The lockdown has been a real challenge for everyone, but it seems especially difficult for foodies like me. Before we had all been told to stay at home, I was used to eating in restaurants two or three times a day. Fast food or fine-dining—that did not matter as long I had good food on my table. However, no thanks to the pandemic, my favorite restaurants had to close, and I was forced to start getting groceries and preparing meals for myself.
At first, I must admit that it was bearable. I cooked pasta and chicken dishes on week #1, and they all turned out decent. The problems only rolled in the second week when my raw ingredients showed signs of going bad. The apples had brown spots, the potatoes grew molds, and the beef was already smelling awful in the refrigerator. When I relayed my dilemma to Mom, she suggested drying food.
Dried food is the end product of a food preservation process in which the fruits, meat, and vegetables get dehydrated to increase their shelf life. Many individuals believe that the drying method has originated from the Asian countries where the bacteria can develop on foods due to the hotter temperature and make it inedible after several days. Thousands of years have gone by since then, and the world has witnessed how this procedure has slowly modernized.
People have once needed air or sunlight to make dried food, but now all you need are electricity and a freeze dryer or a dehydrator.
The food dehydrator follows the same principle of the ancient drying process. It uses heat and warm air to evaporate the high amount of water stored in the food. To properly dry fruits and meat, the appliance has to be at a temperature a bit higher than 130 and 155 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.
Meanwhile, in the freeze-drying method, the foods are supposed to become icy in the beginning so that its water content will freeze. Once that happens, they will undergo the sublimation process wherein the frozen water turns to gas. It is said to be abetter dehydration technique because it can preserve the texture and taste of the food more.
The drying procedure prevents other food from getting spoiled early. You can store dried food in a completely airtight place for years, and it will still be good to eat.
You can dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and meat in large batches to avoid needing to purchase groceries for a while. It can save you from spending on transportation and continuously buying foodstuff that will not last for even a month. Aside from that, you will have the chance to consume certain items that may not be in season.
Since most foods are mainly made up of water, dehydrating them will leave you with tiny pieces of vegetables and fruits that are easy to pack in a small space. That is advantageous for those who live in small apartments and have little room to spare for food stocks.
It can take hours to rehydrate dried food once you are ready to eat it. Regardless if you open the container and allow air to come in, it will not be enough because the ingredient lost most–if not all–of its water content.
The natural drying process involves the abundant use of preservatives such as salt and sugar as well. Thus, it can be dangerous for people who suffer from diabetes or heart diseases.
The cost of fresh goods often fluctuates due to the oil price market changes. However, if you have enough dried food at home, you will not have to bother going to groceries, especially during the lockdown. You may also survive without opening canned goods or ordering ready-made food again.
Overall, dehydration is a tedious yet rewarding method of preserving foods that you should try while staying at home. Good luck!