It is really easy to dehydrate your own food, and it is important to learn how to dry your own produce for any survival situation. Why dehydrate food? dried items take up little space and can last for a very long time, even when there is no electricity for refrigeration. If money becomes scarce during a survival situation then you can use the dried food to barter with.

Another advantage to dehydrating your own produce is that it is cheaper to dry your own produce then it is to buy dried food at the store which often contains additives and chemical preservatives. If you dry the fruit and vegetables from your garden then you could store enough food to last until the next harvest. This will make you less reliant on the supermarkets, and it will cut down on the cost of buying food.

You can make your own trail mix to take with you the next time you go backpacking. The stuff that you dry yourself will taste much better then the store-bought trail mix, and it will be cheaper to make your own.

It is possible to dehydrate almost any type of food. What is dehydrated food? The answer is simple; it is food that has had most of the moisture removed from it. This stops bacteria, mold, and other microorganisms from destroying the food causing it to rot.  

There are several ways to dehydrate food such as air drying outside, solar, the oven, and a dehydration machine. I don’t suggest that you use a microwave because of the way it cooks food. Generally it takes a long time to dry out food, but the way that a microwave cooks, you will dry out the outside first while the inside remains moist, and you could wind up burning the outside if not careful because of this reason.

The first step is to start by cutting the stuff to be dried into equal sized pieces and thickness. This will help make the produce dry evenly. Next place the food on the drying rack. If you are drying outside make sure that you place the produce to dry in the direct sunlight and in a windy spot. This is generally the longest method for drying food. Using this method could take several days to fully dry out the food. Make sure that you use a screen to keep the bugs away from the food while it is drying.

Sun dried tomatoesCredit: Andrew Deacon

If you are dehydrating using a dehydrator or stove then turn it on. If you are drying herbs and flowers keep the temperature around 100 to 120 degrees. Keep the temperature for fruits and vegetables from 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat has the highest drying temperature that starts at around 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The high heat is necessary for meat to kill any bacteria and parasites that could be in the meat. If your dehydrating method doesn’t reach temperatures that high then prepare the meat by pre-cooking it first.

Test the food by cutting a piece in half. If the inside is still moist then keep drying. When dry some food will be crispy, while other kinds will be leathery. Learning how to tell when the produce is properly dry is very important because if is moist after dehydrating, it could spoil on you during storage.

After the food has been properly dried store it in a dry cool place in an air tight container. Store the dried food in a freezer if you are not confident in your dehydrating skills to give you another level of protection from decay during storage.

Before you eat the food after it has been in storage, check it for mold and spoilage. If you see any mold or rot of the food, then it is best to throw out the entire container of food to avoid becoming sick with food poisoning.

As you can see it is really easy to dehydrate your own food, and it can prove to be a very useful skill to learn.