How to preserve fruits, vegetables and herbs for long time
Drying or dehydration is an age-old method for preserving food. Where and when this ancient technique was discovered has been lost to time, however it is known to be practiced worldwide for millennia following the populace of Middle Eastern and Asian areas. In times gone by, people waited for a dry spell to be able to dry foods so as to preserve and concentrate the flavor of the fruits, vegetables and herbs for the long winter months. It is the most popular method in areas with hot and arid climates. It involves drying foods in order to reduce moisture content so that bacterial and spoilage organisms cannot grow owing to eventual deterioration. This process not only makes the food lighter in weight but also resistant to decay, hence, ideal for long-term storage.
As simple as it may sound, the process requires a great deal of technique and expertise. No wonder it is known to be a vague art. Successful dehydration is largely dependent on heat supply, moisture content, the size of the pieces and most importantly the method chosen to dry foods to perfection. There are various methods of drying foods, namely sun drying, oven drying, drying with a dehydrator (solar and electric), among many. However, the most practical and effective method is the use of clotheslines.
Despite the fact that the process of drying foods wipes out most or all of the vitamins as the moisture content of the food may drop down to as low as 3-5 percent, they are a good source of energy, especially fruits and vegetables as they are said to contain essential fruit sugars, fibre and iron. Dried fruit can be eaten in their raw form. They can be given to children for their school lunch or evening parties. They also make delicious recipes for cookies and breakfast meals and are commonly used during hiking and camping trips. Dried vegetables, such as beans and peas, are especially good for soups, stews and dishes that taste best with gravy and seasonings, which give the vegetables a flavourful taste. And for all the ladies out there, cooking with dried foods is as trouble-free as cooking with canned, convenience foods! Dried herbs are every culinary expert’s x-factor. Fine herbs such as oregano, marjoram, rosemary, basil and thyme, or a combination of all or some of these, taste delicious with stews, casseroles, soups, sauces, salads and other Italian dishes.
In order to keep the food dry, one needs to carefully monitor its storage and packaging conditions. The moisture content can be judged vaguely by bending the food. If it breaks with a crisp snap, it means that the moisture level is rather low. Therefore, dry food preservation is not very difficult if dealt with care and precision combined with optimum conditions required to preserve dry food. This way, dried food would last much longer than fresh food would. And hey, talk about protecting your investment in survival food supplies.