We have received thousands of email questions over the years. Here are some of the most common questions we get!
1. Which type of dehydrator do I need?
Choose a dehydrator with the fan located on the back, NOT on the top or bottom. Dehydrators with fans on the top or bottom have poor air circulation and will dry your food unevenly, thus confusing your drying times. Also, if the fan is on the bottom, flavors from lower racks will raise up, altering flavors of products on higher racks. I recommend Excalibur Dehydrators. I have three 9-tray Excalibur Dehydrators. My oldest is ten years old, and have never given me a single problem and they run day and night. There are different sizes of dehydrators available, which vary on the number of shelves. Choose based on the expected quantity of food you will be dehydrating. Keep in mind that dehydrating is a long process (often 18-24 hours per batch), so I recommend a dehydrator with a larger capacity, such as the 9-tray, if possible.
2. How do I sign up for the Monthly Newsletter?
Unfortunately we are unable to continue to send monthly newsletters, but we will keep everyone posted regarding new content added to our site via our Facebook Page!
You can find previous newsletters here.
3. Where can I purchase the vertical food chopper seen in your videos?
The cast iron vertical table-mounted food chopper seen in our videos is made by Williams-Sonoma. Unfortunately, they stopped making this product or anything similar years ago. We have been unable to find anything quite like this chopper since, and have contacted the company about this. If we find a comparable chopper we will immediately notify our fans and bring it to our shop page.
4. Which vacuum bags should I use?
This is an important question. Choosing a poor-quality bag can result in loss of suction and the ultimate destruction of your dehydrated items, and all of your hard work. Choose a vacuum bag of at least 3Mil thickness. In addition, I enjoy micro-channel bags for optimal sealing. I recommend against FoodSaver bags. My favorite bags, and the bags seen in my videos, are supplied by DC Sales Enterprises.
5. How do you store oxygen packs?
Once you have used oxygen packs for vacuum bags, Mylar bags, or storage jars it is important to vacuum seal the remainder of your unused oxygen packs. If oxygen packs are left in the open they will absorb atmospheric oxygen and become useless. Simply take your remaining oxygen packs and place them into a vacuum bag, and vacuum seal.
6. How to prevent food from browning?
Typically lemon juice can be sprayed on your foods to retain color. I spray any foods that are not leafy veggies such as collards, as these will burn from the acidity. All other fruits and items, such as apples, bananas, etc., I spray generously with lemon juice. You will usually not taste the lemon juice in your finished product. If you do, try using slightly less. This method is also an effective way to add vitamin C to your foods, as this is sometimes lost in small to moderate amounts during dehydrating because it is a water soluble vitamin. Some people use ascorbic acid (vitamin C) powder dissolved in water, but I feel that this process is messier and more time consuming.
7. Where do you get the spray lemon juice seen in your videos?
I purchase a large bottle of lemon juice with a screw-on cap from my local grocer. Then, I purchase a food-safe spray top and screw the top to the lemon juice bottle. You can recycle each lemon juice bottle, and re-use the spray top on your next bottle.
8. Do you ship outside of the continental U.S.?
Unfortunately we are unable to ship any of the products from our Shop Page outside of the continental United States. Products from some of the other websites mentioned on Dehydrate2Store.com may offer out-of-country shipping options. Please refer to their shipping policies for more information.
9. Can you dehydrate frozen fruits and vegetables?
Yes. Simply cut open the bag and pour on your dehydrator tray. You can see a video of this here.
10. Why add an oxygen absorber to a vacuum sealed bag?
Though vacuum sealing removes the vast majority of air, there will still be small pockets of residual oxygen that are impossible to remove via vacuum sealing. Oxygen absorbers will remove these small traces of residual oxygen.
11. Is there a book about dehydrating that you recommend?
For years we had a hard time answering this question, because we didn’t feel that one book really had everything. This is why we decided to write our own! Check out our books, The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook and Quick & Easy Dehydrated Meals in a Bag.
12. Where can I find an LDS cannery?
Click Here and select your state! Remember, some LDS canneries require you to be a member, while some do not. The phone numbers are included for each cannery, so please call before visiting and ask if you are eligible! LDS canneries are an excellent way to get food with little to no mark-up, and in bulk, to save a lot of money and build your pantry more easily!
13. How do I store my food for long term versus short term?
Most foods can be stored for numerous years if done properly. Some even last 30+ years! Click here for a dehydrated shelf life chart.
To store long term, ensure your foods are at least 95% dehydrated and then vacuum seal in a vacuum-sealable bag, along with an oxygen pack or two (depending on the size of the bag). This will remove oxygen, a powerful food degrading agent. Next, place your vacuum bag into a Mylar bag. You can ONLY heat-seal the Mylar bag. You cannot vacuum seal Mylar bags. These bags will keep out sunlight, and provide a durable protection from puncturing and rodents. Store your food is a cool, dry, dark place. You do not need to freeze or refrigerate dehydrated foods.
For shorter term storage (months to a few years) you can use canning jars. I do this for items I plan on using every day, such as for my daily recipes or quick on-the-go snacks like dehydrated apples or granola. Simply place your foods in a Ball jar, or comparable food grade jar, add an oxygen pack or two, and screw on the lid tightly. When the jar is empty, simply cut open a vacuum bag containing more of the item and refill the jar. You do not need to use heat to “can” these jars. Canning is a different process often involving liquids, such as for pickling. I also can foods; however canned foods do not last as long, and lose more nutrients than dehydrated foods.
