Food drying is an ancient technique of preserving food that has been used for many years. Dried foods preserve the original flavor and texture of the food. Dried foods are used to replace dried fruits and vegetables or to prepare foods like breads and desserts. Dried foods also help cure certain ailments, from dry skin to mouth sores.
Dried fruits are made by removing the water from the flesh of fruits and vegetables. Dried vegetables are made by removing most of the water from the stems of leafy green vegetables. Dried foods are now used in most stores as snacks and other packaged foods. Dried fruits and vegetables have lost much of their freshness, but still retain some of their nutrients.
Dried foods can prevent spoilage because they lock in moisture. Without water, spoilage is unavoidable. However, some things cannot be preserved without water. Waterlogged paper will not re-hydrate and become brittle. Spoilage can be reduced or eliminated completely with the proper drying. There are two main ways to dry foods: dehydrating and air-drying soft dried pineapple.
Air-dryed dried foods can be stored for months at a time. A variety of dried foods are prepared this way including bagels, salad dressings, dried fruits, popcorn, cookies, pasta, steak, soups, stews, and vegetables. Vegetables can be made into bouillon cubes for use in sauces. Bouillon cubes are also good in pickles and chutneys.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are perfect for freezing and dehydrating. The juice from dehydrated fruits maintains the flavor, but can be bitter if eating too soon after being harvested. Air-dried vegetables and fruits are used for salads and deserts. Dried meats such as ham and bacon retain their texture and flavor when they have been dehydrated. The dried meats can be combined with other ingredients to make hot or cold salsas and dips.
Both dehydrated and air-dried foods will prevent spoilage when stored properly at room temperature. However, they do not retain their moisture content when they are stored at cold temperatures. This means that foods must be stored in the refrigerator for any length of time. For longer storage periods, foods should be frozen instead of dehydrated or stored on ice.
Sun-dried fruits and vegetables retain much of their natural flavor when they are exposed to the sun, and the intense heat from the sun makes them taste better. When choosing a dried fruit or vegetable, select ones that are going to retain most of their moisture when they are exposed to the sun. Some of the most popular sun-dried fruits include sun-dried apricots, sun-dried bananas, sun-dried grapes, and sun-dried pineapples. Sun-dried plums, gooseberries, and plums are available at farmers markets and online.
Many people opt for dried fruit varieties instead of fresh fruits and vegetables because they are easy to store and take along on trips. Dried fruit baskets are becoming more popular for special occasions, and many chocolatiers offer dried fruit truffles as a delicious and decadent desert. Other dried fruit gifts include sun dried pineapples, sun dried apples, and sun dried cantaloupe. These items can be sent in gift boxes, tied with a piece of ribbon and made into a thoughtful gift for someone you know.
Dried meats, such as beef, pork, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, and dried legumes such as black beans or chickpeas are gaining popularity. The dried meat products are healthy and contain more protein than many fresh meats, and they retain more of their nutrients when they are sun dried. Some examples of these meat products include sun dried biltong, sun dried chilli, and sun dried sausages. Salted and smoked foods such as sausages, salami, pastrami, and prosciutto are also increasing in popularity. Sausages, prosciutto, and salami are among the healthiest foods on the market today, especially when they are dry-roasted for an extra sweet and smoky flavor.