Dehydrating food is a process of removing excess moisture from food, this type of food prep has been around for centuries. Back then people didn't have the luxuries of modern technology like fridges or deep freezers to keep food for extended periods of time with out it going bad. They discovered that when they left food out in the sun and it dried up, the dehydrated food tended to last much longer without need for cooling or special storage methods.
If you take moisture out of food there is a much lower chance bacteria or mold will be able to grow and spoil the food. Most dehydrated meats are also seasoned, the spices and salt slow down the growth of food spoiling bacteria.
To dehydrate foods you can use the readily available dedicated Dehydrators, but you can also use an air fryer to achieve the same result. Most air fryers are more than capable of dehydrating food with the right settings, In fact most air fryers have a dehydrator setting built in.
What is a Dehydrator and what does it do?
Dehydrators in the simplest terms remove moisture from food. Basically dehydrators circulate air that has been slightly warmed up around food to slowly remove moisture with out actually cooking it. Adding salt and spices in the case of beef jerky draws out the water content to the surface of the food, allowing the warm air, which has low vapor content, to evaporate this excess water and absorb it. When the moisture is removed from the food it becomes dry and lasts much longer unrefrigerated.
How does an air fryer dehydrate food?
To answer that question one must understand how air fryers work. Air Fryers have a heating element much like the one on your stove top, the heating element brings the air fryer basket up to the desired cooking temperature. Behind the heating element is a fan that circulates the hot air around your food. At high temperatures up to 400 degrees this hot air acts like hot oil, the hot air circulates and surrounds your foods and frying them with out added grease or oil. At lower temperatures between 120 - 140 deg Fahrenheit it gently brings the moisture out of the food with out cooking it. That is the exact effect we are hoping to achieve with our air fryer when looking to dehydrate foods.
Does turning up the temperature help dehydrate foods quicker?
Turning up the heat will not help dehydrate foods faster, it will just end up causing the foods to be cooked rather than dehydrated. The dehydrating process is a slow extraction of water out of the foods you are dehydrating, so it requires lower heat at extended periods of time to slowly pull the moisture out of the food and releasing it into the air as water vapor. We recommend following the tempratures between 120-160F deg to achieve dehydration without cooking the food
WHAT KIND OF FOODS CAN YOU DEHYDRATE IN AN AIR FRYER?
There is plenty of foods you can dehydrate in an air fryer, from fruits, vegetables, to meats. Are you looking to make some raisins, you can do that with an air fryer, how about beef jerky, absolutely. Here is a short list of dehydrated foods you can make in an air fryer
- Banana chips
- Apple chips
- Apricot chips
- Dried figs
- Carrot Chips
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Dried Peppers
- Dried Mushroms
- Beef Jerky
- Venison Jerky
- Curated meats
Our favorite from this list is banana chips, they make healthy, naturally sweet snacks for us and our best furry friends. Healthy natural banana chips are a great and low cost dog treat that you know is nutritious, home made and good for your pup's health.
Are Dehydrated foods healthier?
Most dehydrated foods tend to be snack items, banana chips, raisins, beef jerky etc. It is much healthier to reach for a dehydrated snack than it is to reach for a heavily processed snack like actual potato chips, or cookies or cakes. Snacking on dehydrated food is much healthier for you because all you are eating is the actual fruit, vegetable or meat no extra fat, grease or anything un-natural. The dehydrated foods still hold on to their nutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins, removing the water content from the fruit or vegetable does not take away from its nutritional value at all. There have been many studies showcasing the health benefits of eating raw fruits and vegetables, in a sense dehydrated fruits and vegetables are still raw vegetables that have been dried out.
How long will dehydrated food last before spoiling?
Dehydrated foods last a long period of time before going bad, on average dehydrated foods can last 6 to 12 months without spoiling and without the use of preservatives. If you want your dehydrated foods to last even longer, up to 4 years we recommend storing the dehydrated foods in a vacuum sealed bag. The vacuum sealed bags help keep air and moisture out of the food which will allow it to last for much longer after it has been dehydrated.
Dehydrated food when stored properly in vacuum sealed bags can be a great source of nutrition in case of an emergency, some people keep these vacuum sealed dehydrated food bags in their cars in-case they were stuck stranded for an extended period of time. It can be a life saver and a great survival planning hack.
Is Dehydrating better than Freeze Drying?
Freeze drying is a technique of freezing food quickly then using heat and pressure to remove up to 90% of moisture from foods allowing them to last much longer periods of time in storage when compared to traditional dehydrating.
