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Walnut Creek District

Drying FAQ's

drying fruitWhen is fruit leather dry?
Touch it. It should not be sticky. It is dry when it easily pulls away from the plastic and maintains its shape.

How can I make my banana chips taste like the ones in the store?
Check out the ingredient statement on the chips in the store. They may be dipped in honey, granulated or brown sugar, or flavored gelatin. Use ripe bananas. Some commercial chips are treated with a product to make them crisp. This cannot be done at home.

Where can I buy sodium bisulfite?
This is a food grade product that can be found in drugstores or hobby stores that sell wine making supplies. If you cannot find a source, call your local extension office.

How can I prevent fruit from sticking to the drying trays?
Use a non-stick cooking spray. After one hour of drying, gently lift the food with a spatula to loose the fruit from the tray and continue drying.

Can I use my food dehydrator for other uses?
It can be used to let bread dough rise, make yogurt or cheese, dry seeds, cure nuts, and de-crystallize honey.

What causes moisture to develop in the storage jar or container?
The product did not dry completely. The food was cut unevenly causing poor drying. Or, the dried product was left at room temperature too long after drying. This caused moisture to re-enter the food.

dehydratorWhat causes mold to appear on dried foods?
There could be several reasons. The product did not dry completely. After one week, the product was not checked for moisture. The storage container was not airtight. The storage area was too warm causing moisture to develop. The product was dried at too high a temperature and not dried thoroughly causing case hardening.

Brown spots have developed on the vegetables, why?
The product was dried at too high of temperature or they were over dried.

Insects have invaded the product in the jars! Why?
The lids do not fit the jar properly. If the product was dried outdoors and not pasteurized, insects will invade the product.

Holes have developed in the storage bags, why?
Insects or rodents will eat through plastic. Do not use plastic! Use rigid containers such as glass jars, rigid freezer containers, or clean metal cans.

How effective is sun drying?
Sun drying requires 3 to 4 consecutive days of 100oF or above, low pollution levels and low humidity. It is an inexpensive process, but slow. The best foods for sun drying are those that contain high sugar and acid content. An example is fruit. Foods dried in the sun are easy targets for insect infestation and other contamination. Sun drying also results in lower nutritive value and food quality.

How practical is oven drying?
On a continuous basis, not very practical. It is good for experimenting. It is difficult to maintain a low drying temperature in an oven. Food dried in an oven usually produces darker, more brittle, and less flavorful foods.

What is the best way to package the dried food?
Package as soon as the food is cool. Use dry, scalded, insect-proof containers such as home canning jars with well-fitting lids. Coffee cans can be used but line with a plastic bag. Pack tightly without crushing. If the food was sun dried, place the packaged food in the freezer for 48 hours to kill insects and insect eggs