Dry Foods 101

Dried foods are foods that have had the moisture from them removed by methods such as air-drying or water-drying. The moisture is evaporated away, leaving the food dry. Dried foods are used to prepare shelf stable food products in place of fresh ingredients. Some of these products include cookies, cakes, breads, and snack foods. They are also used to preserve fish and meats for later use.

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Dried fruits are dried foods that have had all of their water and moisture completely removed. Dried fruits retain almost no moisture and can be stored for years. Dried meats and fish are also one of the more popular uses for dried foods. Dried fruits are used to add flavor and color to jams, dips, sauces, salad dressings and pickles. Dried meats can be used on sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, soups and stews kingfoods.

Air-Drying: Air-dried foods are those that are dried using an air compressor. Food drying is a simple and quick process in which water is evaporated away leaving the food in its original bag. Dried fruits, herbs, spices, and vegetables are some of the most commonly used air dried foods. Air-dried foods are used to preserve fish and meats for later use. Dried meat can be used on sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, soups and stews. They can also be used to top fish and meats with a delicious sauce.

Water Drying: Water-drying is the slowest method yet produces the most tender dried foods. Water is evaporated away from fruits, vegetables, and herbs leaving the product in its natural state. There is an important difference between these two drying methods. When using water-dried foods, the moisture is removed by exposing it to air resulting in a less than perfect product.

Blanching: Blanching is a process which not only removes excess moisture but also removes excess vitamins and minerals from the foods. Blanching foods is done by placing them into a large pot or pan and gently heating the water so the foods begin to steam. The water is removed by draining it away from the foods. Blanching foods helps retain vitamins and nutrients in the dried product.

Dried foods will last for many years if they are carefully stored. When placed in air-tight glass containers they retain the moisture well. Placing them in Tupperware containers with lids will keep them from being damaged. Food storage racks are another way to store dried product. Plastic, wooden or metal racks work well because they remove the moisture. When purchasing food, always check for moisture content.