Drying is a great way to preserve foods, but only if you do it right. Here are several tips to ensure safe storage of your home-dried foods:
Tips for Packaging Dehydrated Fruit and Dried Food
- Do not package dried foods for storage until they are completely cool to the touch. The air surrounding the warm dried food will hold more moisture content, which is then released when it cools. You could end up with droplets of water in your storage container, which will reduce the shelf life of the dried food.
- Dried fruits must be conditioned before they can be stored. You need to place them loosely packed in jars. Shake the jars once a day for seven to 10 days. During the conditioning period, if you see condensation in the jar, you should send the fruit back to the dehydrator for further drying.
- Store dried foods in air-tight containers or freezer bags. You can use a jar with an airtight seal, which can become decor as well as storage. If you use plastic bags, they should be freezer bags, which are thicker than simple sandwich bags.
- If using freezer bags, be sure to remove all air from the bag before sealing.
- Vacuum-sealing will give you the best shelf life as it removes air, keeping moisture and mold away from the dried food. It is worth getting a vacuum sealer if you are going to dry food.
- Store sulfured fruit in non-metal containers or put it in a plastic bag before placing it in the metal container. Otherwise, the sulfur will react with the metal and can produce off-flavors.
- Store dried foods in small batches to maintain freshness and to minimize the risk of contamination. Storing individual servings will ensure you aren't opening and closing the container, introducing air that can lead to molding and spoilage.
- Label each container with what it is and the date it was packaged. You don't want to have a bunch of mystery items on your shelves, and you will be able to use the older items before they begin to lose their freshness.
Tips for Storage of Dried Food
- Store containers in a cool, dry and dark location. A temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius (or less) is best. Exposure to light will degrade dried foods, so if you store jars out on your counter or shelves, expect to use the food sooner rather than later.
- Dried fruits and herbs can be stored for up to a year.
- Dried vegetables and meats can be stored for up to six months.
- Store dried foods in the freezer if you'd like to use them over a longer period of time.
- If condensation appears inside one of the containers of your home-dried food, it needs to be dried again.
- Store items so the older items are in front or on top so you can use them up while they are still of good quality.
Tips for Using Stored Dehydrated Fruit and Foods
- To preserve freshness, store opened containers of dried foods in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Inspect all dried foods before eating them, and discard anything with mold. If in doubt, throw it out.