Disadvantages of Dehydrated Food and How to Fix It Easily
Dehydrated food is a favorite with many people for a variety of reasons. One of the major factors that go in favor of dehydrated food is that it can be stored for a long duration of time without getting spoiled. Dehydrating enthusiasts dry all kinds of fruits, meats, and vegetables for storage and later consumption. There are several unique ways in which food can be dried and stored. Also, if properly prepared and stored, it maintains its taste for many weeks and even months without the need of adding any preservatives.
Even with all these positive points going in favor or dehydrated food, there are certain disadvantages associated with dehydrated food as well. To better understand these negative points, let’s look take an in-depth look into dehydrated foods and different kinds of disadvantages associated with these.
Disadvantages of Dehydrated Food: When Buying from Markets
- Preservatives and Chemicals
Dehydrated food that is bought from a supermarket or a store if often rich in preservatives. This totally goes against the thoughts and ideas of those who want to eat dehydrated food for its natural taste and chemical free methods of preparation. In case one is allergic to preservatives present in the dried food, eating these dried snacks becomes an impossibility.
If you’re buying a sweet, dried snack, you can rest assured that it will have more than enough quantity of sugar. Extra sugar in dried and sticky snacks is not only bad for teeth, but excessive consumption of the same will add more pounds to your weight. Eating sweet dehydrated snacks in small quantities too means you’re ingesting much more sugar than your daily recommended intake. For sweet snacks, the concentrated amount of sugar can play havoc with a person’s health.
Salty and savory dehydrated snacks are rich in salt and it can lead to hypertension or rise in blood pressure of those who are not used to eating too much salt. Salt is also used as a preservative in dried foods and too much salt in a person’s diet can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. The amount of salt in dehydrated snacks is often way above the recommended daily salt intake for adults. Eating these snacks by the handful can be detrimental to one’s health.
- High Cost
Dehydrated food in the market usually costs more than it would if you dried them at home. Buying dehydrated snacks regularly can affect your budget in the long run.
- Excessive Calories
The dried food that you get in markets is high in calories which can lead to weight gain if you munch on these as snacks. These foods are meant for hikes and long trips where you’re in need of calories if you’re not getting regular food. But eating these at home while you’re watching TV can lead to health issues in the long run.
Solution: If you’re buying dehydrated food from the market, make sure you read the nutritional labels carefully. Try buying organically dehydrated food that doesn’t have too much salt or sugar in it. It might have a shorter shelf life, but you can rest assured in knowing that you’re not putting any adverse chemicals in your body. Also, you can try preparing your own dehydrated foods at home without buying them from the market. This is a great way to ensure there are no added chemicals or preservatives in the food. You might get less shelf life, but the health benefits are immense.
Disadvantages of Dehydrated Food: Food Preparation
Preparing the food for dehydration is a task that requires attention to detail and knowing the properties of the food you’re about to dehydrate. Here some of the common disadvantages that one can face while dehydrating any kind of food.
- Meat Needs to Be Prepared Well
Dehydrating meat is not as simple as it looks on the surface. Making jerky from any kind of meat means you have to prepare it properly. Dehydrating raw meat might not kill all the bacteria which is why it should be cooked/roasted first to remove all moisture and prepare it for dehydrating.
The meat should be steamed or roasted at 160°F (for meat) and 165°F (for poultry) to destroy the bacteria. Then the meat should be dehydrated at 130-140°F for at least six to ten hours to remove any bacteria or pathogens that are still present in the meat.
- Food Needs to Be Cut Properly
Depending on the dehydrator used for drying fruits and vegetables, the slices need to be cut in proper sizes. If the slices are too thin the food will get dry too quickly and lose all nutritional value, taste, and texture. If the slices are cut too thick, the fruits will take a much longer time to dehydrate and might not even dry properly from inside. Also, the amount of food you add to a dehydrator to dry in a single session can affect the level of dryness you will achieve.
It takes a lot of trial and error to find the right size and shape to cut the fruits and vegetables in. Also, you should always consult the manual of your dehydrator to better understand how thick you should cut the fruits or vegetables.
- The Method of Dehydration
Whether you want to use a dehydrator, oven, or open air for drying your foods, you need to be really careful that you keep the preparation conditions clean and sanitized. Use clean utensils for handling the foods and make sure you wash your hands before and after handling the food.
