Drying is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Through drying, moisture gets completely eliminated from the food material and thereby longevity is ensured. The microbes that spoil the food materials require moisture for their survival and if properly dried, food materials are sure to remain intact for a longer period. Sun drying is the most common mode of food drying. Solar dehydration of food materials generally require less than five consecutive days of 95 degrees or above of heat and minimal humidity. Sun drying has now given way to more and more sophisticated modes of food drying. Other modern modes of food drying include those using the kitchen oven and the electric dehydrator.
As the fruits and vegetables get dried, their fibre content gets enhanced. There is an increase in their carbohydrate level as well. Another advantage of dried food materials is that they are low in fat content. However, compared to their fresh counterparts, dried food materials are richer in their calorific value. That is why the recommended serving amount of dried fruits is estimated to be half that of fresh fruits.
As the fruits get dried, they lose Vitamin C present in them. In order to supply with this vitamin, dried fruits need to be treated with additional citrus juice. It is advisable to select ripe fruits and vegetables for drying. As far as possible, avoid bruised fruits. In case of damages, the bruised part should be removed before drying it. The fruit should be peeled and sliced into pieces of maximum half-inch width. In cases of fruits with higher water content, it is wise to make larger slices. It is because; such fruits will shrink more when dried. Dipping the fruit in citrus juice will help in avoiding colour changes that is generally associated with drying. Vegetables, that should be dried, need to be dipped in diluted lemon juice (quarter cup pure lemon juice added to two cups water) before being exposed to heat.