This technique is mostly used for emergency food storage for natural disasters and doomsday preparation. While Dehydrating foods will not allow them to last as long as freeze drying we find that it is a practical approach as with proper storage you can still have your dehydrated foods last up to 4 years if vacuum sealed after dehydrating.
Freeze Dried foods can last up to 10 or 15 years but require much more specialized and expensive equipment that maybe out of the reach of the average consumer and more suited to a large company. Some freeze drying equipment can cost from the low end of a few thousand dollars to multiple 5 figure sums. This makes it prohibitively expensive for the average person, mean while most air fryers can be had for roughly $90- $150 which is a big price difference.
Can you rehydrate dehydrated foods after being stored for some time?
yes, if you want to rehydrate your dehydrated foods after storing them for a period of time you can. You can rehydrate your dehydrated foods by placing them in a bowl of fresh water or milk, and allowing them to soak up the moisture for 10-20 minutes. This works really well for banana chips or dehydrated berries when soaking them in milk with cereal or if you want to rehydrate dates, apples, peas, carrots and other fruits and vegetables.
How to Dehydrate Food in an Air Fryer?
1- Prep your food by cutting it into small chunks or thin slices
The process is pretty straight forward, start by prepping your food items, in the case of fruits or vegetables make sure you wash them and cut them in the desired shape. We recommend thin slices or small chunks as it will make it easier to dry slices or small chunks rather than trying to dry out big pieces.
For Meats and Venison, the same rule of thumb applies, the thinner the slices the better, just make sure they are not too thick or too small that it will be difficult to season and eat later on once dried. Remember dehydrated food shrinks in the process.
2- Season your food prior to dehydrating
Once you have cut up your slices or chunks, the next step is to season it up, apple chips go well with a little bit of cinnamon, you can make a healthy alternative to potato chips with carrot chips seasoned with sea salt. We just apply the seasoning straight to the fruits and vegetables without any added oil or anything, and we do that so that it is easier for the foods to dry. For Beef Jerky, there are plenty of recipes out there, but we put one together that you will love here on our recipes blog.
3- Place in your air fryer basket and ensure proper spacing
After seasoning to your heart's content, carefully place the fruits and vegetables in the basket, make sure you keep the grease separator in place to allow air flow below and around the slices. When you place the slices leave a little bit of room between each slice to allow the air to flow completely around it, if you don't do this you might have partially dehydrated food which isn't a good thing. Good spacing and air flow is the key to properly dehydrated snacks.
PRO TIP: Use a stainless steel rack, or stackable stainless steel racks to increase the capacity of your air fryer basket when dehydrating. If you don't have stackable stainless racks, you can improvise using wood skewers, just pierce the meat or fruit chips through and let them hang, you can put multiple skewers and let them rest on the top of the basket, just be careful when re-inserting the basket in the air fryer not to drop the skewers.
4- Set your air fryer temperature and begin dehydrating
Once you have placed all the food in your air fryer basket, set your Uber Air Fryer XL to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and 8 hours of cooking time. The dehydrating process takes a long time because it slowly removes moisture and the goal is not to quickly cook the foods but rather to let it release the moisture over time. Once you have set the temperature and time, place your basket and allow the air fryer to do its magic. Do not disturb the dehydrating process by removing the basket frequently, we recommend checking at around the 4 hour mark and 6 hour mark. You can remove earlier if you want a little bit of chewiness or you can let it keep dehydrating past 8 hours if you want extra crunchy snacks.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A HIGH QUALITY AIR FRYER DEHYDRATOR?
Look no further than the Uber Appliance line of Air Fryers, from the Air Fryer XL 5 Quart to its little brother the Air Fryer 3.7 Quart, the Uber Appliance Air Fryers are high quality built and long lasting.
our Uber Air Fryer XL is perfect for any family with its roomy 5 quart basket you can air fry a whole chicken. The dishwasher safe basket and grease separator with non-stick coating make cleaning a breeze just wipe it down with a damp soapy microfiber towel and toss it in the dishwasher.
The Uber Air Fryer XL features an easy to use touch display for temperature and time setting with temperatures ranging from 140F to 400F, at 140F it is great for dehydrating your favorite snacks and foods. the digital display also has several pre-set cooking temperatures and time to perfectly cook chicken, steak, fries, wings and so much more with a single press of a button. Every Uber Air Fryer XL Comes with a free recipe book so that you can explore tasty meals as soon as you get it with plenty more recipes on our site.
The Uber AirFryer XL’s plastic is prevented from the factory which eliminates any plastic smell or taste in your foods from the first use. This is one of the biggest complaints from air fryer users and at Uber Appliance we listen to our customer’s feedback and strive to provide the best experience from the first use!
We work in Centigrade on this side of the pond.
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