Many people mistakingly believe that there basically is no difference between a food dehydrator and a food freeze dryer. Allow me to clear up some misconceptions that confuse a lot of people.
Let's take a look at the food dehydrator first since it is the most common form that many people have used in their homes for many years.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, dehydrated food is not considered long-term food storage becuase dehydrated foods only have a shelf-stable lifespan of between 3 to 5 years, depending on the type of food that was dehydrated. Foods that have oils or fat in them have a shorter shelf-life than non-oily or non-fatty foods. The longest that you can safely store dehydrated foods of any type is 5 years and then it must be thrown away.
With a dehydrator, the food is subjected to heats typically between 115 to 165 degrees fahrenheit depending on the type of food you are dehydrating, and holding them at that temperature for between typically 8 to 36 hours while a fan blows hot air across the food until the moisture from the food has been evaporated. Unfortunately, this heating of the food up causes the food to shrivel up, change colors, and lose a large percentage of the vitimins and nutritional content that the food originally had in it.
Some foods can be rehydrated with water before consuming or added to soups or stews, but most are merely eaten in their dry crispy form like trail-mix because rehydrating them changes their texture too much and the final product is often undesirable and mushy.
The good point of dehydrating foods are that food can be stored for medium-term food storage at a relatively inexpensive cost. Food dehydrators can be purchased for less than $100 and better quality commercial style systems which produce much more dehydrated food in the same amount of time for the same amount of electricity can be purchased between $200 to $600 depending on the brand and features desired.
With regards to a food supply that our families can depend on in a disaster or other emergency, the two biggest concerns with dehydrated foods is the shelf-life of the food only being between 3 to 5 years and the depletion of much of its vitamins and nutritional content during the dehydration process.
If we are wanting to store foods for our families to be able to eat in an emergency, why would we want to store the food in a way that provides a lower nutritional quality food? Wouldn't we want to be able to provide our families with the best quality food with the highest nutritional content possible?
In the next posting I will go over Freeze-Dried foods so that you can understand the difference and see how you are able to store your foods for a much longer shelf-life of between 10 to 30 years as well as retaining almost all of the original flavor, vitamins and nutrients in the foo