The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to Dry Foods

How to dry foodsHow to Dry Foods by Deanna DeLong is part cookbook and part explanation of the whys and hows behind drying food.  The author has spent over twenty years practicing, writing, and teaching about food dehydration, so she's able to answer all of the questions I've been storing up as I start to consider drying more of our winter stores.  More on those answers in later posts, but first, I feel obliged to tell you the few flaws in the book:

  • There are ads for a single brand of dehydrator scattered throughout.  I actually wouldn't have minded seeing her reviews of several different brands, but this felt more like product placement.
  • She's a big fan of using sulfur to treat your fruit before dehydrating it and barely touches on alternative methods of pretreating.  Some folks recommend Making & Using Dried Foods by Phyllis Hobson as a more well-rounded alternative in that department, although I haven't read it yet.

That said, I'm a big fan of charts that sum up lots of information in a small space, and DeLong's charts are probably worth the entire price of the book.  I actually bought an e-copy to have on hand as I experiment with drying this summer, and I tend to only buy a few books per year, so, yes, I recommend it.

Weekend Homesteader walks you through fun and easy projects to get started on the path to self-sufficiency.

This post is part of our How to Dry Foods lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Excalibur food drier has a decent book that comes with your purchase. You never need to sulfur anything. It used to be an alternative to drying.
Comment by Errol Mon Jun 6 12:57:54 2011

I'm looking forward to reading their book when the dehydrator finally arrives!

Sulfur is a pretreatment more than an alternative to drying. The point is to do what blanching does when you're freezing --- stop enzymes that will otherwise keep slowly breaking down the flavor and nutritional value of your food even though it is preserved and won't spoil. That said, lemon juice seems to be a good alternative (although probably only about half as effective), and you can also use powdered up vitamin C pills in water.

Comment by anna Mon Jun 6 17:34:02 2011

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