View topic - How do you tell when dehydrated food is bad?

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PostPosted: January 4th, 2008, 6:02 am 

Joined: October 24th, 2007, 6:56 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Rockingham,North Carolina
I gained many insights reading about dehydrating foods on this site. Thank you all for sharing so many thoughts on the subject. I have two questions that I can not seem to get good answers for.

1. I wanted to ask, how do you know when something that you dehydrated is bad? Rancid you say with meats. Is there an unmistakable odor? I am about to buy my first dehydrator. I have a vacuum sealer to use. I find lots of info on how to dehydrate food. Many recipes and such. But no real info on how to tell if you have something going bad.

2. My other concern is determining how much water to use when rehydrating. Would it make sense to weigh the food before you dehydrate it and weigh it afterwards? Then in camp just add the difference of the two with the appropriate water weight. Would that do it or is there something I am missing? Thanks for any thoughts.

"The Wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned how to ask."

PostPosted: January 4th, 2008, 6:24 am 

Joined: August 13th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3048
Hi Dan,

I can certainly answer these questions for you.They are great questions and things I talk about in my cookbook.

1 - There are several ways to tell if something is bad - the first is by sight - if mold appears that is a clear sign that the food is off. If food is properly dried and not overly fatty it won't go rancid - if something does go rancid you can smell it. Nuts can go rancid quickly so I store anything with nuts or meat in the freezer (even if I've dehydrated it) until I am ready to go on my trip. Dried foods should have an optimum shelf life of 3 to 6 months kept in a cool, dry, dark place... but freezing can extend that for a year or more. The food doesn't go bad - it just loses flavor. The exception is sweet potatoes and they only have an optimum shelf life of 2 to 3 months before the flavor starts to be affected.

2 - Water really is dependent on the food. I often measure what I am drying prior to putting the food on the dehydrator and then stick a little note inside the bag with the dried food. Then at camp I add water to the ingredients in order to bring it up to my original measurement. Be careful when you do this that you don't add too much water. Another easy way is to use a ratio of 1:1 (one part dried to one part water) - you can always add more water so better to err on the side of too little than too much. The weight method works well too - but I am too lazy to do the math and it means I have to break out the scale. Some foods, like meats, rehydrate better with boiling water.

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