum sealed bags in a cool,dark,dry place .
       For best flavor retention ,package the jerky into individual serving sizes & store .
       For making Beef jerky , flank, round & sirloin cuts are the best to use .
       For making Game jerky , deer, bear, elk meat can be used while venison makes excellent jerky as it has no marbled fat .
       For making Poultry jerky , cooked chicken or turkey are used . Since poultry is very fibrous , this jerky can be brittle compared to beef jerky .
       For making Fish jerky , it is very important that the fish must be extremely fresh to prevent spoilage before it can be dried .
Uses of a Dehydrator
  Herbs & spices can be dried and can be used to create special teas & seasonings .
  Breads can be raised , the perfect environment for raising bread exists right inside the dehydrator .
  Stale crackers, chips, cookies or cereals can be recrisp by placing them in the dehydrator for 1 hour at 145ºF/63ºC .
  Homemade yogurt is economical and easy when made in dehydrator .
Advantages of Dehydrated Food
  Tasty texture while preserving delicate flavors & nutrients.
  Unlike sun-dried foods , dehydrating by the machine can also be used to infuse flavors .
  Also preserves vitamins & minerals which are destroyed by heat .
Disadvantages of Dehydrated Food
  Takes longer time .
  Excessive consumption of dehydrated food can lead to excessive consumption of nutrients which may not be suitable for human body .
Year-Round Dehydration tips
January-Avocados,Bananas,Cabbage,Cauliflower,Mushrooms,Pears,Potatoes,Turnips & Winter Squash
Tangerines, Winter Squash
Artichokes,Asparagus,Avocados,Bananas,Broccoli,Grapefruit,Kumquats, Lettuce,Mushrooms,Radishes,Spinach
Asparagus,Bananas,Celery,Papaya,Peas,Pineapple,Potatoes,Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watercress
Avocados,Apricots,Bananas,Cantaloupe,Cherries,Corn,Cucumber,Figs,Green Beans,Limes,Nectarines,Onions,Peaches,Peas,Peppers,Pineapple,Plums,Squash
Apricots,Bananas,Cantaloupe,Cherries,Corn,Cucumber,Figs,Green Beans,Limes,Mangoes,Nectarines,Onions,Peaches,Peas,Pineapple,Plums,Squash
Green Beans,Okra,Peppers,Prunes,Watermelons
September-Apples,Bananas,Beets,Berries,Cabbage,Carrots,Corns,Figs,Plums,Potatoes,   Tomatoes
Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Persimmons,Pumpkin,Yams
Apples,Bananas,Cabbage,Cranberries,Dates,Pumpkin,Sweet Potatoes

  Dehydrated food is not the only food commonly preserved in a food dryer by the removal of moisture from the food but it is also an healthy option for health conscious people where one can enjoy the dehydrated slices of vegetables & fruits and beef, chicken, fish or even venison which can be marinated in a combination of sauces & spices that can be dehdryated and easily transformed into jerky as homemade snacks .
  Although dehydrating food by natural means is time consuming , there are types of dehydrators through which the whole process of dehydration can be reduced to hours from days .
  Information gathered from the following books-
  • “Living Cuisine : The Art & Spirit Of Raw Foods”.
  • Excalibur-Dehydrating Guide.


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  2. Very nice and informative blog about food dehydation!
    And for all those who want to buy a food dehydrator, I would highly recommend a dehydrator with a horizontal air flow system. Because for a even drying that's the only choice. This dehydrators are usually more expensive than the ones with the vertical air flow, but i found a very cheap one here.

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