Does your family like dried fruit as easy go-to snacks? Preserving foods by drying is a great way to ensure foods don't go bad for long trips or during warm weather. Many people dehydrate food as a hobby rather than a necessity, but dried apple slices and apricots make delicious healthy snacks. You can make your own snacks using an electric dehydrator or even in the oven to remove moisture and create stable, nutritious snacks for your whole family.
Dry sliced strawberries on a cookie sheet by baking at 200 degrees for 3 hours. Full DIY Tutorial »
Bake apple slices (peeled or unpeeled) at 200 degrees 1 hour. Remove from the oven and turn each slice over. Bake 1 more hour for soft dried apples or about 2 more hours for crispy apple chips. Full DIY Tutorial »
Dried food is a healthy snack that is easy to bring along wherever you go. Whether you're driving on a family road trip or just running errands, include a bag of dried fruit in your purse or backpack for something healthy to snack on and keep up your energy. Dried meats and fruit slices can be mixed with nuts to create an awesome snack for hiking and exploring the outdoors.
2. Replace Salty Snacks
Many store bought snacks such as chips and crackers contain a high amount of salt, as well as unhealthy preservatives that add toxins to the body. By drying fruits or vegetables, you can create a nutritious snack. It's easier than you think to wean your family off potato chips and cookies if you're offering delicious banana or apricot chips.
3. No Chemicals
Homemade dried snacks don't contain preservatives, dyes, or other chemicals. The only thing you need to make homemade snacks is a dehydrator and almost any food. Simply cut up your favorite fruits or meats into bite-sized slices to create a chewy dried snack that will retain its natural taste, vitamins, and minerals for months to come.
4. Efficient storage
Dried food can decrease in size to as little as one sixth of the original volume. You don't need to make room in the freezer or refrigerator to store your dried snacks. After dehydrating, a few pounds of apples will easily fit into a sandwich bag or cloth snack bag. You can seal up your dried snacks and tuck them away in a corner of the pantry to enjoy long after fresh apples would have spoiled.
5. Raw foods
Diets based on eating a majority of raw foods have become popular, with an increase of creative Paleo recipes and foraging-based food choices. Raw food diets are much healthier in many cases because boiling, searing, and sauteing food tends to destroy a good percentage of vitamins. Natural vitamins found in foods can begin to break down as low as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Food dehydrators can preserve your food at even lower temperatures, which means you're also preserving all the natural fiber and nutrition in your healthy snacks.
6. Reduction of waste
Dehydrating your food allows you to preserve excessive grocery purchases and even leftovers to save you money and time. Dehydrated meals can be easily warmed up again and rehydrated with water, broths, or soup stock. If everyone took efforts to reduce food waste it would result in lower demand, lower commercial production, and less stress food manufacturers place on the environment. Families can even go as far as growing favorite herbs or fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, and carrots in backyard gardens. If you have an apple tree, you can preserve the majority of your apples by easily drying them for the rest of the winter.
7. Save on costs
Dehydrating food helps eliminate spoilage and waste of perishable food items so that you save money over time. You can easily get into the habit of drying extra fresh foods so they don't spoil. You can also save money in other ways:
8. Consistent quality
With your own dehydrator, you have control over which foods you choose to dry, in which quantities, and how often. You can season fresh fruit before the dehydration process with some lemon juice or cinnamon for a little zest. You can cut and separate dried foods into portion sizes or store them in large gallon Zip-Lock bags for easy dry storage. You can serve your own dried foods and healthy snacks to guests and family with the confidence that they are perfectly healthy treats with no hidden ingredients or chemicals.
9. Buy during peak seasons
You can save more money and reduce food waste even more by stocking up on fresh local produce at the farmer's market or by buying apples from your neighbor's apple trees. During the harvest season, pick up basics such as tomatoes, blueberries, and melons at roadside stands. Visit your area's local strawberry fields and pick your own strawberries to turn into delicious homemade strawberry fruit snacks. Produce stand fruits and vegetables are generally fresher and healthier than the big chain grocery store produce that is brought in from all over the country, or possibly from out of the country. Dried fruits, meats, and vegetables are easily turned into healthy snacks, homemade jerky, and sun dried tomatoes to enjoy all winter long.
10. Fun family projects
Dehydrating food and making your own healthy snacks is something the whole family can participate in. Each family member can pick their favorite foods and kids can take part in preparing, drying, and storing your homemade foods. Blueberries need to be washed, strawberries can be cleaned of leaves and sliced, and apples can be peeled and sliced. Meat should be cut into bite-sized strips and seasoned and tomatoes can be sliced to make delicious homemade sun dried tomatoes. Your family can easily enjoy the food drying process together and your kids will learn some practical life skills. Plus snack time will taste even better when you are finished!
Food dehydrators are a convenient and simple way of preserving the quality and nutrients within fresh foods. You can easily re-purpose dried food ingredients any way you like for snacks, cooking, and seasoning within recipes. Dehydrating food can easily become part of your family's healthy lifestyle.
All our opinions are exclusive to Mommy Scene & Green Scene Mom.