Lately I’ve been trying to eat healthier by cutting back on carbohydrates and sodium. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my food reserves are full of carbs and sodium. The reason is that those types of food store better. High carb foods like pasta and rice last a long time, sugar is added to canned fruits, and sodium is used to preserve canned vegetables. If there’s a short-term disaster, those carbs will be great for some quick energy. But if there’s a long-term disaster, eating foods high in sodium and carbs every day will wreak havoc on my health. Because of this, I’ve started dehydrating fruits and vegetables on the weekends.
I recently got a Nesco Dehydrator (shown in the picture above) and yesterday I worked on dehydrating bananas. This is a great fruit to start with if you’re new to dehydrating. They’re easy to prepare and they make a great snack when they’re done.
The main difficulty with dehydrating foods is that there’s a lot of conflicting information online. The manual that came with my Nesco dehydrator says how long to dehydrate the various types of food, but says nothing about how to prepare them. In my other article, How To Dehydrate Food, I make some suggestions, but there are several ways to prepare food for dehydration. I recommend you try several methods and see which works best. You should also keep track of how long various foods take to dehydrate. The Nesco manual said 6-12 hours for bananas, but in the humid panhandle of Florida, it took about 14 hours. Just remember, practice makes perfect. Here’s what I did.
I started by slicing up seven bananas into slices thin enough so they would dehydrate easily but not so thin they would fall apart. Then I squeezed the juice from a bag of lemons and dipped the bananas in it. The reason I did this is because the acidic properties of the juice stop the bananas from browning as much. This step isn’t required, but without it your banana chips will look pretty gross. Don’t worry, it doesn’t affect the taste.
Once the slices had soaked for about five minutes, I spread them on the dehydrator trays, set the dehydrator to 135°, and turned it on. I figured they would take about 12 hours, so I waited until the 6 hour mark to turn them over. This helps them dry more evenly. I was a little disappointed that they weren’t quite ready after 12 hours. You can tell they’re ready when they’re crispy, or at least very leathery. Mine took a few extra hours. When they’re done, store them in Mylar Bags.
Over the next year, I’m going to gradually replace much of my canned fruits and vegetables with dehydrated food, and I encourage all preppers to do the same. You don’t want to eat nothing but canned soup and pasta when the SHTF.