Don’t let your hard work go to waste! Learn three ways to keep your dehydrated powders dry and safe for food storage to enjoy year-round!
You might find that your dehydrated powders are clumping in that jar. Or perhaps you’ve ground them and found the produce wasn’t as dry as you thought it was.
Can your dehydrated powder be saved? Or were there measures you could have taken when storing to stop the clumping from happening in the first place? I’ll show you three techniques to keep your powder dry!
Last week, I ran into that problem. I dehydrated scallions. One of the powdering batches didn’t turn out as I’d planned. Something hadn’t completely dried, even though I had checked the batch. When grinding, I found powder was sticking to the bowl and clumping. So, I needed to re-dry the powder.
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A quick note of process: always condition your dehydrated products.
It’s more important with fruit since the humidity levels need to be around 20%, and you want to be sure to keep the whole of your fruit that way, and not a couple of pieces higher, making them more prone to molding. However, you want to do this for your vegetables as well (which should have about 10% humidity). I explain more about humidity levels and how to test them in this post.
Yes, even us seasoned dehydrating folks get a little ahead of ourselves and make mistakes. But there’s a way to fix it!
What is conditioning?
Conditioning is the process of allowing your produce to come to room temperature after drying, and storing in an airtight container (don’t vacuum seal it). Shake the container once a day, every day, for a week to ten days. If you see no issues of condensation (such as moisture on items, moisture buildup on the glass, plumper pieces of produce), you’re free to put up for long term storage as usual.
Ways to Keep Dehydrated Powders Dry
1. Store in Airtight Containers
I cannot stress enough the need for airtight containers for storing your dehydrated powders.
Never store your dehydrated products in only zip-top bags. While helpful for short term food storage, plastic storage bags for food are not air-tight. Air can permeate the plastic over time, allowing your produce to being to reabsorb moisture and for oxygen to break down your produce.
You can store smaller portions in zip-top bags and then store all of those in a larger airtight container. It’s how I store much of my long-term storage powders because I don’t want to take the chance of dropping a jar and losing the whole batch. Having them in smaller bags helps keep them safe, and adds an extra layer of protection.
Airtight containers could be one of the following:
- Glass jars with tight-fitting lids – these can be canning jars, commercial food jars you recycle, etc.
- Kilner jars – glass jars with clamping lids and rubber seals
- Mylar bags
- Vacuum seal bags
- Plastic containers that do not allow air to move in or out of the seal (one good test is to use both hands to squeeze the container. If you can hear or feel air movement in the lid or closure, it is not airtight.
One caveat about using glass jars or other light admitting storage containers is that light also breaks down your dehydrated products, decreasing their shelf life. It’s important to store your dehydrated products in a cool, dry, dark location when possible.
2. Store with Moisture Absorbers
Think of moisture absorbers (desiccant packs) as dampness absorbing containers you can buy for your bathroom or basement – but food safe for your dehydrated products. They are small pouches full of silica gel that absorbers ambient moisture in a container. This also allows you to get in and out of your jar of dehydrated powder and not worry about moisture build-up having your jar opened often. The desiccant pack will absorb whatever moisture is in the air once you’ve closed the jar.
A note about moisture absorbers/desiccant packs. These do not absorb oxygen. So these are not meant to protect long-term against oxygen in your storage (which is one of the culprits in food degradation in food storage). These work at keeping any residual moisture that may be in the air or in your produce at bay.
Alternatively, you can use arrowroot powder if clumping is your only issue. Clumping from pressure in storage is different than clumping from moisture. You might find that the bottom of your jar is clumped up while the top is fine. This is pressure clumping. Arrowroot powder can be used to help separate the powder granules, but I find that I don’t like how it degrades color, and if you use too much, it can alter the flavor. Simply shaking the jar usually takes care of pressure clumping.
3. Re-dehydrate your powder
Another way to dry your powders is to re-dry them. It seems crazy, right? But it really does work.
Just as with your regular produce, lay your powder out on a solid surface – whether you use parchment paper (baking paper), or a reusable nonstick dehydrating sheet.
With either of these methods, you can cut the sheets down to the size of your dehydrator. The parchment paper can be reused a few times, but the nonstick sheets are reusable for hundreds of times.
Using a nonstick dehydrator sheet
Using parchment or baking paper
Set to dehydrate at 95-115F and allow to dry for about an hour.
4. Powder on Demand
Another way to ensure that you do not end up with clumpy dehydrated powders is to grind on command. I generally do not keep large quantities of fruit or vegetable powders on hand (except for my wholesome green powder, vegetable powder, and mushroom powder). The rest are usually stored as dehydrated fruits or vegetables and I grind only what I need for a few uses. I then store them in small containers. As with spices, whole dehydrated fruits and vegetables keep longer than powders, so you might find it safer, in the long run, to store whole and grind on demand.
So, be encouraged to powder your dehydrated fruits and vegetables and make them more versatile for all of your cooking needs. It really is worth it! Just make sure to keep dehydrated powders dry with one of these four techniques to help keep your hard work last longer!
Here’s how I use Fruit and Vegetable Powders