One of the questions that comes up consistently both in the comments and your emails, is about dehydration. Are there alternative ways to make raw food recipes with out a dehydrator? Dehydration times and temperatures also seem to be confusing. I will attempt to answer your questions, but I also want to encourage you to do research on the subject so you get to a point that you are comfortable with. Let’s start with the most frequently asked question:
Can I make the recipes without a dehydrator, in my oven? If you wish to try this method, there are a couple of things that I suggest you think about.
1. How important is it to you to follow the raw method and protect the enzymes, nutrients and vitamins. Some of the nutrients can withstand the higher temps, but not all. If you are just wanting to make the recipe, but don’t care about adhering to the raw temperature guidelines, it would make more sense to just “bake” them at the lowest temp possible and check your times.
2. If you want to make sure you are sticking with the temperature guidelines, this method will be difficult. You could purchase an oven thermometer, prop open the door and see what kind of results you can achieve. One of the questions you will have to ask yourself is whether or not you are comfortable running your oven for hours with the door open. Not too energy efficient.
I thought I had to make sure that I didn’t go over 105 degrees for maximum health benefits. A lot of people wonder why I start many recipes at a higher temperature and then reduce the temp after a period of time. This is why:
1. The temperatures that enzymes are destroyed at are food temperatures, not air temps. Starting at a higher temperature will benefit in two ways. First, it reduces the time needed for dehydration. Second, it helps pull out the moisture quickly, reducing the chances of fermentation taking place over longer periods of dehydration.
2. There is some mis-information out there about dehydration temps. This is a very good explanation from the Excalibur site:
“Ann (Wigmore) tested different dehydrators,… She found that the best technique for saving enzymes was to set Excalibur on a higher food temperature setting in the beginning and then turn it down after a few hours. However because most people may not know when to turn it down, and by leaving it on the higher setting may kill the enzymes she said to set your Excalibur on 105ºF setting throughout the entire cycle. That way the food temp will never go above 120ºF even after it is dry.
We believe this is why many have come to believe that 105ºF air temperature is the temperature at which the enzymes are destroyed, which is entirely inaccurate.
Just recently we spoke with Dr. John Whitaker who is a world recognized enzymologist, and former dean of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at U.C. Davis. He said that every enzyme is different and some are more stable at higher temperatures than others but that most enzymes will not become completely inactive until food temperatures exceed 140ºF to 158ºF in a wet state.”
Why don’t you state an exact time for dehydrating recipes? Because dehydration takes place over a longer period of time and at lower temperatures, your dehydration time will be affected by different variables. Humidity, the type of dehydrator you have, etc. will cause the times to differ. You should always check what you are dehydrating so that you get the best results.
In the summer, I hardly use my dehydrator at all. But in the winter, it is a life saver. You can buy a small dehydrator, the Excalibur 4 tray is good for most, for around 100.00. If you are really interested in incorporating raw healthy foods into your diet, it is a great investment. You can find them in the Rawmazing store!