Food drying is an ancient technique of food preservation where food is dried for future use. Drying slows the growth of mold, yeasts, and bacteria during the removal of moisture from its surface. This prevents spoiling of food for future consumption. There are various techniques used to dry food such as oven drying, dehydrating, microwave drying, air-flow drying, and the most common today, the dryer. Each of these techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Oven frying is one of the oldest techniques in preserving food. It involves placing food into an iron skillet or pot over low heat and cooking it until its juices start to run. The liquids and oils that run out of the food are preserved in the pan or pot by the heat. Air-flow drying methods preserve by forcing hot air into the food at high temperatures. This method can prevent spoilage because it kills the mold spores that grow in moist environments and it destroys enzymes that cause spoilage.
Microwaves are also used to prevent spoilage of dried foods because they evaporate water vapors produced during cooking. This technique can be used to preserve dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Some of the best dried foods on the market are the frozen, preserved foods that are produced in glass vials. The process of freezing protects the nutrients present in the product and lengthens the shelf life of the product soft dried papaya.
Air-flow drying methods are used in dried foods. These types of drying methods are best for herbs, spices, and fruit and vegetable racks. The technique sprays herbicide into the racks to destroy any germs, mold, or fungus. The herbs do not need to be removed during this process, however some herbs require more frequent rinsing to prevent spoiling. Air-flow drying racks are better suited for larger pieces of food because the air circulates the herbs and spreads them out evenly throughout the container.
Complete drying is the complete removal of a product from its package. This method is used to ensure that products do not spoil when stored in appropriate containers. Complete drying is the preferred method for many foods, including dried meats and other dried foods, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Complete drying minimizes risk of botulism, an excessive amount of moisture, food spoilage, air pockets and voids in airtight containers. Most companies that sell complete drying kits also provide information about how expiration dates can be checked to determine if a food should be stored in a sealed container.
When storing dried foods, it is important to use the proper containers. A good storage container is made of thick plastic and contains holes that allow air to circulate and escape. Disadvantages of using thin plastic containers include abrasion and puncture resistance. Some plastic containers may not seal completely. Plastic has excellent thermal conductivity, so it will help keep the temperature constant inside the container where it is stored.