People who grow gardens each year hope that the garden will supply enough fruits and vegetables to be able to save some for the winter months. Some people choose to can their surplus while others freeze. Have you considered ways to dry/dehydrate fruits and vegetables as an alternative to canning or freezing?
You can dry food in a number of ways:
- Sun Drying
- Solar Drying
- Oven Drying
- Dehydrator Drying
To effectively dry food it is necessary to have the right combination of low humidity, air current and warm temperatures.
Sun drying is probably one of the oldest ways to preserve food but it depends on the temperature, weather and relative humidity. If you plan to use this method to dry vegetables, it is imperative to do so when there will be 3-5 days of warm temperatures and sunshine. While this is method is free, it takes so much longer.
Solar drying is similar to sun drying but it is also different. Solar drying is accomplished by creating a box with a glass lid, solar oven or placing the vegetables in the car window. You’ll have better luck if you have a long stretch of sunny days, but you must leave the windows open to allow for air circulation. This method is quicker than sun drying, but there is still a better way.
Oven drying is an option you may only want to consider for small-scale drying of 4 to 6 pounds of vegetables at a time. However, this method is not free as the oven will have to remain on the entire time the vegetables are drying. This method will take longer than a dehydrator and you have to rotate the trays to ensure even drying. You also may have difficulty maintaining the necessary 140 degrees in your oven or won’t have the proper air circulation.
Dehydrator drying is probably the best way to dry fruits and vegetables. Most dehydrators allow you to expand the number of trays; they are sturdy, safe and much quicker than any other method. They provide a constant heat source, you can set the temperature, and the fan allows for even air circulation.
If you’re considering drying or dehydrating the bounty from your garden, consider the four different ways. Some of the methods are free but they will require a good amount of time. Other methods will cost money but they are much more effective and the results are predictable. The choice of which method you use is entirely up to you.