Safe Food Storage for Fruits and Vegetables
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Sun drying can take up to five days, plus food can lose up to half its nutrients, and temperatures are often inconsistent. The downside to oven drying is that the oven is in use so you can’t cook meals. Fruit dried in the oven may also be less flavorful.
The food dehydrator is the best of the bunch and well worth the investment. Garden produce from zucchini, corn, sweet peppers and tomatoes, to grapes, cherries and strawberries can be dried 24/7 without your constant supervision. (High-moisture foods like cucumbers and melons do not dry well and are best suited to freezing.)
Drying time varies from several hours to a day or two, with food dehydrators with a fan or blower drying the fastest. The smaller and more uniform the food, the faster it dries.
Whether canned, frozen or dried, always use quality produce, wash fresh fruits and vegetables, and be sure to process them within hours of harvesting. Have all your food and supplies prepared and ready before you begin. And make sure you label each jar, container or bag with both name and date. In the end, you may discover that you enjoy preserving your harvest as much as you delight in growing it.
A food writer and recipe developer, Kris Wetherbee has canned, frozen and dehydrated more food than she can remember, and loved every bite of the preserved garden bounty.
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