FoodSaver and Dehydrated Food Storage
As requested by ilene_in_neok.
Guidelines for dehydrating food and storage using a FoodSaver.
Air (oxygen) destroys the nutritional value of foods through oxidatation, so when we store dehydrated foods oxygen-free, away from light, and in a cool environment, we can extend its shelf-life much more than when you store it in an airtight container or a zip-lock bag (which means there is oxygen trapped inside). Dehydrated foods tend to take on a "metal" taste if you store it in cans without first placing the food in a bag.
I store dehydrated foods in quart, pint and 1/2-pint wide-mouth or regular canning jars, but I use a FoodSaver with a jar attachment to seal a canning lid onto the jar. The only thing I store in 1/2-gallon jars are crispy-dried foods (zucchini and apples) which we use in large quantities AND I'm sure they are properly dried before storing.
As a general rule, itÂs best to store dehydrated food in small portions. If you have a large container, you risk a large loss of food if it should mold - the #1 problem with home-dehydrated foods. IÂd rather have a pint of potatoes mold and need tossed than a 1/2-gallon. Potatoes are one of the foods that are notorious for mold if you don't prepare them properly.
The jar lids need to be pretreated before use to seal on canning jars. How to: Bring water to boil, turn off. Pre-soak NEW lids 5-10-minutes, dry. The sealing compound is now softened and will seal properly on a jar.
Crispy apple slices and zucchini slices (our substitute for potato chips) we use for snacking. I also make more pliable apple slices for using for cobblers/pies. I place crispy apples in small snack-bags and fill a 1/2-gallon jar with the bagged apples and vacuum-seal it shut. When I need to take some out for snacking, making a couple servings of applesauce, or adding to cooked cereal, I can take out a small amount that is already portioned in the bag, while the remaining apples stay dry and donÂt reabsorb moisture from the air when the jar is open. I DON'T seal these bags shut. You can also use fold-top sandwich bags for the job, but snack size (about half the size of a sandwich bag) works well for me.
Vacuum-sealing the canning lids on jars is great for storage, but not-so-great for general in-and-out use. When I move a jar of dehydrated food from storage in the basement to the pantry in the kitchen, IÂll replace the vacuum-sealed canning lid with a FoodSaver Universal Lid. This lid is simple to vacuum-seal on a container and simple to reseal after you release the seal to open and use from the contents. Universal Lids come in two sizes and you can make almost any kind of container into a vacuum-sealed canister. Check the FoodSaver web site for more information.
I use jars becauseÂ
-Foods inside will remain free-flowing, yet are oxygen-free.
-When you use a jar, you can also check for moisture in the jars (a BIG NO-NO) or check for mold.
-If you vacuum-seal dehydrated foods in a bag for room temperature storage, you will crush anything that is crispy, and foods that are soft and pliable will lump together.
There is a type of dehydrating that is a cross between dehydrating and freezing - DEHYDROFREEZING. Normally about 80% of the moisture is removed from fruits, and 90% from vegetables, but when you use this method you remove about 70% of the moisture (the food will be soft and pliable), but, you MUST store the dehydrated foods in the freezer to prevent bacteria growth because of the extra moisture.
The benefits are:
-Takes up less space in the freezer.
-Better flavor and color.
-The food reconstitutes in about one-half the time it takes for traditionally dried foods.
-Refrigeration or freezing will double or triple shelf-life as long as the food is properly stored (preferably vacuum-sealed).
Dehydrofreezing is a good method to use with apricots and prunes without adding commercial preservatives. I avoid sulfuring!
I quick-freeze foods I prepare for dehydrofreezing and place them in a single layer in a FoodSaver bag and vacuum-seal the bag shut. Pre-frozen foods store very well in FoodSaver bags. To use, open the bag, give it a rap, and the food quickly breaks into small portions. Reseal the bag with the food in a single layer and "file" the bag back in a plastic basket in the freezer.
Mung beans (and adzuki beans) require a different technique than most sprouts, and taste best when they are grown away from light and under pressure (a plate with a brick on the top to apply pressure). Exposure to light makes them tough. You need to rinse them for 2-minutes under cold running water twice a day.
Citric Acid - I purchase it 8-pounds at a time from a supply store for soap making and use it to make bath bombs. NOW brand is also a good choice and it's readily available in larger amounts. Check the internet for "best price". BTW - I use ASCORBIC acid in breads. CITRIC acid for sprouting.
Personally, I don't consider zip-lock bags good long-term storage for ANY food. Foods stored in them in the freezer get freezer burn because of the amount of oxygen still in the package. The moisture in foods migrates to the outside of the food and into the bag creating frost and the taste and texture of the food alters. You can avoid this completely if you store foods in the freezer in FoodSaver bags. I've used a FoodSaver since the mid 1980's for long-term food storage.
You'll have to figure out how to handle "dark storage" for your needs. I have cabinets in our Food Storage Room in the basement for this use. In the kitchen, these foods are stored in cabinets away from the light.
Hope there's something here that is helpful.