Dehydrating food for long term storage
Among the functions of Bertazzoni new generation electric and hybrid ovens we can find dehydration, a method of long term food storage consisting in removing water from food, to prevent the proliferation of mold and bacteria that would find in water the suitable environment to develop.
This method has been known and practiced since ancient times: people dried vegetables, fruits and mushrooms in the sun, during the warmer months, to make provisions for the winter. Nowadays it is possible to dehydrate food using other heat sources. Dehydration is preferable to other natural methods of storage, such as salting and cooking, as it allows you to preserve food for a long time, without significantly altering its organoleptic characteristics. In particular, dehydration allows you to maintain minerals and proteins. It is an alternative technique to storage in glass jars, or in the freezer.
The flavour of dehydrated foods is generally stronger than that of fresh foods. Among the foods that are commonly dehydrated or dried we find legumes, fruit, tea, vegetables, aromatic plants and herbs such as basil, parsley, rosemary and sage. The ideal dehydration temperature varies depending on the amount of water contained in the food, but the temperature of 104 ° F can be considered as a reference value. A low dehydration temperature requires a longer process, but the nutritive properties of food will be better preserved. You can also leave the thermostat set to zero degrees and let the lamps in the oven be the only heating source. The foods you intend to dehydrate must be perfectly clean, mature and not bruised. Once dehydrated, they must be hermetically sealed in sterilized containers, to prevent them from reabsorbing water from the air.
Keep in mind, as a rule, that fruit requires much longer average dehydration times (24-36 hours) than vegetables (4-8 hours) or aromatic plants and herbs (3-5 hours). Food should be subject to dehydration in the oven for several hours - up to 8 hours per day - for 3-4 days. Then you should let it rest each time for 12 hours. Dehydration times are greatly reduced if fruits and vegetables are cut into slices or small pieces. For best results, cut the food in halves, or to pieces, or slice it up into thin slices, 0.39 inch thick at most. If your oven is not provided with the dehydration function, use an electric oven, preferably in fan-assisted mode. If your oven operates only in conventional, static mode, open the oven door to let the air circulate. You can also dehydrate food in a gas oven, but since it is unprovided with low temperatures, the oven lights and fan must be switched on only. Do not use a microwave oven, which does not have fan-assisted modes, except for the dehydration of herbs. Keep containers of dehydrated food in a cool, dark, dry place. You can eat dehydrated fruit for a whole year, while vegetables should be consumed within six months.