Dehydrated foods are an increasingly popular option for concerned homeowners, campers and preppers alike.
Dehydrated foods enjoy increased shelf stability, lighter weight and are still reasonably easy to prepare or even ready to eat right out of the package. Most of them still taste pretty good to boot!
However, despite dehydrated foods being a staple going back to civilizations of antiquity, they are not typical fare for most people, and certainly not in any quantity. Is dehydrated food safe?
Should you eat dehydrated food? Yes, so long as you pay attention to calorie and nutritional intake. Dehydrated foods have many advantages compared to other methods of preservation, not the least of which is a lack of additives and preservatives oh, good to excellent shelf life and convenient portability. However, they also require significant water for preparation in some cases and are higher in calories, sugar, and salt.
There’s more to learn about dehydrated food, stuff that will help you make a decision on what kinds and how much is right for your lifestyle and requirements. Keep reading to learn the full story.
Dehydrated Foods Maintain Nutritional Value
Dehydration has significant advantages over other forms of food preservation. One of the foremost advantages is that food maintains the maximal amount of nutrition.
The majority of a food’s vitamin and mineral content will be preserved with only a few specific vitamins experiencing significant loss during the dehydrating process.
Other forms of preservation which utilizes high heat or chemical preservation will typically sap vitamin levels significantly.
This can be countered somewhat in the case of dehydration by adding certain preservatives, and in fact this process is typically employed with grocery store-bought preserved foods and snacks, namely fruits and veggies.
Vitamins C and A typically lost in the dehydration process and are often countered with the aforementioned chemical additives, however this will come at the cost of depleting various other mineral content in the food.
This is a trade-off that is essentially unavoidable with dehydration, and for the prepper or home dehydrator it is easily avoided by augmenting your diet with other food to make up for any loss of vitamins in the dehydrated goodies.
Even accounting for this odd quirk most foods retain an excellent nutritional profile if they were healthy to begin with, making dehydration an excellent method of preservation for those on strict meal plans or with special nutritional requirements.
All Natural Method of Preservation
As mentioned, store-bought dehydrated foods may have a few additional additives but that will definitely not be the case if you are dehydrating your own meats, fruits and veggies.
The food that goes in the dehydrator we’ll come out when it is finished with nothing else added in the process if you don’t put it there yourself. If you start with high-quality, clean all natural food you will have high-quality, clean all natural dehydrated food at the end.
From a quality control standpoint this is tremendous, and is also a boon for those on specialized diets.
What’s more, home dehydrated food will often last even longer than their store-bought counterparts because not everything that goes into these mass-produced foods is actually a benefit to shelf life.
Much of what is added to simply to improve flavor, color or texture; all likely will not be needed when you do it yourself.
Some Dehydrated Foods Require Significant Water for Preparation
Many choice dehydrated foods require no additional preparation before eating. All kinds of veggies, fruits, and meats are ready to consume, typically as a nutritious and tasty snack. You can even get some specialized fare like dehydrated ice cream, cobblers and other delicacies.
However, plenty of other foods including such staples as beans, grains and typical survival or camping meals require a fair bit of hot water or even sustained boiling to prepare.
This could be an issue for you or it might not be. If you are breaking out the dehydrated stuff at home during a power outage or some other low intensity, short duration emergency it might not give you a second thought.
However, anytime you are enduring a situation, disaster scenario or not, where drinkable water is a precious, precious commodity you might very well want to cut down on the expenditure of water simply to prepare food when some other form of preserved food might be ready to eat complete with its own moisture content.
Only by careful assessment of your requirements and anticipation of the challenges you might be facing can you make a decision on whether or not dehydrated food will put too big of a strain on your supplies or not. If so, stick to the ready-to-eat varieties of dehydrated food.
Contains More Calories, Salt and Sugar by Weight
Dehydration, as you probably know, removes water content from common foods. By removing this moisture content, a significant fraction how many consumables bulk and weight are removed.
As mentioned above, sometimes certain vitamins and minerals might be depleted somewhat in the bargain, but you want to know what stays behind in this new lighter and smaller portion? All the calories, all the sugar and all the salt.
This is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, concentrating the salt and sugar in a smaller morsel of food typically makes it taste better.
Most folks who have tried dehydrated fruit will comment on how sweet and delectable it is. On the other hand, taking out water weight reduces the bulk and stomach-filling properties of the food in question.
These lighter, smaller and tastier morsels are easy to binge on, and that means for the same weight of the same food you’ll be ingesting drastically more calories, sometimes upwards of four times as much!
This means dehydrated foods make it very easy to blow your calorie budget when you are on a diet, and the last thing you should do is sit down with a great big bowl of dehydrated apple, banana or apricot chips and gorge on them when your favorite show is on.
Sure, you can tell yourself they’re healthy (and they are in moderation) but 2,000 calories worth of fruit is still 2,000 calories!
Dehydrated foods are healthy, generally nutritious and an excellent choice for shelf-stable preservation without any additional ingredients going into the item.
But one downside with dehydrated foods is they contain significantly more calories, salt and sugar by weight compared to their unpreserved counterparts.
But as an option for increasing shelf life and reducing spoilage while making food easier to transport and still easy to prepare or consumed as is dehydration is an excellent option.