Using Commercial Dehydrators at Home

Commercially available at many stores that sell home canning products, dehydrators can be either have electric elements installed to dry the produce on open racks housed in the dehydrator or simply open racks which fit together, using only air circulation to dry the produce. These dehydrators are available online from several manufacturers and are a matter of choice.

Produce to be dried should be pre-treated to help retain most of the colour and vitamin content and ward off harmful bacteria and mold.

Each dehydrator brand will have specific instructions for the use of their product, but the basic steps are as follows:

1. Select and prepare the produce to be dried, by slicing, dicing, or other portion sizes.

2. Pre-treat the produce with the natural pre-treatment of your choice as listed. Note: Do not use chemical pre-treatments for this process, as the drying will be done on your counter top or other interior setting and dangerous levels of sulfur or lye may accumulate.

3. Produce will be dry as per manufacturer directions for estimated time required to dry specific produce.

4. Because the produce is dried by a slow, steady heat, sterilization of the dried produce will not be necessary.

5. Once the produce is dry, place in clean, sterilized containers such as quart jars with tight fitting lids. If you have a vacuum sealer, many come with a vacuum attachment for jars. Sealing the dried produce in these air-tight jars will help keep the produce from absorbing moisture in the air and keep the produce fresher longer. These jars can be stored in a dark cupboard, pantry or the freezer.