To enhance long-term survival dehydrating foods is one of the best methods for food preservation without destroying the food's vitamins and minerals. As an alternative to canning or freeze-drying food, dehydration is easy, quick and produces food that does not take up much space when stored in basements or pantries.
Because dehydrated food stores well in airtight plastic bags or glass jars, the space required for canning jars or bulk storage (as in garbage cans) is not required. In addition, dried foods do not need refrigeration or even cooler storage areas, as eliminating the moisture content prevents growth of bacteria or other harmful microorganisms.
Helpful advice regarding survival dehydrating techniques for food storage purposes includes:
The easiest and most convenient method to use is to purchase a dehydrating machine already equipped with a fan, adjustable thermostat, timer, automatic shutoff and side- and top-mounted heating device. Home dehydrator prices range from $90 $200, depending on size.
Removable shelves or stackable trays allow placement of food into the dehydrator, which is then turned on to force hot, dry air into circulation around the food. In addition to dehydrating food, these devices can also be used to re-crisp soggy foods, sprout seeds, dry flowers and even as an incubator for hatching chicks. Humid conditions can slow down the drying process of an electric dehydrator, but not enough to compromise the usability of the food for survival purposes.
Sun-drying is an economical technique that needs no electricity and provides a method to preserve food when electricity is not accessible. One drawback with using the sun to dry foods is that a climate conducive to such a process is necessary. Living in areas where the sun does not shine for at least three days in a row and the air isn't regularly dry and hot will inhibit the viability of sun-drying techniques.
Foods can be dehydrated using a combination of sun and air by laying food pieces on raised platforms protected by netting to prevent contamination by insects and animals. This type of hot-box dryer is the easiest to construct, but the drying process is directly affected by weather conditions, which may result in too-slow or too-quick dehydration of foods. When moisture is too slowly extracted from food, the potential for contamination exists, while drying food too quickly may cause extremely brittle, inedible food.
To avoid possible starvation when food resources have been substantially diminished or eliminated by a disaster, knowing survival dehydrating techniques will allow you to access a nutritious and clean supply of food capable of lasting for several years when properly stored.