Keep your jars, if possible, out of direct sunlight. If this is impossible you may be able to find blue or tinted jars to protect from the degrading powers of light. I sometimes recommend trying to find jars at auctions and sterilizing them if it better fits your budget. However, it is imperative that you check the caps and glass rims of each jar for impurities, dents, or chips. A chip in the glass or a faulty lid will create an easy entry point for oxygen.
14. Is it cheaper to dehydrate your own food or to buy food from a survival store?
Typically it is cheaper to dehydrate yourself. The most effective way to do this is to buy food in bulk. Bulk foods can be found at farmer’s markets, farmer’s auctions, canneries (such as LDS canneries), and local markets. I highly recommend visiting a farmer’s auction; you can get a truckload of food for an incredibly low price. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Many people do not know about dehydrating, and thus buying a pickup truck filled with food would be crazy, as it will simply go bad. With dehydration, you can store the entire truck load for years.
Also, I highly recommend only buying foods in season, as you can store them and eat them during off seasons if needed. This will help you save a lot of money.
Unfortunately, not everything can be easily dehydrated at home, and as such it is sometimes cheaper to purchase dehydrated foods from survival stores. Foods such as eggs, cheese, and milk are difficult to dehydrate or powder without proper commercial equipment. To find safe and high-quality goods like these, click here!
15. What is freeze drying, and can you do it at home?
Freeze drying is a form of dehydrating that uses very low temperatures to rapidly freeze foods. Next, a pressure difference is quickly created to induce sublimation, a process in which liquid in the food spontaneously becomes gas. This removes liquid from food quickly and effectively. A downside to this process is that extreme temperatures cause cells to rupture, and as such many nutrients are often lost in the process. Dehydration, on the other hand, uses less harsh temperatures over a much longer period of time, creating a gentle dry which dramatically reduces nutrient loss (see “Are nutrients lost during dehydration?” for more info).
Freeze drying requires heavy-duty commercial equipment and complicated techniques which require significant experience, and as such are not possible in the average household. However, to find affordable freeze-dried, dehydrated, and powdered foods, click here!
16. Are nutrients lost during dehydration?
I am frequently asked if dehydrating destroys the important nutrients in foods. The truth is that dehydrating is the safest way of food storage in regards to nutrient preservation. Nutrients and enzymes often “denature” when subjected to extreme temperatures, pH, or sodium levels. When a molecule denatures it loses its shape, and consequently its ability to perform. The reason this isn’t a threat in the dehydrating process is because dehydrators use relatively low temperatures over long periods of time to remove the moisture from foods. Also, the fan in the back of a dehydrator creates proper air circulation thus ensuring that heat does not build up in any one area and endanger your food. Storage processes such as freezing and canning bring a much larger concern over the issue of nutrient loss.
Studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that freezing foods for storage yield 40-60% nutrient loss. This is because when cells freeze they expand and often rupture, thus losing large amounts of nutrients. Canned foods lose 60-80% of nutrients due to the extreme heat used in the process. The same studies on dehydrated foods reveal that only 3-5% of nutrients were lost! This makes dehydrating the best method of long term food storage in regards to nutrient preservation.
17. Which vacuum sealer and bags should I buy?
The best investment you can buy in dehydrated food storage is a vacuum sealer and bags. And, you can use it for much more than dehydrated food! Try medications, soaps, blankets, important papers, homemade emergency/first aid packs, matches, clothes, and anything you want to protect against moisture. You can vacuum seal your cheese and it will last four times as long. The same goes for all the other leftovers in your refrigerator.
I am a huge fan of the Weston Pro-2300 Stainless Steel Vacuum Sealer. I have used this sealer for years and love it! If you seal in very large quantities like I do, this durable machine is a gem. The unique thing about this sealer is it has dual fans for increased suction power. It also has a “heat-seal only” feature, which is useful and necessary for Mylar bags, as Mylar bags cannot be vacuum sealed. Furthermore, this sealer is incredibly durable. I seal foods non-stop, in large quantities, and have never had an issue with this product. Weston is an excellent name in food preparation and storage products; I use many of their products and they are consistently durable, easy to use, sleek looking, and high-quality. Weston also has excellent customer service.
Again, if the sealer is outside of your budget, lower quality and less commercial sealers will typically be sufficient, as long as you make sure to use a good quality vacuum bag.
Regardless of which vacuum sealer you have, the most important thing is the bag! You must have a 3 Mil (thickness) vacuum bag. If there is one time during the storing process where you shouldn’t settle for the cheaper product, it is right here. You can have the most expensive Vacuum sealer on the market, but if you are using poor-quality your product will suffer. I prefer the microchannel 3 Mil bags that can be found here for their durability and longevity. I am not a big fan of the cheaper bags that can be found at Walmart. Your food storage is important and it does not pay to use cheaper vacuum bags. If you must use them, first put the dehydrated food in a plastic zip-lock bag but do not zip it closed, and then vacuum seal.