Sun Drying Food – Couple Of Things To Know

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Sun drying of food has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Back before there was refrigeration and canning this is one of the methods people used to try to preserve the food they had so that it would last them through the winter.

Sun drying is simply using the sun and the air to dry foods. To dry foods you must remove the water from the food. The air needs to be dry, with no more then 20% humidity. Drying in the sun can only be done during sunlight hours and should be brought in during nighttime. Drying in the sun can take three to four days.

The ideal temperature for food drying is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is why it can take a few days for you food to dry. Increasing the temperature or not having perfect weather can cause molding of the food. Making sure that there is good air flow in the area that you are doing the sun drying is important. This will help the food dry quicker. Humid air can also cause molding.

While most any food can be sun dried, fruits are the easiest. Their high sugar and acid content make them ideal candidates for the drying process. The sugar and acid help prevent the growth of bacteria and decrease the risk of mold. Vegetables and meats can also be dried in the sun but require more work and technique.

How would you dry your food in the sun? This depends on what you are drying. Fruits can be cut into slices and laid in a single layer on a rack or screen, on that is paper lined or cloth covered to protect the food from insects. You do not want to use screens made of “hardware cloth” because they can leave harmful residues on the food. Copper and aluminum can destroy Vitamin C content and cause discoloring and corroding.

Sun Drying Food   Couple Of Things To Know

Vegetable require pretreatment prior to sun drying. The recommended pre-treatment for vegetable is blanching. The blanching can be done by steam or in water. The blanching will help save some vitamin content, help the vegetables retain color and speeds the drying process by making the tissue of the vegetable relax allowing the water to evaporate quickly. This is key because part of the problem with drying vegetable is that they can mold because their sugar and acid contents are low.

Once the sun drying process is complete you may find that some pieces are drier then others. To help balance out the batch of sun dried food put them in a glass or plastic container. Seal the container tightly and let it stand or about a week. Make sure to stir or shake the container daily. Any sign of moisture and you should put the food back out on the drying rack. This is called conditioning and a great way to see if the food is in fact dried.

To store your dried foods, keeping them in air tight containers in a cool dry place is best. To store make sure that the foods are cooled completely. Store them loosely in glass jars or metal boxes. If you are storing fruit, put it in a plastic bag before putting it in the metal box. Store what you would use in a recipe in each container. The more the container is open the more likely for moisture and bugs to get in the container and ruin your dried foods.