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Old 01-26-2011, 01:49 PM
 
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I recently bought a food dehydrator and LOVE it. I can get a whole bag of carrots, chopped up, down to the size of less than half a ziploc baggy.

The instructions that came with the dehydrator say to use the foods within a year, but I realize that could just be a CYA thing with a fear of lawsuits if someone poisons themselves.

I have other dehydrated products that I purchased, and some say they should be used in between 1-5 years, but my cans of Mountain House dehydrated meals say they are good for 20 years! Big difference.

I jumped around a few websites, and they seem to say that commercially prepared dehydrated food lasts longer than what you prepare at home, but I'm a little suspicious that this is just a ploy to get people to buy more (expensive) commercially prepared dehydrated food.

I even over-dried some vegetables (drying for more time than recommended until they were completely hard and not rubbery at all), hoping that will make them last even longer. I tried cooking some of these over-dried foods later and they tasted fine, even though I apparently dehydrated the heck out of them.

Any advice? If I keep these dried foods in a cool dry place, sealed up, will they keep through the apocalypse?

I'm also considering buying a vacuum sealer, thinking that will extend the shelf life even more than just ziploc bags. Will that make a big difference?
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Old 01-26-2011, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
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A lot of the commercially dried foods are vacuum-sealed with nitrogen, and that makes a big difference in shelf life.

But then, people have dried foods for hundreds (thousands?) of years without nitrogen, and have done just fine. The vacuum sealer will definitely extend your storage time beyond the zip-loc bags. So will keeping the sealed foods in a cool, dry, dark place.

Why don't you use the FIFO method (first in/first out) and dry foods each year, spending the rest of the year eating what you have put by? That way, you'd always have dried foods that were less than a year old.

If you find that you are just not eating the dried foods on a regular basis, that should tell you something, too -- they may not be your favorite foods!
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:50 PM
 
Location: central Indiana
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A friend dehydrates much of her garden and fruit tree produce each year. She does put it into vacuum sealed bags, and has successfully used the product up to five years later, so far.
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:16 PM
 
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I bought a dehydrator last fall and have dried several bags of carrots, peas, corn, bananas, and onions. I also dried two different kinds of apples, after peeling and coring them. All of these items except the apples I've used food saver bags to package and store them. I'm surprised how far a three pound bag of carrots deminishes when it is dehydrated. We've also re-hydrated some of this stuff and used it to make soup. The apples are good to snack on, in fact I like them just as well dehydrated as I do when they are fresh. I bought several mylar bags to store rice, and beans in, and include an oxygen absorber in each five gallon bucket before I seal the bag. I try and buy a bag of rice and a bag of Pinto beans each time I go to Costco. We have a friend who has been dehydrating food for over two years and dehydrates just about everything that comes out of her garden.
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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I think you could easily get 5 years out of properly dried food that you vacuum pack with a small oxygen absorber and maybe a little desiccant packet. I've never had any problems with dried vegetables other than taking forever and a lot of water to be chewable again But some of the fruits had developed mold, so I think I just couldn't get enough water out of them to keep them more than 6-12 months. I did find that once you get the veggies super dry you can put them through the grinder and mill them into powder, which is great for making quick sauces, soup bases and dips. Tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, carrots and onions/garlic are great for that. But you really have to keep the powders airtight with a desiccant packet or they turn into a lump of concrete pretty fast.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:11 PM
 
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Default Pointy Potatoes?

Okay, update. I'm loving my dehydrator and vacuum sealer. But for unknown reasons, dehydrated potatoes always puncture the vacuum bags when I seal them. Anyone else have this happen?

It was worst with the small diced potatoes, since they develop sharp points when dried. But even when I cut the potatoes into round slices, the vacuum sealed bag "re-inflated" several hours, and there were tiny little holes in the bag.

I'm using Foodsaver bags; maybe there is something stronger?

I also want the potatoes to be "dehydrated-as-heck," like rocks, not "leathery" because these are for long-term "apocalypse" storage, not to be used in a few weeks or months. I'm sure they aren't as sharp & pointy if they are softer, but then I'm afraid they'll go bad.

I want food that'll be edible like 10 years after TSHTF, like the man & boy from The Road can stumble upon it and eat it without getting sick


And while I'm on potatoes, what's with them turning black when you dehydrate them? I end up throwing out all the blackened ones, thinking they are tainted. It feels so wasteful. I blanch them first, in the steamer. My dehydrator instructions say to be sure to blanch adequately; if they are not cooked enough, they will blacken when dried. My steamer instructions say blanching requires about half the time of full-cooking, and to tell you the truth, I even tried blanching longer, so some of the "blanched" potatoes were almost totally cooked. So it's not that I'm not steaming them enough. I have not tried dehydrating them raw. Advice?
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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I found that some foods, especially potatoes, get a little pointy when dried and kept popping the bags. I started putting my potato cubes in muslin bags inside the vac-bag which helped; but really found that using the jar sealer attachment on the vac machine and storing them in jars worked more consistently.

As for turning black, are you giving your taters a quick rinse in any anti-oxidant treatment like ascorbic acid or lemon juice or mild salt brine? I started doing that with my potatoes after slicing and blanching just like I'd do for apples and I don't have as much problem with them turning gray, brown or black.

Here's a good article about dry-pack canning in jars that works well for longer term storage of dry staples and dehydrated food.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:07 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
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Reading the potato post made me wonder if you can just dehy them and then grind them - but that would mean that your potatoes would have to be mashed always. And sometimes you want to bite off from a nice roasted potato.

And as I was typing the above, it came to me that maybe you can use smaller potatoes, cut them into equal halves, dehy them, and put them into the bags with the cut ends together - sandwiched, as if they were whole, then you seal them. That would keep the sharp edges from making contact with the bag.

Maybe?

You can maybe store some halved and some ground up.

Last edited by Sensei Han; 03-24-2011 at 10:08 PM.. Reason: adding content
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Old 03-25-2011, 10:04 AM
 
9,238 posts, read 22,886,893 times
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I tried putting them in baggies inside of the vacuum bags, but those pointy little suckers poked through both layers of plastic.

I did read online about the lemon juice thing to prevent the blackening, but I don't want my potatoes tasting lemony.

I found an article on dehydrating mashed potatoes, so I plan to do some like that too.

Thanks.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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I'm a backpacker who uses bulk dehydrated food (beans, lentils, split peas, corn chowder, hummus, etc.). These have lasted up to 8 years without any problem just in heavy ziplock baggies. By then I just used up my supply; there were no problems.
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