Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Most fruits and vegetables have a short shelf-life after harvest. They will wilt and brown and lose their nutritional value even under the best conditions.
Fortunately, you can prolong the life of your produce through dehydration. Then you can powder them which is even better. Foods that are converted into powder are easy to store, transport, and use as ingredients in meals. And the best part is you can retain important nutrients during the process.
This article will explain the powdering process, what foods lend themselves to this method, and how you can store your food powder.
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What is Food Dehydration?
Turning food into powder begins with dehydration. As its name implies, dehydration is the process of reducing the moisture content in food. Removing it inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and mold, allowing it to last longer. Dehydration also takes away much of the weight of a food.
People all over the world have dehydrated foods for many centuries, and there are both traditional and modern ways to go about it. To dry foods, you need a combination of the following factors:
- Low humidity to allow moisture to move from the food to the air.
- Low heat to allow the moisture to evaporate.
- Air circulation to speed up the drying process.
Here are the most common methods:
If you live in a place that has many hours of hot sun, you can use the same technique that the Ancient Romans used to dry their figs or grapes. For effective sun drying, you’ll want an air temperature of at least 86 F and about 60% relative humidity. Slice your fruit and vegetables and place them in single layers on a mesh screen before covering them with a second screen to keep away insects.
Another ancient dehydration method is air drying. This method takes place indoors in a well-ventilated attic or screened-in porch and works well for delicate greens, herbs, and mushrooms. You can enclose your veggies in paper bags to protect them from dust or other air pollutants.
You can use your oven to slowly dry your food at temperatures of about 140 F. If the temperature is any higher, your food will cook instead of dry. It’s a good idea to prop the oven door open a few inches to improve air circulation.
The most convenient and efficient method to dry food is with a food dehydrator. These appliances come in a wide range of sizes and with different features. In addition to an electric element for heat, most dehydrators have an adjustable temperature gauge and vents and a fan for air circulation.
What Dehydrated Foods Are Easy to Turn Into Powder?
Because of their high natural sugar content, some fruits can be challenging to turn into powder. The foods that you’ll have the most success turning into powders include the following:
- Leafy greens
- Meats and poultry
How Do You Powder Dehydrated Foods?
Depending on the size of the dehydrated food and its natural sugar content, the amount of time involved in powdering can vary, but the steps are basically the same. For example, here is a brief overview of how to make dehydrated vegetable powder.
- Pour dehydrated vegetables into a food processor or a high-powered blender. You can do them one at a time or can create a mixed veggie powder.
- Grind the veggies. Pulse and grind the pieces to break them up the pieces. Then use a sustained mode to pulverize the pieces into a powder.
- Strain the powder. You may find that some pieces are more difficult to grind than others. Using a fine mesh strainer, separate out these larger bits from what has turned into powder and place them back into the blender to grind again. (Note: Some people have success with a coffee grinder for this step.)
How Can You Use Powdered Vegetables?
The basic conversion ratio of fresh vegetables to dehydrated vegetables to dehydrated vegetable powder is:
2 cups of fresh vegetables to 1 cup of dehydrated vegetables to 1/2 cup vegetable powder.
Your ratio will depend on the cut of your vegetables. You can add vegetable powder to boost the nutritional content of anything that you are making, including salads, soups, stews, egg dishes, casseroles, and smoothies. You can even add them to baked goods such as bread, cookies, and brownies.
As with regular dehydrated food, you can add oxygen absorbers to your powdered food to make it last even longer. For 1-quart bags, add a 100cc oxygen absorber. For 1-gallon bags, add a 500cc oxygen absorber. And for 5-gallon bags, add 2 or 3 1000cc oxygen absorbers.
If you keep your powdered food in a jar that you’re going to open the jar frequently, you may want to use a moisture absorber to cut down on clumping.
How Long Will Powdered Food Last?
It’s a good idea to divide your powders into small containers for long-term storage. Keep in mind that the more you open the container, the more air enters the container, shortening its shelf life.
- Powdered greens. If stored properly, powdered greens will stay at their best for six to nine months. After then, you’ll see some fading, which signifies that the flavor and nutrition are waning. They are still safe to eat, however.
- Powdered meats and poultry. Dehydrated meat powder can last six months or more. When stored properly in an unopened vacuum-sealed container, meat powder can last for up to five years.
- Powdered vegetables. Powdered veggies can maintain their freshness and nutrients for up to a year.
- Powdered mushrooms. Powdered mushrooms will last in a cool, dry area for up to a year.
Here are some additional tips for turning your foods into powder:
- Avoid over blending dehydrated greens. They can quickly turn into mush.
- Experiment with using your oven before buying a dehydrator.
- If you cannot set a low enough temperature on your oven, try the “keep warm” level.
- Date your powdered foods and rotate their use on a first-in, first-out basis.
- Dehydrate your foods at their peak level of ripeness for best results.
If you learn better by watching videos, here are links to some helpful videos we’ve found for turning food into powders:
- Blueberry powder
- Chicken, beef, and mushroom powders
- Fruits and vegetable powders
- Milk powder
- Mushroom powder
- Powdered eggs
- Spinach and kale powder
- Super greens powder
- Vegetable powder
Dehydrating fruit is a wonderful way to extend your harvest, cut down on food waste, and build up your emergency food pantry at the same time.
Like any of the skills you’ve been learning as a prepper, dehydrating and making powders takes some experimenting until you find the best method for you. However, you’ll find that the results are worth it.
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