Can you overdry food in your dehydrator? Generally, no, but the answer is nuanced. Learn the secrets of drying for storage vs drying for snacking!
Essentially, the answer is no, you cannot overdry your dehydrated foods.
The nuanced answer is this;
You cannot overdry foods you plan on putting into storage. The drier it is, the better it will store.
You might over dry fruit leather or jerky a little more than your taste preference is, but you cannot overdry food meant for food storage.
Can You Overdry Fruits and Vegetables in a Dehydrator?
- You can dry things longer than your pallet may enjoy eating such as fruit leathers or jerky or some fruits if you prefer a softer texture.
- You can dry some foods at too hot of a temperature where it depletes many of their nutrients. Herbs should not be dried at higher than 115°F / 35°C in most cases. You don't want to dry fruits at 165°F/70°C which can cause case hardening. It is a condition where the outside of the fruit (and some vegetables) dries into a hard shell, making moisture release from the inside problematic, and can cause mold during storage.
Fruits should be dried below 15%, vegetables should be dried at less than 10% moisture. But if you don't have a meter to be able to read that, or don't use humidity indicating strips (these are not food grade, see info below*), how do you know if your foods are dry enough?
- Fruits should be dry and leathery (which means not sticky to the touch), and slightly pliable. Download this PDF for more info on fruit.
- Vegetables should be dry and brittle, plink when dropped onto a hard surface, or break easily when bent. Download this PDF for info on how to tell when vegetables are fully dry.
How to Fix Overdried Fruit Leather or Jerky?
Fruit leather or jerky that is too brittle for your taste can be a pain, but is still good for long-term storage. However, there are a few tips that you can do to help bring moisture back before serving.
- Leave on a dish covered with a tea towel, cheesecloth, or paper towel, and allow them to reclaim some of the ambient moisture from your home.
- Put into an airtight container or zippered freezer bag with a lightly damp paper towel for a few hours to absorb the moisture from the towel.
Can I Keep Dehydrated Fruits Soft Like Storebought?
In most cases, storebought dehydrated fruits are either freeze-dried, or have additives to keep them soft. In most homes, it is not something we can reproduce when dehydrating.
But what if you ou may prefer a piece of fruit to be softer when snacking on.
You can dry it for less than optimal time to keep it softer, just remember to store it in the freezer for long-term, or in the refrigerator and eat within a few days.
Remember: soft equals mold in storage.
If you'd like to hear me talk more on this subject, please click the RED YOUTUBE ARROW below if you don't see the video automatically load.
More Info on Dehydrating
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*How to Use Humidity Indicator Strips for Dehydrating Food
While these strips are not food grade, and say do not let them come in contact with your foods, you can lay a muffin paper or paper towel square over your food in the jar, put the strip on top, close your jar, and test the humidity.
I don't do this as a normal means of storage. I will, occasionally, use it on something like dense fruit if I want to put it back for storage, such as apricots or pineapple chunks.
But it is definitely NOT something you need to incorporate into your routine of dehydrating. I just wanted to touch on the subject.