A lot of the raw food questions that end up in the comment section or in my e-mail inbox are about dehydration and raw food recipes. I decided it was time for a little dehydration primer.
Here are the top asked questions:
1. What temperature do you need to dehydrate at to keep the food raw.
There are a few different opinions here but through my research, I am comfortable at 116-118 degrees. Some suggest 105 to make sure your food never, ever gets too hot but honestly, I think that encourages fermentation and possible bacteria growth.
2. I notice that you start your dehydration at 140-145 and then drop the temperature after a period of time. How does the food stay raw?
Even though I have addressed this many, many times, it still comes up with regularity. And I understand why. It is a little confusing. I start the dehydration high for a couple of reasons. First, it is important to note that the FOOD never reaches the higher temperature. In fact, during the beginning of dehydration, the food is just throwing off water and actually stays very cool. Starting at a higher temperature shortens dehydration time and also helps discourage fermentation from the food being in the dehydrator too long.
3. How come my dehydration times are different from your dehydration times?
Many things affect dehydration. The current air humidity, how your dehydrator works, what kind of dehydrator you have, and even how thick you spread your mixture. I had a friend who couldn’t understand why her crackers were taking so much longer than mine. Her’s were quite a bit thicker than the 1/4″ I specified! Really, the thing to do is use the times as a guide, and watch your food as it dehydrates.
4. What functions do you need on a dehydrator?
Most important is a temperature control. Even with one, I would always suggest you test your dehydrator once in a while to make sure you know what temperature it is dehydrating at. Get a decent oven thermometer and check it occasionally so you can be comfortable. A timer is also a very nice feature but not completely necessary.
5. A few other things to keep in mind:
-Rotating trays is not completely necessary but does make a difference. The top and the back are quickest area to dry, with a back mounted fan.
-Pick the freshest food to dehydrate. You don’t want to start with food that is at all spoiled.
-Make sure you don’t over dehydrate. Your food will get way too hard and dried out. Some recipes do call for food to be completely dry.
I hope this helps answer your dehydration questions!