The drying area should also be clean to prevent any kind of food contamination before you actually start dehydrating the food. Any kind of contamination at this stage can lead to food not being free from bacteria and consumption of such improperly dried food can lead to food poisoning.
- Need for Specialized Equipment
If you’re planning to dehydrate a lot of foods regularly, you will need to buy equipment such as a dehydrator, jerky guns, and vacuum sealer for storing the dried foods. Without a dehydrator, drying food like meats or fruits in the open air can be a risky task as there is always the risk of food getting contaminated by bacteria, dust, or germs in the air. Also, drying food without a dehydrator might not allow proper dehydration as there might be some moisture left in the food.
- Food Texture
Dehydrating food is a science as well as an art. You have to constantly keep a check on the food slices in your dehydrator or open air to see if they’ve achieved the consistency and dryness you prefer. It is often the case that the food texture is not up to your expectations as it is too dry or too chewy for your taste. If the food is dried too quickly in too much heat, it can crumble when touched.
- Change in Taste
Dehydrated food surely tastes different than regular food. Whether it is meat, fruits, vegetables, or nuts, you will always find a remarkable difference in the taste. And also, it can often be difficult to eat dried food if you need to moisten it up or prepare it before eating. Many people don’t like the concentrated taste of the dried foods, either.
- Dehydration Takes Time
If you plan to dehydrate food often, be prepared to wait for long periods. Even with a high powered dehydrator you will need to dry food for several hours for it to dry properly. Unless and until you get rid of all the moisture in the food, the food will not get dried from the inside and be ready for storage.
- Dehydration Means Increased Electricity Bills
Regularly keeping a dehydrator on for several hours is bound to show up as an increase in the total consumption of electricity for your household. If you don’t dehydrate the food for long hours, the food might not be free from all bacteria and might be a health hazard if consumed.
- Storing Dry Food Depends on a Lot of Factors
If you’re going to dry fruits, vegetables, and meats for immediate consumption, then you can store them in zip lock bags. But if you want to store dry food away for a longer duration, you need to store these in tight jars that do not get exposed to air and light as these can quicken the decomposition process in the food.
Solution: Food preparation for dehydration is crucial. Figure out the preparation instructions from any recipe book that you can get your hands on. Keep the preparation environment clean and sanitized. Wash your hands and all the utensils so that there are no germs or dust that can contaminate the food.
While storage, you need to make sure the food is protected from fleas, ants, and other insects when it’s packed in a bag, jar, or box. Any moisture present in the storage environment can lead to change in the taste of the food and it might even get spoiled making it unfit for consumption.
Disadvantages of Dehydrated Food: Regarding Consumption
- Consuming Dehydrated Foods is Difficult
Unless you’re eating nuts and small fruits as dried snacks, you need to prepare most of the dehydrated foods for consumption. This can be anything from soaking fruits in milk for eating with cereal to soaking nuts and dry fruits in water for use in desserts. Even eating jerky can be a laborious task as it is simply hard meat that is tough to chew and swallow.
- Low Nutrient Value
Dehydrated food is good to eat, but if it is not prepared and stored properly, it can lose nutrients because of heat, moisture, and adverse storage conditions. For food dried at home, one should read the owner’s manual to figure out the drying times for different kinds of foods.
If the food is dried beyond a certain time, it can affect the nutritional value of the food. Also, storing food should be done to save it from light, moisture, and air as the lifetime of the food depends on how well it is stored.
- Dehydrated Food might cause Weight Gain
Dehydrated food is small in size, but it is rich in calories. Most dehydrated foods are cut small in size for dehydration and the size is further reduced as moisture is dried out of the food. This is why one can end up eating a lot of dried food without realizing that it’s calorie rich food that will surely lead to weight gain.
Solution: While consuming dehydrated food, always be mindful of the calories you’re eating. Avoid binge eating dry foods as they’re rich in calories and only prepare small amounts so that you don’t end up eating them in one go. Limit yourself to small portions and avoid munching on dehydrated snacks through the day. You can also try storing dried food in small containers so that you don’t end up eating a lot in one go.
As we’ve seen in this write-up, there are several disadvantages of dehydrated food. From weight gain to the risk of contaminated products, there is a lot that can go wrong with dehydrating foods. But if you research properly and find out the best methods of food dehydration, you can prevent yourself from making any of those mistakes. Always make sure you properly read the recipes for making dehydrated food and do not use your dehydrator for more time than required.
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