Do-It-Yourself Food Dehydration
The origins of food drying predate recorded history. It is not hard to imagine primitive humans finding dried berries clinging to vines long after fresh berries had disappeared. These sweet, nutritious, sun-dried berries would have been a welcome food source during times of the year when other food was scarce.
Natural drying processes were then duplicated by spreading fresh foods on the ground or on racks in the sun to dry. By preserving food in this way, early humans were not as vulnerable to food shortages as they had been. Almost every ancient culture developed some form of drying technology to preserve various foods, including fish and meat obtained from hunting. This is particularly true of those who lived in hot, dry regions of the world, where the abundant heat made drying relatively easy.
Not all drying relied on the sun’s energy, however. Heat from fires was also an efficient and effective way to remove moisture — especially from meat, where smoke added to the preservation process.
Today, food dehydration is a science. We now understand the complexities of drying. Huge quantities of food can be dried in large commercial dryers, under highly controlled conditions, to produce shelf-stable products of uniformly high quality. One has only to walk through the supermarkets and look at the products on the shelves to see the impact of dried foods on our lives, say authors of The Dehydrator Bible, Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer.