Once you've dehydrated your seasonal bounty of apples and stone fruit, or turned your strawberries into fruit leather and set about drying your aromatic summer herb garden, you'll need to go about storing them all correctly to enjoy them at their flavoursome best over the months to come.
While storing dehydrated food is largely about common sense, there are some very simple tips that will help extend dehydrated foods' shelf life, and preserve the deliciousness of your hard-earned work ready for your food adventures ahead.
Dehydrating food is essentially about removing most of the moisture content, and therefore reducing the risk of moulds, bacteria, and other contaminants growing on them, meaning your food keeps fresher and healthy for longer.
Aside from removing moisture, there are two other storage enemies to consider when keeping your dehydrated fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs and pulses for longer periods of time. Namely light and heat. Both of these elements can be detrimental to successful storage, so it's always best to store your dehydrated food in controlled conditions.
Here are ten tips to look out for when storing dehydrated food, and keep those enemies at bay:
How to Store Dehydrated Food
1.Always Cool Before Storing
Always let your dehydrated food rest and cool overnight before storing to ensure that it's completely dry. Storing warm food will cause sweating which could provide enough moisture for mould to grow.
2. Condition Fruit
When food comes out of the dehydrator, the pieces may not have dehydrated evenly. Conditioning is the process that equalises moisture and reduces the risk of mould growth.
To condition fruit, you'll need another 7-10 days once it leaves the dehydrator before storing it long term.
Once the fruit has cooled seal it in plastic or glass containers and shake daily to allow the moisture to be absorbed by drier pieces. Also, check for moisture condensation - if condensation develops in the jar, return the fruit to the dehydrator for more drying.
After 7-10 days of conditioning, package and store the fruit as described below.
3. Bigger is Better
Try to store foods as whole or in the largest pieces possible, to reduce exposure to oxygen and light, which will affect flavour and shelf life.
4. Tightly Sealed Containers
Store dehydrated food in clean and dry glass jars, plastic containers with tight sealing lids, freezer bags - or better still, vacuum seal to keep food fresher for longer. Removing as much air as possible also helps keep your food fresher for longer.